Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
12 May 2014, 6PM Kyiv time
1. Kremlin-backed “separatism” in Eastern Ukraine
The active phase of the anti-terrorist operation in Donetsk and Luhansk continues. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, roadblocks controlled by armed Kremlin-backed “separatists” on roads leading to Krasnyi Luman, in Slovyansk, and near Kramatorsk have been dismantled. The Ministry reports no casualties of law enforcement or civilians, and that the number of “separatist” casualties is being established. The head of the Mariupol militia, who was taken hostage by armed men on 9 May, was freed. Kremlin-backed “separatists” held pseudo-referenda on independence from Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts on 11 May. In Luhansk, the self-declared separatist “authorities” claimed a turnout close to 75%, with 96% “voting” for “independence.” In Donetsk, the self-declared separatist “authorities” claimed a turnout of 74.8%, with 89.07% “voting” for “independence.” The supposed 89% vote for “independence” in Donetsk is the same figure mentioned in a tapped phone conversation released by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on 7 May, in which a “separatist” leader is discussing the referendum with his handler in the Russian Federation government. Notwithstanding the illegality of the two “referenda” under Ukrainian law, and the fact that the “referenda” were organized by illegitimate, self-appointed “authorities,” scenes of chaos, multiple voting, pre-marked ballots, intimidation and severe pressure in some areas to force people to vote, were widely reported by international and local media, and citizens throughout the oblasts. According to information from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the actual turnout in Luhansk was estimated at about 24%, and slightly more than 32% in Donetsk oblast. Simply put, the “referenda” were a farce.
2. Canada, USA, EU reject “referenda”
Canada, the United States, and the European Union have all declared that the “referenda” held on 11 May in Donetsk and Luhansk were illegal and illegitimate and that they do not recognize the results. US State Department spokesperson J. Psaki stated on 10 May that the referenda organized by “armed separatist groups are illegal under Ukrainian law and are an attempt to create further division and disorder,” and that they are violations of international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the “referenda” “constitute another attempt by pro-Russian separatists to incite violence and further divide the country. The only legitimate vote will be on May 25, 2014, when real democratic action will be at play as Ukrainians take to the polls to call for a stable, prosperous, united future.”
3. Turchynov: Roundtable on Eastern Ukraine to take place Wednesday
Acting President O. Turchynov stated that a roundtable will take place on 14 May to discuss ways to stabilize the situation in Eastern Ukraine. Representatives of local government in Donetsk, Luhansk oblasts, and other regions have been invited. Representatives of the intelligentsia, cultural figures, and people with a high level of respect among the population in the eastern regions have been invited as well.
4. EU expands sanctions list
The European Union expanded sanctions against the Russian Federation, adding 13 more officials and 2 companies registered in occupied Crimea to the list.
5. US Under Secretary of State travels to Ukraine
US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, R. Stengel, is travelling to Kyiv, Riga, and Brussels on May 16. Stengel will use his trip to “stress the need for greater regional engagement to support Ukraine’s upcoming May 25 elections, push back against efforts to delegitimize them and ensure that all Ukrainians are given the chance to decide their future for themselves.”12-May-Ukraine-briefing