Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 21 March 2014

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

21 March 2014

 

1. Situation in Crimea

Russian armed forces continue to blockade Ukrainian military bases and headquarters. A representative of the Ministry of Defense stated that the Ministry is preparing for the evacuation from Crimea of the families of military servicemen, but that there is no decision on the evacuation of military personnel. Ukraine appealed to the UN to declare Crimea a demilitarized zone, and according to the Ministry of Defense is ready to evacuate its soldiers should such decision be reached. Yesterday a group of 32 Crimean Tatars applied for asylum to Poland, in connection with the fact that they were suffering persecution at the hands of the self-appointed, illegal authorities in the Crimea, because the Crimean Tatars were assisting the armed forces of Ukraine.

2. Ukraine, European Union sign Association Agreement

Ukraine and the European Union signed the political provisions of the Association Agreement. President of the European Commission J. Barroso stated that the Association Agreement will “seal the strong political partnership that brings Ukraine and the EU closer together. This is the democratic choice Ukraine has made. It is our firm intention to sign the remaining parts of the agreement in due course. Europe is committed to Ukraine for the long term. We will help Ukraine to reform and consolidate its independence and sovereignty”.

3. European Council announces additional sanctions against Russian officials

12 additional Russian officials were added to the sanctions list by the European Council. The total number of officials who face travel bans and asset freezes by the European Union is at 33. European Council President H. Van Rompuy stated that “Sanctions are not a question of retaliation; they are a foreign policy tool, not a goal in themselves, but a means to an end. Our goal is to stop Russian action against Ukraine, to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty – and to achieve this we need a negotiated solution. Europe stands ready to facilitate and engage in a meaningful dialogue involving Ukraine and Russia and supports all multilateral initiatives towards that aim.” European Commission President J. Barroso stated that the EC has asked the EU Council to“evaluate the legal consequences of the annexation of Crimea and to propose economic, trade and financial restrictions regarding Crimea for rapid implementation.”

4. Serhiy Kurchenko, Evhen Bakulin under investigation by General Prosecutor

The General Prosecutor announced that a criminal case has been opened against the oligarch S. Kurchenko, head of VETEK Group, on suspicion of theft of state funds from the state company Ukrhazvydobuvannia. The State Security Service announced that they have detained two of Kurchenko’s close associates. Kurchenko’s whereabouts are unknown. The head of the state gas company Naftogas was detained. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, officials of the company Naftogas are under suspicion of embezzling almost 4 billion USD from the state company.

5. Russian Federation Council “ratifies” annexation of Crimea.

The upper chamber of Russian Parliament, the Russian Federation Council, “ratified” the annexation of Crimea. President Putin “signed” the “Treaty” on the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation.

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