Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
19 February, 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reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that yesterday at least 2475 Ukrainian soldiers and almost 200 military vehicles were withdrawn from Debaltseve. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine stated that during the withdrawal from Debaltseve, Ukrainian soldiers were fired upon with Russian artillery. As a result, 13 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 157 were wounded. 90 Ukrainian soldiers have been taken prisoner by Kremlin-backed terrorists, and 82 Ukrainian soldiers are missing in action. The RNBO reported that since the announcement of the ceasefire on 15 February, Ukrainian positions have been shelled 253 times by Kremlin-backed terrorists.
2. Ukraine to appeal to UN for peacekeeping mission to Ukraine; Ukraine will not agree to Russia’s participation in any peacekeeping mission
On 18 February, the National Security and Defense Council (RNBO), at a meeting chaired by Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko, decided to appeal to the United Nations for a peacekeeping mission to Ukraine. Poroshenko stated, “The best format for us is an EU policing mission. This would be the most effective guarantor of security in the situation that has developed, in which Russia and those it supports do not keep their word for peace.” At a press conference following a meeting with EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn today, Poroshenko stated, “Russia, as an aggressor country, cannot and will not participate in any such peacekeeping mission. Ukraine will not agree to such a peacekeeping format, which carries the threat of legalizing the thousands-strong Russian military presence – we have enough such ‘peacekeepers’.”
3. General Prosecutor of Ukraine opens case against former Party of Regions MP & parliamentary faction head O. Yefremov for “incitement of national hatred”
On 18 February, the Office of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine stated that a case has been opened against Oleksandr Yefremov under Par. 3 Art. 161 of the Criminal Code – “intentional acts, directed at inciting national, racial or religious enmity and hatred, causing massive loss of life” against Oleksandr Yefremov, former head of the Party of Regions parliamentary faction.
4. US Senators McCain, Graham: Persisting with illusion of ceasefire will only give Putin cover to plan his next act of aggression inside Ukraine
In a 18 February statement, US Senators J. McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), said, “Putin has achieved his military objectives in Debaltseve, and we fear that Western leaders, rather than facing the harsh reality of Russian actions, will allow Putin to claim that he is abiding by the terms of the ceasefire. In reality, he will use the weeks and months ahead to consolidate his latest gains, to continue arming and training his proxy army, to destabilize the Ukrainian government and economy, to try to divide the transatlantic alliance, and to prepare for his next military offensive, which will likely occur in Mariupol. Persisting with the illusion of a ceasefire will only give Putin the cover he wants to plan his next act of aggression inside of Ukraine. And yet, Western leaders, including the President of the United States, continue to cling to any available excuse not to provide defensive arms and other much-needed military assistance to the Ukrainian government. As President Obama continues to ‘consider’ lethal assistance, Putin continues to act with lethal force to achieve his military objectives in Ukraine. Ukrainians have the will to resist this aggression, and are not asking anyone to do their fighting for them. They only ask that the defenders of democracy give them the means to resist the onslaught of a dictator. Shame on us for failing them.”