Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 24 March 2016, 6 PM Kyiv time

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
24 March 2016, 6 PM Kyiv time
 
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Avdiyivka, Pisky, Opytne and several other locations with mortars. Towards Mariupol, Russian-terrorist forces attacked Ukrainian positions near Novotroitske. Ukrainian forces repelled the attack. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions at Hnutove and Shyrokyne. There was no combat on the Luhansk sector of the front. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that yesterday Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions 53 times in total. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and four were wounded in action.
2. Ukraine’s President calls on international community to impose sanctions against officials involved in Savchenko show trial
In a meeting with Nadiya Savchenko’s mother, Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko stated that Ukraine is coordinating actions with the international community to put pressure on Russia and secure the liberation of Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko, who was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison this week in a show trial in Russia. Speaking of the list of Russian officials complicit in Savchenko’s illegal imprisonment, Poroshenko stated, “The whole world should impose sanctions against 46 persons involved in that show trial.” The President’s press service reported that yesterday Poroshenko spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the Savchenko case. During the phone call, “The parties coordinated efforts to liberate all Ukrainians illegally retained in Russia. The Head of State emphasized that under item 6 of the Minsk agreements, Russia must release all political prisoners illegally retained on its territory.”
3. Leaders of Ukraine’s national communities appeal to Dutch to support Association Agreement in April 6 referendum
In an appeal to the Dutch population, leaders of national associations and communities of Ukraine stated, “We, leaders of the national associations and communities of Ukraine, we appeal to the Dutch citizens and urge them to support the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in the April 6 referendum. Millions of Ukrainians of different ethnic origins and religions not only want to live in a fair society, but also to get the prospects of entering the family of European Nations and a common European home. Currently, Ukraine is experiencing one of the most dramatic moments in its history. The Ukrainian nation composed of many ethnic and religious groups, has made its civilizational choice – to become not only geographical, but a true part of European civilization, to overcome the consequences of totalitarian and imperial past, and to enter the family of free nations which are building their future based on shared values. […] Ukraine is a multinational country, and in this context we are not only ethnic Ukrainians, but also different ethnic communities and religious groups. But we are one nation. Ukrainian citizens of different nationalities took an active part in the Revolution of Dignity. They fought for a European future for our country, for the rule of law, for the triumph of the principles of tolerance and the inviolability of human rights. Many of them are fighting for a new European Ukraine in the military units opposing the aggressor. It is important to note that, despite the war and the existing problems, we live in a country where the rights of national minorities enshrined in law. We maintain a confessional identity, national language, and develop national cultures. […] We ask you, citizens of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, to come to a referendum on 6 April and vote ‘Yes!’ to the desire of our multinational country to be closer to Europe. Our children are now paying for that desire with their blood and their lives. What we ask you is only to support us in a referendum.” The list of signatories of the appeal is available at http://khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1458773504
4. US Ambassador to Ukraine: Ukraine’s best response to Russian aggression to continue firmly on its European trajectory
Speaking at a security conference in Odesa, US Ambassador to Ukraine G. Pyatt stated, “I want to start with a very clear assurance – the United States government continues to pay great attention to what is happening here in Ukraine and has invested significant resources here in Odesa oblast, but in Ukraine as a whole.  We have done so based on the understanding that what happens here in Ukraine will play a critical role in securing what has been a goal of American foreign policy for a quarter century now – that is, a Europe whole, free, and at peace.  One country in particular has recently and very openly challenged this long-standing goal of American foreign policy. How we, the international community, react to and answer Russia’s use of force to change international borders will be critical to the future security and prosperity of this region.  […] It is equally important how Ukraine’s leaders and its people react to this challenge.  I’m not talking about the use of force, but rather the implementation of deep and lasting reform.  This effort at national renovation will be just as important as the success of your military and intelligence services to counter the external threat from Russia. […] Ukraine’s status as a Black Sea power is yet another reason why Ukraine remains integral to a Europe whole, free and at peace.  And now, following the Revolution of Dignity, I don’t think anyone can doubt that the Ukrainian people have firmly chosen their European identity.  It is Russia’s refusal to accept Ukraine’s chosen path that set in motion the crisis of the past two years.  […] The US will continue to apply pressure on Russia to comply with its obligations under the Minsk agreement, and will maintain relevant sanctions until Crimea is returned.  But Ukraine’s best response to Russian aggression is to continue firmly on its European trajectory, to continue to implement real reforms that fundamentally and irreversibly destroy the corrupt practices of the past. […]Ukraine demonstrated that it has the strength and resilience to win this fight.  And in so doing, it will create an anchor of peace and stability for Europe and the region. […] Ukraine has made remarkable progress over the past two years, something that is easy to forget in the day-to-day drama of domestic politics.” Pyatt’s full remarks are available at http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/statements/pyatt-odesa-03242016.html

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