Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
19 August 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Stanytsia Luhanska, Shchastya and Krymske with mortars and grenade launchers. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Zaytseve (near Horlivka) with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Avdiyivka with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers). Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Maryinka with artillery, injuring a five-month old infant – the child was taken to hospital in Dnipropetrovsk, where she is in stable condition. South of Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Novomykhaylivka and Berezove with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions west and south of Dokuchayevsk with artillery. Further south, near Chermalyk and Shyrokyne, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three were wounded.
- Russian prosecutor asks for 23-year sentence in Sentsov case
The prosecution asked a Russian military court, where Ukrainian filmmaker O. Sentsov and activist O. Kolchenko are on trial on fabricated terrorism charges, for a 23-year sentence for Sentsov and a 12-year sentence for Kolchenko, Radio Svoboda reported. Sentsov and Kolchenko have been illegally imprisoned in Russia for over a year. In his closing statement to the court, Sentsov stated, “Neither I nor Sasha [O. Kolchenko] will ask you for anything, asking for leniency here – everything is understood. A court of occupiers cannot be fair by definition. Nothing personal, your honour! […] A big betrayal sometimes starts from a little cowardice. […] When they put a bag on your head, beat you, and after a half hour you’re ready to renounce all your convictions, incriminate yourself in anything, incriminate other people, if only they’ll stop beating you. I don’t know what your beliefs are worth, if you’re not ready to suffer or die for them. I’m very happy that [Gennadiy] Afanasyev [witness for the prosecution who renounced his testimony, stating it was obtained under duress and pressure] was able to right himself. He stumbled, but in the end he understood that there’s still a chance and did a very courageous, very correct thing. I was very surprised by this and I am happy for him. Not because there will be a big scandal, a problem – and we will be acquitted. No, this will not happen. I’m happy for him, because he will live on and be able to consider himself a man, who is not a coward. Despite the fact that he continues to be threatened, pressured, beaten. But he has already made his choice, the correct choice, and there is no return from this. […] There is a part of the Russian population, that knows very well what’s happening, that doesn’t believe in the tales of your agitprop, that understands […] what terrible crimes your leadership commits, but for some reason these people are afraid. They think that nothing can be changed, that everything will be as it is, that the system can’t be broken – that you are alone, there are few of us, that we’ll all be walled up in prison, killed, destroyed. […] And they sit underground, like mice. […] We also had a criminal regime, but we stood up against it. […] In the end we won. The same thing will happen with you sooner or later. In what form, I don’t know, and I don’t want anyone to suffer, I only wish that you no longer be ruled by criminals. […] So the only thing I can wish for the […] informed part of the Russian population – learn not to be afraid!” A video of Sentsov’s full statement in the original Russian and a transcript translation into Ukrainian is available at http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/27197698.html. Russia has ignored repeated calls by the international community for the immediate release of Sentsov, Kolchenko, Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko, and other Ukrainian citizens illegally imprisoned by the Russian Federation.
- European Film Academy calls for Sentsov’s immediate release
In a letter to Russian President V. Putin, initiated by the Board of European Film Academy, several prominent European filmmakers stated, “Having observed the trial and especially the fact that the key witness for the prosecution has retracted his testimony as ‘given under pressure and duress’, we are shocked that the accusation of Oleg Sentsov having committed ‘crimes of a terrorist nature’ is still being upheld. In the light of these circumstances, we respectfully call upon you to ensure the safety of Oleg Sentsov; to have the charges dropped due to insufficient evidence; to have the detained released immediately and unconditionally; to ensure complete rehabilitation of the detained; to instigate a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the apparently arbitrary detention by the FSB and Oleg Sentsov’s statements about torture in order to bring all those responsible to justice. The full text of the letter is available at https://www.europeanfilmacademy.org/News-detail.155.0.html?&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=321&cHash=48169eac8847db98ac671b911b8c21ea
- Ukrainian President to meet with German Chancellor, French President on 24 August
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko will meet with German Chancellor A. Merkel and French President F. Hollande in Berlin on 24 August, to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine and the Minsk agreements. Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration K. Yelisieiev stated that “Against the backdrop of active and purposeful steps by Ukraine aimed at the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements in all dimensions – political, security, humanitarian and socio-economic, one can notice deliberate attempts of Russia to torpedo the peace process.”
- US Mission to OSCE on Russian escalation in eastern Ukraine
US Representative to the OSCE D. Baer stated at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, “[S]ince our last meeting, combined Russian-separatist forces have sharply escalated their attacks on Ukrainian positions across the ceasefire line at various locations along the line of contact. On any particular day in the past month, the Ukrainian government reports that its forces have sustained over 100 incidents of shelling or shooting in a 24-hour period, making this the most intense period for attacks by combined Russian-separatist forces since their February offense against Debaltseve – their original, immediate, massive violations of the Minsk Package of Measures. […] At the same time that combined Russian-separatist forces increase their attacks on Ukrainian positions, Russian political leaders and media attempt to fool and dissemble by raising alarm about a so-called ‘impending Ukrainian offensive.’ Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov did so during an August 17 press conference, when he claimed that Ukrainian actions ‘look like preparation for an offensive.’ Colleagues, let’s be clear: there is a victim and an aggressor here. And Russia’s aggression against Ukraine continues unabated in an attempt to use violence to control Ukraine and to deprive people living in Ukraine of a stronger future. Our Russian colleague’s statement today that ‘another armed provocation by Ukraine looked just like last August’ is laughable and outrageous: last August is when Russian forces invaded Ukraine, causing the tragedy at Ilovaysk. We hope Russia will walk back this ongoing escalation.”
- Ukrainian MP from Donetsk oblast– We want Ukraine to be a European country, not a Putin country
On 17 August, the Atlantic Council published an interview by Diane Francis with Ukrainian MP Dmytro Lubinets, elected in October 2014 in Volnovakha, Donetsk oblast. The following is an excerpt. “‘Putin wants all of Ukraine,’ said Ukrainian MP Dmytro Lubinets, a Russian-speaking politician from eastern Ukraine who believes the Russians are gearing up for an all-out invasion of Ukraine as early as this fall. He lives twenty miles from the current front and one-third of his constituency is in occupied lands. In January, he led a gigantic peace march in Kyiv after Russian artillery blew up a civilian bus in his town killing 15 civilians. ‘The question is not whether the offensive will occur but when,” he said in an interview in New York City. ‘There are tens of thousands of men and 1,000 tanks. Tanks are not for defense. They are for an attack. We do not even have anti-tank missiles.’ He dismisses Putin’s claims that Russian military is not involved, that this is not an occupation, and the spontaneous effort by Ukrainian residents of Russian descent who want liberation and to rejoin Russia.‘It’s just not true. 90 percent of the people in Donbas do not want to be under Russian rule. I am Russian speaking and part Russian and I identify as Ukrainian,’ he said. ‘This is not a war between two nations, Ukraine and Russia. It is a struggle between two worldviews—Europe and Moscow. We want Ukraine to be a European country, not a Putin country.’” The full article is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/we-want-ukraine-to-be-a-european-country-not-a-putin-country-says-ukrainian-mp