Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
17 December 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Donestk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Luhanske village, Pisky and on the Avdiyivka-Opytne line. Near Horlivka, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Zaytseve, Leninske and Novhorodske. There was no combat on the Luhansk or Mariupol sectors of the front. The RNBO reported that yesterday no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two were wounded in action.
- Canada announces new funding to increase trade and investment between Canada and Ukraine
Canada’s Minister of International Trade C. Freeland and Minister of International Development M-C. Bibeau, announced a $13.6 million contribution to the Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support project. The Government of Canada is partnering with the Conference Board of Canada and the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce on the project. The project will assist small and medium-sized enterprises with the tools, training and knowledge necessary to export their products and services to Canadian and other markets and to attract Canadian investment. Minister Freeland stated, “Canada is committed to supporting Ukraine’s government and private sector to take advantage of new trade opportunities arising from implementation of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. By bolstering the growth and competitiveness of Ukraine’s small and medium-sized businesses, we are building mutual prosperity for both our countries.”
- Nadiya Savchenko goes on hunger strike
Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko, illegally imprisoned in Russia for over a year, has gone on a hunger strike, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported. Her attorney, N. Polozov, stated that Savchenko is going on a hunger strike until the end of her trial and that the Russian court today extended her detention until 16 April. 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.
- Putin changes story, admits to Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine
Russian President V. Putin, referring to eastern Ukraine, stated, “We never said that there are not people there carrying out certain tasks, including in the military sphere, but this does not mean that there are regular Russian troops there.” The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group stated, “In fact, Putin was, as with Crimea, lying. Russia has persistently denied the presence of any military personnel in Donbas. […]There is also considerable evidence that regular forces have been and probably are being deployed in Ukraine.”
- NATO Secretary General: Russia still has not withdrawn its troops or equipment from Ukraine
NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg stated, “recently we have seen an increased number of violations of the ceasefire. And there is a real risk of the resumption of the violence. Ukraine still does not have full control over its borders. Russia has still not withdrawn its troops or equipment. Illegal groups have not been disarmed. So it is really vital to make sure that all sides keep their commitments. And Russia bears a special responsibility. NATO and NATO Allies will continue to provide practical support for Ukraine.”
- Government presents 2016 draft budget to Parliament
Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk and Finance Minister N. Jaresko presented the draft 2016 budget to Parliament. MPs established a working group of representatives of parliamentary factions, and parliamentary committees on budget, tax, and customs policy to consider the draft budget.
- IMF rules $3 billion Russian bond official debt
The IMF ruled that the $3 billion Russian-held bond owed by Ukraine’s government, which comes due on 20 December, is an official, rather than a commercial bond. The ruling on the bond comes after a recent policy change by the IMF that allows it to continue to lend to countries that have not met debt obligations to other countries.
- Ukraine will not pay $3 billion Russian-held bond
Ukraine’s Finance Ministry stated today that “The Ukrainian Government takes note of the IMF Executive Board’s view that the so-called ‘Russian bond’ is an official claim for the purposes of the Fund’s policy on arrears to official bilateral creditors. Therefore, the Ukrainian Government expects that the IMF’s new Lending into Official Arrears policy will allow the IMF to continue financing Ukraine under the Extended Fund Facility, notwithstanding Ukraine’s position on the December 2015 Eurobonds and any suspension of payment there under. […]The December 2015 Eurobonds constitute debt obligations which Ukraine cannot pay in accordance with their initial terms without (i) violating the financing targets established under the Extended Fund Facility and (ii) breaching its contractual obligations under the ‘most favored creditor clause’ included in the new sovereign debt securities issued in November 2015 as part of the recently completed debt operation. The holders of the December 2015 Eurobonds decided not to participate in the debt exchange which was accepted by all of Ukraine’s other bondholders. […]Ukraine remains committed to negotiating in good faith a consensual restructuring of the December 2015 Eurobonds.”