Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
20 February 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Day of Commemoration of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred
Today is the Day of Commemoration of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred (Небесна Сотня). Ukrainians honor the memory of those who fell during the Revolution of Dignity (November 2013-February 2014), when the regime of former President Yanukovych opened fire against its own people. At a ceremony presenting posthumously the State Award of Hero of Ukraine to the Heavenly Hundred, to their families, Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko stated, “From those tragic events when every one of you lost people closest to you – and Ukraine – its best sons and daughters – a whole year has passed. But the deep pain from this irreplaceable loss has not passed, and never will. The entire country bows their head before the memory of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred. I cannot finds the words to comfort you, because it is impossible to find such words. These words simply do not exist. From today and forever more on February 20 Ukraine will commemorate the Day of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, who gave their lives during the Revolution of Dignity, defending Ukraine. Because of their self-sacrifice, we live and breathe, and have a unique chance to change the country for the better. […]The battle for the right to live in a truly European country, which began on Maidan, continues today, now in the Donbas. More than 4,000 members of the Maidan self-defense have gone to the front, defending Ukraine from Russia’s aggression in the Donbas. […] In the name of the Ukrainian people – a sincere thank you, mothers and fathers, for raising such brave and wonderful sons and daughters. And a low bow to the sons and daughters, who lost their parents. […] Despite all difficulties and challenges, we will be victorious! Because God is with us, and truth is on our side.”
2. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in violation of the Minsk agreement on a ceasefire, Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to shell Ukrainian positions towards Donetsk and Mariupol. The Ministry of Defense reported at 10:00 AM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 49 times. Towards Donetsk, Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Adviyivka and Tonenke, and shelled Kurakhove with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers). The RNBO reported that Kremlin-backed terrorists attacked a Ukrainian position near Pisky; the attack was repelled. The RNBO reported that since the beginning of the ceasefire agreed to in Minsk, Kremlin-backed terrorists and Russian soldiers have shelled Ukrainian positions 302 times. The RNBO reported that the Russian Federation continues to send military equipment and personnel into Ukraine. More than 20 tanks, more than 10 artillery installations and 15 trucks crossed the border into Ukraine towards Novoazovsk.
3. State Security Service of Ukraine: Russia involved in crimes on Maidan
The State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) stated that it has “evidence of the presence in Ukraine, during the events on Maidan, of ‘curators’ of the crimes – generals of the FSB [Federal Security Service, of the Russian Federation], and also Russian sniper groups, who fired at protestors, and at Ministry of Internal Affairs [officers].” SBU head V. Nalyvchenko stated, “The crimes that the authorities planned against their own citizens, they didn’t plan alone – but with the participation of the special services of the country, which now is the aggressor country.”
4. Ukrainian doctors refused permission to examine Nadiya Savchenko; Savchenko refuses glucose injections
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reports that Ukrainian doctors continue to be refused permission to examine Nadiya Savchenko, who is now in the 70th day of a hunger strike in protest of her illegal imprisonment by the Russian Federation. Her lawyer, N. Polozov stated Thursday that she has refused any more glucose injections; the inserted tubes led to an inflammation of the veins, making it impossible to insert any more. “The prison staff propose giving her some kind of ‘protein drink’. She is refusing to take any food at all, and has stated clearly that she would view any attempt to force-feed her as a form of torture,” KHPG stated. 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 and appointed a PACE delegate in January.
5. US State Department: If Russia and separatists continue to flout agreements, it will result in more costs and further isolation
On 19 February, US State Department spokesperson J. Psaki stated, “The United States condemns continuing attacks by Russia-backed separatists in and around Debaltseve, Mariupol, and other locations in eastern Ukraine which violate the ceasefire and flout the Minsk agreements. The Ukrainian Government reports that Russia-backed separatists have violated the ceasefire more than 250 times since the ceasefire took effect on February 15th, resulting in more than 10 killed and hundreds wounded. […]These actions are all contrary to what Russia and the separatists agreed to several times in Minsk. We call on Russia and the separatists it backs to stop their attacks immediately, withdraw heavy weapons, halt the flow of fighters and equipment from Russia into Ukraine, allow the OSCE monitors to do their job, and proceed with full implementation of their Minsk commitments. If Russia and the separatists it backs continue to flout the agreements they signed, it will result in more costs and further isolation.”