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Precipitation 2%
We cannot trust Russia, - US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley. UN: 9,940 people killed, 23,455 wounded in Donbas conflict.  UN: Prisoners taken from Crimea to Russia undergo torture.  Polish FM believes US participation in talks on Donbas can bring hope to conflict resolution.  Poroshenko voices conditions for lifting Donbas trade blockade.  Crimea is Ukraine and must be returned, - UK Foreign Office.  Canada to build launch site for Ukrainian rockets Cyclone 4M.  UCitizen of Canada, - Lutsenko unveils copy of MP Artemenko's Canadian ID.

Kyiv, Ukraine
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EU has to demonstrate backbone if it is to bring strongmen to heel (Financial Times)

From Kurt W Bassuener, Democratization Policy Council, University of St Andrews, UK

Sir, Russia was taking advantage of the west’s listless policy in the Balkans well before its seizure of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine (“Europe and the US face a challenge in the Balkans”, editorial, March 11). But 2014 did mark a shift from Russia being an opportunistic spoiler to being a more aggressive destabiliser. Moscow encouraged the Republika Srpska’s secessionist ambitions in that year, creating frictions with Belgrade which continue. This has only amplified since then, with President Donald Trump’s election adding further incentive for Moscow to test the limits.

The reason for this rules-free environment, however, falls squarely on the EU’s stubborn insistence on addressing the region solely through its standard enlargement framework, despite years of the proven inadequacy of its soft power alone in the region. Part of this failure owes to the fact that most of the region’s political elites don’t really want to join the EU, despite their ritualistic statements for material gain and legitimacy. The west, and especially the EU, prioritise stability to the degree that, in effect, they have allied with governments which have no interest in meeting liberal democratic norms. This makes the EU’s latest pronouncements of concern on the Balkans — and Russia’s role — ring even more hollow.....................

Access complete text of the editorial:   (Financial Times)  In English
Setback for Brussels challenge to Nord Stream 2 (Financial Times) 

Lawyers and German watchdog reject bid to bring pipeline under EU energy law umbrella

Top Brussels officials are scrambling to find ways to challenge Gazprom’s $11bn Nord Stream 2 pipeline after EU lawyers and a German regulator rejected claims that the bloc’s energy laws applied to the project.

The move, revealed in documents seen by the Financial Times, will ease the way for the Russian gas group’s second project to connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea.

But it leaves EU officials and Baltic countries still looking for legal avenues to regulate an initiative they fear will strengthen Russia’s dominance of the European gas market and help the state-controlled energy group bypass Ukraine.

Maros Sefcovic, European Commission vice-president for energy, said earlier this week that plans for Nord Stream 2 were “not helping to diversify our energy sources” and required Brussels to be vigilant.

“All key rules have to be fully applied to such an important project as this” he said, adding that officials wanted to avoid a situation where the pipeline was built “just according to the Russian law”.................

Access complete text of the editorial: (Financial Times)   In English
Kiev hits five Russian banks with sanctions (Financial Times) 

Move follows Putin’s order for lenders to recognise passports from breakaway republics

Kiev has imposed sanctions on five Russian banks after the Kremlin issued a decree requiring lenders to recognise passports issued by Ukraine’s two Moscow-backed breakaway republics.

The measures target the Ukrainian subsidiaries of Sberbank and VTB, Russia’s two largest state banks, as well as Prominvestbank, which is owned by VEB, Russia’s state development bank.

The sanctions come after Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree last month recognising passports from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as identity documents. Though Russia has not formally recognised the statelets, which declared independence from Ukraine during a Russia-backed war in 2014, the decree means the passports are valid identity documents for banking services in Russia, as well as for travel.

The sanctions imposed by Kiev ban the Ukrainian subsidiaries from transferring capital to their Russian parent banks....................

Access complete text of the editorial:   (Financial Times)  In English
Crimea is Ukraine and must be returned, - UK Foreign Office (VIDEO)

The U.K.'s Foreign Office believes that Crimean peninsula is part of Ukraine.

The ministry wrote on its Twitter account, Censor.NET reports.

Poroshenko voices conditions for lifting Donbas trade blockade

The Ukrainian authorities are ready to unblock trade with Russia-held areas in the Donbas if terrorists return seized enterprises to their Ukrainian owners.
President Petro Poroshenko said this in an interview with Ukrainian TV channels, Censor.NET reports.

"Return enterprises to their Ukrainian owners irrespective of whether they are private or state-owned. Fulfill provisions 1 and 2 of the Minsk agreements, that is the cease-fire and hardware and artillery withdrawal, and we'll lift restrictions on the transportation of goods across the contact line," he said.

On March 15, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine imposed a temporary ban on the movement of goods across the demarcation line in the Donbas. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the only exception was humanitarian aid supplied by Ukrainian and international organizations. , Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові
Citizen of Canada, - Lutsenko unveils copy of MP Artemenko's Canadian ID

Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko has shown a copy of the Canadian passport of Andrii Artemenko, endorsed by the personal signature of the lawmaker.

As reported by Censor.NET, Artemenko voluntarily mentioned his dual citizenship during preliminary interrogation and brought the original of his Canadian ID for the next meeting.

"Here is the signature of Artemenko and inscription 'True copy.' Frankly, I have not seen such a voluntary surrender for a long time," Lutsenko said., Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові
Take it seriously. We cannot trust Russia, - US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley

In her first interview as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley said that the threat of Russia shouldn't be taken lightly.

Censor.NET reports citing NBC News.

"Take it seriously. We cannot trust Russia. We should never trust Russia," she told NBC News' Matt Lauer, taking a harsher stance than President Donald Trump, who has suggested that the United States and Russia might have friendlier relations under his administration.

Her remarks come in response to a question from Lauer hours after the Justice Department charged Russian intelligence officers for a sweeping criminal conspiracy that hacked 500 million Yahoo accounts in 2014.

Haley also defended Trump's orders banning travel from certain majority-Muslim nations, saying his executive actions are not the Muslim ban he proposed during his campaign - and that she vocally opposed as governor of South Carolina.

Enforcement of Trump's revised travel order, issued by the president last week, was set to begin Thursday. But a federal judge in Hawaii blocked the new ban Wednesday evening, after Haley's interview was taped and mere hours before it was to go into effect.

Haley earlier admitted possibility of better relationship between America and Russia after Moscow fully honors its Minsk commitments and returns control over Crimea to Ukraine., Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові
Polish FM believes US participation in talks on Donbas can bring hope to conflict resolution

Negotiations on the Donbas in Normandy format stopped active phase of hostilities but not the Russian aggression against Ukraine. It is vital to involve the United States in talks to solve the crisis in Ukraine’s east.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Witold Waszczykowski told a briefing in Warsaw on March 15, Censor.NET reports referring to Ukrinform.

According to him, it is an open secret that Europe conflicts of the 20th century - both World Wars, conflict in the Balkans - ended after Americans started providing assistance to Europeans. The diplomat believes that the need for the U.S. participation will sooner or later become clear as it will be able to bring hope for the conflict resolution.

The diplomat emphasized that it was up to the Ukrainian authorities to decide. Waszczykowski also stressed that the Normandy and Minsk formats brought "Russia's large-scale offensive" to a halt but failed to establish sustained peace in Ukraine.

According to the foreign minister, it has turned into a low-intensity conflict that takes its daily toll on civilians and members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces which means these formats have not produced comprehensive peace. , Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові
UN: Prisoners taken from Crimea to Russia undergo torture

The occupation authorities of the peninsula get confessions they seek from detainees with torture and ill-treatment.

As reported by Censor.NET citing Radio Svoboda, this was said by Head of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine Fiona Frazer at a briefing on March 15.

According to her, torture and ill-treatment allow the actual authorities of the peninsula to obtain necessary confessions from the detainees.

Frazer stressed that the prisoners continued being transferred to Russia where some of them received no medical assistance while at least one of them died.

The monitoring mission head said that the resolution of the U.N. General Assembly No. 71205 was the main document applicable to the mission's activities in Crimea as it recognized that the peninsula was temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation.

According to Frazer, in their recent report, the monitors expressed concern about serious human rights violations in Crimea, namely the ill-treatment of prisoners. , Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові
Canada to build launch site for Ukrainian rockets Cyclone 4M

By 2022, the spaceport is expected to launch eight rockets per year.

The Canadian-based Maritime Launch Services, which is a joint venture of three U.S.-based firms, has confirmed its plans to build a launch site in the Nova Scotia province for the Ukrainian Cyclone 4M medium-class rocket, Censor.NET reports citing CBC News.

The construction of the facility should begin in 2018, while the first commercial launch is planned for 2020. By 2022, the cosmodrome is expected to launch eight rockets a year.

The cost of the project is estimated at $148 million. The total cost to establish the spaceport, launch the first rocket, and promote the facility will be $304 million, said John Isella, CEO of Maritime Launch Services.

Previously, Ukraine cooperated on the Cyclone 4 program with Brazil, but the project was frozen in 2015. , Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові
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