Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 28 April 2014

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

28 April 2014

1. Assassination attempt against Kharkiv Mayor

At about noon Kyiv time, an assassination attempt against Kharkiv mayor H. Kernes took place on the Bilhorod highway, by unidentified individuals. Kernes was wounded in the back, and is in critical condition in hospital. The deputy head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that one of the main directions of the investigation into the attempted assassination is the “reaction of pro-separatist people to the events in Kharkiv.” On 27 April, 13 people were detained in Kharkiv, in possession of “Molotov cocktails, masks, wooden bats, explosive packets and nails.”

2. Kremlin-backed “separatism” in Eastern Ukraine

The situation in several cities in eastern Ukraine remains very tense. Kremlin-backed “separatists” continue to occupy several government buildings and police headquarters in several cities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. In Kostyantynivka, Donetsk oblast, the city police headquarters and the mayoralty have reportedly been seized by armed men in uniforms without insignia on 28 April. In Donetsk, a pro-Ukrainian unity rally was attacked by “separatist activists;” several people were injured. On Sunday a pro-Ukrainian unity rally in Kharkiv, numbering some 7000 or more people, was also attacked by “separatists activists,” and several were injured. The Ministry of Defense reports that one serviceman was killed and another injured by an improvised explosive device in Donetsk oblast.  In Slovaynsk, Kremlin-backed “separatists” continue to hold hostage a group of German-led unarmed military inspectors from OSCE-participating states, which were taken hostage on Friday. According to Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) some 40 people, including journalists and other civilians, are being held by “separatists.” Three officers of the Alpha unit of the SBU have also been taken hostage. The “separatists” are using what can only be considered terrorist methods. The SBU stated that they have identified the man who is commanding the activity of “separatists” in Slovyansk – a citizen of the Russian Federation and a colonel in the Intelligence Dept. of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

3. US Announces More Sanctions against Russian officials and companies

The US government announced a further round of sanctions against 7 high-ranking officials of the Russian government and 17 Russian companies and banks. Treasury Secretary J. Lew stated, “Today’s targeted actions, taken in close coordination with the EU, will increase the impact we have already begun to see on Russia’s own economy as a result of Russia’s actions in Ukraine and from US and international sanctions. Russian economic growth forecasts have dropped sharply, capital flight has accelerated and higher borrowing costs reflect declining confidence in the market outlook.”

4. G7 Statement on Ukraine

The leaders of the G7 issued a joint statement on the situation in Ukraine on 25 April, in which they stated that they “welcomed the positive steps taken by Ukraine to meet its commitments under the Geneva accord of April 17…In contrast, Russia has taken no concrete actions in support of the Geneva accord…Instead, it has continued to escalate tensions by increasingly concerning rhetoric and ongoing threatening military manoeuvres on Ukraine’s border.” The G7 also stated that “while we continue to prepare to move to broader coordinated sanctions, including sectoral measures should circumstances warrant…we underscore that the door remains open to a diplomatic resolution of this crisis…We urge Russia to join us in committing to that path.”

5. Ukraine and Slovakia sign gas deal

Ukrainian company Ukrtransgaz and Slovakian company Eustream signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which would provide up to 8 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Slovakia to Ukraine. EU Energy Commissioner G. Oettinger stated, “Today’s deal marks a milestone. It is a first step for gas flows from Slovakia to Ukraine and strengthens the ties between the EU’s energy market and Ukraine…Deliveries from EU Member States offer Ukraine access to gas priced on the basis of fair and transparent principles.”

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