Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 17 November, 6 PM Kyiv time

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

17 November, 6 PM Kyiv time

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts remains tense. Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to shell and attack Ukrainian positions. Redeployments and movements of Russian troops and Kremlin-backed terrorists continue; their forces and weapons are being concentrated near Pisky, Mariyinka, Kransohorivka and Adviyivka. Towards Debaltsevo, near Nikishine, Kremlin-backed terrorists twice attacked and fired mortars on Ukrainian positions; the attacks were repelled. Kremlin-backed terrorists fired artillery and mortars on Ukrainian positions near Hostra Mohyla and Orlovo-Ivanivka, Chornokhyne and Mius. Towards Donetsk, Kremlin-backed terrorists continued to shell Ukrainian positions at the Donetsk airport, and fired artillery and mortars on Ukrainian positions near Mayorske, Adviyivka, Maryinka, Krasnohorivka, Slavne and Taramchuk. Ukrainian artillery forces returned fire; at the Donetsk airport, Ukrainian artillery destroyed one of the Kremlin-backed terrorist gangs – according to operational information, over 20 Kremlin-backed terrorists were killed and nearly 30 wounded. Towards Luhansk, Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions near Stanytsia Luhanska, Shchastya, Krymske, Hirske, Frunze and Tryokhizbenka. On 16 November at 3:20 PM Kyiv time, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired a grenade launcher at a minibus in Stanytsia Luhanska, in which Ukrainian police of the “Chernihiv” unit were travelling – 3 police officers were killed and 5 wounded. Towards Mariupol, Kremlin-backed terrorist twice shelled Ukrainian positions between Chermaklyk and Mykolaivka villages with BM-21 Grads (truck mounted multiple rocket launchers), and fired artillery, mortars and small arms at Ukrainian positions near Hranitne, Chernenko and Pavlopil. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, 6 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 9 wounded.

2. Another “humanitarian” convoy enters Ukraine from Russia

On 16 November, the RNBO reported that from 6 to 7 AM Kyiv time, another so-called “humanitarian” aid convoy, consisting of 74 trucks, entered Ukraine from Russian territory. The RNBO stated that, “Bearing in mind that the Russian side violated international law and Ukrainian legislation regarding movement of humanitarian aid, and also the fact that representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross did not take part in the movement of the convoy, the Ukrainian unit of border guards and customs officers only visually observed the convoy crossing the state border, without carrying out their controlling functions. The content of the convoy and its purpose are unknown to the Ukrainian side.”

3. Ukrainian President signs decrees on certain territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts; state and energy security

On 15 November, Ukrainian President  P. Poroshenko signed a decree which brings into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) from 4 November, “On immediate measures regarding the stabilization of the socio-economic situation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.” The decree recognizes that the organs and officials formed as a result of the pseudo-elections in certain parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts are formed in contravention to the Ukrainian Constitution and Ukrainian legislation; the RNBO supported the proposition of the President to present to Parliament a bill annulling the Law “On the special order of local self-government in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.” The decree also brings into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council (RNBO)  that “underlines the necessity of implementing measures” to stop the work of state enterprises, institutions and organizations on certain territories in the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) zone. The decree also obligates the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry to ensure the reparation and restoration of institutions that deliver gas and heat to the population. The decree also “suggests to the National Bank of Ukraine, within a month’s time, to use measures regarding the termination of service of bank accounts opened by legal entities of all forms of ownership on certain territories of the ATO zone.” On 15 November, the President also signed a decree bringing into effect the decision of the RNBO “On the state of ensuring the energy security of the country and immediate measures for the stable conduct of the heating season for 2014-15,” which obligates the Cabinet of Ministers to –  use natural gas produced in Ukraine only for the needs of the population and heating of residential buildings; among several other measures. On 15 November the President also signed the decree bringing into effect the November 4 decision of the RNBO “On immediate measures for ensuring the security of the state,” which, among other measures, states that the “Government must address the question of the raising the combat readiness of units of the Armed Forces and National Guard, and  the optimization of their administration and logistical support regarding personnel, weapons and military equipment of battalions of territorial defense of the Armed Forces, reserve battalions of the National Guard, volunteer battalions and special assignment police units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”

4. US, UK on Russia’s actions in Ukraine

Following meetings of the G-20 in Australia on 15-16 November, US President B. Obama “If [Putin] continues down the path that he is on — violating international law; providing heavy arms to the separatists in Ukraine; violating an agreement that he agreed to just a few weeks ago, the Minsk Agreement, that would have lowered the temperature and the killing in the disputed areas and make providing us a pathway for a diplomatic resolution — then the isolation that Russia is currently experiencing will continue. […] It is not our preference to see Russia isolated the way it is. We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy; that is thriving on behalf of its people; that can once again engage with us in cooperative efforts around global challenges .But we’re also very firm on the need to uphold core international principles. And one of those principles is, is that you don’t invade other countries or finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections.” On 16 November, UK Prime Minister D. Cameron stated, “In terms of Ukraine, […] I think this is going to be a test of the stamina and a test of the political will of United States and the countries of the European Union. I think we will meet that test. I think we have done so, so far. I think people have been surprised that the European Union and the United States of America have moved in tandem to say that what happened in Crimea, that what’s happening in Ukraine is unacceptable, and then to take step-by-step sanctions and other measures in order to demonstrate just how unacceptable in the 21st century this sort of bullying by a big country of a smaller country on the continent of Europe to show how unacceptable this is and we must stick at it.”

5. Canadian PM to Putin: Get out of Ukraine

According to several media reports, on 15 November, at the G-20 Summit in Australia, when Russian President V. Putin approached Canadian PM S. Harper and offered him his hand to shake, PM Harper responded, “Well, I guess I’ll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine.”

6. EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting Conclusions on Ukraine

The EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting Conclusions on Ukraine stated, “Alarmed by the recent heavy shelling and by reports about convoys moving in the separatist held areas with substantial amounts of heavy weapons, tanks and troops without insignia from across the Russian border , it urges all parties to fully implement the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum swiftly and without further delay. It once again underlines the Russian

Federation’s responsibility in this context. […]The European Union considers the holding of ‘presidential and parliamentary elections’ in Donetsk and Luhansk ‘People’s Republics’ on 2 November as illegal and illegitimate and will not recognise them. These so-called “elections” are in breach of the letter and the spirit of the Minsk Protocol. It calls on Russia to assume its responsibility in this regard. […] The Council calls on the EEAS and the Commission to present a proposal for decision by the end of this month on additional listings targeting separatists. The Council will continue to closely follow the situation on the ground and will act accordingly.”

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