Ukraine Crisis Updates – April 17, 2014

Commentary | April 17, 2014

EWI offers a daily situation report on Ukraine.

All parties reached a deal to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis during four-party talks between Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU in Geneva. The steps they agreed to included:

  • All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions.
  • The constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments. 
  • All illegal military formations in Ukraine must be dissolved. Occupied buildings and public spaces must be vacated with militants disarmed. Amnesty will be offered to anti-government protesters who vacate buildings and public places and are not found guilty of capital crimes.
  • The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a lead role in assisting de-escalation measures. The U.S., EU and Russia committed to supporting this mission, including providing monitors.

Internal Security News:

  • In an overnight raid, an estimated 300 people attacked a Ukrainian military base in Mariupol, according to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. Writing on his Facebook page, he said the shootout followed initial warning shots. Three of the attackers were killed, 13 wounded and 63 others detained.
  • Ukraine’s security agency, the SBU, published a composite drawing of Igor Strelkov, the Russian military intelligence officer who they allege is commandeering Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine, as well as a network of Russian and Ukrainian agents.
  • Ukrainian President Turchynov stated: “The 25th airborne brigade that displayed cowardice and gave up to the enemy, will be disbanded. And the soldiers who are guilty of this will be held accountable in court.” The 25th airborne brigade was the unit responsible for surrendering six armored personnel carriers to militants in Kramatorsk on April 16.
  • Dnipropetrovsk Oblast governor and billionaire Igor Kolomoisky offered cash bonuses of $10,000 for those who fight against pro-Russian separatists.
  • Militants in Sloviansk took Ukrainian freelance journalist Serhiy Lefter prisoner. His employer reported that he is currently being held in the basement of the Security Service of Ukraine building.
  • The Luhansk prosecutor general’s office launched a criminal investigation against former Luhansk Oblast appellate court head–and self-proclaimed ‘President’ of southeastern Ukraine– Anatoliy Vyzyr for “seizure of state power, encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine and for unauthorized appropriation of authority.”
  • Head of the Kiev city state administration Volodymyr Bondarenko said that the city was taking public safety measures and ensuring defensive capabilities.

Constitutional Reform News:

  • (RIA Novosti) Russian President Putin said that Ukraine cannot elect a president without changing its constitution. “If the constitution is not changed, [a] new election cannot be held as President Viktor Yanukovych still remains the legitimate president.”
  • (ITAR-TASS) A joint memorandum to be signed by all factions of the Verkhovna Rada will include fixed rejection of federalization, regional empowerment, official status for regional languages ​ and changes to the constitution.

International Observation News:

  • (ITAR-TASS) OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier requested EU support for expanding the organization’s Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
  • Russian envoy to the OSCE, Andrei Kelin, said that OSCE observers sent to Ukraine to monitor ongoing events are trying to make impartial judgments.
  • Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the UN, delivered a Security Council speech that pointed blame at Russia for conducting a “professional campaign” of separatism in eastern Ukraine.
  • UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović warned that the ongoing unrest in eastern Ukraine, if not addressed as a matter of priority, risks seriously destabilizing the rest of the country.

Diplomacy News:

  • Acting Ukrainian FM Deshchytsya told media that Kiev’s main objective was to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine. He said withdrawal of Russian troops from the country's eastern borders and Crimea will be the delegation's main demand at the Geneva conference.
  • Russian President Putin held a live 4-hour Q&A session on Russian television. During the interview, he rebuked NATO expansion, called eastern Ukraine "Novorussia" and denied involvement in Eastern Ukraine.
  • (ITAR-TASS) Putin said that Russia will not insist on staying in PACE, but does not intend to engage in self-imposed isolation.
  • Putin said that trust between Russia and the U.S. had been damaged before the Ukraine crisis, but that he wanted to restore cooperation. "To a certain extent trust has been lost, but we do not think we are to blame.”
  • (ITAR-TASS) Putin also proposed intensifying dialogue on the future of the Moldovan region of Transdniestria, demanding that Moldova and Ukraine lift blockades immediately.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine's territorial integrity, the information policy department of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry reported.
  • (ITAR-TASS) Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin stated that “We want Ukraine to be a stable and secure state, but we see what is happening there, and we believe that this instability will last a long time.” He touted the necessity of the planned South Stream gas pipeline to secure Bulgaria’s long-term supply.
  • (Interfax Ukraine) The European Parliament adopted a resolution supporting Ukrainian leadership in realizing their right to the restoration of power and self-defense, warning Russia against invasion under the pretext of escalating the situation created by armed pro-Russian separatists. The EP reiterated that Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries have EU membership prospects and may apply to join the union.
  • (RIA Novosti) Russian FM Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry met privately behind closed doors before beginning the four-party talks in Geneva.
  • (RIA Novosti) Four-way talks between Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and the EU began in Geneva. The meeting was attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia.

Governance News:

  • (Interfax Ukraine) Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov appointed Hennadiy Hryschenko as chief of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) office in Dnipropetrovsk region.
  • (ITAR-TASS) The Verkhovan Rada created a new association of deputies with a goal of working towards energy independence through the introduction of modern energy technologies.
  • (Reuters) Russian airline Aeroflot announced it was informed by Ukraine that it will impose tight restrictions on the entry of “military-age” Russian men into the country.