This week, there has brought an escalation in Donbas conflict; in spite of the visit of OSCE SMM leading official Alexander Hug and Japanese ambassador Shigeki Sumi who observed the situation in the area, Russia-backed mercenaries frequently shelled Ukrainian army positions, using the Minsk-banned weapons. Minsk talks parties gathered in Belarus to discuss further steps to solve the conflict.
On Monday, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Alexander Hug, started his visit to eastern Ukraine, which will be running on February 15 – 21. Hug assesses the security situation along the contact line and its impact on civilians, and engage with communities on the ground.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Ukraine Shigeki Sumi and delegation of the United Nations Agency for Refugees in Ukraine visited Donetsk region on Tuesday. The delegation accompanied by the Deputy Chairman of Donetsk Regional State Administration Ihor Stokoz, inspected housing in the village of Kurdyumivka restored by the United Nations Agency for Refugees with the financial support of the Government of Japan and other international donors in the UNHCR project for 2017. The project provided for carrying out repair works of the houses, affected by the conflict along the line of demarcation
Dan Coats, the head of the U.S. National Intelligence released his forecast on the course of Donbas conflict, saying that the hostilities are unlikely to end in 2018. According to him, there’s a small chance that any of the warring sides advance in the combat area over this period; however, Russia is, most likely, about to continue the information war against Ukraine, which aims to destabilize this country – both politically and economically.
The document also focuses on the social and economic risks that could lead to snap elections in Ukraine – such as corruption and the mass disapproval of the rate of the ongoing reforms in the country. According to Coats, these are the most serious risks for the incumbent Ukrainian government.
Ukraine's armed forces have advanced in the western part of Luhansk region, pushing the enemy away from the area of Novooleksandrivka village. Alexander Hug, the first deputy head of OSCE SMM in Ukraine reported that at a briefing on Friday.
Last week, OSCE observers spotted combat vehicles on both sides of the division line in the combat area; they reported the presence of 15 vehicles; nine of them belong to Ukrainian forces, six to the illegal armed units of pro-Kremlin militants.
OSCE also reported frequent use of the Minsk-banned weaponry in Luhansk region since Wednesday; over 3,000 ceasefire violations were reported over one day, which is the worst index of violence per one day in the entire combat area since March 2017.
A three-day Munich Security Conference started on Friday.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko gave a speech, introducing a new notion of "full-scale hybrid world war" for Russian aggression.
The negotiations between Pavlo Klimkin and Sergei Lavrov, foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia, were also in the focus of world's attention.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) served Hennady Trukhanov, the Mayor of Odesa and four officials of Odesa Mayor Office with charge notices on the case of the sale of the plant 'Krayan' on February 13. According to the source, they are suspect of the embezzlement of the big sum of funds.
On Thursday, February 15, the court released Trukhanov on parole. It is noted that Hennady Trukhanov was bailed by People’s Deputy Dmitry Golubov. After the announcement of the decision, Trukhanov walked free out of the courtroom.
The relations between Ukraine and Poland remain to be tense. In the center of Kharkiv, unknown people painted a monument of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) soldiers in the colors of the Polish flag as the National Police reported. The unknown people painted white and red bands on the monument to the deceased soldiers of UPA.
Moreover, the unknown threw the improvised explosive device into the museum of Stepan Bandera in Stary Ugryniv village, Ivano-Frankivsk region on the night of February 14th to 15th.
On February 14, Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland submitted a new law on Institute of National Memory of Poland to be checked in the Constitutional Court. The court should check the law on the presence of the contradictions to the Constitution of Poland.
Also, Duda appealed to the Constitutional Court the wording, which concerns "Ukrainian nationalists", in the updated law on the National Memory Institute. The message said that Duda protested the provisions of the updated law, which used the wording "Ukrainian nationalists" and "Eastern Lesser Poland".
Moreover, it was reported that the Ukrainians who plan to get the permission to stay in Poland are questioned about their attitude toward Stepan Bandera and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during the interview. If a person doubts during the interview or does not express the attitude clear enough, the application will be rejected.
Deprived of Ukrainian citizenship by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko’s decree and facing extradition to Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili did not appear at the Kyiv Prosecutor’s office for questioning on Monday. Earlier, the Kyiv District Administrative Court confirmed that there are no grounds, which would require to provide Saakashvili with additional protection. Later that day, Saakashvili was captured and detained by the Border Guard Service, which made his lawyer file a kidnapping claim to the Pechersky District Police Station. This sparked minor protests from Saakashvili’s supporters, who clashed with the police outside of the Presidential Administration late Monday night.
In a Facebook post the Border Guard Service claimed that Saakashvili was readmitted to Poland, where he came from in September of 2017. The Polish Border Guard Service confirmed that they have accepted Saakashvili on the grounds of a request from the Migration Service of Ukraine to the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard Service of Poland. On Tuesday, a member of the Georgian Parliament announced that Georgia would seek Warsaw’s help in the extradition of the former’s ex-president, should he remain in Poland for a long time.
On Wednesday, Mikheil Saakashvili himself took to Facebook to tell the world that he has obtained a Dutch residence permit, which allows him to stay and seek employment in the Netherlands. On Friday, 16 February, Interfax-Ukraine reported that the appeal on behalf of ex-President of Georgia was handed over to another judgeship of the Cassation District Court, which led to the suspension of proceedings of Saakashvili’s lawsuit against the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.
Another resonant murder occurred in Kyiv. In broad daylight, anti-terrorist operation combatant has stabbed a famous chef Ruslan Yurchenko at the public transport stop. It happened in front of his wife, who was also at a stop at that moment. As eyewitnesses note, the wife was entering the bus, while her husband was stabbed in the back.
Soon after that, the police detained and searched Balabukh; he kept the knife, so the law enforcers seized it and arrested him. He confessed to have committed the crime.
Volodymyr Balabukh is now suspected of the intentional murder. On Monday, the court ruled that he will be staying at a pre-trial detention facility for two months.
The wounded man was Kyivan, a 35-year-old chef of the famous Odesa restaurant Cooper Burgers Ruslan Yurchenko. The man considered himself a "food fan" and was a cook with 10 years’ experience. He had a 5-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter.
Continuing our efforts in telling stories about people of Donbas region who have managed to change their lives in spite of the war unfolding in Eastern Ukraine together with the 12 Ukraine TV channel, the Ukraine Confidence Building Initiative (UCBI II) and the US agency of international development USAID.
This week we launched an official start with a press release, and added two new films.