Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crisis in Ukraine - UCC Daily Briefing

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
19 November, 6 PM Kyiv time

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed terrorists continued to shell and attack Ukrainian positions. At the same time, conflicts between various terrorist bands in occupied territories are increasing. Towards Donetsk, Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions at the Donetsk airport five times with artillery, mortars and grenade launchers. Ukrainian forces repelled all attacks, causing heavy casualties among Kremlin-backed terrorists. Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions near Pisky, Troitske, Vesele and Adviyivka. Towards Debaltsevo, Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions near Nikishyne, Ridkodub, Donetskyi, and Novoshkivske with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers). Near the Bakhmutvika highway, Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions with Grads near Nyzhne, and near Sokilnyky and Tryokhizbenka, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions with tanks, mortars and grenade launchers. Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions near Shchastya with Grads. Towards Mariupol, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions near Hranitne, Orlovske and Mykolaivka from tanks and artillery. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, 2 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 13 wounded. The RNBO reported that on 18 November, Kremlin-backed terrorists of the so-called Luhansk “Peoples’ Republic” shelled Toshkivka village with Grads. Several shells hit a building, killing three people and seriously injuring four. Two of the injured are children.

2. Ukrainian President signs Law on Internally Displaced Persons
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko signed the law On guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons, which was passed by Parliament on 20 October. The purpose of the law is to ensure the implementation of constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons – citizens of Ukraine. The law foresees the creation of proper conditions for social adaptation, temporary accommodation, assistance in employment, continued education, and the promotion of opportunities to get humanitarian and charitable aid, from international institutions, organizations and different countries. Poroshenko stated that the law is not optimal and will need to be revised when the new Parliament begins its work.

3. Ukrainian PM: We won’t engage in direct negotiations with terrorists
Ukrainian PM A. Yatsenyuk stated, “In response to habitual statements of the Russian side, I would like to emphasize once again – and this is a common position of the Head of the Ukrainian State and the entire Ukrainian Government: the best and most effective type of negotiation is the Geneva format [US, EU, Ukraine, Russia]. […] We won’t engage in direct negotiations with the Russian terrorists. If you want peace – just abide by the Minsk agreement.” The PM also stated that the government would continue to try to deliver humanitarian aid, but “While Russian mercenaries are on the territory of Ukraine, there is no single opportunity to direct there any social benefits or funds. People are living in poverty.”

4. McCain and Graham: US, EU must arm Ukraine

US Senators J. McCain (R-AZ) and L. Graham (R-SC) stated on 18 November, “President Putin’s renewed aggression in Ukraine demands more than additional empty rhetoric and threats of lowest-common-denominator sanctions. That has been the extent of the world’s response to Putin’s slow-motion dismemberment of Ukraine, and it has consistently failed to deter new acts of aggression. Indeed, it has invited this aggression by creating a perception of U.S. and European disinterest and weakness. That is what is truly provocative to Putin. The Obama Administration’s policy in Ukraine effectively amounts to an arms embargo on victims of aggression. This is contrary to both our national interests and our long-standing ideals of supporting free peoples in their struggle against subjugation. The United States and the European Union must provide Ukraine with the arms and related military and intelligence support that its leaders have consistently sought and desperately need. No one should see Ukraine’s cause as hopeless. Providing Ukrainians with the ability to defend themselves would impose a far greater cost on Putin than he has paid thus far. If U.S. and E.U. leaders continue to fail to understand that, Putin’s conquest of Ukraine will only grind on and may possibly spread to Moldova and the Baltics.”

5. Reuters: German Foreign Minister sees “no reason for optimism” after Moscow visit
According to Reuters, German Foreign Minister F.W. Steinmeier stated in a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov after meeting with him in Moscow on 18 November, “There is no reason for optimism in the current situation. […] We need to be aware that, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we’re once again seeing speechlessness instead of dialogue, closing off instead of exchange and confrontation instead of cooperation.”

6. US VP to visit Ukraine
US Vice-President J. Biden will visit Ukraine on 20-21 November, where he will meet with Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko and PM A. Yatseniuk. According to senior Administration officials, the VP will discuss “concerns that all of us have regarding Russia’s ongoing violations of the September 5th Minsk agreement […] Russia is not taking – has not taken meaningful steps to implement its obligations under Minsk, such as removing all of its troops, stopping the flow of mercenaries, weapons and equipment across the border and allowing an international observer mission to monitor the international border.” Biden will also chair an anti-corruption roundtable with several new members of Ukraine’s parliament.

Taras Zalusky, Executive Director
Ukrainian Canadian Congress
(613) 232-8822

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