Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 14 March 2014

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

14 March 2014



1. Situation in Crimea

Russian troops continue to blockade Ukrainian military bases and headquarters. The Border Service of Ukraine reports that one of their patrol planes was fired upon from a Russian personnel carrier near Armyansk. A human chain was organized along Crimean highways in support of Ukrainian territorial integrity and against the 16 March ‘referendum.’ There was also a demonstration in support of the blockaded Ukrainian soldiers at Bakchysaray. Three activists of the ‘Automaidan’ movement are reported missing in Crimea.  There are also reports that the Russian military is moving some of its personnel and materiel to the northern part of Crimea, and that artillery was moved into Crimea through Kerch.

2. Unrest in Donetsk

There were clashes between demonstrators – pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian – in Donetsk, in which, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, one person was killed and 29 injured. There are reports that some of the pro-Russian demonstrators were in fact brought in from the Russian Federation. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement, saying the Russian Federation “is aware of its responsibility for the lives of fellow countrymen and citizens and reserves the right to take people under protection. Worryingly, this is the same line that the Russian Federation used as a pretext for its invasion of Crimea, and the possibility that the Russian Federation will invade other territories of east/south Ukraine under the pretext of “maintaining peace.”

3. Kerry and Lavrov meet to discuss Ukraine; McCain leads delegation to Ukraine

US Secretary of State J. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov are meeting in London today to discuss the situation in Crimea. The State Department reiterated that “The Secretary continues to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for Ukrainian sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference or provocation by Russia.” Senator J. McCain is in Ukraine today to meet with Ukrainian government officials along with seven other US Senators.

4. PM A. Yatseniuk addressed UN Security Council

Ukraine’s PM A. Yatseniuk addressed the UN Security Council yesterday, stating that “My country has faced a military aggression of a neighboring country, which is a P-5 member. This aggression has no reason and no grounds. This is absolutely and entirely unacceptable in the 21st century to resolve any kind of conflict with tanks, artillery and boots on the ground.” He also reiterated Ukraine’s call for the withdrawal of Russian troops and engagement in negotiations; the Russian Federation has refused thus far to negotiate with Ukraine’s government.

5. US holds test sale 5 million barrels of oil on market; IMF begins negotiations with Ukraine

The US released 5 million barrels of crude oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve. US crude was down more than $2, to around $97/barrel. The Department of Energy said the sale had been planned for months, however, the test sale of what is quite a small amount of crude could also be a message to the Russian Federation that the US may be willing to initiate the lowering of the price of oil, upon which the Russian economy is so reliant. The Russian stock market is down more than 13% since March 3. Sberbank  and VTB, the two biggest state banks have seen their stocks fall 23.4 and 24.7% since the beginning of March. The IMF announced yesterday that it will begin negotiations with the government of Ukraine and that it expects to conclude its mission to Ukraine by 21 March. 

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