Speaking at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 3 March, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “The United States is concerned that the number of observed ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine is at the highest level since August 2015, exceeding 3,800 in the last week; combined-Russian separatist forces are responsible for the majority of them. Combined Russian-separatist forces have also attacked Ukrainian positions with proscribed heavy weapons, including grad rocket launchers, high caliber mortars, and heavy artillery. […]Colleagues, Russia has repeatedly claimed in the Permanent Council that this is an internal conflict despite conclusive evidence that Russia supplies, trains, directs, and finances forces in eastern Ukraine. While the Russian Federation has repeatedly sought to mask its aggression against Ukraine, fresh evidence of Russia’s role in the fighting continues to emerge. On February 22, the OSCE Border Checkpoint Observation Mission spotted a van entering Russia from Ukraine with the sign ‘Cargo 200’ – a reference to the transport of Russian military casualties. […] Two years ago last week, Russian forces covertly and illegally entered Ukraine and began Russia’s occupation of Crimea. We call on the Russian Federation to end its aggression against Ukraine. We remind the Russian Federation that the economic sanctions against it will remain in place until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented, and Russia ends its occupation of Ukrainian territory.”
Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
4 March 2016, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Krasnohorivka with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers). Near Opytne, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. There was no combat on the Luhansk sector of the front. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported that yesterday Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions a total of 57 times. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and three were wounded in action.
2. Nadiya Savchenko declares dry hunger strike “until return to Ukraine, dead or alive”
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported that Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko declared a dry hunger strike starting today following the abrupt postponement until 9 March of hearings in Russia’s illegal trial, “until [her] return to Ukraine, alive or dead.” KHPG stated, “She prohibits any attempts to force her out of the hunger strike; to take any blood tests, etc. or to force her to take any medication. She will not allow any Russian doctors or SIZO [prison] staff to touch her. She will agree to be examined only by doctors from Ukraine or Europe. She insists that they must not move her from the cell or SIZO without explaining the reason and the destination.” Savchenko’s statement reads, “I will regard any use of physical force towards me as torture and will show resistance. If I am still alive on9.03.2016, I demand to be taken to the court hearing. In the event of my death, I prohibit any autopsy and demand that my body is passed whole to my mother and sister.”
3. Nadiya Savchenko’s final statement, which Russian court refused to allow her to make
Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko was expected to make her final statement yesterday in court. The hearing was abruptly adjourned until March 9 and she was not allowed to make her statement. The statement has been made public, and translated by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) into English. The statement reads, “I accept neither guilt, nor the verdict, nor the Russian court. In the case of a guilty verdict there will be no appeal. I want the whole democratic civilized world to realize that Russia is a third-world country, with a totalitarian regime and a petty tyrant-dictator, where human rights and international law are spat upon. It is an absurd situation when those who abduct people subject them to torture then act as if they have a right to judge them! How can one talk about a fair trial? In Russia, there are no trials or investigations — only a farce played out by Kremlin puppets. And I find it superfluous to waste time in my life participating in it!” Savchenko’s full statement is available at http://www.rferl.org/content/
ukraine-savchenko-trial- letter-russia/27589461.html. S avchenko 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.
4. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister: No breakthrough in talks with Russia
Following a meeting of the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia on 3 March, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister P. Klimkin stated that there had been no breakthrough in the talks, Reuters reported. Klimkin stated that there could be no elections in the Russian-occupied territories of the Donbas until security was restored. Klimkin said, “The point I made specially is the necessity of providing security in the run-up to the future elections. Security first. Without security we can’t deliver on anything further,” Reuters reported.
5. US: Sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Minsk fully implemented and Russia ends occupation of Ukrainian territory