Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
20 May 2015, 8 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that the number of violations of the ceasefire by Kremlin-backed terrorists has increased. Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to fire on Ukrainian positions with mortars, artillery, tanks, grenade launchers and small arms. The most unstable situation is towards Donetsk where Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 27 times near the Donetsk airport. Towards Luhansk, clashes continued near Troyikhizbenka, Shchastya and the Bakhmutska highway. Towards Mariupol, Kremlin-backed terrorists opened fire on Ukrainian positions near Shyrokyne four times. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and nine were wounded.
- Ukraine President: This is not a fight with Russian-backed separatists, this is a real war with Russia
In an interview with BBC, Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko stated, “I believe they’re preparing an offensive, and I think that we should be ready for that.” Asked if he trusted Vladimir Putin, Poroshenko said, “No.” Asked how he can negotiate with someone he doesn’t trust, Poroshenko stated. “I don’t have any option. […] This is not a fight with Russian-backed separatists. This is a real war with Russia.” Asked about US Secretary of State J. Kerry’s recent visit to Moscow, and “informed speculation that they’re making a new relationship, quite possibly at your expense,” Poroshenko stated, “If you ask me if I trust President Obama, if I trust Vice-President Biden, or if I trust Secretary Kerry, my answer would be yes. Immediately before Secretary Kerry went to Moscow, he called me from his plane and explained to me every detail they would [discuss] in Moscow about Ukraine, so I trust and I don’t [have] any suspicion that Ukraine would be traded in the relationship between Russia and the United States.”
- Representatives of international organizations visit captured Russian special forces soldiers
On 19 May, Radio Svoboda reported that representatives of international organizations –EU Advisory Mission, Amnesty International and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission – visited Captain E. Erofeyev and Sergeat O. Alexandrov, of the 3rdBrigade, Special Forces, Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, who were wounded and captured in a battle in Luhansk oblast. The two soldiers are in hospital in Kyiv. According to doctors, they are in satisfactory condition.
- Government asks Parliament to allow peacekeepers on Ukrainian territory
The Ukrainian Government asked Parliament to allow foreign military units on to the territory of Ukraine “in the event that these foreign units are conducting operations to support peace and security on the basis of decisions by the UN or EU,” Ukrainian PM A. Yatsenyuk stated. The government has asked Parliament to make the necessary legislative changes. “With the goal of implementing the Minsk Agreements and the renewal of Ukrainian control over certain territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblast, as well as renewal of control over the Russian-Ukrainian border, we have appealed to our western partners and the UN to consider the question of deploying a peacekeeping force,” Yatsenyuk stated.
- Ukraine terminates 1993 Agreement on Military-Technical Cooperation with Russia
Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers has terminated the Agreement on Military-Technical Cooperation with Russia, signed in 1993. Ukrainian PM A. Yatsenyuk stated, “The Russian Federation is an aggressor state. The Russian Federation illegally annexed Crimea, perpetrates military aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The Russian Federation is a threat to the Ukrainian state and its territorial integrity. Therefore the Agreement on Military-Technical Cooperation with Russia was terminated by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.”
- US Army Commander Europe visits Operation Fearless Guardian training
On 18 May, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, Commander of US Army, Europe, visited Operation Fearless Guardian training, where US 173rd Airborne paratroopers are training Ukrainian personnel. Speaking with media and asked whether the presence of US troops would disrupt the Minsk ceasefire agreements, Hodges stated, “The US is here at the invitation of the Ukrainian government. Russia is in Ukraine at no one’s invitation.”
- International Republican Institute publishes Ukrainian Municipal Survey
On 19 May, the International Republican Institute (IRI) released the Ukraine National Municipal Poll, funded by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The poll “found an overwhelming majority of citizens reporting that corruption and nepotism were serious problems impacting their daily lives. […] Despite these obviously troubling numbers, IRI said it also sees signs of hope for a democratic renewal. ‘The Ukrainian government and donor community should be encouraged that Ukrainians are willing to acknowledge that corruption is a big problem, and yet they also feel pride in their communities and are quick to point to reforms and programs that are working,’ said IRI regional director for Eurasia S. Nix. […] The IRI survey also showed strong support for European integration and a clear preference for the European Union (EU) over the Russian-led Customs Union in each city polled. Although support for the EU was highest in western and central Ukrainian cities, a plurality of respondents in all regions—including the east and south—support EU membership over Customs Union membership. The survey also showed strong support for membership in NATO across the country,” IRI stated. The full results can be found at http://www.iri.org/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/2015-05-19_ukraine_national_municipal_survey_march_2-20_2015.pdf