The Red Cross sent 294 tons of humanitarian aid to Donbas on Thursday.
The OSCE reported that pro-Kremlin militants disobey Minsk agreements, as they keep their vehicles and heavy weaponry close to the division line in the combat area. The OSCE observers spotted the weapons near Berestove and Orlivka (Donetsk region); they were supposed to be withdrawn, but the militants did not move them away from designated areas. The latest OSCE report also says that the intensity of attacks in the combat area grew up.
Ukraine is ready for the exchange of the prisoners on the request of the authorities of the occupied territories of Donbas to release the confirmed Ukrainians. Iryna Gerashchenko, the representative of Ukraine at the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas reported this on Facebook. According to Gerashchenko, the humanitarian subgroup demanded to begin the process of the prisoner’s exchange after the 14-months hiatus.
Later TASS reported that Russian president Vladimir Putin spoke in person with leaders of the self-proclaimed ‘people’s republics’ in Donbas; the head of the Russian state offered them to finalize the process of prisoners exchange in Donbas.
The delegation of the US Armed Forces visited the zone of the armed Donbas Conflict on Friday, November 17. Thomas Wofford, the US Colonel and Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché headed the group of the American military. It is noted that the American military visited the demarcation line and the dispositions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The situation in Donbas escalated during the last day. The militants shelled the Ukrainian dispositions 22 times.
The U.S. Senate passed the defense budget 2018, which foresees allocating $350 million for aiding Ukraine on its security. The budget authorizes giving Ukraine lethal arms of defensive nature and considerably broadens the parameters of the US support to Ukraine in security and defense spheres.
Pavlo Sharoyko, a reporter for Ukrainian Radio, was detained in Belarus. CEO of National Television Company of Ukraine Zurab Alasania said that according to our unofficial information in Belarus, he faces the standard accusation for foreign reporters – espionage.
Ukrainian radio notes that there was no contact with the reporter for two weeks, and all attempts to reach him or his relatives were unsuccessful. The Embassy of Ukraine in Belarus hasn’t confirmed or refuted the information yet.
Vasyl Kyrylych, the Head of Department of Consular Support confirmed the information on the detention of Pavlo Sharoyko. Ihor Kyzym, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Belarus added that the Embassy of Ukraine sent a note to the Foreign Ministry of Belarus. Sergy Tomilenko, the Head of the National Union of the Journalists of Ukraine reported that Ukrainian Consul already visited detained Sharoyko.
The New York Times and map of Crimea
The New York Times newspaper published a map that depicts Crimea as the territory of dispute. The publication caused a wave of disputes in Ukraine. Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they will appeal to the American newspaper to correct the status of the peninsula to ‘temporary occupied’. After studying the circumstances of the publication of this map, The New York Times refused to correct the map.
Meanwhile, 40 countries joined the UN resolution on the annexed Crimea.
On Monday, Oleh Sentsov, a Ukrainian unlawfully convicted and sentenced to 20 years in a Russian prison, was put into punishment cell in Yamal prison. According to his lawyer Serhiy Dinze, Sentsov sufferes from bad nutrition regime, which resulted in weight loss and heart problems.
Ukrainian movie director Oleg Sentsov and Crimean activist Oleksandr Kolchenko were detained by the Russian FSB in the annexed Crimea. Both were taken to Russia. Sentsov was charged with preparing a terrorist act in Crimea and sentenced to 20 years in the high-security penal colony. Kolchenko was sentenced to ten-years-long imprisonment.
Battle of Ukraine’s anti-corruption bodies
Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has opened a criminal case against Artem Sytnyk, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. The official is suspected of violating the security of investigation. The authority initiated the case because of the ‘audio record released in the Internet, where a man with the voice similar to that of Sytnyk’s reveals to the press details of some high-profile cases’.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), in its turn, started criminal proceedings on the possible illicit enrichment of Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko.
Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine started a criminal proceeding on possible violations during the procurement of sportswear and tactic shirts by the NABU.
Another state-run anti-corruption agency is being investigated for corruption. The National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NAZK) is a keystone of Western-backed reforms. It has been criticized for making slow progress with its main task of verifying officials’ wealth declarations for evidence of ill-gotten gains.
A new day off in Ukraine – on Catholic Christmas
Ukrainian Parliament adds December 25 to list of holidays and official days off. The authors of the law claim that 11 000 religious Catholic and Protestant communities that equal 30% of all acting religious communities in Ukraine celebrate Christmas by the Gregorian calendar in other words on December 25.
Another high-profile deadly car accident
Another car crash with the lethal outcome took place in Kyiv. A driver of the SUV Mazda drove to the oncoming traffic lane and hit a Mitsubishi that ran into the third car. The passenger of Mitsubishi died at the scene, the driver of the car was hospitalized to the resuscitations department with the traumas and leg fracture. The rescuers got him out of the car.
The driver of the SUV Mazda refused to pass the blood alcohol test while the witnesses claimed that he was drunk. Volodymyr Naida, the Head of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Division #3 of Kyiv was behind the wheel. The court arrested him for two months.
Peacekeepers in Donbas
Volker and Surkov met in Belgrade for another round of talks on Donbas Conflict settlement.
The Special Envoy of U.S. Department of the State and Russian presidential advisor discussed ways of political solution to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. However the talks didn’t prove successful. Assistant to the Russian President Vladislav Surkov said that the United States proposed addendum to the Russian draft resolution on the UN mission in Donbas The Russian delegation reported only three out of 29 to be acceptable. According to the Interfax, American side offered to extend the presence zone of the mission and not be limited to a few posts at the contact line and to increase the number of the personnel.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Russia reported that U.S. and Russian envoys after the discussion of the conflict in eastern Ukraine said their countries have "different concepts for how to make peace" but will continue working to achieve that goal.
The previous rounds of negotiations took place in August and October. Since his appointment to this office, Volker has visited Ukraine five times; this summer, he came to Donbas to witness the tough humanitarian and security situation there.
Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak once again stressed on unacceptance of Russian participation in the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas. While Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei announced that Belarus is ready to send its peacekeepers to Donbas.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak held talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Chrystya Freeland on Thursday. on countries’ further cooperation and Ukraine’s vision of UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas.