Writing for the Atlantic Council, Swedish Minister of Defence P. Hultqvist and Lithuanian Minister of National Defence J. Olekas stated, “European sanctions on Russia cannot be eased until Moscow fulfils commitments it made under the Minsk agreements to pull its troops and weaponry out of eastern Ukraine and Ukrainian control of its state borders is restored. Despite persistent Russian denials, regular Russian troops remain in Donbas and Moscow continues to provide military equipment and training to the separatists in eastern Ukraine. […] It is unacceptable that military force, deception, and disinformation is used to change borders in Europe in the twenty-first century. […] Ukraine, as any other sovereign nation, has the right to make her own foreign and security policy choices, and to retain the integrity of her own territory. We cannot accept that another country interferes with that right. […] We cannot remain passive when Russia decides to undermine the security order, which has been established over the last twenty-five years, by seizing the territory of a neighboring state. Russia clearly seeks to establish another security order where great powers divide Europe in spheres of interest. This is disturbing as we believe in international law where all states have a right of self-determination. Even as other urgent security issues arise on our agenda we cannot accept what Russia has done in Ukraine. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its involvement in eastern Ukraine remain the greatest challenge to the European security order.” The full article is available at: Russia in Ukraine: The Greatest Challenge to the European Security Order
Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
21 March 2016, 6 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Luhansk Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Tryokhizbenka with mortars. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Adviyivka with artillery, mortars and tanks. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Zaytseve. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces attacked Ukrainian forces near Novotroitske. The attack was repelled. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a landmine explosion and two were wounded in action
2. Judge begins delivering verdict in Russia’s illegal trial of Savchenko
The judge in Russia’s illegal trial of Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko began reading the verdict today. The ruling will not be official until the judge finishes reading the verdict, expected to be tomorrow. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Judge Leonid Stepanenko’s words pointed to a guilty verdict. […] The judge also accused her of being part of a ‘criminal group’ and of aiming to kill an ‘unlimited number of people.'” Savchenko’s attorney M. Feygin stated, “The verdict against Savchenko will be a guilty one. They will give her a lengthy term.” 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. Canada expands sanctions list of Russian individuals, entities
On 18 March, Canada amended the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations to list 10 additional entities and two additional individuals subject to asset freezes and dealings prohibitions, and added four additional entities and three individuals to the Special Economic Measures (Ukraine) Regulations. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs S. Dion stated, “Today’s steps support wider international efforts to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. By engaging with Russia on the one hand and demonstrating our firm resolve on sanctions on the other, we strengthen our collective ability to hold them to account. I have instructed Global Affairs Canada to update engagement policies accordingly. As agreed by G7 leaders, Canada believes sanctions should not be lifted until Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements.” Information on the new additions to the sanctions list is available at http://www.international.gc.
ca/sanctions/countries-pays/ Russia-Russie.aspx?lang=eng&_ ga=1.233871070.1779000181. 1458139192
4. US Mission to OSCE calls on Russia to immediately drop all charges and release Savchenko
On 17 March, at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, US Charge d’Affaires K. Byrnes stated, “The United States once again calls on Russia to release immediately all Ukrainian detainees held in Russia for political reasons. We remain especially concerned about Nadiya Savchenko, and we urge the Russian Federation to immediately drop all charges and release her. […] Ms. Savchenko has endured a show trial in which Russian authorities denied her defense team the opportunity to present evidence of her innocence or question those involved in her capture. […] Ms. Savchenko’s continued detention is not merely a failure of Russia’s domestic legal process, it is a breach of its international commitments. We also remind Russia that it bears responsibility for the health and welfare of Nadiya Savchenko and all other Ukrainian detainees in its custody, including Oleg Sentsov, Oleksander Kolchenko, Stanislav Klikh, Mykola Karpyuk, and Akhtem Chiygoz. […] The world is watching Nadiya Savchenko’s case and we call on Russia to make the right choice: immediately drop all charges and release Nadiya Savchenko and all other Ukrainian detainees held by Russia for political reasons.”
5. Swedish, Lithuanian Defense Ministers: Russia is the Greatest Challenge to the European Security Order