Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
23 September 2015, 8 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PMKyiv time that yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Sokilnyky with grenade launchers. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Lozove and Luhanske villages with grenade launchers and small arms. North of occupied Horlivka, at Zaytseve and Mayorsk, Russian-terrorist snipers fired on Ukrainian positions. There was no combat at the Mariupol sector of the front. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded.
2. Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group reports on first day of Nadiya Savchenko trial
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) filed a report from the first day of Russia’s show trial of Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko, which took place yesterday. The report states, “Nadiya Savchenko is probably facing a 25-year sentence at the end of the ‘court trial’ which began on Sept. 22, but the customary ‘if she is found guilty’ seems entirely out of place. Nobody seriously believes that Leonid Stepanenko and two other judges, seemingly from the Russian Donetsk City Court, are any more than actors in the spectacle unfolding. So too were the unidentified individuals in the courtroom used as the excuse for not allowing journalists to watch the hearing. The press were forced to watch by video. All democratic states have demanded the release of Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and other ‘illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in Russia and on the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula’.” […](Savchenko) was brought to the court in (Russian) Donetsk by police van from Novocherskassk 150 km away. There is no good reason for the trial to be held in this obscure city in the Rostov oblast, which has presumably been chosen in an attempt to minimize international attention to the case. […] As during the first preliminary hearing, the security appears to have been, as defence lawyer Mark Feygin said, ‘like Fort Knox’, with armed police guarding all the roads and entrances to the court. Savchenko told the court that she obviously denied all guilt. She demanded to be allowed to give all her testimony using a lie detector, and that others do the same. […]A major part of the proceedings were taken up with the reading of the 180-page indictment. Savchenko was asked if it was all clear and if she had a response. She said: ‘It’s all lies’. KHPG’s full report on the hearing is available at http://khpg.org.ua/en/index.
php?id=1442956128.The next hearing is scheduled for 29 September.
3. US House of Representatives adopts resolution calling for immediate release of Nadiya Savchenko
On 22 September, the US House of Representatives unanimously adopted H.Res.50, “Calling for the release of Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured by Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine and has been held illegally in a Russian prison since July 2014.” According to the resolution, the US House of Representatives “(1) condemns the Russian Federation for its illegal imprisonment of Nadiya Savchenko; (2) calls on the Russian Federation to immediately release Nadiya Savchenko; (3) calls on the United States, its European allies, and the international community to aggressively support efforts to release Nadiya Savchenko and other illegally detained persons; and (4) expresses solidarity with the Ukrainian people.” The full text of the resolution is available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/
4. IMF urges Ukraine’s bondholders to support debt restructuring
In an open letter to members of the financial community on 22 September, IMF Managing Director C. Lagarde stated, “The Ukrainian authorities have embarked on an ambitious economic program with support from the international community. […] Despite a very challenging environment, these efforts have progressed in line with the IMF-supported program and have started to bear fruit. The economy is showing signs of recovery, the foreign exchange market has been broadly stable, confidence in the banking system is gradually recovering, and inflation is receding. This economic program has received exceptional financing from international financial institutions and bilateral partners, which has exceeded US$10 billion so far in 2015, consistent with commitments of more than US$25 billion for 2015-18. In addition to continued support from these international partners, the success of the program also critically rests on support from Ukraine’s creditors. Following several months of constructive discussions, I am encouraged that an agreement has been reached between the Ukrainian authorities and the Ad-Hoc Creditor Committee on the parameters of an operation to restructure Ukraine’s Eurobonds. […]High participation by all concerned Eurobond holders in the upcoming debt exchange is paramount, since Ukraine lacks the resources under the program to service its debts on the original terms. Together with the authorities and the Ad-Hoc Creditor Committee, I call on all creditors to support this offer. While fully aware of the challenges ahead, the Ukrainian authorities’ strong start in implementing their economic program has reaffirmed their determination to address the economic imbalances and deepen structural reforms in order to put the economy on a path of sustained growth and financial stability. I firmly believe that the authorities’ program warrants the strong support of the international community.”
5. Russia plans to construct second major military base near border with Ukraine
Russia is planning a second new major military base near the Ukrainian-Russian border. According to a Reuters report, “The new base will house 5,000 soldiers and heavy weaponry, according to public documents and people working at the site. It is further east than one under construction in Belgorod region reported by Reuters earlier this month but still close to the border with separatist-held parts of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, where there has been heavy fighting. […] The documents show the Russian defense ministry intends to turn an old military depot in the town of Boguchar, in Voronezh region, into a major base with dozens of buildings and special facilities for more than 1,300 armored vehicles and ammunition. The new base, with a dozen barracks with space for 5,210 troops, warehouses for rockets, an infirmary, swimming pool and large training complex, will be 45 km (28 miles) from the Ukrainian border. […] The Russian defense ministry did not reply to written questions from Reuters about the purpose of the new base it plans to build at Boguchar and whether there was any connection to the Ukraine conflict.”