Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
15 April 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to fire on Ukrainian positions with small arms, grenade launchers and mortars. Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions twice with tanks near Pisky. The areas of the most intense confrontations are at Shyrokyne and Chermalyk (towards Mariupol), near the Donetsk airport, and the Bakhmutivska highway (towards Luhansk). The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and 2 were wounded. The RNBO reported that in Belgorod oblast, Russia, 10 km from the Ukrainian-Russian border, 2000 Russian soldiers and 50 military vehicles have been deployed. The press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) reported that from midnight to 6 PM Kyiv time, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 24 times.
2. G7 Foreign Ministers: Duration of sanctions against Russia should be clearly linked to Russia’s complete implementation of Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty
The Foreign Ministers of the G7 (Canada, USA, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Italy) and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs issued the following communiqué following meetings in Germany: “We stand united in our conviction that the conflict in Ukraine can only be solved by diplomatic means and in full respect for international law, especially the legal obligation to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. […] Further and verifiable progress is required in particular as regards respect for the ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons. We expect in particular Russia to use its considerable influence over the separatists to meet their Minsk commitments in full. In this respect, the G7 underlines the close linkage between full implementation of the Minsk Agreements and international sanctions. Sanctions are not an end in themselves; their duration should be clearly linked to Russia’s complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty. We also expect Russia to take effective measures against trans-border support of separatist fighters. […]We reiterate our condemnation of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea more than a year ago in violation of international law and reaffirm our policy of its non-recognition and sanctions against those involved. Furthermore, we are concerned by the ongoing disinformation campaigns in the Russian state-controlled media as well as the growing pressure on political and civil society figures voicing disagreement with the course being taken by the Russian government.”
3. US House Foreign Affairs Committee holds hearing on Russia’s weaponization of information
The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs held hearings on Russia’s “weaponization of information”. In his opening statement, Committee Chairman E. Royce (R-CA) said, “Today we look at the danger of Russia’s misinformation campaign in Europe – indeed, around the world – and the failed U.S. response. As we will hear today, Russia’s propaganda machine is in overdrive, working to subvert democratic stability and foment violence in Eastern Europe. These tactics have undermined the government in Ukraine, laying the groundwork for invasion. This same plan is being worked in Eastern and Central Europe. Russian propaganda has the potential to destabilize NATO members, impacting our security commitments. This Russian campaign –what one witness describes as the “weaponization of information”– seriously threatens U.S. security. […] And the U.S. response? The agency expected to manage our response – the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) – is far behind. […] Our international broadcasting is in disarray. The journalists of the BBG risk their lives reporting from the frontlines across the world. They deserve better support. And the American people need much more from this agency if we’re going to respond to the rapidly evolving media environment and better secure the long-term security interests of the United States.”
4. NATO Commander applauds Canada’s decision to train Ukrainian military
On 14 April, US General P. Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and Commander, US European Command, stated, “I applaud the announcement out of Canada today on their decision to join the training of Ukraine National Guard personnel. While I continue to believe there is no military resolution to the crisis, the training will help build Ukraine’s capacity for internal defense and assist them in reaching their long term defense institutional building and reform goals.”
5. European Court of Human Rights extends time allowed for Russia’s observations on admissibility of case concerning Crimea and Eastern Ukraine by six months
On 13 April, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) stated that the court has agreed to extend “the time allowed for submission of the Russian Government’s observations on the admissibility of two inter-State applications lodged by the Government of Ukraine against the Russian Federation” to 25 September 2015, at the request of the Russian government. Ukraine v. Russia (application no. 20958/14) “concerns the events leading up to and following the assumption of control by the Russian Federation over the Crimean peninsula from March 2014 and subsequent developments in Eastern Ukraine up to the beginning of September 2014,” the ECHR stated.