Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 7 July, 2014, 6 PM Kyiv time

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

7 July, 2014, 6 PM Kyiv time

1. Kremlin-backed violence in Eastern Ukraine

The active phase of the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts continues. In the last days, several cities have been liberated from the control of Kremlin-backed armed extremists – including Druzhkivka, Kramatorsk, Kostyatynivka, and Aretemivsk. The extremist stronghold of Slovyansk, Donetsk oblast, was liberated on 5 July. Ukrainian forces are providing humanitarian aid, food and water in the cities that have been liberated. The National Security and Defense Council reports that as Kremlin-backed armed extremists retreat, they are setting mines – in the last 24 hours, more than 700 mines have been discovered in Slovyansk. Kremlin-backed armed extremists continue to use terrorist methods – on 6 July they detonated a railroad bridge in Luhansk oblast, and they continue to take hostages – on 6 July, the head of the operational service of the Severodonetsk city department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, his deputy and three coworkers were abducted. The Ministry of Defense reported that at approximately 1pm Kyiv time, another railroad bridge on the Sloyvansk-Donetsk-Mariupol track was detonated. The National Security and Defense Council reported at 12pm Kyiv time that the main goals of ATO forces are the destruction of Kremlin-backed armed extremist training bases, roadblocks, the renewal of control over the state border and isolation of the conflict zone. The Council reported that armed extremists are surrendering and that a count of the number of detained extremists and weapons is underway. The State Border Service reported that in the early morning of 7 July, Kremlin-backed armed extremists fired on the border checkpoint Dovzhanske, Luhansk oblast.

2. Occupying “authority” bans another Crimean Tatar leader from entering occupied Crimea

The Russian Federation has banned R. Chubarov, the head of the Mejlis, the representative organ of the Crimean Tatar People, from entering occupied Crimea. Crimean Tatar leader M. Dzhemiliev was also previously banned from entering Crimea. On 5 July, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “This absurd decision of the Kremlin – is the result of hatred and the chauvinist policy that the Russian Federation, continuing the tradition of Stalin, is implementing regarding the Crimean Tatar Nation from the beginning of the armed occupation and annexation of Crimea.”

3. US non-lethal assistance to Ukrainian military arrives

The United States Embassy in Ukraine reported that 2,000 sets of interceptor body armor arrived in Kyiv. After clearing customs the body armor will be handed over to the Ministry of Defense. “The body armor will increase soldier survivability in the field, saving lives. Interceptor body armor is the same model provided to US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The Embassy stated that the body armor, along with other shipments, are “part of a U.S. non-lethal aid package for Ukraine totaling more than $23 million and also including first aid kits, night vision goggles, communications equipment, and other materiel to facilitate the operations of the Ukrainian military and State Border Guard Service (SBGS) to assist them in their efforts to halt acts of terrorism in eastern Ukraine. U.S. security assistance to Ukraine is ongoing and further assistance shipments are planned.”

4. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs demands Russia release Ukrainian filmmaker

According to a ruling by a Moscow court, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who was taken from occupied Crimea to Moscow, will be held in custody at least until 11 October. Sentsov was arrested in occupied Simferopol, Crimea, on 11 May, and taken to Moscow from Crimea.  Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that they “categorically demand from the Russian side the immediate release and return home of Oleh Senstov, Oleksyi Cherniy, Gennadiy Afanasiyev, Alexander Kalchenko, and other Ukrainian prisoners…The Russian side continues to delay a response to almost thirty official appeals by Ukraine on the protection of rights and interests of tens of our citizens, who have unlawfully been deprived of their liberty and are illegally persecuted in Russia.”

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