Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 2 May 2014, 8PM Kyiv time

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

2 May 2014, 8PM Kyiv time 

1. Kremlin-backed “separatism” in Eastern Ukraine

Ukraine’s law enforcement authorities launched the active phase of the anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine on 2 May. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reports that as of 12:00Kyiv time, all 10 roadblocks around Slovyansk have been cleared, and half the city is under control of law enforcement and military. The Ministry of Defense reports that 2 Mi-24 helicopters were shot down by shoulder-launched surface to air missiles, and that 4 people suspected of firing the missiles have been detained. The Ministry stated that the use of these portable missiles “clearly shows that those acting against the military are far from ‘peaceful protestors,’ but well-trained and armed professional diversionary groups, who through acts of terror and sabotage are trying to destabilize the region.” 2 Ukrainian servicemen were killed as a result of the attack, and several injured. Acting President Turchynov, in a televised address at approximately 16:00Kyiv time, stated that Ukraine’s law enforcement is fighting with hired people from a foreign state, and that the “operation is not being carried out as quickly as we would have liked, and is complicated by the fact that the bases of the terrorists are in populated cities, and they themselves are hiding behind the backs of civilian citizens, are covering themselves with hostages, and are firing shots from residential buildings.” “Separatists” have left the Luhansk city council, prosecutors’ building and television station.

2. Unrest in Odesa

In Odesa, a Ukrainian unity march, composed by fan clubs of the Odesa and Kharkiv soccer teams, who were joined by regular citizens, were attacked by young people in masks with clubs. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs three people have been killed and 15 taken to hospital, as a result of the ensuing clashes.

3. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: English-speakers present in “punitive” operation

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that amongst the “attackers” in the “punitive” operation in Slovyansk, were foreigners who spoke English. Displaying what can only be described as amazing capacity for hypocrisy, Russian MFA stated that “we insist on avoiding any external interference in what is happening in Ukraine.” The Ministry also stated that in connection with their claimed reports of “English speakers,” they recalled the “earlier information on the presence of mercenaries in Ukraine from American private military organizations rather vaguely denied by Washington. It is well known that the so-called private military organizations do not work abroad without the approval of the US State Department.”

4. Obama and Merkel hold joint press conference in Washington

US President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel held a joint press-conference in Washington on 2 May. They threatened broader new sanctions against Russia if the Kremlin does not change its course. Merkel stated that “further sanctions will be unavoidable” if progress is not made by Russia. Obama stated that “The Ukrainian government has shown remarkable restraint through this entire process,” and that the idea that the situation in the east is spontaneous is belied by all the evidence of armed men “with the capacity to shoot down helicopters.”

5. NATO Deputy Secretary-General – Russia has declared NATO an adversary

NATO Deputy Secretary-General A. Vershbow, speaking in Washington on 1 May, was quoted by the Washington Post as stating, “Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partners but more of an adversary than a partner…We would still defend the sovereignty and freedom of choice of Russia’s neighbors, and Russia clearly is trying to re-impose hegemony and limit their sovereignty under the guise of a defense of the Russian world.”

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