Activists, parliamentarians and diplomats unfurled a battle-scarred Ukrainian national flag during the speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the U.N. General Assembly as a silent protest. The flag belonged to a Ukrainian military unit whose soldiers were killed in August 2014 outside the city of Ilovaisk during the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.

At U.N., Putin shifts world attention from Ukraine with Syrian campaign

KYIV – Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged from the United Nations on September 28-29, having successfully shifted the world’s attention away from the Russian-backed military occupation of the Donbas and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Kyiv experts said. That’s despite the fact that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told the U.N. of the thousands dead due to “the treacherous Russian annexation of Ukrainian Crimea and aggression in Donbas” and called for “the need to counteract ongoing Russian aggression.”

Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin left the General Assembly hall in protest. The entire Ukrainian delegation, led by Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.N. Yuriy Sergeyev, responded in kind when Mr. Putin took to the podium. Mr. Poroshenko underscored that the Donbas war had created 1.5 million displaced persons domestically and has cost his government $5 million per day. (Extensive excerpts of Mr. Poroshenko’s address can be read on page 7.)

In his address to the U.N. General Assembly on September 28, U.S. President Barack Obama referred to “Russia’s annexation of Crimea and further aggression in eastern Ukraine” and emphasized, “we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated.” Mr. Obama also noted, “we continue to press for this crisis to be resolved in a way that allows a sovereign and democratic Ukraine to determine its future and control its territory.”

While in New York for the opening of the 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Poroshenko met with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said the illegal elections planned by the Russian-backed forces for October 18 and November 1 will undermine the Minsk accords. Continue Reading

Ukrainians, joined by Belarusians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Georgians, Circassians and others protest the arrival of President Vladimir Putin at the United Nations.

Hundreds protest Putin’s arrival at United Nations

NEW YORK – Several hundred protesters gathered in front of the United Nations building in New York City on Monday, September 28, in a pointed rebuke to the world body’s welcome of President Vladimir Putin. While Ukrainians were being escorted from inside the main hall for holding aloft a Ukrainian flag, a united mix of nationalities and human rights advocates chanted “No more vetoes for Putin,” “Crimea is Ukraine,” and “Justice for MH17” from across the street. The themes presented by the protest leaders at this particular gathering were: to remind the world that Mr. Putin’s war now encompasses eight distinct conflict zones, to ensure that Mr. Putin’s willful violation of the U.N. Charter by invading Ukraine is not an afterthought at this gathering of the U.N. General Assembly; and to point to the growing list of political prisoners captured and sentenced to many of Russia’s most infamous prisons. This final theme was especially important on Monday, designated as an International Day of Recognition of Nadiya Savchenko’s imprisonment. When news first broke that the Russian president would address the United Nations for the first time in 10 years, a wide array of diaspora groups started planning a show of anti-Putin solidarity, uniting those he has threatened and harmed the most. Continue Reading

Ukraine introduces sanctions against Russian citizens, companies

On September 16, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree introducing sanctions against 105 firms and 388 individuals, mainly from Russia, for supporting the annexation of Crimea and the war in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas (, September 16). The decree came into effect on September 22, when its text was published in the official government newspaper, Uriadovyi Kurier. This is a symbolic gesture, late and unlikely to seriously affect anybody or any business entity currently operating in Russia. Simultaneously, Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian nationalist groups have launched a blockade of highways for trucks carrying goods to Crimea from mainland Ukraine. This move, apparently backed by Kyiv, will affect both Ukrainian firms trading with Crimea and Crimean consumers. Continue Reading


Agreement on withdrawal of weapons

MINSK – Representatives of Russia, Ukraine and Europe reached a long-awaited agreement on the withdrawal of tanks and other weapons from the frontline in eastern Ukraine. “This is a document that opens a path to peace, a path to an end of violence and attacks,” Russian negotiator Azamat Kulmukhametov said late September 29. The deal supplements a broad agreement signed in February aimed at ending the conflict between the Western-aligned Ukrainian government and Russia-backed rebels in the east. Martin Sajdik, the representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe at the peace talks, said the agreement will start in two days and take 39 days to carry out. It covers “the withdrawal of tanks, mortars and artillery of less than 100 millimeter caliber to a distance of 15 kilometers,” he said. Continue Reading

OSCE: civilians in eastern Ukraine at risk due to damage to water infrastructure

KYIV – The conduct of hostilities and violations of the Minsk ceasefire agreements has resulted in repeated damage to the water pipe system in eastern Ukraine, putting tens of thousands of civilians living on both sides of the contact line without access to piped water. The current shortages in water in the conflict-affected areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions could leave civilians bitterly cold throughout the coming winter as central heating systems break down and have lasting consequences on food production, says a report released on September 18 by the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The thematic report, “Access to Water in Conflict-Affected Areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions,” says that the situation has been exacerbated by the fact that the existing water infrastructure was already in need of repairs even before the fighting commenced in spring 2014. Hostilities prevented further repair works from taking place. Moreover the functionality of essential water pumps has decreased due to the shelling of the electrical systems that powered them. Continue Reading

House passes resolution calling for release of Nadiya Savchenko

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – The U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Res. 50 “Calling for the release of Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine and has been held illegally in a Russian prison since July 2014” on September 22. The resolution, with 36 bipartisan co-sponsors, was introduced by Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) on January 26 in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Co-submitting the resolution were Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). Continue Reading

FOR THE RECORD: U.S. condemns expulsion of U.N. agencies and NGOs from Luhansk

The following press statement was delivered on September 25 by U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby. We condemn the recent decision by Russia-backed separatist leaders in Luhansk, Ukraine, to expel U.N. agencies and all international non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance in the area. This will endanger many lives and is contrary to the Minsk agreements. Expelling these organizations puts at risk up to 3 million people in separatist-held parts of Donbas by denying them access to food, water, medicine, shelter, and clothes in advance of winter. Sixteen thousand tons of immediate, life-saving humanitarian assistance is now being blocked from reaching those in need. Continue Reading

For the record: Text of H. Res. 50


Calling for the release of Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured by Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine and has been held illegally in a Russian prison since July 2014. Whereas Nadiya Savchenko is the first-ever female fighter pilot in Ukraine’s Armed Forces and is an Iraqi war veteran;

Whereas in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, Nadiya Savchenko volunteered her services to the Ukrainian Aidar battalion;

Whereas Nadiya Savchenko was elected in absentia from the Batkivshchyna Party to Ukraine’s Parliament in October 2014, and appointed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) as a representative from Ukraine;

Whereas as a member of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lt. Nadiya Savchenko was conducting operations in eastern Ukraine against pro-Russian forces in the summer of 2014 when she was captured and taken into captivity;

Whereas during her mission in Eastern Ukraine, she was captured by the Donbas People’s Militia, detained on Ukrainian territory, deprived of rights to due process, and illegally transferred to the Russian Federation to stand trial on unsubstantiated charges of terrorism;

Whereas since July 2014, Nadiya Savchenko has endured involuntary psychiatric evaluations and solitary confinement;

Whereas Nadiya Savchenko is currently entering her sixth week of a hunger strike as a symbol of her protest;

Whereas Nadiya Savchenko is denied access to urgently needed medical attention and access to legal counsel;

Whereas the Minsk Protocol of September 2014, signed by Ukraine and the Russian Federation, calls for the “immediate release of all hostages and illegally held persons”;

Whereas appeals have been made to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Red Cross to secure Nadiya Savchenko’s release;

Whereas the international community including representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and of the United States have urged her immediate release;

Whereas, on January 26, 2015, the opening day of the Parliamentary Assembly, the global community embark on a public campaign to bring attention to the plight of Nadiya Savchenko and demand her immediate release; and

Whereas the government of the United States and its people express concern about the deteriorating health of detained pilot Nadiya Savchenko and her continued illegal imprisonment: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that the House of Representatives —

(1) condemns the Russian Federation for its illegal imprisonment of Nadiya Savchenko;

(2) calls on the Russian Federation to immediately release Nadiya Savchenko;

(3) calls on the United States, its European allies, and the international community to aggressively support efforts to release Nadiya Savchenko and other illegally detained persons; and

(4) expresses solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Continue Reading

Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko

Ukraine’s president names new ambassador to Canada

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – President Petro Poroshenko on September 24 announced the appointment of Andriy Shevchenko as ambassador of Ukraine to Canada. Mr. Shevchenko is known in Ukraine as a TV journalist, politician and civic activist. In Canada, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) welcomed Mr. Shevchenko’s appointment. “We congratulate President Poroshenko for appointing such a strong and professional voice for Ukraine in Canada,” stated UCC National President Paul Grod. “Given the significant relationship between our two countries and the serious ongoing issues in Ukraine, including the illegal occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the ongoing invasion of Luhansk and Donetsk by the Russian armed forces, it is very important for Ukraine to have a very capable representation at its embassy in Ottawa. Continue Reading

At the United Nations

There was a bit of drama this past week at the United Nations. Much of it revolved around the first appearance at that world body in a decade by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The main topics of interest were Syria and Ukraine, and it was quite apparent that Mr. Putin was using the Syrian crisis to divert attention from the war in Ukraine. As well, in pushing his own version of an anti-terrorist coalition, he was trying to re-establish Russia as a player on the world scene after it was isolated because of its annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko, meanwhile, spoke forcefully of the results of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, where 44,000 square kilometers are occupied by Russia and its proxies. Continue Reading