The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has banned officials from traveling abroad. Ukrainian officials can now travel outside Ukraine only on business trips. Earlier, Deputy Prosecutor General Alexei Simonenko resigned due to a New Year’s trip to Spain. And the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the Servant of the People party, Nikolai Tishchenko, was expelled from the party faction and from the party itself after he was seen in Thailand, where he allegedly held a meeting with the Ukrainian community.
- Bloomberg: Putin is preparing a new attack on Ukraine.
- Wall Street Journal: The West and Ukraine have ceased to see Roman Abramovich as a key mediator in negotiations with Putin, so now he is facing sanctions.
- Germany claims that the supply of fighter jets to Ukraine “is out of the question.”
- New “foreign agents”: Little Big soloist Ilya Prusikin, femactivist Daria Serenko, journalist Fidel Agumava and others.
- The WHO may soon declare an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Putin is preparing a new offensive in Ukraine and at the same time is preparing for a conflict with the United States and its allies, Bloomberg writes, citing several Russian officials. The agency believes that Putin, who initially expected the invasion of Ukraine to take weeks, has now prepared for the conflict to last for years. Now Russian forces have lost more than half of their initial gains in Ukraine, but the Kremlin continues to pressure Kyiv and its allies to agree to some kind of truce that would allow Russia to retain control of the territory it now occupies.
The peace talks failed, so the West and Ukraine no longer see Roman Abramovich as a key negotiator with Putin, with whom he has close ties. The Wall Street Journal writes that after the collapse of the peace talks he helped orchestrate in April, Abramovich is now facilitating more concrete deals to swap prisoners and move grain out of Ukraine and ammonia out of Russia. But that’s not enough to keep the Russian oligarch and his $15 billion fortune out of sanctions.
Ukrainian authorities estimate that more than 300 churches across the country were damaged or destroyed during the war. Most of them are in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
A report in which eyewitnesses talk about the consequences of a massive missile attack on Ukraine. And here is an analysis of Russian tactics for saving missiles during mass shelling of Ukraine. And the stories of people who remain to live in Bakhmut, despite the escalating situation around.
Poland will send 60 PT-91 tanks to Kyiv along with the previously announced 14 German Leopard tanks. The PT-91 is a Polish battle tank based on a licensed variant of the Soviet T-72M1. Belgium has announced a new aid package to Ukraine in the amount of 90 million euros. In turn, Germany claims that the supply of fighter jets to Ukraine “is out of the question.” Here, an aviation expert discusses how the supply of fighters could change the course of the war.
Poland has already said that it needs several weeks to send the Leopards. Whether it’s the American “Abrams” – the US authorities claim that their delivery will take “many months.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with Sky News on Friday that the country cannot wait that long and tanks are needed now.
The Russian Foreign Ministry continues to threaten Ukraine’s allies who supply it with weapons. The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that the NATO bloc was completely drawn into the confrontation with Russia, and suggested that the leadership of the alliance “really considers citizens of the EU and NATO countries to be uniform idiots” when it continues to insist that these countries are not a party to the conflict.
Chronicles of graves
BBC journalists asked Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov about the reasons for sending prisoners to the war zone. He replied that the presidential decrees on pardoning prisoners participating in hostilities were classified. He also failed to name the number of warring prisoners whom Putin allegedly pardoned by these decrees.
And here is a big BBC investigation about how in Russia the recruitment of prisoners for the war was put on stream and even stopped hiding. And an analysis of whether prisoners can buy freedom or only death from Wagner PMCs?
International echo of the war
The European Union is preparing sanctions against Belarus for its role in supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Bloomberg journalists learned. Most likely, the sanctions will include a ban on the export of dual-use goods and technologies, restrictions on the export of oil, coal, steel and gold, and so on. And sanctions against Russia have been extended until mid-summer 2023.
The Russian Foreign Ministry instructed the Latvian ambassador to leave Russia within two weeks – on his own, he would have left a month after the expiration of his term of office. This is the result of the fact that Latvia has lowered the level of diplomatic relations with Russia. Finland has suspended consideration of some applications from Russians for asylum.
Filippo Grandi, head of the UN refugee agency, said that Russia is violating the fundamental principles of protecting children in Ukraine by issuing Russian passports to Ukrainian children and giving them up for adoption in Russia. Grandi said his agency could not estimate the number of children illegally sent to Russia in this way.
Everything is not so clear
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has vowed to use his veto if the European Union tries to impose any restrictions on Russia’s nuclear power. Earlier, Ukraine called on 27 EU countries to impose restrictions against Rosatom. The fact is that Budapest, together with Rosatom, has been expanding its only nuclear power plant, Paks, built back in Soviet times, since last September.
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic’s father has come under fire for a photo with a fan wearing a Z-shirt and a Russian flag with Putin’s image. He replied that he “wished only peace” and “did not intend to cause such headlines.” But he did not apologize and did not express his attitude to the war in any way.
In Spain, the court sent under arrest 74-year-old former employee of the mayor’s office Pompeyo Gonzalez Pascual. The prosecution believes that it was he who sent letters with animal remains and packages with explosives to Ukrainian embassies throughout Europe in order for the countries of Europe to refuse to support Ukraine. His motives are still not very clear.
War, view from Russia
- Friday “foreign agents”. The list of “foreign agents” was replenished by five people, these are the lead singer of the Little Big group Ilya Prusikin, femactivist Daria Serenko, journalist Fidel Agumava, honorary representative of the Dalai Lama in Russia Erdni Ombadykov and human rights activist Rafis Kashapov. All of them now do not live in Russia.
- A useful analysis of what the status of an “undesirable organization” threatens Meduza’s readers in Russia with.
- In Russia, the first sentencing in absentia for “fake” about the army. Retired police major Oleg Kashintsev, who went to Red Square with a poster in support of Alexei Navalny, was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison. He himself has been away from Russia for some time. Here is an interview with him.
- Maria Ponomarenko, a journalist and activist from Barnaul, who has been under house arrest since November in the case of “military fakes”, was again sent to a pre-trial detention center.
- Roskomnadzor blocked access to the CIA and FBI websites, as well as to the website of the US State Department Rewards for Justice. Roskomnadzor found on these resources “materials containing unreliable socially significant information,” as well as discrediting the Russian military.
- In the Bryansk region, a 25-year-old man was arrested on charges of sabotage at a railway crossing.
- In the Chelyabinsk region, members of the rock band Room 32 were accused of a terrorist attack for setting fire to a military registration and enlistment office. According to investigators, two musicians broke a window on the first floor of the Bakal city administration building, where the military registration desk is also located, and threw two Molotov cocktails into it.
- The head of the Sakharov Center, Sergei Lukashevsky, was fined 3 million rubles for violating the law on “foreign agents.” Neither he nor his lawyers were present at the hearing, as the court did not inform them of its holding.
- In Saratov, a doctor was fined 30,000 rubles under an article about “discrediting” the Russian army. She spoke out against the war in Ukraine in a conversation with colleagues. The doctor believes that she was slandered by a colleague with whom she did not have a relationship “on the basis of national hostility”, which she allegedly showed.
- Former shiigumen Sergius was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of inciting hatred. His colleague Vsevolod Moguchev received five years in prison.
Around the world
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have completed the process of border delimitation – that is, they have agreed on disputed pieces. After that, they signed the Declaration on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the countries. Previously, conflicts arose over uncoordinated sections on the border, some of them led to human casualties. Central Asia expert Arkady Dubnov talks about the importance of this treaty.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigation team released a report on the attack on the suburbs of Damascus in 2018. She managed to prove that there the army of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians. The experts came to this conclusion back in March 2019, but they lacked grounds for the conclusion.
The WHO is thinking about declaring the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. But this could be hampered by an outbreak in China. Here are the conclusions of experts for these three years.
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