CEPI Ukraine Watch

Week of November 14 – 22, 2014

Photo: CreativeCommons/European Council

24. 11. 2014
whatsnew archive,
Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /nfsmnt/hosting1_2/3/c/3c26875a-3134-41ee-b080-a5ceda69c68f/visegradrevue.eu/web/wp-content/themes/vsgr/single.php on line 56

This is the latest in a series of CEPI weekly digest of notable local and international news and analyses covering the Ukraine crisis, all available in English. The CEPI Ukraine Watch focuses on domestic politics, reforms, energy and security developments. Published at www.cepolicy.org

 

Remembering the anniversary of Maidan, Insider has created the special project “The history of Euromaidan – Chronicle of Ukraine revolution”. Hromadske International has picked up “the most important videos of Ukraine´s revolution”.  Levy Bereg has published Sonia Koshkina interview with Oleksander Tuchinov, in which he has shed more light on the events which were happening in the backround of the revolutionary square.  CEPI’s Maidan chronology here.

On Maidan anniversary, killings of its activists still unpunished: police and prosecutors still have not delivered on the killings of hundreds of civilians by the government that had been ousted. Prosecutor General Vitaliy Yarema wrote that 74 peaceful citizens and 12 policemen had been killed in Kyiv downtown on February 18-20, 2014 alone, while 180 citizens and over 180 law enforcers had suffered gunshot wounds. Chair of the Council of Europe International Advisory Panel on Ukraineheld meetings in Kyiv with authorities.  The Panel is to supervise the criminal investigation into all Maidan-related violence. Report to be adopted by early 2015.

Russia’s Zavtra newspaper has published interview with former separatist leader Igor Girkin (aka Strelkov): “I was the one who pulled the firing trigger of this war… ” If our unit hadn’t crossed the border, in the end everything would have fizzled out, like in Kharkiv, like in Odessa. There would have been several dozen killed, burned, detained. Girkin was quoted as saying: “Initially I assumed that the Crimea scenario would be repeated: Russia would enter… Nobody intended to fight for the Luhansk and Donetsk republics”. At the start of this summer, 90% of rebel forces were made up of local residents, Strelkov said. However, by early August, Russian servicemen supposedly on “vacation” from the army had begun to arrive. The assault on the Black Sea town of Mariupol was conducted mostly by the Russian military “vacationers.” Strelkov said that when he understood “that Russia was not going to take us in — I associated myself with the resistance — for us that decision was a shock.” While Moscow has repeatedly denied supplying the rebels with weaponry and manpower, Strelkov said the assistance offered to rebels remained significantFull interview can be read here.

Putin’s interview with German ARD: Russia will not allow Ukraine government to “destroy” its political opponents and adversaries in east Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin told German television network ARD. Full interview can be seen here.

EU Foreign Affairs Council has discussed Ukraine: EU’s Foreign Affairs Council instructed the EU External Action Service and European Commission to submit proposals by the end of November for extending the sanctions list and to add the leaders of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics to it. The Council urged speedier talks on Ukraine within the Trilateral contact group, comprised of Russia, Ukraine and OSCE.  Council conclusions on Ukraine can be read here.

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Kyiv: Steinmeier sees compliance with Minsk agreements as way out of crisis in Ukraine’s east. According him Minsk agreements are not ideal, but they can be a foundation on which to build. Steinmeier discussed a possibility to hold talks in the“Weimar format” (Germany, Poland and France).

German FM Steinmeier met with Putin and Lavrov in Moscow: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Geneva format of talks on resolving the Ukraine crisis without representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics was a closed chapter. Russia favors the further application of the Minsk format of the negotiations. The leaders of self-proclaimed DNR and LNR have opposed the replacement of Minsk negotiating format by Geneva one.  Steinmeier also proposed arranging direct dialogue between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to settle issues between them.

Russia has called for “a 100% guarantee that no-one would think about Ukraine joining Nato”, Putin’s spokesman said. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official said Ukraine was a sovereign state which will decide whether it should enter NATO or not. NATO Secretary General Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that Ukraine made the decision in 2010 to adopt a non-bloc status as part of its foreign policy, which hasn’t changed.

1. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT

Coalition Agreement has been signed: Representatives of the parties Petro Poroshenko Bloc, People’s Front, Samopomich Union, the Radical Party of Liashko and Batkivschyna have signed a coalition agreement on the first anniversary of Maidan.  Full text can be read here. The future coalition plans “to draw up and make amendments to Ukraine’s laws on foundations of domestic and foreign policy and foundations of national security, envisioning, inter alia, the cancellation of Ukraine’s non-aligned status, the resumption of a political course toward integration into the Euro-Atlantic security space, and acquisition of North-Atlantic Treaty Organization membership”. The agreement also envisages a public administration reform and the passage of legislation regulating the president’s impeachment procedure. The agreement stipulates that parliamentarians who voted for the January 16 package of bills and members of the Opposition Bloc cannot join the coalition. President Poroshenko has said that he will nominate Arseniy Yatseniuk to the post of the prime minister. Arseniy Yatseniuk has said that a constitutional majority will be formed in parliament and it will have to assume responsibility for conducting reforms. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko gave up the seatin the parliament, the politician’s website reported on Friday.

Poroshenko has dismissed governors of Poltava, Ternopil and Rivne Regional State Administrations, Viktor Buhaichuk, Oleh Syrotiuk and Serhiy Rybachok. Svoboda members Buhaichuk, Syrotiuk and Rybachok resigned under the party’s decision. Poroshenko has appointed Ihor Rainin as Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine: Rainin was appointed acting deputy chairman of Kharkiv Regional State Administration in March 2014 and later served as the first deputy chairman. Poroshenko has signed a decree to dismiss Ihor Hryniv from the post of deputy head of the president’s administration in connection with his election as a member of parliament.

2. SECURITY UPDATE

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree[1] that enacted the decision of the National Security and Defense Council dated November 4 on urgent measures to stabilize the socio-economic situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The decree has ordered a closure of state services in rebel-held east. The order covers services such as schools, hospitals and emergency services.

OSCE: Russian convoy of 20 vehicles crossed into Ukraine and returned via Donetsk Border Crossing Point. Another 24 observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine have arrived in Ukraine, the mission has reported on its Twitter. OSCE announced its intention to almost double the mission. In particular, it was decided to expand it to 500 people, 350 of whom will work in Donbas.

Ukraine on verge of full-scale invasion by Russian troops – Avakov: About 7,000 Russian troops are in parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions controlled by illegal armed groups and there is a probability they will attack Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that inside Ukraine and on the Russian side of the border, “we see the movement of troops, of equipment, of tanks, of artillery, and also advanced air-defense systems.”

The Ukrainian Supreme Court has decided to file a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court contesting the constitutionality of some provisions of the law on lustration. General Prosecutor Vitaliy Yaremahas said the Law “On Lustration” is imperfect and was adopted in haste. Public activist and someanalysts warned that this was essentially a counter-revolution.

Donetsk militants plan to introduce Russian ruble: Militants in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic say they plan to start using the Russian rouble along with Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia.

SBU chief says 82 cases against the Yanukovych inner circle are completed: Ukraine’s Security Service chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said that his agency completed investigation of 82 cases related to Ukraines former top officials, including fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych. The SBU reported they have tracked the officials’ assets and accounts and handed the information to the general prosecutor’s office, Nalyvaichenko said.  Interview with SBU head can be read here.

Heidi Tagliavini, OSCE’s envoy to the Trilateral Contact Group that includes senior representatives from Ukraine and Russia, said“I am unable to accept any remarks that the cease-fire arrangements of Minsk have fallen apart. Yes, it has been broken many times but it is the only agreement in place which has any restraining power on the use of force.”

Government approves draft presidential decree on unilateral demarcation of border with Russia: The Ukrainian government has approved a draft decree by President Petro Poroshenko on the unilateral demarcation of the border with Russia.

Poroshenko signs law on internally displaced persons: Poroshenko has signed the law on ensuring the rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons, which was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada.

Russia plans to send next aid convoy to eastern Ukraine in late November: The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry is preparing to send another humanitarian aid convoy to the conflict-torn regions in south-eastern Ukraine, Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Artamonov told.

US Vice President Biden visited Kyiv: A senior aide of President Barack Obama has said that he believes the U.S. should consider giving Ukraine lethal, defensive military assistance to get Russia to think twice about its destabilizing behaviour.  Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that “If there is a change of policy (of providing only non-lethal assistance), then we can speak of a serious destabilizing factor that can seriously impact the balance of forces in this region… That (would be) a direct violation of agreements reached, including (agreements reached) with the participation of the United States.“  Vice President Biden has said that the United States is prepared to consider additional measures of influence if Russia does not comply with its commitments under the Minsk agreements.  Washington continues to believe that there’s no military resolution to the Ukraine crisis and still hopes that the concerns could be addressed diplomatically, spokesman for the U.S. Department of State said. Vice President has announced in Kyiv, that pending approval from Congress, the White House will commit $ 20 million to support comprehensive reform in the Ukrainian law enforcement and justice sectors, including prosecutorial and anti-corruption reforms . He has also announced that the US will be directing an additional $ 3 million to the UN World Food Program emergency operation in Ukraine for food rations and assistance to people displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine and other vulnerable populations. U.S. Delivers Radar Systems to Ukraine: U.S. military delivered three lightweight, counter-mortar radar systems to Ukrainian armed forces yesterday. The radar systems are the first few of 20 that will be delivered during the next several weeks and U.S. military members will begin training Ukrainian armed forces in mid-December.

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine – 15 November 2014: According to the UN Human Rights Office, from mid-April to 18 November, at least 4,317 people were killed and 9,921 wounded in the conflict-affected area of eastern Ukraine. Since the ceasefire began, from 6 September up to 18 November, 957 fatalities were recorded – 838 men and 119 women, although some may have been killed prior to the ceasefire, with the data only recorded later. The number of internally displaced people has increased from 275,489 as of 18 September to 466,829 on 19 November, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. Russian Foreign Ministry has said that a report prepared by the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine is far from being objective and fact-twisting.

Militants hold over 650 people captive: according to the head of the Prisoners Exchange Center Volodymyr Ruban militants currently hold over 650 people captive.

Ukraine shelled from Russian territory – NSDC“Over the past day, for the first time since the signing of the Minsk agreement, the shooting of Ukrainian territory restarted from the side of the Russian Federation,” Ukrainian military spokesman has said.

3. ECONOMY & REFORM EFFORTS

Russia won’t demand early repayment of $3 billion lent to Ukraine: Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would not demand early repayment of $3 billion that Russia lent to Ukraine last year.

Ukraine will supply gas, electricity to occupied Donbas at expense of social payments: Ukraine won’t stop supplying gas and electricity to the occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but the expenses will be compensated from the social payments and pensions reserved for those territories, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk said. The Ukraine government is considering establishing a free trade zone in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Ukraine’s industrial output plunged 16.3% yoy in October, almost flat compared to the 16.6% yoy drop in the prior month, Ukrstat reported on Nov 18. Machinery worsened its performance to -26.1% yoy (from -22.8% yoy in September). Chemical production also deteriorated to -10.6% yoy vs. -6.2% yoy in the prior month. Ukrainian banks lose UAH 13.5 bln this year: Ukrainian banks suffered losses worth UAH 13.5 billion in January-October this year, according National Bank of Ukraine. “This year, according to our forecasts, gross domestic product will be minus 7.5 percent and for next year our forecast is minus 4.3 percent,” NBU head, Valeria Gontareva said. “Now inflation is 20%. By the end of the year it may speed up to 25%,” she said. Earlier, the NBU has forecasted inflation in 2014 at 19%. Ukraine’s steel production drops by 29% yoy: Ukraine was listed twelfth in the list of steel producers by volume, which is compiled every year by the World Steel Association. In October 2014, Ukraine’s steel production dropped by 28.7%, to 1.870 million tonnes, versus October 2013.

Sweden launches 3.5 million euro project to advance decentralization process in Ukraine: The government of Sweden started a 3.5 million euro project to support decentralization in Ukraine, one of the key reforms aimed to broaden powers of local governments. The money will be used for international expert advice, trainings and exchange visits for representatives of local and state authorities of Ukraine.

4. ENERGY UPDATE

GSE Transparency – Weekly Storage data in EU and Ukraine. The volume of gas kept in Ukrainian underground gas storages has fallen by around 8.4 percent since Kiev started pumping gas on October 20 for heating in colder weather, state-run gas transport monopoly Ukrtransgaz said on Monday.

The seven biggest private producers of natural gas in Ukraine filed a lawsuit contending the government’s decision to make state gas production and transit firm Naftogaz the exclusive supplier of gas to 90 of the nation’s top industrial consumers, the Interfax-Ukrayina reported citing a lawyer involved.

Ukraine gets Slovakia’s reverse gas shipments guarantees – Poroshenko: Slovakia has guaranteed that it will continue reverse shipments of gas to Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said at a joint press conference with the Slovak President Andrej Kiska in Bratislava. Prime Minister Fico has alsoassured Poroshenko that, despite Russia’s 50% cut in supplies of gas to Slovakia; Bratislava will deliver on its commitments to transit gas to Ukraine.

Ukraine may transfer prepayment for Russian gas shipments by December 1 –  Minster Prodan:“Gas purchase plans haven’t changed: we plan to buy up to 1.5 bcm of gas by the end of the year. The purchases will start with the cold weather. Most likely we’ll start before December 1. The situation now isn’t critical,” Minister Prodan has said.

Ukraine has started negotiations with the Russian Federation on the possibility of electricity import, Energy Minister Yuryi Prodan has said. Ukrinterenergo should begin negotiations with the Russian side on the possibility of electricity imports from Russia.

In October, Ukraine decreased gas consumption by 27% compared to the same period the year before, reports the State Statistics Service. According to their data, during this period of time, coal consumption has decreased by 34.5%.

Ukraine ready to sign shale gas agreement with Chevron: Ukraine has met all the terms to sign an operation agreement with US Chevron Company to extract the shale gas in the Olesko area in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk oblasts, Nadra Ukrayiny board chairman Yaroslav Klymovych said.

Russia unlikely to start “summer package” talks before January – Naftogaz chief“Our understanding is that our Russian colleagues will not be prepared to start the talks before January,” the Naftogaz chief said.

Naftogaz head proposes European observers monitor gas flows from Russia to Ukraine: The presence of European observers at the gas metering stations located at the entrance of Russian gas to Ukraine could contribute to the transparency of its supplies to Europe, Naftogaz’s Andriy Kobolev has stated.

Daily gas imports to Ukraine through Slovakia set another record high: Ukraine on November 18 imported 31.2 million cubic meters of natural gas through Slovakia.

Ukraine’s Oct transit of Russian natural gas to Europe down 47.5% on year: Ukraine’s transit of natural gas from Russia to Europe fell by 3.5 bcm in October to 3.87 bcm, down 47.5% from 7.37 Bcm in October 2013.

Coalition agreement outlines energy reform: English translation of part of the agreement that deals with energy strategy and energy reform can be read here.

5. VISEGRAD NEWS AND VIEWS

PISM: Facing the Unknown: Ukraine’s Winter Survival Strategy by Andrii Chubyk, Zuzanna NowakMarek Menkiszak: How should Europe respond to Russia? The Polish view
CEPI 2nd Ukraine Reality Check
Slovak president is for EU sanctions against Russia
Ukraine, Visegrad Group agree on new format of cooperation – presidential press service
Petro Poroshenko: Slovakia will help Ukraine in the implementation of reforms
Czech President: Economic assistance to Ukraine makes no sense
Ukraine, Slovakia to hold joint government meeting in December – Poroshenko’s spokesman
Ukrainian president, Hungarian premier discuss energy cooperation
Poroshenko: Ukraine, Slovakia agree on joint border control
The Czech Republic has provided humanitarian assistance to displaced persons in Kharkiv region
Hungarian Foreign minister says no delay reported in Slovak-Hungarian gas interconnector
Helping reform Ukraine’s military education system
Orban: Hungary won’t sacrifice economy over EU-Russia sanctions

Noteworthy Resources

HRW: Crimea. Human Rights in Decline
Russian TV Airs Clearly Fake Image To Claim Ukraine Shot Down MH17
Obama accuses Putin of not living up to ceasefire
German economy minister rejects tougher sanctions on Russia
Mogherini: Sanctions alone cannot solve Ukrainian problem
Rebel Leader Challenges Ukrainian President To A Duel
How should Europe respond to Russia? The German view
How should Europe respond to Russia? The Finnish view
How should Europe respond to Russia? The Spanish view
How should Europe respond to Russia? The Italian view
NATO Military Committee Chairman’s visit to Ukraine highlights NATO-Ukraine intensified partnership
Fugitive Ukraine tycoon wins, then loses, Serbian citizenship
German Advisory Group: Deepening of the recession due to the situation in Eastern Ukraine
U.S. open-door policy with respect to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic prospects unchanged – State Department

Polls

Rating Group: Post election mood in Ukraine – November 2014 (Ukr).
Rating Group: Situation in the east and the foreign policy orientation (Ukr.)
DIF: Anniversary of Maidan (Ukr.)
Sociological poll for UNITER project[2] Main findings:
•Disjointed political attitudes towards the new transition process.
•Ukrainians consider parliament ineffective and many doubt that change through election is possible.
•Ukrainians have limited understanding of civil society.
•Ukrainians want more accountable governance but not ready to be responsible for it.
•Awareness is slowly growing, but participation rates are still low.
•Ukrainians prefer to fund the causes rather than engage as volunteers.
•Engagement beyond emergency relief is not expected to increase without further mobilization.
•Ukrainians are mentally prepared for painful reforms.
•Access to information, an indicator of the policy demand side is restricted.
• Other mechanisms for demanding improved governance are also underutilized.
• Public demand for learning more about participation tools has increased.

Interview with Arsen Avakov
Interview with Yuryi Prodan, Minister of Energy
Interview with Volodymyr Hroisman 1st part
Interview with Volodymyr Hroisman 2nd part
Interview with commander of separatist’s Prizrak battalion Alexey Mozgovoy

V4 Revue

V4 Revue

is a webzine bringing analysis and commentary on Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak politics and society.