Western nations on Sunday accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of well-equipped troops near the Ukrainian border in preparation for a Crimea-style invasion, while Russia denounced what it said was Ukraine’s Russophobic, anti-Semitic leadership. “Satellite images show that there are between 35,000 and 40,000 Russian troops in the vicinity of the border with Ukraine, equipped with combat aircraft, tanks, artillery and logistical support units,” Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said. “This is in addition to the 25,000 Russia troops based illegally in Crimea,” Lyall Grant added in his speech during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Ukraine. The meeting of the 15-nation council, the first emergency session on the Ukrainian crisis in weeks, was convened at Russia’s request. Council diplomats said Moscow wanted it to be a closed meeting by France and other Western insisted that it be a public session. The council has held numerous emergency meetings on Ukraine but has been incapable of taking concrete action because of Russia’s sharp disagreements with the United States and Europe. Click here to read the full article on nytimes.com.
(image: lithuaniatribune.com )
The U.S. Department of State has released facts showing that aggressive actions by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine on April 12 were coordinated and planned in advance. The Department of State stated this in a press release “Evidence of Russian Support for Destabilization of Ukraine” early on Monday. “In an indication that the April 12 operations were planned in advance, the takeovers have occurred simultaneously in multiple locations in eastern Ukraine: Donetsk, Sloviansk, Krasny Lyman, Kramatorsk, Chervonoarmiysk, and Druzhkivka. There are reports that additional attempts to seize buildings in other eastern Ukrainian towns failed,” reads the document. The U.S. Department of State said that attacks in several locations “bear the same defining features and tactics across diverse locations, including takeover of government administration buildings and security headquarters, seizure of weapons in the targeted buildings.” In each of these cases, “independent media have been harassed and excluded from covering the seizures, while pro-Russian media were granted special access and used to broadcast the demands of these armed groups.” According to the U.S. side, the events of April 12 “strongly suggest that in eastern Ukraine Russia is now using the same tactics that it used in Crimea in order to foment separatism, undermine Ukrainian sovereignty.” Click here to read on Ukrinform.
The European Commission has executed three payments today in favour of the Ukrainian Government for a total of €19.075 million, of which €14.775 million for meeting agreed targets in border management and €4.3 million for environmental protection.The payments were made on the basis of progress achieved in the Ukrainian national policies in these fields, as assessed by the European Commission, in line with the conditions agreed between the EU and the Ukrainian Government in the Financing Agreement (FA) signed in 2011. Click here to read the full article on eeas.europa.eu.
Brussels has drafted a schedule for the allocation of financial assistance to Ukraine by June this year, and it is expected that about EUR 850 million (about $1.2 billion) will be allocated within three months, a senior EU official has told Interfax-Ukraine. “If a stand-by agreement is signed with the IMF, we will be able to make the first tranche of the previously announced loan of macro-financial assistance (EUR 1.61 billion) in the amount of EUR 100 million in April, a EUR 250 million grant to support the state budget in May and EUR 500 million in macro-financial assistance in June,” he said. “This means that within three months we will be able to make EUR 850 million or $1.172 billion available to the Ukrainians,” he added. The official said he was confident that the agreement with the IMF would be signed in the near future and that the pace of the disbursement of funds from the EU would be unprecedented. But it is also not necessary to exclude pleasant surprises, he said, meaning the possible allocation of additional financial assistance from the EU. Click here to read the article on interfax.com.ua.
About 98% of the customs duties that Ukrainian iron, steel, farm produce and machinery exporters pay at EU borders will be removed by a proposal backed by European Parliament on Thursday. This unilateral measure will boost Ukraine’s struggling economy by saving its manufacturers and exporters €487 million a year. “The European Parliament has supported an EU path for Ukraine for many years. This is our first chance to demonstrate our support in practical terms, to help Ukraine during its current economic crisis in the face of dwindling currency reserves and increased pressure from the Kremlin”, said rapporteur Pawel Zalewski (EPP, PL). “As Putin closes Russian markets for Ukrainian exports, we are opening them” he added. The European Parliament backed his proposal by 531 votes to 88, with 20 abstentions. Click here to read the article on europarl.europa.eu.
Ukraine and the European Union have signed the political chapter of their Association Agreement. The signing ceremony, which was attended by all heads of state and government of the EU member states, as well as the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, took place in Brussels on Friday. The document was signed by Yatseniuk, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the leaders of the 28 EU member states. In particular, the sides signed the preamble, Article 1 and Titles I, II and VII. In the preamble the EU acknowledges the European aspirations of Ukraine and welcomes its European choice, including its commitment to building a deep and sustainable democracy and a market economy. It also states that democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law are essential elements of the agreement.
About 98% of the customs duties that Ukrainian goods exporters pay at EU borders would be removed by a proposal backed by the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee on Thursday. This unilateral measure would boost Ukraine’s struggling economy by saving its manufacturers and exporters €487 million a year. „Parliament and other EU institutions should lose no time in passing this law, given the urgency of the situation in Ukraine. Ukraine’s new government needs strong and immediate EU help to fight off external pressures and to overcome economic and financial hardships”, said rapporteur MEP Pawel Zalewski (EPP, PL). Trade MEPs backed his proposal by 22 votes to 2, with 1 abstentions by not proposing any amendments to Commission’s proposal. Click here to read the article on europarl.europa.eu.
The European Commission has proposed new macro-financial assistance to Ukraine of up to EUR 1 billion in medium-term loans. The new MFA programme, expected to be approved by the EU’s Council of Ministers in the coming weeks, is part of the package of support to Ukraine announced by the European Commission on 5 March and endorsed by the European Council on 6 March. It is intended to assist Ukraine economically and financially in view of the critical challenges it is facing, notably a very weak and rapidly worsening balance-of-payments and fiscal situation, which is being worsened by the current crisis. Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, said: “It is in the essential interest of Ukraine and of the EU to maintain peace and political and financial stability in our continent. This financial aid will help in stabilising the worsening financial situation in Ukraine and therefore will be one vital part of achieving a solution to the crisis.” Click here to read the article on ec.europa.eu.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, the State Council Chairman, Crimean Parliament Chairman Volodymyr Konstantynov, Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksionov and the city of Sevastopol executive Alexei Chaly have signed an agreement on the inclusion of Crimea, including Sevastopol, into Russia. The document envisages the formation of the new Russian constituent regions. Click here to read the article on interfax.com.ua.
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule believes that given the situation in Ukraine, the European Union could consider its enlargement, according to Deutsche Welle. “If we want to seriously change that part of Eastern Europe, which has been affected by the recent events, we have to use the most powerful policy tool that the EU has – this is enlargement. It has an unprecedented and effective stabilizing capacity,” Fule told the German newspaper Die Welt in an interview. Click here to read on Ukrinform.