Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 15 May 2014, 9PM Kyiv time

1. Kremlin-backed “separatism” in Eastern Ukraine

The active phase of the anti-terrorist operation in Donetsk and Luhansk continues. Acting president O. Turchynov stated that the anti-terrorist operation will continue until “separatists” turn in their weapons and all hostages they are holding are freed. The Party of Regions and Communist Party factions walked out of a session of Parliament in protest of the continuation of anti-terrorist operation. The General Prosecutor announced that they will investigate the circumstances around which the self-proclaimed “Governor” of the illegitimate “Peoples’ Republic of Luhansk” V. Bolotov was allowed to cross Ukraine’s border into Russia. The Ministry of Defense reports that anti-terrorist operation forces fought a battle against an armed “separatist” group 30 km outside Kramatorsk, killing three armed “separatists,” and taking one prisoner. Velykonovosilivskyi raion of Donetsk oblast has reportedly been freed of armed “separatists.” A Pryvatbank car, carrying 1.5 million UAH (approx. $150,00) – earmarked for paying wages – was robbed by armed “separatists.” Armed “separatists” in Donetsk oblast issued an ultimatum to Ukraine’s authorities, according to which the government has 24 hours to withdraw their troops from the regions. There are reports that as of 9 PM Kyiv time, battles between armed “separatists” and Ukraine anti-terrorist forces are ongoing in several locations on the outskirts of Slovyansk, Donetsk oblast.

2. Mejlis: Mass searches of Crimean Tatar homes

A. Kamzin, the press secretary of the Mejlis, the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatar people, stated that the authorities in illegally occupied and annexed Crimea carried out mass searches of the homes of Crimean Tatars during the night of May 14-15, apparently searching for explosives and weapons; none were found.

3. Putin – Russia will demand pre-payment for natural gas

In a letter addressed to the leaders of the European Union, Russian President V. Putin claimed that Ukraine’s debt to Gazprom grew from $2.2 billion to $3.5 billion since April, and that as a result Russia will begin to demand pre-payment from Ukraine for natural gas beginning 1 June.

4. Kerry – sectoral sanctions if Russia disturbs presidential elections

After a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France, Italy and Germany in London, US Secretary of State J. Kerry stated that the United States and the other 4 countries present will impose sectoral economic sanctions against the Russian Federation if Russia or its proxies disturb the presidential election on 25 May. Kerry stated, “our message is really quite simple. Let Ukraine vote. Let the Ukrainian people choose their future.”

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