Ukraine: Daily Briefing
10 February 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded in action. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near Avdiivka. Near Svitlodarsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrianian positions with mortars. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Popasne with mortars. Near Shchastya, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Pavlopil and Vodyane with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on several Ukrainian positions on the Mariupol sector of the front with small arms.
2. GOP Senators ask President to expedite provision of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine
On February 9, in a joint letter to President Trump, Republican Senators Rob Portman (OH), Cory Gardner (CO), Jim Inhofe (OK), Todd Young (IN), Mike Rounds (SD), Joni Ernst (IA), Susan Collins (ME), and Lindsey Graham (SC) stated, “The United States should unequivocally condemn – and take proactive steps to stem – the continued Russian aggression in Ukraine. Russia has invaded Ukraine and illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula, in violation of international law, and has directly abetted the so-called ‘separatist rebels’ in eastern Ukraine. Since 2014, over 10,000 Ukrainians have died in this tragic conflict, and there are as many as 1.5 million internally displaced persons because of the violence. The most recent escalation of fighting along the ‘line of contact’ in eastern Ukraine should serve as a reminder of Russia’s nefarious intentions. The Administration should maintain the current U.S. sanctions regime against Russia and Russian entities – and to impose new sanctions as necessary and merited by Russian behavior -unless Ukraine’s control over Crimea is restored, Russia fully respects the Minsk agreements, and ceases all efforts to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty. Furthermore, we ask you to expedite the provision of defensive lethal weapons to Ukraine, and we were encouraged that Secretary of State Tillerson supported this position during his confirmation hearing.” The full text of the letter is available at http://www.portman.senate.gov/
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3. Former NATO Commander: New US Administration should fully support Ukraine against Kremlin aggression
On February 9, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander, US European Command General Phil Breedlove (Ret) testified at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. General Breedlove stated, “President Putin has made clear that he wants to upend the post-Cold War order established in Europe. He and senior Russian officials have justified aggression in Ukraine by claiming a right to protect ethnic Russians and Russian speakers there; and they have said that this principle applies elsewhere. Their goal is to weaken NATO, the European Union, and the Transatlantic relationship. The peace that we established in Europe in 1945, and that we reinforced at the end of the Cold War in 1989, has been the basis of the unprecedented security and prosperity that we have enjoyed for the past twenty-five years. […] We have a vital interest in maintaining a strong NATO and vibrant Europe. Over the past nine years, the Kremlin has committed multiple acts of aggression: in Georgia in 2008; in Crimea in early 2014; and since then an ongoing not-so-covert war in Ukraine’s East. It has agreed to two ceasefires – Minsk I and II – and violated each repeatedly. And Moscow has intimated, by actions and statements that if it succeeds in Ukraine, there will be future targets. […] We have a vital interest in stopping Moscow’s revanchist policies before they move to other countries, and especially our NATO allies in the Baltics. […]And the Trump Administration, which understands the value of negotiating from strength, should adopt a position of forward defense in dealing with the Kremlin challenge to NATO. It should fully support Ukraine against Kremlin aggression. The Obama Administration was reluctant to provide Ukraine with the defensive weapons necessary to better defend itself. The new team can do better than that. It is also essential to provide Moscow no free passes in its war on Ukraine. Our and Europe’s economic sanctions – which cost the Russian economy 1-1.5 of GDP in 2015 – were imposed as an incentive for Moscow to meet its Minsk commitments and withdraw from Ukraine’s East, and as a deterrence against additional aggression. It would be a sign of weakness to ease those sanctions for anything less than Moscow’s full compliance with Minsk.”
|Lithuanian Foreign Miniser Linkevicius in Avdiivka|
4. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister visits Avdiivka
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius visited Avdiivka and Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. Linkevicius stated, “We came to voice our solidarity with the people that live practically on the front line and were under intense shelling last week. We wanted to see the security situation in eastern Ukraine for ourselves and learn at first hand what kind of help is needed by the people who live here. We saw multi-storey residential buildings that were destroyed as Russia-backed separatists shelled them. Such sights are shocking. These are terrible crimes. It is obvious that Russia’s continuing aggression against the Ukrainian people and the shelling by Russia-backed separatists violate the Minsk agreements. Sanctions against Russia must be kept in place. This is important for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. This is also important from a moral point of view,” Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry reported.
5. Ukraine’s Prime Minister meets with European Commission President
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Following the meeting, President Juncker stated, “We were discussing of course – because this is a matter of highest concern to me – the situation in Eastern Ukraine, and the Prime Minister explained to me what is happening on the ground. But the other part of our conversation was dealing with the disbursement of the second tranche to Ukraine. And as I have to say that Ukraine is realising in the last two or three years reforms of a greater magnitude than those which were realised during the 20 years before […] this in my eyes is a sufficient condition to disburse the EUR 600 million Ukrainians are waiting for. This will be done in the next coming weeks, because I do think that after having watched the reform effort of Ukraine, Ukrainians have the right to see something in return. And the first decision we have taken this morning together – but I had taken it yesterday evening – is that we have to disburse the second tranche in the next coming weeks. We are supporting Ukraine, not only in its conflict with Russia, but more generally. We are in favour of having everyone – not only the neighbours, but mainly the neighbours – respecting the Ukrainian sovereignty. We have a strategic partnership with Ukraine and our future relations will develop along these lines. […] We were discussing the issue of visa liberalisation: this will happen before summer.”
6. European Investment Bank launches program to support Small and Medium Enterprises in Ukraine
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has “joined forces with the EU’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) to provide a comprehensive package of instruments designed to help companies in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia make the most of the opportunities arising from the implementation of their free trade agreements with the EU, which involve the progressive removal of barriers to trade and the alignment of standards with those of the EU. The EU contribution forms part of the European Commission’s wider EU4Business initiative, which brings together EU-funded programmes supporting SME development and improving the business environment in the Eastern Partnership region,” the EU External Action Service reported.