Ukraine Conflict Monitor, May 30-June 6, 2017

Ukraine 101:

  • The Kiev City Council has voted in favor of renaming the city's General Vatutin Avenue as Roman Shukhevych Avenue. Members of the Jewish community have earlier objected to such renaming because Shukhevych’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists collaborated with the Nazis in its struggle against the Red Army. (Interfax, 06.01.17, Transitions on Line, 05.30.17)

West’s leverage over Russia:

  • The Senate Banking Committee on June 1 announced a bipartisan agreement for legislation that would strengthen and expand punitive sanctions against Moscow over its seizure of Crimea, its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine and its military backing for the Syrian regime. The bill would authorize penalties against Russia’s mining, metals and railway industries. (Foreign Policy, 06.02.17)

Russia’s leverage over West:

  • No significant developments.

Russia’s leverage over Ukraine:

  • No significant developments.

Casualties and costs for Russia, West and Ukraine:

  • One Ukrainian serviceman was killed and five wounded in Donbas on May 31 according to a government spokesman. Two Ukrainian servicemen were wounded in Eastern Ukraine on June 1. Two more were wounded on June 5, and four more Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in Donbas on June 6, according to the Ukrainian government. (BBC Monitoring,  05.31.17-06.06.17)
  • The ambassadors of the European Union member states decided on June 6 to prolong the bloc's investment ban against Crimea for another year, punishing Russia for its armed takeover of the Ukrainian region. EU foreign ministers are likely to confirm the decision by the ambassadors when they meet in Luxembourg on June 19. (RFE/RL, 06.06.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Western sanctions against Russia have had “zero effect,” predicting that the current strain in relations will ease, because “it’s counterproductive and harmful for all.” (AP, 06.01.17)

Impact of Russia’s actions vis-à-vis Ukraine on other countries:

  • Lithuania has started building a fence on its border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. (AP, 06.05.17)
  • Poland and Ukraine say they are taking steps toward developing a regional gas hub that would end Central and Eastern Europe’s dependence on Russian supplies and keep prices in line with European standards. (AP, 06.06.17)
  • Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO on June 5 and was praised by the United States for sticking to its path of joining the Western military alliance in spite of Russian pressure. Russia warned of retaliation against Montenegro's "hostile course" and condemned the country's "anti-Russian hysteria." (Reuters, 06.05.17)

Red lines and tripwires:

  • No significant developments.

Factors and scenarios that could cause resumption of large-scale hostilities or lead to accident between Western and Russian forces in Europe:

  • The Russian defense ministry said in a statement on June 6 that it had to scramble the Su-27 to the area over the Baltic Sea on the morning of June 6 after Russian radars spotted an aircraft flying along the border. The ministry said the Russian jet identified it as a U.S. B-52 bomber and escorted it until it flew further away from the border. In a separate incident, a Russian MiG-31 was dispatched early on the afternoon of June 6 to intercept Norwegian maritime surveillance aircraft flying over the Barents Sea near the Russian border, the Russian defense ministry said. (AP, 06.06.17)

Arming and training of Ukrainian forces by Western countries:

  • No significant developments.

Strategies and actions recommended:

  • No significant developments.


  • Professor Nicolai N. Petro and former USAID project officer Josh Cohen: “The current course of denigrating those deemed insufficiently Ukrainian will only lead to a fracturing of the country along ethno-religious lines. This can still be prevented—if the government embraces an inclusive civic culture that respects Ukraine’s bicultural identity. Whether or not it chooses to do so will determine whether the 2014 Maidan will be remembered as the beginning of a new era of national unity, or the beginning of Ukraine’s disintegration.” (The National Interest, 05.30.17)
  • Michael Kofman, senior research scientist with the Center for Naval Analyses: “In terms of regional focus, Russian armed forces in the southern, western and Arctic military districts are likely to see the greatest investments. Modernization has focused heavily on improving forces around Ukraine and the North Caucasus. It is now spreading to the broader western military district, forces in the Baltic and those commanded by the Northern Fleet.” (The Moscow Times, 06.04.17)

Other important news:

  • Naftogaz of Ukraine said on May 31 that an arbitration tribunal had dismissed a $34.5 billion claim from Russian state gas giant Gazprom over the terms of a disputed gas contract, marking a victory for Kiev in its efforts to reduce Russia's economic sway. Gazprom said in a statement that the panel's decision was "interim" and that a final decision wouldn't come before the end of June. (Wall Street Journal, 05.31.17)
  • Ukraine's international reserves at the beginning of June amounted to $17.617 billion, which is 3% more than a month earlier, according to relevant preliminary data posted on the website of the National Bank of Ukraine. (Interfax, 06.06.17)
  • The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have expressed their support for the Ukrainian government's draft law on reforming Ukraine's pension system. (Interfax, 06.06.17)
  • Adam Osmayev, a Chechen accused by Russian authorities of plotting to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot and wounded in Kiev on June 1. Osmayev's wife, Amina Okuyeva, returned fire, wounding the alleged attacker, who she says was posing as a journalist. (RFE/RL, 06.02.17)
  • An Austrian accused of committing war crimes in eastern Ukraine has been released from custody in his home country after credibly denying the allegations against him, a spokesman for the prosecutors' office handling the case said on June 1. (Reuters, 06.01.17)
  • Guillaume Cuvelier, a well-known militant who fought with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine and participated in far-right European politics before joining the U.S. Army has been discharged from the military, a spokeswoman for the Army said. (The Washington Post, 05.29.17)
  • Natalya Sharina, former director of Moscow's State Library of Ukrainian Literature, was given a four-year suspended sentence on June 5 for embezzlement and distributing extremist materials. (The Moscow Times, 06.05.17)
  • In Donbas, around one-third of survey respondents said that they maintain contact one to two times per week with relatives on the respective other side of Ukraine’s front line, a recent survey by the Center for East European and International Studies in Berlin found. (Deutsche Welle, 06.05.17)
  • Ukraine’s minister of culture, Yevhen Nyshchuk, has called eastern Ukrainians the products of “inadequate genetics” and a “failure of consciousness.” (The National Interest, 05.30.17)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that he once raised the possibility of Russia joining NATO with then-President Bill Clinton, and that Clinton said he had "no objection.” (RFE/RL, 06.03.17)