Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 23 July, 2014, 6 PM Kyiv time

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

23 July, 2014, 6 PM Kyiv time

1. Malaysian Aircraft shot down over eastern Ukraine

The first bodies of the victims of Flight MH-17, which was shot down by Kremlin-backed terrorists on 17 July, landed in Eindhoven, Netherlands today at about 16:00 Amsterdam time. The government of the Netherlands confirmed that the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder (the black boxes) from Flight MH-17, shot down by Kremlin-backed terrorists on 17 July, “The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder of MH17 – the ‘black boxes’ – have been handed over by Malaysian experts to the Dutch Safety Board (OVV), which is leading the international investigation…The black boxes will be taken to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough, Britain, where the data will be downloaded for analysis as part of the international investigation of the disaster.”

2. Russia’s proxy war against Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts

The active phase of the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) in Donetsk and Luhansk continues. The Ministry of Defense stated that two Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft were shot down near Dmytrivka. The pilots ejected. The National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) stated that the planes were hit by anti-aircraft missiles at a height of 5200 meters, and that “according to preliminary information the launch of the missiles were carried out from the territory of the Russian Federation.”  The RNBO reported that at 5PM Kyiv time that the battle for the liberation of Lysychansk, Luhansk oblast, from Kremlin-backed terrorists is ongoing. The Ministry of Defense stated that Ukrainian forces are continuing to surround Donetsk city from all sides. The State Border Service of Ukraine reports that the armed forces of the Russian Federation continue to fire into Ukrainian territory – on 22 July at 10:10PM Kyiv time, artillery was fired from Russia towards Amvrosiyivka; at 10:40PM Kyiv time, a ‘Grad’ (truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher) fired from Russian territory towards Herasymivka; at 2:15AM on 23 July artillery was fired from Russia at the border crossing point at Uspenka.

3. US Ambassador to Ukraine: “We believe Russia played a decisive role in this crisis”

US Ambassador to Ukraine G. Pyatt stated, regarding the shooting down of MH-17, “We believe that Russia has played a decisive role in this crisis. There are large volumes of heavy armor and artillery, multiple rocket launchers, which we know Russia has moved across the border to support the separatists. We know that Russia exercises massive influence over the separatists. Most of the leaders of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” are Russian citizens, and indeed several are Russian intelligence operatives. We know that there are training camps for the separatists in Russia. It was not a pitchfork or a 1950s AK-47 that brought down Malaysian Flight 17. It was an advanced military rocket system…Well, we certainly know that there were advanced weapons moving across the border from Russia. We also know that there would have been a degree of training that would have needed to be provided to the crew who operated this system.”

4. US Senate Committee Chairmen call for broad sanctions against Russia

On 22 July, US Senators R. Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, D. Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote to US President B. Obama, calling for broad sanctions against the Russian defense sector, as well as the energy and financial industries. They urged the President to “explore the possibility of designating the Donetsk People’s Republic as a foreign terrorist organization.” The Senators wrote, “We understand and strongly support your efforts to coordinate the imposition of sanctions with our key European allies in order to ensure their maximum intended effect, and we encourage further cooperation in pursuit of this goal.  However, the United States must not limit its own national security strategy when swift action will help fulfill our strategic objectives, support an independent Ukraine, and counter malignant Russian interference.” 

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