Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
4 October 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 Popasne. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Zaytseve, Kamyansk and Avdiyivka. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist fired on Ukrainian positions at Maryinka, Starohnativka, Bohdanivka and the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne line. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action.
2. IMF publishes Ukraine report
The International Monetary Fund published its Ukraine country report on 3 October. The IMF stated, “The authorities have continued to make progress in implementing the program. Notwithstanding the delay in completing this review, mainly related to a difficult approval process of the 2016 budget and political tensions culminating in a change in government in April 2016, important policy measures have been taken since the last review. This includes a sizable fiscal adjustment; a successful completion of the debt operation with private bondholders; the increase in gas and heating tariffs to full cost recovery; and decisive steps to rehabilitate the banking system. However, progress in tackling corruption, privatizing state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and advancing pension reform has been slower than envisaged against significant political resistance. The economy has stabilized and is showing signs of a gradual recovery. Following a severe economic crisis, activity is picking up, inflation has receded quickly, and confidence is improving. International reserves have doubled to over US$14 billion. Continued determined policy implementation is needed to achieve program objectives, given the still significant challenges lying ahead. The new government has affirmed its commitment to the program’s reform agenda. Policies in the period ahead aim to: (i) further strengthen public finances via expenditure consolidation- including pension reform-and improvements in tax administration; (ii) continue to improve banks’ financial health; (iii) maintain prudent monetary policy and exchange rate flexibility; and (iv) speed up structural reforms to overhaul the SOE sector, improve the business climate, and, importantly, tackle corruption, without which the program cannot be successful. The policy agenda is ambitious, and its timely implementation remains critical. Staff supports the completion of the second review, and the authorities’ requests for waivers of the missed performance criteria, rephasing of access, and financing assurances review. All prior actions have been met, demonstrating the authorities’ commitment to the program and offering assurances of their ability to achieve program objectives. The purchase available upon completion of this review would be equivalent to SDR 716.110 million, bringing total purchases under the EFF to SDR 5,444.21 million.” The full report is available at http://www.imf.org/external/
3. BBC: Slave Labour being used in prisons in Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk
The BBC reported that human rights activists in Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts have stated that there is evidence that slave labour camps of prisoners are operating in the Russian-occupied territories. The BBC stated, “A newly published report alleges that 5,000 people in the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic are held in solitary confinement, beaten, starved or tortured if they refuse to carry out unpaid work. […]’About 5,000 people work without payment every day in order to preserve their life and health, to receive visits from relatives and not to die of hunger,” [the report] goes on. ‘All this takes place for the purpose of enriching a certain group of people in the so-called LPR.’ […] The director of the Eastern Human Rights Group, Pavel Lisyansky, says he has evidence that a similar forced labour system is employed in prisons in the neighbouring Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) […] affecting a further 5,000 prisoners. A report on conditions in the DPR will be published next month. […] ‘It’s hard to believe that we are witnessing slave labour in the middle of Europe in the 21st Century. But this is happening, and something needs to be done,’ Lisyansky says.”
4. Atlantic Council: Kremlin panics after Dutch MH-17 Report, and It Should
Writing for the Atlantic Council, A. Sobchenko stated, “The report of the Dutch-led investigation team on the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine offered a momentary glimpse into the true nature of the proverbial riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Instead of denying any Russian involvement in the death of 298 people in July 2014, a number of official spokespersons, journalists, and bloggers known for their close ties to the Kremlin reacted nervously and with contradictory responses. […] This unusual variety of perspectives on such a crucial issue betrays fear in Moscow’s official circles. Before the report, Kremlin propaganda denied not only Russian or separatist involvement in the tragedy, but even refused to admit that the Boeing was shot down by a Russian-made missile. […] Putin and his cohorts have been caught red-handed in willful mendacity on many previous occasions and the Russian regime has invariably maintained its collective poker face. […] The international investigative team indicated that about a hundred individuals were ‘linked to the crash or to the transport of the Buk’ missile, though the investigators have yet to determine who could be held criminally responsible. There is a chance that some of them belong to Russia’s top leadership, perhaps all the way up to Putin himself. We know what happened to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after he was implicated in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland. Gaddafi became an international pariah, banned from visiting all Western capitals other than New York during UN General Assembly sessions. A similar ban might be considered for the perpetrators of the MH17 shootdown. A quick detour through recent Soviet history can help clarify what such a ban would mean for contemporary Russian elites. […]Being cut off from enjoying their wealth in the West would render Russian elites’ existence drab and even senseless. Nothing would scare them more than an extension of the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which banned a handful of Russian nationals from entering the US due to their complicity in the death of a Russian lawyer investigating corruption. The people responsible for downing MH17 could be subject to a similar travel ban. […] Russian history has several examples of Russian elites turning against their national leader. Putin has every reason to fear the fate of Tsars Peter III and Pavel I, or even General Secretary Joseph Stalin, who died under mysterious circumstances.” The full article is available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.
org/blogs/new-atlanticist/ kremlin-panics-after-dutch- report-and-it-should