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Ukraine: ORDLO militants put obstacles to OSCE’s monitors


Illegal armed groups in separate areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO) continue limiting freedom of movement of monitors of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) and jeopardize their work, Ukraine’s representatives of the Joint Control and Coordination Center (JCCC) have reported.
“Since early 2018, the OSCE SMM continues to register cases of threats, limitations of access to military facilities and freedom of movement of its patrols on the territory temporarily uncontrolled by the government of Ukraine”, the press center of the ATO headquarters said on its Facebook page on Sunday morning. “At the same time, populists from ORDLO simulate teeming activity, having issued the second “order” in the past six months banning the unjustified limitation of freedom of movement of OSCE monitors. After issuing the first “order” late August 2017, the number of these restrictions not only did not decrease but even increased. For example, during the first month when “the order” was in effect the OSCE CMM recorded 46 cases of these violations”, the headquarters said.

Poverty in Ukraine is diminishing


The poverty level in Ukraine fell to 12% in 2017, according to Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), the Dzerkalo Tyzhnia.Ukraine (ZN.UA) weekly has reported, referring to Deputy Execute Director of KIIS Viktoria Zakhozha. She said that from 1994 to 2017, the poverty level in Ukraine changed. The worst situation was in the late 1990s. In 1998, 52% of respondents believed that they were almost starving. Then the situation improved, and for 10 years – until 2008 – the poverty level decreased to 11%. “And this is one of the few, but important achievements of Ukraine over the years. In 2008, after the outbreak of the global crisis, the level of poverty increased to 21%, but then the situation began to improve. Before the start of the military conflict, in 2013, the poverty level was 9%, almost doubling from 2014 to 2016, to 17%, but in the last year the situation has improved and the poverty level has dropped to 12%”, Zakhozha said.

BalkanInsight: “Serbs flocked to help Russian ‘brothers'”


Belgrade-based sleuth journalist from Serbia’s Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) Marija Ristic has probed into the reasons why mercenaries from Serbia have been taking part in the war waged by Russia against Ukraine in Donbas. “The most prominent case was against Radomir Pocuca, a former special police spokesperson, who over several months of fighting in Ukraine posted almost daily videos, photos and other entries related to his time in Donetsk. Pocuca also claimed that he went to help Serbia’s ‘Russian brothers’ for patriotic reasons, mainly as payback for Russia’s support for Serbia in the dispute over the former province of Kosovo [which declared independence in 2008 – which Serbia has vowed never to recognize]”, she wrote in the article titled “Facebook Reveals Serbian Fighters’ Role in Ukraine War”, posted by BalkanInsight on December 27. Serbs are said to remember that Russian fighters volunteered for the Serbian side in the 1992-5 war in Bosnia, which pitched Serbs against a combination of Croats and Bosniaks [Bosnian Muslims].



Report from OSCE says that Eighty-five civilians killed in Donbas this year


Eighty-five civilians, including an OSCE representative, have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since the beginning of 2017, according to the latest data from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission

OSCE SMM Principal Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug said this at a briefing in Kyiv on Friday, Ukrinform correspondent reports.

“I would like to take this opportunity to reflect also on the victims of the conflict. This year so far, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has confirmed the death of 85 people and the injury of 384. Among them was a colleague of ours, Joseph Stone, killed by what probably was an anti-tank mine near Pryshyb on April 23,” Hug said. According to him, while the conflict raged in eastern Ukraine in 2017, observers see the willingness and ability to make things better to improve the lives of the civilian population.

Ukraine successfully tests Vilkha missile system


“I congratulate all Ukrainians on the successful test of the Ukrainian Vilkha missile system. I’ve just received a report that all four missiles hit the target!” he wrote. As UNIAN reported earlier, on August 26, 2016, an adviser to the Minister of Defense Yuriy Biryukov said that the Ukrainian military carried out the first test launch of a new missile. In turn, military expert and director of the information and consulting company Defense Express, Serhiy Zgurets, said that these were the tests of a new missile system based on the Smerch MLRS. “The project name is Vilkha. The launches took place at the testing ground near Odesa – in a place where such tests were held for the first time,” he said. Commenting on the test launches, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Turchynov said: “Now we can say with confidence that Ukraine has a new powerful missile weapon, which will become a weighty argument for deterring the aggressor.”





Ukraine to continue operations at JCCC but to withdraw monitors from occupied Donbas


The Ukrainian side will continue its work at the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination of Ceasefire in Donbas, but will have to withdraw its monitors from the occupied territory, deputy spokesman for Ukraine’s Armed Forces Yuzef Venskovych said.

The official noted that the Russian Federation’s statements about the alleged disrespectful attitude of Ukrainian servicemen toward their Russian counterparts at the JCCC are untrue: “These insinuations do not correspond to reality, those on the allegedly disrespectful attitude, and so on.” Venskovych has stressed the fact that the Ukrainian side continues and will continue to fulfill its responsibilities in accordance with the responsibilities assigned to JCCC in the framework of the implementation of Minsk agreements. “Meanwhile, this will certainly complicate the activities of the Joint Centre, since there will be no representatives on the other side if they withdraw their military personnel … If Russian officers withdraw from the JCCC, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are forced to pull back from the occupied territories its monitors who were acting there on behalf of the JCCC to the territory controlled by Ukraine due to the fact that their safety will not be ensured,” said Venskovych.

Moldovа ratifies readmission deal with Ukraine


“The document establishes the principles and norms for regulating the procedure for the readmission of persons who are staying on the territory of Ukraine and Moldova, having violated the entry/exit regime. The agreement also defines the terms of these persons’ stay in both countries,” the report said. The deal also provides for a mechanism for interaction of the parties when implementing the readmission procedure. As UNIAN reported earlier, on October 6, 2017, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and his Moldovan counterpart Pavel Filip signed an agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Moldovan government on readmission and the relevant implementation protocol. Moreover, they signed off an agreement on the joint control over the movement of persons, vehicles, goods, and objects via joint checkpoints at the Ukrainian-Moldovan state border.


Klimkin, UN Secretary-General discuss deployment of UN peacekeepers in Donbas


Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York focused on the prospects for a UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas.

The spokesman for Ukraine’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Oleh Nikolenko said this to an Ukrinform correspondent. “Pavlo Klimkin discussed with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres the prospects for the introduction of a UN peacekeeping mission in the east of Ukraine, protection of human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea, humanitarian cooperation, including the release of Ukrainian political prisoners and hostages from Russian captivity”, the Ukrainian diplomat said. He also said that the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry handed over to the UN secretary-general an open letter on behalf of the association of relatives of political prisoners of the Kremlin, and the human rights and public organizations of Ukraine.


Putin: “certain military, militia formations in Donbas”, talks about “massacre”


Russian President Vladimir Putin has said there is no Russian army in Donbas, but recognizes the creation of “certain military, militia” formations, according to an UNIAN correspondent “There is no Russian army on the territory of Donbas, but there have actually been established certain military, militia formations that are self-sufficient and ready to repel any large-scale military actions against Donbas,” he said at an annual press conference December 14. At the same time, Putin claims that the creation of such formations corresponds to the interests of people living in the temporarily occupied territories.

“Because if they do not have such an opportunity there, the ‘massacre’, even worse than in Srebrenica, will be carried out by the so-called nationalist battalions, and nothing will stop them, including an appeal, as I was advised by some Western colleagues, to international human rights organizations,” Putin said.

Yanukovych signed 50 agreements in favor of Russia’s interests


Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed 50 agreements in favor of Russia from 2010 to 2014, former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk has said. He stated during his interrogation in Kyiv’s Obolonsky District Court in the Yanukovych treason case, an Ukrinform correspondent reports. “Between 2010 and 2014, more than 50 bilateral documents were signed between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. As a rule, these documents were aimed at ensuring that Russia could have the greatest possible economic and security impact on the Ukrainian state,” he said. Yatseniuk added that the agreements mainly concerned cooperation between Ukraine and Russia in the field of gas, nuclear energy and security. According to the former prime minister, the adoption of Kharkiv agreements between Ukraine and Russia on the extension of the period of stay of the Russian Black Sea Fleet on Ukrainian territory until 2042 became a kind of legitimization of the presence of Russian troops and created preconditions for Russian aggression in early 2014.



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