Friday, December 19, 2014

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
7PM Kyiv time

1.Russian Invasion of Ukraine 
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PMKyiv time that the situation in the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) zone has not changed significantly in the last 24 hours. Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions at the Donetsk airport 3 times with small arms and sniper rifles. The RNBO reported that overall in the last 24 hours there were 9 instances of Kremlin-backed terrorists firing on Ukrainian positions. 5 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 7 were wounded in the last 24 hours.

2. US President signs Ukraine Freedom Support Act into law
On 18 December, US President B. Obama signed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act (HR. 5859) into law. Obama stated, "Signing this legislation does not signal a change in the Administration's sanctions policy, which we have carefully calibrated in accordance with developments on the ground and coordinated with our allies and partners.  At this time, the Administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the Act gives the Administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted."

3. EC President Tusk: Independent Ukraine most important element of Europe's Russia strategy
Speaking after a meeting of the European Council (EU heads of state of government) on 18 December, European Council President D. Tusk stated, "The situation in Ukraine remains dramatic and dynamic, and requires an immediate response. That's why we have just discussed giving financial support to Ukraine. We are sending a strong signal on our readiness to do so. We also talked about Russia's policy towards its neighbours and our strategic response. Leaders shared their analysis of the situation, which is the basis for a common understanding of the challenge ahead. We will come back to this next March. It is obvious that we will not find a long-perspective solution for Ukraine without an adequate, consistent and a united European strategy towards Russia. Equally, a modern, safe and independent Ukraine is the most important element of this strategy. Our approach must be in line with our ambitions and potential. We must go beyond being reactive and defensive." The Conclusions of the European Council stated, "the EU and its Member States stand ready to further facilitate and support Ukraine's reform process, together with other donors and in line with IMF conditionality."

4. IMF Mission to Ukraine: Authorities are preparing to move decisively on broad agenda
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission concluded its visit to Ukraine on 18 December. N. Gueorguiev, who headed the mission, stated, "The mission held productive technical discussions with the new economic team of the Ukrainian government and with the National Bank of Ukraine in the context of the Fund-supported program, covering key issues facing the economy. We found that the Ukrainian authorities are preparing to move decisively on a broad and comprehensive agenda to stabilize and reform the economy, while coping with the difficult challenges that emerged in the last year. In this context, we advanced substantially our mutual understandings of policy priorities going forward." 

5. Secretary of RNBO: Only mechanism to force Russia to implement agreements is a strong army and strong country
The Secretary of the National Defense and Security Council of Ukraine (RNBO), O. Turchynov, stated in an interview, "The only mechanism to force Russia to implement agreements, in particular Minsk [agreements] and leave occupied territories - is a strong army and a strong country. There is no other mechanism. I don't believe in diplomacy regarding the Russian Federation, I don't believe that they will leave in fear of pressure from our allies." 

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