Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
19 June, 2014, 8PM Kyiv time
1. Kremlin-backed violence in Eastern Ukraine
The active phase of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in Donetsk and Luhansk continues. The press representative of the ATO, V. Selenzyov, reports that ATO forces took control of several positions previously held by Kremlin-backed armed extremists around Yampil and Zakotne, Luhansk oblast. Selenzyov reports that almost 200 Kremlin-backed armed extremists have been killed in the last day; on the Ukrainian side, 4 armed forces personnel have been killed and 20 wounded. The Ministry of Defense reports that the bridge over the river Siverskyi-Donets, in the Zakotne area, has been taken back by ATO forces. The President’s Representative on the Peaceful Settlement of the Situation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, I. Herashchenko, stated that Kremlin-backed armed extremist are holding more than 100 hostages, both Ukrainian and foreign citizens. She also stated that almost 30,000 people have fled the Donbas region to other areas of Ukraine. The State Border Service of Ukraine reports that the situation at the border continues to be characterized by the activity of armed gangs, and that in the border areas “units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue to arrive. Near the state border they are preparing positions and camouflaging military equipment.”
2. NATO Secretary General confirms Russian military build-up
Speaking in London, NATO Secretary General A. F. Rasmussen stated “I can confirm that we now see a new Russian military build-up – at least a few thousand more Russian troops deployed to the Ukrainian border and we see troop maneuvers in the neighbourhood of Ukraine. I consider this a very regrettable step backwards.”
3. President meets with officials from Donetsk and Luhansk
President Poroshenko met with officials from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts; he presented his 14-point peace plan, one of the key elements of which is decentralization of authority to local governing bodies. The President stated that he is willing to voluntarily give up the authority to appoint heads of Oblast and Raion State Administrations. He stated his plan to hold early local elections and that the elected deputies to local councils will then form the executive committees.
4. Ukraine President speaks with US Vice President
On 18 June Ukraine President P. Poroshenko spoke with US VP J. Biden, who “commended President Poroshenko’s commitment to move ahead with his peace plan and for further steps to unify the country.” Biden “underscored the G-7 Leaders have clearly called for Russia to stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border and to exercise its influence among the separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence, both of which Russia has thus far failed to do” and “noted that the United States would work with our partners to impose further costs on Russia if it continued on its current course.”
5. Parliament confirms presidential appointments
Ukraine’s parliament confirmed President P. Poroshenko’s appointments, with large majorities, for General Prosecutor – Vitaliy Yarema (329 votes for out of 450 MPs); Minister of Foreign Affairs – Pavlo Klimkin (335 votes for); and Head of the National Bank – Valeria Hontarieva (349 votes for).
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