Ukraine: Daily Briefing – December 27, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time

Ukraine: Daily Briefing
December 27, 2018, 5 PM Kyiv time
Image: Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense

1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 7 times in total.
2. Ukraine’s President announces end of martial law
Meeting of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, December 26. Image – Ukraine’s Presidential Administration

At a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO), Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko announced the cessation of martial law from 2pm Kyiv time on December 26.
           Ukraine’s Presidential Administration reported, “The Head of State noted that the introduction of martial law allowed to take a number of organizational and mobilization measures that increased the level of combat capability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the ability of the state to respond to the threat of a full-scale Russian invasion of our country. […]
          He reported that during martial law, the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff carried out the relocation of troops to the areas where there is the biggest necessity to reflect possible attacks by Russia.
            ‘Where, according to our information, the situation was the most threatening,’ the President noted. He also said that the air defense system in the southern and eastern regions was improved.
           ‘The transfer of equipment and armaments to the troops was accelerated, the reservists of the first wave were mobilized and underwent training sessions. Once again, we felt a very mighty shoulder of support from the combatants who demonstrated their readiness to return to the ranks at any moment,’ the President said.
           Martial law also allowed to strengthen the protection of the state border and infrastructure. ‘More than a thousand Russian citizens who failed to substantiate the purpose of their visit to Ukraine were not allowed to enter the country,’ the President said. […]
          The Head of State noted that a strict examination of the system of military management, armament, provision was carried out due to martial law. ‘We identified, by the way, a lot of shortcomings. It is very important that we saw our weaknesses earlier than the enemy tried to take advantage of them,’ the President said.”
3. US increases security assistance to Ukraine’s Navy
The US State Department stated on December 21, “In response to Russia’s dangerous escalation and unjustified November 25 attack on three Ukrainian naval vessels near the Kerch Strait, the Department of State, subject to Congressional approval, will provide an additional $10 million in Foreign Military Financing to further build Ukraine’s naval capabilities. We do so in solidarity with Lithuania and the United Kingdom, also planning to increase their security assistance to Ukraine. The United States calls on Russia to immediately return to Ukraine the seized vessels and detained Ukrainian crews, to keep the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov open to ships transiting to and from Ukrainian ports, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters.”
4. Ukraine vice-PM calls for more sanctions on Russia
The Financial Times reported on December 26, “A Ukrainian minister has condemned the ‘shortsightedness’ of some EU countries over Russia’s aims and urged the bloc to impose new sanctions over Moscow’s capture last month of Ukrainian naval ships.
           Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Kyiv’s vice-premier for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, said Russia was trying to destroy EU unity by deepening ‘fractures’ over how to deal with the Kremlin.
          ‘Unfortunately, we still see some shortsightedness in some of the European capitals,’ Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze said in an interview, noting that some politicians in Italy and Austria had talked publicly about scrapping EU-Russia sanctions. ‘Not all of the political elites across Europe grasp the depth of this ambition of the Russian Federation.’
          Kyiv and the US are intensifying efforts to convince EU countries to respond more strongly to Russia’s activities in Ukraine, where it occupied Crimea in 2014 and subsequently fomented a war in far-eastern regions. […]
          The Ukraine conflict is a test of EU foreign policy after parties sympathetic to the Kremlin have grown more powerful and joined coalition governments in Italy and Austria.
          The vice-premier welcomed the willingness of EU leaders this month to extend sanctions on Moscow over its internationally-unrecognised Crimea annexation and role in unrecognised elections in breakaway eastern regions of Ukraine. But she called for further measures.
          Kyiv believes a muted western response to Russia’s actions has not brought sanctions to levels sufficient to deter further hostilities.EU diplomats say member states are debating whether to impose targeted measures against Russian officials such as military commanders deemed responsible.
          After joining Ms Klympush-Tsintsadze in Brussels to lobby EU officials this month, Kurt Volker, the US envoy on the Ukraine crisis, travelled to Kyiv as part of an effort to organise a ‘well co-ordinated western response.'”

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