The military action in Eastern Ukraine remains tense; this week’s developments have once again proved that Russian militants have no intentions to abide by Minsk agreements. It may not seem symbolic at all, but the density of shooting and explosions grew during this week, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in April 2014. Yes, it’s been four years since the hostilities in Donbas kicked off, with pro-Russian separatists capturing the governmental buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This week, the Ukrainian military reported frequent use of 82 and 120 mm mortars. The largest number of attacks was observed on Thursday when the enemy opened fire 66 times.
On Tuesday, the police found an arms cache hidden inside a non-residential building in Svyatohirsk, Donetsk region. "Sloviansk police department received information that the local resident found the cache of ammunition at the territory of household in Sviatohirsk. The woman said she was looking after the house and last time she was in it on April 4. When she visited this time, she found foreign traces, and arms in the shed," the message says.
Introduction of UN peacekeepers in Donbas was among the essential topics of discussion between Ukrainian and German leaders, as President Petro Poroshenko came to Berlin for negotiations with Angela Merkel. “We do not have any common coordination centre and control of Russian representatives on the occupied territory, which could easily provide the ceasefire. We do not have any progress concerning the talks on the Minsk process. We hope that the proposals which are presented by France, Germany, Ukraine, the USA under the draft conclusion of the UN Security Council concerning the introduction of the peacekeeping mission, which will not be an escort for the UN observers, but a full and large-scale operation to disarm illegally armed formations, to protect people, who live on the occupied territories and start the political process of local elections,” Poroshenko said. Merkel, in turn, stated the absence of the progress in the fulfillment of Minsk Agreements. She also believes that the dialogue should be prolonged, despite its complexity.
On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, Russian mercenaries shelled the living neighborhoods in Avdiivka, Donetsk region. The press service of the National Police in Donetsk region reported that on April 11. 'The attacks, which came from the direction of the occupied Donetsk began at 8 p.m. and would not cease until 5 a.m. next day. The living houses were damaged; windows, doors, fences, rooftops were shattered. Luckily, no human casualties were observed', the police report said.
Andriy Kobolyev, the CEO of Ukraine's state-owned Naftogaz, is against Russia's Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany as it would threaten Ukraine. He believes that by any means, the Russian Federation wants to circumvent Ukraine.
Despite the growing danger of a military conflict, Ukraine would also bear significant economic costs by losing the annual fees that Russia pays to pump gas through Ukraine. Kobolyev put the figure at more than $3 billion (€2.4 billion), which he said would naturally be a substantial amount for Ukraine's economy.
Germany took into consideration Ukraine’s position regarding construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and thinks that it is necessary to keep gas transit through Ukraine. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany claimed this at the joint briefing with Petro Poroshenko that took place during his visit to Germany.
Meanwhile, Finland gave a full approval package for construction of the Nord Stream 2. Project developer Nord Stream 2 AG on April 12 received the second of two permits required to construct and operate the planned natural gas pipeline in the Finnish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), completing the permitting procedure in Finland.
Ukrainian deputies on April 5, addressed the international community asking to stop construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, intended to carry Russian gas to Germany, bypassing Ukraine. The MPs said that the European Commission (EC) should consult with Ukraine on the matter, in line with the European Union–Ukraine Association, Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the European Energy Community Treaty. Ukrainian deputies also urged Western countries to expand anti-Russian sanctions for its armed aggression in Ukraine.
Nord Stream 2 would lead to establishing a Russian monopoly on the European gas market and eventually destabilize Europe, the lawmakers warned.
On April 9, the UN Security Council called an urgent meeting due to the chemical attack at Syrian Douma that took place on April 7 and caused the death of about 70 civilians. The OPCW began the investigation due to the strike, while the US accused Russia of using chemical weapons in Syria.
In its turn, Russia imposed a veto at the U.N. Security Council resolution that would have created a new inquiry to ascertain blame for chemical weapons attacks in
On April 11, U.S. President Donald Trump announced about a coming missile attack in Syria and urged Russia to be prepared. Russia quickly responded, claiming that the so-called ‘smart’ missiles should aim the ‘terrorists’. Also, on April 12, President Trump specified when the US will attack Syria.
Later the UK supported America and expressed the readiness to prepare for the military strike on Syria. However, Germany has already refused from the participation in the possible operation.
Talking about Russia, it has alerted its air defense forces, military intelligence and strike troops of the Armed Forces. Also, it withdrew its Naval forces from Tartus Port in Syria but deployed military police in Douma.
Bellingcat published a report that supposedly the balloons were thrown from two Mi-8 helicopters from the airbase of the Air Force of Syria near Dumayr.
On April 13, The American special services got the evidence of the use of the chemical weapon in Douma.
Neighboring relations with Poland seem to move in different directions. On April 9, for example, Polish law enforcers reported 39 cases of descent-based attacks on Ukrainians over the course of 2017. Though, since January through March 2018, there were no claims about any attacks from Ukrainian citizens in Poland.
At the same time, service in Ukrainian language was introduced in the ticket offices and ticket punches in Wrocław (Silesian Lowlands, Poland). 154 stationary ticket offices are being set in Wrocław. Besides, there are almost 3,000 ticket punches where one can purchase a ticket in public transport like buses or trolley cars. Previously, they had three language options: Polish, English and German. And now they also have Ukrainian
As it was reported, in 2017, Ukraine was the leader among foreign nationals in terms of land purchases in Poland, obtaining every other permission from the Polish authorities. The Ministry of the Interior and Administration of Poland noted that in 2017, aliens received a total of 224 permits for the purchase of 270 plots on a total area of 23 hectares. In order to be eligible for land purchase, including forest and agricultural land, non-EU nationals have to obtain a permit from the Interior Ministry.
Also, 14,902 Ukrainians received Polish citizenship within 2008-2017, as it was stated by the Interior Ministry of Poland. Earlier it was reported that there were 579 such people in 2008, and the number was increasing year after year. More than 2,000 Ukrainians received a Polish citizenship each year over the past three years: 2012 people in 2015, 296 – in 2016, 2415 people – in 2017.
Jaroslaw Szarek, the head of the Institute of National Memory of Poland said that getting back to cooperation between the Ukrainian and Polish institutes of national memory is only possible if Ukraine lives up to certain conditions. Another essential question is the work of Polish-Ukrainian Forum of historians, which is now postponed. Szarek noted that the Polish side was ready to resume the activity of the Forum, meeting with Ukrainian scientists, but not before the works, presented earlier during the Forum, are released.