Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
16 December 2016, 5PM 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 several locations near Pospasne. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Avdiyivka and Luhanske village. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Shyrokyne and Talakivka with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Maryinka, Hnutove and several other locations on the Mariupol sector of the front. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action.
2. EU agrees to extend Russia sanctions until mid-2017
European Union leaders agreed on 15 December to extend economic sanctions against Russia until mid-2017. Reuters reported, “The decision was expected and the formal process to extend the sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy and financial sectors will take place early next week.” Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko welcomed the decision, stating, “I am sincerely grateful for unwavering unity and solidarity of the European leaders in restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Crimea,” Reuters reported.
3. Meeting of European Council: Conclusions on Ukraine
The European Council at the level of heads of state or government met on 15 December. Regarding Ukraine, the European Council stated, “The European Council reconfirms its commitment to international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine as well as the conclusion of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. The aim of association agreements is to support partner countries on their path to becoming stable and prosperous democracies, and to reflect the strategic and geopolitical importance the European Union attaches to the regional context. Therefore, completing the ratification process remains a crucial EU objective. After having carefully noted the outcome of the Dutch referendum on 6 April 2016 on the bill approving the Association Agreement and the concerns expressed prior to the referendum as conveyed by the Dutch Prime Minister, the European Council takes note of a Decision of the Heads of State or Government of the 28 Member States of the European Union, meeting within the European Council (Annex), which addresses these concerns in full conformity with the Association Agreement and the EU treaties. […]The European Council welcomes the results of the EU-Ukraine Summit on 24 November 2016 and stresses the Union’s continued resolve to deepen and strengthen its relationship with Ukraine in the face of current challenges. It recognizes Ukraine’s achievements in implementing reforms to meet European standards and the fact that it has met the conditions for a visa-free regime with the Union. Further to the adoption of a robust suspension mechanism, the co-legislators are invited to complete the procedure leading to the lifting of visa requirements for Ukraine and Georgia.” The full statement from the European Council is available at http://www.consilium.europa.
eu/en/press/press-releases/ 2016/12/15-euco-conclusions- ukraine/
4. Community policing training in Ukraine – Canadian police join latest phase
The EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine reported, “The fourth phase of the nationwide roll-out of community policing training in Ukraine delivered by the EU Advisory Mission (EUAM) ended today, with certificate ceremonies for programme graduates in Ivano-Frankivsk, Mykolaiv, Poltava and Uzhhorod. This brings the total number of regions where this training programme has been delivered over the course of 2016 to fifteen. The fifth phase is due to start on 21 February 2017 with training in Lutsk and Ternopil, and it is planned that training will be delivered in all Ukraine’s regions by the end of 2017. Community policing is a philosophy, which aims to strengthen the links between police forces and the community they serve. […] Community policing places a large emphasis on preventing crime by tackling its underlying causes through cooperation between the police, elected representatives, members of the local business community, employees of public bodies (for example teachers, hospital workers etc.) or religious leaders. […]EUAM is the first international organisation to implement a nationwide programme of training in community policing for police officers in Ukraine. The approach that has been taken is ‘train-the-trainers’ and the graduates of EUAM’s programme will now be expected to train the colleagues in their region. […]For the first time, the training sessions in Ivano-Frankivsk, Mykolaiv, Poltava and Uzhhorod were delivered with the assistance of Canadian police officers deployed in Ukraine. Further cooperation in the future between EUAM and the Canadian police in Ukraine is planned.”
5. Ukraine’s President, PM speak with US Vice President
Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko and Prime Minister V. Groysman held separate phone conversations with US Vice President J. Biden on 15 December. The White House stated, “The leaders reiterated their unwavering support for full implementation of the Minsk agreements and underscored the need to reinstitute a full cease-fire and ensure full access for OSCE monitors to enable further disengagement of forces along the line of contact. […]The leaders agreed that sanctions on Russia should remain in place until Russia has fully implemented its Minsk commitments. Turning to Ukraine’s European future, the Vice President congratulated Ukraine on the results of the EU-Ukraine Summit on November 24 and expressed hope that Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU will be ratified in the coming months and that Ukrainians will soon benefit from visa-free travel to the EU. The leaders also discussed Ukraine’s economic reform agenda and agreed on the importance of making progress on the reforms required to meet Ukraine’s commitments to the IMF, which are essential to putting Ukraine’s economy on a stable, sustainable path. Finally, the Vice President noted the critical importance of Ukraine’s ongoing fight against corruption and expressed strong support for the work of the National Anticorruption Bureau and National Bank of Ukraine.”
6. Top US Commander in Europe visits Ukrainian front-line soldiers
Stars and Stripes reported, “The top U.S. commander in Europe visited Ukrainian front-line troops and defense officials as tensions with Russia continue, the Pentagon announced Thursday. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, met with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak and Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko during the span of two days, a news release stated. They met to discuss security cooperation, military reform and ways to improve relationships between the two nations, the release stated. Scaparrotti also visited troops involved in ongoing combat operations against Russian troops and their proxy forces, the release stated, as the conflict simmers. […] The visit is Scaparrotti’s second in a month, following his outing at Joint Military Training Group-Ukraine, where approximately 350 U.S. troops conduct training with Ukrainian counterparts.”