Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 25 April 2014

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

25 April 2014

1. Kremlin-backed unrest in Eastern Ukraine

Armed Kremlin-backed “separatists” continue to occupy several state buildings and police headquarters in several cities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reports that a roadblock set up by Kremlin-backed “separatists” on the road into Slovyansk has been cleared. Head of the Presidential Administration S. Pashynsky stated that Ukrainian units will blockade Slovyansk “in order to not allow the possibility of reinforcements for the terrorists.” In a press briefing, the deputy head of the SBU and director of the Anti-terrorist Centre V. Krutov, stated, “We will not allow casualties among peaceful citizens, but criminals, terrorists, separatists, should carry and will carry responsibility.” A group of international military observers has been taken hostage in Slovyansk. The OSCE stated that these were not OSCE observers, but a “military verification – led by Germans – and composed of 8 members – 4 Germans, 1 Czech, 1 Dane, 1 Pole, 1 Swede…sent following invitation from Ukraine under terms of Vienna Document 2011.” Acting Prosecutor O. Makhnitsky reported that 240 criminal cases against “separatists” have been opened. At the Kramatorsk airport, an army Mi-8 helicopter was shot at, apparently by a sniper, and caught fire. The Ministry of Defense stated that an investigative committee is working at the airport.

2. Defense Dept: Russia massing forces; Secretary Kerry: “We’ve seen this movie before”

A spokesman for the Pentagon stated that Russia is aligning a “broad array of forces” on the Ukrainian border, including “mechanized infantry, light infantry, armor, and airborne troops and fixed and rotary-wing aerial assets.”US Secretary of State J. Kerry stated that the Russian Federation has not made a single step to implement the decisions of the Geneva agreement of 17 April. Kerry stated, “Russia has instead chosen an illegitimate course of armed violence to try and achieve with the barrel of a gun and the force of a mob what couldn’t be achieved any other way.  They’ve tried to create enough chaos in the east to delay or delegitimize the elections, or to force Ukraine to accept a federalism that gives Russia control over its domestic and foreign policies, or even force Ukraine to overreact and create an excuse for military intervention.  This is a full-throated effort to actively sabotage the democratic process through gross external intimidation…We have seen this movie before.  We saw it most recently in Crimea, where similar subterfuge and sabotage by Russia was followed by a full invasion – an invasion, by the way, for which President Putin recently decorated Russian special forces at the Kremlin… If Russia continues in this direction, it will not just be a grave mistake, it will be an expensive mistake.”

3. US President and European leaders speak on situation in eastern Ukraine

US President B. Obama spoke with the President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel and PMs Renzi and Cameron about the situation in Ukraine. The leaders of the four countries agreed that Russia “had in fact continued to escalate the situation through its increasingly concerning rhetoric and threatening military exercises on Ukraine’s border.” The United States is “prepared to impose targeted sanctions to respond to Russia’s latest actions.” The four leaders “agreed to work closely together, and through the G7 and EU, to coordinate additional steps to impose costs on Russia.”

4. Canada and Poland coordinate engagement with Ukraine

Canadian Foreign Minister J. Baird announced $9.2 million in funding for “joint Canadian and Polish projects to strengthen democratic development in Ukraine.” Canada and Poland also signed a Statement of Principles for Coordinated Engagement on Ukraine.

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