Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
16 April 2015, 9 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed terrorists continued to fire on Ukrainian positions, including with mortars and artillery that were supposed to be withdrawn from the contact line according to the Minsk ceasefire agreements. The areas of most intense confrontation were Shyrokyne (towards Mariupol), near the Donetsk airport and suburbs of Horlivka, and Donetskyi, near the Bakhmutivska highway, in Luhansk oblast. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and six were wounded. The press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) reported that on 16 April, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 25 times, mostly with small arms, as well as with artillery and mortars.
2. Former NATO Secretary General: Russia of today is more dangerous than the Soviet Union
Former NATO Secretary General (2009-2014) A. Fogh Rasmussen stated in an interview with Newsweek published on 15 April, “Russia has adopted this approach and it is a mix of very well-known conventional warfare and new, more sophisticated propaganda and disinformation campaigns. […] Even during the Soviet time they were hesitant to talk about nuclear conflict. Now we see an open debate. In that respect the Russia of today is more dangerous than the Soviet Union. The USSR was more predictable than the current leadership.” The interview is available online at http://www.newsweek.com/2015/
3. KHPG: Nadiya Savchenko facing pressure to “confess”
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) stated that “Nadiya Savchenko has been visited by Russian MPs trying to persuade her to ‘confess’, be convicted and then – supposedly – pardoned. There seems no chance that she, Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko [Ukrainian citizens also illegally imprisoned in the Russian Federation] will agree, but every reason for Moscow to want to avoid the lawlessness of each of these cases on public trial. It is no accident that Savchenko’s investigators tried to get the trial held behind closed doors. They have a lot to hide. […]Vera Savchenko, Nadiya’s sister explained on Wednesday that, according to her sister’s lawyers, there have recently been a number of visitations from deputies of Russia’s State Duma. The MPs do not name themselves […]. The message they are passing on is that Nadiya should admit guilt, get a sentence and then be pardoned. This supposedly is needed to reconcile Ukraine with Russia.” 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.
4. Former MP and pro-Moscow journalist shot and killed
On 15 April, former Party of Regions MP Oleh Kalashnykov, who was allegedly involved in organizing the Anti-Maidan protests and so-called titushky in Kyiv in late 2013-early 2014 was found dead from gunshot wounds. Prominent journalist Oles Buzyna, known for his pro-Moscow views, was also shot and killed in Kyiv today. Acting Interior Affairs Minister V. Paskal reported to Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko on the murders. The President “emphasized the need for prompt and transparent investigation of those murders,” Poroshenko’s press service reported. “It is evident that these crimes have the same origin. Their nature and political sense are clear. It is a deliberate provocation that plays in favor of our enemies. It is aimed at destabilizing the internal political situation in Ukraine and discrediting the political choice of the Ukrainian people,” Poroshenko stated.
5. Ukrainian President appoints Artem Sytnyk Director of Anti-Corruption Bureau
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko appointed Artem Sytnyk Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Sytnyk, 35, has “ten years of experience in the investigation of corruption cases.” Sytnyk resigned from the Prosecutors’ Office in 2011 “in order to demonstrate his disapproval of principles that then prevailed in laws enforcement and supervisory bodies,” Poroshenko’s press service stated.
6. Leader of Kremlin-backed terrorists threatens to take Mariupol
In an interview published by Bloomberg, Kremlin-backed terrorist leader A. Zakharchenko, stated that Mariupol will eventually be part of his “people’s republic”. “It’s easy to outflank it and they will surrender,” Bloomberg quoted him as stating. “We thought, still think and will think of ourselves as a part of the Soviet Union, of Russia,” Zakharchenko stated.
7. Putin continues to deny presence of Russian troops in Ukraine
In his annual “Direct Line,” call-in show, Russian President V. Putin continued to deny the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. He stated, “Finally, the question of whether or not our troops are in Ukraine? I say to you directly and definitely: there are no Russian troops in Ukraine.” In 2014, as Russian troops invaded Crimea, President Putin also denied their presence there, before subsequently admitting to their presence, and then later stating that he personally oversaw Russia’s Crimea operation.
8. US Mission to OSCE: No mystery why ceasefire has been continually violated – Russia’s military are still in Ukraine
US Permanent Representative to the OSCE D. Baer stated at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, “There is no mystery as to why the ceasefire has been continuously violated, beginning with the brutal attack on Debaltseve and continuing through the fighting we are currently seeing in Shyrokyne and near Donetsk. The ceasefire has been violated because Russia continues to maintain a military presence in eastern Ukraine and continues to provide the separatists with training and weapons.”