Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
2 April 2014
1. Situation in Crimea
The evacuation of Ukrainian military personnel from Crimea continues. The Ministry of Defense reports that 1059 people have been evacuated – 385 officers, 547 sergeants and soldiers, and 125 family members (38 children) of military personnel. Most are being evacuated to Kherson, Mykolaiv, Kyiv, and Odessa oblasts. The Ukrainian Border Service reports that 14 more Crimean residents applied for refugee status at the Polish border, bringing the total to almost 65 persons in the last two weeks. According to a resolution of the Mejlis, the highest representative organ of the Crimean Tatar people, two representatives were delegated to positions in the Crimean “government,” – L. Islyamov as first deputy head of the Council of Ministers of Crimea, and Z. Smirnov – as head of the republican committee on issues of nationalities and deported citizens. The head of the Mejlis, R. Churbarov, underlined the fact that this decision does not constitute recognition by the Crimean Tatar people of the political, legal and economic changes taking place in Crimea, and that these representatives were delegated in order to gain better understanding of the intentions of the Crimean “government” as regards the Crimean Tatars. R. Chubarov also stated that the next session of the Qurultay, which will end by 15 April, will look at the question of holding a referendum among the Crimean Tatar people as to the future of Crimea.
2. US House passes Ukraine aid bill; US suspends Russia projects
The US House of Representatives passed a bill that provides $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, authorizes $150 million in aid, obligates the US State and Justice Departments to assist with the recovery of assets acquired by Ukrainian officials through corrupt means, and supplements sanctions already in place against Russian officials and a Russian bank. The vote was 378 for, 34 opposed. The bill was passed by the Senate last week, and has been sent to the President to be signed into law. The State Department announced that several projects planned a part of the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission have been suspended, and that funding earmarked for these projects will be contributed to an assistance package to Ukraine.
3. US House provides additional funding to Radio Free Europe, Voice of America
The US House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 399-12, a bill providing additional funding for increasing broadcasts of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce stated, “Throughout the crisis, Russians and Ukrainians alike have been bombarded by portrayals of Ukrainian protestors and the interim government as ‘fascist mercenaries.’ …In this false narrative – this lie – stock images of chaos and violence are used to persuade viewers that ethnic and linguistic Russians are under attack… Russian propaganda is in overdrive. .. This bill puts us on the offensive in this information battle,” by increasing “broadcasts to the people of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, prioritizing programming to populations that are inundated with Russian propaganda and combating the misinformation they are receiving.”
4. Security and Defense Council of Ukraine – 85% of mobilization plan completed
A. Parubiy, Secretary of the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, stated that over 19,000 citizens have been mobilized into the armed forces, representing 85% of the partial mobilization plan. He also stated that Russian troop movements near the border are not a withdrawal, but rather a rotation of forces, and that often Russian forces on the border engage in actions meant to provoke Ukrainian military and border service units.
5. Yanukovych holds press conference
Former president V. Yanukovych held his third press conference, apparently in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, since fleeing Ukraine in February. He claimed that he never issued orders for law enforcement units to fire on Maidan protestors, and that Ukraine should hold a referendum on whether to become a federalized state.