Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 24 April 2014

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

24 April 2014

1. Putin ratchets up rhetoric; Russian military movements towards border reported

Russian President V. Putin, responding to a question about the anti-terrorist operation in Ukraine, stated that “If these people have moved on to a so-called ‘acute phase’… this is no acute phase, this is a punitive operation, and it will undoubtedly lead to consequences for the people who make such decisions, including repercussions in relations between our states. As for what the further developments will be, we will see. We will make decisions based on the actual events.” The Russian Minister of Defense stated that on 24 April training exercises began in the western and southern Russian armed forces districts. Speaking about Ukraine, he stated: “The go-ahead to use weapons against peaceful citizens of their own country has been given. If today this war machine does not stop, it will lead to a large number of dead and wounded. The declared training of NATO troops in Poland and the Baltics doesn’t contribute to the normalization of the situation around Ukraine. We are forced to react to such developments of the situation.” These statements must be viewed as a direct threat to mainland Ukraine and Ukraine’s territory. Several videos have been posted that show significant numbers of military personnel and weaponry movements towards the Ukraine-Russia border.

2. Kremlin-backed Unrest in eastern Ukraine

Kremlin-backed armed “separatists” continue to occupy several state buildings and police and law enforcement headquarters in several cities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The anti-terrorism operation continues to be carried out by Ukraine’s law enforcement organs. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that the city council in Mariupol was freed from “separatists” occupying the building; there were no casualties, and the police is controlling entrance to the building. In Slovaynsk, the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reports that three roadblocks were cleared in the northeastern end of the city. According to reports five armed “separatists” were killed, and one member of a law enforcement unit was injured. A military unit headquarters in Artemivsk was attacked by close to 100 armed people; the attack was repelled. The SBU reports that 2 members of a “diversionary group” of the Intelligence Service of the General Staff of the Russian Federation have been detained. According to the SBU, one of the men detained, a citizen of Ukraine, was in the Crimea from 7 to 20 April, where he obtained a “briefing with the participation of representatives of Russian special services, and diplomats of the General Consulate of the Russian Federation in Simferopol regarding the directions of further work in destabilizing the southern-eastern regions…”The SBU released a tape of a phone conversation which the SBU claims is an agent of the Russian special services discussing with the self-declared “mayor” of Slovyansk the murder and disposal of the body of the murdered deputy of the Horlivka city council V. Rybak. Rybak was buried today in Slovyansk. Vice News reporter S. Ostrovsky was freed, after four days being held hostage by armed “separatists.”

3. Turchynov: Russia demonstrably concentrating forces on border

Ukraine’s acting President O. Turchynov stated that after successful steps in the fight against terrorism in Ukraine, “the Russian Federation has moved from public threats addressed to us to a demonstrative concentration of armed forces on the eastern border of our state. Deployment and strengthening of numbers of units, which have for a long time been threatening the security of our country, is under way.”

4. Obama: Ukraine taking ‘concrete steps’; Russia not abiding by Geneva Agreement

Speaking in Japan, US President B. Obama stated that Russia has not been abiding by the  “spirit or the letter of the agreement in Geneva…On the other side, you’ve seen the government in Kyiv take very concrete steps, in introducing an amnesty law and offering a whole range of reforms with respect to the constitution, that are consistent with what was discussed in Geneva.  And my expectation is, is that if, once again, Russia fails to abide by both the spirit and the letter of what was discussed in Geneva, that there will be further consequences and we will ramp up further sanctions. “

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