Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 8 July, 2014, 6 PM Kyiv time

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

8 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.  Retreating Kremlin-backed armed extremists continue to set mines on roads and infrastructure. The Ministry of Defense stated that “By mining railroad tracks and roads, the terrorists’ goal is to disrupt the delivery of humanitarian goods that ATO units are delivering to residents of liberated cities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblast.” The National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) reports that since the beginning of the ATO, half of the territory in Donetsk and Luhansk oblast that had previously been under control of Kremlin-backed armed extremists has been liberated. As of 12 PM Kyiv time, Kremlin-backed armed extremists carried out attacks on 12 Ukrainian checkpoints and positions in the last 24 hours; including using tanks to fire on the Luhansk airport. The RNBO reports that Kostyatynivka, Donetsk oblast, was liberated on 7 July, and that the Ukrainian government continues to ensure the delivery of water, food, and medicine to recently liberated cities, as well as beginning work for the renewal of infrastructure. In recently-liberated Slovyansk, the Minister of Internal Affairs stated that humanitarian aid will continue to be delivered until stores are again working normally. Conflicts continue to emerge amongst groups of Kremlin-backed armed extremists; the RNBO stated that the inner circle of Ihor Hirkin (aka Strelko – the so-called “Minister of Defense” of the so-called “Donetsk Peoples’ Republic,” and an officer of the Intelligence Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation), “have been accused of treason and appropriation of property plundered in Slovyansk. According to operational information, local criminals have given Hirkin two days to return the money given to him by the Russian Federation to finance mercenaries.” The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) stated that one of their priests, Yuriy Ivanov, was abducted in Donetsk. The Donetsk Oblast State Administration reported that Kremlin-backed armed extremists have seized the first floor of the Kalinin hospital in Donetsk. The State Border Service reported that units near three border checkpoints were fired upon by Kremlin-backed armed extremists during the night of 7-8 July, and the RNBO stated that the Russian border service continues to let Kremlin-backed armed extremists into Ukraine, but are fortifying border checkpoints back into Russia, with the goal of not allowing mercenaries trying to flee Ukraine to return back into Russia.

2. New head of Anti-Terrorism Centre Appointed

On 7 July, Ukraine President P. Poroshenko appointed Vasyl Hrytsak first deputy head of the State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), and head of the Anti-Terrorism Centre at the SBU. Hrytsak previously served as head of the SBU’s Department for corruption and organized crime (2009-2010).

3. Conclusions of High Level Donor Meeting on Ukraine

On 8 July, the European Union, member states, Ukraine, other donor countries – USA, Canada, Japan, Norway, Switzerland international organizations, international financial institutions, and civil society held a coordination meeting on international support to Ukraine. The Government of Ukraine set out its plan for a central authority for overseeing the implantation of the Association Agreement, and set out its current needs, including measures to stabilize southeastern Ukraine. “Participants welcomed the growing international support for Ukraine, and recognized the need for stronger donor coordination of external financial and technical assistance based on Ukraine’s economic and democratic stabilization and reform priorities, starting from this stage of preparation to a Conference, as well as concerted efforts to address the challenges ahead, including the special needs in the Donbas region of Ukraine. An international coordinating platform for assistance to Ukraine will guide the efforts of donors, both in Ukraine, as well as in capitals.” Full conclusions of the meeting can be found at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-469_en.htm

4. Obama, Hollande phone call – “further costs” if no immediate de-escalation

US President B. Obama and French President F. Hollande spoke on Ukraine. “The leaders agreed that their preference remains a bilateral ceasefire, fully supported by Russia, and a peaceful resolution to the conflict, including the release of all hostages.  In the absence of any meaningful efforts by the separatists to engage in talks or to adhere to the ceasefire, however, the President noted that we respect the Ukrainian government’s responsibility to maintain public order in the country and to protect the population.  The leaders further agreed that Russia has a responsibility to cease its destabilizing activities, such as by no longer allowing and facilitating the transit of weapons and fighters across the border, ceasing its own military build-up near the border, and halting its ongoing direct and indirect support for violent separatists.  The Presidents decided that the United States and Europe should take further coordinated measures to impose costs on Russia if it does not take immediate steps toward de-escalation.”

 


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