Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
19 January 2016, 6 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka with anti-tank weapons and mortars. Near Horlivka and the Donetsk Airport, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions with small arms and grenade launchers. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions with anti-aircraft guns at Starohnativka. Near Lebedynske and Shyrokyne, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded.
- Russia’s illegal trial of Nadiya Savchenko continues
Ukrainian soldier Ivan Rusnak testified in the illegal Russian trial of Ukrainian pilot and MP N. Savchenko on 18 January. The Kyiv Post reported, “The new witness, Ukrainian soldier Ivan Rusnak, offered testimony that went against everything Russian prosecutors have argued so far in accusing Savchenko of killing two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine on June 17, 2014. […] Rusnak testified that he encountered Savchenko near Schastye shortly before her capture […]. After he and his fellow soldiers were ambushed near a separatist checkpoint, he said, Savchenko came to their aid with medical supplies. Rusnak disputed the argument made earlier by prosecutors that Savchenko had been found with a backpack containing a radio and binoculars, a claim which implied she had been helping to pinpoint targets for Ukrainian mortar fire. Instead, Rusnak said, she had only a first-aid kit with her at the time. After treating several Ukrainian soldiers, she called for help for the wounded soldiers before running off when separatist forces began firing on the area. […] According to [Savchenko’s lawyer] Feygin, Savchenko has lost about 15 kilograms since she declared a hunger strike a month ago. She has vowed to continue with the hunger strike even though she can no longer keep water down, lawyer Nikolai Polozov said.” The next hearing is scheduled for 20 January. 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.
- Ukraine’s President meets with German, French Envoys
Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko met with Envoys of the Chancellor of Germany and President of France C. Heusgen and J. Audibert. The President’s press service reported, “The parties expressed concern over the numerous violations of the ceasefire regime by the militants and obstruction of the OSCE’s activity. The interlocutors also noted the progress of Ukraine in the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements and emphasized the importance of coordinating joint actions for their full implementation the key elements of which are sustainable ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and armament, restoration of Ukrainian control over the border and liberation of hostages.”
- EU Representative for Foreign Affairs: EU needs to support Ukraine in better-coordinated way
Following a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 18 January, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs F. Mogherini stated that the discussion on Ukraine focused on “on the reform process inside Ukraine and especially the reform of the judiciary, the reform of the public administration sector, the decentralisation reforms and recognising the incredible, outstanding work that the Ukrainian authorities have done over the past months to move forward the reform agenda with very concrete steps. We shared also the assessment that this works needs to continue, especially with the provisional application of DCFTA since 1 January, that the need for us to support the Ukrainian authorities in a better coordinated way between the European Union and Member States to make sure that the reform agenda continues, especially that it is implemented, and that the benefits of the reform agenda manage to reach the Ukrainian people, who just two years ago, exactly two years ago, were in Maidan asking for reforms and changes in their society.”
- Atlantic Council: Seven Key Reforms for Ukraine in 2016
Atlantic Council Senior Fellow A. Aslund outlined seven key reforms for Ukraine in 2016:
“1. The main priority is reform of the prosecution and courts. […] 2. Much was accomplished in energy reform in 2015, and in 2016 it should be completed […]3. Ukraine’s 1,833 state-owned companies are a den of corruption. The vast majority, 1,600, are of little value just extracting subsidies from the state. They should be sold off at a regional level […] 4. Ukraine requires profound civil service reform, which has been legislated and will come into force in the spring. It is vital that it is properly implemented. Salaries of civil servants must be raised so that they can live on their salaries. […] 5. The budget deficit has been brought under control and the most corrupt expenditures have been eliminated, but Ukraine needs to reform the budget process to make it fully transparent. […] 6. Ukraine carried out some deregulation in 2015, but far too little. Many inspection agencies persist and should be closed. […]7. Former Minister of Education Dmytro Tabachnik caused chaos in the school system 2010-13. Ukraine needs to establish elementary order in the school organization and curriculum. […] Many other issues are also important, notably improvement of the health care system, but such reform requires more time. The top six priorities above are all focused on reducing corruption. School reform is comparatively easy and can be done within a year. Ukraine has reformed much in 2015, but the government needs to keep up the momentum to attain sound economic growth.” The full article is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/seven-key-reforms-for-ukraine-in-2016