Ukraine Conflict Monitor, April 11-18, 2017

Ukraine 101:

  • Ukraine has seen a slide in Russian speakers, from 33.9% in 1994 to 24.4% last year. (Financial Times, 04.13.17)

West’s leverage over Russia:

  • No significant developments.

 Russia’s leverage over West:

  • No significant developments.

Russia’s leverage over Ukraine:

  • No significant developments.

Casualties and costs for Russia, West and Ukraine:

  • Four Ukrainian servicemen have been injured in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesperson Andriy Lysenko reported on April 15. Two more Ukrainian soldiers were injured in Donbas on April 16. (Interfax, 04.15.17, Interfax, 04.16.17)

Impact of Russia’s actions vis-à-vis Ukraine on other countries:

  • No significant developments.

Red lines and tripwires:

  • More than 1,100 soldiers—900 U.S. troops as well as 150 British and 120 Romanians—are to be deployed in Poland’s Orzysz, about 57 km (35 miles) south of Russia's Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad. Three other formations are due to become operational by June across the region. (Reuters, 04.13.17)

Factors and scenarios that could cause resumption of large-scale hostilities or lead to accident between Western and Russian forces in Europe:

  • Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes: Putin continues to make diplomacy difficult. He is now adamantly opposing Trump’s limited and careful reprisal against the gruesome use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. And as investigations heat up into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, much of Trump’s top national security team is reverting to anti-Russia rhetoric. If we continue down this path, a U.S.-Russia war could even erupt over a contested area in Europe. (Brookings Institution, 04.14.17)

Arming and training of Ukrainian forces by Western countries:

  • No significant developments.

Strategies and actions recommended:

  • Balazs Jarabik and Bogdan Belei, a nonresident scholar and a junior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, write: Any hopes for a breakthrough with Russia are probably unrealistic, but the focal point should be on prioritizing domestic governance issues while building trust at home and credibility abroad. The West can help — but only if Kiev addresses a culture of rampant impunity, the lack of inclusive justice and the narrowing space for political pluralism at home. (The Moscow Times, 04.13.17)


  • Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes: Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine? … First and foremost, the Russian invasion of Ukraine violates the most basic principle of international relations—that borders between countries should not be changed through the use of military force. A second reason has to do with Russia specifically … It is important that Putin not conclude that continued use of force is a viable path to make Russia great again … Ukraine’s nuclear history is another reason to care. (USA Today, 04.13.17)

Other important news:

  • Leaders of the "Normandy Four" states held a phone conversation to discuss how to settle the armed conflict in the Donbas region of east Ukraine, the Kremlin press service said on April 18 in a statement. According to the statement, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany reaffirmed their commitment to the Minsk agreement regarding security and political aspects of a peaceful settlement. (Xinhua, 04.18.17)
  • During his visit to Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to sanctions imposed on Moscow for its 2014 annexation of Crimea. The condition for lifting sanctions remains the same as former U.S. President Barack Obama’s full implementation of the Minsk II ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine. (The Moscow Times, 04.13.17)
  • The Ukrainian armed forces have violated the ceasefire in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) 32 times over the past 24 hours, including by using tank guns and mortars, a source in the DPR operations said on April 18. (TASS, 04.18.17)
  • The Ukrainian side has said it will possibly be ready for disengagement of forces and equipment near Stanitsa Luganskaya on April 21, the envoy of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic to the Minsk talks said on April 18 following another disengagement failure earlier in the day. (TASS, 04.18.17)
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticized Ukraine's leadership over Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov's comments on the government's policy in the restive Donbas region. In an interview with the BBC on April 14, Turchynov said: "I believe that our task is meter by meter, kilometer by kilometer, minimizing losses, to move to the east." "The main thing is not to miss the border," Turchynov quipped. (BBC, 04.15.17)
  • Control Risks registered 315 war incidents related to the ongoing conflict between separatist, pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian security forces in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions in March, up from 261 incidents in February. (Control Risks, April 2017)
  • The International Court of Justice says it will issue a ruling on April 19 on Kiev’s bid to block Russia from sending money, weapons and troops to eastern Ukraine. (RFE/RL, 04.17.17)
  • Ukrainian investigators are seeking to understand former Trump campaign chariman Paul Manafort’s ties, if any, to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych at the time of the shooting of anti-government protesters on the capital's central square, known as the Maidan, in February 2014. Last August, a handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine with dollar amounts and dates next to the name of Manafort, who was then U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman. Now, financial records newly obtained by The Associated Press confirm that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actually received by his consulting firm in the United States. Manafort will register as a foreign agent for lobbying work he did on behalf of pro-Russian political interests in Ukraine, his spokesman has said. (NPR, 04.14.17, AP, 04.12.17, RFE/RL, 04.12.17)
  • Right-wing Ukrainian parliament member Andrey Artemenko is still shopping his controversial peace plan for Ukraine to the Trump administration. The plan calls for pro-Russian separatists to return eastern territory to Kiev, and the holding of a national referendum on leasing Crimea to Russia for an undetermined amount of time. (Foreign Policy, 04.18.17)
  • The International Monetary Fund's chief to Ukraine told Kiev on April 18 its pension system was unsustainable because it supported nearly a third of the population and must limit the number of retirees. (AFP, 04.18.17)
  • Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman has a 1% approval rating. (Bloomberg , 04.12.17)