Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
5 January 2015, 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 there has been an increase in armed provocations by Kremlin-backed terrorists. In addition to small arms, Kremlin-backed terrorists used tanks and artillery against Ukrainian positions. The RNBO reported that Ukrainian forces repelled an attack by Kremlin-backed terrorists near Hranitne and Starohnativka, Donetsk oblast. The RNBO reported that personnel and military equipment continues to be transferred from the Russian Federation into Ukrainian territory, including Russian contract soldiers disguised as so-called “rebels.” The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed. One Ukrainian soldier was wounded. The press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) reported at 6 PM Kyiv time that throughout the day, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 10 times with small arms, grenade launchers, mortars, tanks and artillery.
2. Nadia Savchenko’s hunger strike enters fourth week
Ukrainian MP and delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Nadia Savchenko, illegally detained in Russia since June, has not eaten since 13 December. She continues a hunger strike in protest of her illegal imprisonment, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported.
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 and imprisoned since that time.
KHPG stated, “It is now 21 days since she took food, yet her lawyers have been refused access and the prison is not passing on letters. Both the authorities and pro-Kremlin media have gone silent about the 34-year-old former military pilot.” Today is a day of action in support of Savchenko on Twitter – #FreeSavchenko is being used to show support for Savchenko’s immediate release from illegal detention.
3. Reuters: Germany, France to participate in Astana talks only if there is “progress”
Reuters reported that both Germany and France will participate in talks with Ukraine and Russia in Astana, Kazakhstan (talks involving Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko, German Chancellor A. Merkel, French President F. Hollande and Russian President V. Putin may take place on 15 January) only if there is “progress.” Reuters reported that Chancellor Merkel’s spokesman stated, “I can’t say yet if and when such a meeting will take place. Such a meeting only makes sense if we can make real progress. We have a very clear idea of what constitutes real progress. This would be first and foremost achieving the full implementation of the Minsk peace accord and a genuine and lasting ceasefire.” According to Reuters, French President Hollande stated in an interview with France Inter Radio, “I will go to Astana on the 15th of January on one condition, which is that there should be a possibility of making new progress. If it’s just to meet and talk without making any actual advances then there’s no point. But I think there will be progress.” Diplomats from Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia are meeting in Berlin today, Reuters reported.
4. Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine: Canada supports NATO open door policy
Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine R. Waschuk, stated in an interview on 3 January with Radio Svoboda that, “[…] especially with the appointment of [Ukrainian Defense Minister] General Poltorak we see much more openness, much more readiness to review old methods and borrow some successful formulas or techniques from partners. We hope that precisely this interoperability of Ukraine’s armed forces and Canada’s and other alliance members’ armed forces will raise the level of mutual trust to the extent that over time, the question of Ukraine and the Alliance will become less symbolic and more practical.” (Question)But Canada remains a country that welcomes Ukraine’s NATO aspirations? “It welcomes [the aspirations] and supports the open door policy of NATO. Every Euro-Atlantic country has the right to choose and to join this [Alliance].” The full interview is available in Ukrainian at http://www.radiosvoboda.org/
5. Ukrainian PM to meet with German Chancellor
Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk will meet with German Chancellor A. Merkel on 8 January at the Federal Chancellery, the German government announced.