Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
29 December, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time, that in the last 24 hours one Ukrainian soldier was killed. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that in the last 24 hours, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 8 times with small arms, mortars and artillery. The press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) stated at 6 PM Kyiv time that throughout the day on Monday, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions near the Donetsk airport 4 times with mortars and grenade launchers, after which they attacked the Ukrainian positions. In the firefight, 3 Ukrainian soldiers were killed. 14 Kremlin-backed terrorists were killed, and one was taken prisoner.
2. Ukraine’s Parliament passes 2015 budget in overnight session
Ukraine’s Parliament passed the 2015 budget in an overnight session. 233 MPs supported the budget in a vote at 4:30 am Kyiv time. Ukrainian Prime Minister A. Yatsenyuk stated, “This budget, like all previous budgets […] is very far from being perfect. Therefore, we provide a clear rule on mandatory review of the State budget by 15 February . We will adjust it depending on the outcome of negotiations with international financial institutions. Also, a number of articles will vary depending on how we adjust the revenue and expenditure side and how we negotiate with our international creditors.” The Ministry of Finance stated that the IMF mission would arrive in Kyiv on 8 January. The budget provides 90 billion UAH for defense and security, which Minister of Finance N. Jaresko stated represents 5.2% of GDP. The budget forecasts a deficit for 2015 of 3.7 % of GDP. Parliament also adopted reforms to the tax code, and lowered the single social tax from 41% to 16%. For a full summary of the parliamentary session on 28-29 December in English, see http://rada.gov.ua/en/news/
3. Ukrainian President: when foreign troops leave our territory, there will be no conflict
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko held a year-end press conference. He stated, “The key demand of the Minsk Protocol, which would quickly bring peace to our country, is very simple – control of the border and withdrawal of foreign troops from our territory. When the troops are withdrawn, there will be no conflict. It does not exist. It is contrived. […] This conflict has been brought into our country from outside and those who have brought it, occupiers and aggressors, must leave our country.” Answering a journalist’s question, Poroshenko stated, “There is no military solution to the Donbas problem. The conflict can be solved exclusively by political means.”
4. Ukrainian President signs law on abolishing non-aligned (non-bloc) status of Ukraine
President Poroshenko signed into the law the bill passed by Parliament on 23 December abolishing Ukraine’s non-aligned (non-bloc) status. Among other provisions, the law states that the basic principles of Ukraine’s foreign policy are “increased cooperation with NATO with the goal of meeting criteria necessary for attaining membership in this organization.”
5. Ukraine-Germany-France-Russia talks to take place 15 January in Astana
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko announced that a preliminary agreement has been reached to hold a meeting with German Chancellor A. Merkel, French President F. Hollande and Russian President V. Putin in Astana, Kazakhstan. According to the President’s press service, a meeting involving the Presidents of the United States, France, Russia, the Chancellor of Germany and leaders of the EU is also under consideration.