Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
23 January 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed terrorists continued to try to capture strategic positions from which to carry out further military operations. The Russian Federation continues to strengthen its military contingent in eastern Ukraine. Kremlin-backed terrorist forces are being rotated out for soldiers of the armed forces of the Russian Federation. The number of Russian troops in areas under the control of Kremlin-backed terrorists has reached over 9,000 – the highest number since the beginning of the conflict. Kremlin-backed terrorists continued shelling Ukrainian positions with Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers), artillery, mortars, and tanks. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported that Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Ukrainian positions 115 times in the last 24 hours. The RNBO reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours 3 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 50 were wounded. The Ministry of Defense reported at 5 PM Kyiv time that in battles near Opytne and Vodyane, Donetsk oblast, Ukrainian soldiers killed more than 50 Kremlin-backed terrorists. Ukrainian soldiers captured 2 enemy armored personnel carriers and artillery, and destroyed 4 enemy tanks.
2. Kremlin-backed terrorist “leader”: no more ceasefire talks
Kremlin-backed terrorist “leader” of the so-called Donetsk “Peoples’ Republic,” A. Zakharchenko, stated that they “will not make any attempts at ceasefire talks anymore,” the BBC reported.
3. NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe: We see same type of equipment that accompanied previous Russian troop movements into Ukraine
Answering questions after a NATO Chiefs of Defense meeting on January 22, US General P. Breedlove (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe), stated “the Russian backed forces have a renewed capability now to bring pressure on the Ukrainian forces and have in several places moved the line of contact to the west… and this is concerning. As to our vision… into what is going on as far as troops in the East now what I can tell you is that we are beginning to see the signatures of air defence systems and electronic warfare systems that have accompanied past Russian troops movements into Ukraine. […] [I]n two instances where we’ve had Russian troops across the border actively in Eastern Ukraine, in both of those instances we had presence of certain types of air defence and other capabilities in Eastern Ukraine. […] I’m not going to discuss the specific intelligence but I will tell you that we see the same types of equipment et cetera in Eastern Ukraine now.”
4. Canadian Foreign Minister demands Russia commit to ceasefire obligations, condemns violence
On 22 January, Canadian Foreign Minister J. Baird stated, “Canada is appalled by Russia’s reprehensible actions aimed at deepening the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Russia continues to ignore its responsibilities outlined in the Minsk agreements. Instead of working to implement its commitments under these agreements, Russia has stepped up its supply of material support, including heavy weaponry, to its proxy fighters in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, while continuing to send its own armed forces across the Ukrainian border. Canada condemns these acts in no uncertain terms. This recent escalation of hostilities has resulted in a mounting civilian death toll, a relentless and deadly assault against the Donetsk airport and the destruction of key civilian infrastructure and has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine. I expressed my condolences directly to the Ukrainian foreign minister today. Canada demands Russia immediately and fully abide by its commitments made under the Minsk agreements. Today, at the World Economic Forum, I met with allies and partners in the region to discuss the situation. We will continue to work hand-in-hand to isolate Russia politically and economically if they choose to continue down this dangerous path.”
5. PACE President calls for release of Nadiya Savchenko
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) President A. Brasseur wrote to Russian Duma Speaker S. Naryshkin on 21 January asking for his assistance in “securing the urgent release of detained Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko in time to allow her to be present” for the opening of the PACE session on Monday 26 January, as a member of Ukraine’s delegation. Savchenko, a Ukrainian air force pilot, who was serving in eastern Ukraine, was abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in mid-June and taken to Russia, where she has been illegally detained and imprisoned since that time. She was elected to Ukraine’s parliament in October. She began a hunger strike in protest of her illegal detention last month.
CALL TO ACTION: Support the international campaign #FreeSavchenko
Monday, January 26 is the international day of support for Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko, who continues a hunger strike in protest of her illegal detention by the Russian Federation. Please participate in public demonstrations organized in your community.