Monday, August 25, 2014

Crisis in Ukraine - August 25 Briefing from UCC

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
25 August, 9:45 PM Kyiv time

1. President Dissolves Parliament
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko dissolved the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). He stated that pre-term parliamentary elections will take place on 26 October, 2014.

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 oblasts continues. The National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) reported that an attempt took place by “Russian military under the guise of Donbas militants to organize a new area of conflict in southern Donbas oblast.” At 5:20AM Kyiv time, near Shcherbak and Novoazovsk, a column of military hardware – 10 tanks, 2 BMP [armored infantry vehicles] and 2 ‘Urals’ [transport trucks] violated the Ukrainian border. At 12PM Kyiv time the RNBO stated that a large part of the column was fired upon and stopped at Shcherbak-Markyne, that shelling is taking place from the Russian Federation towards Novoazovsk, and that ATO forces control the road from Novoazovsk to Mariupol At 5PM Kyiv time the RNBO stated that the remaining parts of the column were attacked and stopped by ATO forces, after which there has been no fighting in the direction of Mariupol. At 12PM Kyiv time, the RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, ATO forces exchanged fire with Kremlin-backed terrorists 39 times, and that ATO forces repelled counterattacks of Kremlin-backed terrorists in the suburbs of Luhansk, Donetsk and Ilovaysk. The RNBO stated that in areas around Ilovaysk, Khartsysk, and Olenivka, “nearly 250 Russian mercenaries, 8 tanks, 10 armored combat vehicles, 3 “Grad” [truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers] and 1 howitzer were destroyed.” The State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported that near Dzerkalnyi, Donetsk oblast, a joint operational group of the SBU and the Armed Forces of Ukraine arrested 10 soldiers of the 331st regiment of the 98th Airborne Division of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

3. Poroshenko Independence Day address in Kyiv
On 24 August, the 23rd anniversary of Ukrainian independence, Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko, speaking at the parade in Kyiv, stated “[this] war is not our initiative. It has been forced on us from outside. Our choice is peace, the fulfillment of the peace plan for the Donbas, which I developed and proposed in June. Steps to peace, however, cannot be one-sided. They cannot take place at the expense of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine…We have proven capable of defending our state. Obviously, in the observed historical perspective, Ukraine unfortunately will always be under a military threat. We must not only learn to live with this. We must always be ready to defend our independence…According to the plans for 2015-2017, more than 40 billion UAH will be allocated to rearmament and upgrade of military equipment…And this is only a modest beginning…”

4. Lavrov: Russia preparing next “humanitarian” convoy

Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov stated that “yesterday we sent an official note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, which was informed of our intention to prepare the next convoy with humanitarian aid.” On 22 August, a Russian “humanitarian” convoy entered Ukraine without the permission of the Ukrainian government. NATO Secretary General A.F. Rasmussen called the entry of the 22 August convoy “a blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments…It can only deepen the crisis in the region which Russia itself has created and has continued to fuel.”

5. Kremlin-backed terrorists parade prisoners
On 24 August, Kremlin-backed terrorists, with rifles and bayonets, paraded dozens of prisoners – Ukrainian armed forces personnel, with their hands tied behind their backs, in Donetsk city, violating the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” (Article 3). Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov stated that “Concerning the humiliating treatment of war prisoners, as you put it, let the lawyers handle this issue. I saw an image of that parade and did not see anything close to what could be considered as humiliating.” D. Burkhalter, OSCE Chairperson-in-office, stated, “Yesterday, prisoners were exposed to public humiliation, which is a violation of international humanitarian law. All this is an unacceptable state of affairs and must end immediately.”

6. Poroshenko, Putin in Minsk tomorrow
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko and Russian President V. Putin will be in Minsk tomorrow as part of the EU-Ukraine-Eurasian Union talks. The EU stated that “High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton, Vice-President Günther Oettinger, responsible for energy, and Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht, will represent the EU in Minsk on 26 August for discussions with Russia and Ukraine with a view to creating a new political impetus towards finding a political, sustainable solution to the situation in Ukraine. Lead by HR/VP Ashton, the EU will look at discussing the wider political and security concerns, and reiterate the EU's concerns about the security and humanitarian situation in Eastern Ukraine in particular.”

7. Murder of Lithuania’s Honorary Consul in Luhansk
On 22 August, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Lithuania’s Honorary Consul in Luhansk, Mykola Zelenec, was abducted and murdered; “this tragedy happened as [a] result of [the] criminal actions of the Russia-backed terrorists.” The EU stated that “We are appalled and saddened by the kidnapping and brutal murder of Mykola Zelenec, Lithuania’s Honorary Consul, by illegal armed groups in Luhansk. We strongly condemn this act of terror and convey our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”

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