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Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Tony Abbott, the former Prime Minister of Australia, has stated that he believes the world may lose interest in Ukraine just as Ukraine needs it most. According to Censor.net, Abbot said that since the IMF, the EU, and the US have given financial support to the Ukrainian government, there is waning interest in Ukraine.
Abbot, who was in office between 2013 and 2015, also said that some EU members had been pushing to lift sanctions on Russia, something many have suspected for some time.
But perhaps Abbot’s biggest revelation is that, according to the former PM, no countries were eager to sell Ukraine even non-lethal weapons:
Mr. Abbott explained that no country was eager to sell Ukraine even non-lethal weapons due to fear of Putin adding that it was difficult to understand why the legitimate democratic government, which was under real threat, was not provided with the anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, which the West so easily supplied to mujahideens in Afghanistan.
The former prime minister of Australia recalled his comments regarding the Russian Federation, when he said that with so many problems in the world, the last thing needed was a powerful country, which extended its influence through war.
Abbott is in Ukraine to join the ‘international advisory council,’ an initiative launched by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. He has been an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, especially after the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 by a Russian anti-aircraft missile in July 2014.
— James Miller
Four Ukrainian soldiers and two civilians have been wounded over the last 24 hours as Kiev reports 68 attacks across the front line.
Both civilian casualties occurred yesterday in the Lugansk Region.
The Regional Military-Civil Administration reported that one civilian was hospitalized after being wounded by shelling in the village of Novoaleksandrovka, which lies in the so-called “grey” or neutral zone between the front lines.
The other was wounded by a tripwire mine outside their home in the village of Troitskoye. The Administration claimed that the tripwire had been placed by Russian-backed fighters.
According to the Ukrainian military ATO Press Center, the worst fighting was once again seen in the Donetsk and Gorlovka areas, with particularly heavy shelling of Ukrainian positions near Zaytsevo and Avdeyevka. Heavy weapons were used 22 times against these positions, the report claims, with more than 250 rounds from 120 and 82 mm mortars fired across the front. In addition, 152 mm artillery was used near Zaytsevo.
In the Lugansk region, Ukrainian positions in Novozvanovka, just west of Novoaleksandrovka, where a civilian was wounded, were shelled with automatic grenade launchers, while snipers fired on troops near Schastye.
In the south, the military reports attacks, with small arms, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns, on positions near Starognatovka, Vodyanoye and Talakovka, with those near Shirokino shelled with mortars.
There were two other interesting incidents in this area, with both a UAV flight detected and the approach of a Russian patrol boat.
Military spokesman Aleksandr Kindsfater told 0629.com.ua that the Tikhiy Don, a Russian border service patrol boat, had come within 11 kilometres of the coast near Mariupol yesterday.
The Tikhiy Don in 2015, photo by Pavel Yemelyanov.
But while Kindsfater claimed that the vessel was conducting radio-electronic surveillance, Oleg Slobodyan, spokesman for the Ukrainian State Border Service, told the 112 television channel that the boat had made radio contact with the shore and had not deviated from their recommended course.
Slobodyan said that the captain of the boat had claimed that they were conducting an anti-poaching patrol.
— Pierre Vaux
Davit Sakvarelidze has told Novoye Vremya that President Petro Poroshenko is going to discuss his reinstatement with the new Prosecutor General after the post is filled.
Sakvarelidze was sacked yesterday from his posts as deputy Prosecutor General and Prosecutor for the Odessa Region, in a controversial move by Viktor Shokin, whose own dismissal was ratified by parliament hours.
Sakvarelidze said that he met with Poroshenko yesterday following the dismissal of Shokin:
DS: It was brief. The President said that nothing was changing in our relationship and that my dismissal was not agreed with him.
NV: The President proposed conditions to you for you to stay?
DS: No. There was no such conversation. The President said that he would speak with the new Prosecutor General and would talk about restoring us with him.
NV: But he didn’t offer for you to become the Prosecutor General?
DS: No. I don’t have such aspirations. I have spoken on this several times and he knows that I don’t want it.
NV: And what will happen to your team in the Odessa region?
DS: I’m afraid that unfortunately, they will also be pressed upon. Prosecutor General Shokin’s personal interests haven’t overlapped with theirs, but they too will, I’m sure, create problems.
Each of the deputies who signed this statement [with a call for Sakvarelidze’s sacking], did this on purpose. All of those cases raised by the Odessa Regional Prosecutor’s Office concern their personal interests. This is the guest house [public property illegally auctioned]; this is the Odessa Port Plant; these are the flows of contraband that they carve up; this is their influence on the courts; this is their influence on the appointment of favoured, corrupt officials etc.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian Presidential Administration is attempting to salvage the governing coalition today after former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party backed out of a deal to return to government yesterday.
As RFE/RL reports, Tymoshenko made new demands at a meeting of would-be coalition members, calling for the abandonment of taxes on pension payments and increases in energy prices.
The price hikes were a key reform demanded by the International Monetary Fund as part of Ukraine’s bailout program.
Lawmakers emerged from the meeting saying the hoped-for coalition was not formed despite an announcement by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s party late on March 28 of an impending new alliance with Fatherland and President Petro Poroshenko’s faction in the parliament.
Tymoshenko “is demanding a stack of political laws be voted on before joining the coalition. Everyone has to go back to the drawing board,” a source in Poroshenko’s bloc told Reuters.
Lawmakers in Yatsenyuk’s faction also said the three-party coalition had not been formalized, with party head Maksym Burbak saying the deal won’t be finalized until next week.
Mustafa Nayyem, a lawmaker from Poroshenko’s bloc, said “Tymoshenko invented new conditions and that’s why everything has finally failed.”
Serhiy Leshchenko, a reformist MP in Bloc Petro Poroshenko (BPP), told Ukrainska Pravda this morning that the President has had a number of meetings with independent MPs, inviting them to join either BPP or Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Popular Front party, so as to boost the size of both factions to allow a parliamentary majority.
Mustafa Nayyem says that two MPs, Irina Suslova and Pavel Kishkar, have joined BPP, with negotiations under way with another six.
But while Artur Gerasimov, another BPP MP, claimed that a coalition of 223 votes was in the works today, he warned that it was not just an “arithmetical majority” that was needed.
“But a real coalition, which will support the actions of the government directed at speeding up reforms in Ukraine. And it is with just this that there are problems.”
— Pierre Vaux