Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
21 July 2016, 6 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 and Novooleksandrivka. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces carried out mortar heavy shelling near Zaytseve and Avdiyivka, damaging residential buildings in Avdiyivka. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Troitkse with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions along the entire Mariupol sector of the front. At Talakivka and Vodyane, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with artillery. Russian-terrorist forces carried out heavy mortar shelling near Krasnohorivka and along the Talakivka-Shyrokyne line. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action.
2. US Mission to the OSCE on Russia’s Ongoing Violations in Ukraine
Speaking at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “The United States remains deeply concerned about the sharp uptick of attacks launched by combined Russian-separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. On July 19 alone, seven Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives and 14 others were injured, the highest number of casualties in a single day this year. […] Russia has told the Permanent Council that the SMM [OSCE Special Monitoring Mission] has access to the border. This is not true in any meaningful sense. Combined Russian-separatist forces grant the SMM access only sporadically and only when, as Deputy Chief Monitor Hug points out, there is nothing for monitors to see. In the meantime, the buildup of Russian heavy weapons and personnel in eastern Ukraine continues. In Donetsk City, a SMM UAV recently spotted a ‘huge arsenal,’ including 23 T-72 tanks, multiple launch rocket systems, self-propelled artillery systems, and up to 60 military trucks. Given the proximity to the line of contact, each of these weapons constitutes a violation of the terms of the Minsk agreements. […] Finally, Russia continues to violate international law through its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea. Once again, we call on Russia to put an end to its oppressive and discriminatory treatment of the population in Crimea, which remains part of Ukraine. Reports of Russia’s systematic repression of Crimean Tatars include allegations of unjust detentions, kidnapping and torture, and arbitrary searches of Crimean Tatars’ homes and places of worship.” The full statement is available athttps://osce.usmission.gov/
3. Crimean Tatar leader illegally imprisoned in Russian-occupied Crimea prevented from attending his own trial
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “The Crimean Supreme Court under Russian occupation has again begun hearings into one of the most openly lawless of all Russia’s prosecutions since its invasion of Crimea, and there is plenty of competition. Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz, Ali Asanov and Mustafa Degermendzhy have been in custody for well over a year and are facing surreal charges connected with a pre-annexation demonstration over which Russian has no jurisdiction. All three men were further remanded in custody until October this year. The court on July 20 also ordered that the charges against Chiygoz – of ‘organizing a mass riot’ be tried separately from those of participating in such a ‘mass riot’ against Asanov, Degermendzhy, as well as Eskender Kantemirov; Eskender Emervaliyev and Arsen Yunusov (who are not in detention). The defence objected and intend to appeal against this decision which they believe is aimed at dissipating support for the men involved and attention to the case. The wish to minimize public attention to the persecution of the highest-ranking Mejlis leader in Crimea almost certainly prompted another decision. Nariman Dzhelyal, the First Deputy Head of the Mejlis, has reported that the prosecutor (Dombrovsky) applied for the court hearings to be held by video link from the prison where Chiygoz is being held. This was claimed to be out of concern for the safety of the so-called ‘victims’. The court, as usual, allowed that application, while rejecting the entirely justified application for the entire proceedings to be terminated in view of the lack of a crime and the fact that Russia has no jurisdiction.” The full report from KHPG is available at http://khpg.org/en/index.
4. FBI assisting Ukrainian authorities in investigation of Pavel Sheremet’s murder
The US State Department stated that the FBI is assisting Ukrainian authorities with the investigation into the murder of prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was killed yesterday in Kyiv in a car bomb explosion. US State Department spokesperson J. Kirby stated that “We welcome the statements by the police and prosecutor general that the act will be fully investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun to assist Ukrainian authorities with their investigation.”