Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
8 October 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 yesterday at Troitske, Russian-terrorist forces fired 2 anti-tank rockets at Ukrainian positions. 4 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded. There were no other violations of the ceasefire by Russian-terrorist forces yesterday.
- Bellingcat investigative report into downing of Flight MH-17
Bellingcat published an investigative report, MH-17 – The Open Source Evidence, into the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 in July 2014. The report states, “it can be concluded that on July 17, 2014 a Buk missile launcher, originating from the 53rd Brigade near Kursk, Russia, travelled from Donetsk to Snizhne. It was then unloaded and drove under its own power to a field south of Snizhne, where at approximately 4:20 pm it launched a surface-to-air missile that hit Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew over Ukraine. On the morning of July 18, the Buk missile launcher was driven from Luhansk, Ukraine, across the border to Russia. Alternative scenarios presented by the Russian Ministry of Defense and Almaz-Antey are at best deeply flawed, and at worst show a deliberate attempt to mislead using fabricated evidence.” The full report is available at https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2015/10/08/mh17-the-open-source-evidence/. The Dutch Safety Board will publish its official report into the downing of MH-17 on 13 October.
- Parliament passes law on public financing of political parties
Ukraine’s Parliament passed a law on the public financing of political parties. Parties that gained 2% or more of the popular vote in the preceding election will receive 1% of the established minimum yearly salary (per vote obtained). The law comes into force on 1 January 2016 (pending signature by the President). Party donations for individuals and legal entities are capped at 400 and 800 times minimum salaries, respectively. Parties must file full financial reports with the National Anti-Corruption Agency, which and must be made public on both the party’s and the agency’s websites. The law passed with the support of 229 MPs. No MPs from the Opposition bloc, Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko, or “Vidrodzhennya” factions supported the legislation.
- Parliament passes series of laws necessary for visa liberalization with EU
Ukraine’s Parliament passed in first reading a series of laws necessary for the adoption of visa liberalization with the EU, including a law on establishing National Agency on return of assets obtained through corruption; on assets freezes; on procedure for confiscation of assets; and on labor migration. These laws are part of the reform package required for the adoption of a visa-free regime with the EU. Radio Svoboda reported that on 20 October the EU mission in Ukraine is to table an interim report on progress on visa liberalization. The final report is due at the end of December, on the basis of which the EU will make decisions on the possible establishment of a visa-free regime with Ukraine, Radio Svoboda stated.
- Assistant US Secretary of State: US investment in Ukraine is about protecting rules-based system, saying no to borders changed by force
US Assistant Secretary of State V. Nuland testified before the US Senate Foreign Committee. She stated, “In the eight months since the February signing of the implementing agreement, Eastern Ukraine has seen almost constant violence all along the contact line, continued weapons shipments from Russia masquerading as humanitarian aid, separatist filibustering and threats at the political negotiating table, and repeated Russian efforts to relitigate basic elements of Minsk. On September 1st, however, the guns largely fell silent. And on October 2nd , in Paris, President Putin agreed to put a stop to the separatists’ threat to hold another round of fake elections. Instead, he committed to Presidents Poroshenko and Hollande and Chancellor Merkel to withdraw heavy weapons, allow full access to the OSCE all the way to the border, and to negotiate modalities for real elections in Donbas under Ukrainian law, safe conditions, and observation by OSCE’s ODIHR. If these commitments are kept– if weapons are pulled back and stored, if the OSCE gets in, and legal, monitored elections are negotiated and held– Ukraine will once again have unfettered access to its own people and its territory in the East. That’s what Minsk promises: peace, weapons withdrawal, political normalization, then a return of the border. As President Obama did with President Putin in New York, we will also keep pushing to complete other unfinished aspects of Minsk– the return of all hostages, including Nadiya Savchenko, Oleg Sentsov, and those held in Russia; full humanitarian access for UN agencies, Ukrainian NGOs, and government relief agencies; and the removal of all foreign forces, weapons, and landmines. […] America’s investment in Ukraine is about far more than protecting the choice of a single European country. It’s about protecting the rules-based system across Europe and around the world. It’s about saying no to borders changed by force, to big countries intimidating their neighbors or demanding a sphere of influence.” Nuland’s full statement is available at http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/rm/2015/oct/248032.htm