Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
12 January 2017, 7PM 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 near Troitske with mortars and artillery. At Stanytsia Luhanska Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdiyivka with artillery. Near Horlivka, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. Near Svitlodarsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces carried out heavy mortar shelling of Ukrainian positions near Maryinka-Krasnohorivka. Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Krasnohorivka with mortars. One civilian was wounded. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and five Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action.
2. US Vice President to make final visit to Kyiv January 15
US Vice President J. Biden will visit Kyiv for talks with Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko on January 15, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported. “Biden’s visit comes just five days before the end of his term of office and the beginning of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s term of office. It will be Biden’s sixth trip to Ukraine as vice president and a final show of support for Kyiv by the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama. He was last in Kyiv in December 2015,” RFE/RL stated.
3. Nominee for US Defense Secretary: Russia is at top of list of threats
The Nominee for US Secretary of Defense, retired General James Mattis is testifying today in confirmation hearings before the US Senate Armed Services Committee. Reuters reported, “Retired Marine General James Mattis said Russia, China and Islamist militants were presenting the biggest challenge to the U.S.-led world order since World War Two, and called for Congress to lift spending caps undermining military readiness.His remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee appeared set to clinch the panel’s backing for his nomination, as Russia-wary lawmakers hope he might temper Trump’s stated desire to partner with Moscow.’I’m all for engagement but we also have to recognize reality in what Russia is up to,’ Mattis said, adding there were a ‘decreasing number of areas’ where the United States might cooperate with Moscow.Asked about the main threats to U.S. interests, Mattis said: ‘I would consider the principle threats to start with Russia.'[…] Mattis cited Russian involvement in hacking and information warfare among the challenges posed by Moscow. Others include treaty violations, using tactics short of open war to destabilize other countries and ‘alarming messages from Moscow regarding the use of nuclear weapons.’ Mattis said Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to undermine NATO. Mattis had talked about the importance of the Western military alliance with Trump who was open to the discussion, the retired general said.”
4. Nominee for CIA Director on Russian aggression
Mike Pompeo, nominee for CIA Director, is testifying today in confirmation hearings at the US Senate Intelligence Committee. In prepared testimony, Pompeo stated, “As many have noted, this is the most complicated threat environment the U.S. has faced in recent memory. […]Russia has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction of ISIS.”
5. US Mission to OSCE Statement at Meeting of OSCE Permanent Council
Speaking at the OSCE Permanent Council, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “Unfortunately, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine continues. Russia maintains its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea and systematically violates the human rights of those who reside on this sovereign Ukrainian territory, viciously targeting Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, and anyone who opposes Russia’s occupation. Russia also continues to train, equip, and fight alongside so-called separatists in eastern Ukraine, putting civilians on both sides the line of contact at constant risk. […] Unfortunately, Russia continues to deny that it is party to this conflict, even as OSCE monitors document the presence of Russian troops and equipment in separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine. […] I was pleased to hear our Russian colleague this morning say that Russia advises all of us to ‘do no harm.’ And yet, after all the harm that Russia has done in Ukraine and elsewhere, it is difficult to take these words seriously.”