||Overview of Events in Ukraine during September 26 – October 09, 2016
September 26, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice
and Home Affairs Committee gave its consent to a visa-free regime
with Ukraine by 38 votes to four against with one abstention. Before
the final decision is announced, however, a so-called “clear
position” will have to be forged between the European Commission,
the Council of Europe and the European Parliament itself. In
accordance with European Union procedures, the final decision will be
made through voting in the European Parliament. In case the
proposition is confirmed, the parliamentarians’ decision will have
to be ratified by the foreign affairs ministers of the EU’s
president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, had
visited Ukraine to participate in the 75thanniversary of the Babi Yar massacre. During the visit, presidents of
both countries had met separately.
funeral of the country’s former president Shimon Peres was attended
by a relatively large company of state leaders, including P. Poroshenko. P. Poroshenko also met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Just like the
conversation with Israel’s president R. Rivlin, the meeting
concerned the development of bilateral relations, the intensification
of commercial/economic collaboration and the activation of the free
trade process between the two countries. P. Poroshenko had encouraged
Israeli companies to take a more active part in the privatization
processes currently underway in Ukraine.
Israel, P. Poroshenko also met with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, to discuss
issues regarding the coordination of actions concerning the
ratification of the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement. A
week before the meeting, the Dutch Prime Minister had
said that based on the referendum which took place during April,
the Dutch government will probably refuse to ratify the Agreement.
Razumkov Centre has published the results of a public opinion survey, which show that 44.3% of
respondents would vote in favour of NATO membership in case a
referendum was held, and 38.1% would vote against. 32.8% of
respondents are in favour of Ukraine’s non-block status and 38.4%
are against it. 49.7% of Ukrainians are in favour of membership in
the EU and 35.3% are against. 19.2% of respondents hold a visa-free
regime with the EU to be “very important”, 25.7% consider it
“important”, 22.3% think it’s “slightly important”, and
26.7% deem it “unimportant”. 36.6% of respondents are in favour
of Ukraine’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Independent States
and 43.8% are against it. Interestingly, 18.3% of respondents would
be in favour of a union between Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, while as
many as 69.1% would be against it. 29% of respondents are in favour
of a visa-free regime with Russia and 52.1% are against. 55% of
respondents are in favour of terminating all diplomatic relations
with RF and 2.8% are against.
to research carried out by the Kiev International Institute of
Sociology, in case of early elections to the Verkhovna Rada, seven
parties would get in. A comparison of data gathered during the past
six months has revealed that Baktivschchyna has lost some of its
support, while P. Poroshenko’s Bloc has grown in popularity.
Ratings of other political structures – the Opposition Bloc, the
Samopomich, the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko and the Civil Position
– had remained unchanged. Predictions hold that 41% of citizens
would take part in the elections. 31.1% of respondents said they
hadn’t yet decided who to vote for, and 5.8% said they would vote
against all parties. Currently, trust in the parties looks something
like this: Bativshchyna – 15.4%, Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc –
14.5%, the Opposition Bloc – 13.1%, Samopomich – 10.3%, the
Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko – 9.6%, the Civil Position 6.0%, and
the For Life Party – 5.3%. The remaining parties would not cross
the 5% barrier: Svoboda (3.9%), UKROP (3.5%), the Right Sector (2.2
%), Chvilia (1.9%), and the Governmental Initiative of Yarosh (1.8
%), Vidrodzhenia (1.7%). The remaining 11% of respondents would give
their votes to other parties.
another Ukrainian sociological research group, had
announced its results, showing that 35% of Ukrainians feel
nostalgic for the USSR, 50%
are not and 15% are undecided. During the past few years, the number
of those nostalgic for the USSR has increased by 4%. The survey has
shown that people who are nostalgic for the USSR support the
Opposition Bloc’s leader Yuriy Boyko (68%), the leader of the For
Life Party, Vadim Rabinovich (52%) and the former military pilot and
national hero Nadiya Savchenko (44%).
judicial reform, ratified by the Verkhovna Rada on June 2, entered
into force on September 30. The reform was consolidated by a law
on changing the relevant constitutional procedures.
to the recently published preliminary conclusions regarding the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 tragedy, which resulted
in 298 deaths: the plane was shot down by a Russian missile. An
international criminal investigation, performed in the Netherlands,
regarding the circumstances of the tragedy has shown that the plane
was shot down by a missile launched from the antiaircraft missile
system Buk. The system was brought over from Russia to carry out the
mission and then returned afterwards.
Military Prosecutor Ruslan Kravchenko had
announced that the research has yielded evidence regarding which
divisions of the Russian military took part in the occupation of
Crimea: the 31stAirborne Brigade, the 45thGuards Detached Spetsnaz Brigade (m/u 28337), the 18thGuards Motorized Rifle Brigade, the 58thArmy, the 98thGuards Airborne Division (m/u 65451), the 76thGuards Air Assault Division, and the 15thSeparate Motorized Rifle Brigade (m/u 90600). During the occupation
of Crimea, the distinguishing tactical signs of the military
equipment and soldier uniforms that belong to these military units
were disguised in advance.
September 30, Roman Sushchenko, a correspondent of the National News
Agency of Ukraine (Ukrinform) was
arrested in Moscow. He was charged with espionage. The Lefortofsky Court ofMoscow sanctioned his arrest for two months. The Russian FSB has identified the detainee as a Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR) colonel, who
had had been collecting secret information on the Russian military
forces and the National Guard. R. Sushchenko was arrested on the
first day of arriving to Russia on vacation. The Ukrinform had
distributed a declaration regarding the correspondent’s unlawful arrest and
emphasised that he has been working at the agency since 2002, and was
appointed to France in 2010. The Ukrainian GUR has called the
declaration that the detainee works as a military intelligence agenta lie. The release of the
detained journalist was
requested by the Vice Chair of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada and the head of the
Humanitarian Subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine’s
side Irina Gerashchenko.
Chairman of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy, claims that
the incident might lead to new sanctions against Russia and the cancelation of the
visa-free regime. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also protested the arrest of the Ukrainian citizen and journalist, demanding that he
should have an opportunity to see a consul and be released
immediately. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman condemned the arrest of the citizen and journalist, and encouraged the
international community to help in defending him.
Sushchenko is not
the only Ukrainian citizen arrested in Russia on suspicion of
espionage. In 2015, Ukrainian citizens Juriy Soloshenko and Valentin
Vygovskiy were sentenced to, respectively, 6 and 11 years at a high
security prison for analogous charges, and another Ukrainian citizen,
Sergeiy Skirta was arrested in Yekaterinburg. The latter received
“softer” charges – he was convicted of military espionage.
After 11 months in prison he was granted amnesty in commemoration of
the 70thanniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. A Russian
citizen, Viktor Shur, was sentenced to 12 years at a high-security
prison for spying for Ukraine.
to the National Bank of Ukraine, during the period between January
and September, the country’s currency reserve grew by 16.5% and now amounts to 15.5 billion US dollars. In large part,
the growth was caused by aid extended by the International Monetary
a meeting with the students of the Taras Shevchenko National
University of Kyiv, President P. Poroshenko said that after refusing various gas supply and distribution schemes, and
correcting tariffs, Ukraine now consumes 30%
less gas than before. Therefore, the country is now close to
emancipating itself from RF‘s
September 26, President P. Poroshenko had
signed the demobilisation ordnance regarding the 6thmobilization summons, which took place at the beginning of 2015.
Evgeny Konovalcov’s Military School, established on April of this
year, produced its first 24 sergeants. The school is headed by Giorgi Kuparashvili.
Sergeants, who graduated from a 4-month training course, previously
took part in 2-year long military actions in East Ukraine.
P. Poroshenko issued a decree confirming the National Security and
Defence Council’s decision to increase the funding of power structures this year. After the government
proposal is submitted, the Verkhovna Rada should confirm the new bill
regarding changes in this year’s budget, intended to increase
defensive expenditure. That would result in Ministry of Defence
receiving 3.8 billion hryvnia (roughly 130 million euros), the Chief
Directorate of Intelligence receiving 175 million hryvnia (roughly 6
million euros), the National Police – 2 billion hryvnia (roughly 70
million euros), the State Border Guard Service – 783 million
hryvnia (roughly 27 million euros), and other agencies – 55 million
hryvnia (roughly 1.9 million euros). The same decree also specifies
allocating another 300 million hryvnia (roughly 10.3 million euros)
to the State Space Agency and a further 263 million hryvnia (roughly
9 million euros) to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade,
which will be used to further the focused state programmes undertaken
by the military-industrial complex.
4 saw the commencement of autumn conscription in Ukraine. In total, 13,908 young people will
be conscripted during the period between October and November. 7,908
of them will serve in the Armed Forces, 5,000 – in the National
Guard, and the remaining 1,000 will be sent to the State Special
Transport Service. According to previous announcements by the General
Staff, none of the conscripts will be sent to the Anti-Terrorist
Armed Forces will soon be supplied with locally produced intelligence equipment called Tenj (Shadow).
This equipment allows for detecting both analogue and digital radio
signal transmitters, working in the 30-3,000 MHz range, at a distance
of 25 to 35 kilometres, and intercept and decode the transmitted
on Channel 24, Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak mentioned that
Ukraine will request the US to supply only anti-aircraft and anti-vehicle weaponry, which
is the most necessary for the country. Last month, the US Congress
approved the possibility of supplying lethal weaponry to Ukraine.
Poltorak had visited Sweden, where he discussed bilateral relations and the situation in
the region. It should be noted that this was the first
time independent Ukraine’s Minister of Defence visited Sweden. On
October 7, S. Poltorak left Sweden and went to Estonia. Apart from
the scheduled meetings, the Minister also visited Ukrainian troops
convalescing in Estonia. He noted that this year’s military actions in Eastern Ukraine had already
taken the lives of 173 soldiers.
in the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone
in truce during the period between September 26 and October 9
fluctuated between 22 and 68. During that period, four Ukrainian
soldiers died and 28 were wounded.
mandate of the OSCE monitoring mission at the Russian-Ukrainian
border checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk, was
February 31, 2017. Ukraine currently has no access to these
checkpoints as they are controlled by separatist units. The OSCE
monitoring mission at these checkpoints has been active since June
October 5, the Trilateral Contact Group, established for peaceful
resolution of the conflict in Donbass, met in Minsk. The meeting
concerned the failure to implement the agreement on pulling back
forces from the isolation line, signed on September 21, and the
establishment of three safety zones. An agreement was
reached that the pulling back of forces from the three projected safety zones
will take place: October 7 – in Petrovskaya, October 9 – in
Stanica Luhanska. A safety zone in Zolotaya has already been
established. Martin Sajdik, an OSCE representative in the Group, expects that documents regarding the establishment of new isolation zones to
be signed soon. Seven new zones should
be established before the end of the year, meaning there would be
10 in total.
Trilateral Contact Group’s Humanitarian Subgroup had discussed the
exchange of prisoners and reasons for justifying the “all-for-all”
exchange process, which, according to separatist forces, would mean
“618 for 47” (618 separatists are jailed in Ukraine, and 47
Ukrainian citizens are held by the separatists). Coming to an
agreement essentially failed,
because, according to Ukraine, the separatists currently hold about
100 of its citizens captive. Furthermore, the lists provided by the
separatists contain individuals who are not involved in the conflict
in Donbass (among the individuals appearing in the lists are people
detained in Odessa and Kharkiv). For this reason, the list must be corrected.
OSCE representative in the Humanitarian Subgroup, Toni Frish, will be
allowed to meet with seven teenagers accused of carrying out diversions, who are
being held captive by the separatists. Moreover, Ukrainian
representatives also raised questions regarding the allegedly
unlawful transportation of Ukrainian children from occupied
territories to RF. Ukraine has a number of lists of these children
and demands information regarding their fates. Ukrainian
representatives also officially asked the RF representatives how many
Donbass refugees are currently in RF and what is their current
Trilateral Contac Group discussed issues regarding the rebuilding of
infrastructure. It was conceded that solving these issues will
require political will. M. Sajdik encouraged the countries to respond
to the Red Cross’s request for rebuilding a demolished bridge near
Stanica Luhanska, demine its premises and ensure free and safe
movement of persons. The rebuilding of the bridge is also included in
the agreement signed by both countries. It is hoped that the bridge
will be rebuilt by mid-December.
countries were also encouraged to keep up with the terms set for
rebuilding electrical and water supply lines. It should be noted that
the debt level for these services of individual districts of Luhansk
now amount to 700,000 US dollars. The Red Cross pledged to cover the
expenses for several months.
Sajdik noted that although the major humanitarian and economic
problems aren’t yet being addressed, certain “signs of hope”
can already be seen in the subgroups. The next meeting of the
Trilateral Contact Group is scheduled to take place on October 26.
Copyright: it is obligatory to indicate www.geopolitika.lt as a source in reprinting or otherwise using www.geopolitika.lt material.