Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
26 March 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 in the last 24 hours no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded. Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to violate the terms of the ceasefire; the RNBO stated that in addition to firing on Ukrainian positions with small arms, grenade launchers and mortars, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions near Opytne (near the Donetsk airport) from a tank. The RNBO reported that according to intelligence information 2 columns of military equipment including tanks and fuel trucks entered Ukrainian territory from the Russian Federation on 24-25 March.
2. US Senate unanimously passes resolution urging President Obama to expedite defensive assistance to Ukraine
On 24 March, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution (S.Res.72) whereby the Senate “urges the President to prioritize and expedite the provision of defensive lethal and non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine, consistent with United States national interests and policies, as authorized and supported by Congress in the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 (Public Law 113- 272.” The full text of the resolution is available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/
3. Canadian House of Commons passes motion calling for sanctions of human rights abusers
On 25 March Canada’s House of Commons unanimously passed a motion introduced by MP I. Cotler calling on the government to “Explore and encourage sanctions against any foreign nationals who were responsible for the detention, torture or death of Sergei Magnitsky or who have been involved in covering up the crimes he exposed; Explore sanctions as appropriate against any foreign nationals responsible for violations of internationally recognized human rights in a foreign country, when authorities in that country are unable or unwilling to conduct a thorough, independent and objective investigation of the violations.” Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who uncovered evidence of tax money theft by Russian officials, was arrested, imprisoned, beaten and left in prison for almost a year where he died in 2009. “It was the escalating oppression of Putin, both domestically in Russia, and external aggression with regard to the Crimea and Ukraine – all this has been a kind of wake-up call,” the Globe and Mail quoted Cotler as stating.
4. Kolomoyskyi: We do not have a conflict with the President’s team
Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko was in Dnipropetrovsk and introduced the new head of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast State Administration (Governor) – Valentyn Reznichenko. At a joint press conference with former Dnipropetrovsk governor I. Kolomoyskyi, whose resignation Poroshenko accepted on 25 March, Poroshenko thanked Kolomoyskyi and his team, stating, that they “took responsibility upon themselves at the most difficult and most important time, and did not ask what the cost was. There is nothing personal in my decision. It was about principles.” Kolomoyskyi stated, “We do not have a conflict with the President’s team. We will support the new Governor and keep Dnipropetrovsk safe and secure.”
5. European Parliament approves 1.8 billion Euro loan to Ukraine
On 25 March, the European Parliament approved a 1.8 billion Euro loan to Ukraine, by a vote of 492-107. The European Commission will raise funds on the international bond market and lend the funds to Ukraine at no extra interest beyond what the EU must pay to its lenders. The terms of the loan must still be agreed to by the EU and Ukraine in a memorandum. The European Parliament stated, “The draft deal includes public finance management reforms, anti-corruption measures, tax administration changes; reforms in the energy and financial sectors; and measures to improve the business environment.” Once signed, two thirds of the money may be disbursed by the end of 2015 and the remaining tranche in the first quarter of 2016. Rapporteur G. Landsbergis (EPP, LT) stated, “The result of today’s vote is a strong political message, not only to Ukraine to show that the EU stands firmly by it, but also to those countries which seek to see us divided in helping Ukraine.”
6. General Prosecutor submits indictment of Kharkiv Mayor
The General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine stated that they have submitted indictments to court in criminal proceedings against Kharkiv mayor H. Kernes on suspicion of committing crimes under par. 2 Art. 146 (unlawful imprisonment or kidnapping); par. 2 Art. 127 (torture); par. 1 Art. 129 (death threats) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.