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Weekly news digest

(Jan. 2-6)
This weekly news digest highlights the situation in the eastern Ukraine and on the Crimean
peninsula, focuses on Ukraines 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 worsened ( the amount and the intensity of the shelling and the
number of provocations increased to around 50-60). The conflict sides continue to blame one another
for violating the silence mode. The militants again started using Grad multiple rocket launcher
system and artillery. 4700 people died, more than 10,000 wounded and 610,000 became IDPs
(according to the UN report) since the beginning of the conflict in April.
A significant deterioration of the situation is directly linked to Russias escalating military
activity: 1) new Russian troops were deployed to the city of Horlivka. According to O. Vasylyeva, the
founder of the Facebook Cargo 200 group, more than 5500 Russian servicemen died fighting in
Donbass.; 2) military convoys were deployed to Shakhtarsk and Zuhres; 3) Russian special forces are
working on establishing a single military command center and eliminating the insurgents that are
against their policy (especially in Luhansk Peoples Republic). I. Hirkin (Strelkov) urged Russian
insurgents fighting in Donbass to leave LPR to prevent the internal war.
Ukraine condemns rebels escalating military activity during the New Year and Christmas
season (the statements made by the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National
Security and Defense Council). The MFA of Ukraine views illegal armed bands actions in Donbass as
a clear violation of the Minsk deal and an attempt to jeopardize the efforts made by Ukraine and its
international partners to implement the presidents peace plan. A deputy head of the Information
Analysis Center NSDC of Ukraine Volodymyr Polevyi said that Russian basic legislation is now being
put together to allow Kremlin carry out a more aggressive policy.
The key event of the week was the meeting of the prominent diplomats from France, Germany,
Ukraine and Russia in Berlin, on Jan. 5. The talks did not produce any actual results, but aimed to
advance ceasefire in the eastern Ukraine and to prepare a Ukrainian summit in Astana. However,
France and Germany doubt the need to hold a meeting in Astana. "Such a meeting only makes sense if
we can make real progress, said Steffen Seibert, spokesperson of Germanys Chancellor Angela
Merkel. This real progress, said Seibert, means achieving the full implementation of the Minsk deal
along with a lasting ceasefire, a contact line agreement and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry. High
officials in Europe believe 2015 opens a new chance for conflict resolution in Ukraine since Moscow
and Kyiv will have to deal with the mounting economic problems.
The following tendencies are observed in the annexed Crimea: 1) a complicated economic
situation and the peninsulas international economic and transport isolation the employees are being
sent on vacation with no salary preserved, food crisis, inflation, power cuts are common, Kerch ferry

service is occasionally being suspended; 2) the peninsulas militarization all citizens were required to
register for military service by Dec. 31, and 40,000 identity cards were to be issued, a program is also
being designed to upgrade the shipyards, taking into account the potential orders; 3) the human-rights
situation deterioration - Ukrainian churches are being persecuted (the number of parishes reduced,
churches pogroms reported, priests persecuted).
It is incredibly hard to express ones loyalty to Ukraine in the annexed Crimea. The activists
that manage to express their position will undoubtedly bear some negative consequences. Nonetheless,
local activists managed to show their support for Ukraine by putting a Ukrainian flag on Roman-Kosh,
the highest peak of the Crimean Mountains. They also organized a blood drive for Ukrainian
servicemen in the ATO area and celebrated the New Year Ukrainian time.
The current economic situation in Ukraine is characterized by the following tendencies; 1) a
complicated and, at times, critical macroeconomic situation the government budget deficit reached
UAH 39 billion, the money supply on the Single Treasury Account has shrunk twice, the Pension Fund
of Ukraine income reduced, industry decline; 2) the 2015 State Budget and the laws aimed to stabilize
the economic situation ( single social tax rate reduced to deshadow the salaries, optimization of the
social benefits, introducing additional import duties, facilitation of the economy capitalization and
banks restructuring process) are in the process of implementation; 3) the financial dependence on
foreign lenders within the limits of already given credits and consultations from the EU and IMF is
increasing; 4) contradictive tendencies in the unstable energy sector: temporally increased dependence
on Russia (coal, electricity) along with the countrys growing energy independence (diversification of
the provision sources and types of energy supplies, reduced import of Russian gas in 1.7 times along
with decreased need of gas in the eastern Ukraine because of the ongoing war); 5) increased military
spending because of Russias aggression (5% of GDP).
A persistent and efficient fight against corruption is one of Ukraines 2015 priorities, said P.
Poroshenko during the meeting with J. Kessler. The President also mentioned that the National AntiCorruption Bureaus first task will be to investigate the cases of corruption that took place during
Yanukovychs presidency and to return the money that were stolen to the country as well as to work on
establishing a special monitoring committee aimed to control the financial resources (grants, credits)
that will be provided by the European Union.
A special attention should be paid to the statement made by F. Holland who expressed his
position for lifting the sanctions, imposed earlier by the West, against Russia if a significant progress
in conflict resolution in the eastern Ukraine is achieved. He also stressed that the price V. Putin has
already paid for supporting the pro-Russian rebels was high enough, and added that France is ready
to resume the dialogue.
F. Hollands statement received restrained reaction in Europe and overseas. K. Rey, the
spokeswoman of High Representative of EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that the

position of Frances president to review the EU sanctions against Russia if the meeting in Astana
delivers any significant results is his personal opinion, not the EU position. However, J. Psaki said that
Washington does not consider F. Hollands statement as a contradictory one to the joint position of the
West. She also indicated that lifting sanction will not even be on agenda unless there is some real
progress in the conflict resolution in Ukraine. S. Gabriel said that the main goal of the sanctions
imposed against Russia is to return Kremlin to the negotiation table aimed to achieve peaceful
resolution to the Ukrainian crisis, not to push Russia politically and economically into chaos. He
said that those who want to destabilize Russia even more have interests that are far from being similar
to the EU and Germany ones.
Ukraine gets immense support from Poland (financial help, population evacuation from the
eastern Ukraine, repair works in camps for the IDPs), USA (meetings regarding the economic
reforms), Canada (military and financial help), Lithuania (supplying armament), Czech Republic
(winter uniform supplies), France (initiative aimed at popularizing Ukrainian history), and Hungary
(around 5,000 Hungarians were protesting against V. Orbans policy aimed at stronger orientation
towards Russia).
Among the international organizations, the EU (consultations regarding the introduction of
additional import duties, a mounting concern over Russian media distorting events in Ukraine), the
OSCE (the expansion of the special monitoring mission to 500 people), and the Red Cross (providing
medical equipment on EUR 200,000) occupy the main place.
The international communitys level of trust to Russia in terms of working on a contract basis is
not that high today, said J. Hahn, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy. He added that such
situation occurred a month ago when international investors started withdrawing their money from
Russia or simply stopped investing. At the same time, he admitted that EU is interested in having close
economic ties with Russia.
Ukraine never was and never will become an aggressor in the international community because
it believes in such values as peace, security, freedom, and economic prosperity. It is clear that
Ukrainian authorities and Ukrainians aspire to find a peaceful resolution to the Ukrainian crisis as soon
as it is only possible and are very grateful to the international community for a consolidate and fair
position over Russian aggression. The country also hopes that all these efforts will help to restore the
territorial integrity and peace in Ukraine.
The materials used for the weekly news digest include the official websites of the President, the
National Security and Defence Council, the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the
government, Ukrainian Internet newspaper Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth), Dmytro
Tymchuks 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.