Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ukraine Updates ( August 19 , 2014 ) - Updates from the battlefield , humanitarian efforts and sanctions watch


No ammunition moved through Russia-Ukraine border - OSCE monitors

Published time: August 19, 2014 08:35
This file photo shows  ukrainian soldiers stand guard near the convoy of the OSCE (the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) at a check-point in the village of Debaltseve, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)
This file photo shows ukrainian soldiers stand guard near the convoy of the OSCE (the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) at a check-point in the village of Debaltseve, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)
OSCE observers stationed at two Russian border checkpoints, the Ukrainian counterparts of which are controlled by the Ukrainian military, have not witnessed any movements of weapons across the border.
The monitors did witness young people “dressed in military style” moving across the border into Ukraine, Paul Picard, acting chief observer of the OSCE Mission, told journalists. However, all of them were unarmed.
There were also no instances of military vehicles crossing the border in some two weeks which the observers spent at Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints, he added.
He added that the OSCE did its part in assisting the international effort to check a Russian humanitarian aid convoy before it would be allowed into Ukraine, but said the organization has little impact here, because the progress with the convoy depends on Russian and Ukrainian authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The presence of the observers on the Russian side of the border was part of an agreement aimed at deescalating the conflict in eastern Ukraine. They were invited amid Kiev’s claims that Russia supplies arms and military vehicles to the armed militia fighting against the Ukrainian troops in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.
The monitors were supposed to be deployed after a ceasefire by Kiev, but Moscow agreed to host them unconditionally as a gesture of goodwill.


Tuesday, August 19

10:49 GMT:
The bodies of 15 refugees killed in the shelling of a convoy to the southeast of Lugansk on Monday morning have been identified, Ukraine’s Security Council said Tuesday, blaming militiamen for their deaths. The self-defense forces in Eastern Ukraine denied the accusations, saying that they have neither force nor the means to conduct such an attack. The prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexandr Zakharchenko, called the Kiev’s statement “a pure and simple fake”.
10:26 GMT:
Civilians were killed and injured as a result of shelling which nearly destroyed the central part of Lugansk on Tuesday night. No numbers are given in a message on the city council’s website, which cites reports of the city’s residents. It calls the situation in the town critical, as only the most essential products are on sale, and people face waiting in long lines to get bread. There has been no water or electricity, and mobile and landline phone lines have been down for 17 days. High temperatures may trigger infections in the city, due to a lack of fresh water and piles of garbage.
08:59 GMT:
Ukrainian troops have shelled the center of Lugansk, apparently aiming for the city council building, rebels reported. They also denied a report of gunfights in the city center which was voiced on Tuesday morning by a Ukrainian police official.
00:30 GMT:
Washington has recognized the need for Russian humanitarian aid in eastern Ukraine, according to comments by the US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.
“We agree that the people of that region are in need of aid,” Harf said during a briefing on Monday, adding that US wants the contents of the aid convoys checked.

“We want to make sure this is actually aid, though. We understand there is an agreement that the aid will be inspected by Ukrainian border guards and customs officials before being transferred in batches to representatives of the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross].”


Moscow to Consider Additional Measures if West Continues Destructive Sanctions - Kremlin

Topic: Russia Responds to Western Sanctions

Moscow will consider additional protective measures if the West continues its destructive sanction policy, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
11:49 19/08/2014
Tags: diplomatic relationspolitical crisissanctionsKremlinDmitry PeskovVladimir Putineurope,United StatesRussia
MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow will consider additional protective measures if the West continues its destructive sanction policy, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.
"Different variants are being developed. We have said several times that Russia is not a fan of speaking in terms of sanctions and has not been an initiator. But if our partners continue their non-constructive and even destructive practices, then additional measures will be developed," Peskov said.
The first round of sanctions against Russia was implemented by the United States and the European Union back in March as a response to Crimea’s reunification with Russia following a referendum. As the Ukrainian crisis escalated, Switzerland, Canada, Australia and Japan gave in to US pressure and drew up their own sanctions.
In response to Western sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order on economic measures to protect the country’s security. The decree went into effect on August 7 and banned the imports of agricultural and food products from the countries that had imposed sanctions on Russia for one year. The list of banned products includes meat, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
Moscow said earlier it was ready to review the terms of its import restrictions if its Western partners showed a commitment to dialogue.


Donetsk Republic Guarantees Safety of Humanitarian Convoy

Topic: Situation in the South-East of Ukraine

Russia's humanitarian aid convoy moves on to Ukraine
13:51 19/08/2014
Tags: humanitarian aidRed CrossAndrei PurginLuhanskDonetsk RegionUkraine
DONETSK, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – The government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has guaranteed safe passage for Russia’s humanitarian convoy and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) employees accompanying it, the republic’s deputy prime minister said Tuesday.
“Our government thinks that the situation in DPR can be described as a humanitarian disaster. Naturally, we want the convoy to visit not only Luhansk, but Donetsk Region cities as well. To that end, we guarantee safety for the drivers of the convoy and ICRC employees,” DPR Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin said.
The prime minister noted that the DPR had already ensured the security of the OSCE mission and international aviation experts on its territory when they arrived in Donetsk to work at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
"Despite all Kiev’s provocations, despite the fact that Kiev started fighting in the area of the crash, we were able to ensure the security of the experts," Purgin said.
In light of the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine's eastern regions Russia made a proposal to the UN Security Council in early August to send an international humanitarian mission to the troubled regions with Russian humanitarian aid under the auspices of the ICRC.
On August 12, 280 trucks carrying about 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid, including 400 tons of grain, 100 tons of sugar, 62 tons of baby food, 54 tons of medication, 12,000 sleeping bags and 69 mobile electrical generators set off from Moscow Region to the conflicted areas in Ukrainian.
On August 17, the first 16 trucks of Russia’s humanitarian aid convoy arrived at a customs checkpoint on the Ukrainian border, with more expected to follow. The head of the ICRC delegation for Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, Pascal Cuttat, examined the trucks Sunday and said he was satisfied with their condition, Russia’s Emergencies Ministry stated.
All 280 trucks are now also to be scanned by a special Federal Customs Service detector at the border to determine if they contain any substances besides humanitarian aid.


MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) - Members of the Chilean associations of poultry and pork producers intend to visit Russia in September to discuss delivery volumes, according to a statement released by Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) Tuesday.
“The Embassy of Chile has asked Rosselkhoznadzor for assistance for members of the associations, who arrive in Russia in September on a trade mission to discuss increasing deliveries to Russia,” the statement said.
The Chilean delegation would also like to conduct talks with Rosselkhoznadzor about safety requirements and product assessment technologies deployed in Russia to ensure that the Chilean products meet the necessary standards.
Earlier, Chile expressed its willingness to increase food exports to Russia. Last week, Rosselkhoznadzor gave permission to several Chilean producers to deliver fish and seafood to Russia.

Russia has implemented a one-year ban on agricultural and food imports from the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway in response to sanctions imposed on Russia. The banned products include meat, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, dairy products and fruits and vegetables.