Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 5 April 2016, 7 PM Kyiv time

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing
5 April 2016, 7 PM Kyiv time
 
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that yesterday, Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions 61 times in total. The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported that yesterday towards Luhansk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions near Popasne with mortars, and fired on Ukrainian positions at Stanytsia Luhanska. Towards Donetsk, Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Zaytseve, Novhorodske and Avdiyivka with mortars. Russian-terrorist forces fired on Ukrainian positions near the Donetsk airport. Towards Mariupol Russian-terrorist forces attacked a Ukrainian position near Hranitne. Ukrainian forces repelled the attack. Russian-terrorist forces shelled Ukrainian positions at Talakivka and Shyrokyne with mortars. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and ten were wounded in action.
2. “Verdict” in Russia’s illegal trial of Nadiya Savchenko comes into force
Today the “verdict” and sentence in Russia’s illegal trial of Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko came into force. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “Ignoring the basic norms of morality, humanity, justice and the rule of law, Russia is demonstrating the irreversibility of its transformation into a totalitarian state, which acts exclusively by repressive methods and is incapable of dialogue with the rest of the world. […] We call on the international community to take steps to strengthen political and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation to free N. Savchenko.” Savchenko announced yesterday that she would resume a dry hunger strike (refusing both food and water) on 6 April.
3. US President: We continue to be united in supporting Ukraine
Following a meeting with NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg on 4 April, US President B. Obama stated, “We continue to be united in supporting Ukraine in the wake of Russian incursions into Ukrainian territory. We continue to work in a train-and-assist fashion in helping support Ukraine develop its military capabilities defensively. We continue to provide reassurance to the frontline states there, our NATO allies, to make sure that they have not just reassurance of words, but that we have actually deployed concrete assets that let them know that Article 5 means something, and that we stand by our commitments to our allies. And I have in my budget put forward a quadrupling of the resources that we spend, and allocated a portion of that money to make sure that we’ve got ground brigades that send a clear message about our commitments to our NATO allies to the east.”
4. Ukraine’s President begins official visit to Japan
Ukraine’s President P. Poroshenko began an official visit to Japan (5-7 April). Poroshenko will meet with Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe, leaders of the Houses of the National Diet, senior officials and representatives of Japanese business. The President will discuss bilateral cooperation and topical problems of the international agenda in the context of Japan’s G7 Presidency, Poroshenko’s press service reported.
5. Former Pentagon official: Lessons in the Russian Drawdown in Syria for Ukraine
Writing in Defense News, Evelyn N. Farkas, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (2012-2015) and non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, wrote, “With its announcement three weeks ago that Russia will draw down its forces in Syria, the Kremlin appears to have made the calculation that time in Syria was not on its side. Continuing its military engagement would have brought increased costs and risks, and so it was time to exercise leverage not just on the Syrian opposition and its supporters, but on President Bashar Asad. […] Moscow appears to be effectively backing the UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva. […] If that is indeed how Moscow sees things, there may be some lessons for how we deal with Ukraine. […] [I]n Ukraine, increasing our military support may also be the way to ensure implementation of the Minsk agreements and what should be a critical early step in doing so – a Russian military withdrawal. […] The United States should also use the opportunity now – before any new Russian surprises in Ukraine – to provide anti-tank missiles to Ukraine. The possibility that greater numbers of Russians could die fighting in Ukraine could deter the Kremlin from further military action against Ukraine, especially in light of the government’s shameful efforts to hide Russian casualties from the public. This wouldn’t change the course of any conflict, given the balance of forces and for this reason Russia is not likely to have a military response to such assistance; but this assistance would very likely make Russia think twice about renewed military operations. Perhaps just as important, anti-tank missiles would demonstrate a firm as-long-as-it-take commitment to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The Kremlin will understand that militarily, it cannot wait out Ukraine and its allies; over time, Ukraine will become stronger militarily and the military costs and risk for Russia will rise. Only if we stick firmly with Kyiv, maintaining sanctions and increasing our military assistance, will Moscow realize that time in Ukraine is also not on its side.” The full article is available athttp://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/commentary/2016/04/02/lessons-russian-drawdown-syria-ukraine/82393444/

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