Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
23 June 2016, 7 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 near Popasne with mortars and artillery. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions along the Zaytseve-Donetsk line with mortars and artillery. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions along the entire Mariupol sector of the front. Throughout the day yesterday, Russian-terrorist forces fired over 300 mortar shells and over 160 artillery shells – the same level of shelling as in August 2015. Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of three Ukrainian towns – Avdiyivka, Pervomaiske (with artillery) and Vodyane (with mortars). The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, one Ukrainian soldier was killed and eleven Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in action.
2. Ukraine cuts interest rates for third month as inflation continues to ease
Ukraine’s Central Bank cut its interest rate to 16.5% from 18%, as inflation continued to ease, and the hryvnia reached its strongest level since January, Bloomberg reported. “Ukrainian monetary-policy makers are seeking to boost lending as inflation slows from last year’s high of almost 61 percent. The economy is expanding as it continues to heal following an 18-month recession. […] Central bank Governor Valeriya Gontareva told reporters in the capital, Kyiv, that she sees the pre-conditions for another rate cut. The central bank has been buying foreign currency to boost its reserves, with offers on the market ‘significantly’ exceeding demand, she said,” Bloomberg reported.
3. US Assistant Secretary of State visits Kyiv
On 22 June, US Assistant Secretary of State V. Nuland visited Kyiv. The State Department reported, “Nuland and NSC Senior Directors Charles Kupchan and Celeste Wallander met on June 22 with senior Ukrainian officials, including President Poroshenko, Speaker of Parliament Parubiy, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration for Foreign Policy Yelisieiev, and Foreign Minister Klimkin to discuss Ukraine’s reform agenda and implementation of the Minsk agreements in support of Normandy countries. The consultations were detailed and constructive, and focused heavily on the security requirements of Minsk in advance of the U.S. Delegation’s onward travel to Moscow on June 23. The U.S. side welcomed Ukrainian leaders’ strong commitment to full implementation of Minsk, and underscored that sanctions on Russia must stay in place in order to advance that goal.”
4. US Mission to OSCE on Russia’s ongoing violations in Ukraine
Speaking at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, US Ambassador D. Baer stated, “combined Russian-separatist forces continue to pursue a policy of provocation that undermines the prospects for genuine disengagement, a lasting ceasefire, and, ultimately, the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. They continue to advance across the contact line in violation of the Minsk agreements. […] We join the European Union in reiterating that the duration of the sanctions is linked to the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Sanctions imposed for Russia’s aggression in eastern Ukraine should remain in place until Russia fully implements its Minsk commitments, including the withdrawal of foreign forces and equipment and the return to Ukraine of full control over its international border. […] Our separate Crimea-related sanctions related to Moscow’s occupation of Crimea will also remain in force until the occupation ends and Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine.”