Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
4 March 2015, 8 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) stated at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed terrorists are deploying forces, weapons and military equipment towards Artemivsk, Volnovakha and Mariupol. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine stated at 11:30 AM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 47 times. The RNBO stated that in the last 24 hours, 1 Ukrainian soldier was killed and 1 wounded. The RNBO reported that the Russian Federation sent the 17th so-called “humanitarian” convoy of 166 trucks through the Russian-Ukrainian border. The trucks crossed through the border in violation of international law, and the Ukrainian side was only able to visually observe it crossing the border, the RNBO stated.
2. Explosion at Donetsk Mine
A methane gas explosion took place at the Zasyadko Mine in Donetsk at 5:25 AM Kyiv time. The Donetsk Oblast State Administration stated at 5 PM Kyiv time that 10 miners were killed and 16 hospitalized. 23 miners are missing as of 5 PM Kyiv time. The mine is on territory controlled by Kremlin-backed terrorists of the so-called Donetsk “Peoples’ Republic.” The Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry stated that there are 10 Rescue service groups prepared to undertake rescue efforts at the mine. “Unfortunately, despite the complexity of the accident and large number of victims, the leadership of the so-called DPR [Donetsk ‘Peoples Republic’] is not […] allowing access of rescue units.”
3. Russian court rejects Savchenko’s appeal for release
A Russian court has rejected Nadiya Savchenko’ appeal for release, the Associated Press reported. Savchenko is in the 82nd day of a hunger strike to protest her illegal detention. 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. She was elected an MP of Ukraine’s parliament in October and appointed a delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in January. On 3 March PACE President A. Brasseur stated, “Time is running out to spare the life of Nadyia Savchenko. […]If for no other reason, the Russian authorities should make a humanitarian gesture to save the life of Ms Savchenko.”
4. US Army Commander Europe: 12,000 Russian troops in eastern Ukraine
US Army Commander Europe Lt. Gen. B. Hodges stated on 3 March that the US military estimates that there are about 12,000 Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine, made up of military advisers, weapons operators and combat troops. Hodges stated that there are a further 29,000 Russian soldiers stationed in Russian-occupied Crimea, and 50,000 positioned on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine, Reuters reported.
5. Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff: We should absolutely consider providing lethal aid to Ukraine
Testifying at the US Senate Armed Services Committee on 3 March, US Army Gen. M. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated “I think we should absolutely consider providing lethal aid […] And it ought to be in the context of our NATO allies because Putin’s ultimate objective is to fracture NATO. […] There are some capability gaps that put Ukrainian forces at a real disadvantage, and I think we ought to look for opportunities to provide those capabilities,” the Washington Post reported.
6. Ukraine’s Parliament passes resolutions allowing arrest of 3 judges
Ukraine’s Parliament passed resolutions allowing the arrest of 3 judges of the Kyiv Pechersk district court – O. Tsarvych, V. Kytsyuk and S. Vovk. The Office of the General Prosecutor stated that Tsarevych and Kutsyuk are suspected of “misusing their official position, intentionally violating requirements of the law, determined knowingly unlawful decisions on administrative offenses concerning Automaidan activists and other matters.” Vovk is suspected of “committing a serious crime, namely rendering a deliberately wrongful decision in a civil case, depriving the rightful owner of property.”
7. General Prosecutor informs Kharkiv mayor of suspicion in crimes
The Office of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine stated that investigators have informed Kharkiv Mayor H. Kernes of suspicion in crimes – unlawful imprisonment or kidnapping, torture, death threats – and announced the completion of a preliminary investigation. The General Prosecutor stated that “at this time the defense is being made familiar with the materials of the proceedings, then the criminal proceedings and indictment will be sent to the Higher specialized court of Ukraine to determine jurisdiction.”
8. US President and European leaders agree to significant new sanctions
On 3 March US President B. Obama held a video conference with UK PM D. Cameron, German Chancellor A. Merkel, French President F. Hollande, Italian PM M. Renzi, and European Council President D. Tusk. The leaders “affirmed their determination to act quickly and in unison to impose significant additional costs, if serious violations of the Minsk agreements occur or if Russian-backed separatists seek to gain new territory. The leaders welcomed the Ukrainian parliament’s passage of an ambitious package of reforms and reiterated their commitment to work alongside international partners to provide Ukraine with the financial assistance it needs to stabilize its economy.”