The last three months - September, October, and November - have traditionally been extremely restless for Ukraine. Another ammo depot explosion, worsening of relations with the neighboring state (this time, western), and failure to start heating season in time. Moreover, in some regions of the country, martial law was imposed, and the Prosecutor General, despite his “resignation zeal,” did not leave his post. Let us recall the most vivid news of the autumn.
Crimea chemical disaster in Armyansk
The disaster at Tytan Factory, located in the north of Crimea in the city of Armyansk, has sounded due to its environmental situation. Moreover, toxic chemicals were detected in the air in the Kherson region, southern Ukraine. Although the leakage, reportedly from an acid storage tank at the Crimean Titan Factory, occurred during the night from 23-24 August, schoolchildren were only evacuated from the area on 5 September, with parents given just an hour to pack the children’s things.
The emergency regime was introduced in Armyansk due to the exceedance of the maximum permissible concentration of chemicals by more than five times. Residents were seeing, breathing, and feeling the consequences, which one described as ‘true hell,’ and are clearly unconvinced by upbeat assurances The photos posted on social media are alarming, as are reports of problems with breathing, etc., and of damage to crops and to the flora in the area. 61 Ukrainian border guards were affected by the emission of chemicals. Five of them have been hospitalized.
Friendship with Russia is over
Ukraine has officially declared its reluctance to continue the friendship with the Russian Federation. Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was signed on May 31, 1997, by President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and President of Russia Boris Yeltsin. In early September 2018, the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) supported Poroshenko’s proposal on the non-renewal of the Treaty with the Russian Federation for the next 10 years. The decree on the enactment of the decision of the National Security Council on the termination of the treaty of friendship between Ukraine and the Russian Federation came into force on September 19. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine sent a note to Russia on the non-renewal of the Treaty on September 21.
Scandal with Hungarian passports in Zakarpattia
A video where a few Ukrainians receive the Hungarian passports and owe allegiance to Hungary in the Consulate in Berehove, Zakarpattia region, western Ukraine, appeared in the social media. The receivers owe allegiance to Hungry in the Consulate in Berehove. The Hungarian diplomat recommended not to inform the Ukrainian authorities about receiving the new documents. Pavlo Ukraine MFA head Klimkin said that if the video is authentic, the Hungarian consul might be expelled from the country. In his turn, Péter Szijjártó, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, claimed the attempts to intimidate the Transcarpathian Hungarians and threatened to make Ukraine’s integration more complicated.
Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, claimed that Security Service investigates this case; however, the service denied this. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry issued an agreement for appointing István Íjgyártó a new Ambassador of Hungary in Kyiv. He is expected to come to Ukraine on November 8.
Explosions at Ichnia ammo depot
Over the past four years, it's been the fifth accident with the ammunition stocks in Ukraine exploding; the incidents took place in Balakliya (Kharkiv region), Svatove (Luhansk region), and Kalynivka (Vinnytsia region). This time, fire took place at the armory of the Ministry of Defense in Ichnia in Chernihiv region. The fire and explosions began at around 3:30 a.m. October 9, at the Defense Ministry's depot No. 6, which covers about 700 hectares. The air-space within 30 km was shut down, traffic and railway movement were stopped due to the emergency situation. No injured and dead as a result of the emergency situation reported. All 39 settlements near the depot were checked and cleared of the ammunition; pyrotechnists found 3,600 explosive devices at Ukraine's Ichnia ammo stocks. On October 11, the fire was completely eliminated.
Kerch Polytechnic College massacre
Two dozen dead and more than fifty injured. Most of them were college students. These are the tragic consequences of the attack at Kerch Polytechnic College of the National University of Food Technologies in occupied Crimea. According to the Emergencies Ministry, an extraordinary event in Kerch college occurred around 12:00 on October 17. Initially, it was assumed that the reason for the explosion was a gas cylinder, but everything turned out to be much worse. At about 2:00 pm, the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation stated that an unidentified explosive device filled with metal objects was detonated in the college canteen, and an hour later it became known that a shooter was also involved.
Eyewitnesses assure that the killer organized an explosion only in order to sow panic and shoot more people. Thus, 21 people died (including 16 students and five teachers) as a result of an explosion and a shooting in Kerch college.
Russia’s Investigation Committee believes that an 18-year-old student of the fourth year of college Vladyslav Roslyakov conducted mass murder in Kerch. The footage shows him right before the incident with a rifle in hands. The investigation reports that Roslyakov shot people in the college and then he committed a suicide. He was found with gunshot wound in college premises. Kerch shooter was cremated and buried secretly.
Great tariff escalation
Gas prices in Ukraine increased by 23,5% from November 1. Now, the price is $305 for a thousand cubic meters. Ukraine and the IMF reached an agreement on a new stand-by program for $3,9 billion right after the Cabinet of Ministers decided to increase the tariffs. “Another price increase by 35% is out of the question, it won’t happen as it is unacceptable for the Ukrainians. And here I am with people,” PM Groysman said in an interview on October 23.
Russian sanctions against Ukraine
October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree imposing sanctions against Ukraine. The government, headed by Dmitry Medvedev, worked quickly, and on November 1, a list of 322 individuals and 68 legal entities was published. These people and companies are subject to "blocking (freezing) non-cash funds, non-documentary securities, and property in Russia and a ban on the transfer of funds (withdrawal of capital) outside of Russia."
The mirror nature of sanctions is evidenced by the fact that the Russian government can lift the sanctions in case of cancellation of similar Ukrainian ones. However, the list can also be expanded. On the other hand, the fact that similar Ukrainian sanctions were imposed in 2017 (against 1228 individuals and 468 legal entities) and expanded in May of this year (up to 1748 individuals and 756 legal entities) speaks against mirroring. Given the dubious quality of the list of subjects to sanctions and the lateness of its compilation, the economic effect will be insignificant. Large-scale economic damage to Ukraine, which Russia could inflict, refers to 2014-2016, and not to 2018.
“Resignation zeal” of Prosecutor General
Yuriy Lutsenko claimed on the intention to resign from the position of prosecutor general on November 6, during the report in the Parliament on the investigation of the murder of public activist Kateryna Handziuk. ‘Today, I am passing the statement of resignation to the President of Ukraine, so that there is no doubt that one clings to power. And the Parliament has to consider this matter: I am asking to do so this week. I have been and will be doing my work,’ the Prosecutor General claimed.
According to Lutsenko, he is resigning because he cannot let be the duality of power in the country when the law enforcement system is being destroyed without evidence even for solved offenses.
Poroshenko did not accept the letter of resignation of Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko.
Cold radiators during heating season
Almost a month after the start of the heating season (October 15), the first snow has already appeared on the streets, but the radiators in hundreds of apartments allover Ukraine were still cold.
Due to numerous problems with the gas supply, а part of Kyiv, Kryvy Rih, Kherson, Smila (Cherkasy region), Pavlohrad, Shepetivka (Khmelnytsky region), and other cities remained without heating. Local residents expressed their protest in various ways: they blocked the roads, burned tires, organized protest rallies. Many town hall administrations declared a state of emergency.
Declaring martial law
The coast guard ships of the Russian Navy acted aggressively against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy, which have been carrying out a scheduled transition from Odesa port to Mariupol port in the Sea of Azov. Given the tough situation in the area of Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov, President Petro Poroshenko supported the offer of Ukraine's national security and defense council; it stipulates that the Ukrainian Parliament should consider the option to impose the martial law in Ukraine.
The martial law in Ukraine, which, according to the National Defense Council, started at 14:00 on November 26, covers 10 regions of the country. These areas are on the border with Russia and unrecognized Transnistria, or they have access to the seas. Russian Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova named the exact number of the detained Ukrainian servicemen – 24. Kyiv demanded from Moscow to immediately provide the medical service to the wounded sailors and provide them urgent return to the Ukrainian territory. According to the Naval Forces of Ukraine, six sailors were wounded and two of them were in the critical condition.