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  • Russia prepared to occupy Crimea back in 2010 and other things we learned from Yanukovychs treason trial
    EUROMAIDAN PRESS Yuri Zoria 2019/02/06 - 13:51

    On 24 January, the one-and-a-half year long treason trial of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych finally ended.

    The fugitive ex-head of state was charged with high treason, encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine, and complicity in Russias aggressive warfare. Since Yanukovych has been hiding in Russia since early spring of 2014, he was tried in absentia.

    The court summoned Yanukovych several times, but he ignored the requests. Later, the former president planned to give evidence via video connection from Russia but it failed. Later, Yanukovych was going to remotely deliver his final statement but the hearings were postponed as his attorney stated that his client was taken to a hospital. Later Yanukovych didnt take part in his trial.

    In total, more than 100 witnesses were interviewed for the case, including the former Russian MP Denis Voronenkov, who was shot dead in Kyiv in March 2017.

    The courtroom testimonies of Ukrainian officials shed light on the unknown and disregarded details of Russias occupation of Crimea. Heres what we learned from the trial.

    The prosecutors asked the court to sentence Yanukovych to 15 years imprisonment, the maximal term prescribed for high treason under Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

    Judges of the Obolon District Court in Kyiv found Yanukovych guilty of two charges, high treason and complicity in aggressive war, sentencing him in absentia to 13 years in prison in the first charge and 12 in the second. However, the court found Yanukovych not guilty in separatism, since when asking Russia for help he didnt realize the consequences his actions later triggered.

    The Ukrainian legal system doesnt allow imposing the terms of imprisonment imposed on the same person at the same time consecutively. Instead, absorption of the less severe punishment by the more severe one takes place.

    Thus, the final sentence is 13 years in prison.
    A number of direct participants of the winter-spring 2014 developments testified in court during the legal proceedings. And their first-hand testimonies detailed the disastrous situation Ukraine faced and had to deal with following Yanukovychs rule, his flight, and subsequent aggression by the Russian Federation.

    1. Yanukovych brought about the collapse of the Ukrainian army
    After Yanukovych won the 2010 presidential elections, he started destroying the Ukrainian military capabilities.

    Mykhailo Koval, the acting defense minister from late March until early July 2014, testified that Yanukovych as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) had to order the General Staff to draw up defensive operations plans.

    Instead, the then president degraded the combat readiness of the army. No plans and tasks existed, many military units were disbanded, especially in the strategically important regions the East, Crimea, and Besarabia, as Mr. Koval referred to the historical South-Western region bordering Moldova.

    The commander-in-chief had not ever conducted the Staffs strategic drills or even any live-fire war games, Mr. Koval said. As Yanukovych came, the Operative Staff of the AFU was laid off.

    According to the officer, the armys logistic, mobilization, food and supply systems were destroyed. No reservist trainings were held in 2010-2014. At the moment of the beginning of the Russian aggression, The Army didnt exist as such, Mr. Koval said.

    Acting defense minister (February-March 2014) Ihor Teniukh told the court that the personnel clean-up started in the Navy when Yanukovych came to power.

    Turchynov told that 71% of the Ukrainian soldiers based in Crimea defected to Russia amid the annexation of Crimea.

    2. Yanukovych asked Putin to invade Ukraine
    A major element of the indictment on charges of state treason at the trial was the letter of Yanukovych in which he asked President of Russia Vladimir Putin to use Russian armed forces on Ukrainian territory.

    I call on the president of Russia, Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to reinstate legality, peace, law and order, stability and protecting the population of Ukraine, reads the letter dated 1 March 2014 with Yanukovychs signature.

    On 3 March 2014 amid the unfolding Russian occupation of Ukraines Crimea at an emergency meeting on the situation in Ukraine held the United Nations Security Council, Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin cited a document entitled Statement, part of a letter purportedly from Yanukovych to Putin.

    The statement was dated 1 March 2014 and included the signature of Yanukovych, it urged to use Russian armed forces to reinstate legality and to protect the population of Ukraine.

    The one-page document was registered as a document of the UN Security Council on 3 March 2014 as an annex to a letter by the Russian then-envoy. This made the statement evidence of high treason of Yanukovych.

    In 2017, Moscow understood that Yanukovychs letter didnt justify its military aggression against Ukraine and came out with an extraordinary claim that the statement signed by Yanukovych had never been received.

    The nearly full text of the letter written in Ukrainian emerged in March 2018. It didnt include only one page the Russian-language version of the statement. However, it mentioned it among the appendices together with the Ukrainian original of the statement.

    The letters body is also dated 1 March, but it contains an additional subline containing the city where Yanukovych had signed it. And the city was Rostov-on-Don, Russia.

    In the text of the letter fugitive ex-president, Yanukovych calls himself a legitimate President of Ukraine and states that on 22 February 2014 the opposition representatives staged an anti-constitutional armed coup detat and seized power in the country.

    The letter cites the 1997 Russia-Ukraine friendship treaty as premises to ask Russia for invasion in the Ukrainian territory. It asks Putin to hold consultations on four questions, including temporary performance of separate peacekeeping functions including police ones by the Russian military formations stationed in Crimea.

    During his press conference in Rostov-on-Don on 28 February 2014, I am not going to seek military support, Ukraine should stay united and undivided, was Yanukovychs reply to the question whether he was going to ask Russia to deploy troops to Crimea. He said it a day before the date specified in his letter to Putin.

    So the fugitive president either didnt know what he would sign on the next day or just lied about his intentions.

    A month later in his interview with NTV and AP, Yanukovych admitted that his statement presented at a UNSC meeting was genuine and regretted his plea to deploy Russian troops to Crimea. I was wrong, I overreacted, he said. Yanukovych called Russias annexation of Crimea a tragedy and blamed the post-Maidan government for Ukraines loss of Crimea.

    æ, !

    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


    • 3. There were two attempts to legitimize aggression
      As Ukrainian diplomats testified in the legal proceeding, Yanukovychs letter was the second attempt by Russia to justify its aggressive actions in Crimea.

      On 1 March 2014 at the second closed meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine, the Russian envoy Churkin cited an appeal of Sergey Aksyonov urging Putin to deploy the Russian troops in Crimea.

      Aksyonov was a deputy of the Crimean Supreme Council, or local parliament, whom the local legislators reportedly appointed a prime minister of the Crimean Republic on 27 February 2014. However, at that moment, the local parliament building was already seized and controlled by the little green men who later turned out to be the regular active-duty soldiers of the Russian Federation.

      The UNSC meeting was convened following the unanimous decision of the Federation Council, or Russias upper house, authorizing President Putin to use Russian troops in Ukraine. Then, the troops were already mass deployed and operating for more than a week.

      The then Interim President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov said that: We consider the behavior of the Russian Federation to be direct aggression against the sovereignty of Ukraine and the Ukrainian envoy delivered this position in his statement at the 1 March UNSC meeting.

      The Russian ambassador voiced the appeal of Aksyonov to Putin, and said that he knew that Yanukovych supported Aksyonovs appeal, but didnt provide any evidence, testified Yurii Serheiev, then Ukrainian Ambassador of Ukraine to the UN.

      The Russian representative displayed Aksyonovs purported statement to show that they were asked for support. But all speakers slammed Russias position and spoke about flimsy pretexts. Aksyonov isnt a figure who can invite the military. Only the [Ukrainian parliament] Verkhovna Rada can do it, he said.

      Then Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Serhii Kyslytsia testified that Russian envoy Churkin was bewildered at the 28 February and 1 March meetings and couldnt explain what was happening in Crimea.

      And later on 3 [March] after Putin received the permission to use troops in the Ukrainian territory, experienced diplomat Churkin had to explain what had happened. And at that meeting Churkin stated that he had a copy of the statement by the Ukrainian president [Yanukovych], who addresses Russia asking to use its military forces, Mr. Kyslytsia told.

      Then Prime Minister Arsenii Yatseniuk opined in court that It was a very well prepared operation by the Russian Federation. Such a statement [signed by Yanukovych] legitimizes the invasion of Ukrainian territory. They tried to deceive everyone.

      4. Official contacts between Russia and Ukraine were severed
      Then Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrii Deshchytsia gave a testimony that starting from the end of February 2014 he tried to contact Russian FM Sergey Lavrov several times, but received the same answer that Russia doesnt recognize the Ukrainian government and Deshchytsia himself as a minister.

      Russia ignored any attempts [to establish relations] as on the level of the Verkhovna Rada, as on the ministry level, he said.

      Andrii Plakhotniuk, who was a deputy director of the Ukrainian foreign ministrys political department when the Russian invasion unfolded, testified that his ministry sent protest notes to Russia almost every day.

      At the end of February [2014] we proposed consultations. To my recollection, Russia didnt even agree at once to telephone conversations. And the notes that required urgent reaction [remained unanswered], according to the diplomat.

      Then acting defense minister Teniukh told in court that he talked to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu, who assured that no Russian military was involved in the Crimean events.

      In his testimony, then acting president Oleksandr Turchynov recalled that the head of Russias State Duma or lower chamber Sergey Naryshkin called him during the urgent meeting of the National Security and Defense Council.

      Naryshkin informed that he recognized me as a head of the parliament, but doesnt recognize as an acting president. They said we have seized the power and they consider Yanukovych as a legitimate president,

      testified Mr. Turchynov, adding that Naryshkin started threatening that if Russian-speaking people would die, Russia would commit the actual invasion. Turchynov pointed out that Russia violates international agreements, but Naryshkin countered that there would be a judicial and political rationale for deploying troops.

      Later, Yanukovychs letter to Putin emerged.

      5. The invasion started before Yanukovychs ouster

      The invasion of Crimea was a special operation planned well beforehand rather than a spontaneous response to the situation in Ukraine, as Russian propaganda narratives state. The court testimonies mention Russian preparations long before the flight of Yanukovych.

      Then-head of the naval coastal defense Ihor Voronchenko said, Russia prepared since 2010, directly [for the invasion itself] from November 2013. According to him, at the moment of performing the operation, the Russian forces present in Crimea significantly outnumbered Ukrainian ones.

      Back in January 2014, intelligence officers told Voronchenko that Russia was preparing an act of military aggression. For example, in Russias South Military District four brigades of the rapid reaction forces were re-equipped and received training, noted Voronchenko. Later those brigades blocked Ukrainian military units in Crimea. In late January, he knew that in a Russian unit in Hvardeyske near Simferopol, detachments not from this base were deployed there. Later this spetsnaz (special operation force) was used to seize administrative buildings. In late January, the operation started as Russian forces started securing its facilities and moving its troops without Ukrainian approval.

      Voronchenko also testified that he had information that Russia redeployed a contingent of non-Crimea based detachments from Novorossiysk to Sevastopol and to units in other Crimean cities.

      Former interim president Oleksandr Turchynov noted that the seizure of Crimea started on 20 February 2014 when blood was spilled at the Maidan. Yanukovych still remained in Kyiv then, fleeing as all law enforcement chiefs and government members only overnight into 22 February. Simultaneously, the Russian army was building up at the Ukrainian borders.

      According to the reports of intelligence and foreign states, told Mr. Turchynov, The covert part of the operation started on 20 February when we were on the verge of existence, and on the 27th they kicked off the overt phase, having seized the Crimean Cabinet of Ministers and its Supreme Council.

      Former chief of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said The occupation started on 20 February 2014, noting that the Crimean SBU chiefs switched sides and came under direct control of the FSB.

      Maryna Kanaliuk, an assistant to the Navy Commander, noticed that back in late January and early February 2014 multiple athletically built men aged under 35 emerged in Sevastopol, they had a specific accent and were not familiar with the city. According to her, later such men started blocking her military unit, and the local self-defense formations emerged later.

      Yulii Mamchur, then-commander of the Ukrainian aviation unit A-4515 which operated Belbek one of the key Crimean airfields, said that Under the canopy of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia created a powerful military formation, under the guise of maintenance of security for the time the Olympics were held in Sochi.

      Russia hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics from 7 to 23 February 2014 in Krasnodar Krai, the Russian region separated from Crimea by the Kerch Strait.

      æ, !

      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


      • Hockey Day in Lviv: Canadian Armed Forces vs Galician Lions
        EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2019/02/12 - 11:18

        A hockey match match between the Canadian Armed Forces team military troops of Operation UNIFIER stationed at the Yavoriv training grounds and a local club ˦ (Galician Lions) was recently organized on the central skating rink of Rynok Square in Lviv.

        The Ukrainian club included younger members and coaches of childrens teams. The Canadian team had one female member, an employee of the CAF press service.

        The Canadian soldiers wore hockey shirts, but standard hockey pants were replaced by army fatigues.

        Encouraged by locals and hockey fans, both teams showed great spirit and camaraderie during the game. The match ended in a draw 6:6.

        The game went into overtime with three penalty shots for each team. The Galician Lions won unexpectedly, shooting three times into the Canadian goal. The Ukrainian goalkeeper turned out to be faster on the draw than his Canadian counterpart. Final score: 3:0.

        Before the game, Colonel Oleksiy Krasiuk, representative of Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Academy of Land Forces and LieutenantColonel Pierre Leroux, Commander of Joint Task Force-Ukraine welcomed both teams and the spectators with a strong message: May friendship win today and in the future!

        The Canadians received souvenirs and memorable gifts from their Ukrainian friends.

        The Military Orchestra of the National Academy of Land Forces entertained the crowd with festive music and marching songs. After the game, everyone was treated to a feast of delicious donuts smothered in maple syrup, a surprise treat prepared by our Canadian friends.

        Hockey Day was organized by the Lviv City Council and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Ukraine Roman Vashchuk.
        Operation UNIFIER is the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) mission to support the Security Forces of Ukraine. The operations focus is to assist with security force training. This will help them improve and build their capability and capacity. The CAF coordinates its efforts with the U.S. and other countries that support in the same way. Military training is one part of Canadas overall support to Ukraine. Since the start of the mission in September 2015, and as of December 1, 2018, more than 10,300 Security Forces of Ukraine (SFU) candidates have participated in the training provided via 230 course serials spanning all lines of effort. The participants of Operation UNIFEER are trained at the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security near Yavoriv in western Ukraine.
        Translated by: Christine Chraibi
        Source: novynarnia

        æ, !

        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


        • New poll results suggest where Russia and Ukraine are heading
          EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 2019/02/15 - 18:50

          Three poll results announced yesterday, two in Russia and one in Ukraine, merit particular notice because they suggest the directions the peoples and their respective countries are likely to be heading in the coming months and even years. They are as follows:

          1. A Levada Center poll finds that 71 percent of Russians believe that elections are important and a means to change policies in their country, a clear rebuke to the dismissive attitude about them that Vladislav Surkov has just displayed.
          2. A second Levada Center poll found that a majority of Russians are not ready to take part in street protests but are ready to sign petitions, a possible indication of the ways in which the Russian opposition will act now.
          3. Third and most important, 71.5 percent of Ukrainians now say that their country is in a state of war with Russia, the highest number yet and one that will shape not only how they will view Moscow but also how they are likely to vote in the upcoming presidential elections in their country.

          æ, !

          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


          • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Melinda Haring February 8, 2019
            Legal Threats to Minister Imperil Ukraines Health Care

            Ulana Suprun just wants to get back to work turning around Ukraines feeble healthcare system. But she cant focus on reforms now: the fifty-six-year-old radiologist turned health minister of Ukraine is under attack. Worst of all, shes not sure who is behind it.

            On February 5, Kyivs Regional Administrative Court ruled to suspend Suprun's authority to make any decisions or sign any documents as the acting minister of health. Suprun remains the first deputy minister of health.

            Lives depend on her signature.

            In the balance is $22.6 million in medicine, vaccines, and medical devices waiting to be delivered to hospitals; forty-four Ukrainians waiting for permission to receive medical treatment abroad; and the Ministry of Healths planning for the next three years, which is currently stuck.

            Its wholly unclear who stands behind the courts decision or why. Most likely, someone doesnt like the reforms Suprun has initiated. Among other things, she has taken on the pharma mafia, procuring some prescription drugs through international companies and saving the state millions; in the process, she cut out corrupt Ukrainian middlemen. They or their political allies could now be issuing retribution.

            On February 11, Suprun is going to court. Shes hoping that the judge will give back her right to act as the acting minister of health. But even if she succeeds, Suprun is not out of the woods.

            On February 15, she returns to court to defend herself against charges that shes not fit for office. Sponsored by Radical Party MP Ihor Mosiychuk, the case against her is threefold: first, it challenges the notion of acting minister. Second, it claims that she wasnt properly appointed. Third, it claims that shes not a Ukrainian citizen.

            The claims are bogus, Suprun says. There have been plenty of acting ministers in Ukraines history, she points out. Additionally, the same court ruled twice that she was properly appointed, and she has held Ukrainian citizenship since 2015.

            But the court that decides Supruns future has a pay to play reputation, the judge has made politically motivated decisions in the past, and there are reasons to be deeply concerned.

            Suprun says shes not just concerned about herself; she worries about the dangerous precedent the case might set. Its an egregious attempt by the judiciary system to control the executive branch of government, she said in a February 7 phone interview.

            Im concerned that the courts are making such outrageous decisions that they could truly do damage to the entire process of governance in Ukraine, she said.

            Supruns removal would also mean an end to her efforts to change the system.

            Health care reform will stop. No one else is capable of what weve done, she said. And thats exactly what her opponents want, she points out.

            Suprun is no stranger to controversy. She has been harassed personally and professionally in print, on television, and in person since she took the position. The anti-reform political parties in parliament, including Fatherland, the Radical Party, and Opposition Bloc, cant stand her policies.

            Just this week, one of the leading presidential candidates, Yulia Tymoshenko, claimed that the United States sent Suprun to Ukraine to experiment on Ukrainians. Tymoshenko has also said that Suprun should be put in jail.

            Suprun isnt sure who put Mosiychuk, the Radical Party MP, up to challenge her in court. Rumors in Kyiv abound. Journalist Kateryna Venzhyk has said that shes heard three theories. The first is that Suprun has the highest negative rating among ministers, since her health reforms have been controversial and her critics have been highly vocal, and President Petro Poroshenko wanted someone else to get rid of Suprun before the presidential election on March 31.

            The second theory is that removing her might improve the Radical Partys numbers and cut into Tymoshenkos support, thereby benefitting Poroshenko, who faces a tough reelection fight. The final theory is that its all about money and reestablishing the financial flows from pharmaceutical drugs.

            The motives are still unclear, but one thing has changed this week: Ukraines elite are finally paying attention. Whether or not theyre truly behind her, Suprun has received verbal support from the president, prime minister, and speaker of parliament, as well as numerous civil society groups and primary care physicians.

            If Suprun loses the case on February 15, she can appeal. But theres a more elegant solution.

            The best solution would be to appoint me as minister of health, she said. But Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman isnt sure he has the votes.

            Still, Suprun is a fighter; even though the knives are out for her, shes resolute and ultimately focused on what this means for the Ukrainian people.

            I dont want people to suffer because of some political decisions being made or some irresponsible court decision being made, she said.

            æ, !

            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


            • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Vitalii Rybak February 11, 2019
              New Political Platform in Ukraine Deserves Second Look

              On February 4, a group of Ukrainian politicians and activists announced the formation of a new political platform. In Ukraine, this would hardly make news. New political platforms are announced regularly, especially during election years.

              But this new platform, the Euro-Atlantic Agenda for Ukraine, deserves a second look. (We previously reported that this platform was getting organized.)

              Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Ukraines deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, is the most recognizable of its leaders.

              The main goal for all progressive forces is to join the efforts for continuous work on the reforms which have already been started, and also keep the possibility to become stronger, more confident, and successful in the family where we belongamong EU and NATO member states, Klympush-Tsintsadze says in the video announcement.

              The platform unifies various members of parliament from different political parties and civic activists. Its primary goal is to ensure that Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic path stays irreversible, and policies are in line with EU and NATO integration goals. More than sixty politicians, civic activists, businesspeople, and journalists have joined. In addition to Klympush-Tsintsadze, some of its members include Hanna Hopko, chair of the Rada Foreign Affairs Committee, Sergiy Kvit, former education minister, MPs Andrii Levus and Sergii Vysotskyi from the Peoples Front political party, and independent MP Victoria Ptashnyk.

              Klympush-Tsintsadze said that theres a great need to explain to society that Euro-Atlantic integration is the most efficient way to develop a modern, democratic, secure, and prosperous state. Polls show that a majority of Ukrainians support both NATO and EU membership, so the time may be right for the new platform.

              We have to demonstrate that the course toward the EU and NATO is not merely a social issueits a matter of national interest, said Vysotskyi.

              The platform will focus on achieving several practical milestones. Vysotskyi said Ukraine needs to adopt SBU and defense sector reform and ensure that its legislation comports with NATO standards.

              For now, the platform will mostly focus on a domestic audience. Its members will visit Ukraines regions to promote its ideas. They will also coordinate their activities on the international arena, but no specific activities have been planned so far.

              In an interview in Washington, DC, Vysotskyi said that the new platform wont endorse a presidential candidate but will focus on supporting the countrys path toward NATO and EU membership. Depending on the outcome of the presidential election, the Euro-Atlantic Agenda for Ukraine may register as a political party and contest the fall 2019 parliamentary elections.

              At this point, it doesnt look like a pro-Russian candidate can win Ukraines presidency. However, not all political forces are willing to continue the countrys path toward Europe and NATO membership. One of the leading presidential candidates Volodymyr Zelenskiy wont say whether hed support NATO membership, and other candidates do not support membership. In addition, there is a danger of Russia meddling in Ukraines elections to pave the way for pro-Russian forces or just chaos in the next government. Thus, the government and Ukraines elites are trying to protect the countrys European orientation through legislative means.

              On February 7, Ukraines parliament adopted an amendment offered by President Petro Poroshenko that added Ukraines EU and NATO membership aspirations to the constitution.

              æ, !

              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


              • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Sofiya Kominko February 12, 2019
                Sure, Ukraines Not Going to Elect a Pro-Russian President, but There Are Many Other Ways the Kremlin Can Interfere

                Russias attack on Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov on November 25 may have been a probe to test the Wests reaction before the launch of other offensives aimed at destabilizing Ukraine at a crucial time.

                2019 is Ukraines election year. And it is one of double importance with presidential and parliamentary elections taking place six months within one another. But Ukraines domestic politics, including President Petro Poroshenkos hold on power, remain shaky.

                Three months before voters head to the polls, 30 percent of the electorate is undecided about whom to vote for and nearly 82 percent said that they have no confidence in the president. This means theres still plenty of room to sway public opiniona craft the Kremlin has overwhelmingly succeeded at on foreign territory.

                Despite the fifth year of war in the east of the country, enough positive developments took place in Ukraine in 2018 to aggravate an already revanchist Russia.

                Kyivs success in securing independence for its own Orthodox church is a historical win that has pushed the Russian Orthodox church into isolation, sapping one of Kremlins key instruments of soft power in Ukraine and the rest of post-Soviet space. Kyiv also made further commitments to its security priorities. NATO has given the country official aspiring member status while the parliament approved a constitutional amendment to include Ukraines strategic course for obtaining EU and NATO membership as irreversible.

                Despite the slow progress of some reforms, foreign policy-wise Ukraine is on the right track. If Poroshenko is reelected, there is little doubt that its pro-Western course would continue. This is an uncomfortable reality for Moscow, and probably the reason Putin wants anyone but Poroshenko to win.

                For the Kremlin, the aim of interference is clear: to disrupt Ukraines pro-Atlantic path by nudging in a candidate who will bring relations with Russia to a thaw. And such figures are already on the horizon. Presidential candidate Yuriy Boyko is open about his intention to soften relations with Russia. And while his chance of winning is slim to none, there are others like former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who may be willing to cut a deal with Russia, or showman Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose lack of experience means that his tenure would be marked by utter chaos. If they are elected, Moscow will be mixing martinis.

                While the Kremlin wont get exactly what it wants in the presidential race, it will be elated if enough Russia-friendly candidates win in the parliamentary elections to have more success in blocking reforms. So far, three parties with a Russian-leaning orientation have geared up for parliamentary elections in the fall.

                But beyond specific candidates, there are at least three more reasons to worry about interference.

                Russia has been involved in Ukraines elections since the early 2000s and it knows this terrain better than others. There are Kremlin loyalists within Ukraine who have pulled strings for Russia in the past and are ready to step up again. One of such associates, Viktor Medvedchuka Ukrainian businessman whose daughter is the godchild of Putin and who was one of the first people on the US sanctions listhas return
                d to the political scene with an announcement that he will run in the parliamentary elections.

                Other methods would rely on more general tactics that have become standard practice. The Kremlin may try to divide and conquer the electoratean approach that previously worked on Ukrainian voters during Yanukovychs 2010 campaign. This involves the release of a flurry of tailor-made messaging targeted at the most susceptible audiences, such as the elderly and displaced who were hard hit by the recent hikes in gas prices, and of course the war.

                An American scenario is on the table too, says Alex Kokcharov, principal research analyst on Europe & CIS of the UK-based IHS Markit. Russian hackers could attempt to steal sensitive documents on one of the candidates, manipulate the data, and dump it online in old school black PR fashion. An attack on the systems of the Central Election Commission to gather data and use it to incite public doubt about the result should it not swing in Russias favor is also possible. Ukraine may be most susceptible to such an intrusion as most Ukrainian government agencies are woefully unprepared for cyberattacks.

                Whichever method it chooses, the perfect match to Russias election meddling is a susceptible public. And with Ukraines largely skeptical, undecided populace tired of politics and war, Ukrainians need to be on high alert.

                æ, !

                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Oksana Markarova February 19, 2019
                  Ukraine Has Reached a Tipping Point

                  Elections may be on the horizon, but I firmly believe that reforms will continue through 2020 and beyond. Now that Ukraine has enshrined EU and NATO accession as the fundamental direction of the country, whoever comes to power, Ukraines pro-western economic development and orientation cannot be reversed.

                  And yet this path was far from certain. Its easy to forget that Ukraine has undergone an incredible transformation in only five years. Following the near economic collapse after Russia annexed Crimea and occupied parts of eastern Ukraine in 2014, we have achieved macroeconomic stabilization. We have maintained a stable GDP growth rate of around 3-4 percent while keeping tight control of monetary policy, a strengthening currency, and declining inflation. The financial sector is capitalized, and transparent, but also profitablefor the first time in five years.

                  Even if its not fashionable any more, we do believe in free trade and gain a lot from it. For example, Ukraines recent alliance with the EU has generated significant export growth, and we have also signed landmark bilateral free trade agreements with Canada and Israel. This approach is working. In Davos on Invest Day at Ukraine House Davos last month, President Petro Poroshenko witnessed the signing of two deals worth an initial $370 million, including $170 million for the first phase of a windfarm that will one day represent a $1 billion investment.

                  The international investment communitys appetite is growing for Ukraine. Horizon Capital recently announced a new $200 million private equity fund to take advantage of attractively priced undervalued assets in Ukraine. Horizon Capital already has $850 million invested in three funds, from more than forty US and European institutional investors. This has translated into investments in 140 companies that employ more than 46,000 people in Ukraine.

                  In a volatile international marketplace where investors are searching for returns, Ukraine continues to pursue macroeconomic stability and fiscal discipline, including recently moving to a three-year budgeting cycle which enables longer term planning. In terms of fiscal rigor, we have just enacted a law that prohibits state and state-guaranteed debt exceeding 60 percent of GDP, and stipulates that the state budget deficit must remain below 3 percent of GDP and that government financial guarantees shall be limited to 3 percent, all of which makes the country compliant with fiscal constraints required from EU countries.

                  Ukraines economic reforms have delivered security and predictability for investors at a time when asset prices are still low and our highly educated and talented labor force is extremely competitive. Further, exports from the former Soviet states to Europe and North America continue to gather speed. This transformation means that Ukraine is now seen as an integral part of the Central and Eastern marketplace for goods, labor, and investment by ratings agencies, bankers, and analysts.

                  Many investors might be surprised to know that some of the fastest-growing sectors include renewable energy, information technology, automotive technology, and high-end agrifood manufacturing.

                  There is also progress in the banking sector. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has confirmed its readiness to consider investment in the capital of state-owned Ukrgasbank, a powerful signal for investors. Across the board, the Finance Ministry, with the IFCs support, has worked to strengthen corporate governance, ensure the banking sectors independence, and to further cement a stable banking model for the country based on commercial viability.

                  We have also been reforming the actual government in noteworthy ways. Gender parity is fundamental to how economies and societies thrive. Ukraines Ministry of Finance has made gender-responsive budgeting a legal requirement. Starting this year, national and regional agencies will have to analyze their funding allocations from a gender perspective.

                  Meanwhile, Ukraines strong civil society contributes to our harmonious development. As Ukraine continues to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic security and economic architecture, it is definitely open for businessnow and in the future.

                  æ, !

                  Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                  • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Ruslan Minich February 19, 2019
                    How Ukraines Leading Comedian Pulled Ahead in Polls

                    On February 7, hundreds of Facebook users in Ukraine posted videos with red nose filters. Everyone ended up looking like a clown, and that was precisely the point. Ukrainians are clowns because theyve allowed the countrys political elites to rob them blind, keeping salaries and social benefits low. This was part of a flash mob started by Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a Ukrainian comedian and the surprise leader in the latest polls for the presidential election slated for March 31.

                    Presidential candidates in Ukraine are using online political campaign tools like never before. But theyre using them in different ways.

                    Both incumbent President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, currently the second and third in the polls, rely heavily on Facebook posts. Through mostly paid advertising starting in May 2017, they began to massively increase their audience. Both candidates have more than 2 million followers on Facebook, their pages are professionally curated and updated often, and they tend to feature short formal video. Mrs. Poroshenko, a popular public figure, is often smiling in photos or video behind the president.

                    Poroshenko and Tymoshenko also use YouTube. In December, the video hosting platform cleaned up and removed fake accounts. As a result, Tymoshenkos channel lost about 44 percent of her subscribers, which suggests that her numbers were inflated by bots.

                    Zelenskiy is different, and this difference may be part of the reason why hes pulled ahead in the polls. Hes running a fun, largely satirical, and people-centered campaign online and in person. It doesnt hurt that hes famous or funny, either. Or new to politics.

                    He involves people in the campaign. Ukrainians can join his team by registering on his website. People can offer suggestions to his electoral program, which promises direct democracy through online referendums.

                    Zelenskiy constantly interacts with users asking advice on slogans and billboards. He starts flash mobs and creates a buzz.

                    Of course, the comedians lead in the polls may not last. He needs to mobilize young voters and get them in the voting booth on March 31. This wont be easy. Young people cant be bothered to actually turn up, and this problem isnt unique to Ukraine. Another poll found that Zelenskiys voters are the most likely to change their minds before election day.

                    His campaign seems to understand these vulnerabilities. In video posts, Zelenskiy urges people to check whether they are currently registered and reminds them to vote where they live rather than where they are registered in their passport, since many young people study or work in other cities.

                    His artistic activity also gives him an advantage. He has been touring with his comedy show around Ukraine. Together with paid concerts, they also give free performances.

                    Zelenskiy may get another boost in the pollsor keep his lead in Marchas the third season of his massively popular Servant of the People TV series is released. In a promo video, he buries a corrupt official and whacks off a member of parliaments hand, criticizes the political elite, and dreams about economic prosperity and peace in Ukraine. These themes and theatrics might sound banal, but they resonate with the public. Its hard to overstate just how much popular disenchantment there is with the current political elite.

                    Zelenskiy is undoubtedly shaking things up with his new methods, but television is still king, and its still dominated by Ukraines oligarchs. Television remains the main source of information for most Ukrainians. TV news on the most popular channels contains hidden and not so hidden messages for the various presidential candidates depending on the preferences of the oligarch who owns the channel.

                    Here Zelenskiy has two big advantages: hes a professional actor and brilliant on TV and the countrys most popular television station, 1+1, broadcasts many of his programs, shows, and films. (This station is of course owned by oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, which raises questions about the comedians independence.)

                    Other stations seem to back others. For instance, Priamyi TV channel airs a South Park-like cartoon called Zashkvareni (a Ukrainian slang word for disgraced) mocking Poroshenkos main rivals, Tymoshenko and Zelenskiy. Priamyi is thought to have links to Poroshenko.

                    The insertion of the countrys legitimately funny leading comedian into the race makes these elections novel. Hes shaking up traditional political formats. But it remains to seen whether he can actually deliver.

                    æ, !

                    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                    • ATLANTIC COUNCIL Alexander J. Motyl February 19, 2019
                      Why a Zelenskiy Presidency Would Be a Disaster for Ukraine

                      The world is in turmoil, Russia occupies part of Ukraine, reforms in Ukraine still have a way to go, and democracy is in retreat in much of Europe.

                      One would think Ukrainians would be worried. One would think they would want an experienced person at the helm. Instead, they may be about to elect the 41-year-old television comedian, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as their next president.

                      According to the latest poll, Zelenskiy leads in the first round of the ballot scheduled for March 31, scoring 16.4 percent to former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenkos 9.6 and President Petro Poroshenkos 10.8. In the second round, scheduled for April, Zelenskiy beats Poroshenko, 39.6 to 18.1 percent, and Tymoshenko, 35.5 to 22.2 percent.

                      The comedians popularity is obviously a symptom of Ukrainians wholesale disaffection with their existing political elites, whom they accuse of failing to meet the high expectations generated by the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution. Unsurprisingly, the mostly Russian-speaking Zelenskiy scores well in the southeast and among young people, as both constituencies are most alienated from Ukraines elites.

                      Whatever his supporters motivations, electing Zelenskiy would be a disaster for Ukraine. He appears to be a decent person, and few of his publicly expressed views are offensive or egregiously stupid. But the bottom line is that he is completely inexperienced as a politician and policymaker. His only encounter with anything resembling the world of policy has come through playing a reformist president on television. Thats just not enough at such a critical juncture in Ukrainesand the worldshistory.

                      Zelenskiys victory would almost immediately have the following deleterious consequences for Ukraine.

                      First, Ukraines relations with the West will atrophy, as Zelenskiy tries to figure out just which Western institutions and policymakers are of greatest importance to his country. Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will stall. Meanwhile, American and European policymakers will put their relations with Ukraine on hold. As will investors, who would be foolish to commit their capital to a country ruled by a comedian.

                      Second, Ukraines oligarchs, who have partially retreated into the shadows in the last five years, will take advantage of Zelenskiys inexperience and inability to manage Ukraines complicated governmental structures to stage a comeback. So, too, will corruptioneers at all levels of society and state. Ukraines GDP will go into decline, its shadow economy will grow, unemployment will rise, trade with Europe will decline, and the brain drainespecially by the young people who elected Zelenskiywill accelerate.

                      Third, reform will stop altogether. For one thing, Zelenskiy has no clue as to how societies, economies, and polities change, and itll take him a year or two to learn. For another, the bureaucratic and administrative chaos that Zelenskiys coming to power will unleash will keep him occupied with maintaining or reestablishing basic order in a crumbling social, political, and economic system.

                      Fourth, Putin and his minions in the breakaway regions of Ukraines southeast will be delighted with Ukraines progressive decay under Zelenskiys mismanagement. Who better to lead the country they consider a joke than a clown? Who better to fail at coping with a possible provocation in the occupied territories, the Sea of Azov, or mainland Ukraine? Putin will be sorely tempted to launch an armed attack on, say, Mariupol just after Zelenskiys inauguration. Perhaps even more dangerous would be a charm offensive that seeks to entrap the nave Zelenskiy in a set of obligations that amount to Ukraines abandonment of its sovereignty.

                      As if these eventualities werent bad enough, its quite possible that Ukraines parliamentary elections in the fall will produce a deadlocked and fragmented legislature incapable of agreeing on anything. Ukraine would then have the worst of three possible worldsa weak president and a weak Rada facing immense internal and external challenges.

                      Another Euromaidan Revolution then becomes perfectly possible, perhaps even within a few months of Zelenskiys election. This time, however, it would likely be violent from the start, as Ukraines population has an unusually large supply of privately-owned guns and Ukraines army would almost certainly side with protestors against the comedian-in-chief. Theres little chance Putin would be able to resist rushing to the aid of his embattled Russian-speaking brethren in what he considers to be Little Russia.

                      To be sure, these scenarios are the worst that one can possibly imagine. But what makes them terrifying is that, with Zelenskiy as president, they can be imagined with relative ease. In contrast to just about anybody elsewhether Poroshenko, Tymoshenko, or former Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenkoas head of state.

                      When Putin departs, and if Russia ever comes to reject empire building, Ukrainians will be perfectly entitled to elect a clown as their president. Until that time, however, they should realize that leading a country in todays dangerous world is no joke.

                      æ, !

                      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                      • Russias deportation of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars from occupied Crimea a neo-imperial policy tool report
                        EUROMAIDAN PRESS Yuri Zoria 2019/02/13 - 20:05

                        After occupying Crimea, Moscow has been reshaping the ethnic composition of the local population, bringing in hundreds of thousands of people from across Russia. As of May 2018, according to official Russian statistics, some 247,000 Russians moved to Crimea since the annexation while about 140,000 people have left, mostly Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. However, Ukrainian officials state that the real numbers are much greater, by hundreds of thousands.

                        Some of those who had to leave Crimea for mainland Ukraine were forcibly expelled by the decisions of occupation courts. The research Forcible Expulsion of the Civilian Population from the Occupied Territory by Russia, a special issue of the thematic review of the human rights situation under occupation Crimea beyond rules, mentions 2,425 identified cases of such expulsions. The authors of the report deem them a kind of cleansing for the continued colonization of Crimea by Russians, which in itself is a neo-imperial policy tool, as was stated at a PACE side event in June 2018, where the report was presented.

                        The purpose of such a policy is to use in the future the thesis about the unwillingness of the people of Crimea to return to the jurisdiction of Ukraine, the papers authors note.

                        The paper was released by the three human rights NGOs the Regional Centre for Human Rights, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, and an analytical group which wanted to remain anonymous CHROT in July 2018.

                        In February 2014, Russia started a military operation to occupy and annex a part Ukraine the Crimean peninsula. Within weeks, Russian troops without insignia took control of the local official bodies, critical infrastructure including airports, and Ukrainian military facilities.

                        On 16 March 2014, a so-called referendum was conducted in Crimea to justify the further annexation of Ukrainian territory. This referendum was illegal under Ukrainian laws and its result hasnt been recognized by the international community ever since then. On 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution underscoring that the referendum had no validity and affirming the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Two years later, the UNGA recognized that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol have been temporarily occupied by Russia.

                        Only two days after what Russia called a referendum, on 18 March 2014, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the so-called Treaty on Accession of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation with Sergey Aksyonov, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Alexey Chaly. Aksyonov was proclaimed the Crimean prime minister by the occupation forces when Russian troops seized and controlled the building of the Crimean parliament in Simferopol, and Chaly was a Russian citizen whom a crowd in Sevastopol pronounced a peoples mayor of the city. Konstantinov was the only Ukrainian official to sign the unlawful treaty on the annexation he was the head of the Crimean parliament at the moment of occupation just three weeks before signing the treaty with Putin.

                        Article 5 of the Treaty on Accession automatically recognized all Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons residing in Crimea as Russian nationals. The only way to avoid being forcibly naturalized was to inform the de-facto authorities of the intention to opt out of Russian citizenship by 18 April 2014.

                        For most Crimeans, it has been next to impossible to revoke Russian citizenship because they risked having problems with employment, medical treatment, registering children at schools and so on up to the forced deportation from their occupied homeland.

                        However, many Crimean residents refused to obtain Russian documents.

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                        • Crimean Tatars Pt 2

                          Aliens in their own land
                          Russian immigration laws allow foreign citizens or stateless persons to stay on the territory of the country for up to 90 days out of a period of 180 days.

                          On 15 June 2014, 90 days passed from the day the annexation treaty was signed, and the Crimeans who remained Ukrainian citizens but did not get a residence permit in the Russian Federation automatically became violators of Russian immigration law. Foreign citizens (except for citizens of the Russian Federation) and stateless persons who entered Crimea before 18 March 2014 or resided there faced the same fate.

                          The study Forcible Expulsion of the Civilian Population from the Occupied Territory by Russia notes: Forcible expulsions of Ukrainian citizens who were in Crimea at the time of occupation began in July 2014.
                          The authors of the paper note that the problem of forcible expulsion of non-Russian citizens from the occupied peninsula has a pronounced systemic character and covers the entire territory of the occupied Crimean peninsula and all categories of persons protected under the terms of Article 4 of the Geneva Convention IV (Ukrainian citizens, foreign citizens, and stateless persons).

                          Such forcible expulsions have been to be carried out contrary to the will of the persons being expelled, on the grounds of judicial decisions of the occupying courts.

                          Russia expelled 2,425 Crimeans
                          In total, the Russian courts in occupied Crimea tried 9,538 cases punishable by forcible expulsion. The study mentions that the researchers accessed data on 9,484 court decisions, of which 8,261 cases resulted in the imposition of administrative penalties. Among the data array, the researchers identified that courts imposed the penalty in the form of administrative expulsion on 2,425 persons.
                          When expelled from the occupied peninsula, Crimeans are prohibited from getting a residence permit in Russia for five years or, if they are repeatedly subjected to administrative expulsion or deportation, for ten years. Since Russia considers occupied Crimea its territory, the expellees become effectively deprived of the ability to enter their homeland, including for the purpose of family reunification, or to dispose of property remaining in Crimea.

                          Forced transfer to Russia before the expulsion
                          According to the paper, the Russian migration legislation was most harmful to Ukrainian nationals living in Crimea who refused to accept Russian citizenship. Other Ukrainians affected were those who lived in Crimea without official registration (Ukrainian citizens have the right to live anywhere in Ukraine without registration) and those who arrived after the occupation started.

                          Another category of those expelled by Russia from Crimea were foreigners with non-Russian citizenship.

                          Citizenship of the persons expelled from occupied Crimea by Russia. In total, during the occupation, in addition to the citizens of Ukraine, citizens of another 37 countries and 4 stateless persons were expelled, the study reads

                          Under Russian law, the persons subject to the administrative expulsion should be held in special detention facilities until the execution of court decisions. Since no such facilities exist in occupied Crimea, Russia transfers the expellees from the occupied Ukrainian territory to Russia, the study highlights.

                          Many people placed in such facilities awaited expulsion for several months or even more than a year.

                          The Crimean Tatar Nedim Khalilov, who arrived to Crimea in 1986 from Uzbekistan, where his parents were deported in 1944 by the Stalin regime, and who lived there legally, was expelled from the territory of Crimea in November 2016 and placed in the specialized institution of temporary accommodation of foreign citizens in Vardane settlement of Krasnodar Territory. Later he was transferred to a specialized institution of temporary accommodation of foreign citizens Gulkevichsky, where he stayed until 15 May 2018, after which he was forcibly taken to Uzbekistan by plane. Until his deportation, Mr. Khalilov spent more than a year and a half at the specialized institution of temporary accommodation of foreign citizens under conditions of imprisonment, the study reads.

                          Months before his transfer from the Crimean territory, 57-year-old Uzbek citizen Khalilov was a Crimean Tatar activist who filed a lawsuit in one of Simferopol courts, asking to recognize the actions of the occupying authorities, as well as the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, illegal, and to grant the Crimean Tatar people a special status and recognize them as the indigenous people of Crimea.

                          Stalin gave the Tatars three hours to get ready, I will give you no time

                          The case of Crimea-born 58-year-old Ukrainian citizen Konstantin Sizarev is a quite typical example of a forced expulsion.

                          After the annexation, Mr. Sizarev continued to live in his hometown of Yevpatoria without obtaining a Russian passport. In late 2016, the Yevpatoria City Court found him guilty of violating the Russian migration regime and sentenced him to a 2,000-ruble fine ($31) and expulsion. The judge rejected the arguments that Mr. Sizarev lived in Crime all his life, residing with his civil wife and sons, as did a further court of appeals.

                          Konstantin Sizarev refused to comply with the decision of the occupation court and didnt leave Crimea. A month later, on 20 January 2017, the Yevpatoria City Court sentenced Sizarev to a 3,000-ruble fine and forced expulsion outside the Russian Federation.
                          At the end of the hearing, Sizarev asked judge Lobanova if he could collect his personal belongings, money, documents. Her response was, If Stalin in 1944, on May 18, gave the Tatars three hours to get ready to leave, I will give you no time. Leave now!

                          Overnight into 21 January 2017 Sizarev was transported from Crimea to the Russian territory and placed in a detention center in Krasnodar Krai where he was imprisoned for 27 days until the Russian authorities expelled him to mainland Ukraine.

                          Now in exile in the South-Ukrainian city of Odesa, Sizarev wont be able to reunite with his family in Crimea for at least five years.

                          The use of deportations and colonization is nothing new for Russia. Since Russias first annexation of Crimea in 1783, it has been methodically replacing the indigenous Crimean Tatar population with ethnic Russians. Following Stalins deportation of Crimean Tatars after WWII, which killed 46.2% of their total population, their numbers in Crimea dropped to zero. The Crimean Tatars have been slowly returning from Central Asia to their ancestral homeland after Ukraines independence in 1991, but Russias annexation of Crimea in 2014 has for many become a second deportation.

                          æ, !

                          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                          • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 14:56 21.02.2019
                            One Member of Parliament manages "election pyramid" covering different regions of Ukraine SBU

                            A Member of Parliament (MP) of Ukraine is the organizer and leader of the so-called "election pyramid," which has operated in different regions of Ukraine, Deputy Chief of Ukraine's SBU Security Service Viktor Kononenko has said.

                            "The created organization has its own hierarchy and distribution of responsibilities and consists of the head (he is the organizer and main coordinator nationwide), who is an MP; three coordinators responsible for various parts of our state; regional coordinators who are subordinate to them they are basically responsible for two regions," Kononenko said at a briefing in Kyiv on Thursday.

                            According to him, the parliamentarian coordinated and financed this electoral pyramid, but his name is not disclosed.

                            At the same time, as an informed source told Interfax-Ukraine, MP from the Batkivschyna parliamentary faction Valeriy Dubil coordinated and financed that electoral pyramid. In each region, the organization had its own representative, including Ruslan Bohdan, a member of the Batkivschyna Party.

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                            • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 14:45 21.02.2019
                              Belarus plans to improve relations with NATO, further pursue strategic military cooperation with Russia Defense Ministry

                              The Belarusian Defense Ministry has confirmed its strategic course toward partnership with Russia, at the same time voicing the need to gradually improve relations with NATO countries.

                              The ministry held a briefing for foreign states' military attaches on Thursday, the ministry's press service said.

                              "During the briefing, whose subject was 'The Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus. Modern Phase of Development', those present were informed of the main principles of the adjusted concept of international military cooperation for 2029-2023, as part of which the strategic course toward partnership with Russia was confirmed," the press service said.

                              At the same time, the concept "declares the need for a step-by-step process of improving relations with member countries of NATO, the European Union and also other states that respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belarus and develop a trust-based and equal dialogue with the country."

                              "Interaction within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been determined as promising, and special attention has been given to relations with Serbia," the ministry said.

                              Issues concerning the creation of a "belt of good neighborly relations" make up a separate section of the concept.

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                              • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 12:59 21.02.2019
                                Nord Stream 2 will diversify gas supplies to EU together with transit via Ukraine - Altmaier

                                The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will help diversify gas supplies to the EU, German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier said.

                                "It will help stabilize provision of gas to Europe," he said at the "Competitive Russia - New Paths!" conference in Berlin.

                                Altmaier said the German government wanted to see competition in the sector preserved and did not want gas transit via Ukraine to be disrupted.

                                "The aim is also to maintain gas transit via Ukraine after Nord Stream 2 has been built," he said.

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