Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
26 January 2015, 8 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) stated at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed terrorists and soldiers of the armed forces of the Russian Federation continued active military operations in attempts to gain more territory. Kremlin-backed terrorists continued to shell Ukrainian positions with artillery, mortars, tanks and Grads (truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers). The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, 7 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 25 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded. The Ministry of Defense reported at 3:54 Kyiv time that in Smilye district, Luhansk oblast, Ukrainian forces destroyed a tank and killed up to 60 Kremlin-backed terrorists; almost 300 Kremlin-backed terrorists were wounded. The press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) reported at 6 PM Kyiv time that the most difficult situation in the ATO zone is towards Debaltsevo, Donetsk oblast, where Kremlin-backed terrorists attacked Ukrainian positions three times near Sanzharivka. The attacks were repelled and Ukrainian forces remain in their positions.
2. US President: I will look at all additional options short of a military confrontation
At a news conference on 25 January, US President B. Obama stated, “We are deeply concerned about the latest break in the cease-fire and the aggression that these separatists — with Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and Russian troops — are conducting. And we will continue to take the approach that we’ve taken in the past, which is to ratchet up the pressure on Russia. And I will look at all additional options that are available to us short of a military confrontation in trying to address this issue. And we’ll be in close consultation with our international partners, and particularly European partners, to assure that they stay in lockstep with us on this issue.”
3. PACE confirms Nadiya Savchenko’s membership; Russian delegation’s credentials challenged
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe confirmed Nadiya Savchenko’s membership as part of Ukraine’s delegation. During her opening address to the session, PACE President A. Brasseur stated, “it is of grave concern that Ms Nadiya Savchenko, who is now member of the Verkhovna Rada and since this morning confirmed as a member of our Assembly, is detained in the Russian Federation. I hope that her situation will be resolved swiftly and she will be able to join us in this hemicycle very soon.” The credentials of the Russian delegation to the PACE were challenged on substantive grounds. R. Walker (UK) stated he was making the challenge under Rule 8, which refers to “a serious violation of the basic principles of the Council of Europe” and “persistent failure to honour obligations and commitments.” He was supported “by at least thirty members” of the Assembly present. All 46 of the other national delegations were approved without challenge. PACE will debate the issue on 28 January – and vote on one of three options – to ratify the credentials, not to ratify them, or to ratify them “together with depriving or suspending the exercise of some of the rights of participation or representation of members of the delegation concerned in the activities of the Assembly and its bodies.”
4. NATO Secretary General to Putin: NATO legion in Ukraine is “nonsense;” foreign forces in Ukraine are Russian
Russian President V. Putin, speaking about Ukrainian forces, stated, “Essentially, this is not an army but is a foreign legion, in this particular case, a NATO foreign legion, which is not pursuing Ukraine’s national interests of course.” NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg responded to Putin’s statement, “As to the statement that there is a NATO legion in Ukraine, is nonsense. There is no NATO legion. The foreign forces in Ukraine are Russian. So I think that is in a way the problem. That there are Russian forces in Ukraine.”
5. US Treasury Secretary: US has more tools to increase pressure on Russia
As reported by Reuters, US Treasury Secretary J. Lew stated, “I think we have seen that the sanctions work to create real stress in the economy. We have more tools. I am not today going to enumerate what the tools are but we have more tools.” Lew stated that the goal was a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, but added, “We have to be prepared to do more if Russia does not take that path.”
6. Canadian reaction to indiscriminate shelling of civilians by Kremlin-backed terrorists
Following the indiscriminate shelling of civilians in Mariupol by Kremlin-backed terrorists on 24 January, which killed over 25 people and injured over 90, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs J. Baird stated, “Canada is outraged at today’s indiscriminate rocket attacks against the city of Mariupol by the Russian-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine, leaving dozens of innocent civilians dead. […] This disgraceful act further demonstrates Russia’s ongoing campaign of aggression against Ukraine and its shocking willingness to sacrifice civilian lives to achieve its illegitimate goals. […]As Canada mourns the victims of the shameful attacks on Mariupol, we, in consultation with the Ukrainian government, our partners and our allies, are examining our options for enacting further measures to dissuade Russia from continuing along this destructive path.”
7. Extraordinary session of EU Foreign Affairs Council to convene on 29 January
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs F. Mogherini will convene an extraordinary session of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Thursday 29 January on the situation in Ukraine.