Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
2 March 2016, 7 PM 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, a Ukrainian military truck struck a landmine on the Hirske-Lysychansk road. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. Near Horlivka and the Donetsk airport, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Maryinka and Shyrokyne with mortars. The Ministry of Defense reported that yesterday, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions a total of 47 times. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 14 were wounded.
2. Prosecutors in Russia’s illegal trial of Nadiya Savchenko demand 23-year sentence
Prosecutors in Russia’s illegal trial of Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko have demanded a 23-year sentence, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported. Speaking in court, Savchenko stated, “In these two years I have understood that these people (in Russia’s Investigative Committee) have neither laws, nor conscience. They have only an order from the Kremlin and they’re fulfilling it. In this trial, the guilt was proven on the Russian authorities – they are guilty of having seized Crimea, of unleashing the conflict in Donbas. They appear everywhere, and use genocide against the people in Chechnya, in Abkhazia. Everywhere the interests of the Russian state prevail over the interests of the population. This trial has failed to prove only any guilt on my part. I am an officer in the Ukrainian Army and I did my duty. You have no right to try me. If the court takes more than two weeks to pass sentence, then I am beginning a dry hunger strike from tomorrow. I do not want to wait for any exchange if it’s an exchange of a guilty person for an innocent one. I am innocent, and no exchanges, no bargaining, no procrastination. I will not wait,” KHPG reported. Savchenko was serving in eastern Ukraine, when abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in June 2014 and taken to Russia, where she has been illegally detained and imprisoned since that time. Russia has ignored repeated calls from the international community for her immediate release.
3. NATO Europe Commander on providing defensive weapons to Ukraine: “We should not take any tools off the plate”
During his testimony on 1 March at the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, US Gen. Phil Breedlove, Commander, US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, was asked, “Do you predict that the Russians will increase their military activity in eastern Ukraine and do you support us supplying defensive weapons to the Ukrainians?” General Breedlove responded, “I literally just hours ago got off the phone with our Ambassador in Ukraine to get his latest reading of what he sees happening along the front because we get reporting consistently that the number of attacks are up. In an unclassified format the reports that I see is in the last 24 hours, over 71 attacks and in the last week over 450 attacks along the line of contact. The report from the Ambassador is there are several disturbing trends in those attacks […] I do believe we will see Russia using the line of contact and activity on the line of contact to keep unhelpful pressure on Kyiv. […] I have said to you before and this Committee before that I believe that we should not take any tools off of the plate as we address this problem. Russia is using all the tools of a nation’s power against Ukraine, we use that simple model of DIME – Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic – and we see Russia bringing pressure in all of those, and so in the military environment, I do not think that any tools should be necessarily precluded, and I’ve made my recommendations along those lines.”
4. Statement by the Bureau of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee
Today, the Bureau of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee met in Brussels in the context of the Ukraine Week in European Parliament. Following the meeting, the Bureau stated, “We welcome the ongoing reform process in Ukraine and the implementation of the Association Agreement, despite the challenging security environment caused by Russian aggression. In order to keep on carrying out systemic reforms, Ukraine needs a solid government relying on a stable majority. We therefore appeal to all reform-minded forces in Ukraine to find a common ground and put all efforts towards finding a sustainable way out of the current political disturbances. We reiterate our unequivocal support for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and call on the Russian Federation to end its occupation of Crimea as well as its ongoing aggression on Eastern Ukraine. We believe that the Minsk agreements open the way to the peaceful reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories, and therefore call on the Russian Federation to implement without further delay provisions of the Minsk agreements. We emphasize that restrictive measures introduced by the European Union towards Russia should remain in force the Minsk agreements are effectively and fully implemented. […] On the establishment of a visa-free regime, we expect the European Commission to forward the related proposal to Council and European Parliament as soon as possible. […] Concerning our interparliamentary work, we reiterate our joint determination to continue our intensive cooperation and to keep Ukraine at the top of the EU agenda.”
5. EU to extend sanctions against Yanukovych and associates
EU diplomats have agreed to extend asset freezes against former Ukrainian president V. Yanukovych and 15 of his associates for at least one additional year, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported. “Other prominent figures on the EU blacklist for the alleged misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds include two former prime ministers, Mykola Azarov and Serhiy Arbuzov, and the former head of Yanukovych’s presidential administration, Andriy Kliuiev. […] EU ministers meeting in Brussels on March 4 are expected to approve the extension of the sanctions,” RFE/RL stated.