01 July 2016
Efforts to move Minsk peace process forward remained stalled despite new visit to Kyiv and Moscow by U.S. Asst Sec State Victoria Nuland; no progress reported. Fighting continued in east with more targeted artillery attacks and intensifying clashes over course of month, and increasing casualties; senior Ukrainian military official 16 June reported 25 troops killed during month. OSCE 22 June urged both sides to investigate ceasefire violations. Russia 14 June extradited two Ukrainian political prisoners; Ukraine reciprocated freeing two separatists. In Kyiv, opposition appeared to be gaining momentum, particularly oligarch-supported Opposition Bloc which seeks to break deadlock in east (where high level supporters have major industrial assets) and reportedly stepped up contacts with Kremlin in recent weeks. Self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic 24 June adopted law on nationalisation of all Ukrainian property on its territory, including privately-owned major industrial plant, banks, railroad system. PM Groysman expressed regret over result of UK’s 23 June EU referendum amid fears that “Brexit” could derail EU support for sanctions against Russia and EU visa liberalisation process for Ukraine.