Prepared by Sofiia Dalibozhak, Sofia Oliynyk, Maryana Zaviyska
NATO summit in Vilnius.
The 2023 summit took place on 11-12 July and the matter of Ukraine joining the alliance (or not) was one of the major topics of the gathering. On July 11, Allies took decisions to bring Ukraine closer to NATO, and reinforce the Alliance’s collective deterrence and defence. The official invitation for Ukraine was not granted this year. POLITICO also emphasises, that there are two major obstacles to Ukraine joining NATO now, the first one being Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, providing that any attack on a NATO country is to be considered an attack on all its members – i. e. if Ukraine joined now, the entire alliance would be at war with Russia. The second obstacle deals with the need for meeting certain qualifications of democratic control of the military as it is a prerequisite for joining the alliance.
Though some of the decisions aiming to strengthen cooperation were adopted. Allies agreed to a package of three elements bringing Ukraine closer to NATO. This includes a new multi-year assistance programme to facilitate the transition of the Ukrainian armed forces from Soviet-era to NATO standards and help rebuild Ukraine’s security and defence sector, covering critical needs like fuel, demining equipment, and medical supplies. Allies also agreed to establish the new NATO-Ukraine Council as well as reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan, reads the statement. NATO Allies adopted a comprehensive defence plan that is designed to counter the Alliance’s two main threats – Russia and terrorism. The new regional plan provides for 300,000 troops at high readiness, including substantial air and naval combat power. To meet their defence needs, Allies made an enduring commitment to invest a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product in defence.
On July 12, G7 countries announced an international framework for long-term security assurances for Ukraine to boost its defences against Russia. The leaders agreed to ensure a sustainable force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring Russian aggression in the future, through the continued provision of: security assistance and modern military equipment, support to further develop Ukraine’s defence industrial base, training and training exercises for Ukrainian forces, intelligence sharing and cooperation, support for cyber defence, security, and resilience initiatives, including to address hybrid threats. In addition, G7 countries will aim to strengthen Ukraine’s economic stability and resilience, including through reconstruction and recovery efforts, to create the conditions conducive to promoting Ukraine’s economic prosperity, including its energy security. Lastly, the cooperation will envisage providing technical and financial support for Ukraine’s immediate needs stemming from Russia’s war as well as to enable Ukraine to continue implementing the effective reform agenda that will support the good governance necessary to advance towards its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Cities under the attack.
In June Russia continued to shell Ukrainian cities and villages. As for the southern part of Ukraine, the city of Kherson continues to suffer from ongoing shellings. On Thursday, June 29, the Russian army shelled the ‘Point of Invincibility’ in Kherson, leaving two civilians killed, and two others injured. On July 4, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office, 2 people were killed as a result of a Russian artillery attack. On July 6, 3 more were injured, according to Kherson regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin. Earlier, on June 13, 11 people were killed in Kryvyi Rih in Dnipropetrovsk region due to a Russian missile strike.
Ukraine’s Air Force reported on June 16 that air defence downed all six Kinzhal ballistic missiles, also known as Kh-47M2, six Kalibr cruise missiles, and two reconnaissance drones. This happened several hours after the delegation led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in Ukraine on the morning of that same day.
Since the beginning of the full-scale war, more than 170 civilians have been killed, and more than 400 residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed, in Russian attacks on Kyiv, the city Mayor Vitalii Klychko said on July 9.
In the morning of July 6, Lviv was attacked by Russian missiles. The attack damaged 35 residential houses, an office complex, a student campus, a school, and several dozens of cars. National police said that 45 people, including three children, had been injured and 10 people were killed.
Life under the occupation.
Russian occupiers continue to kidnap children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The occupying administrations, with the help of telegram channels aimed at the audience of TOT of the Kherson region, promote targeted messages to mislead the local residents about the threat to children on the territory of Ukraine. Specifically, the departure of children to Russia is strongly promoted via such resources by encouraging participation in the “We are children of the Volga” camp program.
Moreover, the occupation administration of TOT demands that businesses, which as of July 1 did not re-register their business to the norms of Russian legislation, cease operations, and threatens them with consequences, namely, criminal responsibility, if the entrepreneurs do not respond to the threats. This is one more measure taken with the aim to increase the rate of passporting of the region.
In the temporarily occupied territories of the Luhansk region the occupiers convert maternity homes into military hospitals, while loading unnecessary furniture and medical equipment onto military transport for the stolen property to be further transported to Russia. In the same region, in order to combat the leakage of information about the location of the Russian troops, the occupation administration threatens with consequences all those who talk to persons who are in the territory under the control of Ukraine.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, as of July 10, since the beginning of the counteroffensive, the Ukrainian army has liberated 168.6 square kilometres of Ukrainian territory.
According to activists of an independent human rights group Qırım Gayesi (Crimean Idea), at least 18 individuals from the indigenous community of Crimean Tatars were detained since February 2023 to check their alleged involvement in subversive or resistance activities. It is suspected, however, that the number of enforced kidnappings and detentions among Crimean Tatars, in fact, is much higher. People may conceal these incidents, fearing further repressions.
According to the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as of July 3 the occupiers have illegally imprisoned 180 Ukrainian citizens in Crimea. 117 of them are representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people. Out of the total number of political prisoners, 24 are arrested, 138 are imprisoned, and 18 are without status.
The occupation court of Crimea has changed the illegal sentence of civilian journalist Irina Danilovich, who was sentenced to 7 years on charges of allegedly “possessing explosives”. The political prisoner is to be transferred to Russia in the near future, and her health condition requires immediate medical attention.
On June 27, OHCHR released a report on arbitrary detention of civilians in the context of the Russian Federation’s large-scale attack on Ukraine, covering the period of 15 months from February 2022 to May 2023. 864 individual cases of arbitrary detention by the Russian Federation were documented, many of which also amounted to enforced disappearances. Civilians were often detained during so-called ‘filtration’ in occupied territory for their perceived support of Ukraine, their status as former Ukrainian servicepersons, or their perceived political opinion or affiliation. They included local public officials, humanitarian volunteers, members of civil society, priests and teachers.
Many civilian detainees were held incommunicado, in unofficial places of detention, often in deplorable conditions. In about a quarter of the documented cases, civilian detainees were transferred to other locations within occupied territory or deported to the Russian Federation. Often, no information was disclosed to their families for prolonged periods of time.
In addition, 77 executions of civilians were documented while they were arbitrarily detained by the Russian Federation.
On 22 June, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution on the political consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The resolution reaffirmed the importance of supporting Ukraine for the sake of protecting democratic security in Europe. Moreover, the PACE has therefore set a number of priorities and recommends in particular: expansion of the list of individuals and legal entities subject to restrictive measures (sanctions) in Russia, Belarus and third countries; introduction of basic categories for the purpose of special supervision to avoid evasion of sanctions; recognition of the Wagner PMC and other paramilitary groups involved in the Russian invasion (Kadyrov’s detachment and others) as terrorist groups; recognition of the Russian regime as one that follows the dangerous ideology of “rashism”; the recognition of the Russian Federation’s guilt in the war crime of ecocide, which was committed by blowing up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station in order to stop the counter-offensive and more. Notably, the PACE declared its support to Zelenskyi’s peace plan.
On July 3, the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine was launched in The Hague, based on the premises of the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust). According to the press service of the European Commission, the newly established Centre will be key to investigate Russia’s crime of aggression against Ukraine and facilitate case building for future trials. It will provide a structure to support and enhance ongoing and future investigations into the crime of aggression and contribute to the exchange and analysis of evidence gathered since the start of the Russian aggression.
Total damages to the energy sector caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP amount to $624 million. These include the direct loss of the energy capacity of the dam, which was about 334,8 MW. Moreover, the annual economic losses of the state-owned company Ukrhydroenergo exceed $100 million. Nearly $1 billion will be needed to build the new hydroelectric power plant of the same capacity.
The consequences of the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP dam on June 6 have extended to the agricultural industry, as the loss of irrigation in Ukraine’s southern regions has resulted in substantial indirect losses. Damage to the crop plantations, livestock, and fish stocks has resulted in agricultural losses of $25 million. Furthermore, indirect losses for crop production are projected to increase by $182 million annually.
In addition, due to the decrease in the water level in the Kakhovka Reservoir, a significant part of the Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson regions may be left without water supply. In such a case, the construction of new water pipelines will be needed, which means extra expenses for Ukraine.
On June 19, the United Nations in Ukraine released its Human Impact Assessment report, providing comprehensive insights into the effects of Russia’s invasion on living conditions, health, access to education, livelihoods, food security, social inclusion, and gender equality.
Among the key findings of the Assessment is the employment situation. Namely, unemployment is predicted to stand at 18.3% across 2023; 65% of households reported a decrease in income since February 2022. As for food security, 44% of households cannot afford essential needs, driving food insecurity; the proportion of households with inadequate food consumption rose to one-third; and 43% of households reported limiting portions, borrowing food, and/or eating cheaper foods, the report states.
On June 27, Sociological Group ‘Rating’ released a survey, encompassing, among others, the assessment of the security situation by the Ukrainian population, opinions on the country’s general development, social distances, institutional performance and participation in community life. According to the survey, 67% of those interviewed believe that things are headed in the right direction in Ukraine, 18% are of the opposite opinion and a further 15% could not assess. 86% and 61% of those interviewed respectively believe that the Ukrainian Armed Forces and family and loved ones were the main factors that helped those surveyed remain stable during the war with Russia. 56% of those surveyed think that the main sign of a successful state is a strong army. Most of those surveyed (58%) said that they were prepared to endure difficulties because of the war for several years to win. As for the social distances, over 75% of respondents did not personally feel criticised or disapproved because of their political preferences, language of communication, belonging to a certain region, religious affiliation, or because of nationality.
Another survey by the Rating Group, launched on June 29, shows that the attitude of Ukrainians toward the largest allied countries remains very positive: most respondents consider Poland, the United States and the United Kingdom friendly countries. Attitudes toward Germany among Ukrainians continue to improve. In contrast, attitudes toward China and Turkey are deteriorating.
On June 29, Detector Media Research Center launched a brief report on Russian disinformation messages in the Ukrainian segment of Telegram. According to the report, the key narratives include: “Ukraine is to blame for the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP”, “systemic corruption in the Ministry of Defense will lead to a significant reduction in Western aid”, “Ukraine will never be accepted into NATO, security guarantees will be purely declarative”, “the counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut is not going according to plan”, “Western equipment is of poor quality” and others. The main goals of propagating these narratives are to discredit Ukraine and its authorities as well as Ukraine’s partner countries and to distort the perception of events on the frontline.
Thank you for supporting Ukraine! Slava Ukraini! Glory to Ukraine!