Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
24 June 2015, 9 PM Kyiv time
- 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 fire on Ukrainian positions at Shyrokyne and Chermalyk (near Mariupol) with small arms and mortars. Towards Donetsk, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions at Opytne, Maryinka and Pisky with mortars. At Horlivka, armed clashes with Kremlin-backed terrorists took place at several locations. Towards Luhansk, Kremlin-backed terrorists shelled Novoshkivske village with artillery, shelled Ukrainian positions near Popasne and Zolote with artillery and Shchastya and Stanytsia Luhanska with mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and four were wounded.
- NATO Defense Ministers meet in Brussels
The Ministers of Defense of NATO countries are meeting in Brussels on 24-25 June. NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg stated, “Let me first underline that what Russia has done in Ukraine is not defensive. To annex a part of another country is not defensive. That is an act of aggression. And that is the first time since the end of the Cold War one country in Europe takes or grabs part of another country. That’s not defensive. And Russia continues to send troops, forces, supplies into eastern Ukraine. And destabilizing eastern Ukraine. That’s not defensive. So there can be no doubt that Russia is responsible for aggressive actions in Europe. And that’s the reason why we, NATO, is responding in a defensive way. And because our main responsibility is that we continue to be rock solid when it comes to our ability to protect and defend all Allies against any threat.” The NATO Defense Ministers will meet with Ukraine’s Defense Minister S. Poltorak tomorrow.
- Canadian Minister of Defense to visit Ukraine 25-27 June
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Canada’s Minister of National Defense and Minister for Multiculturalism J. Kenney will visit Ukraine June, 25-27.
- General Prosecutor names head of Kyiv Court of Appeals a suspect in crimes
The General Prosecutor of Ukraine named A. Chernushenko, the head of the Kyiv Court of Appeals, as a suspect in the commission of the following crimes – illegal interference in the automatic document-processing system of the court, and issuing knowingly unlawful court rulings. The Prosecutors’ office stated that they have initiated Chernushenko’s removal from office by the High Commission of Judges and has sent an appeal to parliament to authorize the arrest of the judge.
- US Army Commander (Europe): What happens in Ukraine is inseparable from European security
Lt. Gen. B. Hodges, commanding general of US Army Europe, stated on 23 June, “Russian active duty soldiers, Russian tanks and Russian trainers have sought to deny the people of Ukraine their freely expressed European future. Russia has infiltrated large numbers of soldiers and huge quantities of weapons, ammunition and other military equipment into eastern Ukraine, fomenting conflict and unrest that has left more than 6,000 people dead and displaced well over 1.3 million. […]In addition to leadership, guidance, and weapons systems, Russia is also sending its own soldiers to the front. Moscow is not only supporting a combined Russian-separatist force; Russian soldiers are active parts of the fighting force. The Kremlin is rotating Russian units to the Ukrainian front, mixing tactical level fighters with separatists. Observations from soldiers, family members, journalists, concerned citizens and academics have accounted for the deployment of individuals from their garrisons and homes in Russia to the Donbas. Many of these have returned in the notorious “Cargo 200” shipments, a term which refers to the bodies of those killed in action returning home. These are not volunteers or mercenaries; they are trained, equipped, and uniformed active duty Russian soldiers. And when President Putin refers to them as “if they are soldiers then they are on leave” then what an incredible insult to the political leaders of our countries that he would talk to us that way and expect us to believe it. As a military officer, I should also add that I was shocked to see the Russian government recently deny that the two Russian soldiers captured in eastern Ukraine were theirs; this was presumably also a shock to those two soldiers, who thought they were fighting for their country. […] What happens in Ukraine is inseparable from European security writ large.” Hodges’ full statement is available at http://osce.usmission.gov/jun_23_15_asrc_ukraine.html
- Ukraine, Germany, France, Russia Foreign Ministers meet for talks
On 23 June, the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia met in Paris. Following the talks, German Foreign Minister F.W. Steinmeier stated, “We need the Minsk agreements to be implemented. We do not require everything to happen at the same time, but there must be movement in the right direction. If meetings like this one today help us to make even a tiny amount of progress, then they fulfil their purpose.”
- Guardian: Russian ‘troll factory’ sued for underpayment and labour violations
The Guardian reported that “The secretive Russian agency that hires people to write pro-Kremlin propaganda on the web stepped into the public spotlight for the first time on Tuesday as a former employee took it to court. The Agency for Internet Studies, which runs what has been called a “troll factory” from a nondescript St Petersburg address, is being sued by employee Lyudmila Savchuk for alleged underpayment and various labour violations. Savchuk says she was one of many paid to write comments online supporting the policies of Vladimir Putin. The agency is now seeking to avoid public scrutiny by offering to compensate her. Yekaterina Nazarova, defending, told the Petrogradsky district court judge the agency was ready to settle with Savchuk, who had asked for a symbolic sum of 10,000 roubles [about $180]. Nazarova offered to wire the sum to Savchuk’s account, then quickly left the court without speaking to the press. […] Savchuk says she worked at the agency for two months, but quit in March and has since vowed to expose it. The agency, located in the north of Russia’s second-largest city, is blamed by observers for doing the Kremlin’s dirty work on the internet, polluting news websites with inflammatory comments and manipulating social networks into blocking anti-Putin bloggers. The phenomenon has become particularly intense during the conflict in Ukraine, with some reports claiming the agency has expanded into foreign languages, pictures and videos, and is even running its own news sites.”