The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions 91 times in total, including at least 39 times with heavy weapons. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions and residential areas of Avdiivka, damaging a residetnial building. Near Svitlodarsk, Horlivka and the Donetsk airport, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrianian positions with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka with mortars. At Pavlopil, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with artillery and mortars. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist froces shelled Ukrainian positions near Popasne and Krymske with mortars. At Novozvanika, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with artillery.
2. Statement by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister on the Third Anniversary of Illegal Annexation of Crimea
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland issued the following statement today: “Today we mark three years since Russia’s illegal annexation and invasion of Crimea. We condemn unreservedly this violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Since the occupation of Crimea, there has been a severe suppression of human rights, including freedom of expression and association. Canada is deeply troubled by the politically motivated application of ‘anti-terrorist’ and ‘anti-extremist’ legislation; ongoing harassment of human rights activists, journalists and lawyers; arbitrary detentions; disappearances; and the persecution of Crimean Tatars and other minorities. We denounce the banning of the Mejlis, the self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, and have called on Russia to reverse this illegal and immoral decision. It is shameful that Russia impedes access to Crimea for international human rights groups, including the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. The importance of this access was endorsed on December 19, 2016, in a UN General Assembly resolution co-sponsored by Canada. Canada is steadfast in its support for the people of Ukraine. Together, the international community must maintain its pressure, including through economic sanctions, until Russia respects international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
3. Ukraine imposes Sanctions on five Russian banks
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has imposed sanctions on five banks with Russian capital functioning in Ukraine. A statement on the presidential website on March 16 said that Poroshenko signed a decree introducing sanctions on Sberbank, VS Bank, Prominvestbank, VTB Bank, and BM Bank for a one-year period. The proposal to introduce sanctions was made by the National Security and Defense Council on March 15. Poroshenko’s decree ordered the Foreign Ministry to inform European Union and the United States about the sanctions and ask them to introduce similar measures against the banks.”
4. European Commission approves disbursement of 600 million Euros in assistance to Ukraine
The EU stated, “The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, has today adopted the decision to release the second tranche of Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) to Ukraine, a loan which amounts to €600 million. With this disbursement, the total Macro-Financial Assistance that the EU has extended to Ukraine since 2014 will reach €2.81 billion, the largest amount of Macro-Financial Assistance the EU has disbursed to any non-EU country. […]Ukraine has largely fulfilled the policy commitments agreed with the EU for the release of the second payment of Macro-Financial Assistance. This included taking important measures to step up the fight against corruption, to foster greater transparency in public finance management, to modernise the public administration, to advance the ongoing reforms of the energy and financial sectors, to improve the business environment and to strengthen social safety nets. These structural reforms will benefit Ukraine’s citizens – the ultimate aim of the EU’s assistance. […] Commission services will now raise the €600 million on international capital markets, in order to then lend the funds on to Ukraine in late March or early April. The EU will continue to work with the Ukrainian authorities to further the country’s reform agenda.”
5. Foreign Policy: Six Steps Trump Should Pursue to block Putin in Ukraine
Writing in Foreign Policy on March 15, Michael Carpenter, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and foreign policy advisor to Joe Biden, stated, “The reason why Ukraine matters to the United States is not because it has important economic or military interests there. Rather, it is because Russia’s invasion of its neighbor and attempted annexation of part of its territory contravene the most basic principles of the international order: respect for other countries’ sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the inviolability of borders. […] It is precisely for these reasons that the national security professionals in the current administration must develop a coherent strategy for supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. […]They should start by focusing on the following six issues.1. The new administration should continue to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses against Russian aggression.
[…] In addition to extending and expanding the training program to eventually include combined arms training (a qualitative step up from current training efforts), the new administration should also provide Ukraine with defensive weapons and equipment. This includes anti-tank missiles and counter-battery radars with fire control systems to allow Ukrainian forces to target the sources of incoming artillery shells. […]For the Russian General Staff, NATO’s refusal to arm Ukraine is in fact far more provocative than the provision of defensive weapons.2. The United States needs to get directly involved in the diplomacy to resolve the conflict.
[…]The Kremlin understands perfectly well that the pretense of negotiations perpetuates the status quo, while the involvement of local proxies deflects blame. The United States must get directly involved in the negotiations to change this dynamic. 3. No resolution to the conflict is possible without increasing leverage over Russia.
[…]To date, the United States has imposed ‘blocking sanctions’ – i.e. sanctions that block all of a company’s financial transactions – on only one Russian bank, and that bank is not even among the top 20 largest financial institutions in Russia. Unilateral U.S. financial sanctions should thus be considered as a tool to incentivize compliance with the Minsk protocol.4. The time horizons must change.
[…]Under a strict timeline for Minsk implementation there would be consequences for Russia’s missed deadlines, consisting primarily of increased sanctions. […] 5. The new administration must continue to invest in Ukraine’s success.
. The new administration must enlist greater European support for Ukraine’s democratic development.
[…]For the future of European security and the liberal international order, the international community needs to ensure that when Kremlin leaders reflect a decade from now on Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, they see it as a strategic blunder that set Ukraine irrevocably on a path towards Western integration and liberal democracy.” The full article is available at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/15/6-policies-trump-should-pursue-to-block-putin-in-ukraine/