Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
15 May 2015, 8 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that at Shyrokyne (towards Mariupol) clashes continue with Kremlin-backed terrorists who are firing on Ukrainian positions with small arms and artillery. Towards Donetsk, Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to deploy artillery and tanks to the contact line. Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions near the Donetsk airport, Maryinka, and near Kamyanka. In the suburbs of Horlivka, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions with a tank, mortars and an armored infantry vehicle. Towards Luhansk, there were a series of clashes with Kremlin-backed terrorists near Shchastya and the Bakhumtska highway. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 2 were wounded.
- Russian occupying authorities ban Crimean Tatars from holding commemorations of Stalin’s deportation of Crimean Tatars – leaders issued “warnings”
The authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea have banned the traditional remembrance commemoration of the Crimean Tatars on the anniversary of the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatar People on 18 May. The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported that two members of the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar representative assembly, have received formal “warnings” from the prosecutor. Zair Smedlyav, Crimean Tatar activist and representative stated “In not much over a year the Crimean Tatar people have lost what they restored for so long. Teaching in the Crimean Tatar language has been reduced in schools, they’ve closed some Crimean Tatar newspapers, taken the only Crimean Tatar radio station Meidan off air, as well as the only Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR. There is no end to arrests of Crimean Tatar activists. Those guilty of abducting and killing people have not been punished. Those who are now in power are afraid of the people, and most afraid of Crimean Tatars, and this is the reason for the ban on our holding public events,” KHPG reported. 3. EBRD: Ukraine’s GDP expected to contract by 7.5% this year, recovery of 3% likely in 2016
On 14 May, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) forecasted that “the economic disruption in the east of the country, the negative impact of the depreciation of the hryvnia, tight economic policies, energy tariffs hikes and a continued contraction of credit are expected to maintain pressures on the economy this year. GDP is now expected to shrink by 7.5 per cent this year – a worsening of the outlook since January, when a five per cent contraction was forecast. Assuming that the security situation does not deteriorate, that the IMF programme remains on track and other significant risks do not materialize, Ukraine is likely to register a recovery of around 3 per cent in 2016. Faster and successful reforms and abatement of the geopolitical risks may improve the growth outlook.”
- Ukraine PM on restructuring of Ukraine’s debt
Speaking in Ukraine’s Parliament, Ukrainian PM A. Yatsenyuk stated that the Ukrainian government has turned to external creditors with a “clear proposal regarding the conditions and process of debt restructuring. And we ask and insist that external debt holders understand the current situation and accept Ukraine’s proposal. […] The time has come for assistance for Ukraine from its creditors.” Yatsenyuk stated that when former President Yanukovych came to power, Ukraine’s external debt was 31 billion USD, and when Yanukovych fled the country in 2014, Ukraine’s external debt was 72 billion USD. “In three years the Yanukovych regime, and those, who represent Yanukovych today in the Opposition Bloc, the former head of Yanukovych’s Presidential Administration, […] his former allies, took 40 billion USD in loans,” Yatsenyuk stated. In the last year, Yatsenyuk said, Ukraine obtained 9 billion USD in credit from the IMF, G7 and other international partners, while paying out 14 billion USD to external creditors. According to the new IMF program, Ukraine will obtain 25 billion USD in funding – 17.5 billion USD from the IMF and 7.5 billion USD from the US, EU, and other international contributors. “The IMF has clearly stated, that the amount of financing required is not 25 billion USD, but a minimum of 40 billion USD over three years. And it is these 15 billion USD, needed as direct injections into Ukraine’s economy, which we are obligated to restructure,” Yatsenyuk said.
- US Mission to OSCE: Russia is hindering a peaceful future for all Ukraine
At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 14 May, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “It is Russia’s actions, in fact, that are hindering efforts toward a peaceful future for all of Ukraine. Russia maintains military command and control elements in eastern Ukraine, and coordinates joint military operations with the separatists. Russia continues to support and train the separatists. These actions are clearly contrary to the Minsk agreements. We welcome the inaugural meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group’s working groups, while stressing that their success rests on the full implementation of the Minsk agreements through a genuine ceasefire and the verifiable withdrawal of heavy weapons. We urge the members of the working groups to take immediate and concrete actions that ensure the full implementation of Minsk. The test of success is not in the holding of meetings, but in progress on the ground. […] In closing, let me remind colleagues that as we discuss the immediate situation in eastern Ukraine, we should not forget that this crisis began when Russian troops entered Crimea in 2014. Russia must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and end its occupation of Crimea.”