Ukraine Crisis Updates – April 16, 2014

Commentary | April 16, 2014

Internal Security News:

  • Ukrainian forces removed separatists from a military airfield near Kramatorsk in Donetsk, killing at least four protesters.
  • First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema said several hundred armed Russian military soldiers in Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv oblasts were covertly and gradually sent there, over a prolonged time period. According to the minister, it was determined that some were from the 45th Airborne Regiment of the Russian army based near Moscow.
  • Former Ukrainian Prime Minister and Batkivschyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko said that the situation in eastern Ukraine is a new-type war by Russia against Ukraine.
  • A number of Ukrainian transport vehicles in Kramatorsk fell under the control of pro-Russian militants before traveling to Sloviansk. Reports varied as to whether the drivers willingly defected or were disarmed.
    • RIA Novosti reported that the personnel of six Ukrainian armored transport vehicles sent to Kramatorsk switched sides and joined pro-Russian protesters.
    • The Kyiv Post reported that drivers began to fly Russian flags after speaking with the self-proclaimed mayor of Sloviansk.
    • The Ukrainian Defense Ministry stated that the vehicles had been forcibly captured by residents of Kramatorsk at a roadblock, and were no longer controlled by men affiliated with the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
  • Separatists took over The Donetsk City Council building immediately after observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) finished a meeting with local authorities there. Separatists continued to occupy the Donetsk Oblast Administration and regional police headquarters.
  • (Interfax Ukraine) The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) press center reported they had intercepted conversations that indicated subversive groups in eastern Ukraine are led by the Russian special services.
  • Ukraine's SBU also published what it says is a batch of intercepted conversations between Russian secret services and pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. Russian security service officers are heard ordering eastern Ukrainian forces to "shoot to kill" when dealing with Ukrainian troops who do not surrender, according to the transcripts.
  • A Ukrainian intelligence officer and another serviceman were abducted by “extremists” near Luhansk, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported.
  • Train services between Druzhkivka and Kramatorsk were rerouted when unidentified people illegally blocked the tracks.
  • (RIA Novosti) The Odessa region’s “Anti-Maidan” movement declared they had established an Odessa People’s Republic and called on residents to block police and military troops from entering the city.
  • (RIA Novosti) Fifty Ukrainian soldiers sent to the eastern town of Kramatorsk for military operations against protesters defected to support demonstrators, according to local activists.

Constitutional Reform News:

  • (RIA Novosti) Russian FM Lavrov stated that the international community must persuade the Ukrainian government to start constitutional reform. Lavrov said that the four-party talks on April 17 should focus on “true, not cosmetic” constitutional reform.
  • (Interfax Ukraine) The Verkhovna Rada issued a declaration indicating that Ukraine’s constitutional and administrative-territorial issues cannot be discussed at the four-party talks.

International Observation News:

  • Military observers from six OSCE member states arrived in the Sumy region of Ukraine.

Diplomacy News:

  • Estonian President Toomas Ilves told CNN’s Christian Amanpour: "we are in new territory right now; the rules have been broken." He called for a "physical presence on the ground" in the region as deterrence against Russia.
  • (Interfax Ukraine) The EU Council condemned actions undertaken by armed individuals in eastern Ukrainian cities, and demanded that Russia immediately withdraw its Federation Council mandate to use force on Ukrainian soil.
  • (ITAR-TASS) Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk said that the purpose of the April 17 four-party talks will be “the resumption of dialogue.”
  • NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that although NATO presently has no intention of sending troops into Ukraine, it will bolster its military presence along its eastern border in response to destabilization of Russian-backed separatist movements there.
  • (RIA Novosti) Russia may file suit against the U.S. through the World Trade Organization (WTO) over Russian bank sanctions, Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said.
  • Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk stated that in addition to oil and gas, “Russia has now begun exporting terrorism.”
  • U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said there is little question about the connection between Russia and the gunmen provoking unrest in eastern Ukraine.
  • The EU diplomacy chief's spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said that the goal of the upcoming four-party meeting in Geneva is for Russia and Ukraine to start a direct dialogue.

Governance News:  

  • (Interfax Ukraine) The Verkhovna Rada appointed Stepan Poltorak as commander of Ukraine’s National Guard.
  • The director of military programs at Ukrainian NGO Razumkov Center stated that the Ukrainian government is not showing proper levels of professionalism in dealing with protesters, and called for them to “take measures” against known individuals and groups responsible for destabilization.
  • The Verkhovna Rada refused to combine the positions of mayor and head of the Kiev city-state administration.