Ukraine Day 1025: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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European diplomats have reached an agreement that should allow the European Parliament and member states to move ahead with ratifying visa-free regimes for Ukraine and Georgia.
Reuters reports that the deal was reached today in Brussels, allowing the European Commission or a majority of EU states to suspend partner nations’ visa-free statuses for up to nine months if the system is abused.
Securing this suspension mechanism has been the last major hurdle ahead of the introduction of the visa-free regime for Ukraine, after the European Council and Commission approved the measure.
The introduction of a suspension mechanism has been a key requirement for getting EU member states to accede to the visa-free regimes, as fears over immigration rates and the rise of populist opposition parties has made those governments wary of allowing visa-free travel to new states, particularly Ukraine and Turkey.
Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said today:
“Almost there. Visa suspension mechanism dispute over. Now the final stretch towards visa free travel for Ukraine and Georgia.”
As Reuters notes, the implementation of the visa-free regime “is still weeks away.”
The deal on visa suspension must still be formally approved by the member states and the European Parliament.
“This agreement is balanced, and is extremely important for both the effectiveness and credibility of the union’s visa liberalisation policy,” Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák said.
“The current suspension mechanism is not adequate and will now be improved,” following the deal, said Kaliňák, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
“The fact that we have reached an agreement should open the door to further progress on visa liberalisation talks with other countries that meet all the necessary requirements,” Kaliňák added.
Ukrainian police have discovered a storeroom containing items belonging to the fugitive former prime minister, Mykola Azarov.
Vadim Troyan, the acting head of the National Police, released photographs of the items recovered from the apartment in Kiev, including identity cards, a large number of valuable antiques, paintings and weapons.
Three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in the Donbass yesterday, as Kiev reported 20 attacks by Russia-backed forces.
Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, told reporters that two soldiers had been wounded by shelling near Vodyanoye and Avdeyevka, while another had been injured by a tripwire mine near Novoselovka Vtoraya.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, Russia-backed forces shelled positions to the north of Donetsk, near Vodyanoye with 152 and 122 mm artillery, as well as using mortars to shell Verkhnetoretskoye, to the northeast, and Krasnogorovka, to the west of the city.
In the south, the military reports that the villages of Chermalyk and Shirokino, near Mariupol, had been shelled with 120 mm mortars.
— Pierre Vaux