Ukraine Conflict Monitor, April 4-11, 2017

Ukraine 101:

  • No significant developments.

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:

  • Since April 10, Russia-backed separatists have fired on Ukrainian positions in Donbas 64 times, wounding five servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the press center of the Ukrainian military said on its Facebook page on the morning of April 11. On April 9, the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic said Ukrainian shelling injured one civilian. (Interfax, 04.11.17, TASS, 04.09.17)
  • Hundreds of thousands of children are paying a heavy price in the three-year conflict between the government of Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk in the eastern part of the country. Among those hardest hit are the more than 200,000 children living along the "contact line," a 15-kilometer zone that divides government and rebel-controlled areas where the fighting is most intense, the U.N. children's fund said. (Voice of America, 04.07.17)
  • Russia’s top lender Sberbank has discarded its leasing business in Ukraine, the bank said in a statement on April 7. (TASS, 04.08.17)

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

  • Proximity to Russia is bolstering defense expenditure across Eastern Europe, right at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is signaling U.S. military backing could depend on those nations paying their way inside NATO. Romania, Lithuania and Latvia—mindful of shared land and maritime borders with their former Soviet master—are behind this year’s biggest advances. Other front-line countries such as Estonia and Poland also spend more proportionally than western members, meeting or surpassing the 28-nation alliance’s guideline of allocating 2% of economic output to defense. Germany boosted defense spending by 2.7 billion euros, more than the current total defense spending by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania combined, to reach 1.22% of GDP, a gain of 0.03%. (Bloomberg, 04.10.17)
  • Denmark’s government wants to change the country’s laws in a way that could block a proposed Russian gas pipeline to Europe, a sign of the growing unease in the EU over the project. (Financial Times, 04.10.17)

Red lines and tripwires:

  • No significant developments.

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

  • The Russian Federation has concentrated about 43,000 servicemen along the Ukrainian border, First Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Ivan Rusnak has said. (Interfax, 04.05.17)

Arming and training of Ukrainian forces by Western countries:

  • New video footage shows soldiers from the U.S. Army National Guard are still training their Ukrainian counterparts to fly the controversial RQ-11B Raven. This latest practice session occurred more than three months after Kiev's forces complained bitterly to the international press about the tiny, pilotless planes. (Drive, 04.04.17)

Strategies and actions recommended:

  • No significant developments.


  • Polish-born diplomat Zbigniew Brzezinski said: "In my judgement, a Europe-oriented Russia, cooperating with China—though with some territorial tensions regarding the northeast—and gradually regularizing its relationship with the United States, will be a country that will be able to resolve the painful Ukrainian issue through mutual comprise.” (RBTH, 04.07.17)
  • Maxim Eristavi, a nonresident research fellow at the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, wrote: “Ukraine’s ruling elites are trying to undo the modest progress the country has achieved since the Maidan Revolution. If you need a consensus on the most outstanding achievements, most Ukraine watchers would probably agree on four: the establishment of market prices on gas; a globally hailed e-procurement system; the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine; and the launch of an electronic declaration system that discloses the assets of public officials. The last two are now at the epicenter of the biggest attempt to rollback reforms since the Maidan Revolution.” (Newsweek, 04.07.11)

Other important news:

  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked his European counterparts on April 11 why American voters should care about the conflict in Ukraine, France's foreign minister said. The new U.S. administration under President Donald Trump has indicated it might be less engaged on the international stage than some of its predecessors, telling its allies that it would put U.S. interests first. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Tillerson had openly questioned why "American taxpayers" should be concerned about Ukraine, which has been racked by a separatist conflict for the last three years. (Reuters, 04.11.17)
  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko got assurances from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Washington will not allow any deal that links the fates of Ukraine and Syria, Poroshenko's office said in a statement on April 11. (Reuters, 04.11.17)
  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has approved the annual national program under auspices of the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) for 2017. (Kyiv Post, 04.08.17)
  • Between the evenings of April 7 and 8, the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine recorded more ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region and fewer in the Luhansk region compared with the previous reporting period. Between the evenings of April 8 and 9, the Mission recorded fewer ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region and more in the Luhansk region compared with the previous 24-hour period. (OSCE, 04.10.17)
  • Ukraine’s central bank governor, hailed as the “No. 1 reformer” in the country’s struggle to rebuild its war-torn economy, has submitted her resignation. Valeria Gontareva told reporters in Kiev on April 10 she’d ended her mission, tendering a letter to President Petro Poroshenko saying she was ready to quit. (Bloomberg, 04.10.17)
  • Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, wrote: “As the historical revisionism has ramped up [in Ukraine], so has the desecration of Ukraine’s Holocaust sites and memorials. Babi Yar’s commemorative memorial was vandalized nine times in 2015 and 2016, with everything from painted swastikas to an attempt on Rosh Hashana to burn down a menorah at the site. More recently, a Holocaust memorial in the western Ukrainian city of Ternopil was painted with a swastika and SS runes. To the great distress of Ukraine’s Jewish community, these cases remain unsolved. In fact, law enforcement here often denies that a problem exists.” (New York Times, 04.11.17)
  • The European Parliament has approved visa liberalization for Ukraine, a crucial step toward enabling Ukrainians to travel to the European Union without obtaining visas. (RFE/RL, 04.06.17)