Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
18 December 2015, 6 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The Presidential Administration of Ukraine reported that yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Tryokhizbenka with grenade launchers. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Luhanske village with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Zaytseve, Novhorodske, Pisky and Avdiyivka. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Krasnohorivka and Maryinka with mortars. In the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and four were wounded. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine reported that Russian-terrorist forces shelled Novhorodske with Grads (truck mounted multiple rocket launchers) at 12PM Kyiv time today. 8 of the shells struck near a school where there were 70 children and 15 teachers. There were no injuries.
- European Commission: Ukraine has met criteria for visa liberalization with EU
The EC adopted the final progress report on Ukraine’s implementation of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan, which states that Ukraine has met the criteria for visa liberalization with the EU. “Following the positive assessment of the progress report and taking into account the overall EU-Ukraine relations, the Commission will present in early 2016 a legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament to lift visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens holding a biometric passport,” the European Commission stated.
- Ukraine announces moratorium on payment of $3 billion Russian-held bond
Ukraine’s government announced a moratorium on the payment of the $3 billion Russian-held bond that comes due 20 December. Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk stated, “…The payments on the mentioned debts totaling US $ 3 billion 582 million to the Russian side are suspended until either our proposals for restructuring are accepted or a relevant court decision is pronounced. We are ready for legal proceedings with the Russian side.”
- Canada to provide Ukraine’s patrol police with uniforms, video cameras
Canada will provide Ukraine’s patrol police with 1359 uniforms and 1420 personal video cameras. Yesterday, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine R. Waschuk delivered certificates for the items, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine reported. He stated, “This program of developing the new police force, the program of our Canadian support, together with our American and Japanese partners is progressing extraordinarily quickly.”
- IMF: Approval of a Ukraine budget that deviates from program objectives would disrupt financing
Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF stated today, “Following significant work at a technical level, a draft budget and supporting tax legislation were submitted to Parliament on December 11, 2015. It is with concern that we have observed the discussions yesterday in Parliament that effectively rejected the government’s proposals for a new tax code and the government budget for 2016. Approval of a budget consistent with the program objective of reducing the general government deficit to 3.7 percent of GDP is a key condition for the completion of the second review under the EFF-supported program. At the same time, it is equally important that the budget is supported by structural reforms to remove exemptions and widen the tax base, as well as streamline government spending on a sustainable basis, which also are key objectives of the program. Approval of a budget that deviates from program objectives for 2016 and the medium-term will interrupt the program and inevitably disrupt the associated international financing.”
- US Mission to OSCE: International community cannot allow borders of Europe to be redrawn at the barrel of a gun
At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 17 December, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “we reaffirm the support of the United States for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which includes Crimea. The international community cannot allow the borders of Europe to be redrawn at the barrel of a gun. As the initiator of this conflict, Russia has a singular responsibility to recommit to upholding the OSCE principles and commitments that it has contravened, and reverse its aggression against Ukraine, including its attempted annexation of Crimea.”