Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
19 February 2016, 7PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PMKyiv time that yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Popasne with mortars, grenade launchers and small arms. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Luhanske village, Zaytseve, Novhorodske and Pisky. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Maryinka with small arms, grenade launchers and mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours no Ukrainians soldiers were killed and one was wounded in action.
2. Ukraine’s President speaks with US Vice President
On 18 February, Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko spoke with US Vice President J. Biden. The White House stated, “The Vice President spoke today to President Poroshenko of Ukraine. The Vice President welcomed the passage by the Rada this week of anti-corruption legislation sought by the IMF and EU, and commended President Poroshenko and the government of Ukraine for the hard work that went into ensuring passage. The Vice President also commended President Poroshenko’s decision to replace Prosecutor General Shokin, which paves the way for needed reform of the prosecutorial service. The Vice President urged President Poroshenko to continue on this positive trajectory, to include successful implementation of the new legislation and continued visible progress on anti-corruption reforms, noting this will require unity and stability. The Vice President condemned the increasing violence in eastern Ukraine – which has led to a deteriorating humanitarian situation – and the continued failure by combined Russian-separatist forces to allow the OSCE full access to the areas under their de facto control. The Vice President noted that Minsk implementation by all sides remained the best way forward for resolving the conflict.”
3. Wall Street Journal: Putin hasn’t given up his designs on Ukraine
Writing in the Wall Street Journal on 17 February, former US Ambassador to Ukraine J. Herbst and retired US General D. Patraeus wrote, “In a clear response to continuing Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO ministers last week approved the deployment of troops on the alliance’s eastern flank for the first time since the end of the Cold War. […] While these changes are prudent, none directly addresses the situation on the ground today in Ukraine, which remains a non-NATO member. In recent weeks, Russian-backed separatists have sharply increased their attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk-a stark reminder that President Vladimir Putin hasn’t given up his designs on eastern Ukraine. Mr. Putin invaded Russia’s western neighbor two years ago because he saw its emergence as a stable, democratic country integrated with Europe as a fundamental threat. […] In addition to NATO’s recent announcement, the U.S. and its NATO allies would be wise to bolster Ukrainian deterrence against further Kremlin adventurism, and to make clear that the price of such adventurism for Russia will be high if deterrence fails. The first step is to provide more effective defensive weapons to Ukrainian forces. The U.S. and its European partners have done an impressive job imposing economic costs on Moscow for its actions in Ukraine. But they haven’t done enough militarily to support Ukraine, which in 1994 gave up the nuclear weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union in exchange for trans-Atlantic assurances about the safeguarding of its territorial integrity. These assurances have proven meaningless. The equipment Ukraine could put to best use in deterring attacks on its territory includes more effective antitank and radar systems. […]Ukraine would benefit from advanced drones and secure communications and control systems. None of these could be seen as offensive in nature. […] Ultimately, Russia’s bellicose actions in Ukraine are about more than Ukraine. By bolstering Kyiv, we have the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the most elemental rules and principles of post-Cold War Europe, particularly that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states shall not be breached and conflicts shall be resolved through negotiation not force of arms. By contrast, failing to respond adequately would very likely be an invitation to further aggression by Russia-in eastern Ukraine, and beyond.” The full article is available at http://www.wsj.com/articles/
4. Ukraine and NATO to cooperate on special operations
Ukraine’s Chief of the General Staff V. Muzhenko and Commander of the NATO Special Operations Headquarters Lt. Gen. M. Webb signed a letter of intent for cooperation in the sphere of special operations, Radio Svoboda reported. The NATO delegation headed by Webb visited Kyiv in order to familiarize themselves with the formation of special operations forces and to assist in the formation and development of these forces, Radio Svoboda reported.