Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
25 March 2014
1. Situation in Crimea
About 150 marines from Feodosiya with their families have been evacuated to mainland Ukraine. Negotiations are under way between Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and the Russian General Staff on the evacuation of Ukrainian military personnel and materiel from Crimea. Ukraine’s Minister of Defense stated that in negotiations with the chief of General Staff of the Russian armed forces a deal had been reached to allow Ukraine’s military to leave with their weapons and materiel, but the press secretary of the Russian president stated that whether or not the Ukrainian military will be allowed to take its weapons is up to the Russian Ministry of Defense. The Ukrainian navy vessel “Cherkasy” is the only vessel in Ukraine’s Crimean naval fleet under Ukraine’s control. Civilians continue to leave Crimea. The Ministry of Social Policy reports that over 3600 Crimean residents who have left have contacted the Ministry’s hotlines on mainland Ukraine. Hugh Williamson, the director of Human Rights Watch for Europe and Central Asia, stated “For weeks irregular armed units have been allowed to run amok on the Crimean peninsula without any apparent legal authority or accountability, and it’s led to insecurity, arbitrary detentions, abductions, and torture.” The former head of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatar People, peoples’ deputy Mustafa Dzhamilev, indicated that according to statistics he obtained, the voter turnout in the unconstitutional and illegal “referendum” was 34.2% and not the announced 83%.
2. Acting Minister of Defense resigns; new acting Minister appointed
Ukraine’s acting Minister of Defense I. Tenyukh resigned. Colonel-General M. Koval was appointed by Parliament, with 251 votes for. Beginning in 2003 Koval was the first deputy head of the State Border Service.
3. G7 leaders issue Hague Declaration
The leaders of the G7 issued the Hague Declaration, in which they reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and strongly condemned Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea. The G7 is “ready to intensify actions including coordinated sectoral sanctions that will have an increasingly significant impact on the Russian economy, if Russia continues to escalate this situation… This Group came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities. Russia’s actions in recent weeks are not consistent with them. Under these circumstances, we will not participate in the planned Sochi Summit. We will suspend our participation in the G8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have a meaningful discussion.”
4. Ukraine aid bill passes US Senate
A bill to provide aid to Ukraine and to impose additional sanctions on Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea passed 78-17 in the US Senate, which clears the way for debate on the bill. It would provide for a $1 billion loan guarantee and $150 million in aid to Ukraine. The bill would also provide for strengthening of sanctions against Russian officials. A bill introduced in the House does not include the IMF reforms that were requested by the Administration.
5. “Right Sector” leader “Sashko Biliy” killed
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the leader of the Right Sector in western Ukraine Oleksander Muzychko, “Sashko Biliy,” made famous by his violent behaviour in videos on social media, was killed near Rivne during a police raid of the Sokil anti-organized crime unit attempted to execute a warrant for his arrest.