Among the most tragic news from the combat zone this week, a 23-year-old female medic Sabina Halytska died in a militant attack on Krymske, while giving medical aid to local civilians on Feb. 20.
This prompted the U.S. State Department to yet again to call on Russia to influence the situation in the region and to allow deploying a UN peacekeeping mission all over the territory of Donbas.
However, what doesn’t change is Russian tactics in Donbas. On Feb. 22, Russia sent another so-called "humanitarian convoy" to the Donbas territory occupied by the pro-Russian militants.
The Russian side claims the trucks carry humanitarian cargo, but refuses them to be checked by Ukrainian border guards. Ukraine insists there are weapons and ammunition aboard the trucks, and this is how Russia sustains the conflict.
On Feb. 22, the Ukrainian Army HQ informed that about 200 Russian officers arrived in occupied territories of Donbas with the so-called “humanitarian convoy”.
The same day, International Committee of the Red Cross mission sent 320 tons of humanitarian assistance to the temporary occupied parts of Donetsk region.
The conflict has proven to be devastating for Ukraine in many ways. According to the data of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, 3,889 Ukrainian soldiers died in the Donbas conflict as of December 2017.
The court hearings on the case of the state treason of Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine continue. On February 21, it was announced that Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine would be questioned in the Obolon District Court of Kyiv.
However, the defense of Yanukovych stood against it and claimed that the questioning in the regime of the video conference would take place just because the president does not want to answer awkward questions.
Despite this, Poroshenko held the video conference and witnessed at the court, particularly, he spoke on the threat to his life during his trip to Crimea on February 27, 2014. The President added that Crimeans came to his aid during the confrontations that happened near the Supreme Council of Crimea.
Also, he dwelled on the relations with Yanukovych and his withdrawal, purposed of his visit and stay in Crimea, illegal referendum held by Russia in annexed Crimea and physical pressure on him. The president mentioned his visit to Luhansk in 2014 and the shelling of his car and saving of a woman.
Moreover, Poroshenko claimed about the discussion of the implementation of the law 'On the specifics of the state policy on ensuring state sovereignty of Ukraine on the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions' with the leadership of the Armed Forces.
The questioning of the Ukrainian President was ended prematurely as the lawyers of the defense were asking inappropriate questions, so the interrogation was terminated. Later the lawyers of Yanukovych appealed for the holding of the questioning of Poroshenko for second time but the Court refused the defense of Viktor Yanukovych in their appeal. The court called the motion groundless, stating that protection yesterday did not use its right to interrogate the president.
Shakhtar Donetsk beat Roma 2-1 in Kharkiv. The Ukrainians from Shakhtar go to quarter finals, after having pipped Serie A leaders Napoli to a last 16 place after beating Man City in their final group match. It was another impressive result for Shakhtar, which beat Manchester City and Napoli in Ukraine in the group stages of this season's competition.
A day later Dynamo Kyiv was playing against AEK Athens in Kyiv. FC Dynamo Kyiv draws 0-0 in the round of 32-second leg against Greece's FC AEK Athens, which enables Dynamo getting to the UEFA Europa League round of 16.
The aggregate score, including the first leg, was 1-1. The weather conditions during the game were bad -9C compared to +10 in Greece, but the line of defense of the Kyiv team and goalkeeper Denis Boiko helped to defend their goalposts.
On Wednesday, 21 February, Interfax-Ukraine reported of a new program by the Danish government to allocate €65 million for the support of human rights, democracy and economic growth in Ukraine. At a joint press conference of foreign ministers of both nations, Denmark’s Anders Samuelsen stressed the importance of successful anti-corruption measures, particularly, the establishment of a specialized Anti-Corruption court. According to Samuelsen, anti-corruption policies will facilitate trade with Ukraine and attraction of foreign investment in the country. In his turn, Ukraine’s foreign minister said that there are 80 Danish enterprises currently operating in Ukraine and he would like to see that number rise to 800.
On Thursday, 22 February, Amnesty International published a report on the state of human rights in Ukraine. The organization noted increased pressure from government agencies towards critics and independent civil organizations, journalists and anti-corruption activists. According to Amnesty International, Ukrainian state services have initiated criminal proceedings and adopted laws that could restrict the citizens’ freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. In particular, the organization pointed out the case of Darya Mastikasheva, a Ukrainian citizen living in Russia, who was accused of high treason and illegal possession of arms in mid-August. Photographs of Darya taken outside of the courtroom allegedly show signs of beating and torture by the Secret Service of Ukraine. Amnesty International also mentioned the case of a man who was sentenced to death in Donetsk in November. The Russian authorities in Crimea are said to have intimidated, harassed and initiated criminal investigations into their critics.
On Friday, 23 February, it was revealed that Ukrainian citizen Pavlo Gryb detained in Russia was denied access to medicine. His father published a post on Facebook citing Ukrainian consuls who say Pavlo looks very pale, complains of weakness and bad health and serious pain in the stomach, and has apparently lost weight. The 19-year-old has been prescribed to medicine throughout his life.
The next day, it was reported that Gryb was allowed to talk to Ukraine's consul at last.
Pavlo Gryb was reportedly kidnapped from Belarus on 24 August, and brought to a prison in Krasnodar, Russia. He has been detained there ever since.
The European Union has officially confirmed that it stops financing projects to develop more than 10 checkpoints on the western border of Ukraine. In addition, Ukraine will have to return some of the funds.
But Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman has announced the government’s intention to discuss the launch of a new border infrastructure development program with representatives of the European Union after the latter decided to shut down the previous one.
At the same time, the leader of the government emphasized that the State Fiscal Service, which was a party to the program, had failed to organize its implementation. “The program was established in 2007 and came to an end in 2013. Then we requested its extension. Unfortunately, the State Fiscal Service failed to implement the project, but we realized that it was almost impossible to implement the program,” Groysman said.
We are very proud to present another two films in the Close Ease series - a project about people who make Donbass better for fellow countrymen and closer to the whole country.
This films are presented by the 112 Ukraine TV channel in the framework of the project with the Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative (UCBI II), funded by the US agency of international development USAID. It is devoted to the people of Donbas region who have managed to change their lives in spite of the war unfolding in Eastern Ukraine.