War with Russia
Russian-occupational forces continue gravely violating the Minsk agreements, using mortars and heavy artillery.
Militants attacked the Ukrainian soldiers with mortars and used Grads to shell Adviivka on December 11. Four Ukrainian soldiers were reported wounded on December 15 - two near Maryinka and two more near Pisky and Luhanske.
Armed militants of the so-called "DNR" near Horlivka checkpoint in Donetsk region on December 8 interrupted the conversation of the Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE with local residents and forbade to talk to them. After that, the observers were ordered to leave the area.
UN published the 20th report on Human Rights in Ukraine – it says that at least 2,523 civilians died since the beginning of the armed Donbas Conflict (April 14, 2014 – November 15, 2017).
Besides, the OSCE SMM spotted 1,000 explosions in Donetsk region and 50 explosions in Luhansk region on December 11.
The Head of the Special Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported 403 citizens of Ukraine are missing.
The Kremlin might launch a full-scale war against Ukraine any moment. Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Secretary said that during the session of Ukraine-NATO committee.
On the diplomatic front, countries who aim to enter the EU, - Albania and Montenegro, a member of the European Economic Area - Norway, and Ukraine, joined the sanctions against Russia in connection with the situation in the Donbas.
EU leaders extend sanctions against Russia for six months.
Oleksandr Turchynov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) held the negotiations with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General on the bilateral cooperation of Ukraine and alliance.
Pechersk Court of Kyiv intended to select a restrictive measure for Mikheil Saakashvili on December 11th. Saakashvili's supporters gathered under the court and some of them were present at the courtroom.
Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of ‘Batkivshchyna’ Party claimed that she is ready to bail Mikheil Saakashvili while earlier 11 MPs also reported that they are ready to bail Saakashvili.
However, the court did not succeed with the house arrest with an ankle monitor as the restrictive measure for Saakashvili, so the politician was released. Later Saakashvili claimed that he is going to continue the political activity despite the difficulties.
The Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine called Saakashvili for another questioning on December 18th. The prosecutor will question the politician on the criminal proceeding of December 4, 2017, opened due to four articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
Moreover, the Prosecutor General's Office claimed that it has more records that confirm the guilt of Saakashvili in the organizing of the protests financed by the allies of the former president of Ukraine Yanukovych.
Yanukovych state treason case
Another court session on the case of the Yanukovych state treason took place in Kyiv on December 11th. Top officials of Ukraine as Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine were questioned during the court session on the case.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk testified against former Ukrainian president Yanukovych, particularly, he spoke on his ties with Putin, his escape and disappearance. Moreover, he spoke on the annexation of Crimea and his premiership.
Arsen Avakov began his testimony with the unusual request to speak in 'Slobozhansk' language or Russian. He spoke about actions of Yanukovych, choice, and ties with Moscow. Also, he touched on Donbas and Crimea issues and his way on the position of the Interior Minister.
The next hearing on the case of the Yanukovych state treason will take place on December 20th. Also, it was reported that a witness will be questioned during the hearing but the name of the witness is unknown.
Ukraine and Poland relations
The relations between two countries haven’t been particularly good lately, taking into account Poland creating a list of Ukrainians banned from entering the country in response to Ukraine’s forbidding to exhume Poles on its territory.
However, Mateusz Morawiecki, new Polish Prime Minister, said that the country aims to resume close strategic contacts with Ukraine, Georgia, and Lithuania.
On Dec. 13, President of Poland Andrzej Duda visited Kharkiv. Together with President Poroshenko, he paid tribute to the victims of the totalitarian regime.
On the joint conference of two Presidents, Petro Poroshenko said that it was Russia who benefited from the conflicts in-between the countries.
‘We have a clear understanding that only one side benefits in the historical conflicts between Ukraine and Poland. It is not Ukraine or Poland, it is Russia. We have the clear understanding of this issue in both countries. And we should find a solution to this situation,’ Poroshenko said.
Apart from that, the parties touched upon the historical events and their role in modern relations between the countries.
"We came to the common opinion that history should not influence the strategic nature of Ukrainian-Polish relations. We must honor the memory of innocent victims, but we must firmly move forward, because we will not change history, but we must and can change the present and create better conditions for the future. So that no one can imbue hatred neither in the hearts of Ukrainians nor in the hearts of the Poles," the President of Ukraine said.
Poroshenko also noted that during the talks with Polish President they agreed to raise the level of the commission on cooperation in historical matters. Poroshenko expressed hope that such a commission will hold a meeting in the near future.
In its turn, the Polish President commented on the commissions’ discussions, which would relate to the speedy abolition of the ban on exhumation:
"We agreed with the President that I will turn to Mr. Vice Prime Minister Glinsky, the Minister of Culture in Poland so that at the ministerial level we could conduct commission discussions concerning the speedy lifting of the ban on exhumation. This is very important for us, and I interpret this as the first steps towards overcoming the recent dead-end. I call on politicians to be reasonable in their speeches, statements, not to act emotionally, because these are complex cases," Duda said.
Gas pipe explosion in Austria
The explosion took place on one of the biggest gas pipeline in Weiden an der March district, Austria on December 12th. The Eustram Gas Company confirmed that the incident happened due to the technical deficiency.
The law enforcers reported on the death of one person and 21 victims of the explosion. The Directorate General for consular service of the Minister of Foreign Affairs reported that Ukrainian citizens did not suffer or perish in the explosion.
Bloomberg reported citing the Austrian E-Control that the transporting of gas to Italy, Slovenia and Croatia was stopped in the result of the explosion. It was reported that the transit of the Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine can decrease by one third.
Though Andry Kobolev, the Head of Naftogaz-Ukraine noted that the explosion at Austrian gas pipeline will not influence the provision of the Ukrainian clients with the gas.
Sanctions against Russia extended
This week, the international community once again showed solidarity and support for Ukraine. Most importantly, the EU leaders decided to extend the sanctions against Russia at the two-day EU summit in Brussels. On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and her EU counterparts do not see enough progress in the implementation of Minsk agreements to lift the restriction measures from Russia.
The Standing Committee of the National Defence of Canada recommended the country’s Parliament to broaden the sanctions against Russian officials and entities involved in the aggression against Ukraine. ‘We recommend that the Canadian government extend the sanctions, including the use of Magnitsky act, by applying them against those responsible for the armed conflict in Ukraine,’ the Committee pointed out in the report called ‘Canada’s support to Ukraine in crisis and armed conflict’. The Committee also urged the government to work with the allies, including the NATO, in order to support and reinforce the sanction regimes against Russian operatives.
Albania, Montenegro, Norway and Ukraine joined the sanctions against Dmitry Ovsyannikov, the governor of the occupied Sevastopol. He was cut off the EU banking system and banned from entering the EU.The respective declaration deals with measures in response to ‘actions that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine’.