Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
21 December 2015, 6 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska with mortars. Near Troitske, a clash took place between Russian-terrorist forces and Ukrainian forces. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Zaytseve with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions along the Avdiyivka-Maryinka line. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Krasnohorivka with mortars and tanks, and fired on Ukrainian positions at Hranitne with small arms. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two were wounded in action. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported that on 18-19 December, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions over 120 times. No Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five were wounded in action on 18-19 December.
2. EU extends sanctions against Russia until end of July 2016
The European Council extended EU economic sanctions against Russia until 31 July, 2016. The Council stated, “since the Minsk agreements will not be fully implemented by 31 December 2015, the duration of the sanctions has been prolonged whilst the Council continues its assessment of progress in implementation. The measures originally imposed in July 2014 were reinforced in September 2014. They target certain exchanges with Russia in the financial, energy and defence sectors and in the area of dual-use goods.”
3. European Council President: Nord Stream-2 pipeline does not meet EU energy rules
European Council President D. Tusk stated on 18 December that the proposed Nord Stream-2 pipeline “does not meet EU energy rules on supply diversification and would undermine Ukraine’s role as a gas transit state,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
4. Russia to impose food embargo on Ukraine
Russian PM D Medvedev announced that Russia will implement a food embargo against Ukraine beginning on January 1, 2016. The announcement preceded talks between Ukraine’s Foreign Minister P. Klimkin with EU Trade Commissioner C. Malmstrom and Russia’s Minister of Economic Development A. Ulyukayev on the implementation of the Ukraine-EU Free Trade Agreement, which takes effect on 1 January 2016.
5. No agreement reached in trilateral Ukraine-EU-Russia talks on EU-Ukraine FTA
The EU stated that no agreement was reached in trilateral talks between Ukraine’s Foreign Minister P. Klimkin, EU Trade Commissioner C. Malmstrom and Russian Minister for Economic Development Ulyukayev today. The EU stated, “Throughout the process the EU has been attentive to Russia’s concerns and put forward proposals for practical solutions without amending the DCFTA. However, Russia made requests that were not substantiated or could not be accommodated as they were not in line with WTO or EU legislation.” Commissioner Malmstrom stated, “I was deeply surprised by President Putin’s decree of 16 December 2015 that suspends all Russia’s obligations towards Ukraine in the framework of the CIS FTA. This measure goes against the mandate, the spirit and the objective of these talks. […]As has been conveyed from the beginning of the talks and reconfirmed by President Juncker the DCFTA cannot be amended – neither directly nor indirectly.”
6. Ukraine’s President to visit Israel on 22-23 December
Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko will visit Israel on 22-23 December. He will meet with Israeli President R. Rivlin and PM B. Netanyahu. Poroshenko will also deliver a speech to the Knesset.