Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
11 March 2016, 7 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Donetsk Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Avdiyivka with mortars, armored vehicles and tanks. At Pervomaysk and Luhanske village, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Hnutove and Shyrokyne with mortars and fired on Ukrainian positions at Krasnohorivka and Talakivka. There was no combat on the Luhansk sector of the front. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported that yesterday Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions 47 times in total. The RNBO reported that yesterday no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded in action.
2. Human rights group: Russia is trying to isolate Ukrainian political prisoners
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “Crimean filmmaker and political prisoner Oleg Sentsov has been moved unexpectedly from the Chelyabinsk SIZO or remand prison where he had been held for over a week. Tatyana Shchur, a local human rights activist, says that such moves do not usually take place at the weekend, and wonders if the haste and secrecy was in connection with Nadiya Savchenko’s dry hunger strike and international attention on her imprisonment and that of Russia’s other Ukrainian prisoners. It is also galling that Sentsov has been moved since he was still getting over a bad cough caused by being held in damp and overcrowded basement cells in both Samara and Chelyabinsk. […]The Russian authorities have now removed the possibility of surveillance, and done it without any prior announcement. […] It certainly does appear that Moscow is trying to isolate Ukrainian political prisoners. Sentsov was initially going to be sent to Siberia, now the destination is Yakutia in the Far East. Few journalists are likely to travel there, and even Sentsov’s lawyers will have difficulty visiting. Gennady Afanasyev has been in a maximum security prison in the far northern republic of Komi since shortly after his courageous retraction of all testimony against Sentsov on July 31, 2015, and is being held in particularly harsh conditions. Oleksandr Kolchenko, the Crimean civic activist sentenced to 10 years in the same politically motivated trial as Sentsov, is to be held in a Chelyabinsk region prison. Concern here is aroused not only by the distance from his family and lawyer, but also by the dire reputation of Prison Colony No. 6 in Kopeisk.” The full report is available at http://khpg.org.ua/en/index.
3. Ukraine’s President and European Commission President discuss future steps for visa liberalization
Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko and European Commission President J-C Juncker coordinated future steps on the introduction of a visa-free regime for Ukrainians travelling to the EU. Poroshenko’s press service reported, “The interlocutors also discussed amendments to the law on e-declarations and praised the achievement of compromise in the Ukraine-European Commission negotiations on those amendments. Jean-Claude Juncker is hopeful that the Ukrainian Parliament would make a positive decision regarding the legislative settlement of that issue in compliance with the EU standards.”
4. US Mission to OSCE: Russia and separatists have offered nothing but demands for further concessions
Speaking at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 10 March, US Charge d’Affaires K. Byrnes stated, “Russia’s insistence on direct dialogue between Kyiv and the separatists is predicated on two misleading myths. The first myth is that the crisis in Ukraine is a strictly internal matter – which ignores a mountain of evidence that Russia has armed, trained, and fought alongside separatists in eastern Ukraine. President Putin himself has admitted Russian military involvement in Ukraine. The second myth is that the separatists are politically, militarily, and economically independent of the Russian Federation. Yet Russia delivers fuel, food, soldiers, and weapons to prop up the separatists. Russia is behind the problem; it must also get behind a path to resolution. […] Russia and the separatists have offered nothing but demands for further concessions. If Russia is serious about resolving the conflict, it will negotiate in good faith in the Trilateral Contact Group and in the Normandy Format. […]We call upon the Russian Federation to recognize its obligations to Ukraine and its commitments to its fellow OSCE participating States by ending without further delay its aggression against Ukraine – including its occupation of Crimea.”
5. EU publishes weekly Russian disinformation review
The EU’s External Action Service East Stratcom Task Force published its seventeenth weekly Russian disinformation review on 8 March. “The main aim of this product is to raise the awareness about Russian disinformation campaign. And the way to achieve this goal is by providing the experts in this field, journalists, academics, officials, politicians, and anyone interested in disinformation with some real time data about the number of disinformation attacks, the number of countries targeted, the latest disinformation trends in different countries, the daily basis of this campaign, and about the coordination of the disinformation spread among many countries.” The weekly Disinformation Review is accessible at http://eeas.europa.eu/