Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
7 December 2015, 6 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 at Zhovte and Sokilnyky with mortars. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Luhanske village, Zaytseve and Mayorsk. At Novhorodsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. The most serious situation is on the western outskirts of Donetsk city, where Russian-terrorist forces fired on several Ukrainian positions throughout the day. 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 and eight were wounded in action. On 5-6 December, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three were wounded in action.
- US Vice President visits Kyiv
On a visit to Kyiv, Vice President J. Biden met with reformers in Ukraine’s parliament, civil society and government. According to a White House statement, “The Vice President and other participants spoke about the importance of anti-corruption, governance, and economic reforms. The Vice President also spoke about the situation in the Donbas, and underscored that the costs on Russia would continue to rise until the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.” Biden met with Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko and announced $190 million in US aid to help support reforms, the Associated Press reported. After meeting with Poroshenko, Biden stated, “The United States stands firmly with the people of Ukraine in the face of continued — I emphasize, continued — aggression from Russia and Russian-backed separatists,” and that the US will never accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the Associated Press reported. Biden will meet with Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk later today and will address Ukraine’s Parliament tomorrow.
- 3. EU set to issue “very positive” report on Ukraine’s progress to visa-free regime
EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations J. Hahn stated that he was “pretty sure that we will have a very positive report” on Ukraine’s progress towards a visa-free regime with the EU, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported. The report is expected to be tabled on 15 December. A meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council took place today, chaired by Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk. The EU was represented by Hahn and High Representative for Foreign Affairs F. Mogherini. They stated that the EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement will be provisionally applied as of 1 January 2016. A joint press release is available at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/12/07-joint-press-release-eu-ukraine-association-council/
- Atlantic Council calls for establishment of Biden-Poroshenko Commission
Ambassador J. Herbst and A. Aslund of the Atlantic Council wrote, “Ukraine has made great strides in the last two years. […] Yet the situation is far from secure. Ukrainians are tired of poverty and suffering. The United States has provided the new Ukrainian leadership a fair amount of support, but more is needed. Our proposal is a bilateral inter-governmental commission under the leadership of Vice President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. […] Biden is the anchor for US policy on Ukraine. […] It would be natural to formalize this cooperation. For no good reason, the United States has been excluded from Ukraine’s multilateral negotiations with Russia, Germany, and France. These negotiations have led to two ceasefire agreements in Minsk, which Russia has consistently violated. Officially, the United States has supported this Minsk process, but it needs to provide Ukraine with stronger political support. A Biden-Poroshenko Commission could reinforce the beneficial role of the United States as a counterweight to Russia. It helps that the United States has just authorized $300 million in military assistance to Ukraine, showing Russia some reason for more military restraint. […] In 2016, Ukraine will face the critical challenges of Moscow’s aggression, a slippery diplomatic process, corruption, poverty, and economic stabilization, and growth. The US has a vital stake in Ukraine’s success. A Biden-Poroshenko commission would focus US and Ukraine’s efforts to ensure that those challenges are met and Ukraine is able to eventually join the West.” The full article is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/take-it-to-the-next-level-create-a-biden-poroshenko-commission