Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
18 March 2015, 6 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that Kremlin-backed terrorists attacked Ukrainian forces 11 times overnight. The press center of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) reported that Kremlin-backed terrorists attacked Opytne, Avdiyvka and Pisky and in the Mariupol area Shyrokine, with armed provocations near Chermalyk. One Ukrainian soldier was killed, another five have been injured in the past 24 hours. ATO spokesman Col. A. Lysenko reported on the series of parliamentary decisions regarding the conflict in the East of Ukraine. The Parliament of Ukraine voted in favor of recognizing militant-held areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as occupied territories. Also, the parliament approved a resolution to address the United Nations Security Council and the European Council to call for a peacekeeping mission to Ukraine. “Such a decision would lead to a prompt solution of the conflict in Donbas and allow (us) to implement the Minsk agreements,” the ATO spokesperson concluded.
2. Ukraine completes withdrawal of heavy weapons from contact line
The Ukrainian military have implemented a key term of the Minsk ceasefire agreement. Ukrainian news agency TSN reported that Ukraine’s armed forces have completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons and equipment from the Donbas region frontlines, according to Ukraine’s Defence Minister S. Poltorak. “Ukraine’s Armed Forces have fulfilled all the necessary obligations under the Minsk agreement – all heavy weapons and equipment have been withdrawn.” The February 12 Minsk peace plan envisages the withdrawal of heavy weapons on both sides of the frontlines in eastern Ukraine to create a demilitarized buffer zone as part of efforts to bring the conflict to a halt.
3. Canada Provides humanitarian aid for Ukrainian military
The Government of Canada provided the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense 60 night vision devices today. Minister of Defense of Ukraine S. Poltorak stated, “I would like to thank the Canadian Government for serious support of the Ukrainian army. We urgently need these night vision sights for our units in (the) east of Ukraine.” According to Minister Poltorak, volunteers and Canadian representatives control the process of inventory of all the humanitarian assets. Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine R. Waschuk stated, “These devices as the whole aid are a part of the coordinated program implemented by our Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs. […]These sights will enable Ukrainian soldiers to see at night. We try to support the defense effectiveness of Ukraine and contribute to its peaceful life.” According to the Ministry of Defense, the Government of Canada provided the Ukrainian army with 248 thermal sights (CAD$1 mln). In an unrelated announcement, the Government of Canada provided $7.1 million in funding for Ukraine’s further democratic development through funding for: the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); National Democratic Institute (NDI); and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation, Hon. Christian Paradis stated, “Canada continues to be a world leader in helping to advance democracy, strengthen human rights and support sustainable economic growth in Ukraine. We will continue to work with the Government of Ukraine to assist with the reforms needed to realize the country’s full economic potential and build a sound public institutional and legal environment for closer integration with Europe.” The news release is available at: http://www.international.gc.
4. Yatseniuk sets conditions for elections in Donbas, Elections in Donbas will be possible only when Russian gangsters leave the territory of Ukraine.
Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk stated on Wednesday, “The conduct of elections in Donetsk and Luhansk regions is possible on fulfillment of several conditions. The first and foremost requirement in accordance with the Minsk agreements is that Russian gangsters have to leave the territory of Ukraine and enable Ukraine to hold fair and transparent elections in line with international standards,” the PM explained.
5. National anti-corruption agency set up in Ukraine
The Ukrainian government has set up a National anti-corruption agency. Justice minister P Petrenko announced this at a press conference. “Today, the government has adopted the decision to set up the National anti-corruption agency. Petrenko noted that in the near future the Parliament will have to consider and pass the law on the regulations for the competition committee, which will form the public council at the National anti-corruption agency.
6. Size of Ukrainian armed forces to increase to 250,000 within month – Poltorak
The size of the Ukrainian armed forces will increase to 250,000 people within a month. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak told journalists, “As for the term when the planned number of 250,000 soldiers of the Ukrainian armed forces has to be reached, I can say that it will happen in a month,” Poltorak said. According to Poltorak, a total of 230,000 people are now serving in the Ukrainian armed forces.