Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 16 June, 2014, 8PM Kyiv time

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

16 June, 2014, 8PM Kyiv time

 

1. Kremlin-backed violence in Eastern Ukraine

The active phase of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in Donetsk and Luhansk continues. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reports that a citizen of the Russian Federation who was part of a group that attacked Ukrainian armed forces in Kramatorsk, Donetsk oblast, was detained on 14 June. During interrogation, the detained man stated that he was promised $1000/day for taking part in battles with Ukrainian forces. The National Bank of Ukraine and Department of the Treasury buildings in Donetsk, which were seized earlier by Kremlin-backed armed extremists, have been freed. On 14 June, Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko stated that he is awaiting a “detailed analysis of the reasons” from the head of the SBU that led to the shooting down of a Ukrainian military aircraft by Kremlin-backed armed extremists in Luhansk, in which 49 Ukrainian armed forces personnel and airplane crew were killed. On 14 June, acting Minister of Defense Koval stated that over 250 Kremlin-backed armed extremists had been killed in the last 24 hours. According to reports in the media, there is intense fighting between ATO forces and Kremlin-backed extremists in Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, Donetsk oblast.

2. Ukraine President: Ceasefire possible if border is successfully closed off

At a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, President P. Poroshenko stated that a ceasefire will be offered by Ukrainian authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk, and that he expects this to be possible in the coming week; “I want to underline that the duration of the ceasefire will be limited.  It is irresponsible today to get involved in drawn-out negotiations; we don’t need negotiations for the sake of negotiations. Today we need to establish a situation whereby, on the one hand, we will be able to guarantee the security of all those who live in Donetsk and Luhansk, we will be able to guarantee protection from marauders, and facilitate disarming, after which will follow a decision on amnesty or protection from criminal responsibility for those people who did not commit capital offenses, who do not have blood on their hands.” He also stated that some 250 km of the Ukrainian-Russian border has been brought back under the control of Ukrainian authorities, and that roads for tanks, artillery and other weapons that “lately freely crossed the border – today in the two most dangerous sectors have been closed. Through decisive actions during this week we are planning to renew security on the state border. I expect that we will be fully successful…This is the only limiting factor for the implementation of a ceasefire. When the border will be closed, from this moment we can declare system of ceasefires a. Declaring a ceasefire when the border is open is irresponsible in the current situation in Donetsk and Luhansk.” Poroshenko also stated that he expects a draft of Constitutional changes to be ready this week for presentation in Parliament. The constitutional changes are to include decentralization of authority.

3. NATO releases imagery raising questions about Russia’s role in supplying tanks to extremists

On 14 June, NATO released imagery of the border region of Russia and Ukraine, which “raise significant questions concerning Russia’s role in facilitating instability in eastern Ukraine and its involvement in the movement of military equipment from Russian territory into Ukraine. Russian officials have repeatedly mislead and evaded responsibility regarding their roles in both Crimea and eastern Ukraine…If these latest reports are confirmed, this would mark a grave escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine in violation of Russia’s Geneva commitments.”

4. Gazprom moves Ukraine to pre-payment for natural gas

As of 16 June, Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom will supply Ukraine only with natural gas for which it has paid in advance. While the Ukrainian side was ready to accept the proposal for a package solution proposed by EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger, the Russian side was not. Ukrainian PM A. Yatseniuk stated that “This is not gas. This is a general plan of Russia for the destruction of Ukraine. This is another stage in Russian aggression against the Ukrainian state and Ukrainian independence.” 

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