As the Russian military continues to withdraw from eastern Ukraine, Ukraine has continued to pressure the retreating forces, as well as their Western allies. This comes as both a sign of strength and flexibility from Kiev, which is eager to avoid any escalation in the region.
Ukraine announces it has regained control of all its military positions in Crimea
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on Wednesday that Ukrainian forces had regained control of all military positions in Crimea, following a week-long military operation in which Russian forces were pushed back. Mr. Yatsenyuk said that Ukraine would not recognize the results of the referendum that was held in Crimea last month, in which 97% of voters cast ballots in favor of joining Russia.
Ukrainian forces have been pushing back Russian forces since early February, when pro-Russian militants seized control of several military bases and airports in the peninsula. In recent days, Ukrainian troops have made significant advances, retaking control of several strategic positions on the peninsula. The latest developments come as Western countries continue to debate whether or not to supply arms to Ukraine, amid concern that such a move could escalate the conflict.
Ukraine and the West sign a memorandum of understanding on economic cooperation
Ukraine and the West signed a memorandum of understanding on economic cooperation on Wednesday in Kiev. The memorandum was signed by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and his visiting EU counterpart Jean-Claude Juncker. The document sets out a plan for economic cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union, including energy, trade, investment and banking.
The memorandum follows a brief visit to Kiev by Juncker last week during which he met with President Petro Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk. In their joint statement, the two leaders said that “the Ukrainian people want Europe to be their main partner in the future.”
Poroshenko praised Juncker’s visit as “an important step in our drive to restore Ukraine’s European prospects.” The move comes as Ukraine is under pressure from Russian forces retreating from the country’s eastern regions.
Russia announces it has started withdrawing its forces from Crimea
Ukraine keeps up pressure on retreating Russian forces — and its Western allies
Posted by: Editorial Staff at 09:15 am EDT on Mar 21, 2014
In a press conference Sunday, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had begun withdrawing its troops from the disputed Crimean Peninsula. Putin said the move was in response to sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe.
In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said Russia’s decision “demonstrates just how far [Putin] is willing to go to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Kerry urged all parties involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine “to lower tensions and recommit themselves to peaceful negotiations.”
Meanwhile, Kiev continued its pressure on retreating Russian forces – and its Western allies – with a round of airstrikes over the weekend. According to Ukrainian officials, 41 civilians were killed in Saturday’s strikes near Donetsk. The intensifying fighting has left more than 5,000 people dead since hostilities began in early April.
Ukraine signs a military cooperation agreement with NATO
Ukraine’s parliament has ratified a military cooperation agreement with NATO. The deal, signed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this month, sets the framework for Ukraine to get military assistance from the alliance in order to help it in its fight against Russian-backed separatists.
Under the terms of the agreement, NATO will provide Ukraine with defense equipment, training, and advice. The alliance will also help Ukraine to set up a joint headquarters to coordinate military operations against the separatists.
Ukraine has been struggling against separatist forces in its eastern provinces for over two years now. Despite significant support from NATO and other Western allies, Kiev has found it difficult to repel the separatists and regain control of territory lost to them.
The signing of the military cooperation agreement is an acknowledgement by NATO that Ukraine is a legitimate member of the alliance and that its territorial integrity is being threatened by Russia. It is also an indication that NATO is willing to provide assistance to Kiev in order to protect its borders.
The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 2249, which calls for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine
The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
The resolution was drafted by the Ukraine, France, and Russia and was co-sponsored by the United States and Britain.
It demands that all parties to the conflict return to the negotiating table and that sanctions be lifted immediately.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said: “This resolution is an important step forward because it recognises that there is no military solution to the problem in Ukraine.”
Russia has refused to agree to the ceasefire, but has said it will begin withdrawing its forces from eastern Ukraine starting on Wednesday.
Russia vetoes the resolution
Ukraine continues to press forward with its offensive against retreating Russian forces
Russia retaliates with economic sanctions