Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
16 June 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 Novozvanivka. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Avdiyivka with high-caliber machine guns and grenade launchers. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Luhanske village with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka, Hranitne and Berezove. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded.
2. White House to commit $220 million in new assistance to Ukraine this year
Ukraine’s Prime Minister V. Groysman met with US Vice President J. Biden on 15 June, “to discuss Ukraine’s reform agenda and the implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Vice President expressed strong support for the Prime Minister’s ambitious reform efforts and commended him for the bold reform steps his Cabinet has already taken in its initial two months in office. In support of Ukraine’s efforts to pursue additional economic, political, and energy reforms, the Vice President announced that, pending completion of Congressional notification procedures, the White House plans to commit $220 million in new assistance to Ukraine this year. The Vice President also expressed deep concern about the deteriorating security situation in eastern Ukraine and highlighted the importance of accelerating implementation of the Minsk agreements. The Vice President reiterated that sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Russia fully implements its Minsk commitments,” the White House reported.
3. US Mission to OSCE on Russia’s ongoing violations in Ukraine
Speaking at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, US Permanent Representative to the OSCE D. Baer stated, “Before beginning, Mr. Chair, let me join you in welcoming the news of the exchange that led to the release of Yuri Soloshenko and Gennadiy Afanasyev. Like many others still in Russian custody, these two individuals were convicted on trumped up, politically-motivated charges, and their release is a step in fulfilling Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements, and should now provide impetus for the complete implementation of those agreements, including releasing all other hostages and unlawfully detained persons. The United States remains deeply concerned by the surge in violence in eastern Ukraine and efforts by combined Russian-separatist forces to mask their increasing aggression and the weaponry that facilitates their attacks. […] Even more troubling is growing evidence of combined Russian-separatists apparently attempting to use civilians as human shields. The [OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM)] reports – including its first hand accounts from residents – evidence that combined Russian-separatist forces have stationed and fired prohibited heavy weapons from civilian areas, including a 152 mm self-propelled howitzer. The SMM has even reported evidence that the separatists were firing mortars and sniper rifles from the roofs of apartment buildings. […]Sanctions imposed for the Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine will remain in place until Russia fully implements its commitments in the Minsk agreements. Russia must also stop obstructing international monitoring of the situation in Crimea and ensure that abuses end immediately. Occupation authorities have harassed and intimidated Crimean Tatar activists and others who oppose the occupation […] We remind the Russian Federation that Crimea-related sanctions will continue until it ends the occupation and returns this Ukrainian land.”