Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
19 November 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 yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Troitske with mortars. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Lozove, Zaytseve, and Novhorodsk with small arms. The most difficult situation is on the outskirts of Donetsk, where Russian-terrorist forces continually fired on Ukrainian positions along the Avdiyivka-Maryinka line with small arms and grenade launchers throughout the day. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled the Novotroitske checkpoint. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Hranitne and Shyrokyne with small arms. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one was wounded.
- Wall Street Journal: EU on course to continue sanctions on Russia
On 18 November, the Wall Street Journal, reported that the EU is “heading toward extending economic sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis last year, EU officials and diplomats say. The apparent willingness to renew the sanctions, which expire in late January, suggests that while France is pushing to deepen cooperation with Russia in fighting the Islamic State extremist group, clear limits remain. […] Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said […] there was no discussion at Monday’s EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels about re-examining the sanctions to encourage Moscow to cooperate on Syria.”
- Savchenko attorneys facing prosecution for publicizing materials in illegal Russian trial
Mark Feygin and Nikolai Polozov, attorneys for Nadiya Savchenko are facing criminal prosecution for publicizing materials in Russia’s illegal trial of Savchenko, Radio Svoboda reported. Feygin stated, “There is an attempt to charge Polozov and myself with a crime for revealing information about the testimony of Plotnitsky. A separate decision on the prosecution of Feygin and Polozov will be submitted together with the verdict.” Polozov stated, “The criminal persecution of Feygin and myself – is revenge of the authorities for an independent and honest defense of Savchenko. It wasn’t enough to abduct and illegally detain Savchenko as a hostage, they’ve now decided to pressure the defense.” On 18 November, the court heard testimony from Igor Plotnitsky, “leader” of the so-called Luhansk “Peoples’ Republic.” The court ruled that his testimony be heard in-camera. Savchenko was serving in eastern Ukraine, when abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in June 2014 and taken to Russia, where she has been illegally detained and imprisoned since that time. Russia has ignored repeated calls from the international community for her immediate release.
- Fitch upgrades Ukraine’s credit rating
On 18 November, Fitch Ratings upgraded Ukraine’s long-term foreign currency rating (IDR) from Restricted Default to CCC and the short-term IDR from Restricted Default to C. Fitch stated, “The country has emerged from default on commercial external debt, issuing new bonds on 12 November to holders of USD15bn in defaulted Eurobonds. […] Public debt sustainability has improved. Reduced refinancing needs and a pipeline of official financing give the public and external finances some breathing room and lower the risk of a sovereign debt crisis over the short- to medium-term.”
5. Ukraine PM: FTA with EU to take effect 1 January, Ukraine preparing for Russia’s trade embargo
Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk stated on 18 November that the Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and the EU will come into effect on 1 January. He also stated that losses estimated from a trade embargo by Russia on Ukraine are estimated at about $600 million for 2016. In three years, however, Ukraine’s exports to Russia have fallen from 35% to 12.5%. Yatsenyuk stressed the need to develop a joint plan with the EU on overcoming the negative effects of Russia’s economic aggression, “We are looking forward to a joint position of the European Union and Ukraine in this matter, as after January 1 Ukraine and the European Union will be in the common trade area.”
- UK committed to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty
Speaking in Parliament, UK Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon stated, “Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its destabilising activities in Eastern Ukraine, including direct military support to the separatists, has demonstrated its disregard for international law. Since fighting began, nearly 8,000 people have been killed and approximately 18,000 injured. Around 1.4 million people have been displaced in Ukraine. […]This Government is committed to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”