Despite the harsh resolution passed on the Ukrainian issue on January 27, Russia is exerting serious pressure on PACE deputies. For instance, the Russians lobbied lifting most limitations from the Russian Federation, including two most important ones – on excluding Russia from voting in the body and depriving them from the possibility to participate in the work of PACE governing bodies. This proposal overcame Ukrainian delegations’ insistence on keeping the existing level of sanctions by 3 votes at monitoring committee The final decision on this issue will be made on Wednesday evening in the debating chamber. Contrary to their official position, the Chairman of the European People’s Party in the PACE, Pedro Agramunt, voted to lift sanctions. The second biggest socialist group in the PACE, according to the sources, also decided to support lifting of sanctions introduced against the Russian Federation.
WAR. ACTIONS IN THE ATO ZONE.
The ATO headquarters stated that pro-Russian forces are attacking in three directions. The situation in the Debaltseve direction is the hardest one of the three. Volunteers said that Debaltsevo is being shelled from all sides.
The Daily Best newspaper writes that Vladimir Putin is conducting the war in Ukraine on three fronts – Donetsk, Luhansk, and Mariupol. Debaltsevo town may be surrounded, the periodical writes. Ukrainian ATO forces may face the danger of being cut off from reinforcements.
“If this strongpoint surrenders, terrorists’ front will be united and Donetsk city will be captured totally, which will enable the terrorists move towards their new aims”, the article writes. The author also wrote that Mariupol is important not only for the possibility to create an overland passage to Crimea, but for its economic potential (it produces 70 % of all the steel in the region).
The President’s advisor, Yuriy Biryukov, made public the information of the first report on execution of the 4th wave of drafting plan, according to which drafting is the weakest in Western regions of Ukraine. The advisor’s rather emotional post Facebook drew a lot of criticism. In particular, Borys Filatov wrote that Biryukov should be deprived of his account “Work with people locally, dear friend. Together with Your First [i.e., the president Poroshenko]”, he wrote. Filatov also gave an interview to Censor.NET in which he criticized the president’s personnel practices and said that the head of the President’s Administration Borys Lozhkin has not picked up the phone for four days in succession.
The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine reported on the destruction of six militants’ aircrafts and four helicopters by Ukrainian armed forces.
PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF THE CRISIS
PACE passed a resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and IDPs by a majority of votes. 140 out of 155 present deputies voted for and only 7 against. Russian deputies spoke against the resolution. The text was considerably amended during hearing, with several clauses containing severe criticism of Russia added, after which the document changed from a purely humanitarian one into the description of the conflict details laying the responsibility for its escalation on the Russian Federation. In particular, PACE urged Russia not to finance militants in Ukraine. This clause calls upon Russia “to refrain from the destabilization of Ukraine and stop financing and providing military support to illegal armed groups (the interim version of the resolution also mentioned financing of the terrorism, but later this phrase was removed). The resolution calls upon Russia to release the Ukrainian MP Nadiya Savchenko as well as all the other “prisoners of war” in a separate clause. According to the PACE resolution, they are illegaly kept in Russian prisons. A paragraph on “so-called humanitarian convoys” was considerably amended. PACE states that such actions of the Russian Federation violate international law and in reality these trucks are not humanitarian convoys.
It is noteworthy that the PACE is considering the issue of the Russian delegation tomorrow. Mass-media state that the Russian delegation managed to lobby key sanctions against Russia excluded from the draft of the resolution. As compared to 2014, the suggestion is as follows: to return the right to vote at the Assembly’s sessions, right to participate in all PACE governing bodies, right to vote at the meetings of all governing committees and other PACE agencies. The source of “Evropeyska Pravda” periodical at PACE said that the chairman of the European People’s Party group Pedro Agramunt, contrary to the official position, voted to lift sanctions at the closed meeting on Monitoring committee.
Jose-Manuel Barrozu said in his interview that the Ukrainian problem requires not only financial, but also political investments, which implies the constant presence of the topic of Ukraine in the world media. Barrozu noted that at present public attention to Ukrainian problems is volatile, and thus there is danger of people ceasing to pay attention to Ukraine.
The White House informs that the USA President Barak Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on the necessity to bring Russia to justice for its support of separatists and failure to fulfill its commitments on the peaceful agreement.
The Financial Times writes that the “junk loan rating” of Russia from S&P demonstrates the drastic deterioration of economic situation in the country. Experts predict painful economic contraction in Russia this year and the IMF forecast a 3% reduction in economic output with a 1% reduction in 2016.
RBK news agency with reference to Bloomberg reported that the ministers of foreign affairs of the EU states during their meeting on January 29 are going to consider extending export prohibitions on certain industries of the Russian economy, list of Russian companies and banks who are prohibited to attract funds to the EU and prohibition for Russia to use SWIFT system.
ACTIVITY OF THE PARLIAMENT. FORMATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
On January 27, the Ukrainian Rada made the first step towards the recognition of the DPR and LPR as terrorist organizations. It also recognized Russia as an aggressor state. Polish newspaper Gazeta Woborcza writes that the decision of the parliament to officially recognize Russia as an aggressor state was caused by several reasons: to unite people and urge the West to be more resolute. “The world has to do it as well. Russia destroyed the world order, it is financing terrorists, it armed them and is leading their armed assaults against civilians”, the article says. The chairman of “Maidan Inozamnykh Sprav” fund, diplomat Bohdan Yaremenko believes that passing of the Law on terrorist organizations by the parliament means that at last the Ukrainian authorities started responding adequately to the events in the east of Ukraine.
Philosopher Henri Bernard Levy and financier George Soros in an opinion-editorial for The New York Times urged western countries to help Ukraine with financial investment as soon as possible. A 15 billion dollar investment is needed to save Ukraine. The article also contains criticism of reforms implemented in Ukraine. “The present-day Ukraine can not be but compared to Georgia of 2004. When Mikhail Saakashvili became a president of Georgia, he immediately replaced hateful road traffic police check points which were used to accept bribes from drivers. The society notices change to the better at once. Unfortunately, Ukraine has not found such a model project so far. They are planning to reform Kyiv police, but to obtain a driver’s license you still have to give a bribe”, the authors write.
STABILIZATION OF ECONOMIC SITUATION
The EU ministers of finance approved loans to Ukraine to the sum of 1.8 billion euros. “The European commission put 1.8 billion euro on the table. Some wanted more”, the French Minister of Finance Michel Sapin told journalists. “Today it’s important to start making these funds available as soon as possible”, he added.