You are on page 1of 4

Weekly news digest

(Jan. 28 – Feb. 3)
This weekly news digest highlights the situation in the eastern Ukraine and on the Crimean
peninsula, focuses on Ukraine’s economy and its challenges, and analyses Ukrainian and
international statements as well as the international support provided to Ukraine.
The situation in the ATO area remains complicated. Debaltseve (a strategic rail hub terrorists
are trying to seize), Donetsk, Mariupol, Shchastia and Luhansk are the conflict’s hot spots. During the
last week, the ATO positions were shelled around 560 times, resulting in 39 Ukrainian soldiers killed
and 172 wounded. The number of civilian casualties has risen dramatically: 49 dead and around 60
injured. According to NSDC, 1422 Ukrainian soldiers were killed since the beginning of the ATO. The
conflict’s death toll has reached 5358, and another 12,235 have been wounded since mid-April last
year, UN senior official said.
Ukraine has proof of Russian soldiers being involved in the armed conflict in the eastern
Ukraine on rebels’ side. (statements by Ukraine Armed Forces Headquarters, NATO Secretary
General). P. Poroshenko called on the members of the Trilateral Contact Group to urgently hold
consultations with the signatories of the Minsk Protocol, particularly regarding the withdrawal of
heavy weaponry and the establishment of demilitarized zones. The separatists called off the peace talks
in Minsk, called for a revision of the Minsk Protocol, the border line and, as former president Leonid
Kuchma said, threatened to renew full-scale war. Pro-Russian rebels have also announced plans for a
“general mobilization”. Besides the above mentioned demands, separatist leader Alexander
Zakharchenko said they will no longer participate in peace talks with L. Kuchma. Igor Plotnytskyi,
Luhansk People’s Republic leader, said “LPR” and “DPR” will agree to a ceasefire after “Donbas
economic blockade will be called off”. D. Tymchuk believes Putin has decided to talk Ukraine and the
world into sending its peacekeeping forces to Donbas to keep eastern Ukraine under Kremlin’s control.
As the situation in Donbas deteriorates, Ukraine expresses its

deep concern over the

provocative actions carried out by Russian Federation and its terrorist

organizations “LPR” and

“DPR”, aimed at breaking up Minsk peace talks format. P. Poroshenko emphasized on the importance
of Kremlin making an official statement regarding the Minsk peace talks getting canceled. .
Ukraine is ready to protect its territory in case of a full-scale Russian offensive, launched by
its terrorist organizations. P. Klimkin said that Ukrainian army will not allow Russia and the militants
to carve out a land corridor to the Crimea. He pointed out that it is not only the matter of the Crimea,
Donbas or Ukraine, but the matter of the existing world order and the rule of law, the principles the
civilized world stands on. Ukrainian Foreign Minister said that the whole world will be affected if
Russia succeeds at denying the rights of people and introducing “the right of the strongest”.

If an all-out war breaks out, Kyiv expects Ukrainian Army Forces to be provided with lethal
weapons, the President of Ukraine and the officials in the Ministry of Defense said. P. Poroshenko
also said he has no doubts that if necessary, all the country’s partners will agree to deliver lethal
weapon to Ukraine.
As the situation escalates, there is no consensus in Europe and the US regarding softening or
strengthening sanctions against Russia. Another “complicated question” on the agenda is whether to
arm Ukraine or not. While Washington is ready to increase pressure in several ways, including
imposing new sanctions, Europe is reluctant to introduce further sanctions against Russian Federation.
V. Nuland thinks that after a week of gruesome violations of the peace deal, the West should consider
tougher sanctions against Kremlin. This statement was also supported by US Secretary of the Treasury
Jack Lew, US Vice President Joe Biden and a spokesperson for the United States Department of State
Jen Psaki. In his turn, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz spoke against imposing
new sanctions against Russia after escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. Vice Chancellor of Germany
Sigmar Gabriel agreed with him and emphasized on the fact that even in the most difficult time one
should not give up on European Russia and simply accept the fact that a new Cold War may last for
the next 30 years. On the contrary, US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski stated that
Russia would have put an end to independent Ukraine and go on threatening other European countries’
sovereignty, especially the Baltic ones, if the US and the EU sanctions had not been introduced.
The Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel did not support the idea of supplying weaponry to
Ukraine and stressed the importance of peaceful resolution to the conflict in Donbas. Meanwhile,
former high-ranking diplomats and military in the USA issued a report, which appealed to the US
government and NATO to support Ukraine.
Undoubtedly, a new, already entitled by Athens as ‘democratic’, position of the Greek
government regarding the conflict in Donbas raises great concern in Ukraine. Foreign Minister of
Greece Nikos Kotzias expressed his support for a new EU strategy on Russia and Ukraine’s
federalization. He claimed that Greece does not want EU to build its policy considering only interests
of those states which have some emotional historical ties with Russian Federation. Martin Schulz
called on Athens not to undermine EU policy on Russia only because Greece is looking for the support
from its partners over its economic problems, and expressed his concern over Athens’s plans to
improve its ties with Moscow.
The world should prepare for a potential deterioration of the situation in Donbas and the
Cold War. The Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland
believes that all NATO member states should get ready for further escalation if they fail to halt
Russian aggression now. On his part, Henry Kissinger urged the US to respond to the immediate threat

that Russia poses to other countries, and especially to Ukraine. He also said that the crisis in Ukraine is
one of the largest since the World War II. UN Deputy Secretary-General J. Eliasson said that the war
in Ukraine destroyed relations between Russia and much of the world to the extent that the "ghost" of
the cold war "is crawling out of the shadows." He also added that the conflict in the eastern Ukraine
"illustrates the restrictions the United Nations face in certain situations when there is no clear direction
and joint action of the Security Council”. However, J. Psaki believes that the "war between Russia and
the West can be avoided if Kremlin abandons its aggressive policy".
Russian statements can be characterized by Kremlin’s usual misinterpretation of facts and its
principled position on the conflict in Donbas. S. Lavrov once again pointed out that sanctions will not
force Kremlin to abandon its current course. He also recalled the "historical experience", which proves
that "a course on Russia’s isolation has always invariably led to serious consequences for the whole
Europe."
The following tendencies are observed in the occupied Crimea: 1) a difficult economic
situation (Kerch ferry service disruption, salary arrears, teachers’ salary got reduced by 30%). Foreign
sanctions continue to contribute to the worsening situation on the peninsula: Google blocked Chrome
updates for Crimean residents; eBay has also suspended its customer service to the peninsula. 2)
increased pressure on ethnic Ukrainians (there is no Ukrainian print media left in the Crimea,
Ukrainian schools are getting closed, Crimean residents were denied their right to commemorate the
memory of A. Kuzmenko, Ukrainian singer and frontman of Skryabin pop band who died in a car
accident on Feb.2) and Crimean Tatars (arrests of A. Chyihoza, one of Mejlis leaders, and S.
Hemedzhi, Crimean Tatar activist), people are being forced to obtain Russian citizenship, there is a
ban on pro-Ukraine public gatherings.
Under the conditions of Russian military and economic aggression and also, as J. Kerry said,
not a very successful process of reforms implementation, economic situation is characterized by: 1) a
complicated macroeconomic and financial situation (a difficult negotiation process with IMF under the
conditions of budget and debt crisis along with bank system crisis due to the price collapse, hryvnia
devaluation and inflation); 2) a new economic course (trade turnover with China, Georgia, African
countries and countries of Near East is gradually increasing); 3) an ambiguous situation in the energy
sector (increased reverse-flow capacity from Slovakia, suspended work of thermal power plants and
mines because of the fierce fighting going on).
Immense international support is provided by USA ($2 billion credit guarantees, technical
help in rebuilding Donbas infrastructure), Canada (financial help for social and economic stabilization,
military uniforms handed over), France (contributed to EU humanitarian operation), Belgium (€2
million humanitarian help), China (signed agreement on technical and economic cooperation), Estonia
(humanitarian aid), Slovakia (€700,000 humanitarian aid), Italy ( €200,000 humanitarian aid).

On the level of international organizations, a decreasing tendency is observed. This week, the
help was provided by UN (humanitarian aid), EIB (a credit for railway system modernization), and
OSCE (the adoption of Declaration on Ukraine).
The materials used for the weekly news digest include the official websites of the President, the
National Security and Defense Council, the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the
Government, Ukrainian Internet newspaper “Ukrainska Pravda” (“Ukrainian Truth”), Dmytro
Tymchuk’s blog “Informatsiinyi sprotyv” (“Informational Resistance”), Ukrainian news agency
UNIAN, Ukrainian news program TSN, weekly political magazine “Korespondent” ( “Journalist”),
weekly political, economical and the arts magazine “Ukrainskyi Tyzhden” (“Ukrainian week”), etc.