Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
16 February 2016, 6PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday attacks by Russian-terrorist forces on Ukrainian positions intensified. Towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near the Bakhmutska highway. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions on the Zaytseve-Mayorsk line with mortars and artillery. Near the Donetsk airport, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Krasnohorivka and Maryinka with mortars. Near Mykolaivka, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported that yesterday Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions 79 times in total. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and six were wounded in action.
2. Ukraine’s President calls on PM, Prosecutor to resign
In an Address to the Nation, Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko called on Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk and General Prosecutor V. Shokin to resign “in order to restore trust in the government.” Poroshenko stated, “The total reformatting of the Cabinet of Ministers must take place on the basis of the current parliamentary coalition, of Solidarnist, Peoples’ Front, Samopomich and Batkivshchyna.”
3. Ukraine’s PM addresses Parliament, facing possible non-confidence vote
Ukraine’s PM A. Yatsenyuk addressed Ukraine’s Parliament today, reporting on the work of the government. The PM and Ukraine’s Government may face a no-confidence vote in Parliament later today. According to several reports 159 MPs have signed a request to put the resolution to a vote. (150 signatures are necessary to bring the resolution to the floor). 226 votes are necessary to pass a non-confidence resolution.
4. Ukraine’s President: The only way to stop the aggressor is our solidarity
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on 13 February, Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko stated, “Europe is associated with certain values for Ukrainians. Today, there is a threat of alternative values that cause isolationism, intolerance, disrespect for human rights, religious fanaticism and homophobia. This alternative Europe has its own leader called Mr. Putin. […] Mr. Putin, it is your aggression, not a civil war in Ukraine. It is not a civil war in Crimea, it is your troops who occupied my country. […] The only way to stop the aggressor is our solidarity. We believe in European unity, transatlantic unity and solidarity with Ukraine.” For more information on the 52nd Munich Security Conference, held 12-14 February, see https://www.
securityconference.de/en/ activities/munich-security- conference/msc-2016/
5. Crimean Tatar Representative Assembly criminalized for opposing Russian occupation of Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Russia has formally begun the procedure of banning the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People citing as formal grounds the law on countering ‘extremism’, while claiming, in Soviet style, that this is because of requests from Crimean Tatar organizations. The Mejlis represents the vast majority of Crimean Tatars and has been adamantly opposed to Russia’s occupation of Crimea since the invasion in Feb 2014. While the Mejlis has remained firmly committed to peaceful protest, Russia and the regime it installed in Crimea have waged a major offensive against it, involving the exile or imprisonment of its leaders and other forms of repression. There have been persistent attempts to deny and to undermine its authority. […] The Mejlis is an integral part of Crimean Tatar life and self-government, and an official ban will not prevent this. […]The ban will […] carry with it criminal liability for supporting and / or financing the Mejlis, a ban on circulating its materials and likely prosecution of members and supporters.” The full report is available at http://khpg.org.ua/en/index.
6. US Secretary of State: Europe, United States stands united in protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on 13 February, US Secretary of State J. Kerry stated, “let me underscore – let me underscore that those who claim that our transatlantic partnership is unraveling – or in fact, those who hope that it might unravel – could not be more wrong. They forget – or they never understood – why we came together in the first place: not to just to sail along in the best of times – but to have each other’s backs when the times are tough. They forget, as well, that the ties that bind us are not some kind of fragile strings of momentary convenience. They are rugged, time-tested cords of democratic values – liberty, decency, justice, rule of law. And nowhere is that more clear than in our joint, unwavering support for a democratic Ukraine. Our European partners, you, deserve enormous credit for showing the resolve you have shown and the common purpose you have summoned, in order to stand up to Russia’s repeated aggression. And I am confident that Europe and the United States are going to continue to stand united, both in sustaining sanctions for as long as they are necessary and in providing needed assistance to Ukraine until the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine is protected through the full implementation of the Minsk agreement. Now, again and again, we have made it clear, and I make it clear again here today: Sanctions are not an end unto themselves. […] But we shouldn’t forget why they were imposed in the first place: to stand up for Ukraine’s fundamental rights – rights of international norms that have been accepted ever since World War II, that were part of what that great battle was about. Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face economically damaging sanctions. And the path to sanctions relief is clear: withdraw weapons and troops from the Donbas; ensure that all Ukrainian hostages are returned; allow full humanitarian access to occupied territories, which, by the way, is required by international law and by several United Nations resolutions; support free, fair, and internationally-monitored elections in the Donbas under Ukrainian law; and restore Ukraine’s control of its side of the international border, which belongs to it. Put plainly, Russia can prove by its actions that it will respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, just as it insists on respect for its own.”