Three Ukrainian fighters lost their lives due to the activity of Russian mercenaries in Donbas. Andriy Voitovych (born in 1990), Viktor Prusky (b.1970) and Serhiy Syrota (b.1997) deceased due to an explosion near Zolote, Luhansk region. The press office of the 14th Detached Mechanized Brigade of Ukraine's Armed Forces reported that on December 9.
Ukrainian Army Colonel Oleksiy Nozdrachov made an outraging statement, claiming that Ukraine's military was "ready to reintegrate with the Russian army" and mercenaries from the self-proclaimed "republics" of DNR and LNR rather than the volunteers that served with the Ukrainian forces in Donbas since 2014. The respective claim was made at a roundtable in Kyiv on December 12. The original statement caused a huge outrage of the civil society in social networks. Some activists urged their fellow citizens to join the rally in Kyiv, where they would demand an investigation and due punishment for Nozdrachov.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia claims that over 160 thousand Ukrainians residing in Lugansk and Donetsk regions were eager to obtain Russian citizenship since April this year.
Fighters wearing Russian uniforms have been spotted in the area of Stanytsia Luhanska (the area of the disengagement of forces No.1). They wore the armbands with the inscriptions saying 'Joint Control Coordination Centre'. The actual officers of this Centre do not use such armbands. The press office of the Joint Forces Operation HQ reported that on Facebook.
The Ukrainian Parliament extended the special status of governance in the occupied Donbas until 2020.
About Normandy Summit
One of the top news this week was the meeting of the leaders of the Normandy Four (Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia). Volodymyr Zelensky, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin met in Paris on December 9. The top officials gathered to discuss full ceasefire in the war-torn eastern Ukraine, control over the state border and the election in Donbas that must be held according to the Ukrainian law.
Simultaneously, thousands of protesters reached the Presidential Office in Kyiv. Rally members were well aware of the fact that Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky would meet with Vladimir Putin, the leader of the aggressor state. They demanded to protect Ukraine’s national interests, resisting Putin’s demands.
The one-day summit took a while, and the leaders approached the reporters after midnight of December 10. Zelensky, in particular, stated that there would be no federalization process in Ukraine, as it remains the unitary state. He also proposed setting up a special group within the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk in order to organize a gradual return of the control over the Ukrainian-Russian border. Then, he bluntly rejected Putin’s offer to negotiate with Russian mercenaries in Donbas.
The EU and UN Secretary-General praised the very fact that the Normandy Four leaders convened and negotiated on the issues concerning solution to the Donbas conflict.
About Sheremet murder case
On December 12, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stated that National police detained suspect in the murder of journalist Pavlo Sheremet. It turned to be musician and Donbas Conflict veteran Andriy Antonenko. Later it was reported that his apartment is searched.
Moreover, police suspect five persons in the murder of journalist Sheremet. The main line of inquiry is the destabilization of the social and political situation in Ukraine by murder of the famous person.
Later it was reported that the investigation considers musician and Donbas Conflict veteran Andriy Antonenko to be the organizer of the murder of journalist Pavlo Sheremet.
Court chose the restrictive measure in the form of the 24-hour house arrest for military nurse Yana Duhar, the person of interest in the case of the murder of journalist Pavlo Sheremet.
Besides, Yulia Kuzmenko, the children medic is now considered the actual assassin of reporter Pavlo Sheremet.
About IMF and U.S. defense budget
On December 9, EU Ambassador to Ukraine Matti Maasikas stated that Ukraine's new IMF arrangements will pave the way for EU macro-financial assistance to Kyiv.
However, Ukraine’s National Bank Head Yakiv Smoliy stated that the signing of the new program with the IMF will not take place in 2019 but in the first quarter of 2020. IMF specified that the date of the meeting of the IMF Directors Board on the approval of the new EFF cooperation program for Ukraine is unknown yet.
This week, the U.S. Congress agreed the defense budget for 2020, which provides the allocation of $300 million of military aid. Later, the House of Representatives of the U.S. supported the bill on the defense budget for 2020.
About sanctions against Russia
On December 12, the EU decided to prolong the sanctions against Russia until March 15, 2020.
Besides, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the bill aiming for the imposing of the sanctions against Russia for Nord Stream 2 construction.
The head of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov was held in Bucharest Airport in Romania for three hours. He believes that the incident took place due to the requests of Russia.
Earlier this week, Chubarov said that Ukraine still did not have the instruments to change the situation with the protection of rights in occupied Crimea and Donbas.
Two Ukrainian football teams are out of UEFA Europa League. Dynamo Kyiv played a 1-1 draw with Lugano, placed third in the group, thus left the tournament. Meanwhile, Oleksandriya FC was not able to defeat Gent and 2:1 lost made it leave the tournament as well.