Despite the Christmas truce, the militants in Donbas continue attacking the Ukrainian Army.
The situation got especially tense on Jan. 17, when two Ukrainian soldiers received lethal wounds due to a vehicle explosion in Luhansk region, while another five servicemen sustained wounds of various degrees of severity.
After the detainee exchange that took place at the end of 2017, some supporters of the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ faced prosecutions, having returned to the militant-controlled area of Donetsk region, as Ukraine’s military intelligence reports.
Moreover, the armed conflict in Donbas causes a spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Ukraine. Scientists found the connection between the displacement of 1.7 million of people due to the combat actions and the spread of the HIV infection.
In the meantime, Ukrainian side of Minsk Trilateral Group intends to promote the creation of a new work subdivision; it will be aiming to discuss opportunities to restore the control over the Ukrainian border in Donetsk and Luhansk region.
Phone connection in the occupied territory is slowly turning into a luxuries thing. On Jan. 11, one of the two phone providers in the conflict zone shut down due to the damage to the fiber optic cable near Yelenivka village, in the so-called "gray zone". The repair teams of mobile operators or public utilities, when visiting the gray zone, are often subjected to shelling and human losses, so they do not hurry to go there without security guarantees. In the end, they manage to repair the damage and the connection was renewed on Jan. 18. However, leader of the self-proclaimed DPR Zakharchenko announced about possible "nationalization" of Vodafone on the territory of the republic. That would make users choose between two “nationalized” by militants phone connection providers.
The First meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas in 2018 took place in Minsk on January 18. The Ukrainian side claimed that it would be promoting the creation of a new work subdivision; it will be aiming to discuss opportunities to restore the control over the Ukrainian border in Donetsk and Luhansk region.
Moreover, the representatives of Ukraine and occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions exchanged the lists of the hostages. Also, the Ukrainian side will continue the initiative of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the creation of the international mechanism, for the search of the disappeared people.
Later it was reported that US President Donald Trump suggested moving the Minsk talks on resolving the conflict in Ukraine someplace else, and discussed it with the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. The Kazakhstan president also noted that originally the talks should be held in Kazakhstan. In its turn, Belarusian Foreign Minister claimed that Belarus did not suggest itself be a platform for the talks but the leaders of the Normandy Format appealed to Alexandr Lukashenko with the proper request. 'The talks on Ukraine can be replaced even to the Antarctic if there is confidence in their success. It is necessary that all sides of the conflict and not-involved but interested states aim to stop the bloodshedding to make such confidence to appear'.
Nevertheless, the next meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas will take place on January 31. Valeria Lutkovska, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights claimed that the sides will continue to discuss the exchange of the hostages at the next meeting.
Verkhovna Rada on January 18 adopted as a whole the bill on the state policy aiming to secure the sovereignty of Ukraine over the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The preamble states about the occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol. In particular, it admits February 20, 2014, to be the date of start of the Crimea's occupation.
The draft law defines Donetsk and Luhansk regions temporarily occupied territories as the territories over which Russia has established control (including land, water, subsoil, and air).
It is stated that Russia, despite the occupation, does not receive any rights for these territories and the term of the occupation does not matter.
The Kremlin opposed the newly approved law of reintegration of Donbas. Russian Foreign Ministry said the approval of the document might lead to 'dangerous escalation'. The Ministry added that despite the document went through several editions, it 'preserved the initial objective, which was to set the legal grounds of Kyiv's commitment to solving Donbas conflict by the means of force.'
The so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) claims that the adoption of the law on Donbas reintegration by the Ukrainian Parliament will turn to the escalation of the armed Donbas Conflict. Oleksandr Zakharchenko.
At the same time, Oleksandr Turchynov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine claimed that the adoption of the law on Donbas reintegration by Ukrainian parliament strengthens the stand of Ukraine at the international courts. According to him, this law creates the legal and the organizational terms for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s Foreign Minister claimed that Ukrainian authorities prepared new restrictions on the use of the language for the ethnic Hungarians who lived in Ukrainian, particularly the publishing of the Hungarian newspapers in two languages. According to him, Hungary would stand against such measures as well as against the law ‘On education’.
Later, on January 19, Szijjártó said that Budapest wouldn’t facilitate holding the Ukraine - NATO summit at the level of Defense Ministers, he told after the meeting with Vasyl Brenzovych, the head of Society of Hungarian culture in Zakarpattia. He emphasized that Hungary’s position remains unchanged: Budapest wouldn’t support European integration aspirations of Kyiv so long as it violates the European and international rights.
He said once again that Budapest would continue to view the education law as intended against international and European norms, bilateral agreements and basic agreement between Ukraine and Hungary.
In the first two weeks of 2018, 1,285 people have been infected with measles in Ukraine, as the Minister of Health Ulana Suprun said in the Parliament. Within 11 months of 2017, 3,382 people were diagnosed with measles. Last year four lethal cases of measles were recorded, but Ulana Suprun noted there were six lethal cases, and four of them were children. Between 10 and 14 January, more than 10,000 children were vaccinated against measles in Kyiv. It is believed that measles got to Ukraine from Romania.
In Kyiv, as of January 19, there are 109 diseased by measles, including 81 children. It was reported that an unvaccinated child died from measles. And it’s the 8th case of death since the beginning of the outbreak.
The measles epidemic came to Ukraine from Romania, which has problems with vaccination, acting Minister of Healthcare Ulana Suprun said. According to Suprun, 86% of the diseased were not vaccinated against measles accordingly to the calendar. She stressed that vaccination is the only cure against measles.