Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
23 April 2015, 8 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that the number of violations of the terms of the ceasefire by Kremlin-backed terrorists increased in the last 24 hours. Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions 18 times with mortars, twice with artillery and three times with tanks. The areas of most intense confrontation were Shyrokyne (towards Mariupol); Opytne, Adviyivka and Pisky (towards Donetsk); the suburbs of Horlivka; and Shchastya (towards Luhansk). The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven were wounded. The press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) reported that frommidnight to 6 PM Kyiv time Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 20 times, mostly with small arms and mortars. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine reported that today at approximately 1 PM Kyiv time Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled residential areas of Avdiyivka, Donetsk oblast, with mortars. At least 26 shells were fired into the residential areas. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that some of the shells directly hit residential buildings. According to preliminary information nobody was killed. The number of injured and the extent of the damage is being established.
2. US State Department: “Combined Russian-separatist forces continue to violate the terms of the ‘Minsk 2’ agreement signed in mid-February”
On 22 April, US State Department spokesperson M. Harf stated, “Combined Russian-separatist forces continue to violate the terms of the ‘Minsk 2’ agreement signed in mid-February. Combined Russian-separatist forces maintain a sizable number of artillery pieces and multiple rocket launchers within areas prohibited under the Minsk accords. The Russian military has deployed additional air defense systems into eastern Ukraine and moved several of these nearer the front lines. This is the highest amount of Russian air defense equipment in eastern Ukraine since August. Russian and separatist forces also have a large concentration of command and control equipment in eastern Ukraine. […]Russia is also building up its forces along its border with Ukraine. After maintaining a relatively steady presence along the border, Russia is sending additional units there. These forces will give Russia its largest presence on the border since October 2014. Russia has also redeployed military elements near Belgorod, opposite Kharkiv. Russia has continued to ship heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine since the “Minsk 2” ceasefire took effect on 15 February.”
3. Escalation of repression in Russian-occupied Crimea
Yesterday, a court in Russian-occupied Crimea ordered the detention of TV ATR cameraman Eskender Nebiyev, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported. TV ATR, the Crimean Tatar television station, was shut down by the Russian occupying authorities in Crimea earlier this month. Nebiyev covered pre-annexation demonstrations in Crimea, on 26 February 2014. The demonstration was organized by leaders of the Mejlis (representative body of the Crimean Tatar People) to prevent an attempt to seize control of the Crimean Parliament. Nebiyev has been charged with participating in mass disturbances, and could face up to 8 years in prison. “This new arrest marks a further escalation in repressive measures in Crimea under Russian occupation with a clear message being sent to media representatives that they can face prosecution for coverage of demonstrations […] In February 2014, Russia ran roughshod over international law by invading and occupying Ukrainian Crimea. It is now demonstrating the same willingness to re-write history and flout even its own legislation in this latest offensive against Crimean Tatars and all who oppose Russian occupation,” KHPG stated.