Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Crisis in Ukraine - July 30 Briefing from UCC

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
30 July, 7PM Kyiv time

1. Malaysian Aircraft shot down over eastern Ukraine
Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the recovery mission, stated that “Yesterday and today two reconnaissance drives have been made, led by the OSCE. The goal was to determine whether the route is safe between Donetsk and the crash site of flight MH17. Until now the route is considered to be unsecure. Therefore we did not manage to travel to the crash site with the group of experts.

Unfortunately, we don’t expect the security situation to improve enough the next couple of days. The chances look slimmer for us to reach the crash site on short notice. There is too much fighting going on that prevents our people to travel through the area.” Ukrainian deputy-PM V. Groysman stated that the Ukrainian side is not carrying out any military actions in a 20km zone around the crash site and does not intend to use military means to renew control over this territory. On 29 July, President P. Poroshenko stated that he has asked Belarusian President O. Lukashenka to hold a meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group on 31 July in Minsk, on two questions – the freeing of all hostages, and the provision of access to international experts to the MH-17 crash site. On 29 July, after a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister P. Klimkin, US Secretary of State J. Kerry stated that “It’s been 10 days since this plane went down. And investigators have still not received full, unfettered access to the crash site…They still can’t even ensure that all of the victims’ remains have been removed, and that is an unsupportable burden for any family to have to bear, and it is an unacceptable standard for behavior, period. The site has to be cordoned off. The evidence has to be preserved. And Russia needs to use its considerable influence among the separatists in order to be able to help ensure this basic approach of common decency.”

2. Russia’s proxy war against Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts

The active phase of the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) in Donetsk and Luhansk continues. The National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) reported at 12PM Kyiv time that Adviyka, Donetsk oblast, was liberated from Kremlin-backed terrorists, and that battles to liberate Pervomaisk, Luhansk Oblast continue. Kremlin-backed terrorists fired upon 25 checkpoints and positions of the Ukrainian armed forces in the last 24 hours. On 29 July at a meeting with the families of 17 liberated hostages, previously held in Horlivka by Kremlin-backed terrorists, Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko stated that during the liberation of cities, Ukrainian soldiers "are doing everything to avoid casualties among the civilian population…We do not use artillery or aviation against residential areas, residential sectors.” The State Border Service of Ukraine reported that on 29 July mortars were fired from the Russian Federation on Marynivka border crossing from 7:20-7:30 PM Kyiv time, artillery was fired from a Grad from the Russian Federation towards Stepanivka from 7:30-7:40PM; on 30 July at 4:30AM Kyiv time, 7 tanks broke through the border at Nova Nadezhda (Russia)-Dibrovka (Ukraine). The RNBO stated that on 29 July near 11:00 PM Kyiv time in Berestevo village, there was an explosion from a mine, which was left behind by retreating terrorists, which killed a woman and wounded 8 children, including a one-year old infant. Military medics gave first aid right away and the children were taken to hospital. The RNBO stated that on 29 July Kremlin-backed terrorists had fired upon a bus of residents fleeing Donetsk. One child was killed and ten people wounded.

3. US, EU announce additional sanctions against Russian Federation
On 29 July, the US announced further sanctions against the Russian Federation. US President B. Obama stated that since the shoot-down of Flight MH-17, “Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigation and to take the opportunity to pursue a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine.  These Russian-backed separatists have continued to interfere in the crash investigation and to tamper with the evidence.  They have continued to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft in the region.  And because of their actions, scores of Ukrainian civilians continue to die needlessly every day. Meanwhile, Russia continues to support the separatists and encourage them, and train them, and arm them.”  The US sanctions apply to Bank of Moscow, Russian Agricultural Bank and VTB Bank OAO, their property, or their interests in property. The Treasury Department prohibited “U.S. persons and persons within the United States from transacting in, providing financing for, or otherwise dealing in new debt of longer than 90 days maturity or new equity for these banks. According to Treasury, “this step will severely limit these banks’ access to medium- and long-term U.S. dollar financing, and will impose additional significant costs on the Russian Government for its continued activities in Ukraine.”Treasury also “designated and blocked the assets of United Shipbuilding Corporation, pursuant to E.O. 13661, for operating in the arms or related materiel sector in Russia.” Any assets of this entity within US jurisdiction must be frozen, and “transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States involving the entity designated today under E.O. 13661 are generally prohibited.”

The EU also announced significant sanctions against Russia on 29 July, which “limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for Russian state-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual use goods, curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies that can be used for oil production and exploration.” The restrictions will apply after being published in the EU Official Journal, scheduled for 31 July.

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