Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
15 June 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 fired on Ukrainian positions at Tryokhizbenka and Nyzhnoteple. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Avdiyivka, Pisky and Nevelske with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near the Butovka mine with artillery. Near Horlivka, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at several locations with mortars and grenade launchers. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Pavlopil with artillery, mortars and grenade launchers. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Maryinka and several other locations with mortars. As a result of shelling by Russian-terrorist forces at Chermalyk village, 13-year-old girl was injured. As a result of shelling by Russian-terrorist forces at Krasnohorivka, a civilian woman was injured. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven were wounded in action.
2. NATO steps up support for Ukraine with Comprehensive Package of Assistance
NATO Defence Ministers agreed today “to boost NATO’s support for Ukraine with a Comprehensive Package of Assistance. The Package aims to help Ukraine strengthen its defences by building stronger security structures,” NATO stated. A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission took place in Brussels with the participation of S. Poltorak, Ukraine’s Defence Minister. Following the meeting NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg stated, “We stand firm in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Allies do not, and will not recognise the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. And we will continue to call on Russia to stop its destabilisation of Ukraine. Russia needs to stop supporting the militants, and withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukrainian territory. In response to Russia’s actions, NATO has stepped up its support for Ukraine. Our level of political and practical engagement since 2014 is unprecedented. And today we decided to do even more. Ministers approved a Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine. It brings together all the strands of our support. This Comprehensive Assistance Package will provide advice and assistance. Our aim is to help Ukraine establish more effective and efficient defence and security structures. And to strengthen civilian control over them. We are already implementing projects under the Trust Funds we have set up for Ukraine. On command and control, logistics, cyber defence, and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. We are also developing new projects, including in the areas of countering hybrid warfare and explosive devices. Ukraine has ambitious plans to reform its security and defence sector. Today, Minister Poltorak presented his country’s defence reform roadmap: the Strategic Defence Bulletin. Modernising Ukraine’s forces while they are engaged in conflict is no easy task. But the government is making good progress. Ukraine is committed to continuing reforms. This is important. And we welcome it.”
3. US Senate passes National Defense Authorization Act 2017, authorizing up to $500 million in security assistance to Ukraine
On 14 June, the US Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA) by a vote of 85-13. The NDAA “Authorizes $3.4 billion to support the European Reassurance Initiative and increase the capability and readiness of U.S. and NATO forces to deter and, if necessary, respond to Russian aggression, Authorizes up to $500 million to provide security assistance to Ukraine, including lethal assistance. The bill restricts half of these funds until the Secretary of Defense certifies that Ukraine has taken substantial action to make defense institutional reforms to fight corruption, increase accountability, and sustain capabilities developed by security assistance efforts,” US Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman J. McCain said in a statement.