Daily Ukraine Crisis Updates – May 20, 2014
Commentary | May 20, 2014
EWI offers a daily situation report on Ukraine.
Internal Security News
- An unknown number of masked gunmen stormed nearly a dozen district election commissions in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk and demanded at gunpoint that officials turn over ballots and other documents pertaining to the May 25 presidential elections.
- Steel magnate Rinat Akhmetov , Ukraine's richest man, called for a mass peace rally in the east, accusing separatists of leading Ukraine towards "genocide." Akhmetov urged tens of thousands of his employees to lead the protests. A similar initiative last week led to ethnic Russian separatists losing control of Mariupol.
- (Interfax Ukraine) According to Interfax Ukraine, a 20-minute Peace March protest was held in the Donbas-Arena stadium in central Donetsk without incident.
- Ukrainian Colonel Yuriy Lebid, acting head of the Eastern Operative-Territorial Junction, was released after being abducted by separatists on May 15, according to the Ukrainian National Guard press service on Facebook.
- The head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's Department for Mass Public Events said that over 75,000 personnel, including 55,700 policemen and more than 20,000 volunteers, will maintain public order in Ukraine for the May 25 presidential elections.
- (ITAR-TASS) Russian PM Dmitri Medvedev said of Russia-U.S. relations: “we are slowly but surely moving towards a second Cold War that nobody wants.”
- (Interfax Ukraine) According to a statement from the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Defense Minister that the spring phase of military training has been completed, and troops should return to their bases after taking part in drills in the Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk regions.
- (Interfax Ukraine) Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said that Russia has not withdrawn its troops from the Ukrainian border, despite President Putin’s assurances.
- (ITAR-TASS) The chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff expressed concern about NATO’s increased military activity near Russian borders.
- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said that Ukraine’s presidential election will deepen political divisions if there is no end to hostilities, or unless a "road map" to end the crisis is not implemented.
- (ITAR-TASS) German Chancellor Merkel urged Russia to recognize the result of Ukraine’s presidential elections.
- (ITAR-TASS) The Russia Today television channel announced on its website that British journalist Graham Phillips was detained in Ukraine. The reporter was allegedly held by Ukrainian security forces after failing to present sufficient identification at a Mariupol checkpoint.
- The Russian Foreign Ministry is considering filing a lawsuit with The Hague's tribunal on the events that occurred in Odessa on May 2.
- (RIA Novosti) A senior Russian diplomat announced that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing to release the second volume of its “White Book” on human rights violations in Ukraine within a month.
- (Interfax Ukraine) Russia is not demonstrating its readiness to resolve the issue of natural gas shipments to Ukraine and the EU, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk said in a letter to top European Commission officials and EU leaders.
- (RIA Novosti) Russian PM Dmitri Medvedev said that Russia is not obligated to guarantee the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine.
- (Interfax Ukraine, ITAR-TASS) A train that derailed near Moscow and caused at least six deaths belonged to a Ukrainian company and was “badly worn out,” according to Russian Railways. However, RIA Novosti reported that the Moscow Transport Department blamed a “broken rail” as the cause of the accident.
- (RIA Novosti) Russia is prepared with responsive measures for possible economic sanctions imposed by the West, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.
- (ITAR-TASS) German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the planned agreement between Ukraine and the EU Association "is in no way directed against Russia."
- (RIA Novosti) The Russian Defense Ministry plans to turn over all Ukrainian military equipment that was stationed in Crimea by the end of this year, said Deputy Defense Minister General Dmitry Bulgakov.
- The European Commission paid out a first loan tranche of 100 million euros ($137 million) to Ukraine, launching a €1.6 billion euro macro-financial assistance loan program to prop up the beleaguered economy.
- Confectionary tycoon Petro Poroshenko remains on track to win Ukraine's presidential election in the first round of voting on May 25.
- (Interfax Ukraine) According to a poll conducted by the Institute of World Policies, 70 out of 80 surveyed political science experts included Poroshenko on a list of three people worthy of the title of "European president," with 54 of the respondents putting him in first place. The project was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
- (Interfax Ukraine) The next meeting of the National Unity roundtable will be held in Mykolaiv on May 21, the press service of Mykolaiv Regional State Administration has reported. Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk is expected to take part in the roundtable.
- (Interfax Ukraine) Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy said that new methods of so-called "hybrid warfare" have shown that Ukraine's defense sector requires comprehensive reform, in which NATO is ready to help. The statement was issued after a meeting of the joint NATO-Ukraine working group on defense reform in Brussels.