Ukraine Conflict Monitor, Nov. 29-Dec. 6, 2016

Ukraine 101:

  • No significant developments.

West’s leverage over Russia:

  • Russia's new information-security doctrine calls for "liquidating the dependence of domestic industries on foreign information technologies" and ensuring information security by developing effective Russian technologies. (RFE/RL, 12.06.16)

Russia’s leverage over West:

  • No significant developments.

Russia’s leverage over Ukraine:

  • No significant developments.

Casualties and costs for Russia, West and Ukraine:

  • European diplomats say EU leaders are highly likely to prolong economic sanctions on Russia through July 31, 2017, when they meet in Brussels for a summit next week. Several EU diplomats close to talks on the sanctions have told RFE/RL that EU leaders might give a green light for the six-month extension of the sanctions without a discussion when they meet on Dec. 15. (RFE/RL, 12.06.16)
  • Human rights violators from around the world could face having their assets frozen in the UK as lawmakers vote on proposals similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act. A “Magnitsky Amendment” has been added to the Criminal Finances bill, which aims to clamp down on money-laundering and terror financing. (Financial Times, 12.05.16)
  • Ukraine’s Anti-Monopoly Committee fined Gazprom a whopping $6.8 billion for alleged violations of antitrust laws, Russia's Kommersant business daily reported Dec. 5. Ukraine, however, is ready to join EU talks on gas issues with Russia on Dec. 9, Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz said on Twitter on Dec. 5. (Forbes, 12.05.16 RFE/RL, 12.06.16)

Red lines and tripwires:

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

  • Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said there were continuing incidents involving Russian aircraft buzzing U.S. vessels, with some coming as close as 30 feet, and other cases where ships were behaving "erratically." "More communication with Russia would be a valuable thing," Richardson said, noting that he had regular contact with his counterpart in China, but not with those in Russia or Iran. (Reuters, 12.05.16)
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford said at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum that Russia’s goal to undermine NATO is a dangerous game, and Russian forces “are operating with a frequency and in places that we haven’t seen for decades.” (Foreign Policy, 12.05.16)
  • James Mattis, the retired general Donald Trump has chosen to be the next U.S. defense secretary, has questioned the need for land-based nuclear missiles on the grounds they represent a higher risk than other weapons of being launched on a false alarm. (Guardian, 12.04.16)
  • Ukraine said on Dec. 1 that it had successfully completed the first of two days of missile tests over the Black Sea, west of the Crimea peninsula taken by Russia in March 2014. Russia had reportedly put its air-defense forces in Crimea on high alert prior to the tests, which Moscow has protested. Media reports in Ukraine have quoted Defense Ministry sources as saying that Moscow had officially warned Kiev it would respond to the missile tests with a missile attack, but the Kremlin said on Nov. 30 that it had not heard about such warnings. On Dec. 1 Russia's air transport agency said Ukraine had moved the border of the test area further away, apparently reducing Russian concerns. (BBC , 12.01.16, RFE/RL , 11.29.16)

Arming and training of Ukrainian forces by Western countries:

  • No significant developments.

Strategies and actions recommended:

  • Kiev-based analyst Isaac Webb: “Ultimately, Ukraine’s efforts to safeguard U.S. aid and Western sanctions are stopgaps. In the longer term, Kiev needs to address its deeper problems with corruption, cronyism, and government mismanagement, which have plagued the country for the last 25 years.” (Foreign Affairs, 11.29.16


  • “Ukraine is very high on the list of countries that might be fired” by Donald Trump, according to Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia who has launched a second political career in Ukraine. “Trump is attracted by success and he hates losers, and he expresses it. From both standpoints, Ukraine is not in the right place,” Saakashvili said. (The Guardian, 12.06.16)
  • The main obstacle to energy negotiations between Russia and the EU is the clash between their perceptions of energy security: Moscow claims that the biggest threat to European energy security is Ukraine’s unreliability as a gas transit country, while Brussels believes the construction of new Russian pipelines circumventing Ukraine will do nothing to improve the EU’s energy security. (, 12.06.16)

Other important news:

  • U.S. Army Secretary Eric Fannning told a conference panel that Russia was clearly acting "in a destabilizing way," and said the United States was learning from how the Russian military was behaving in Ukraine. (Reuters, 12.05.16)
  • During his visit to Poland Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko urged the European Union to extend sanctions against Russia, which he says continues its armed aggression in eastern Ukraine against international agreements. (AP , 12.02.16)
  • “I am really proud that in these 2 1/2 years we have created the most powerful Armed Forces in Europe,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said. (Ukrinform, 12.05.16)
  • Russian border guards say they have detained two Ukrainian soldiers who deserted from the Ukrainian armed forces and crossed the border into Russia. (RFE/RL , 12.01.16)
  • Ukraine has launched investigations against Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin on suspicion of terrorism. (RFE/RL, 12.02.16)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has rebuffed a request to free imprisoned Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, saying the court must decide Sentsov’s fate. (The Moscow Times, 12.02.16)
  • The Kremlin has pledged to boost the Crimean economy with 37.8 billion rubles ($593 million) in subsidies in 2017, a draft of the country's budget has revealed. (The Moscow Times, 12.05.16)
  • Ukraine feels let down by the European Union for not keeping a promise to give its citizens visa-free travel in the bloc, senior Ukrainian officials have said. "Maybe this is not diplomatic, this is probably not diplomatic: We see complete impotence in the European Union, and in the European institutions,” said Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal. (Reuters, 12.06.16)
  • Ukrainian authorities say Prosecutor-General Yuri Lutsenko will personally oversee the probe into what officials are calling a "friendly fire" shootout between police and state guards service agents that left at least five law-enforcement officers dead. (RFE/RL, 12.05.16)