Ukraine Conflict Monitor

Dear readers: Please be advised that this will be Russia Matters’ last Ukraine Conflict Monitor. Top news related to the conflict will be included in the weekly Russia in Review digest, while pertinent analysis will be featured in the Russia Analytical Report. Please subscribe to these mailings if you haven’t already.

Ukraine 101:

  • Ukraine's gross foreign debt has grown by 2 percent in the third quarter of 2017. (Interfax, 12.19.17)

West’s leverage over Russia:

  • EU leaders on Dec. 14 agreed to extend tough economic sanctions against Russia over its meddling in Ukraine for six months, EU President Donald Tusk said. The decision to roll sanctions over came after French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefed the other EU leaders on the state of the Minsk peace accord, and Merkel told reporters afterwards that the leaders had had an “intense discussion” on sanctions. (AFP, 12.14.17)

 Russia’s leverage over West:

  • A growing number of Russians view the United States and Europe negatively while expressing less concern about Western sanctions, a new poll shows. (The Moscow Times, 12.18.17)
  • A top Chinese official visited Kiev this month to announce a host of new infrastructure projects and investments in Ukraine, underscoring a burgeoning economic relationship between the two countries that could nudge Kiev away from the West—a scenario that would ultimately benefit Moscow, some say. (Newsweek, 12.19.17)

Russia’s leverage over Ukraine:

  • Russia’s natural gas exporter is channeling more money into the fight for market share as the U.S. threatens its biggest European pipeline project, Nord Stream 2, with possible sanctions and delivers tankers of fuel to the region. Ukraine has lobbied against the $11.2 billion project, which would bypass its territory. (Bloomberg, 12.19.17)

Casualties and costs for Russia, West and Ukraine:

  • Four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and nine were wounded in action in eastern Ukraine in the week of Dec. 12-19, the press center of Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation headquarters has reported. (UNIAN, 12.18.17, 12.17.17, 12.15.17, 12.14.17)
  • Fighting in eastern Ukraine has escalated to the worst level since February, OSCE officials said after the shelling of a frontline village wounded eight civilians and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes. The OSCE recorded 16,000 ceasefire violations between Dec. 11 and Dec. 17, a 35 percent increase on the week before. U.S. special envoy for the Ukraine conflict Kurt Volker has said 2017 was the deadliest year in the region since the outbreak of violence three years ago, and warned that hostilities are again ratcheting up. (Reuters, 12.19.17, RFE/RL, 12.19.17)
  • Casualties from land mines and similar booby-trap explosives increased for the second consecutive year in 2016, to the highest level since a treaty banning such weapons of war took effect in 1999, a monitoring group said Dec. 14. The group, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, attributed the increased casualties largely to armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen. Thirty-four countries remain outside the treaty, including China, Russia and the United States. (New York Times, 12.14.17)
  • A new study by European economists released Dec. 14 shows that the West is paying a hefty price for its sanctions against Russia due to retaliatory measures, the inaccessibility of loans and a more general perception of a loss of trust. The study says the sanctions resulted in $114 billion worth of lost revenue between early 2014 and the end of 2015, but the pain was shared almost equally between Russia, which lost more than $65 billion, and the U.S. and EU, which together sustained more than $50 billion in losses. Germany was the hardest hit, accounting for almost 40 percent of the West's losses. (The Washington Post, 12.14.17)
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