Ukrainian Diary – digest of the most important news over the past week (audio)
Situation in Donbas – Weekly Review
The massive shelling of the residential areas in the town of Novoluhanske, Donetsk region became a sad milestone of the recent week in Donbas. On Monday evening pro-Russian separatists fired at the living quarters of the town with Grad rockets, wounding eight civilians and damaging dozens of homes, a school, and a playground. After the shelling civilian people were evacuated from the town. This accident was denounced by both the Ukrainian side and international community. The withdrawal of the Russian officers from the Joint Control and Coordination Centre, that was carried out on Dec.19, is directly related to the latest escalation in Donbas, said Heather Nauert, the U.S. Department of the State representative at a briefing in Washington. “Unfortunately, the situation has not improved in Ukraine. Earlier on Monday Russian-led forces shelled the town of Novoluhanske with Grad rockets, Fighting also resumed around the Donetsk filtration station and its system of pipes carrying poisonous chlorine gas”, reminded Hather Nauert. “This is considered extremely dangerous. Russia and its proxies are the sources of violence in eastern Ukraine, and the Russian Government continues to perpetuate an active conflict and humanitarian crisis through its leadership and supply of military forces on the ground, as well as its direct control over proxy authorities. The conflict in eastern Ukraine is not an organic civil war. The so-called “republics” that Russia created are not legitimate entities,” she said.
Nauert added that the U.S. urged Russia to cease fire in Donbas, withdraw its troops and say yes to the UN peacekeepers deployment there. Kurt Volker , the U.S. special envoy for the Ukraine conflict has said 2017 was the deadliest year in the region since the outbreak of violence three years ago, and warned that hostilities are again ratcheting up. His comments came as international monitors reported intense shelling of Novoluhanske. More than 10,300 people have been killed, and more than 1 million displaced, since the conflict erupted in April 2014, pitting Russia-backed separatist fighters against government forces.
Ukraine and Canada Will Joint Efforts in Assuring the UN to Deploy Its Peacekeepers in Ukraine.
Ukraine-related questions will remain among the essential ones on the agenda of the G7, while Canada assumes leadership in this group. Christine Freeland, Canadian Foreign Minister said that at a briefing during her visit in Kyiv. ‘This visit to Ukraine gives me an opportunity to confer with Ukrainians about the ways that Canada could assist Ukraine next year,’ she said. Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin added that Ukraine expects Canada to increase pressure on Russia and to approve lethal arms supplies. Previously, Christine Freeland met with Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko. Both sides negotiated on Donbas-related issues; specifically, they agreed that Russia intends to undermine the implementation of Minsk agreements. Poroshenko recognized Ottawa’s part in promoting the Crimean resolution approved by the UN General Assembly. He also urged Canada to contribute to the group of countries supporting the de-occupation of Crimea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland have agreed on further steps to promote the initiative to deploy a UN peacekeeping force to the entire separatist-held territory of Donbas, including the uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian state border. “This decision, if adopted by the UN GA is of vital for Ukraine. I am confident that that our joint efforts will be successful.” – Petro Poroshenko said.
Freeland also informed Petro Poroshenko about close coordination of approaches with the U.S., in particular at a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on December 19,” the press service of the head of the Ukrainian state reported after a meeting between Poroshenko and Freeland in Kyiv on December 21. The sides also agreed to continue to make joint efforts to free Ukrainian hostages in Donbas and political prisoners illegally held in Russia and the occupied Crimea.
Ukraine and Portugal Deepen Cooperation
Ukraine and Portugal agreed to deepen economic cooperation and expand investment ties. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said this at a joint press briefing with his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Lisbon on Monday. The Head of state is currently on a two-day working visit to Portugal. The presidents met with to discuss the situation in Eastern Ukraine, the main aspects of the political, economic, and judicial reforms being implemented in the country, and Portugal's assistance to Ukraine. The two nations are set to continue efforts strengthening bilateral cooperation.
President Petro Poroshenko expressed gratitude to the Portuguese leader for the reliable and friendly partnership over the 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Head of State expressed gratitude to Portugal for a solid stand in the issue of supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence, condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine and non-recognizing the annexation of Crimea. President Petro Poroshenko said, “Over these years our Portuguese partners have shown us unwavering support in various fields. It is very important for us that Portugal has taken a firm stand on supporting Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence as early as in March of 2014 when Russia illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula and waged a war against our country.”
According to the President the two countries share close economic, social, cultural and interpersonal ties that will be further enhanced. In his turn Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said that his country would continue to provide strong support for Ukraine and the reform efforts undertaken by the country's leadership.
President Petro Poroshenko also met representatives of the country’s Ukrainian community. Ukrainians constitute the second-largest foreign community residing in Portugal.