Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
15 December 2015, 6 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 at Tryokhizbenka with small arms, grenade launchers and high-caliber machine guns. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Luhankse village and Zaytseve with grenade launchers, high-caliber machine guns, and small arms. 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 in action.
2. US Helsinki Commission holds hearings on human rights abuses in Russian-occupied Crimea
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (US Helsinki Commission) held hearings on 11 December on Human Rights Violations in Russian-occupied Crimea. The Commission stated, “Violations of civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights are widespread, especially against those who openly oppose the Russian occupation, including Crimean Tatars and other ethnic, political, and religious groups.” Transcripts of testimonies at the hearing are available here.
3. Minister of Finance of Ukraine presents draft 2016 budget
Ukraine’s Minister of Finance N. Jaresko presented the draft 2016 budget as well as amendments to tax legislation, which were submitted by the Government to Ukraine’s Parliament on 11 December. Parliamentary speaker V. Groysman has called an extraordinary session of Parliament for 17 December to consider the draft budget. Jaresko stated, “I believe that the proposed changes to the legislation will create a stable basis for financial and economic stability. And thus we’ll return to a path of real economic growth, investment flows and the improvement of people’s lives.”
4. Poland to open up 1 billion Euro currency swap with Ukraine
Poland will open up a 1 billion Euro currency swap to Ukraine to promote bilateral trade, the Financial Times reported. Poland’s President A. Duda visited Kyiv today. Duda endorsed the provision of an EU visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens. The Presidents of Ukraine and Poland also underlined the inadmissibility of the proposed Nord Stream II pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany, bypassing Ukraine. Duda stated, “It is not a business project. It is a political project that interferes in the energy security of our countries. That’s why we cannot accept it.”
5. Russia sentences Ukrainian citizen to 11 years in prison in closed trial
The Moscow oblast court has sentenced Ukrainian citizen Valentyn Vyhovskyi to 11 years in prison for espionage in a closed trial. Vyhovskyi was detained by Russian occupying authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea in September 2014. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “For 15 months, Russian authorities applied psychological pressure against Valentyn Vyhovoskyi […] Ukrainian consular officials did not have access to Vyhovskyi for almost 8 months, and court hearings were closed, which is evidence of the bias and prejudice of the proceedings. […] Ukraine’s MFA considers the charges against Vyhovskyi to be baseless, the verdict of the Moscow court to be politicized, and demands the immediate release of our compatriot and his return to Ukraine.”