Posted by: U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt

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U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt and Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt and Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze at the new patrol police recruitment center

Yesterday I had the opportunity to join Deputy Minister of Interior Eka Zguladze at the new patrol police recruitment center at the Teacher’s House in downtown Kyiv.  The center is at the forefront of the Ukrainian government’s efforts to stand up a new, professional cadre of first responders committed to protecting and serving the public. I was delighted to learn that nearly 4,000 Ukrainians – more than 30% of them women — have already applied to serve their country and their communities as patrol police in Kyiv.

The United States is a proud partner of the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior as it works to stand up this new police force.  Once selected, new recruits will receive training from U.S. law enforcement experts funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.  And as I told the crowd that joined us yesterday, we will be sending our very best trainers to support this critical element of Ukraine’s reform effort.

We all want to see the new patrol police build the trust between law enforcement and local communities that the Ukrainian people want and deserve.  I’m grateful to Deputy Minister Zguladze and Minister Avakov for their leadership, and look forward to the patrol’s first deployment in Kyiv in June.

Interested in learning more about how to be a part of Ukraine’s new police?  Check out http://mvs.gov.ua/mvs/control/main/uk/publish/article/1314915

Posted by: ShareAmerica

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Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality in the United States. The third Monday in January marks Martin Luther King Day, a U.S. holiday that honors King’s legacy and challenges citizens to engage in volunteer service in their communities.

Beginning the journey

A two-story yellow house with brown shutters and wraparound porch (National Park Service)

A two-story yellow house with brown shutters and wraparound porch (National Park Service)

Born on January 15, 1929, to a long line of Baptist ministers, King grew up in Atlanta at a time when Jim Crow laws made segregation and discrimination a daily reality for blacks in the South.

King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he came to view religion as a powerful catalyst for social change. He received his doctorate from Boston University’s School of Theology before returning to the South, where he served as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Today, King’s Atlanta birthplace is registered as a National Historical Site with the National Park Service.

Civil rights struggle in the 1950s

Martin Luther King with hand on boy's shoulder at head of line of demonstrators at street (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King with hand on boy’s shoulder at head of line of demonstrators at street (© AP Images)

King helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott, a yearlong campaign touched off when seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. After the Supreme Court overturned Alabama’s bus segregation laws in 1956, King co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and promoted nonviolent action for civil rights throughout the South. He was influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and traveled to India in 1959.

An iconic figure of the 1960s

King seated, looking upward through jail cell bars (National Archives)

King seated, looking upward through jail cell bars (National Archives)

Joining his father as co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King continued to use his oratorical gifts to urge an end to segregation and legal inequality. Throughout the 1960s, he was arrested during nonviolent protests in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. While incarcerated after one such arrest, in 1963, King penned the Letter from Birmingham City Jail, outlining the moral basis for the civil rights movement. That August, he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to more than 200,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington.

King leading throng of marchers across bridge (© AP Images)

King leading throng of marchers across bridge (© AP Images)

March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday because voting-rights marchers were beaten by state troopers and civilians as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The violence turned them back, but the ordeal led King to call for another, longer march (pictured) — an 87-kilometer-long, Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights.

Civil rights victories

King accepting signing pen from Lyndon Johnson, seated, as others look on (© AP Images)

King accepting signing pen from Lyndon Johnson, seated, as others look on (© AP Images)

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which banned discrimination in employment, public accommodations and other aspects of life. King attended the signing of the act into law (pictured). He continued to press for a law to ensure that blacks could not be denied the right to vote by discriminatory practices such as literacy tests, and, in 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

In the wake of assassination

Martin Luther King's coffin in wagon amid throng of mourners in street (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King’s coffin in wagon amid throng of mourners in street (© AP Images)

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated on the balcony outside his Memphis, Tennessee, hotel room. At his funeral, thousands of mourners marched through Atlanta behind a mule-drawn wagon bearing his coffin.

In a posthumously published essay titled “A Testament of Hope,” King urged black Americans to continue their commitment to nonviolence, but also cautioned that “justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”

King’s legacy: Nonviolent protest

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King with group of people (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King with group of people (© AP Images)

In a 1959 radio address during his visit to India, King said: “Today we no longer have a choice between violence and nonviolence; it is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” His philosophy was inspired by Gandhi’s nonviolent action to end British rule in India. In his turn, King inspired others to change their societies through nonviolent means, from the Solidarity movement’s cracking of Soviet occupation in Poland to Nelson Mandela’s struggle to end apartheid in South Africa.

King’s legacy: Fighting prejudice

Martin Luther King speaking at 1963 March on Washington (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King speaking at 1963 March on Washington (© AP Images)

During the 1963 March on Washington, King declared that all people should be judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The King Center in Atlanta is a living memorial to King’s vision of a free and equal world dedicated to expanding opportunity, fighting racism and ending all forms of discrimination.

King’s legacy: Pursuing social justice

Martin Luther King in shirt sleeves, gesturing dramatically while speaking from the pulpit (© AP Images)

Martin Luther King in shirt sleeves, gesturing dramatically while speaking from the pulpit (© AP Images)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University is home to the King Papers Project, a comprehensive collection of all of King’s speeches, correspondence and other writings. The institute is also involved with the Liberation Curriculum Initiative and the Gandhi-King Community, both of which use King’s life and ideas to connect social activists around the world working to promote human rights.

King’s legacy: Service to others

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama paint Martin Luther King Jr. quotes as part of a volunteer community service project. (© AP Images)

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama paint Martin Luther King Jr. quotes as part of a volunteer community service project. (© AP Images)

In the U.S., Martin Luther King Day is designated a national day of service. Americans are urged to celebrate “a day on, not a day off” in honor of King’s commitment to improving the lives of others. President Obama promotes volunteerism as a way to help meet the challenges facing our world.

Keeping the dream alive

© AP Images

A black man putting his hand on the MLK Memorial, with bowed head (© AP Images)

A national memorial to King was built near the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. The memorial invites visitors to reflect on King’s life and legacy.

Posted by: Sheryl Bistransky, Cultural Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy, Kyiv

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The kids started asking about putting up the Christmas tree around December 1.  My husband and I finally gave in and pulled out the Christmas decorations in mid-December.  We put Christmas music on the stereo (some favorites:  Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt, Bing Crosby’s classic recording of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and of course, traditional carols, like “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” and “Angels We Have Heard on High”), and we decorated the house together.  When the children were very small they would help a little bit with hanging the ornaments on the tree, at least as high as they could reach.  When all of the ornaments had been arranged just right, my husband Bill would swing one of the kids up to perch either the angel or the star (their choice!) on the very top.  Now teenagers, the kids do it on their own, stringing the lights and putting the ornaments on while Bill and I look on, amazed that our little ones grew up so fast.  Both are tall enough this year to reach the top without help.  Our Christmas stockings are hung up on a stair railing, since we don’t have a fireplace mantel.  There’s even a tiny stocking for Izyuminka, our cat.

Our Christmas tree reflects our family history.  On our tree there are a few ornaments from when I was very small – a ceramic snowman that I scrawled over in black, purple, and green when I was three or four years old, and a carefully-painted Christmas angel that I made in school in fourth grade.  There’s a hand-crocheted star that my aunt gave everyone in the family for Christmas in 1980.  There are little plastic gnomes under the tree that used to decorate the stairs in Bill’s childhood home.  There are three little hand-sewn ballerinas that my sister gave me when I moved into my first apartment.  (Those spent a few years on the floor, not on the tree, since they were my daughter’s favorite toys when she was a toddler.)  There are two very fragile glass ornaments from a set that my father bought for my mother when they were first married. There are pictures of my kids as babies.  And now, ornaments that my children made in school.  As we travel the world as U.S. diplomats, we add traditional decorations from the countries where we have lived.  There are carnival masks from the Dominican Republic, the White House annual Christmas ornament from 2009 (we were living in Washington, DC that year), tiny valenki from a shop at Sergiyev Posad (a memory of our Moscow posting), hand-painted wooden matreoshki, and, of course, a little trizubets and a mace.

In mid-December I had the piano tuned so that it would be ready for us to gather around and sing together on Christmas Eve.  On Ukrainian St. Nicholas Day, I really got into the holiday spirit and started to bake cookies.  Each American family has its favorites.  When I was little we would make mountains of sugar cookies and spend hours decorating them.  I remember as a little girl being so proud of my creations – a snowman, an angel, a Christmas tree.  Strangely, my kids aren’t fond of sugar cookies, so we make our own mountain of different ones:  poppy seed, Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and pepparkakor, a Swedish delight.

My husband’s grandmother was from Sweden.  Each year she would make pepparkakor, a thin ginger cookie which she decorated with colored sugars.  The cookies had to be made in very particular shapes and colors.  A star, a bell, or a heart, and red and green sugars only.  Period.  It was tradition!  Grandma Svea was kind enough to share her recipe with me when I was newly married, so now we still make pepparkakor cookies every year – but with a difference.  You know, one of the secrets of good rolled cookies is to roll the dough out as few times as possible.  When you cut out stars and bells, there are small spaces left between the cookies.  Years ago, I was cutting out the cookies with our son, who may have been four or five years old.  I asked him what we should do with the extra dough.  He reached into the bag of cookie cutters, and pulled out small, narrow ones – in the shape of a dog bone and a bare foot.  So we started to make pepparkakor in those shapes.  And then, when our daughter came along, she decided that she wanted not just red and green sugars, but pink and purple, too.  So now we make mountains of Grandma Svea’s cookies every year, but there are purple and pink dog bones and feet next to the red and green stars and bells.  I hope Grandma Svea understands, and is happy that her memory – and her cookies – are still an important part of Christmas for us.

I’m sure that when my kids grow up, they’ll adapt our traditions to fit their lives.  There will be different ornaments on their trees, and some new cookies on their holiday tables.  But one thing will stay the same.  Like Americans everywhere, we’ll gather together at Christmastime – maybe in person, and maybe just via Skype.  We’ll take time to look back and look forward, to be thankful for our family and friends back home.

But for now, we’re celebrating together this year in Kyiv.  So we’ll gather at our holiday table – with our purple and pink dog-bone ginger cookies, and give thanks for our friends and colleagues here in Ukraine, with whom we’re writing the next chapter in our family’s history.

Posted by: Chandali Vinyard, Political Section, U.S. Embassy Kyiv

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Colorado Children'S Day at Boulder

Colorado Children’S Day at Boulder

December is a special time of year for all Americans, no matter what part of the country one lives in or religious background one has.  My favorite part of the holiday season in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado is the giant star lit up on the side of the mountain above the city between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Boulder, well known for being one of the most unusual towns in the United States, is situated at the foot of the majestic Rocky Mountains. It attracts a wide variety of people, especially those interested in alternative health and lifestyles and passionate about outdoor activities. My parents both moved to Boulder in the 1970s, and as young adults, became part of the Shambhala Buddhist community there, which is one of the largest Buddhist communities in the United States.

While my mother’s family has Jewish Eastern-European roots and my father’s family has Christian English-French roots, at our home we celebrated a mix of Christmas and Children’s Day, the Shambhala Buddhist holiday that falls on the Winter Solstice, December 21. Decorating for the holidays usually started sometime in mid-December, whenever my mom was ready to go out and look for a Christmas tree at one of the lots around town. My mom truly has one of the most beautiful collections of Christmas ornaments I’ve ever seen, including beautifully decorated glass balls that my grandmother’s family brought from Poland to the United States, as well as newer ornaments that my grandmother, mother, my sister and I have carefully picked out over the years. I vividly remember getting the boxes of ornaments out of storage and opening up each meticulously wrapped ornament, hoping that it would be one of my favorites so that I could find the perfect prominent place for it on the

Shambhala Shrine

Shambhala Shrine

tree. We always saved our lovely tree topper, stacked onion-shaped golden balls with red and silver adornments, bought in Russia by my great grandmother, for last. Once the tree was done, it was time to set up our Children’s Day shrine. We used a small table next to the tree, spread with a golden-yellow satin cloth, as gold is a royal color in Shambhala Buddhism. Then came the King and Queen of Shambhala, two exquisitely-dressed cloth dolls, and a number of special objects and offerings, including candles, juniper branches, incense, candies and other small objects sacred to our family.

Since we celebrated both Christmas and Children’s Day, in my family we never opened any gifts on Children’s Day, though I had friends who did. Our family would go together to the Buddhist center in Boulder, the Shambhala Center, for the Children’s Day events. The main event was the Children’s Day play, featuring community members as the Rigden King and Queen of Shambhala, and the tiger, lion, dragon and garuda (a fictional Buddhist animal). The play centers around the magical city of Kalapa, which is the capital of the Kingdom of Shambhala. Generally every year the play and story are slightly different, but always emphasize upliftedness, generosity, kindness and cheerfulness, with the King and Queen hosting a grand banquet for all the children and families of the Kingdom to celebrate the specialness of their children and to bring warmth, light and cheerfulness to the end of the year. The story may also have the King and Queen delivering gifts to children, similar to the way that Santa does in the Christian tradition. The Shambhala community’s celebration of Children’s Day is inspired not only by pagan celebrations of mid-winter but arises also out of the Japanese holidays of Boy’s Day and Doll’s Day, two separate days in spring when boys and girls of a certain age are presented to the temple and honored with special gifts.

For me, Christmas Day on December 25 is not a religious holiday, but a day to spend enjoying time with family, opening presents, admiring our beautiful tree, and eating. Our family spends weeks picking out gifts for each other, and we also take a lot of joy in wrapping every gift, be it tiny or large, in pretty, artistic wrapping paper and ribbon. After opening presents, we often go out to a movie in the afternoon, or play board games before dinner. While our family doesn’t have any particular dinner that is a must for Christmas, the day is not complete without cookies. My mom and I usually select a few cookie recipes from her old collection of Gourmet magazines to make every year in the days leading up to Christmas. Dinner on Christmas is usually something like roast beef and baby potatoes, a French baguette and a fresh green salad, with pie and cookies for dessert.

Now that I’m an adult living away from home, my holiday celebration has changed. When I’m not able to go home for the holidays, I have my own slowly growing collection of ornaments to put on a small tree. I don’t celebrate Children’s Day anymore since I don’t have any children yet and am not a practicing Buddhist. However, I would love to celebrate it again when I have my own children, because it is special to my heart and I like the messages in the Children’s Day story.

Cheerful Children’s Day and Merry Christmas to all!

Posted by: William Bistransky, Consul General, U.S. Embassy in Ukraine

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Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond in Kyiv, Nov. 2014

Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond in Kyiv, Nov. 2014

Throughout November, U.S. Embassy Kyiv celebrated National Adoption Month by partnering with stakeholders in Ukraine and the United States to spread the message that all children deserve the chance to live in a permanent home with a loving family.  We strongly believe that all adoptions should be in the best interests of the child and conducted in an ethical and transparent manner that protects children, birth parents, and adoptive parents.

We saw many positive reactions to our Facebook and Twitter posts, which were retweeted, shared, and commented on throughout the month as part of an ongoing positive dialogue about our shared values and desires to forge mutually beneficial new partnerships.

In mid-November, our government’s highest-ranking consular official, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond, traveled to Kyiv to celebrate National Adoption Month with us.  She attended Ukraine’s National Day of Prayer for Orphans, hosted by President Poroshenko and his wife.  The fact that such a broad spectrum of people attended that event – including priests and pastors from many denominations – underscored the unique place this issue has in the hearts and minds of Ukrainians.

Acting Assistant Secretary Bond met many of those who work so hard on this issue from the Government of Ukraine, NGOs, the religious community, and civil society.  We discussed the importance of joining the Hague Adoption Convention, and the ways in which the Convention can help protect the rights of adopted children.

Acting Assistant Secretary Bond was moved by the people she met; there are many opportunities to work together to protect and care for children.  She spoke about her experiences in an interview with Facts and Commentary:

As Consul General, I am proud that Americans and Ukrainians deeply respect the same kinds of values, and that both can provide loving homes to a vulnerable population, while building bonds not only between children and parents, but also between our two countries.

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In mid-September, I had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine to see firsthand the work that USAID is doing to support critical recovery and reform efforts. Not only did I return with a better understanding and appreciation of the programming we are implementing, but also was impressed by the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people facing the challenging road ahead.During my trip, I had the opportunity to travel to Dnipropetrovsk – only a couple of hundred miles from the conflict zone in the East where thousands of Ukrainians were driven from their homes by the battle between Ukrainian forces and Russia-supported separatists.At a visit to a Dnipropetrovsk center for internally displaced persons (IDPs), organized and run by volunteers, I was awestruck by the outpouring of support and the capacity of Ukrainians from all walks of life to contribute and assist their countrymen.

This center is providing food, clothing and temporary shelter to over 21,000 people pouring into Dnipropetrovsk from the neighboring Donetsk and Luhansk regions. I was able to meet Maria and her young daughter who were forced to leave their home in Horlivka, close to Donetsk and have been in  Dnipropetrovsk for a few weeks. While she told me that being displaced is difficult, she was very impressed with the reception provided in Dnipropetrovsk. Maria spends her days volunteering at the center and helping new arrivals.

USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Paige Alexander meets Lydia at the Dnipropetrovsk IDP Center. Lydia was forced to leave her home but hopes to return home soon. She is grateful for the support provided by Dopomoha Dnipra and the IDP Center. / Roman Woronowycz, USAID

USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Paige Alexander meets Lydia at the Dnipropetrovsk IDP Center. Lydia was forced to leave her home but hopes to return home soon. She is grateful for the support provided by Dopomoha Dnipra and the IDP Center. / Roman Woronowycz, USAID

In early June, the center received around 100 people per day. Now, with more than 300 new arrivals per day, the center needs support.The United States Government, in coordination with the government of Ukraine, has responded to the need to help the roughly 271,000 people displaced by this conflict. This center, and others like it, will receive bedroom furniture and kitchen appliances for new arrivals with nowhere else to go. USAID is also developing plans to refurbish two floors of the center to shelter an additional 200 people.

USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Paige Alexander and Head of Dopomoha Dnipra Foundation Vladislav Makarov sign a Memorandum of Understanding by which USAID will provide funds to assist an additional 200 internally displaced persons. / Roman Woronowycz, USAID

USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Paige Alexander and Head of Dopomoha Dnipra Foundation Vladislav Makarov sign a Memorandum of Understanding by which USAID will provide funds to assist an additional 200 internally displaced persons. / Roman Woronowycz, USAID

During Ukraine’s Maidan movement, thousands took a stand against corruption and government abuse to demand a free and democratic Ukraine. Throughout my trip, it became evident that the Ukrainian people are eager to contribute to their new government’s efforts. At one meeting, I entered a room packed with dozens of civil society representatives, many of whom we support to build their organizations’ capacity to advocate for and oversee reform efforts in decentralization, transparency, and health. Not only is their passion and dedication working to hold the government accountable, but many are also working to improve the humanitarian situation in the East by helping the government care for IDPs and even feeding and clothing soldiers. They are truly continuing to fight for the dignity that started on the Maidan and are one of the main reasons I’m hopeful about Ukraine’s future.

Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Valeria Lutkovska (left) and USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Paige Alexander attend the launch of a USAID human rights project in Kyiv. / Roman Woronowycz, USAID

Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Valeria Lutkovska (left) and USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Paige Alexander attend the launch of a USAID human rights project in Kyiv. / Roman Woronowycz, USAID

Although the Government was not able to pass an anti-corruption bill on September 16th, key officials remain committed to paving the way for a new Ukraine. I had the honor to meet with newly elected Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klychko – some of you might remember Mr. Klychko, who for years reigned as heavyweight boxing champion of the world before entering the Ukrainian political ring. Mr. Klychko is pushing for major reforms in this city of 4 million to address waste and corruption. USAID is redoubling its efforts to partner with the City on its anti-corruption agenda, especially on e-governance, where USAID has recently hired an advisor to assist the city, the Presidential Administration, and the Ministry of Regional Development.

Looking forward, the U.S. Government remains committed to supporting Ukraine in both the short and long term as its leaders make the difficult sacrifices required to build the stable, democratic, and prosperous country its people deserve.

During President Poroshenko’s visit on September 18th, President Obama announced a new package of assistance totaling $53 million and has requested an additional $45 million from Congress in the next fiscal year to support Ukraine. The U.S. Government has provided $291 million in critical assistance this year as well as a $1 billion loan guarantee in May.

USAID, as part of a U.S. Government interagency team, is working closely with local partners and international donors to deliver immediate support to meet Ukraine’s most urgent areas of need. Together, we can help get relief to IDPs and provide humanitarian assistance to the conflict areas in eastern Ukraine.

USAID is making every effort to help Ukraine prepare for the challenges presented by the coming winter, replacing damaged windows to make homes habitable in the cold, and working with the electrical system managers to reduce the dangers of black-outs because of the fuel shortage. We are gearing up to assist in next month’s parliamentary elections to help ensure that the voices of all Ukrainians are heard and represented.

While these pressing needs are being addressed, USAID will continue to help Ukraine make important reforms that are necessary to end corruption, decentralize power, and reform its constitution.

In the longer term, USAID continues to work with the Ukrainian Government to support a prosperous Ukraine, with a stable economy, more productive farms, and greater energy efficiency.

In recent months Ukraine has made great strides in many areas. The Ukrainian Parliament unanimously passed the Association Agreement with the European Union, committing Ukraine to economic, judicial and financial reforms in line with European Union policies and legislation. Ukraine has fulfilled several steps of the Minsk ceasefire agreements necessary to stop the loss of life in Eastern Ukraine. A free and fair presidential election was held in May and the country now prepares for historic parliamentary elections.

Despite these achievements, serious challenges remain.

Even while fighting to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and responding to the pressing needs of its citizens in the short-term, the Ukrainian government cannot forget the message of the Maidan and must follow through on its commitments to fighting corruption, improve the rule of law, and build the transparency and accountability that they promised.

Ukraine is at a critical juncture and if history is any indicator, there is a limited window of time for the Ukrainian Government to make good on these commitments. Only through the passing and implementation of challenging reforms, will Ukraine be successful in the long road ahead. The United States, including USAID, look forward to remaining a strong and committed partner in this journey.

Story by: SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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August 28, 2014

Mons, BELGIUM – NATO released new satellite images on Thursday, 28 August 2014, that show Russian combat forces engaged in military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine. The images, captured in late August, depict Russian self-propelled artillery units moving in a convoy through the Ukrainian countryside and then preparing for action by establishing firing positions in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine.

Dutch Brigadier General Nico Tak, director of the Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Centre (CCOMC), Allied Command Operations said the images confirmed what NATO and its Allies had been seeing for weeks from other sources.

“Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia’s military interference in Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Tak. “The satellite images released today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory,” he said.

These latest images provide concrete examples of Russian activity inside Ukraine, but are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall scope of Russian troop and weapons movements.

“We have also detected large quantities of advanced weapons, including air defence systems, artillery, tanks, and armoured personnel carriers being transferred to separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Tak. “The presence of these weapons along with substantial numbers of Russian combat troops inside Ukraine make the situation increasingly grave,” he said.

Also released were images showing substantial activity inside Russia in areas adjacent to the border with Ukraine. NATO believes this activity is being conducted in direct support to forces operating inside Ukraine, and is part of a highly coordinated and destabilising strategy.

“Russia is reinforcing and resupplying separatist forces in a blatant attempt to change the momentum of the fighting, which is currently favouring the Ukrainian military,” Brigadier General Tak said. “Russia’s ultimate aim is to alleviate pressure on separatist fighters in order to prolong this conflict indefinitely, which would result in further tragedy for the people of Eastern Ukraine,” he added.

The source of the images is an independent firm named Digital Globe. The images have not been altered or changed by NATO. Additional information has been added to identify locations, dates and equipment. DigitalGlobe images can be independently verified: http://www.digitalglobe.com

Release of Satellite Imagery – 28 August 2014

Image #1 provided by Digital Globe

Image #1 provided by Digital Globe

Image 1 shows Russian military units moving in a convoy formation with self-propelled artillery in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine, well inside territory controlled by Russian separatists. The image was captured on 21 August 2014. There is confidence the equipment is Russian, since Ukrainian units have not yet penetrated this far into separatist controlled territory.

Image #2 provided by Digital Globe

Image #2 provided by Digital Globe

Image 2 shows Russian self-propelled artillery units set up in firing positions near Krasnodon, Ukraine. They are supported by logistical vehicles which are likely carrying extra ammunition and supplies. This configuration is exactly how trained military professionals would arrange their assets on the ground, indicating that these are not unskilled amateurs, but Russian soldiers. Russian artillery systems like these have recently shelled Ukrainian positions outside the city of Luhansk in conjunction with a separatist counteroffensive to attempt to break the Ukrainian siege of the city.

Image #3 provided by Digital Globe

Image #3 provided by Digital Globe

Image 3 includes two pictures (left and right) and shows a military deployment site on the Russian side of the border, near Rostov-on-Don. This location is approximately 31 miles or 50 kilometres from the Dovzhansky, Ukraine border crossing.
 
The image on the left was captured on 19 June 2014 and shows the area to be mostly empty at this time. The image on the right was taken two months later on 20 August 2014 and shows the same location. Russian main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, cargo trucks and tented accommodations can all be clearly seen. This is one example of the multiple encampments that Russia has positioned near its border with Eastern Ukraine. Many of these forces are deployed within a few kilometers of Ukraine, and are capable of attacking with little warning, and could potentially overwhelm and push-back Ukrainian units. Russia has also moved significant numbers of combat aircraft and helicopters to airfields along the border. Russian unmanned aircraft routinely cross into Ukrainian airspace.
 
Some equipment from these locations is moved across the border and is used to resupply and equip separatist forces operating in Ukraine. For months, Russia has provided separatist fighters with heavy equipment in the form of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, and multiple rocket launchers. Air defense systems have also been provided to separatists, even following the downing of Malaysian airlines flight MH17.
Image #4 provided by Digital Globe

Image #4 provided by Digital Globe

Image 4, captured on 23 July 2014, depicts what are probably six Russian 153mm 2S19 self-propelled guns located in Russia near Kuybyshevo. This site is situated 4 miles, or 6.5 kilometres, south of the Ukraine border, near the village of Chervonyi Zhovten. The guns are pointed north, directly towards Ukrainian territory (see North indicator on image). See image 5 for an overview of where these guns are situated in relation to Ukrainian territory.
Image #5 provided by Digital Globe

Image #5 provided by Digital Globe

Image 5 shows a wider overview including the position of the self-propelled guns from image 4. Note the North indicator on this image, and remember that the guns are orientated in this location. It is clear that from this location, it would be impossible NOT to fire into Ukrainian territory. This is clearly NOT an exercise; these guns are being used to support separatist forces operating in the territory of Ukraine.