Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
29 December 2015, 5PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that yesterday towards Donetsk, clashes with Russian-terrorist forces took place near Zaytseve. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Mayorsk, Shumy and Novhorodsk, Avdiyivka and Opytne. At Pisky, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Chermalyk with grenade launchers. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one was wounded.
2. Illegal trial of Crimean Tatar leader and activists begins in Russian-occupied Crimea
On 28 December the illegal trial of A. Chiygoz, Deputy Head of the Mejlis (Representative Assembly) of the Crimean Tatar People, and several other Crimean Tatar activists began in Russian-occupied Crimea. The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) stated, “For almost a year now, Russia’s puppets in Crimea have been targeting Crimean Tatars as part of an openly cynical and lawless ‘criminal case’ over a demonstration which took place on Ukrainian territory and under Ukrainian law. The calculation has presumably been that Crimean Tatars and all Ukrainian nationals under Russian occupation will understand that they can expect no protection from the law, and either leave for mainland Ukraine, or try to keep their heads low.” Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its decisive protest over the “trial,” and demanded that Russia cease the persecution of representatives of the Crimean Tatar people and immediately release the illegally detained prisoners.
3. Ukraine’s PM outlines Government’s strategic goals in year-end press conference
In his year-end press conference, Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk outlined the government’s strategic goals – Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO; restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity; and economic growth. Yatsenyuk stated, “From the perspective of security, there is no doubt that Ukraine should become a member of NATO. This is the main goal of defense and security reforms in the country. […] This is the aim of Ukraine’s close cooperation with the Alliance, which has established five trust funds that in fact bring Ukraine closer to membership in NATO.” Yatsenyuk noted that the Ukraine’s GDP is forecast to grow by 2% in 2016.
4. European Investment Bank provides 400 million Euro loan to support Ukraine’s agri-food sector
On 28 December, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Ukraine’s government signed a loan agreement for 400 million Euro to finance projects implemented by SMEs and Mid-caps in the agri-food sector, “in order to help the country benefit from the opportunities offered by the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area established by the Association Agreement with the European Union. […]Potential beneficiaries therefore include input suppliers, farmers, processors, storage and logistics operators, as well as testing laboratories, research and education institutions and extension services that contribute to the functioning of target value chains. The cereals, oil seeds and aquaculture and fisheries value chains are being targeted by the loan,” the EIB stated.
5. Former US Ambassadors to Ukraine in NY Times: Investing in Ukraine’s Future
Former United States Ambassadors to Ukraine J. Herbst, S. Pifer and W. B. Taylor Jr wrote in the New York Times, “Just over a year ago, President Obama signed into law the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which provided congressional backing to sanctions on Russia following the Kremlin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine. […] But Washington must do more than just punish Russia. […] Appropriately funding efforts to improve Ukraine’s stability is a down payment on Europe’s collective security. Russia’s land grab in Crimea violates the very security architecture – including the Helsinki Final Act responsible for establishing the inviolability of Europe’s national borders – that has kept Europe secure since World War II. But the durability of this system depends on the West’s willingness to defend it. Failing to do so signals to both adversaries and allies that agreements among nations simply do not matter. […] Congress and the Obama administration should work together to provide an additional $2 billion to $5 billion in economic support. At the same time, Washington should seek to persuade the European Union to make a similar commitment for a total of $10 billion, the optimal amount of support to allow Ukraine’s government room to maneuver. […] The current Ukrainian leadership is far from perfect, but the seeds of accountability have been planted, and Ukraine’s robust civil society ensures a steady supply of nurturing sunlight. […] A new Ukraine was born in the Maidan, but the United States and Europe have thus far failed to make an adequate commitment to its success. That must change. […] A global order based on rule of law is at stake. Defending it cannot be done on the cheap. For the West, a Ukraine impoverished by Kremlin aggression will be far more costly.” The full article is available at http://www.nytimes.com/