Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
4 December, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that the last 24 hours saw a record number of instances of shelling or attacks by Kremlin-backed terrorists on Ukrainian positions – 71. Ukrainian positions at the Donetsk airport were shelled twice from tanks and artillery. Kremlin-backed terrorists continued shelling Ukrainian positions with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers), artillery, and mortars towards Debaltsevo, Shchastya, the Bakhmutivka highway, and Pervomaisk (Luhansk oblast). The RNBO stated that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and 13 wounded. Major General O. Rozmaznin, of the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, stated that over 32,000 people are fighting against Ukraine’s armed forces in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts – including 6-8,000 who are soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation – the rest are mercenaries, representatives of so-called “Cossacks,” or members of illegally armed groups. Rozmaznin stated that most of them came to Ukraine from Russian territory.
2. Poroshenko discusses “Day of Quiet” in ATO zone for 9 December
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko met with security officials – Ministers of Defense, Interior, heads of the State Security Service, State Border Service and the Deputy Commander of the National Guard – Poroshenko’s press service stated that the participants of the meeting discussed the tasks and measures necessary to implement the Minsk agreements and the “Day of Quiet,” in the zone of the Anti-Terrorism Operation, which is to begin on 9 December.
3. Parliament elects Deputy Speakers, confirms committee heads and memberships
Parliament elected Andriy Parubiy (Peoples’ Front) as First Deputy Speaker, and Oksana Syroid (Samopomich) as Deputy Speaker, with 313 MPs voting for. Parliament also confirmed the heads, deputy heads, secretaries and memberships of parliamentary committees. 249 MPs supported the resolution on formation of parliamentary committees.
4. Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister: risk that OSCE may become irrelevant body
Ukrainian Foreign Minister P. Klimkin stated at the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, that while Ukraine appreciates the efforts of the OSCE in Ukraine, “at the same time, the general effort of the OSCE instruments, including those from the political, military toolbox used in response to the crisis has been very limited. It means the organization should take more decisive measures to identify solutions aimed at responding effectively to existing and emerging challenges. Otherwise [there is a] risk that the OSCE will slip into oblivion as an irrelevant body.”
5. US Secretary of State at OSCE Ministerial Council
At the OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Basel, US Secretary of State J. Kerry stated, “The international community is united in condemning the violence that has led to so much needless suffering in Ukraine, but the violence continues. Regrettably, Russia continues to supply new weapons and increase support for armed separatists. In doing so, it fails to meet its international and OSCE obligations and to live up to an agreement that it actually negotiated and signed. The result is damage to its credibility, and its own citizens wind up paying a steep economic and human price, including the price of hundreds of Russian soldiers who fight and die in a country where they had and have no right to be. So let me emphasize: The United States and countries that support Ukraine’s sovereignty and rights do not seek confrontation. It is not our design or desire that we see a Russia isolated through its own actions. In fact, we are convinced that Moscow could rebuild trust and relationships if it simply helps to calm turbulent waters, if it takes steps now to implement the Minsk protocol in letter and spirit, end support for violence in eastern Ukraine, withdraw Russian weapons and fighters, use its influence on the separatists to release all hostages, guarantee safe and unfettered access for OSCE monitors, cooperate in securing and respecting the entire internationally-recognized Ukrainian-Russian border, and end the illegal occupation of Crimea.”
6. Putin addresses Federal Assembly
Russian President V. Putin delivered his annual address to the Federal Assembly. Speaking about sanctions imposed on Russia, he stated that “they are not just a knee-jerk reaction on behalf of the United States or its allies to our position regarding the events and the coup in Ukraine, or even the so-called Crimean Spring. I’m sure that if these events had never happened – I want to point this out specifically for you as politicians sitting in this auditorium – if none of that had ever happened, they would have come up with some other excuse to try to contain Russia’s growing capabilities, affect our country in some way, or even take advantage of it.” He claimed, oddly, that Crimea had the same “civilizational and even sacral importance for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism.” He also stated that “Every nation has an inalienable sovereign right to determine its own development path, choose allies and political regimes, create an economy and ensure its security. Russia has always respected these rights and always will. This fully applies to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.” He did not explain how his invasion and occupation of Crimea and his invasion of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts fit into his “respect” of the rights of the Ukrainian people.