Russian occupying forces violate ceasefire in the Donbas 19 minutes after its start
Full ceasefire went into effect July 27

KYIV – As of 12:01 a.m. on July 27, a full and comprehensive ceasefire went into effect in the area of armed conflict in the Donbas region. The decision was adopted on July 22, at a regular meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Coooperation in Europe). All parties approved the ceasefire agreement, however, Russian proxies fired upon Ukrainian positions at 12:20 a.m. – 19 minutes after the start of the ceasefire.

As of 7:30 p.m. on July 27, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission recorded 111 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region, including 21 explosions. According to the commander-in-chief of the Joint Forces, Volodymyr Kravchenko, the Ukrainian armed forces did not respond to the shelling.

Ukraine to seek extradition of alleged Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus

More than a half a dozen of the 33 alleged Russian mercenaries apprehended in Belarus on July 29 took part in fighting on the Russian side of the ongoing, bloody war in eastern Ukraine.

After a hastily organized national security meeting the same day, the Belarusian national security chief, Andrey Rakou, told reporters that at least 14 alleged members of the Kremlin-linked Vagner private military contractor had either fought or served in some capacity in the Donbas, where a war has raged for six years between Ukrainian forces and combatants supplied by and under the command and control of Russia, killing more than 13,200 people and displacing nearly 1.5 million more.

Minneapolis Ukrainian center educates teachers, public about Holodomor

MINEAPOLIS – For the second consecutive year, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) at the University of Minnesota partnered with the Ukrainian American Community Center (UACC) in Minneapolis to educate teachers and the public about the Holodomor. “This valued partnership provides the UACC with a platform to raise awareness and promote Holodomor recognition,” stated Luda Anastazievsky, UACC programming director, who leads the  center’s outreach and education efforts.

In August 2019, CHGS had invited the Ukrainian center to present at a summer workshop for middle and high school teachers from the Twin Cities and around the country. This week-long educator for educators provided an introduction to the legal and social concepts of genocide, as well as historical and contemporary examples of genocide, including the Holocaust and the genocides in Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia and Ukraine.

Zaporizhia Oblast: The next flash point in Russia’s hybrid aggression against Ukraine?

On July 9, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) arrested a group of radical pro-Russia separatists promoting the creation of a so-called “Zaporizhian People’s Republic” (ZPR). In 2014, these individuals allegedly tried to seize power in southeastern Ukraine’s Zaporizhia Oblast but had to flee to Luhansk, where they began cooperating with the Moscow-backed separatist authorities of the self-declared Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics” (LPR/DPR). Having secretly returned to Zaporizhia, the perpetrators allegedly planned to carry out various subversive activities and distributed pro-Russia separatist materials that called for the overthrow of the constitutional order in Ukraine and the creation of the ZPR (Ssu.gov.ua, July 9).

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Preliminary analysis of black boxes completed

International investigators in France have completed the download and preliminary analysis of data from the black boxes recovered from the Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) jet shot down by Iran in January, killing all 176 people on board. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board said on July 23 that the download and preliminary analysis of the cockpit voice and flight data was an “important milestone” in the investigation into the doomed flight. “The work in Paris is finished, but the investigation is far from over. There are still many key questions that need to be answered,” Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Kathy Fox said. Ms. Fox did not say what the analysis had revealed, but she urged Iranian authorities leading the investigation to be transparent and credible.

Mark VI for Ukraine: Key advantages for Ukraine’s maritime security

The current security situation in the Black Sea region is far from stable and secure, having dramatically deteriorated due to aggressive Russian actions since 2014. Moscow has already achieved naval domination of the linked Sea of Azov, previously split by treaty between Russia and Ukraine. Moreover, Russia has applied artificial delays to vessels traveling to/from Ukrainian seaports before providing them with permission to pass through the Kerch Strait (de facto wholly controlled by Moscow following its illegal annexation of Crimea); and those same ships are routinely subjected to unwarranted onboard inspections by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Coast Guard since spring 2018. Those delays reached 115 to 124.2 hours per vessel in November 2018. This Russian “boa constrictor” strategy aims at stifling Ukraine’s ports at Mariupol and Berdyansk (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, June 11, 2018).

Joint statement by U.S. secretary of state and foreign ministers of the Baltic states

The text of the following statement was released by the governments of the United States of America, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on July 22, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Welles Declaration. Source: U.S. Department of State.

Today we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Welles Declaration, which laid the foundation for the United States of America’s non-recognition policy, by which it never formally accepted the occupation and annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by the Soviet Union.

Ukraine’s defense minister seeks greater involvement of OSCE in solving issue of Crimea’s occupation

KYIV – “Emphasizing the importance of upholding the fundamental principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, I would like to remind you of the illegal occupation of Ukrainian Crimea. We need greater OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] involvement in this issue,” Minister of Defense of Ukraine Andriy Taran said during the online meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation on July 22.

The Ukrainian minister expressed his belief that Crimea-related sanctions “must stay in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.”

On the 80th anniversary of the Welles Declaration

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo released the following message on July 22.

The Welles Declaration is a proud moment in the history of U.S. foreign policy and friendship with the peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Eighty years ago, the United States pointedly refused to recognize the illegal incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s criminal act was accomplished through the signing of secret protocols to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany in August 1939. Through decades of Soviet occupation and attempts at forced assimilation, the United States never ceased to recognize the sovereignty of the three Baltic states. Throughout those dark days, the peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania never lost hope that the doors of the Soviet “prison of nations” would one day open; nor did the United States.

UNHCR and Norwegian Refugee Council repair 5,000 homes destroyed in Donbas war

KYIV – Since 2015, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Ukraine have partnered to repair and rehabilitate more than 5,000 homes destroyed during the conflict in the east of Ukraine.

With funds provided by international donors to UNHCR, NRC was able to provide shelter to those who needed the most. Although this partnership is coming to an end, both UNHCR and NRC will continue providing emergency relief in the form of legal aid, winterization assistance, and other protection and humanitarian assistance projects.