Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
10 November 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 shelled Ukrainian positions at Krymske and Popasne with mortars. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Luhanske village and Avdiyivka with mortars, firing over 200 shells. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions along the Krasnohorivka-Maryinka line and the Pavlopil-Shyrokyne line with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Maryinka, damaging two residential buildings. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action.
2. US Mission to OSCE on Russia’s ongoing violations in Ukraine
Ambassador D. Baer, US Representative to the OSCE, stated at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, “The United States remains deeply concerned by the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The ceasefire appears to be unraveling, and violence has reached peak levels not seen since August 2015. […] We are deeply concerned by the recent build-up of combined Russian-separatist forces outside of Mariupol; combined Russian-separatist forces shelled a Mariupol suburb on November 2. This attack, carried out by long-range artillery proscribed under the Minsk agreements and recently moved to the line of contact, is chillingly reminiscent of a January 2015 attack on Mariupol in which Russia-led forces killed over 30 civilians and injured scores more. Russia must immediately withdraw these and all other proscribed weapons in line with the Minsk agreements. […] Colleagues, each week in the Permanent Council we hear that the Russian Federation wants peace in Donbas. Unfortunately, Russian actions on the ground in eastern Ukraine continue to suggest otherwise. If Russia truly wants a peaceful resolution to this conflict, it will stop arming, training, and fighting alongside separatist forces, particularly at Stanytsia Luhanska, so disengagement can move forward. […] We once again draw the Permanent Council’s attention to Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Russia is building up its military presence in this region […] We also remain deeply troubled by ongoing reports of human rights abuses in Crimea. This week six more Crimean Tatars were sent for forced psychiatric evaluation in retaliation for their opposition to Russia’s occupation. […] Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia ends its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea and returns control over this land to Ukraine. We join our European and other partners in restating that our sanctions against Russia for its aggression in eastern Ukraine will remain until Russia fully implements its commitments in the Minsk Agreements.” The full statement is available at https://osce.usmission.gov/
3. Former US Ambassador to Ukraine on Trump presidential election victory
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, Director, Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, stated “[Trump’s] candidacy also represented the many Americans unhappy with the repeated failed interventions in the greater Middle East-Iraq, Libya, and even Afghanistan. The fact that his opponent trumpeted Libya as a victory and promised a foreign policy of more of the same strengthened Trump’s candidacy. Understanding this is important to understanding what Trump may or may not do on policy toward Russia and Ukraine. Most of Trump’s statements during the campaign suggested that he can conduct business with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has little interest in Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, and is ambivalent about NATO’s role in today’s world. But we do not know if he would develop policies based on these statements. In the president-elect’s entourage, only LTG Michael Flynn is reputed to have ‘dovish’ views on Russia. But Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, Senator Bob Corker, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton all understand the dangers of Kremlin revisionism and have backed stronger US support for Ukraine. They should provide at least a moderating voice, if not a decisive one, in the formulation of the Trump administration’s policies toward Moscow and Kyiv. Even if Trump wanted to pursue a policy of rapprochement with the Kremlin, he would have trouble bringing Congress along if Moscow continues its war in Ukraine’s east and its indiscriminate bombing in Syria. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are deeply suspicious of the Kremlin and supportive of Ukraine. […] Finally, there is the question of how Putin’s behavior will affect Trump. If Putin’s warplanes continue to get dangerously close to American ships and planes, Trump may well consider that a challenge demanding a response. The same is true if Moscow continues to bomb US-supported rebels in Syria. In short, many factors will play a role in determining the Trump administration’s policy toward Russia and today we can only see some of them.”