Wednesday, July 31, 2019

President Zelensky cancels Independence Day military parade, gives money to soldiers

July 31, 2019 (Kyiv Post) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced that he will cancel the country’s tradition of holding a military parade on Independence Day on August 24. Instead, the money will be spent on bonuses to Ukrainian soldiers. In a July 9 video message published on social media, Zelensky termed the traditional parade “grandiose and clearly not inexpensive.” “It seems to me that, this year, instead of a parade it’s better to allocate that money for our heroes,” he said. Zelensky said that the Ukrainian government would spend Hr 300 million ($11.7 million) on bonuses for Ukrainian servicepeople, both those serving in Donbas and those farther from the frontline. Zelensky said that Independence Day celebrations will take place, but in a “new format.” 
Tanks pass by during the military parade on Aug. 24, 2018, marking Ukraine's 27th Independence Day.
Photo by Oleg Petrasiuk

Before his election as the president of Ukraine in April, Zelensky established himself as a television producer of entertainment shows and a comedic actor. The Independence Day military parade has not always been a tradition in Ukraine. It was held for the first time in 1994 under the presidency of Leonid Kuchma. In the following years, parades were held irregularly or without military equipment. When ex-President Viktor Yanukovych came to power, he canceled the parades entirely. 
It was ex-President Petro Poroshenko who turned the Independence Day parade into a massive annual show. After Russia invaded the eastern Donbas region in 2014, the parade took on a new meaning. It became an occasion to showcase the country’s military power, to commemorate soldiers killed in action, to give awards to heroes, and for the president to address the nation with a patriotic speech. Over the past five years, Ukraine’s allies have sent high-level officials to attend the parade and soldiers from allied countries have marched along with Ukrainian servicepeople. Last year’s Independence Day saw a record number of 4,500 troops marching down Kyiv’s central Khreshchatyk Street. For the first time, servicewomen also took part in the parade. 
Around 250 military vehicles drove down the avenue, including Javelin missile system received from the United States earlier that year. However, the cost of the grand military show has always been concealed. In 2014, the last time Ukraine’s defense ministry reported on the parade’s cost, it amounted to Hr 80 million. Zelensky’s announcement comes just days after the United States held a parade featuring military vehicles in Washington, DC to mark American Independence Day. 
That celebration was criticized as a show of military force more common in authoritarian states. On July 2, Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, wrote on Twitter that the sight of tanks being towed into Washington reminded him of “parades I used to attend in the Soviet Union. Not the right look for the 4th.”

Corgi appears as Kyiv guide in city’s new promo video

July31, 2019 (Kyiv Post) For a corgi named Loyd, living in Kyiv isn’t such a dog’s life. Loyd is the star of a promotional video about Kyiv, published on July 29 by the city administration’s tourism department. In the video, Loyd serves as a guide to Kyiv. The naughty, English-speaking corgi escapes his owner to show the viewer around town. “I’m going to show you the best city in the world! Follow me, my long-legged friends,” Loyd says in the narrator’s voice.
A corgi named Loyd is the star of the new promotional video about Kyiv by the city administration’s tourism department.

The corgi leads the viewer through several sights in Kyiv: Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Sofiiska and Poshtova squares, Andriyivsky Descent and the picturesque new pedestrian bridge. At the end of the video, Loyd is picked up by a police officer on an alley of Shevchenko Park and returned to his owner. The city’s tourism office previously published dozens of video guides with human actors but it’s the first time a dog took central stage. It will likely become their most popular video: just four days after uploading, it had 14,000 views on Youtube. Earlier videos with human actors got from 5,000 to 19,000 views.
Loyd also has a Facebook page administered in his name by the owners. There are pictures of Loyd in Kyiv and photographs from the set of his guide video.1

Monday, July 29, 2019

Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Bibliotek presented new gifts for Poltava Battle Museum

July 29, 2019.  The collection of the Museum of the Battle of Poltava was replenished with new exhibits that were presented by the Swedish Military History Society (Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Bibliotek - SMB). This is a small collection of coins from the time of King Charles 12, purchased by the SMB society for the Poltava museum, with which the Swedish Military History Society has a long-standing friendship. Due to the efforts of the Swedish Military History Society the “Swedish part of the museum’s collection” is getting bigger and bigger.”

Another valuable gift was delivered to the museum by SMB delegation that visited Poltava and Kyiv in mid May 2019. This is a bust of the Swedish king Charles XII created by Edmé Bouchardon (1698 – 1762), French sculptor best known for his neoclassical statues in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, his medals, his equestrian statue of Louis XV of France for the Place de la Concorde (destroyed during the French Revolution; and for the Fountain of Four Seasons in Paris.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

By 2025, Ukrainian spec-ops forces will have 100% switched to NATO arms and gear standards.

July 25, 2019 (UNIAN) Full gear of each Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (SOF) serviceman costs US$15,000, that's according to SOF Commander Ihor Luniov, who compared it to the American analog costing up to $100,000. Speaking at a Kyiv briefing on Wednesday on the 3rd anniversary of SOF founding in Ukraine, Luniov noted that, as of today, the SOF had all Soviet-type SOF sniper rifles replaced with Ukrainian-made UR-10s, as well as foreign-made Barrett sniper rifles, and 338-caliber Savage, according to an UNIAN correspondent. Luniov added that a number of Ukraine-produced unmanned aerial vehicles were delivered, so the SOF is now fully equipped with drones required. Also this year, a separate nomenclature of armament and military equipment was introduced for the SOF.

By 2025, Ukrainian spec-ops forces will have 100% switched to NATO arms and gear standards, the commander noted. As of today, Luniov said, SOF troops have at their disposal special Humvee trucks and radios able to ensure encrypted communications. In contrast to their American counterparts, Ukrainian spec-ops forces lack means of navigation and space reconnaissance: "We can only use these data if they're provided to us." As UNIAN reported, for the first time in history, a Ukrainian unit passed NATO SOF certification despite being from a country which is not part of the Alliance.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

President of Ukraine met with Ambassadors of the G7 countries and Heads of the Missions to the EU and NATO

July 24, 2019 ( of Ukraine met with Ambassadors of the G7 countries and Heads of the Missions to the EU and NATO.President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the G7 Ambassadors' Support Group for Ukraine and Heads of the Missions of Ukraine to the UE and NATO.
"I am extremely grateful to representatives of your countries for the constant support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Today is a very difficult situation, but you have a powerful, constant "pro-Ukrainian" position", the Head of State stressed. The President thanked the diplomatic representatives for the participation of international observers in the work of the pre-term election to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on July 21, 2019.

"This is not the first elections in Ukraine that are held peacefully, democratically. And this is thanks, in particular, to international observers" Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. Foreign representatives expressed their readiness to provide broad support to the implementation of an ambitious reform program, which was announced by the Head of State earlier and should receive the necessary support for the new composition of the Ukrainian Parliament. Volodymyr Zelenskyy informed the participants of the meeting on the situation in the Donbas region  and the last steps for dividing  forces around Stanitsa Luganska. He stressed that strict compliance with the ceasefire regime is a prerequisite for further progress in conflict resolution. During the meeting, the main attention was paid to the reforms implemented by Ukraine and the support of the efforts of the President and his team from the international partners.

Ukraine population down to 42.04 mln. Stats say there are 49 newborns per 100 deceased.

July 24, 2019 (UNIAN) The population of Ukraine in January-May 2019 decreased by 122,400 against December 2018 and as of June 1, 2019 amounted to 42.038,000, the State Statistics Service of Ukraine reported. According to the agency, in January-May 2019, 126,700 children were born, while in January-May 2018 this figure was 137,800. In the first five months of 2019, a natural decline in the population was recorded at 260,900, whereas in the same period last year it was 254,200. At the same time, the number of newborns exceeded the number of those who died by 11,842, while in January-April 2018 the difference was 9,616. Read also Ukraine to conduct trial census in late 2019 – State Statistics Service In addition, there is a significant excess of the number of deaths over the number of newborns: 49 newborns per 100 deaths. The data cover all regions of Ukraine, except for the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. 

The data on the natural and migration movement of the population are formed without taking into account the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sevastopol and parts of the temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. As UNIAN reported, citing the forecast of Institute of Social Research Demography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, by 2030, the population of Ukraine will have decreased by 6.8% to 39.5 million, while the share of the working-age population will decrease by 12% to 24 million. The main reason is the outflow of the working-age population abroad. In the spring of 2014, after the annexation of Crimea and the formation of the Anti-Terrorist Operation zone in the east of the country due to the start of hostilities in the region, the population of Ukraine was significantly adjusted and reduced to 43 million from 45 million. This figure has been decreasing each month. The last time the census was held in Ukraine back in 2001. The United Nations recommends such an assessment be done at least once every ten years.

Ukraine army destroys enemy firing position in Donbas (Video)

July 24, 2019 (UNIAN) Members of the 93rd "Kholodniy Yar" separate mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have destroyed an enemy firing position near the Avdiyivka industrial zone in Donbas, eastern Ukraine. Read also Enemy howitzer destroyed in Donbas (Video) "Complete destruction of the enemy's firing position was caught on the video. The accuracy is breaking all records. We managed to direct 14 shells out of 19 to the target that morning," the brigade said in captions to the video posted on Facebook. However, it is not indicated when the strike occurred.

Snap from video
The video is available at:
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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Ukraine President's Party Leads in Parliament Election-Exit Poll

July 21, 2019 (Reuters) President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's party led Ukraine's snap parliamentary election on Sunday with 43.9% of votes, an exit poll showed. The Opposition Platform was in second place, former President Petro Poroshenko's party was in third place, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's party was in fourth place and rock star Sviatoslav Vakarchuk's party in fifth.

Ukrainian electoral system.
Under current law 225 members of the Verkhovna Rada are elected by nationwide closed party-list proportional representation with 5% electoral election threshold and the other 225 seats elected in constituencies with a first-past-the-post electoral system in one round (candidate with the highest vote total wins).21 parties take part in the election in the nationwide party-list. 26 constituencies from 225 are suspended due to the March 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia and the occupation of parts of Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast by separatists (since April 2014), because of then roughly 12 percent of voting-age citizens cannot participate in the elections.
Candidates had until 20 June to submit documents to the Central Election Commission of Ukraine to register as candidates for the position of deputy of the Verkhovna Rada. On 25 June 2019, the Central Election Comission ended its registration process. It registered 5,845 candidates for the elections: 3,171 candidates in the single-member constituencies and 2,674 candidates in the single nationwide constituency with 22 parties.  

Friday, July 19, 2019

Poland says Putin's presence on WWII anniversary inappropriate

July 19, 2019 (UNIAN) Deputy Prime Minister of Poland Jacek Sasin has said Polish authorities consider inappropriate the attendance by Russian President Vladimir Putin of commemorative events on the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, which will be held in Warsaw in September 2019. "I think it would be inappropriate to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the armed aggression against Poland with the participation of a leader who today treats his neighbors using the same methods," he told Polskie Radio 24, according to Deutsche Welle's Russian service. He stressed Putin is "the leader of a country that is carrying out armed aggression against its neighbors."
At the same time, the politician said U.S. President Donald Trump would most likely arrive at the ceremony in Warsaw. According to Sasin, the report suggesting that Trump will attend the event is still unofficial. "However, we can say with a high degree of confidence that this visit will take place," he said.
Answering a question about a possible visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Sasin said Warsaw is "optimistic about this." According to the politician, the invitations have already been sent to a wide circle of world leaders, and Poland expects the commemorative events on the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II will be held at an international scale. It became known in March 2019 that Poland would not invite Putin to commemorative events. Paweł Mucha, Deputy Chief of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, said only partners in the European Union and the countries of the Eastern Partnership program would receive invitations from Warsaw. In response, representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry said they "were perplexed" with such a decision on the part of Warsaw.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Ex-chief of Ukraine's foreign intel: Army equipped to repel invasion, strategy needs improvement

July 8, 2019 (UNIAN) Ex-chief of Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence Service, General Mykola Malomuzh says that the army has weapons to repel an open full-scale invasion of Ukrainian territory by Russian troops, however, strategic preparations for this scenario are insufficient. "Strategically, we can involve allies. In addition to building up our weapons and preparedness for hostilities, we need to pursue a very effective policy with our partners, which, unfortunately, has not happened either now or earlier. Only scheduled meetings that do not form any potential from the economic or security point of view have been held so far. A team of professionals who would help [President of Ukraine Volodymyr] Zelensky in the system of security, economy, defense and the creation of innovative formats has not been formed yet," Malomuzh told the Ukrainian news outlet Apostrophe. Read also Ukrainian Army gets over 3,500 units of weapons, military equipment in 2018 (Photo) According to him, tactically, Ukraine has some groundwork allowing to respond to Russian aggression.
A Ukrainian-developed Korsar system / Photo from

As for weapons, Ukraine is better prepared here, but new developments must be introduced into the Armed Forces of Ukraine. "There are such systems as Korsar [anti-tank missile system developed by Kyiv-based Luch design bureau], Skif [Ukrainian-Belarusian anti-tank missile system]. They are comparable with [U.S.-made] Javelins and even better in some respects. [There are also] Oplot tanks. New tactical complexes, equipped with radio devices, better than the European ones. And in radio intelligence systems, our country even beats Britain, France, Germany, and Russia. We all have all this, but do not use it effectively. In many line-ups we have extremely powerful developments that can be put into service for the armed forces of Ukraine in a year and a half," the general said.