Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
3 July, 2014, 9 PM Kyiv time
1. Kremlin-backed violence in Eastern Ukraine
The active phase of the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts continues. The Ministry of Defense reports that a tendency has developed where Kremlin-backed armed extremists are approaching checkpoints held by ATO forces under a white flag and then opening fire. Zakotne, Rayhorodok, Reznikovka, and Raioleskandrivka have been liberated by ATO forces. The Ministry of Defense reports that Kremlin-backed armed extremists have “suffered significant losses in personnel and materiel. Information about losses of militants is hidden by [their] leaders, so as not to demoralize the remaining terrorist groups.” Kremlin-backed armed extremists opened mortar fire on the Dovzhanskyi, Luhansk oblast, border crossing in the early morning of 3 July. Ukraine’s State Border Service reports that 9 border guards were injured. The State Border Service reports that at 8:20 am Kyiv time, three Russian helicopters violated Ukrainian airspace near Bilovodsk, Luhansk oblast, and at9:20 am Kyiv time three Russian helicopters violated Ukrainian airspace near the Dovzhanskyi, Luhansk oblast, border crossing. The National Security and Defense Council reports that on 2 July, ATO forces destroyed a five-truck column transporting Kremlin-backed armed extremists in Donetsk oblast. ATO forces also destroyed an antiaircraft installation and an ammunition depot near Slovyansk, Donetsk oblast. The National Security and Defense Council reports that on the night of 2-3 July, a group of almost 300 Kremlin-backed armed extremists attempted to flee Ukraine into the Russian Federation, but Russian border guards opened fire on them and forced them to return to Ukraine. “This is not the first case, when mercenaries, who come from the territory of the Russian Federation to Ukraine, are not allowed to return in the opposite direction,under threat of death. As a result, the command of the Anti-Terrorism Operation gives the terrorists the opportunity to turn in their weapons and surrender.”
2. New Ukrainian Minister of Defense Appointed
Ukraine’s Parliament confirmed President P. Poroshenko’s appointment of Valeriy Heletey as Minister of Defense, with 260 MPs voting for. Heletey is a general (Colonel-General) who previously served as head of the State Security Administration, which specializes in providing security for government officials, in 2007-9 and in 2014.
3. Parliament begins consideration of Constitutional Amendments
Ukraine’s Parliament began consideration of changes to the Constitution proposed by President Poroshenko. 277 MPs voted for including the proposed changes (Draft Law no. 418a, On Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (on authority of state and local government)”) in the Parliamentary agenda. The changes focus on decentralization of power from Kyiv to the regions.
4. UK Foreign Minister speaks with Ukraine Foreign Minister
UK Foreign Minister W. Hague spoke with Ukraine Foreign Minister P. Klimkin. Hague stated after the call that “I assured Mr. Klimkin of the UK’s full support for Ukraine’s right and determination to secure its territorial integrity in the face of continuing Russian aggression. The UK stands shoulder-to-shoulder with European partners in efforts to secure a diplomatic solution to the violence in Ukraine, but the European Council has made clear that we are ready to impose further sanctions on Russia if they fail to take the necessary steps to end military hostility. I urge the Russian Federation to use its influence over illegally armed groups and to stop the flow of weapons and militants into the east of Ukraine. Russia should not expect the 16 July European Council to imagine that it is unable to secure its own borders.”
5. Ukraine, Germany, France, Russia Foreign Ministers meet
On 2 July, the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia met in Berlin to discuss de-escalation of the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The result of the meetings were that the Ministers agreed, among other points, that the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russia, OSCE) should meet for a third time no later than 5 July to discuss conditions for a lasting ceasefire; that the Special OSCE Monitoring Mission, according to its mandate should monitor any ceasefire that results from such talks; and that representatives of the OSCE are to monitor the situation at border checkpoints on the Russian border. Ukraine Foreign Minister P. Klimkin stated that given the fact that Kremlin-backed armed extremists continued to attack Ukrainian security forces despite the fact that President Poroshenko announced a unilateral ceasefire, any future ceasefire is only possible if it is bilateral.
Taras Zalusky, Executive Director
Ukrainian Canadian Congress