Ukraine Crisis Updates – April 15, 2014

Commentary | April 15, 2014

EWI offers a daily situation report on Ukraine.

Internal Security News:

  • Ukraine’s President Turchynov announced before the Verkhovna Rada: “tonight an anti-terrorist operation began in the north of Donetsk Oblast. It will be conducted step-by-step, responsibly, deliberately. The goal of these actions, I want to underline, is to defend the citizens of Ukraine."
  • Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clandestine operation in eastern Ukraine is directed by the FSB (KGB successor) and military intelligence units in concert with a well-prepared network of trained agents. “It’s not a grass root movement. It’s a full-blown foreign aggression on Ukraine.”
  • Unrest continued throughout Donetsk Oblast, with protesters occupying government buildings throughout. Pro-Russian demonstrations took place in Kharkiv and Zaporizhya, with disturbances also reported in Ilovaysk, Dobropillya, Kostiantynivka, Snizhne and elsewhere.
  • Andriy Parubiy, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council announced on his Facebook page on April 15 that National Guard troops have been deployed to eastern Ukraine.
  • Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Petro Mehed said that his ministry mobilized more than 90 percent of its resources, and activated 23 militia commissaries in response to the growing threat in the east. Mehed said that, as a result of increased unrest in eastern Ukraine, Ukraine would continue "accelerating its military mobilization."
  • (RIA Novosti) Russian’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page: “Blood has been shed in Ukraine again. The country is on the threshold of a civil war.”
  • Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, the body responsible for public order and safety, launched a recruitment campaign to buttress its ranks in eastern and southern Ukraine. Two oblasts in particular, Luhansk and Donetsk, saw an estimated 50 percent of police personnel switch allegiance to Russian occupying forces and local pro-Russian separatists that have occupied government and police buildings. The ministry is also creating special units to serve in Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolayiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts.
  • (Reuters) Ukraine's state security service opened a criminal case against officials at an unnamed Russian bank for "providing financing to terrorists," the SBU said in a statement.
  • (RIA Novosti) Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleh Tsarev was beaten in Kiev. Tsarev is a supporter of federalization, and has allegedly indicated that he will not withdraw his candidacy as a result of the attack.

Constitutional Reform News:

  • (ITAR-TASS) Kiev claims it will not discuss the federalization of the country at the four-party talks in Geneva.
  • (RIA Novosti) Russian FM called the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s claims that Ukraine’s domestic political situation will not be discussed at the meeting “baseless.” “That's exactly what we plan to discuss," Lavrov said, adding the agenda for the talks will be de-escalation, disarmament of illegal groups, constitutional reform and elections.

International Observation News:

  •  (Associated Press) The UN released a report on Ukraine’s human rights situation, stating that corruption, a lack of judiciary independence and lack of free elections were among the root causes of popular protests that took place there from November-February. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also reported that in Crimea, it found credible allegations of harassment, arbitrary arrests and torture targeting activists and journalists who did not support the March 16 referendum on joining Russia.
  • (RIA Novosti) Russian FM Lavrov stated that Kiev’s call for UN peacekeeping troops in southeastern Ukraine is "over the top," adding that the Kiev authorities are "inventing fables" to justify their "aggressive intentions."
  • (ITAR-TASS) Russian Deputy FM Gennady Gatilov stated that Russia believes the UN Security Council cannot accept the consensus document on Ukraine.

Diplomacy News:

  • A Russian attack aircraft repeatedly flew near the USS Donald Cook in international waters in the Black Sea on April 12, a Pentagon spokesman said.
  • In a tense phone call, President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow would face further costs for its actions in Ukraine and should use its influence to get separatists to stand down. According to the Kremlin, Putin told Obama that Russia was not interfering in Ukraine and urged Washington to use its influence to prevent bloodshed.
  • (RIA Novosti) Russian media reported that U.S. CIA Director John Brennan secretly visited Kiev over the weekend, prompting Russian FM Lavrov to demand an explanation. U.S. White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that Brennan visited Kiev to meet with Ukrainian intelligence counterparts, calling the visit routine, and describing media reports that the visit was to plan special operations in Ukraine “absurd.”
  • EU ministers meeting in Luxembourg decided to add names to its sanction list, in addition to the 51 Russian and Ukrainian political figures blacklisted following Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month. The EU added four Ukrainians, including former deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov.
  • (CBC) Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper said the events that unfolded over the weekend in Ukraine are the work of "Russian provocateurs" orchestrated by the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • The UK is ready to make economic "sacrifices" in its efforts to prevent Russia from "destabilising" Ukraine, according to Foreign Secretary William Hague. Russia is “absolutely complicit” in escalating tensions in Ukraine, he said, adding that EU states will recognize when they reach a level to trigger a third tier of economic, trade and financial sanctions.
  • (ITAR-TASS) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed Kiev’s accusations that Russia is out to disrupt the forthcoming Geneva meeting. He added that Moscow was prepared for the Geneva meeting by and large, but if force were used in the southeast of the country, the chances of holding it would be disrupted.
  • (RIA Novosti) Russian FM Lavrov stated: "We categorically condemn and demand the cease of so-called initiatives to send security forces and army divisions that are in breach of the norms of Ukrainian and international law to quash protests.”
  • (RIA Novosti) Russian FM Lavrov thanked China for its “unbiased” stance on Ukraine during a visit to Beijing.
  • Poland's Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said in an interview with Reuters that Russia's military intervention in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula makes it vital that NATO station significant numbers of troops in Eastern Europe and ignore any Russian objections.
  • (RIA Novosti) NATO is not considering a military response to the situation in Ukraine and is counting on a political and diplomatic resolution, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. At a briefing for EU defense ministers, Rasmussen called on Russia to stop destabilizing Ukraine.

Governance News:

  • Germany's RWE started natural gas deliveries to Ukraine on April 15, marking an initial step in EU efforts to boost supplies as a diplomatic crisis involving Kiev and Moscow poses the risk of Russia turning off the taps. A framework agreement signed by Ukraine's Naftogaz and RWE subsidiary RWE Supply & Trading in 2012 allows for delivery of up to 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year.
  • Ukraine’s Rada adopted a law to guarantee people's rights and freedoms in occupied territories of Ukraine.
  • (RIA Novosti) Ukraine will start importing natural gas via Poland as soon as this week, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported, citing an order that has allegedly been placed with the Polish gas transport firm Gaz Systems.
  • (ITAR-TASS) Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada will hold a closed plenary session on April 16, during which they will discuss national security issues, stated acting President Turchynov.