Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 23 October 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
23 October 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PMKyiv time that yesterday, Russian-terrorist forces violated the ceasefire five times. At Pisky and Opytne, (towards Donetsk) and Shyrokyne (towards Mariupol) Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions with small arms and grenade launchers. The RNBO reported that no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded in combat.
2. Ukraine, EBRD sign $300 million loan agreement for natural gas purchases, reform of Naftogaz
Ukraine and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development singed a $300 million loan agreement to finance purchases of natural gas for the coming winter. Under the agreement, Naftogaz will purchase the gas on European markets (reverse-flow). The EBRD stated that the “loan is conditional upon a programme of corporate restructuring at Naftogaz, including the creation of a supervisory board of  independent and qualified directors, the introduction of internal audit, compliance, anti-corruption and risk management functions and an ownership and governance structure in line with best international practice.” Ukraine’s Finance Minister N. Jaresko stated, “With the EBRD’s support, we have taken a significant step forward in ensuring financing for continuous gas supplies for the winter.”
3. Merkel, Yatsenyuk – Sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Minsk agreements implemented; EU-Ukraine FTA comes into force 1 January
Following a meeting with Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk, German Chancellor A. Merkel stated that sanctions against Russia will remain in place until the Minsk agreements are implemented. She added that “a ceasefire does not mean the achievement of stability,” the BBC’s Ukraine Service reported. Yatsenyuk and Merkel also confirmed that the EU-Ukraine free trade agreement will come into force at the beginning of 2016. “Russia, nor any other country, has no veto right over our bilateral relations with the EU,” Yatsenyuk stated.
4. US Mission to OSCE: Russia must fully implement Minsk and restore control of Crimea to Ukraine
US Ambassador to OSCE D. Baer stated, “The Russian military presence in the Donbas is real, and Russian aggression sparked the conflict there. Moscow sent Russian military personnel into Ukraine to train and equip the separatists, and to provide command and control support to separatist forces. There are enough Russian military and security personnel thoroughly integrated with separatist fighters in the Donbas that we do not differentiate between the two groups. It is one fighting force that is well armed, equipped, and commanded, and a complete Russian creation. […]Recent history in the Crimean and Donbas regions of Ukraine is important because Russia now appears to be denying its responsibility for implementing the Minsk agreements. […] Let’s be clear: Russia is a party to the Minsk agreements. This has been the case from the beginning because Russia has been directly involved in the conflict from the beginning. […] We do not hear from Russia about the steps it has taken or will take to ensure the full implementation of Minsk. I would like to point out again that Ukraine has made significant progress implementing its Minsk commitments. Ukraine’s good faith efforts have largely been met by Russian filibustering and demands […] The United States is not alone in making clear that sanctions against Russia are linked to the full implementation of Minsk. Sanctions related to Crimea will remain in place as long as the occupation persists. We cannot accept half measures. Russia must adhere to the commitments it made and fully implement Minsk, and restore control of Crimea to the government in Kyiv.”

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