Ukraine Conflict Monitor, Jan. 3-10, 2017

Ukraine 101:

  • No significant developments.

Ukraine’s leverage over Russia:

  • The Russian energy giant Gazprom has applied to boost gas transit to the European Union through the Ukrainian gas transportation system, Ukrtransgaz, to 278.9 million cubic meters per day, spokesman for Ukrtransgaz Maxim Belyavsky said Jan. 6. (TASS, 01.06.17)

Russia’s leverage over West:

  • No significant developments.

Russia’s leverage over Ukraine:

  • Russia remains Ukraine’s main supplier of coal, according to data from the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine. Ukraine spent $906.3 million on Russian coal last year, compared to $212.1 million spent on U.S. coal. (TASS, 01.06.17)

Casualties and costs for Russia, West and Ukraine:

  • Senior U.S. Republican and Democratic senators will introduce legislation on Jan. 10 seeking to impose a wide range of sanctions on Russia over its cyber activities and actions in Syria and Ukraine. The legislation is sponsored by Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrats Ben Cardin and Robert Menendez. (Reuters, 01.10.17)
  • There’s a widespread expectation that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will ease sanctions on Russia upon coming into office, but legal experts told Risk & Compliance Journal that it’s more likely he would nibble at the edges of the program than lift the measures outright. Some of the measures, such as the Magnitsky Act sanctions, are imposed by Congressional statute. Other measures, including the embargo of Crimea and the sanctions designations on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, were coordinated with European allies who want to keep the pressure on Moscow to back down on its activity in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. (Wall Street Journal, 01.05.17)

Red lines and tripwires:

  • Ships began unloading U.S. tanks, self-propelled howitzers and hundreds of other fighting vehicles Jan. 6 in the northern German port of Bremerhaven, to be moved into Eastern Europe to bolster NATO’s deterrence against possible Russian aggression. Some 3,500 troops from the 4th Infantry Division in Fort Carson, Colorado, will join up with the equipment, which includes 87 tanks and 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, over the next two weeks. (AP, 01.06.17)

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

  • Russia’s Aurora Airlines has denied that one of its planes nearly collided with another aircraft, let alone a NATO military plane. The airline's comments directly contradict earlier reports by the Interfax news agency, which cited a source within Russian security services. (The Moscow Times, 01.05.17)

Arming and training of Ukrainian forces by Western countries:

  • No significant developments.

Strategies and actions recommended:

  • Historian Niall Ferguson advised U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin that “we are prepared to contemplate another plebiscite in Crimea, given the somewhat questionable nature of its cession to Ukraine in the Nikita Khrushchev era, though credible foreign representatives must monitor the vote.” (Foreign Policy, 12.23.16)
  • William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former deputy secretary of state, writes that the U.S. should “stay sharply focused on Ukraine, a country whose fate will be critical to the future of Europe, and Russia, over the next generation.” (New York Times, 01.07.17)


  • No significant developments.

Other important news:

  • Higher numbers of ceasefire violations were recorded in both the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine between the evenings of Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 than during the previous 24 hours, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). (Reliefweb, 01.09.17)
  • Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has called on European leaders to begin lifting sanctions against Russia in exchange for “any positive development” in the Ukrainian crisis. Kurz, who is chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year, kicked off his tenure by seeing the situation in Ukraine with his own eyes. (The Moscow Times, 01.09.17, EurActiv, 01.04.17)
  • Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko has published the names of hundreds of people who have been taken captive or gone missing during the nearly three-year-old war in eastern Ukraine, ignoring appeals by authorities to keep the information secret. (RFE/RL, 01.10.17)
  • Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has said he may form a Ukrainian "government-in-exile" after a December Moscow court ruling held that the collapse of his government in early 2014 was the result of an illegal coup. (RFE/RL, 01.09.17)
  • Police at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport detained a Dutch national for more than two hours when he returned from Ukraine’s Donbass region carrying debris from Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in his bag on Jan. 7. (The Moscow Times, 01.09.17)
  • The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on the Ukrainian government to take legal action against marchers who yelled anti-Semitic slogans in an event held on New Year’s Day to mark the birthday of Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose followers murdered thousands of Jews at the beginning of the Holocaust. (The Jerusalem Post, 01.05.17)
  • Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says that with a military buildup in the Baltic Sea region, the Scandinavian country is facing security threats, especially “in light of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.” (AP, 01.08.17)