Friday, August 8, 2014

Crisis in Ukraine - UCC Briefing for August 6

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
8 August, 6PM Kyiv time

1. 17 July shoot-down of Flight MH-17
The Dutch government stated that in the past week 21 victims of the MH-17 disaster were identified. The total number of victims who have been identified is 23. 16 of the identified victims were Dutch nationals; two of the victims were from Malaysia, one victim was from Germany, one victim was from Canada, and one victim was from the United Kingdom. The Dutch government stated that “A team of more than 200 experts is working hard to identify the victims, but as has been emphasized before, it may take months for all the victims to be identified.” Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 was shot down by Kremlin-backed terrorists in eastern Ukraine on 17 July. All 298 people on board were killed.

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 at 12PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed terrorists shot down a MiG-29 fighter of the 40th tactical aviation brigade near Yenakiyeve. The pilot did everything possible in order to avert the plane crashing in a residential area, and only after this, he ejected. The pilot is alive and a search-and-rescue operation is underway. The RNBO reported that at 6:40 PM Kyiv time on 7 August, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on a medical helicopter carrying wounded from the ATO zone. The helicopter was clearly marked as a medical helicopter. The pilots made an emergency landing; three crew members were injured, and are being treated in territory controlled by ATO forces. The RNBO reported that on 7 August, Kremlin-backed terrorists continued firing from heavy weaponry into residential areas – near Maryanivka, Vasylivka and Snizhne. At 9:30 PM Kyiv time on 7 August Kremlin-backed terrorists fired artillery into the central clinic hospital No. 1 in Donetsk city. One person was killed and three wounded. The RNBO stated at 12PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours ATO forces exchanged fire 44 times with Kremlin-backed terrorists; at 4:20 PM Kyiv time the RNBO stated that ATO forces liberated Kruhlyk, Luhansk oblast.

3. Remarks of US Permanent Representative at UN Security Council Meeting

On 8 August the UN Security Council met on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. US Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador S. Power stated that “Russia has proposed this week creating humanitarian corridors to assist the affected populations in Ukraine. But in Ukraine, urgent humanitarian assistance should be delivered by the international humanitarian organizations that have the expertise, experience, and independence to provide it. It should not be delivered by Russia. And given that Ukraine has allowed international humanitarian groups to deliver aid within its territory, there is no logical reason why Russia should seek to deliver it. Therefore, any further unilateral intervention by Russia into Ukrainian territory – including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid – would be completely unacceptable and deeply alarming. And it would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine…Last week, the Russians again floated the idea of sending Russian quote ‘peacekeepers’ to eastern Ukraine. A ‘Russian peacekeeper’ in Ukraine is an oxymoron: at every step in this crisis, Russians have sabotaged peace, not built it. And it is particularly worrisome given Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea, which was predicated on calls by an illegitimate, puppet government, for Russia to send troops to restore ‘peace.’ Peacekeepers are impartial – yet Russia fully supports Russian armed separatists in this conflict. We have seen the ‘peace’ that Russian occupation has brought to Crimea since that time. As the UN’s most recent report makes clear, freedom of speech and assembly have been violently repressed, ethnic minorities systematically persecuted, and civilians abducted with impunity, 350 of whom are still unaccounted for…Russia has repeatedly accused members of this council of politicizing a humanitarian situation. But Russia has it backwards. In fact, it is Russia that is trying to disguise a political crisis – one manufactured and exported by Moscow – as a humanitarian one. The very humanitarian problems that Russia is decrying in eastern Ukraine, and turning a blind eye to in Crimea, are directly traceable to violence it has facilitated or supported.”

4. Russia announces sanctions against EU, US, Canada, Australia, Norway

On 7 August, Russian Prime Minister D. Medvedev signed a government resolution enforcing the 6 August Executive Order by Russian President Putin, announcing that “Russia has completely banned the importation of beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and the Kingdom of Norway.” On 7 August, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson M. Harf stated that “…the bottom line here is President Putin is denying his own people food, and I’m not sure how he’s going to sell that at home. But not only is he running their economy into the ground and their growth is now predicted at zero, but he’s also denying them basic things like food…And so he has a choice to make. Either he can take actions that hurt his own people or he can use the diplomatic offer that we’ve always said exists and de-escalate and try to move forward in a different direction here.”

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