Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
31 August 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 carried out heavy shelling of Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska, Shchastya, Zhovte and Popasne with mortars and artillery. At Shchastya, Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of the city; a civilian nurse was injured as a result of the shelling. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars and artillery at several locations along the contact line – artillery and mortar shelling by Russian-terrorist forces was heaviest at Novhordske, Verkhnotroitske and Krasnohorivka. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces carried out heavy mortar and artillery shelling of Ukrainian positions at Shyrokyne. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Talakivka, Vodyane, and other locations with mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action.
2. EU set to prolong sanctions against Russia over Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “European Union ambassadors appear set to prolong asset freezes and visa bans against 146 individuals and 37 entities that, according to the EU, are responsible for actions against Ukraine’s territorial integrity. EU sources have told RFE/RL that the decision to prolong the measures by six months will be taken ahead of a September 15 deadline without much discussion. The targets of the sanctions include companies in Crimea and various battalions formed by the Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, as well as Russian politicians like Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Dmitry Kiselyov. […] The sanctions were first introduced in March 2014 after Russia’s seizure and illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The EU’s economic sanctions that target Russia’s energy, military, and financial sectors are up for renewal on January 31.EU sources told RFE/RL that those sectoral sanctions will be discussed at a Brussels summit of EU leaders in October.”
3. Ukraine to launch e-declaration system for public officials tonight
Ukraine will launch the e-declaration system, which requires public officials to file electronic declarations disclosing their assets, and the assets of family members, tonight at midnight Kyiv time, Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko stated. The President’s press service reported, “the program will be launched starting from September 1, 00:00.The Head of State emphasized that it would mean the fulfillment of all conditions of cooperation with the IMF and provision of the visa-free regime for Ukraine by the EU. Petro Poroshenko noted that the committee of the European Parliament would start considering the visa-free regime issue on September 5.” The requirement to file e-declarations will apply to about 50,000 civil servants this year, and almost one million in 2017.
4. Bellingcat publishes report analyzing number of Russian troops involved in combat operations in Ukraine
Investigative reporting group Bellingcat published a report, Russia’s War in Ukraine – The Medals and the Treacherous Numbers, which analyzes the number of Russian Armed Forces personnel involved in combat operations n Ukraine in 2014-15. The report states, “While there is now plentiful evidence documenting a direct and decisive participation of Russian servicemen and the Russian armed forces in the fighting in eastern Ukraine since summer 2014, it is however not possible to support the various claims about the size of the Russian involvement using public available information. […] Previous published analyses identified Russian servicemen who published imagery of awarded medals. This imagery is valuable because most of the higher Russian medals have a consecutive numbering, explicitly stating the number of medals awarded so far. Therefore, imagery from two medals awarded at different dates allows us to calculate the number of awarded medals between both dates. Awards of four medals are analyzed in this report. It is possible to demonstrate that the number of awarded medals, compared to the years before 2014, suddenly and strongly increased in 2014 and 2015. The large number of awarded medals ‘For Distinction in Combat’, 4300 awards between 07.11.2014 and 18.02.2016, strongly suggests larger combat operations with active Russian military involvement in this period. In sum, the data suggests that more than ten thousand medals of all four considered types were awarded in the considered period. Therefore, it can be directly concluded that: Thousands of Russian servicemen participated in 2014 and 2015 in combat operations and were awarded with medals for their actions in these operations. Because of the evidence presented in preceding reports documenting the presence of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine and its participating in the fighting, and because it is a rather unrealistic assumption that every Russian serviceman participating or involved in the fighting in eastern Ukraine has been awarded with one of the discussed medals, it is possible to conclude: Most likely far more than ten thousand Russian servicemen participated in combat operations in eastern Ukraine. Most likely tens of thousands Russian servicemen participated in or contributed to the fighting in eastern Ukraine.” The full report is available at https://www.bellingcat.com/
news/uk-and-europe/2016/08/31/ russias-war-ukraine-medals- treacherous-numbers/