Ukraine Liveblog Day 231: Victoria Nuland Arrives In Kiev As Fighting Continues Across Eastern Ukraine

October 6, 2014
A separatist machine gunner stands inside a derelict building at Donetsk Airport. Screenshot from YouTube

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Below we will be making regular updates so check back often.


SWIFT Will Not Bar Russia From Using Services Without EU Legislation

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as SWIFT, has issued a statement in response to growing calls for Russia to be barred from using the international banking network.

In the statement, SWIFT say that they will not respond to calls for the group to cut off access to Russia, as suggested by the British prime minister, David Cameron, at the end of August.

They do however acknowledge that they will comply with EU law, leaving open the possibility of Russia being excluded from the SWIFT network with new legislation.

On October 2 the Financial Times reported that SWIFT officials “vehemently oppose a Russian ban” despite pressure from not only European leaders but also US politicians.

The full SWIFT statement follows:

Brussels, 6 October 2014 – SWIFT and its stakeholders have received calls to disconnect institutions and entire countries from its network – most recently Israel and Russia.

SWIFT is a neutral global cooperative company set up under Belgian law. It was established by and for its members to create a shared worldwide messaging service and a common language for international transactions. SWIFT provides services to over 10,500 financial institutions and corporations in over 200 jurisdictions around the world. SWIFT is a critical service provider to the financial industry and plays a pivotal role in supporting international commerce and trade.

SWIFT services are designed to facilitate its customers’ compliance with sanctions and other regulations, however SWIFT will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure.

SWIFT regrets the pressure, as well as the surrounding media speculation, both of which risk undermining the systemic character of the services that SWIFT provides its customers around the world. As a utility with a systemic global character, it has no authority to make sanctions decisions.

Any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with the competent government bodies and applicable legislators. Being EU-based, SWIFT complies fully with all applicable European law.

SWIFT will not respond to individual calls and pressure to disconnect financial institutions from its network.

French Ambassador To Russia Says Paris Hopes For Swift End To Sanctions

Russia’s Interfax news agency reports that Jean-Maurice Ripert, the French ambassador to Russia, has told reporters in Yekaterinburg today that France hopes for an end to the current round of sanctions against Russia.

Intefax reports:

“We are hoping to get out of this cycle of sanctions in the very near future. And we have come here (to the Sverdlovsk region) to prepare for the moment when it will be possible to fully employ the machine of Franco-Russian cooperation,” Ripert told reporters in Yekaterinburg on Monday.

The sanctions “are not intended to last long” and will be stopped, he said.

“Apart from the annexation of Crimea, which we do not recognize, all other problems in Ukraine have found peaceful solutions that are now in the process of being implemented. There is the protocol of agreements between Ukraine and Russia. Positive talks are underway over the natural gas issue between Russia, Ukraine and Europe,” said the head of the diplomatic mission.

Abducted Crimean Tatar, Edem Asanov, Found Dead

RFE/RL’s Crimean service reports that Edem Asanov, a 25-year-old Crimean Tatar who disappeared on September 29, has been found dead in an abandoned sanatorium in Yevpatoria, Russian-occupied Crimea.

On September 29 Asanov had set off from his home in Saky for Yevpatoria, where he worked as a lifeguard. However, as RFE/RL reported on September 1, he never arrived at work.

Asanov’s sister Feride told RFE/RL that she last saw that him that morning at the bus station in Yevpatoria.

Since then she was unable to reach him by phone. According to Feride, Edem was not politically active and had not made any strong statements on social networks as far as she was aware.

Writing on the website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, Halya Coynash said:

There is as yet no information as to how the young man died, though natural causes can be excluded. Edem Asanov’s funeral will take place on Tuesday.

Asanov’s disappearance followed the abduction of two young Crimean Tatar men from the village of Saury-Su near Belogorsk on September 27.

On October 3, Coynash writes, another young Tatar, 23-year-old Apselymov Eskender failed to arrive at work after leaving his flat in Simferopol.

She concludes:

It is increasingly difficult to believe in any chance with these abductions or disappearances.  They coincide with a major offensive against the Mejlis, or representative-executive body of the Crimean Tatar people and Muslims in the Crimea.  Veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev has spoken of 18 disappearances of Crimean Tatars since Russian invaded and annexed the Crimea in March this year. 

Head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov recalls chillingly relevant words written by Memorial about the Northern Caucuses.  “Abductions are carried out by staff both of the local, and the federal enforcement bodies. A number of the abductions take place according to the classic, “Chechen” scenario, when armed men in masks burst into a home and take the person they want away. However many abductions are carried out very ‘professionally’: a person leaves his home and doesn’t return, or later he’s found murdered.”

The almost certain murder of Edem Asanov, the abduction of two young Crimean Tatars and disappearance of a fourth young man of similar age, against the background of all other repressive measures, can only heighten the suspicion that the Crimean puppet regime and those pulling its strings in Moscow want to intimidate the Crimean Tatars and force them to leave their homeland.

Elsewhere today Robert Coalson wrote on the ongoing campaign of intimidation being waged against Crimean Tatars since the Russian invasion. Read his article on RFE/RL here.

Bild Reports Germany To Send 200 Troops To Assist In Monitoring Ceasefire As 1st Drones Arrive

Following news that France and Germany are to launch a joint operation to monitor the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, Bild reports that Germany is to send 200 military personnel.

According to information received by Bild, German paratroopers from Seedorf in Lower Saxony will provide support for the OSCE monitoring operation. 

150 soldiers will work operate drones to monitor the ceasefire area while a further 50 will provide protection.

Bild notes that the German soldiers will not be deployed between the opposing forces to act as peacekeepers, but to ensure the security and efficacy of the OSCE monitoring mission.

German troops would wear OSCE insignia but would be armed while assisting the mission. The deployment will have to be approved by the Bundestag.

The joint Franco-German operation was announced by the French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on Sunday, October 5.

Reuters reported that the minister had said that the joint ceasefire monitoring operation would begin in the coming days.

Meanwhile Interfax-Ukraine reported that Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, announced this morning that the first two drones, sent to support the OSCE monitoring mission, had arrived in Ukraine. 

Interfax-Ukraine reports:

Two unmanned aerial vehicles arrived in Ukraine last night. They will be used by the mission in the conflict zone, along the line of contact between the warring sides,” NSDC Information Analysis Center spokesman Andriy Lysenko said at a press briefing on Monday.

The drones are being cleared by customs and their operators will arrive shortly, he said.

“These vehicles will expand and improve the efficiency of the [OSCE] observation mission’s activity and help obtain rapid and detailed information from the ground,” Lysenko stressed.

1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed, 13 Wounded Over Past 24 Hours Of Attacks Across East

Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (SNBO), has announced that 1 Ukrainian serviceman has been killed and 13 wounded over the past 24 hours.

Ukrainska Pravda reports (translated by The Interpreter):

Lysenko also said that Ukrainian soldiers have not retreated from their previously held positions in the last 24 hours.

Lysenko stressed that all was now quiet outside Mariupol. However there has been far too much activity from the enemy’s scouts.

“The city has not been shelled over the last day,” noted Lysenko.

In the afternoon, the Ukrainian army has, according to Lysenko, repelled attacks on Debaltsevo and also Nikishino.

Meanwhile RFE/RL reports that Eduard Basulin, a senior separatist official, has announced that 3 separatist fighters were killed between October 4 and 5 fighting to capture Donetsk Airport. 

Fighting Resumes In Donetsk After Relatively Quiet Night

Interfax-Ukraine reported this morning, citing the Donetsk City Council, that, despite an overnight lull in hostilities, gunfire and explosion have been heard in the city this morning.

At 10 am, the City Council wrote that they had received reports of “occasional volleys of gunfire and explosions in the Kirovsky, Kuybyshevsky and Kievsky districts.”

At 12:30 local time, the City Council posted another update on their website. They described reports from residents of artillery fire in the Kirovsky, Budyonnovsky, Kalininsky, Voroshilovsky and Kievsky districts.

The fighting has, in recent weeks, been concentrated in the northern and western districts of the city, adjacent to the airport and the front-line near the Ukrainian-held Marinka suburb. The Budyonnovsky and Kievsky districts lie well south of the usual hotspots in the city.

The council also announced that, according to the most recent reports, 7 civilians were killed and more than 20 wounded by shelling over the weekend.

Victoria Nuland Due To Arrive In Kiev

Victoria Nuland, the US State Department Assistant Secretary of State For European and Eurasian Affairs, is due to arrive in Kiev today to meet with Ukrainian officials and discuss US assistance for Ukraine’s reforms and their territorial integrity.

The US State Department put out the following message on Nuland’s visit:

On October 5, Assistant Secretary Nuland will travel to Kyiv, Ukraine, where she will discuss the U.S. commitment to assist ongoing reform efforts in Ukraine, the status of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, and U.S. support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity with senior Ukrainian government leaders. Assistant Secretary Nuland will also meet with a broad spectrum of political leaders, civil society groups, regional government officials, and student groups.