Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
22 April 2016, 7 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 fired on Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska, Tryokhizbenka and Zolote. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Avdiyivka, Zaytseve, Verkhnotroitske and Luhanske village with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Maryinka and Shyrokyne. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two were wounded in action.
2. Nominee for Supreme Allied Commander Europe supportive of providing defensive weapons to Ukraine
US Gen. Curtis M. Scaparotti, nominated to take over as Commander, US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, testified at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on 21 April. Asked if Ukraine should be provided defensive weapons, Scaparotti stated, “I believe that we should provide the weaponry that we believe they need to defend their sovereignty, and that they are capable of using. […] I think there is a requirement for an anti-tank weapon like Javelin in their situation,” Defense News reported. A transcript of Scaparotti’s prepared testimony is available at http://www.armed-services.
3. Ukraine’s Central Bank cuts interest rate due to “significant easing in risks to price stability”
Ukraine’s Central Bank cut its main interest rate from 22 to 19 percent, citing a “significant easing in risks to price stability,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported. Consumer-price growth decelerated to the lowest level in 1.5 years in March. RFE/RL reported, “The bank kept its 2016 inflation goal of 12 percent, and said it should be able to ease capital controls once cooperation with the IMF resumes. New Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk has said the next $1.7 billion tranche from the IMF may arrive next month.”
4. US State Department on Russia’s decision to suspend the Crimean Tatar Mejlis
On 21 April, US State Department spokesperson J. Kirby stated, “We call on the Russian Federation to reverse the Ministry of Justice’s recent decision to designate the Crimean Tatar Mejlis as an ‘extremist’ organization and the decision by de facto authorities in Crimea to suspend this democratic institution. The Mejlis has long been a representative body for the traditionally under-represented and historically oppressed Crimean Tatar population. It has also served as an important independent voice in preserving their culture and protecting them from discrimination. Russian authorities have no basis or jurisdiction to assert Russian law over Tatar conduct in Ukraine. A ban on the Mejlis would prohibit it from convening, publishing its views in mass media, or holding public events, which contravenes basic democratic principles. This action is the latest in a series of abuses perpetrated by de facto authorities against those in Crimea who oppose the occupation, including Crimean Tatars and members of other ethnic and religious minorities in Crimea. Such abuses include arbitrary detentions, beatings, and police raids on their homes and places of worship. We again call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea and return control over this piece of Ukrainian territory. Sanctions related to Crimea will remain in place as long as the occupation continues.”
5. EU allocates 97 million Euro to support decentralization in Ukraine
The EU and Ukraine signed an agreement on the financing of U-Lead with Europe: Ukraine Local Empowerment, Accountability and Development Programme, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers stated. The program provides a 97 million Euro support package to support decentralization. The program is planned for two years and includes two main areas: ” Enhancement of the capacity of key actors at central, regional and local levels in order to implement decentralisation reform and pursue regional policy: training for local authorities at all levels, thematic consultations, support of professional education for officials of the executive authorities, training on project cycle management; Improving delivery of local administrative services: operation of centers of providing administrative services and raising awareness of citizens on local self-government,” Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers stated.