Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
16 July 2015, 7 PM Kyiv time
- Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces began massive artillery and tank bombardment of Ukrainian positions north and east of Horlivka yesterday evening – the shelling lasted for 2 hours. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Kodema village, killing one civilian. Russian-terrorist forces continue mortar, tank and artillery shelling of Novhorodske. Near the Donetsk airport, Russian-terrorist forces are attacking Ukrainian positions at Pisky and Opytne. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Adviyivka with artillery. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces carried out heavy shelling of Ukrainian positions near Starohorivka with artillery and tanks. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Krymske and Novotoshkivske. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 11 were wounded.
- Ukraine’s Parliament sends draft constitutional changes on decentralization to Constitutional Court
Ukraine’s Parliament voted to send draft constitutional changes on decentralization proposed by Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko to the Constitutional Court. 288 MPs supported the resolution. According to procedure, draft amendments to the Constitution must be approved by the Constitutional Court then approved by Parliament with a constitutional majority (300 votes). Speaking in Parliament ahead of the vote, Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko stated that the draft changes carry no hint of federalization. “Ukraine shall be a unitary state. The Draft Amendments to the Constitution do not and may not ever provide a special status for Donbas, which some media wrote about today. There’s simply no such status.” Poroshenko added that the constitutional changes provide for potential special procedures in certain administrative areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts which shall be regulated by a separate law, and not the Constitution.
- Leaked MH-17 report blames Kremlin-backed terrorists for shootdown; Lawsuit filed in US against Russian terrorist leader on MH-17 shootdown
CNN reported that it has learned new details from the draft investigative report on the shootdown of MH-17. “Dutch accident investigators say that evidence points to pro-Russian rebels as being responsible for shooting down MH-17, according to a source who has seen the report. According to the source, the report says it was a Buk missile — a Russian surface-to-air missile — that was used, launched from a village in Russian rebel controlled territory. […] Another source with knowledge of the report’s details says it gives a minute by minute timeline of flight MH17. This source also says not only does the draft report pinpoint where the missile was fired from it identifies who was in control of the territory and pins the downing of MH17 on the pro-Russian rebels.” The final report is due to be published in October 2015. Igor Girkin, the former commander of Russian terrorist forces in eastern Ukraine has been formally accused in a US lawsuit of orchestrating the shooting down of MH-17, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported. The writ, filed in Chicago, alleges that Girkin acted with the blessing of the Kremlin when his forces fired on the airplane. The lawsuit, filed under the US Torture Victim Protection Act, seeks $900 million for families of 18 passengers who were murdered. Lawyer F. Wisner stated, the lawsuit “is not about money. It is about getting answers from Girkin and putting pressure on Russia to cooperate” with an international tribunal on the shootdown, RFE/RL reported.
- Ukraine’s Parliament appeals to UN, all countries to establish international tribunal on prosecution of those responsible for shootdown of Flight MH-17
Ukraine’s Parliament adopted a resolution appealing to the UN and the countries of the world to establish an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for shooting down Flight MH-17 on 17 July, 2014. The appeal states that Ukraine’s Parliament supports the initiative of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and Belgium to establish such a tribunal under the auspices of the UN, and that “the leadership of the Russian Federation has attempted to disrupt the investigation of this crime and mislead the international community. The Russian Federation, as an aggressor state, which annexed the Crimea, occupies a part of the Donbas and turned its armed servicemen into blood-stained terrorists has neither the moral nor the legal right to block any decision by the Security Council of the UN on the establishment of an international tribunal.”
- Putin opposes international tribunal on Flight MH-17
In a phone conversation with Dutch PM M. Rutte, Russian President V. Putin “explained in detail Russia’s position on what it sees as an untimely and counterproductive initiative by a number of countries, including The Netherlands, to establish an international tribunal for criminal prosecution of individuals responsible for the Malaysian aircraft’s destruction,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
- Ukraine and commercial creditors make progress in talks
A joint statement issued by the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine and the “ad hoc” committee of international commercial creditors stated, “A meeting to discuss Ukraine’s proposed debt operation took place in Washington DC on 15 July 2015 between a Ukrainian delegation headed by the Minister of Finance of Ukraine, Natalie Jaresko, and members of Ukraine’s ad hoc creditors committee[…]Further progress was made at the meeting on a number of substantive issues and the parties have agreed to focus their attention on narrowing the gaps. Additional meetings between the two sides have been scheduled next week, with the common aim of finalizing the terms of Ukraine’s debt operation as soon as possible.”
- EBRD considering $300 million loan to Naftogaz Ukrainy
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is considering a $300 million trade finance loan to Ukraine’s state energy firm Naftogaz Ukrainy to buy gas on the European market, Reuters reported. “The project aims at supporting the policy of the government of Ukraine to make Naftogaz operations financially sustainable … (and) eliminating the need for budget subsidies,” the EBRD said in a statement.