Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
22 December 2016, 5PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces carried out heavy artillery and mortar shelling of Ukrainian positions near Svitlodarsk. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions and residential areas of Avdiyivka, damaging a residential building. No civilians were injured. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist fired on Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska, Orikhove and Popasne. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka with mortars and Novohryhorivka with artillery. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and eleven Ukrainian soldiers were wounded, in combat near Svitlodarsk.
2. Washington Post: Cybersecurity firm report links hack of DNC to Russian military intelligence
The Washington Post reported, “A cybersecurity firm has uncovered strong proof of the tie between the group that hacked the Democratic National Committee and Russia’s military intelligence arm – the primary agency behind the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. The firm CrowdStrike linked malware used in the DNC intrusion to malware used to hack and track an Android phone app used by the Ukrainian army in its battle against pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine from late 2014 through 2016. […]Now, said CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch, ‘we have high confidence’ it was a unit of the GRU. CrowdStrike had dubbed that unit ‘Fancy Bear.'[…] After the election, the CIA and other intelligence agencies concluded that one of Russia’s aims was to help President-elect Donald Trump win the election through a campaign of ‘active measures’ or influence operations that included the hacking and dumping of emails onto public websites. The GRU, evidently, was key to this operation. ‘The GRU is used for both tactical intelligence collection in the battlefield in support of Russian military operations and also strategic active measures or psychological warfare overseas,’ said Alperovitch, who is an expert on Russia and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. ‘The fact that they would be tracking and helping the Russian military kill Ukrainian army personnel in eastern Ukraine and also intervening in the U.S. election is quite chilling.’ CrowdStrike found that a variant of the Fancy Bear malware that was used to penetrate the DNC’s network in April 2016 was also used to hack an Android app developed by the Ukrainian army to help artillery troops more efficiently train their antiquated howitzers on targets.” The full report from the Washington Post is available athttps://www.washingtonpost.
com/world/national-security/ cybersecurity-firm-finds-a- link-between-dnc-hack-and- ukrainian-artillery/2016/12/ 21/47bf1f5a-c7e3-11e6-bf4b- 2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_ term=.675994a567d2
3. Ukraine’s President speaks with German Chancellor
Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko held a phone conversation with German Chancellor A. Merkel. President Poroshenko’s press service reported, “The President expressed condolences to the German people over the terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. ‘We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever it may happen,’ the Head of State noted. The parties discussed the situation in Donbas, particularly the attempted attack by Russian militants near Svitlodarsk. Petro Poroshenko and Angela Merkel underlined the importance of ceasefire in Donbas and immediate liberation of Ukrainian hostages. The Chancellor of Germany also emphasized the importance of ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement by the Netherlands and completion of all procedures for the introduction of the visa-free regime for Ukrainians.”
4. US Congressman Pascrell: US must increase Russia sanctions
In a letter to the US Senate and House Majority and Minority Leaders, US Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), stated, “In light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continued meddling and aggression around the globe, I encourage you to prioritize our national security in the 115th Congress. One of the first items of business the Congress must consider next year is legislation to further tighten economic sanctions against Russia. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the STAND for Ukraine Act to contain, reverse, and deter Russian aggression in Ukraine; support the sovereignty of Crimea against Russia’s illegal annexation; and ultimately assist Ukraine’s democratic transition. Advancing this bill would be an important show of American strength. […] As you know, the current sanctions on Russia were implemented in 2014 through executive orders relating to its actions in Ukraine. These sanctions serve as an important tool to ensure Russia abandons its oppression at home and aggression abroad, which is why I am so concerned that they could be easily undone with the stroke of a pen by a future administration. The United States must send a clear message that we will not stand idly by as President Putin bullies his neighbors, tests the commitment of NATO, and works to fracture Western democracies. That is why it is critical for the Congress to pass the STAND for Ukraine Act. […] Maintaining strict sanctions on Russia until it abandons its oppression at home and aggression abroad has always been a source of bipartisan support, evidenced by the strong bipartisan passage of every piece of legislation ramping up Russian sanctions. Now, more than ever, it is critical the United States stand up to President Putin by sending a clear message that Russia’s aggression will not be tolerated.”