Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
17 October, 12 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) reported that yesterday at 17:20 Kyiv time an intelligence unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces detected a group of some 20 terrorists near the village Verkhnyotoretske, Yasynovatskii district. The terrorists immediately attacked Ukrainian intelligent officers. Despite the overwhelming number of opponents, Ukrainian troops killed four terrorists and wounded several more. The ATO forces destroyed a group of militants almost completely. At the Donetsk airport, Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian forces using mortars and tanks 3 times. The RNBO reported that many terrorists have deserted the unit created to attack the airport. The Kremlin-backed terrorists have also shelled Pisky, Maloorlivka, Debaltseve, Troitske, Nikishine, Novoorlivka, Kamyanka, Trudivske, Krasnohorivka as well as near the settlements of Donetskiy, Frunze, Nyzhnye, Zolote, Stanytsya Luhanska in Luhansk oblast. It is reported that in the past 24 hours, due to terrorist attacks and armed clashes, three Ukrainian soldiers have been killed, ten more have been wounded.
2. Poroshenko, Putin, Merkel and Hollande meet in Milan
A meeting of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, as well as European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was held in Milan during the EU-Asia (ASEM) summit. At the end of the summit session, the leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine so that the Ukrainian and Russian sides could try to find an effective way to enforce the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk last month. “Of course, we will not hide it, there were differences of view regarding various aspects,” said Van Rompuy, “But it is also important to note that President Putin made it clear that he does not want the creation of another Transnistria and that the Donbas region is an integral part of Ukraine.” According to Angela Merkel, however, Russia and Ukraine failed to make a progress in Milan talks.
3. President Poroshenko signs law on special status of Donbas
The presidential press service reported that Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has signed the law on a special local government order and the activity of local authorities in some districts in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The main purpose of the law is to create conditions for normalizing the situation as quickly as possible, restoring law and order, constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, returning residents to abandoned places of permanent residence, restoring life in cities, towns and villages and developing these areas. “A special order in these areas is introduced by the law temporarily, for three years from the date of its entry into force,” the press service said.
4. No EU country wants to “soften” economic sanctions against Russia
No EU country to soften the economic sanctions imposed on Russia over its actions in Ukraine. The view was expressed by European diplomats in the interviews with foreign and Ukrainian media. “No EU Member wants to weaken the sanctions,” Reuters reports, citing one of the diplomats who talked confidentially. His colleagues share his opinion. “Annulment of sanctions now would be an incorrect step,” underlined another diplomat, explaining that the situation in East Ukraine does not favor such actions. Finland Prime Minister Alexander Stubb stated that annulment of sanctions is highly improbable. Meanwhile Russia started to challenge the European Council’s economic restrictions. The Financial Times reported that state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft has launched legal challenges against sanctions imposed by the EU. Rosneft filed a case in the European Court of Justice’s General Court on October 9, 2014 against restrictions that bar Russia’s energy companies and state banks from raising capital in European capital markets. The challenges follow verdicts by EU courts that have annulled bans imposed on Syrian and Iranian companies.