NSC NEWS & ANALYSIS CENTER BRIEFING at 12:00 JULY 23, 2014

The MH17 airplane crash

 

On July 22, the train with the remains of the victims of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200 catastrophe arrived in Kharkiv. A special laboratory was set up on the premises of the Malyshev Tank Plant where international experts could examine the bodies. At the moment, the bodies are being handed over to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as agreed. The Ukrainian government has provided all the necessary conditions for Flight C-130to come from Amsterdam to Kharkiv without delay. This flight will carry the bodies of the victims to Holland. The first such transport shuttle is expected to go out today. The bodies will be identified in the Netherlands, Andriy Lysenko, spokesperson for the National Security Council’s News & Analysis Center, reported at the Center’s noon briefing, July 23, 2014.

 

Military action in the conflict zone

 

In the last 24 hours, ATO forces liberated the towns of Severodonetsk and Popasne and raised the national flag of Ukraine on the main buildings. The battle for Lysychansk continues.

 

After the freeing of Severodonetsk Ukrainian servicemen gained an arsenal of weapons that had been in the hands of the militants, seized an armored combat reconnaissance patrol vehicle, a D-30 Howitzer, 50 kg of plastic explosives, 15 high-explosive shells, more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition for guns, and the militants’ radio station.

 

During the past day, terrorists opened fire at Ukrainian Armed Forces unit checkpoints and positions 16 times in the areas around Makarove, Dibrovka, Metiolkine, Diakove, Stukalova Balka, Marynivka, Kozhevnia, Luhansk, Illichivka, Severodonetsk, Amvroziyivka, Avdiyivka, and Tarany. It was evident that they were using Russian weaponry, Grad missile launchers.

 

The border area—expansion to Chernihiv

 

Russia’s Armed Forces continue to shoot at Ukrainian units from Russian Federation territory. On July 2 at 22:10, Grad multiple rocket launchers were used against Amvroziyivka in Donetsk Oblast; at 22:40, Grads were used against Herasymivka in Luhansk Oblast; at 02:15, they shot at the Uspenka border crossing, and at 03:00, they shot up a checkpoint not far from Chervonopartyzansk.

 

Russia’s AF continue to expand their presence near the international border with Ukraine. In the area of Kruhlenke, in the Krucheniy Lis area of Kursk Oblast, a field camp has been set up at which the 32nd Separate Infantry Brigade and the 24th Separate Special GRU Brigade from Novosybirsk, and the 56th Engineer and Sapper Company from the Republic of Tatarstan are deployed.

 

Meanwhile, opposite the Hirske and Hremiach sections of the Border Service in Chernihiv Oblast, there was yet another provocation on the part of the Russian military. Several units of heavy artillery demonstratively drew close to the state border with Ukraine, moved into battle formation, pretended to attack and then turned around and moved down along the international boundary.

 

Population centers in the conflict zone

 

As they retreat, the Russian mercenaries continue to destroy the infrastructure in Donbas. In Horlivka, for instance, saboteurs blew up a highway bridge that joins the residential districts in Soniachniy and Bessarabka, the rails along the Sentianivka-Shepylivka line and the rails on the Ilovaisk-Kuteynykove, Kutenykovy-Amvroziyivka, and Kuteynykove-Voykove lines. In Luhansk Oblast, mercenaries mined a highway bridge near the village of Mykhailivka from the Pervalska side, and in Lysychansk they mined the gasoline reservoirs of a Paralel gas station.

 

With the actions of the Ukrainian military gradually closing the circle around the main terrorist bases, the militants are experiencing a shortage of ammunition, weapons and equipment. The latest information was that in order to restore their lines of supply, the terrorists plan to use children as living shields. The commanders of the ATO are turning to parents in the conflict zone to protect their children and not leave them unguarded at any time.

 

Population centers freed of terrorists

 

The  cities that have been freed of the terrorists’ hold are gradually returning to normal life. In the last 24 hours, State Emergency Services teams have been sweeping for and have destroyed 94 explosive devices in Sloviansk and nearby territories. Altogether, 177 hectares of the territory have been swept and 497 buildings. Since the beginning of their work in Sloviansk, sappers have removed 4,844 explosive devices.

 

A 20-person team of psychologists has organized efforts to support the local citizenry in Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast. An emergency psychological help center has been set up in the Sloviansk City Hall, psychologists are taking turns on duty at the Pension Fund administration, the social services building. So far 290 individuals have been given psychological help and 1,553 have turned to this team for information and consultations.

 

The Sloviansk Bread Baking plant has resumed work and 96% of the population has power once again. 70% of the buildings are also getting normal water supplies. The Health Department continues to check water quality and to monitor and sample water from private wells on a daily basis. With the support of the residential services and technicians who have been called in from across the country, the city’s residents got together en masse to clean up the town.

 

On July 22 in Stakhanov, Luhansk Oblast, city councillor Serhiy Shakhov organized a rally of several thousand local residents demanding that the militants leave their city immediately.

 

Assistance to internally dislocated persons (IDPs)

 

The Ukrainian government is doing everything it can to provide people who have been forced to leave their homes in those territories temporarily in the hands of the terrorists with all the necessities. The latest information shows that nearly 50,000 individuals have been internally displaced from the ATO zone to other parts of the country.

 

At the border of counties in the ATO zone, the State Emergency Service has established three transit centers to welcome internally dispersed persons (IDPs), each of which can handle 400 people. In Donetsk Oblast these are near Krasnoarmiysk and Volnovakha while in Luhansk Oblast they are near the town of Svatove.

 

Ukrzaliznytsia, the state railway company, has prepared trains and various routes to provide uninterrupted service to those who are leaving the region for other parts of Ukraine. Today, a free additional train will be leaving Luhansk for Kyiv. The train has 15 cars and can offer 728 passenger places. In addition, to transport residents of eastern oblasts, Ukrzaliznytsia has increased the time during which cars without layovers run the Svatkove-Kyiv-Kharkiv connection.

 

International support

 

On July 22, the Verkhovna Rada called on the entire world to recognize the criminal formations of the so-called Donetsk National Republic and Luhansk National Republic (DNR, LNR) terrorist organizations. Yesterday, during a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union, EU member country FMs called for this question of recognizing the two quasi-republics as terrorist organizations and placing them on the appropriate lists to be considered by July 26.

 

The United Kingdom approved a decision to restrict diplomatic dialog with Russia: it cancelled a planned high-level visit to the RF and meetings between economic delegations from the two countries. Britain has also halted bilateral military cooperation. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz supported the launching of an embargo on arms sales to Russia. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek announced that if Russia did not stop moving its soldiers and weapons to Ukrainian territory within the next few days, the emergency Summit of the EU would have to institute serious sectoral sanction against the Russian Federation. Poland’s FM Radoslaw Sikorski announced that official Warsaw insisted on the European Union placing the strictest sanctions upon Russia, because it has been supplying the latest in weaponry to the militants in eastern Ukraine.

 

Translated by EMPR for IAC NSDC

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