Ukrainian Diary – digest of the most important news over the past week (audio)

Ukrainian Diary – digest of the most important news over the past week (audio)

37 Javelin antitank complexes have arrived in Ukraine to enhance its defensive capability and reinforce its deterrence potential

The long-awaited U.S.-made portable antitank missile complexes have arrived in Ukraine. The FGM-148 Javelin – a 3-rd-generation portable system produced by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin – works on a “shoot-and-forget” basis: having fired the missile, the operator doesn’t have to monitor and correct its trajectory. High- precision Javelin missiles are capable of destroying tanks and other armored vehicles as well as ground fortifications and even helicopters and drones, which is extremely important for Ukraine since Russia has amassed a formidable tank force at Ukraine’s eastern border. President Petro Poroshenko has thanked his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump for giving the green light to the supply of the Javelins, which U.S. laws normally prohibit in order to prevent escalation in warring countries. “I confirm that the Ukrainian army has received the long-awaited weapons. They have significantly reinforced our deterrence potential and strengthened Euro-Atlantic security. We will continue to build up our defensive potential for rebuffing Russian aggression. I thank President Trump for supporting Ukraine, for the leadership and important example,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.

According to Michael Carpenter, director of the Biden Center at Pennsylvania University, the Javelins will help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s incessant aggression. “Ukraine has finally received the Javelins. Morally, politically, tactically, and strategically this is the right move. It will help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s  incessant aggression that has already claimed more than 10,000 lives,” Carpenter wrote on Twitter, commenting on the State Department’s report on the delivery of 37 Javelin missile complexes to Ukraine. “Importantly, Ukraine pays for these missiles. In the long term it would be much better for Ukraine to reform its defense industry that would be able to make its own antitank weapons,” Carpenter wrote.

The Counterterrorism Operation completes, the Allied Operation commences

On April 30th, four years after Kyiv launched the Counterterrorism Operation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, it was completed and the Allied Operation commenced. The Allied Forces comprise the Armed Forces, the State Border Service, the National Police, and the Security Service – all commanded and coordinated by the Military Headquarters.

Allied Forces Commander, Col. Serhiy Nayev, told reporters in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, on Wednesday that the Counterterrorism Operation led and coordinated by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) had fulfilled its mission. “Now it is a military operation and the Allied Forces Command will be in charge. I know that the people living on both sides of the contact line are apprehensive about possible escalation. We understand their concern, but I assure them that we don’t plan to step up military activity and we don’t expect an upsurge in hostilities. The Allied Operation is aimed at restoring peace in this war-torn region, at liquidating all dividing lines and artificial barriers that separate Ukrainian families. We are here not to fan the conflict but to extinguish it as soon as possible,” Col. Nayev said. He said that being aware of the enemy’s predictable intent the Allied Forces would reinforce and re-equip their frontline positions and would be on high alert.

Col. Nayev explained the main differences between the Counterterrorism Operation and the Allied Operation: “The main difference is that the Allied Operation is a military operation. The reason is that we are dealing not only with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics which the Verkhovna Rada has termed as “terrorist organizations”. We are dealing with Russian troops that have occupied a part of Ukrainian territory. In fact, the so-called 1st and 2nd Army Corps operating in the Donetsk and Luhansk republics are military formations structured according to the Russian army regulations. They use Russian weapons and equipment and are commanded by Russian officers. They are directly subordinated to the South Command of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

The situation in the Donbas war zone: weekly roundup

The situation in the Donbas war zone shows no signs of de-escalation as the Russian-backed militants continue to breach the ceasefire, targeting positions of the Ukrainian Allied Forces along the engagement line. Over the past week the enemy has kept using artillery and mortars, banned by the Minsk agreements and the international humanitarian law, according to reports by the Defense Ministry. The intensity of enemy strikes remains high. In order to quench the enemy fire the Ukrainian troops have been using light infantry weapons, according to Ukrainian Defense Ministry. A number of Ukrainian soldiers have been wounded over the past week, and the local population is still suffering from the hostilities. Among the instances of civilian casualties, an enemy shelling had caused damage to six buildings in the town of Maryinka in Donetsk region at night on 1 May, according to the report by the Donetsk region police department. On the next day, a large-caliber artillery shelling had occurred in the residential areas of Troitske in Luhansk region, also causing damage to private households.

On Thursday Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine Ertugrul Apakan has urged the sides of the conflict to ensure the life and safety of the workers of Donetsk Water Filtration Station, and of civilian monitoring officers from the OSCE SMM, who are currently facilitating the workers’ access to the station. In his statement, Apakan stressed yet again on the unacceptability of endangering lives and jeopardizing the operation of the facility upon which more than 300,000 people on both sides of the contact line depend for drinking water. He reminded about last year’s commitments by the sides to specifically protect the Donetsk Filtration Station and other critical civilian infrastructure facilities.

Meanwhile Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said following his meeting with Petro Poroshenko that the door for a peaceful solution was open for the Russian president to react. “We have made a significant eftort under the leadership of Ambassador Kurt Volker to extend the opening for the Russians to find a peaceful solution in Ukraine. I think we have to be crystal clear that this is not a conflict, this is a war and it’s an ongoing active aggression by the Russians. We are interested in finding a solution that is a genuine UN-led effort that brings peace, we’re not interested in arrangements that simply act as a fig leaf for the Russians to consolidate the territorial gains that they’ve made,” he told the press on Wednesday. To that, he noted that the sanctions would be lifted only after Russia would stop its aggression in Ukraine and withdraw the troops from the Donbas. Wess Mitchell also announced about the U.S. doubling their financial assistance that is aimed at enhancing cyber security in Ukraine (from $5 million to $10 million), in order to counter cyber attacks coming from the Russian Federation.

The Antarctic Expedition is back home presenting results of their research

Participants of the 22nd Ukrainian Antarctic expedition returned home with scientific discoveries. For more than a year in the conditions of Antarctica round-the-clock, the expedition participants carried out their scientific research. Particularly, they’ve continued the ongoing study of the magnetosphere of the Earth, examining magnetic fields from the center of the globe to distant outer space. Ukrainian winter men are also being jokingly called the "guardians of global climate change on Earth". Here is what the expedition member, biologist Vitaliy Smahol, who is studying the life of penguins, said: “Penguins, and not only penguins, the Antarctic animal world in general, the Antarctic flora are very beautiful biomarkers, which show a real change in the climate, in particular its warming. The cold-blooded species of penguins - adelies, in particular, from our sector of the Antarctic, do not disappear, but their range is gradually reducing and they migrate further to the south, where the latitude is colder. It is warm for them here already. And for the past 50 years, the temperature has risen by 4.5 degrees, but their ecological niche is occupied by thermophilic species of penguins, those that move from the coast of South America - these are donkey penguins,” – Vitaliy Smahol commented.

Together with the participants of the 22nd Antarctic expedition, scholars of the seasonal expedition, which lasted 12 days, returned to Ukraine as well. During that time, they managed to make scientific discoveries. Biologist Ivan Parnikoza told Radio Ukraine about them: “In particular, in cooperation with Polish colleagues, we were able to discover four types of new invertebrates that were not known to science. In case of plants they, as a marker, indicate that the climate is slightly fluctuating. Of course, global warming is a fact, as it used to be, but now climatologists or, say, meteorologists are waiting where this change will go further. The vascular plants for the past 2 seasons spread in the areas where they had disappeared in the previous time.”

Scientific research cannot be carried out effectively without a cook, diesel engineers and others who provide vital functions of the Vernadsky Antarctic station. Minister of Education and Science Liliya Hrynevych emphasized the importance of the work of Ukrainian scientists in Antarctica and the significance of the results of their scientific. "Ukraine has been conducting a continuous series of observations at the station since 1996, and a number of climate and atmosphere parameters are tracked at this station from the longest of all stations in Antarctica, from the 1940s and 1960s, and it is important to continuously receive data every year to have a complete picture of change in the atmosphere, the magnetosphere, the climate and the biosphere of the Earth”, as Liliya Hrynevych said.

On the 21st of March, 2018, the 23rd Ukrainian Antarctic expedition departed to the Vernadsky Antarctic station, which will launch 5 new types of biological research.

Melovin to represent Ukraine at Eurovision-2018

A week ahead of the Eurovision-2018 song contest in Lisbon, the organizers have announced the names of national jury members in each of the 43 countries that have confirmed their participation. The Ukrainian jury consists of pop singers Hrystyna Soloviy and Aloise, producer Vitaliy Klimov, music radio host Denys Zhupnyk, and musician Artur Danielyan. The Ukrainian jury’s decisions will be pronounced by Natalia Zhyzhchenko, the frontwoman of the popular electro band ONUKA. She told Radio Ukraine that she would be honored to be part of such a grand international event. “It’s really a feast of music, a big international event where Ukraine has put itself across more than once bursting out with its music, with its performers, with bright shows. And it’s an honor to me to be part of this holiday on behalf of Ukraine,” said Natalia Zhyzhchenko.

It should be noted that Ukraine is one of the few countries to have made it to the finals at all the Eurovision contests since its debut in 2003. It wasn’t a big success then: Oleksandr Ponomaryov only came in 14th with his Hasta la Vista, but a year later Ruslana sent the world audience in raptures with her fiery Wild Dances. In 2016, Ukraine won the first prize again, with Jamala’s song 1944, featuring the tragedy of Crimean Tatars under the Stalin regime.

The 63rd Eurovision song contest will be hosted by Portugal, after Salvador Sobral’s victory in 2017 in Kyiv with his lyrical composition Amar Pelos Dois. The semi-finals are scheduled for the 8th and 10th of May, and the grand final for the 12th.

Ukraine will be represented by the young singer Melovin with the song Under The Ladder. Before departing for Lisbon, Melovin told Ukrainian reporters that he had good expectations: “Every night lately I’ve been having colored dreams. I think it’s a good sign.” Melovin will perform in the second semifinal under entry number 18.