Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Ukraine

EU Presents Ukraine Package, Freezes 'Misappropriated' Assets

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that the package hinged on Ukraine signing a deal with the International Monetary Fund and that more than 1 billion euros could become available for Ukraine in the next couple of weeks.
EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that the package hinged on Ukraine signing a deal with the International Monetary Fund and that more than 1 billion euros could become available for Ukraine in the next couple of weeks.

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By RFE/RL
The European Commission has presented an economic aid package for Ukraine that is worth a total of 11 billion euros ($15 billion) over the next few years.

The package includes a 1.6 billion-euro loan, a 1.4 billion-euro grant, 3 billion euros in fresh credit from the European Investment Bank for the period 2014-16, and 5 billion euros from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that the package hinged on Ukraine signing a deal with the International Monetary Fund and that more than 1 billion euros could become available for Ukraine in the next couple of weeks.

The deal is expected to get a green light from the European Parliament and EU heads of state and government that are meeting in Brussels on March 6 to discuss further measures on Ukraine.

Sanctions List Includes Yanukovych

In related news, the European Union has decided to freeze the assets of 18 Ukrainian citizens responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds. The list of names will be published in the EU's official journal on March 6, at which point the sanctions will be effective for the coming 12 months.

Brussels has not yet confirmed the identities of the individuals, but EU sources tell RFE/RL that former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his closest advisers are included on the list.

The sanctions also contain provisions facilitating the recovery of the frozen funds but do not include a visa ban, meaning that these people can still travel to the EU.

The European Union initially struck a political agreement to impose sanctions on people responsible for the violence during Ukraine's civil unrest, but the move was never implemented due to the fast-changing situation in the country.

WATCH: NATO's Anders Fogh Rasmussen announces changes.
NATO Reviewing Cooperation With Russia, Stepping Up Engagement With Ukrainei
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March 05, 2014
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced a full review of the alliance's cooperation with Russia to try to pressure Moscow into backing down on Ukraine. Rasmussen said alliance officials would no longer hold staff-level meetings with their Russian counterparts, while stepping up engagement with Ukraine's civilian and military leadership. (Reuters)
Also, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on March 5 the alliance was suspending meetings with Russian officials and will review all NATO cooperation with Russia.

Rasmussen said the alliance would "for now" no longer hold staff-level meetings with Russian counterparts but would increase engagement with Ukrainian civilian and military leadership.

He said the suspension of cooperation with Russia included plans for the joint mission with Russia to destroy Syrian chemical weapons.

Demonstrators Face Off In Donetsk

In eastern Ukraine, pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian demonstrators took up positions on opposite sides of Lenin Square in the city of Donetsk and briefly clashed as their opposing rallies broke up. 

An RFE/RL correspondent said the groups were separated from each other by riot police, while cars with Ukrainian flags hanging from the windows were driving around the square. Some of the pro-Russian demonstrators, who gathered under the statue of Vladimir Lenin, tried to grab some of the flags from the passing vehicles.

Pro-Moscow demonstrators threw eggs and plastic bottles filled with white powder at the pro-Kyiv demonstrators and when they left the square, tried to attack them, but police moved in and separated the two factions and took many of the pro-Ukrainian demonstrators away by bus.
Pro-Russian demonstrators take part in a rally in front of the regional government building in Donetsk on March 5.
Pro-Russian demonstrators take part in a rally in front of the regional government building in Donetsk on March 5.

Earlier, pro-Russian demonstrators stormed the administration building in the eastern city of Donetsk, breaking through a police cordon and raising the Russian flag from a window on the second floor. The demonstrators had occupied the building for several days but earlier on March 5 police convinced them to evacuate, saying there had been a bomb threat.

"Some, I'd say, 150 pro-Russian demonstrators stormed the building. The police put up an extremely feeble attempt to try and protect it," RFE/RL's Tom Balmforth reports. "There were not enough of them to do so and the pro-Russian demonstrators got through the front door, took away the metal gates that had been left in the doorway to stop them from going through and then they got up to the second floor, came out on the balcony and began waving Russian flags and chanting 'Russia, Russia,' 'Donbass,' 'Berkut, Berkut!' [Ukraine's disbanded riot police]"

There were reports of people being injured at the administration building but it is unclear how many.

Meanwhile, a UN envoy sent to Crimea was threatened by unidentified gunmen, after which it was announced he was ending his mission to the region.

Envoy Robert Serry had been visiting the naval headquarters in Simferopol on March 5, but when he returned to his car gunmen surrounded the vehicle. UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said the gunmen warned Serry to "leave Crimea."

When eventually a different vehicle came to take Serry away, people surrounded the car reportedly shouting "Putin! Putin!" as he drove away. The UN said Serry would end his mission to "take stock of the situation" and was leaving Crimea.

Earlier in Crimea, Russian forces reportedly seized part of a Ukrainian missile-defense unit. The Interfax news agency said two missile-defense battalions were seized.

The AFP news agency quoted a Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman as saying the command post and control center of the base in Evpatoria remained in the control of Ukrainian forces, however.

Yatsenyuk: More Autonomy For Crimea

Meanwhile,  Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has said that Crimea must remain part of the country but that the southern region may be granted more powers.

In his first sit-down interview since taking office, Yatsenyuk also blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the current crisis. He told AP that the current Ukrainian government was legitimate and said Russian actions in Crimea were unconstitutional and "resemble...a coup supported by the Russian government."

 
 
Yatsenyuk also denied a report that Ukraine was negotiating with the United States for the deployment of U.S. missile-defense systems in exchange for financial help. "We have no talks with the government of the United States of America on any kind of deployment of any military forces," he said.

Yatsenyuk's comments come as Russian forces continue to maintain their de facto occupation of Crimea.
UN special envoy Robert Serry has abandoned his mission to Crimea.
UN special envoy Robert Serry has abandoned his mission to Crimea.

In Paris, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left talks on the Ukrainian crisis without meeting his Ukrainian counterpart. Lavrov said after the meeting on March 5 that discussions on Ukraine would continue "in the days to come."

Lavrov met with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, and the United States. But reports showed Lavrov did not meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Andriy Deshchytsya, who was in Paris and said he hoped to have a face-to-face meeting with Lavrov.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his British, French and German counterparts reportedly pressed Lavrov to meet with Deshchytsya and discuss the tense situation in Crimea.

Lavrov, speaking in Madrid before the talks, blamed the current crisis on Western support for the Ukrainian antigovernment protesters, whose actions he called a "brutal violation."

"We are convinced that the root of all the problems is, in fact, that the international community did not manage jointly to react to the antigovernment protests that were conducted in brutal violation of Ukrainian laws by armed people. Quite the opposite, these protests received support and were even encouraged," Lavrov said.

He said Moscow couldn't order the soldiers in Crimea back to base because they were "self-defense" forces and not regular Russian troops.

READ MORE: Who Are The Russian Forces?

"We are not giving them any orders. They don't receive any orders from us. With regard to the servicemen of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, they are staying at the sites of permanent deployment. Yes, there were additional special measures of elevated alert for ensuring the security of the Black Sea Fleet," Lavrov said.

Lavrov also said it is up to the Ukrainian and Crimean authorities to decide whether to invite international observers into Crimea.

Seeking Peace

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya, meanwhile, said Kyiv wants a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

WATCH: Kerry offers U.S. financial support to Ukraine.
Kerry Offers U.S. Financial Support To Ukrainei
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March 05, 2014
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Kyiv for meetings with the interim government. Kerry announced on March 4 that the United States is offering an economic aid package to help Ukraine weather the current crisis. (RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
Deshchytsya, speaking after talks in Paris with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, said Ukraine wants "neighborly relations" with Russia.

Fabius, talking to French radio ahead of the Kerry-Lavrov meeting, said Russia risks sanctions if there is no deescalation of the current tensions: "There will be sanctions tomorrow -- targeting visas, existing economic negotiations, or the assets of a certain number of oligarchs -- if there is no de-escalation."

The United States and Britain said Lavrov declined efforts to have him meet Deshchytsya in Paris on March 5 for a meeting of the so-called Budapest Memorandum group -- which involves Washington, London, Moscow, and Kyiv -- but that they would try again.

With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and BBC

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