Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
18 June 2015, 9 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to deploy heavy weapons to the contact line and continue attempts to advance. Towards Mariupol, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions with artillery and small arms. Towards Donetsk, 2 firefights with Kremlin-backed terrorist groups numbering 30 and 150 respectively took place near Maryinka. Ukrainian forces repelled the attacks. The RNBO reported that Maryinka was shelled throughout the day. Kremlin-backed terrorists also fired on Ukrainian positions near the Donetsk Airport and Krasnohorivka. Towards Luhansk Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions at Popasne with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers) and artillery, and fired on Ukrainian positions from Popasne to Shchastya. At the Bakhmutska highway, Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions with artillery. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and fourteen were wounded.
- Parliament votes to dismiss head of Security Service of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Parliament voted to dismiss the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) V. Nalyvaichenko, at the request of the President of Ukraine. 248 of 364 MPs present supported the resolution. President Poroshenko appointed Vasyl Hrytsak acting head of the SBU, pending parliamentary confirmation. Hrytsak was head of the SBU’s Anti-terrorism center and first Deputy head of the SBU.
- New law on local elections passes first reading in Parliament
Ukraine’s Parliament adopted a new law on local elections at first reading. According to the new law, members of village councils will be elected by a majoritarian, first-past-the post system; members of oblast, raion, and city councils – will be elected by preferential party (or bloc) list proportional system; mayors of cities with over 90,000 electors – by majoritarian, absolute majority system; mayors of cities, towns, villages with less than 90,000 electors – majoritarian, first-past the post system. Local elections are expected to take place in October 2015.
- EU Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner visits Ukraine
Ukraine’s Parliament ratified the Memorandum of Understanding with the EU for the third macro-financial assistance package from the EU, totaling 1.8 billion Euros. The EU stated that it is working towards disbursing the first payment in the coming weeks. Visiting Kyiv, European Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner J. Hahn met with Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko, PM. A Yatsenyuk and other top officials. Hahn and Minister of Economic Development and Trade A. Abromavicius signed a financing agreement for 55 million Euros under the program EU Support to Ukraine to Re-launch the Economy, which will support “national, regional and local authorities and other stakeholders to develop and implement effective economic development policies, including SMEs policy. One component will be the setting up of Business Support Centres to cover 15 regions, managed by the EBRD for the development of regional capacities and training in entrepreneurial skills in at least 15 regions of Ukraine,” the EU stated.
- Belgium freezes Russian government accounts
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the “accounts of the Russian Embassy in Belgium, Permanent Missions of Russia to the EU and NATO in Brussels, as well as a number of other Russian companies in Belgium” have been frozen. The account freeze is the result of a Belgian arbitration court’s decision to allow the seizure of Russian state property in Belgium connected with the Russian government’s refusal to pay $50 billion for expropriating the Yukos oil company, according to a ruling from an international arbitration court in July 2014. Reuters reported that “The GML group of former shareholders who made the claim said then it would be hard to get Moscow to pay, so it started ‘recognition proceedings’ in Britain, the United States, Belgium and France to enforce the decision in their capitals.” In Belgium and France that means that GML “can attach assets of the Russian government to safeguard the ultimate award,” Reuters stated, quoting a representative of GML.