Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 20 June, 2014, 8PM Kyiv time

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

20 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 continued. The National Security and Defense Council reports that as of noon, Kyiv time, battles between ATO forces and Kremlin-backed armed extremists are taking place in border areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and that extremists are retreating to new defensive positions. According to the Council, the Russian Federation continues to build up its military presence near the border. Near Hukovo, Novoshakhtynsk, Vasytske, Novorovenetske, in the Russian Federation, a large number of troops and military vehicles are located near the border. The Council reports that on 19 June, almost 300 Kremlin-backed armed extremists were killed, and that a large amount of small weaponry, and several shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles were seized by ATO forces. The Council reports that near Metalist, Luhansk oblast, almost the entire battalion of Kremlin-backed armed extremists known as “Zarya” was destroyed. Kirovsk, Donetsk oblast has been freed by ATO forces and Slovyansk, Donetsk oblast, is “practically blockaded” by Ukrainian security forces. 12 armed forces personnel and one National Guardsman were killed in these battles. The Ministry of Defense reports that on the night of 19-20 June, some 50 Kremlin-backed armed extremists attacked an Armed Forces base in Artemivsk, Donetsk oblast, using terrorist methods of firing from residential buildings. The attack was repelled.  The SBU reports that near Slovyansk, Donetsk oblast, a citizen of the Russian Federation was detained, who, when interrogated, stated that he was recruited by a representative of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation to take part in battles in eastern Ukraine; he stated that he was offered a reward of $1000 for every officer killed and $300 for every enlisted soldier killed. According to reports, in Luhansk leaflets are being spread, in which city residents are asking the Kremlin-backed armed extremists to take down barricades and leave the city. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that the National Guard seized an armored personnel carrier in the Maryinovka area; the Ministry released photos of documents taken from the APC with stamps from a Russian army unit.

2. Poroshenko orders ceasefire until 27 June

On the evening of June 20 Kyiv time, from the Anti-Terrorism Operation Centre, Ukraine President P. Poroshenko ordered that Ukrainian military and security forces personnel cease fire until 27 June. This is being done so that “the terrorists can surrender their weapons. Those that do not do so will be destroyed.”  The president underlined that force will be used only in answer to when Kremlin-backed armed extremists attack Ukrainian forces. Poroshenko stated that “The Ukrainian army is ceasing fire. But this does not mean that we will not answer in the event of aggression towards our military, we will do everything to protect the territory of our country. The question of territorial integrity is not up for discussion.”

3. Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights releases report on human rights in Ukraine

On 18 June, the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human rights released a report on human rights in Ukraine, covering the period from 7 March to 7 June, 2014. The report stated that “Representatives of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ have recognized the presence within their armed groups of citizens of the Russian Federation, including from Chechnya and other republics of the North Caucasus…The escalation in criminal activity resulting in human rights abuses is no longer limited to targeting journalists, elected representatives, local politicians, civil servants and civil society activists. Abductions, detentions, acts of ill-treatment and torture, and killings by armed groups are now affecting the broader population of the two eastern regions, which are now marked by an atmosphere of intimidation and consequent fear. Armed groups must be urged to stop their illegal activities and lay down their arms.” Regarding the situation in Russian-occupied Crimea, the report stated that “Residents in Crimea known for their ‘Pro-Ukrainian’ position are intimidated. The HRMMU is concerned that many may face increasing discrimination, particularly in the areas of education and employment. Leaders and activists of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people face prosecution and limitations on the enjoyment of their cultural rights.  During the reporting period, the situation of all residents of Crimea has deteriorated with regard to their right to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, religion or belief.”


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