1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that towards Mariupol, battles between Ukrainian forces and Kremlin-backed terrorists took place yesterday at Shyrokyne and Vodyane. Towards Donetsk, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions near the Donetsk airport with artillery and tanks. Near Horlivka Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions with small arms. Towards Luhansk, there were a series of firefights with Kremlin-backed terrorists near the Bakhmutska highway, Popasna and Shchastya. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded.

2. Two Russian special forces soldiers captured in Ukraine

On 18 May, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported that two Russian Special Forces soldiers were wounded and captured in a battle with Ukrainian forces near Shchastya, Luhansk oblast. The detained soldiers are Captain E. Erofeyev and Sergeant O. Alexandrov, of the 3rd Brigade, Special Forces, Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The detained soldiers were provided medical treatment and are in hospital in Kramatorsk, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reported on 18 May. According to statements they made, the two Russian soldiers entered Ukrainian territory in March 2015, as part of unit of their brigade, and were tasked with carrying out reconnaissance and sabotage against Ukrainian forces. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine stated that once it was understood by Kremlin-backed terrorist forces that “that Russian special forces soldiers were captured, they opened fire with mortars […] The militants aimed at the place where the special forces soldiers were being held. It was obvious that they were trying to prevent having the Russian soldiers be captured alive.”

3. Ukraine’s Parliament authorizes Government to suspend debt payments to private creditors

Ukraine’s Parliament voted to provide the Government of Ukraine the authority to suspend payments of state and state guaranteed debt to international commercial creditors. The Ministry of Finance stated, “The Ministry of Finance is hopeful that a good faith collaborative solution can be found with Ukraine’s international commercial creditors and appropriate restructuring terms can be agreed rapidly. Otherwise, in order to defend the interests of the Ukrainian people, the Government may have to suspend payments of state and state guaranteed debt to international commercial creditors. The Moratorium Law adopted today gives the Government of Ukraine the authority to suspend payments on certain external sovereign and sovereign guaranteed debt. This law demonstrates the seriousness of our difficult financial position and the need to rapidly conclude a debt operation that meets the three targets in our IMF Extended Fund Facility program. Any moratorium declared by the decision of the Government of Ukraine under the new law in the future would not affect our domestic, state banks, nor Ukrainian State Railways obligations.”

4. Ukraine, US sign $1 billion loan guarantee agreement

On 18 May, Ukraine and the US signed a $1 billion loan guarantee. US Secretary of the Treasury J. Lew stated, “Since we signed our first loan guarantee agreement one year ago, Ukraine has worked closely with the IMF, the World Bank, the United States, and other members of the international community to implement a robust reform program that will help stabilize Ukraine’s economy and lay the groundwork for future growth and prosperity […]Today’s $1 billion loan guarantee agreement is part of a comprehensive financial package, involving both official and private sectors, designed to support Ukraine as it puts in place an ambitious reform program. Ukraine has taken critical reforms already, and its commitment to making a decisive break with the corruption and stagnation of the past is clear. This progress must continue so that the people of Ukraine can realize the prosperity and stability they deserve.”

5. US Assistant Secretary of State: US “eager to deepen involvement” in helping achieve full implementation of Minsk

US Assistant Secretary of State V. Nuland, in Kyiv on 16 May, stated that “We felt it was very important that, in addition to the briefings that Secretary Kerry gave directly to President Poroshenko and to Foreign Minister Klimkin, I come to Kyiv after Sochi to make absolutely clear the U.S. commitment to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and to make clear that we are eager to deepen our involvement in helping the parties achieve full implementation—everything from complete ceasefire and pullback on the line of control, to the political pieces, to the border pieces. So we dug in very hard on those issues during this visit. I had a chance to get the perspective from the Ukrainian leadership, so that we have your view as we go forward and try to work with others to ensure that these are fully implemented.” In Moscow on 18 May, Nuland stated, “The United States’ principled position is that all sides in this conflict need to be talking about a full cease-fire, a full pullback. They need to be withdrawing military equipment, and that includes the military support that the Russian Federation has provided to the separatists in the east. There is no indication from our own information, or from my consultations in Kyiv, that anybody on the Ukrainian side, anybody in leadership – and I spoke to President Poroshenko, I spoke to Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, I’ve spoken to security officials – has any intention of launching new hostilities. That obviously would not be compatible with Minsk. We also made clear – Secretary Kerry made clear to President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov, and I of course made clear again here today – that any new hostilities ignited by separatist forces with Russian support would also be a violation of Minsk. Minsk is being violated on a daily basis on the western side of the Minsk line and that is what needs to stop.”

6. NATO Secretary General meets with Russian Foreign Minister

NATO Secretary General J. Stoltenberg met with Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov today in Brussels. Stoltenberg stated, “I re-stated the very strong NATO position on the illegal annexation of Crimea, but also on the very serious situation we see in eastern Ukraine. I underlined the importance of full implementation of the Minsk Agreements meaning respect for the ceasefire, full implementation of the ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons and of course full access for the OSCE monitors so they can monitor the implementation of the ceasefire. I also called on Russia to withdraw all its troops and support for the separatists.”