Ukraine: Daily Briefing
August 9, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 44 times in total. Returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 2 and wounded 4 enemy combatants in the last 24 hours.
2. “The end is near”: Grave fears for the life of Kremlin hostage Oleh Sentsov
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Ukrainian filmmaker and Kremlin hostage Oleh Sentsov is dangerously weak after 87 days on hunger strike in a Siberian prison. Russia is making no move to release him, and in a move of gratuitous brutality is preventing him from receiving the letters of support being sent from all over the world.
Sentsov’s cousin, Natalya Kaplan, wrote the following on August 8: ‘Everything is not just bad, it’s catastrophically bad. Oleg has passed me a letter via his lawyer. He is virtually not getting up at all. He writes that the end is near and he’s not talking here of his release. He asks if anybody is still aware of his hunger strike, and is not being passed any letters, not one! He says that he is currently in an information vacuum and doesn’t have any idea at all what’s happening.
The European Court of Human Rights is insisting on his transfer to a civilian hospital, and say that this should be closer to where he’s registered (i.e. Crimea). He has refused, saying that he would simply not survive the transfer [which can take weeks in Russia, with the conditions terrible, and no contact even with his lawyer, making him particularly vulnerable]. In the civilian hospital in Labytnangi, where he has already ended up once in emergency care, he was treated worse than in the prison hospital.’
Sentsov’s lawyer Dmitry Dinze has just visited him in the remote prison in Labytnangi […] During the meeting on 7 August, Sentsov again reiterated that he would not end his hunger strike. He added that Dinze need not bring him the letters asking him to give it up as he wouldn’t read them. ‘If I have to die, then I’ll die.’
Dinze told Krym.Realii that Sentsov’s condition is extremely bad, and that problems have again started with his heart because of the heat last week of up to 40 degrees Celsius. His pulse is very weak, his blood pressure low and his heart is not functioning properly. This is against a background of problems that have emerged with his kidneys and liver, and he is suffering from anaemia. […]
The problem, as Dinze says, is that Ukraine has proposed any number of exchanges, etc. to secure the release of Sentsov and other prisoners. Russia has ignored all of them, as it is ignoring the calls to free the imprisoned filmmaker from all democratic states, international structures, artists, writers, and thousands of others.”
The full report from KHPG is available here: “The end is near” – Grave fears for the life of Kremlin hostage Oleh Sentsov
3. United States imposes sanctions on Russia under Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act
On August 8, the US State Department stated, “Following the use of a “Novichok” nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate UK citizen Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal, the United States, on August 6, 2018, determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (CBW Act) that the Government of the Russian Federation has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals. Following a 15-day Congressional notification period, these sanctions will take effect upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register, expected on or around August 22, 2018.”
Reuters reported, “The new sanctions come in two tranches. The first, which targets U.S. exports of sensitive national-security related goods, comes with deep exemptions and many of the items it covers have already been banned by previous restrictions.
However, the second tranche, activated after 90 days if Moscow fails to provide ‘reliable assurances’ it will no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations or other international observer groups, is more serious.
NBC, citing U.S. officials, said the second tranche could include downgrading diplomatic relations, suspending the state airline Aeroflot’s ability to fly to the United States and cutting off nearly all exports and imports.”