Past 24 hours in the war zone
Russian hybrid forces launched 6 attacks on Ukrainian positions in Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol sectors, incl heavy artillery and weapons banned by Minsk. Russian-led militants deny OSCE SMM passage at Molodizhne, Stanytsia Luhanska & Zolote, Luhansk Oblast & Khreshchatytske, Donetsk Oblast.
One civilian casualty in non-government-controlled Dovhe, Luhansk Obl. Two Ukrainian soldiers wounded during 9th of December.
Biden administration developing various tough sanctions against Russia in the event of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but economic sanctions are likely to be a last resort, reports CNN.
Near Voronezh, 250 km from the border of Ukraine, Russia deploys BUK anti-aircraft missile systems, report independent Russian bloggers from Conflict Intelligence Team.
Following the talks between presidents Biden and Putin, Zelenskyy and Biden had a 1.5-hour-long phone conversation in the evening of 9 December.
“The key issue of the talks was the security situation around Ukraine and the prospects for intensifying the peace settlement … The parties coordinated their positions on further steps in this direction. Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that we have clear proposals to unblock the peace process and are ready to discuss them in various formats. The heads of state also discussed ways to provide security, financial and political support to Ukraine in counteracting the ongoing hybrid aggression… Zelensky stressed that the Ukrainian side considers the Nord Stream-2 project exclusively through the prism of energy and security guarantees, and its promotion deprives Ukraine of an important leverage in deterring Russian aggression.“
The head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak added later on the content of earlier Biden-Putin talks that “Biden reiterated to Putin that any negotiations and decisions concerning Ukraine cannot be without Ukraine.”
Finished a 1.5-hour conversation with @POTUS. The President of the United States informed me of the content of his negotiations with Putin. We also discussed possible formats for resolving the conflict in Donbas and touched upon the course of internal reforms in Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/boKzAdiyeU
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 9, 2021
Trilateral (Ukraine, OSCE, Russia) contact group talks
During the talks in the Trilateral contact group, Ukraine proposes to conduct a POW exchange and ceasefire for Christmas. However, no agreement reached yet.
UK allocates additional export loan of GBP 1 billion for investment projects with Ukraine, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister meets UK MPs, says UK “one of the leaders” in deterring Russia
The British side announced the allocation of an additional export loan financing of GBP 1 billion for trade and investment projects with Ukraine. Funds from the UK Export Finance can be used in a number of areas with a condition that at least 20% of goods or services are imported from the UK. In addition to the £2.5 billion that Zelensky and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed on in October 2020, this brings the total funds of the program to £3.5 billion.
Great news from London: UK will allocate an additional £1-billion in support for Ukraine. That means new investments, trade, security. As a result of my negotiations with @BorisJohnson last year, the total volume of British support increases to £3,5-billion.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) December 8, 2021
Today’s agreement is a result of a preparatory meeting of the UK–Ukraine Strategic Partnership Dialogue that was held in London under the chairmanship of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba and UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss.
“Last year, President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a historic Agreement on Political Cooperation, Free Trade, and Strategic Partnership which opened a new stage in relations between Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Over this year, our countries have almost doubled trade, significantly strengthened cooperation in combating security challenges, and launched new projects to promote Ukraine’s integration into the EU and NATO,” the minister said.
In addition, Kuleba met members of Commons & Lords of UK parliament
Great meeting with the members of Commons & Lords of @UKParliament. Grateful to parliamentarians for their unfaltering support for Ukraine's sovereignty & territorial integrity, as well as readiness to work together on deterring Russia and demotivating it from further aggression. pic.twitter.com/eZfunYlzHF
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) December 8, 2021
Kuleba also stated that the UK became one of the leaders in the process of developing a comprehensive package of measures to deter Russia from further aggression and that Ukraine will reject anything decided behind its back, and that Ukraine does not count on NATO troops on the ground in case of a Russian invasion, but does expect military aid from its allies.
New US and EU sanctions against corrupt Ukrainians and Russian Wagner mercenaries
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has targeted 15 individuals and entities across several countries in Central America, Africa, and Europe.
Among those newly sanctioned is one Ukrainian national Andriy Portnov, the deputy head of the Ukrainian President’s Administration from 2010 up until the Euromaidan protests ousted then-president Viktor Yanukovych in late February 2014. A close ally of Viktor Yanukovych, Andriy Portnov was reportedly an initiator of adopting the so-called “dictatorial laws” of 16 January 2014 aimed at suppressing the Euromaidan protests.
Also sanctioned is Oleksandr Tupytskyi, former chairman of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court. In March 2021, President Zelensky fired Tupytskyi from the post of chairman of the Constitutional Court on charges of corruption, which he denied.
On 8 December, the Ambassadors of the European Union’s member countries decided to greenlight the EU sanctions against the Wagner group, a Russian private military company (PMC), according to a Twitter post by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Europe Editor Rikard Jozwiak.
United Nations General Assembly passed a strengthened resolution on the militarization of Crimea
Today, UNGA passed a strengthened resolution on the militarization of Crimea, including support for the Crimea Platform, calls on Russia to cease supplies of weapons and personnel to Crimea, stop violations of freedom of navigation in the Black & Azov Seas. 64 countries supported this year’s UNGA resolution on the militarization of Crimea, 93 abstained, and 20 opposed. Last year, the numbers were 63 in favor 62 abstained 17 against.
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba thanked all countries who voted for the resolution for their support. He separately highlighted the importance of the consolidation of support for the Crimean Platform.
Today, UNGA passed a strengthened resolution on the militarization of Crimea, including support for the Crimea Platform, calls on Russia to cease supplies of weapons and personnel to Crimea, stop violations of freedom of navigation in the Black & Azov Seas. 20 countries opposed https://t.co/3oyZPGdfgk
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) December 9, 2021
Currently, Ukraine involved 48 countries in the Crimea Platform.
Lithuania delivers friendly military aid to Ukraine free of charge
The Lithuanian military aircraft delivered military aid to Ukraine. The aid was personally delivered by the Minister of National Defense of Lithuania Arvydas Anushauskas, who flew to Kyiv on a visit. “Ukraine’s fight is also Lithuania’s fight,” he stressed.
Selection of anti-corruption prosecutor stalled yet again
After briefly going forward, the selection of Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor is once again delayed, which has reform activists suspecting the authorities have plans to cancel the appointment of the leading candidate, who had previously led an investigation into the deputy Head of President Zelenskyy’s Office, through a court infamous for its scandalous decisions.
Ukraine increases military spending
The Ukrainian defense and security budget will grow by 10% in 2022 with costs allocated for equipment, weaponry and hardware growing by 20%.
Overall defense and security budget for 2022 will grow to reach close to 6 percent of GDP. UAH 28.438 billion (up UAH 5.738 billion from 2021) will be allocated for the development, acquisition, modernization, and overhaul repair of weaponry, military hardware, equipment, and assets, Defence express reports.
Croatia becomes sixths country to openly declare its support for Ukraine’s EU membership, strengthens bilateral cooperation
Ukraine and Croatia have signed a declaration on Ukraine’s European prospects during the visit of Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković to Kyiv. Thus, Croatia became the sixth country to demonstrate its stance on the issue, after Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovakia. In his speech, the Prime Minister of Croatia underscored that Ukraine was the first UN member state to recognize Croatia’s independence 30 years ago. “We in Croatia greatly appreciate and respect this fact, it is an important prerequisite for the development of our relations,” he stressed, Ukrinform reports.
Along with the memorandum, Ukraine and Croatia have signed five treaties on the cooperation and coordination between:
- State Archival Services of Ukraine and Croatia
- Ministries of Infrastructure on the rail traffic
- Action Plan of Ukraine–Croatia Working Group for 2022/2023
- A Metrology treaty on Ukraine’s compliance with the provisions of the Association Agreement
Interview with Estonian ambassador
Kaimo Kuusk, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Estonia to Ukraine, talks sanctions, Crimean Platform, ups and downs of a non-recognition policy, and how the West’s economic relations with the USSR prolonged the existence of the Soviet empire
Ukrainian soldier Markiv acquitted as Italian Supreme Court closes his case
The trial of Ukrainian soldier Vitaliy Markiv in Italy has been finally closed. On 9 December the Supreme Court in Rome upheld the Milan Court of Appeals’ decision to release Markiv for lack of corpus delicti. In July 2019, a court of first instance in Pavia sentenced Markiv to 24 years in prison, accusing him of alleged involvement in the group murder of foreign reporters during the fighting in Donetsk region on 24 May 2014.
After the decision of an appeals court, Markiv returned to Ukraine in November 2020:
Ukraine’s Cabinet orders reorganization of state-owned defense industry Ukroboronprom
The Cabinet of Ministers decided to transform Ukroboronprom into a joint-stock company and approved the reorganization of its 43 strategic participating companies. The Cabinet states the reform means implementation of the corporate governance model in enterprises, in accordance with the standards of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which will limit corruption risks and political pressure. Reorganization will also simplify transfer of the latest technologies necessary to produce modern high-tech weapons and military equipment for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It will become easier to create joint projects and programs with foreign partners from partner countries.
Opinion worth noting