Ukraine Day 1050: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Svoboda did not cross the 5% threshold to have party seats in the Ukrainian parliament, but 6 individual members have seats.
Why would Pushkov call on Germany, specifically, to condemn a march in a foreign country that had no direct link to the Ukrainian government? The Russian narrative since the early days of the Euromaidan movement in Ukraine has been that Russia’s neighbor was being taken over by Nazis, backed by the West, in a coup. It’s never been true, but the Kremlin has often called attention to Ukraine’s ultranationalist far-right parties (while ignoring the involvement of its own ultranationalist far-right groups that are operating in Ukraine).
Germany is also a member of the “Normandy Quartet” of the heads of state of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine who first met in 2014 in France at the anniversary of the invasion of Normandy to discuss the war in Ukraine. The four have not met since President Vladimir Putin visited Germany in October.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, James Miller
Four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in the Donbass yesterday, which Kiev says saw 38 attacks by Russia-backed forces.
According to this morning’s report from the Ukrainian military, Russia-backed forces used mortars extensively near Mariupol, Donetsk, Gorlovka and Luganskoye.
In the Mariupol area, Ukrainian positions near Talakovka, Shirokino and Vodyanoye were reportedly shelled with 120-mm mortars, with 82-mm shells also falling near Pavlopol and Lebedinskoye.
Grenade-launcher and small-arms attacks were reported near Gnutovo, Vodyanoye, Pavlopol and Lebedinskoye, as well as Novotroitskoye, on the highway towards Donetsk, and Maryinka, to the southwest of the separatist-held regional capital.
Mortar and grenade-launcher attacks were also reported near Avdeyevka, north of Donetsk, Zaytsevo and Luganskoye, north and east of Gorlovka, and Troitskoye, on the edge of the Lugansk region.
Further east in Lugansk, grenade-launcher fire was reported near Stanitsa Luganskaya, while small-arms were used near the village of Sizoye.
Besides the combat casualties announced today, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reports that one Ukrainian soldier was shot dead and a civilian wounded during an altercation between a group of soldiers and civilians in the village of Donskoye, around 9 kilometers southeast of Volnovakha.
According to the MOD, an argument broke out late last night outside a grocery store between the two groups, which ended with gunfire. An investigation has been launched.
On the other side of the front line, some evidence of the loss rate among Russia-backed forces was given on December 29 by Aleksandr Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion – one of the most infamous units fighting in the Donbass.
During a video interview, Khodakovsky said:
“We have officially confirmed 200 killed and around 300 wounded over the course of 2016. This is almost 70% of the number of casualties that we suffered during the period of war from 2014 to 2015. Strange as it seems, this year of the utterly incomprehensible ceasefire has brought Vostok such losses.”
Member of US House Intelligence Committee says Congress will oppose any move by Donald Trump to reverse sanctions on Russia.
Adam Schiff, a Democratic representative from California, told ABC News yesterday that any move by Trump, who is due to be inaugurated as President on January 20, would meet stiff opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
Sanctions were imposed on Russia in response to the occupation and annexation of Crimea, and Russia’s direct military involvement in the war in the Donbass.
From the ABC report:
Asked by Karl how Congress would react if Trump reverses the sanctions after he takes office, Schiff said the reaction would be “even more vigorous, I’m convinced, in favor of stronger sanctions against Russia.”
“We think that more has to be done,” Schiff said. “We don’t think that, frankly, the steps that have been taken are enough of a deterrent, and you’re going to see bipartisan support in Congress for stronger sanctions.”
Schiff also hit Trump for appearing to question U.S. intelligence reports that Russians are responsible for the hack.
“If he’s going to have any credibility as president, he needs to stop talking this way. He needs to stop denigrating the intelligence community. He’s going to rely on them. He’s going to have to rely on them,” Schiff said.
Schiff also noted recent comments from two leading Republican senators – John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who visited Kiev last week and said that Congress would in fact push for further sanctions against Russia.
U.S. Senators Vow No 'Faustian Bargain' With Russia, Pledge To Target Putin 'Harder'
KYIV — Senator John McCain says that the United States will not strike a "Faustian bargain" with Russian President Vladimir Putin, amid speculation that President-elect Donald Trump could scrap sanctions in a bid to improve ties. Speaking in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service in Kyiv on December 30 along with two other U.S.
Schiff said yesterday that sanctions introduced last month by President Barack Obama in response to Russian cyber-attacks during the presidential election were “more than symbolic,” but “not enough to deter Russia.”
— Pierre Vaux