1.Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PMKyiv time that the intensity and frequency of shelling of Ukrainian positions by Kremlin-backed terrorists has diminished significantly. The RNBO reported that the last night passed calmly, but that yesterday during the day there were provocations by Kremlin-backed terrorist groups. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported at9:15 AM Kyiv time that there were 9 such incidents of violation of the ceasefire by Kremlin-backed terrorists throughout the day yesterday. The RNBO stated that no Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours.
2. White House: President will sign Ukraine legislation passed by Congress
The Associated Press reported that White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated that US President B. Obama will sign into law legislation passed unanimously by both houses of the US Congress (Ukraine Freedom Support Act 2014 in the Senate; HR 5859 in the House of Representatives) last week that would impose further sanctions on companies tied to the Russian defense industry, and authorize the President to provide weapons to Ukraine.
3. President appoints O. Turchynov Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko appointed Oleksandr Turchynov Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO). Turchynov is the former speaker of Parliament (February-November 2014), acting President (February-June 2014) and head of the State Security Service of Ukraine (2005).
4. MFA of Ukraine: Nadia Savchenko’s health seriously deteriorating
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Nadia Savchenko has announced a hunger strike in protest of her illegal detention by the Russian Federation. “The MFA demands the immediate release of member of parliament Savchenko, whose health is seriously deteriorating. We demand that the Russian Federation stop political persecutions and release other citizens of Ukraine – political prisoners, who continue to be detained illegally in Russia.” Savchenko, a Ukrainian air force pilot, who was serving in eastern Ukraine, was abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in mid-June and taken to Russia, where she has been illegally detained an imprisoned since that time. She was elected to Ukraine’s parliament in October.
5. Ukrainian President speaks with US Vice-President
On 15 December, Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko spoke with US Vice-President J. Biden. According to the Office of the Vice-President, “President Poroshenko updated the Vice President on Ukraine’s financial situation and reaffirmed Kyiv’s commitment to continue implementing a robust program of reforms, including measures to combat corruption. The Vice President noted that the United States remains committed to working with international partners, including the International Monetary Fund, to ensure that Ukraine will have the macroeconomic support it needs as it implements its reform program. The leaders urged Russia to ensure that its separatist proxies cease blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid to conflict-affected regions of eastern Ukraine.”
6. Ruble continues to fall as Russian Central Bank raises interest rates
Despite the Russian central bank’s overnight move to raise interest rates by 6.5% to 17%, the Russian ruble continued to fall, dropping to as low as 80 rubles/USD in the early afternoon, before recovering slightly to trade at 73 rubles/USD, the Wall Street Journal reported. The ruble fell about 11% relative to the USD today after falling almost 14% yesterday. The Wall Street Journal stated, “Economists warned that the central bank appeared to be losing control of the market and might have no alternative but to restrict trading.”
Follow us on Twitter @ukrcancongress, or on Facebook at: