The two cabinet-level officials met during the summit of Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), one of the few organizations that both the US and Russia are members of. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry press release, the two officials discussed the next steps in resolving Syria’s civil conflict through establishing a negotiation process that would incorporate all of the Syrian political powers. The negotiations can go on at various sites, including the Geneva conference on Syria and the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress that will take place in Sochi. Addressing Ukraine, Lavrov once again stated that the Minsk accord of February 2015 has no alternatives and must be fulfilled. He insisted that it is Kiev that has to implement the points of the agreement. Lavrov and Tillerson found some common ground regarding North Korea, agreeing that Pyongyang must strictly abide by UN Security Council resolutions. Meanwhile, Sergey Lavrov underscored that the escalation of tensions brought about by aggressive US rhetoric and military preparations in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula is unacceptable.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held his tough line on Russia during a visit to Europe on Thursday, saying in front of his Russian counterpart that Washington would keep sanctions in place until Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine, according to Reuters. The conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists has claimed more than 10,000 lives since it erupted in 2014. Russia denies accusations it fomented the conflict and provided arms and fighters, as reported by Reuters. Speaking at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Tillerson went even further in spelling out Russia’s involvement in the conflict and the consequences it faced than he had the day before when he met NATO allies in Brussels. “We should be clear about the source of this violence”, Tillerson said, referring to increasing ceasefire violations recorded by the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission of observers in eastern Ukraine.
As Russia has worked to convince the world that its military power is growing, it has concealed its costs in terms of blood and treasure. But newly revealed statistics show surprisingly low casualties despite engagements in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Syria. It was the latest evidence that President Vladimir Putin’s military strategy is far more calculated than his predecessors, who were willing to win at all costs. Boris Yeltsin’s losses in Chechnya gutted his public support and the Soviet Union’s costly, failed Afghanistan adventure helped speed the end of an empire. Putin’s position is far more secure, which makes his approach to war all the more difficult to explain. Russia has not reported active-duty casualties since 2010 even as it expanded its military operations on several fronts. In 2015, Putin was accused of trying to hide losses in eastern Ukraine, where Russia stubbornly denies military involvement, by classifying data on losses incurred in “peacetime military operations”.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands has recorded more than 1,200 incidents involving crimes allegedly committed in Donbas. This is stated in the annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activity, issued by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda. “The Office has recorded more than 1,200 incidents involving crimes allegedly committed since 20 February 2014 in the context of events in eastern Ukraine”, the document says. The Office of the Prosecutor reports that some 10,225 people have been killed and 24,541 injured since the start of the conflict. In particular, at least 2,505 civilians were allegedly killed in armed hostilities between April 2014 and August 2017. In addition, official statistics suggest that more than 15,000 persons have been reported as “missing” in the conflict zone since April 2014. Torture or ill-treatment was reportedly perpetrated in the context of the conflict, involving several hundred alleged victims.
Russia’s hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 38 times in the past 24 hours, with one Ukrainian soldier reported as killed in action (KIA) and another four as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press center of the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. “The Russian occupation forces more often shell the Ukrainian positions from weapons that should have been withdrawn from the contact line, including tanks,” the ATO HQ said on Facebook on Monday, December 4. Read also Russian proxies attack Ukraine 19 times on Dec 3 – ATO HQ In the Luhansk sector, the enemy was active near the villages of Troyitske and Luhanske after dark. Here, the militants used 120mm mortars. In addition, the invaders repeatedly fired grenade launchers and small arms to attack ATO positions near the town of Zolote, and the villages of Novo-Oleksandrivka, Zhovte and Krymske.
Germany will provide an additional EUR 750,000 for humanitarian projects of the Maltese Relief Service in Ukraine in 2018-2019, the German Embassy in Ukraine has reported. “The government of the Federal Republic of Germany will continue to provide support to the Maltese Relief Service to continue its humanitarian assistance project with the aim of psychosocial care of persons affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. For this purpose, Germany will allocate about EUR 750,000 in 2018-2019”, the embassy said in a statement on Thursday. The project provides for the development of skills of representatives of local authorities, humanitarian agencies and support services in the form of training events, as well as providing direct services to support those affected by the conflict in Donbas. The embassy said that earlier this project received EUR 1.2 million in support from the German government. The diplomats said that target areas of the measures are Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where mobile teams are deployed to help people in remote areas.
U.S. Ambassador Kurt Volker, the Trump administration’s special envoy charged with ending the war in Ukraine, says that his recent meeting with Vladislav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Belgrade on November 13 on a UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas, was a “step back,” according to the U.S. edition of the POLITICO magazine. “Our third meeting was a step back,” Volker told POLITICO. “They went back to their original proposal again. I don’t know what the next step after this is. It could be that that happened for completely other reasons having nothing to do with Ukraine, just where we are in our U.S.-Russian relationship. It could have had to do with the lack of a bilateral meeting between President Putin and President Trump.” Volker recalled that Moscow had proposed deploying a UN mission to protect OSCE monitors in Donbas. Washington, in turn, said that peacekeepers should monitor the ceasefire throughout the entire area – from the contact line to the Ukrainian-Russian border stretch between Russia and the self-proclaimed republics.
Georgia firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili said this upon the meeting with Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman, also thanking Ukraine for unconditional support for the Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Georgia Online reports.”Unfortunately, our countries face similar problems and challenges. We firmly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, harshly condemn occupation and annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and illegal and aggressive actions of the Russian Federation in the eastern regions of Ukraine,” Kvirikashvili said. As the Georgian PM stated, “Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine are continuation of the aggression in Georgia in August 2008, which resulted in the occupation of the regions of Georgia: Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia / Tskhinvali Region.”
Serbian Foreign Minister confirmed he wants to maintain the good relations with Ukraine, after Ukraine’s ambassador to Belgrade Aleksandrovych’s statement about Russia using Serbia to provoke a new war in the Balkans. FM Dacic explained why Aleksandrovych had to wait for 14 months for an audience with him, given that the same treatment, according to Dacic, was used against the ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to Ukrain, Bulatovic. He also clarified why Serbia voted “against Ukraine” (against the UN resolution for human rights in Crimea): Ukraine supports the Western countries’ proposals to change the mandate of the UNMIK in Kosovo, a solution which is opposed by Serbia. Moreover, Ukraine acted against Serbia’s interests staying “out of the room” during the voting on membership of Kosovo in UNESCO in 2015.
The European Union may refuse to grant Ukraine EUR 600 million in financial assistance due to the ineffectiveness of verification of electronic declarations, the head of the anti-corruption committee of the Verkhovna Rada, Yehor Sobolev, has said. Now the European Union may refuse Ukraine in assistance worth EUR 600 million, including due to the complete failure to check electronic declarations. I do not put the blame only on you (the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, NACP). The responsibility lies with the entire leadership of the state, including us,” Sobolev said when members of the anti-corruption committee spoke with the heads of the NACP, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) in Kyiv on Wednesday.