Daily Ukraine Crisis Updates – May 5, 2014

News | May 05, 2014

EWI offers a daily situation report on Ukraine.

Internal Security News: 

  • (Interfax Ukraine) A Mi-24 helicopter of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was shot down from a heavy machine gun outside Sloviansk on May 5. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry indicated the pilots survived. 
  • The Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported four servicemen were killed and 30 injured during a military operation on May 5 outside Sloviansk. Ukrainian forces drove pro-Russian militants deeper into the city as they retook a TV tower. RIA Novosti reported that a civilian woman was killed by a stray bullet and six were injured during an attack on a separatist-manned roadblock in the city. Ukraine’s Security Services stated that pro-Russian activists continue to destabilize the situation in east Ukraine.
  • A unity rally in Odessa was attacked by pro-Russian separatists on May 2, which sparked violence in the city, resulting in a fire in the Trade Unions House. 46 people (mostly pro-Russian activists) were killed and over 200 injured, with 144 detained by security services. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry claimed that the fire was started by pro-Russians using Molotov cocktails inside the building, though other accounts cite the use of Molotov cocktails by both sides. Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk accused Odessa’s security services and law enforcement office of being inefficient, saying they had “done nothing to stop this crackdown” and had “violated the law.” 
  • (Interfax Ukraine) Ukrainian police succumbed to pressure from a local mob on May 5 and released 67 individuals who had been detained for taking part in the clash in Odessa. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s public relations department stated that the decision was made by regional prosecutors “at the protesters’ request;” however, Reuters reported that protesters had been released after a crowd broke down the main gate of the prison at which they were held. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stated that “police in Odessa acted in a totally disorderly, possibly criminal way” by releasing the detainees, while PM Yatsenyuk implied that they were corrupt. An additional 42 detainees were transported from Odessa to a central region of Ukraine.
  • PrivatBank, Ukraine's largest bank, "temporarily" closed branches in separatist-held Donetsk and Luhansk on May 5, saying it could no longer carry out cash transactions in regions riddled with crime that could "threaten the lives" of its workers. A PrivatBank branch in Mariupol was set on fire on May 4, while several other branches, ATMs and bank vehicles in Donetsk and Luhansk were vandalized, set on fire and broken into over the weekend. 
  • (ITAR-TASS) Fighting between government troops and pro-Russian militants continued in Kramatorsk over May 2-3, as Ukrainian forces retook a television station and the local SBU headquarters, resulting in the deaths of 10 insurgents. Some accounts maintained that the militants subsequently retook the SBU headquarters. RIA Novosti reported on May 5 that militants still held the buildings of the Interior Ministry and Security Service as well as others, with Ukrainian troops in control of most of the city excluding the center. 

International Observation News: 

  • OSCE Chairman Didier Burkhalter was scheduled to arrive in Moscow on May 7. 
  • OSCE observers held by pro-Russian separatists were released on May 3 “without conditions.” The special representative to Russian President Putin called the conditions in which the observers were held acceptable. 
  • (RIA Novosti) The Russian Civic Chamber announced on May 5 its intention to appeal to the UN and the European Council to postpone the presidential election in Ukraine currently scheduled for May 25.
  • (ITAR-TASS) Germany’s Ministry of Defense stated on May 5 that it does not intend to send military observers to Ukraine in the framework of a possible new mission of the OSCE.


Constitutional Reform News: 

  • (ITAR-TASS) Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk submitted a bill to the Verkohvna Rada on May 5 proposing holding a poll on May 25 on issues related to the territorial integrity, national unity and the decentralization of power within Ukraine. 

Diplomacy News: 

  • German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on May 5 for a second international conference in Geneva. He said one way to "put an end" to Ukraine's violence was OSCE mediation at local level across Ukraine.
  • (Interfax Ukraine) The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on May 5 that a place and date for the second round of multilateral talks on Ukraine are not known yet, but it could take place on May 25, when the first round of early presidential elections is to be held in Ukraine. The ministry spokesman also stated that the talks could be held prior to the elections. 
  • (RIA Novosti) The Russian Foreign Ministry said that FM Sergei Lavrov was due to attend a ministerial meeting at the Council of Europe in Vienna the week of May 5 amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
  • (Interfax Ukraine) Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was scheduled to visit the European Commission on May 13.
  • German Chancellor Merkel’s spokesperson stated on May 5 that Germany believes that a referendum planned by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk the week of May 12 would violate the constitution of the country and make the situation there even worse.
  • (RIA Novosti) The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on May 5 announcing its compilation of a ‘white book’ detailing human rights violations allegedly committed in Ukraine. The book “shows the grossest violations of the fundamental international principles and norms in the area of human rights committed by the monopolizing protesters of Euro-Maidan and its radical nationalists, and sometimes with the direct promotion of the United States and the European Union, which confirms that these occurrences had a massive character.”
  • A Kremlin spokesman stated on May 3 that Russia is receiving is receiving “thousands” of calls for assistance from Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine, and it has not yet decided on a response.
  • US President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel announced in a joint press conference on May 2 that the US and Germany are prepared to launch broader sanctions against Russia should the Ukrainian election of May 25 be disrupted. Obama stated that the US would move to “a broader-based sectoral sanctions regime” should Russia impede the election, while Merkel voiced support for a move to wider sanctions and said the European Union and the United States would continue to work in concert on the issue.
  • US President Obama stated on May 2 that "It is obvious to the world that these Russian-backed groups are not peaceful protesters. They are heavily armed militants." 

Governance News: 

  • Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, said on 4 May that it would be “absurd” for Ukrainian authorities to push forward with the May 25 presidential vote following the violence in the southern port city of Odessa and Kiev’s military operations to dislodge pro-Russian separatists from towns in the east.
  • (Interfax Ukraine) Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry reiterated on May 5 its intent to move forward with elections, stating, “We do not accept any initiatives to put off the elections, set for May 25. The elections will be held as planned. All other initiatives are aimed exclusively at upsetting stability in Ukraine and continuing Russia's interference in Ukraine's internal affairs.”
  • A plenary meeting of the Verkhovna Rada was slated to be held behind closed doors on May 6. 
  • (RIA Novosti) Members of the Ukrainian parliament from the right-wing Svoboda party introduced a bill on May 5 intending to ban symbols associated with Russia, including the black-and-orange St. George ribbons adopted by pro-Russian militants, referred to in the bill as “extremism instigators and separatists.”