1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (RNBO) reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that the situation in the zone of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) has escalated. Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to fire on Ukrainian positions with weapons required to have been withdrawn under the Minsk ceasefire agreements – mortars, artillery and tanks. The RNBO reported that in the last 24 hours, 5 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 12 were wounded. The press-center of the anti-terrorism operation (ATO) reported that from midnight to 6 PM Kyiv time on 6 May, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions 32 times. Towards Mariupol, Kremlin-backed terrorists continue to fire on Ukrainian positions near Shyrokyne with a wide range of weapons, including 152-mm artillery. Towards Donetsk, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions near Hranitne with mortars and high-caliber machine guns and small arms at Pisky and Avdiyivka. Towards, Luhansk, Kremlin-backed terrorists fired on Ukrainian positions near Shchastya with automatic grenade launchers and small arms.
2. Russian court extends illegal detention of Nadiya Savchenko to 30 June
A Moscow court has extended the illegal detention of Ukrainian MP and pilot Nadiya Savchenko to 30 June, her lawyer stated. According to several reports, during today’s hearing, Savchenko became ill in court and paramedics were called. Savchenko, a Ukrainian air force pilot, who was serving in eastern Ukraine, was abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in mid-June 2014 and taken to Russia, where she has been illegally detained and imprisoned since that time. Yesterday, Russia’s Investigative Committee stated that they are extending the investigation into Savchenko’s case for six months, until 13 November. Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “this step by the Russian authorities is beyond limits of basic morality, humanity and justice. It is yet more proof of the absence of any evidence in support of the absurd and baseless accusations against Nadiya.”
3. Ukrainian President: National Defense Strategy must include future NATO membership
At a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, (RNBO), Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko stated that Ukraine’s National Security Strategy “must ensure the opportunity of NATO membership in the future. We must finally return this incredibly important component to the given document.” Poroshenko stated that the total enemy forces in the Donbas, including illegal armed groups, exceeds 40,000 and that there are more than 50,000 Russian soldiers near the Russian-Ukrainian border. Poroshenko stated that the threat of large-scale hostilities on the part of Russian-terrorist groups is increasing.
4. US Secretary of Defense: Russian-backed separatists preparing more military actions
Testifying at the US Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee, US Secretary of Defense A. Carter stated, “It does appear that the clearly, clearly Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine are preparing for another round of military action that would be inconsistent with the Minsk Agreement.”
5. Statement following meeting of Trilateral Contact Group
The Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine-OSCE-Russia) held a meeting in Minsk, launching the “activities of working groups advancing implementation of Minsk arrangements.” According to a joint press statement issued by the OSCE, “Representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions also took part in the meeting. […] At the inaugural event in Minsk four working groups have been set up under the auspices of the TCG, in keeping with point 13 of the Package of Measures on the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements agreed upon on 12 February 2015, on the following issues: security, political affairs, IDPs and refugees and humanitarian assistance as well as economic affairs and rehabilitation. All four working groups, initially coordinated by the respective representatives of the OSCE, have met today for the first time and agreed on their next steps.” Following the meeting Ukraine’s representative to the Contact Group, former President Leonid Kuchma, stated that the possibility of deploying peacekeepers to the Donbas was not discussed, but it remains on the agenda. Kuchma stated, “If the solution does not come from the working groups, the only way out of the situation is appealing to the UN and EU to deploy peacekeepers.”
6. US State Department calls on Russia to immediately release Nadiya Savchenko
On 5 May US State Department spokesperson J. Rathke stated, “We are deeply disturbed by the Russian Government’s callous and outrageous extension by six months of the detention of Ukrainian member of parliament Nadiya Savchenko. We reiterate our serious concerns over her treatment in detention and reports that she is gravely ill while she remains a hostage to Russian authorities. We call on Russia to release Nadiya Savchenko and all other Ukrainian hostages immediately, a commitment Russia made when it signed the Minsk agreements in September of last year and again on February 12th of this year when it signed the Minsk implementation plan.”
7. KHPG: Memorial plaque to Stalin to be erected in Russian-occupied Crimea
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported that a memorial plaque to Stalin will be erected in Russian-occupied Simferopol on 8 May, the second sculpture of Stalin to be unveiled since Russia invaded and occupied Crimea. “The news of the plan to erect the memorial plaque coincided with the formal application by the Mejlis, or Crimean Tatar representative assembly to hold the traditional remembrance gathering on May 18, the anniversary of Stalin’s Deportation of the entire Crimean Tatar people. Last year the occupation regime banned remembrance events, and they have thus far given no reason to expect any change in position,” KHPG reported.