Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
20 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 attackedUkrainian forces and shelled Ukrainian positions a dozen times overnight using weapons that are inside the 25 kilometer buffer zone that militants should have cleared by early March in violation of the Minsk 2 agreement. The Ukrainian army did not return fire. According to RNBO spokesperson A. Lysenko, over the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed, and three were injured.
2. EU agrees Russia sanctions to stay until Ukraine peace terms met
European Union leaders agreed on Thursday that economic sanctions imposed on Russia will remain in place until the Minsk 2 ceasefire agreement is fully implemented, effectively extending them to the end of the year if need be. The position was reached at the EU summit in Brussels maintains EU unity on sanctions against Moscow over its role in the Ukraine conflict. EU Leaders “agreed that the duration of economic sanctions will be clearly linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, bearing in mind that this is only foreseen by the end of 2015”, Tusk told a news conference. EU leaders were also “ready to take further decisions if necessary”, he said, in a clear threat of additional sanctions.A formal, legal decision on whether to extend sanctions on Russia’s financial, defense and energy sectors that expire in July will be taken at the next EU summit in June.
3. State Department comments on Russia’s military activities in Crimea
On March 19, 2015, J Psaki stated at a US State Department briefing in response to Russia’s statements on providing nuclear weapons in illegally occupied Crimea, “Any Russian military exercises or weapons deployments in Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, would further undermine securing a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to a crisis that Russia started with its forcible seizure and ongoing occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula,” stated Psaki. “We reiterate that Crimea remains a sovereign Ukrainian territory.”