Ukraine: Weekly Bulletin
September 15-21, 2018
Ukrainian Armed Forces training exercises. Photo – Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence reported that during the week of September 14-20, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action on the eastern front. Throughout the week, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire 175 times on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front. Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation headquarters reported that returning fire, Ukrainian forces killed 17 and wounded 20 enemy combatants in the last week.
2. Ukraine’s President addresses Parliament
On September 20, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko delivered his annual address to Ukraine’s Parliament, “On the Internal and External Situation in Ukraine in 2018.”
President Poroshenko stated, “In the pursuit of true peace on the basis of Ukrainian interest, in the struggle for it, the issue of sovereignty, territorial integrity of Ukraine and our civilizational choice is not and will not be a subject of compromise. Otherwise there will not be us anymore, we will no longer be ourselves or there will be soldiers of another state. […]
Neither the appeasement of the aggressor … nor the consent to the terms of Russia will bring us peace. Strengthening of our country’s defense capabilities, our army, consolidation of the diplomatic corps and the increase of unity within the country will lead us to a genuine and just peace. Solid frontline and rear, unity and solidarity of society in the struggle against the enemy will secure peace and victory.”
A transcript of President Poroshenko’s address is available here
3. Ukraine’s Parliament votes to submit bills enshrining Ukraine’s course to Euro-Atlantic integration in Constitution to Constitutional Court
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on September 20, “Ukrainian lawmakers have voted to submit draft bills to the country’s top court that would enshrine Ukraine’s course toward Euro-Atlantic integration in the constitution. A total of 321 lawmakers voted on September 20 to appeal to the Constitutional Court to review the proposed amendments. After the court issues its judgement, the draft bills will return to the Verkhovna Rada where they will need at least 300 votes to pass.
Earlier in the day, President Petro Poroshenko told lawmakers that Ukraine needs the constitutional amendments to make EU and NATO membership its long-term goal.
In his annual address to parliament on Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy, Poroshenko said the Ukrainian armed forces will meet the criteria for NATO membership by 2020.”
4. US announces new sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act
The US State Department stated on September 20, “Today, the President issued a new Executive Order “Authorizing the Implementation of Certain Sanctions Set Forth in the Countering Americas Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” to further the implementation of certain sanctions in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA) with respect to the Russian Federation. In addition, the Secretary of State is taking two actions today to implement his delegated authorities pursuant to section 231 of CAATSA and to further impose costs on the Russian Government for its malign activities.
First, the Secretary of State added 33 additional persons – a person is either an entity or an individual – to the CAATSA section 231 List of Specified Persons (LSP) for being a part of, or operating for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation. This action increases the number of persons identified on the LSP to 72. Any person who knowingly engages in a significant transaction with any of these persons is subject to mandatory sanctions under CAATSA section 231. […]
Section 231 of CAATSA and today’s actions are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of any country, but rather to impose costs on Russia in response to its interference in the United States election process, its unacceptable behavior in eastern Ukraine, and other malign activities. Today’s actions further demonstrate the Department of State’s continuing commitment to fully implement CAATSA section 231, which has already deterred billions of dollars-worth of potential arms exports from Russia. State encourages all persons to avoid engaging in transactions with entities on the LSP that may risk sanctions, including high-value, major transactions for sophisticated weapons systems.”
The list of individuals and entities sanctioned by the United States on September 20 is available here
5. Ukraine’s economy grows 3.8% in Q2 2018
Ukraine Business News reported on September 19, “Ukraine’s economy grew by 3.8% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, the State Statistics Service reports, updating its provisional estimate of 3.6%. For all of 2018, estimates range from the government’s 3.2% to the World Bank’s 3.5%. By contrast, the total economy of the OECD, a group of 36 largely high-income countries, is forecast to grow by 2.5%.”
6. Ukraine’s defense and security spending expected up by 21 percent in 2019
The Kyiv Post reported on September 19, “Ukraine is expected to allocate a new record-high Hr 209.5 billion ($7.45 billion) on defense and security in 2019 – an increase of 21.1 percent compared to the previous fiscal year, which also saw record defense spending.
The new defense budget will probably reach approximately 5.9 percent of the country’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, which is forecast at $126.7 billion by the International Monetary Fund.
According to the recently approved law on national security and the country’s revised military doctrine, aimed at countering Russian aggression, the overall annual defense spending should be at least 5 percent of the country’s estimated GDP, including 3 percent for the Armed Forces alone.
The new draft law on the state budget for 2019 submitted to the Verkhovna Rada on Sept. 15, promises record-high spending on each of the country’s principal defense and security bodies.”
7. US Air Force to join large-scale aviation exercise in Ukraine
Stars and Stripes reported on September 18, “The U.S. Air Force and eight other nations will participate next month in independent Ukraine’s largest aviation exercise, which aims to promote regional security and improve that country’s cooperation with NATO members, the military said Tuesday.
Announcement of the Clear Sky multinational exercise comes days after Ukraine said it would establish a new naval base along the Sea of Azov to counter a more assertive Russia.
The U.S. plans to send about 450 personnel from bases in the States and in Europe, a U.S. Air Forces in Europe spokesman said Tuesday. About 250 will participate in the exercise, including pilots and maintainers; the remainder will be in support roles.
Clear Sky is one of several joint and multinational exercises being conducted in Ukraine this year aimed at promoting regional security, defense officials said. […]
A total of some 950 personnel are slated to take part in Clear Sky. Besides Ukraine and the United States, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom are participating.
The exercise will take place mainly at Starokostiantyniv Air Base, located about 150 miles southwest of Kiev, and other training areas and ranges in Ukraine. […]
Training will focus on air sovereignty, air interdiction, air-to-ground integration, air mobility operations, aeromedical evacuation, cyberdefense and personnel recovery.”
8. Op UNIFIER’s Combat Medical training: working to save lives in Ukraine
Operation UNIFIER combat medical training.
Photo – Canadian Armed Forces
Writing for the Maple Leaf, Sergeant Norman Vanderwiel, Chief Combat Medical Instructor, Operation UNIFIER, stated, “Operation UNIFIER’s Combat Medical Training Team has been working with the staff and instructors of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) since the mission started in 2015. The importance of this training was reflected in 2017 when the AFU established the Main Military Medical Directorate in Kyiv, as well as the 205th Tactical Medical Training Centre (TMTC) in Desna. Operation UNIFIER’s medical training staff have key roles in both of these establishments. They also contribute to the hands-on first-aid training the soldiers receive before rotating into the Joint Forces Operation zone. […]
The training received at the 205th TMTC helps Ukrainian soldiers on the frontlines to save lives. It gives them the knowledge and training to apply life-saving first aid, as well as other crucial techniques that can either prevent those with minor injuries from leaving their post, or increase the survival rate of more serious injuries that need advanced care away from the frontlines.
The training model at the 205th TMTC is based on the American 68W program; the US Combat Medic specialization has been modified to reflect the AFU’s combat medical needs. Ukrainian instructors who have completed this training are eager to teach others and have offered to stay and help the training center grow. The mentorship provided by the Operation UNIFIER staff has given the AFU instructors confidence while ensuring that the correct information is being taught and applied. […]
The centre still has a long way to go to produce the number of qualified Combat Medics that is needed in the AFU, as well as changing the perception of this new asset; there are some units that are learning how to effectively employ their Combat Medics. The Operation UNIFIER Combat Medical Training Team is working to show how this training can be a force multiplier, as well as providing guidance on changes that will shorten the training program and formally establish a Combat Medic trade.
With all these changes still in the works, the staff in the 205th TMTC do what they do best: teach and mentor the AFU staff and students with an eye towards further development in this important field.”
9. UK Defence Secretary announces extension of support to Ukraine’s Armed Forces
UK Defence Secretary in Ukraine.
Photo – UK MInistry of Defence
The UK Ministry of Defence reported on September 21, “In his first visit as Defence Secretary to Ukraine, Gavin Williamson announced that the UK will be extending its military training operation there for a further two years until 2020. […]
He also announced the expansion of the UK Defence Section in Kyiv and introduction of a permanent Naval Attaché to help build Ukrainian naval capability.
The Defence Secretary also met President Poroshenko reaffirming the UK’s commitment to their country. He also discussed the Russian security forces continuing to disrupt merchant vessels trying to access Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, posing negative effects on Ukraine’s economy.
He also travelled to Marinka in the east of Ukraine to see the effects of the four-year conflict in the Donbas region, and received an operational update from the Joint Force Operation Commander Lt Gen Serhiy Nayev. The visit to Marinka highlighted the severity of the ongoing conflict, including its humanitarian and environmental impacts, driven by Russian aggression. […]
The training, delivered through Operation Orbital, has been expanded in 2018 to include anti-armour, infantry skills, counter-sniping and mortar planning. This is in addition to the defensive skills programmes such as the identification of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), medical care and logistics that UK personnel have been delivering since early 2015.”
Secretary Williamson stated, “By extending and expanding our training programmes, we are sending a clear message – we support the people of Ukraine and are firmly committed to its sovereignty as it faces down blatant Russian aggression.”