Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
23 October, 6 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) stated at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that according to operational information, Kremlin-backed terrorists are preparing a series of provocations in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts ahead of the parliamentary elections – in particular the shelling of residential districts in order to discredit Ukrainian units. The RNBO stated that in the last 24 hours, the activity of Kremlin-backed terrorists in Luhansk oblast diminished, but in southern Donetsk oblast, where a redeployment of Kremlin-backed terrorists and equipment was identified, the activity of Kremlin-backed terrorists increased. Kremlin-backed terrorists fired Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers) near Starohnativka and Mykolaivka. Ukrainian positions were shelled with mortars near Pavlopole and Talakivka, and repelled an attack by Kremlin-backed terrorists near Novolaspa. Kremlin-backed terrorists again attacked the Donetsk airport. The attack was repelled by Ukrainian forces and the Kremlin-backed terrorists suffered heavy losses. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, 1 Ukrainian soldier was killed and 2 wounded. The State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated that on 21 October, SBU officers and Ukrainian soldiers uncovered a large weapons cache near Peredilske, Luhansk oblast, of a diversionary group of the so-called Luhansk “Peoples’ Republic.” The SBU stated that the weapons were to be used for terrorist attacks on election precincts in Stanychno-Luhansk and Novoaidar districts during the parliamentary elections.
2. European Parliament prolongs duty-free access to EU market for Ukraine’s exports
European Parliament voted to prolong largely duty-free access to the EU market for Ukraine’s exports until the end of 2015, by a vote of 497 to 78, with 56 abstentions. The measure was first introduced in April; “The unilateral trade preferences remove 94.7% of EU tariffs charged on industrial goods imports from Ukraine. They also remove EU tariffs on over 80% of Ukraine’s farm produce exports. […] Statistics provided by Ukraine show that the exports from Ukraine to the EU in the first half of 2014 have increased by 25% (worth US$ 587 million), thereby offsetting the reduction in Ukraine’s exports to Russia (-24.5%).”
3. Committee of Voters of Ukraine: Voting in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
The Committee of Voters of Ukraine stated on 22 October, that in the parliamentary election on 26 October, of 21 districts in Donetsk oblast, voting will certainly take place at 8; in 4 districts it is questionable whether voting will take place, and in 9 districts, voting will certainly not take place. In Luhansk oblast, of 11 districts, voting will take place in 5 of 11 districts (one district – fully, and 4 districts – partially.
4. US Secretary of State: “Russia’s aggression in Ukraine needs to end”
Speaking in Berlin on 22 October US Secretary of State J. Kerry stated, “[T]he ability to choose our political leaders, the ability to dissent, the ability to criticize, to say what we want, to pursue whatever opportunities we desire – these freedoms are still being threatened in too many parts of the world. And they are even being threatened right here in Europe. Russia’s aggression in Ukraine needs to end. And that is why we have worked together with Germany very closely, […]in order to try to resolve this peacefully. We are grateful for their strong leadership and their partnership, as I said, and we hope that Russia, with whom we do not seek conflict, with whom we would much rather be working together to deal with the problems of the world – we hope that Russia will understand how seriously the world takes the efforts to cross the lines of sovereignty and independence of a nation.”