Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 17 April 2014

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

17 April 2014

1. Kremlin-backed Unrest in Eastern Ukraine

Kremlin-backed “separatists” continue to occupy state buildings and police headquarters in several cities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. As of 15:00 Kyiv time, the City Council, State Security Service (SBU), and police headquarters in Slovyansk are occupied; in Yenakiyeve, the City Council, Prosecutors’ and police headquarters are occupied; in Kramatorsk the City Council and SBU headquarters are occupied; in Donetsk the Oblast State Administration and City Council are occupied; in Luhansk the SBU headquarters is occupied; in Makiyivka, Horlivka, Mariupol, Artemivsk and Khartsysk the City Councils are occupied. The SBU continues to report the detainment and identification of Russian Intelligence Services personnel. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and SBU report that “separatists” attempted to storm the National Guard headquarters in Mariupol. They threw Molotov cocktails and opened fire on personnel guarding the headquarters. In the resulting firefight, three “separatists” were killed, 13 injured and 63 detained. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports no casualties from their side. The deputies of the Mariupol City Council stated, “carrying out the mandate of our electors, we declare to those, who are seizing buildings, using aggression and violence: leave Mariupol in peace. Your actions have already led to the spilling of blood, so do not think that the citizens will support you.” A large-pro Ukrainian-unity rally attended by several thousand people is taking place in Donetsk as of 19:00 Kyiv time.

2. Geneva Talks: Joint Statement Issued

The talks between Ukraine, US, EU and Russia in Geneva on Thursday resulted in a joint statement, in which all sides agreed that illegal armed groups must be disarmed, illegally seized buildings freed, and illegally occupied streets and squares must be vacated. Kyiv agreed to amnesty all “protestors” who left buildings, surrendered weapons, except for those found guilty of capital crimes. The statement also referred to decentralization and constitutional reform in Ukraine; “The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.” US Secretary of State J. Kerry stated that “if we do not see progress, we will have no choice but to impose greater costs on Russia.” Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov continued to deny the presence of Russia’s military in eastern Ukraine.   

3.Putin holds Direct Line broadcast

Russian President V. Putin held a direct line broadcast. He admitted that the “little green men” in Crimea were in fact Russian troops – “Of course, the Russian servicemen did back the Crimean self-defence forces.” Putin continued to deny the presence of Russian units  in eastern Ukraine, as he did with the Crimean forces in March. He once again showed his utter contempt for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, stating, “I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya (New Russia) back in the tsarist days – Kharkov, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine back then. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet government. Why? Who knows…The intention to split Russia and Ukraine, to separate what is essentially a single nation in many ways, has been an issue of international politics for centuries.” He also made a point of stating that “As for what is happening in southeastern Ukraine, we don’t know for sure. But we believe that we ought to do everything we can to help these people defend their rights and determine their fate on their own. This is what we will fight for. Let me remind you that the Federation Council of Russia gave the President the right to use the Armed Forces in Ukraine.”

4. European Parliament Resolution on Ukraine: EU must impose economic sanctions on Russia

The European Parliament passed a resolution stating that the EU must strengthen sanctions against individual Russian officials, and be ready to impose economic sanctions on Russia immediately. The EP “calls for measures against Russian companies and their subsidiaries, particularly in the energy sector, as well as Russian investments and assets in the EU, and for all agreements with Russia to be reviewed with a view to their possible suspension.” The EP also stated that it expresses its “full support and solidarity with” the government of Ukraine as it “re-establishes authority in the occupied cities,” recalled that the government has “the full right to use all necessary measures, including the right to self-defence” and “warns Russia against using Ukraine’s legitimate right to defend its territorial integrity as a pretext to launch a full-scale military invasion.”

5. US approves further non-lethal military aid to Ukraine; Canada strengthens NATO capabilities

US Secretary of Defense C. Hagel stated that the US is increasing non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, including medical supplies, power generators, and helmets. Canadian Prime Minister S. Harper announced that Canada will be providing NATO with six CF-18 fighter jets and up to 20 staff officers to be based in Poland, as part of NATO plans to boost capabilities in Central and Eastern Europe.

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