Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
22 January 2016, 7 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday Russian-terrorist forces intensified attacks on Ukrainian positions. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions along the entire front. Southwest of Novhorodsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions from armored infantry vehicles. The most intense fire by Russian-terrorist forces took place near the Donetsk airport at Pisky. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions east of Krasnohorivka and Maryinka. Near Starohnativsk and Talakivka Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. There was no combat on the Luhansk sector of the front. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one was wounded in action.
- US Mission to OSCE: Russia must implement its Minsk commitments
At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 21 January, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “the Russian Federation must implement its Minsk commitments, including honoring the ceasefire, granting unimpeded access to SMM monitors, facilitating agreement on election modalities, allowing ODIHR-compliant elections to take place in areas of the Donbas, withdrawing all foreign forces and equipment from eastern Ukraine, and returning control of the international border to the Ukrainian Government. […] At the close of 2015, the sides announced a holiday ceasefire that went into effect on December 23. Sadly, combined Russian-separatist forces disregarded this ceasefire and launched attacks within a few hours, with the SMM registering explosions resulting from shells clearly coming from separatist-controlled territory. We reiterate that combined Russian-separatist forces must take steps to uphold the ceasefires they have repeatedly broken. […] As we look to the year ahead, we must not forget how the conflict in Ukraine began: with Russian aggression in and the occupation of Crimea. The occupation must end. We expect the Russian Federation to take responsibility for its violations of international law and defiance of OSCE principles and commitments; 2016 should be the year Russia rejoins the other 56 participating States that respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
- Xenophobic violence in Ukraine drops everywhere except Russian-occupied Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported that, “A new study from the National Minority Rights Monitoring Group entitled Two Years of War: Xenophobia in Ukraine 2015 reports a dangerous increase in xenophobia only in Russian-occupied Crimea. Even in areas under Kremlin-backed militant control – the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’, there appears to have been a decrease since 2014. Although at a press conference on Jan 20, the Director of the Congress of National Communities Josef Zissels left no room for illusions about the reasons for that drop. Over half of the members of the Jewish community, according to their estimates, have left Donbas, as have believers from Protestant, Greek-Catholic, Evangelical and other churches, and Orthodox believers attached to the Kyiv Patriarchate. The report mentions also that virtually all foreign students have left, and so too have the Roma. The leaders of the self-styled ‘republics’ regularly come out with anti-Semitic utterances, however no incidents of anti-Semitism have been recorded. One problem here, however, and in Crimea, remains the enormous difficulty of collecting and verifying information. Those who reveal details may put themselves in danger as a result and enormous care is needed. This is, of course, also the case with those expressing a pro-Ukrainian position which can be simply dangerous.” KHPG also noted that, “For the first time in the 15 years that monitoring has been carried out, real cooperation is taking place between monitoring organizations and state bodies, including those involved in law enforcement.”