New President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said he would introduce a new ceasefire framework that would allow separatist groups and government forces to engage in peaceful negotiation and settlement. Despite the institution of these new rules of engagement, Poroshenko reported to the Ukrainian National Security Council that there was no need to involve the country “in a protracted negotiation process.” Oleksandr Turchynov, the former Acting President, now Parliament Speaker, said that Poroshenko has also introduced a bill for decentralization bill later this week as a show of good faith to separatist groups.
Earlier, on June 10, Poroshenko organized a “humanitarian corridor” for civilians to leave the combat areas in Donetsk and Luhansk. Whether this move has purely humanitarian motives or is simply a way to remove civilians in what is sure to be a combat zone. Local administrations were charged with the evacuation of refugees from Donetsk and Luhansk. The humanitarian operation has yet to be organized, however, and the press of the separatist Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) said they “have no information about the existence and operation of humanitarian corridors on the territory of the LPR.” The separatist Donetsk People’s Republic issued the same statement.
Simultaneously, Russia has circulated a new UN resolution on Ukraine to get the UNSC involved to address the worsening situation. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the new resolution includes parts of two earlier resolutions that includes humanitarian aid, a ceasefire, and a national dialogue. Churkin also asked for a full condmenation by the General Assembly of the downing of a Ukrianian military transport plane by pro-Russian separatist early Saturday, which killed 49. Separatists have also apparently struck out at Poroshenko – over the weekend, a bomb was discovered near his headquarters on Saturday. No one has claimed responsibility thus far.
Follow us on Twitter: @SteppeDispatch
- Russian gas supplier Gazprom cut off the flow of gas to Ukraine after Kiev failed to pay an outstanding bill of nearly $2b. The Ukrainian government has assured its own citizenry that it currently possesses enough gas to last for several months without a constant supply of Russian gas, though it remains to be seen whether or not Ukraine will be able to supplant Russian providers with Western energy giants.
- The European Union announced that development on the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline will continue as scheduled. The EU has partnered with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to lay the groundwork for a Southern Gas Corridor, which is expected to provide up to 30 BCM of natural gas to the European Union via the Caspian Sea. The project is expected to cost north of ten billion dollars, and will likely be funded by a multinational investment group including investors from Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and the European Union, and may eventually be integrated into the Trans-Caspian Pipeline, which would link Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan with Tbillisi, Georgia and Erzurum, Turkey.
- The World Bank has released grants totaling more than $400m to the Uzbek government. The funds have been designated by the World Bank in order to improve development of produce and strengthen Uzbek irrigation systems, particularly in the southern autonomous region of Karakalpakstan. The decision to grant funds to the Uzbek government has been interpreted as a slap to the face of human rights activists that had lobbied the World Bank to postpone the payment until forced labor was banned by Tashkent, but to no avail.
- The Iranian government has eliminated some academic restrictions and allowed for its universities to collaborate with a limited amount of foreign institutions. The easing of restrictions comes, perhaps not so coincidentally, at the same time that the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has also eased economic sanctions that previously prevented American universities from cultivating relations with Iranian counterparts.