Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
15 July 2016, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reporte that yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska, Syze village and Popasne. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Avdiyivka and Zaytseve with mortars. Southwest of Horlivka, Russian-terrorist forces carried out heavy shelling of Ukrainian positions with mortars and grenade launchers. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near the Donetsk airport. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka and Maryinka with artillery and mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions along the Berezove-Hranitne line with grenade launchers and machine guns. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Shyrokyne, Vodyane and Lebedynske with mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded.
2. US House Committee on Foreign Affairs approves STAND For Ukraine Act
On 14 July, the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs approved the STAND for Ukraine Act (HR 5094). The Act was introduced by Rep. E. Engel (D-NY) together with a bipartisan group of 15 members. At Committee on 14 July, Engel stated, “This bill links any sanctions relief to Russia fulfilling its obligations under the Minsk Agreement as well as making Crimea-related sanctions permanent so long as the Russian occupation there continues. It also tightens sanctions enforcement with a new anti-evasion framework and requires regular reports on banks illegally controlling Ukrainian assets-particularly Russian banks in Crimea. Additionally, this bill tries to drive new private-sector investment to Ukraine, clamps down on Russia buying defense equipment or services from our NATO allies, targets human rights abuses in Russian-occupied areas, and calls for a strategy to push back against Russian propaganda. […]We need to send a message to the people of Ukraine that we stand with them, and to Putin that his aggression and bullying won’t go unanswered.” The full text of the STAND for Ukraine Act is available athttps://www.congress.gov/114/
3. Nominee for US Ambassador to Ukraine confirmed by US Senate
On 14 July, the US Senate confirmed M. Yovanovitch as the new US Ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch is the Dean of the School of Languages at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. She previously served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (European and Eurasian Affairs), (2012-2013); US Ambassador to Armenia (2008-11); and US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan (2005-08). During her confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 21 June, Yovanovitch stated, “The best defense against Russian aggression is a successful Ukraine. […] Just as we stand firmly behind the Ukrainian people in their efforts to transform their nation, we stand with Ukraine as it seeks to reform its military, stop further Russian aggression, bring the conflict in the Donbas to a peaceful conclusion via the Minsk agreements, and end the occupation of Crimea. […] Ukraine has lived up to many Minsk commitments already. But Russia and the separatists have not. Violence has spiked in the past two months to reach levels we have not seen since August 2015.”