Past 24 hours in the war zone
- JFO report 2 attacks by Russian occupation forces in Katerynivka & Krymske.
- Between the evenings of Dec 23-27, OSCE SMM recorded 689 violations, incl 110 explosions in Donetsk Obl; 108 violations, incl 30 explosions in Luhansk Obl.
- Russian-backed militants deny & delay OSCE SMM passage at Zolote, Molodizhne & Stanytsia Luhanska, Luhansk Obl and near Horlivka, Donetsk Obl.
Quick Ukraine news
- “Now all of us: Ukraine, the United States, and the West – we are working on plan “A”, which would be diplomatic containment so that we do not have to switch to plan “B”, for which everyone is actively preparing, too” – Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova.
- Deputy PM Olha Stefanyshyna signed an agreement on funding the 2020 annual action program on cooperation in nuclear safety between the Ukrainian government & European Commission. Total cost – 6.5 million euros; EU to provide 5 million euros, Ukraine-1.5 million euros
Biden to speak with Putin on Thursday at Russian leader’s request
President Joe Biden will hold a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday afternoon “to discuss a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia,” National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne told CNN.
The call was requested by Putin, according to an administration official, and Biden accepted because “he believes when it comes to Russia there is no substitute for direct leader-leader dialogue.”
EU wants to participate in US-Russia talks
The European Union wants to take part in negotiations between the United States and Russia on de-escalation of tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border and security issues. “We do not want to and cannot afford to be outside spectators through whose heads decisions are made,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrelll told the German newspaper Die Welt on December 29.
Zelenskyy enacts Ukraine’s Information Security Strategy
The document states that Russia’s information policy poses a threat not only to Ukraine: “Special information operations run by the Russian Federation target key democratic institutions (including elections), while special services of the aggressor power are trying to intensify internal conflicts in Ukraine and other democracies.”
As derailing of anti-graft prosecutor appointment continues, panel members appeal to Prosecutor General
The saga to appoint Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor continues as the Anti-Corruption Action Center (ANTAC) reports new attempts to derail the official approval of competition results. Meanwhile, members of the selection committee who the Anti-Corruption Action Center says are independent call upon Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova to unblock the impasse and finally certify the results.
The US embassy has meanwhile referred to the attempts to block the appointment as “corrupt external forces”:
Three-fourths of Ukrainians oppose Minsk accords in current form, poll shows
A poll by one of Ukraine’s major pollsters found that 75% of Ukrainians want to revise or reject the infamous Minsk agreements, signed by the representatives of Ukraine, Russia, OSCE in 2014 and 2015 amid major Russian offensives in Ukraine’s easternmost Donbas region. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s political leadership and the international allies of Ukraine see the Minsk accords as an option without alternatives to settle or resolve the conflict in the Donbas that has been ongoing to this day.
Two-thirds of Ukrainians believe country going wrong way, see corruption & war as main issues
The late-December national polls by one of Ukraine’s major pollsters found that most Ukrainians are pessimistic about the future, believe that the country follows a wrong course, and report a deterioration in many sectors of life.
Canadian Firm Dismantles $12 Million Solar Plant In Ukraine Amid Dispute With Tycoon
A Canadian company has dismantled one of its multimillion-dollar solar investments in Ukraine following a dispute with a powerful tycoon believed to be close to the presidential administration in a case that has underscored the former Soviet state’s troubled investment climate. TIU Canada completed the removal of its 10.5 megawatt power plant in Nikopol, a city about 500 kilometers southeast of the capital, Kyiv, in mid-November after failing to be reconnected to the electricity grid, company spokesman Brian Mefford told RFE/RL on December 28. The plant contained more than 32,000 solar panels
Media Whack-a-Mole: Zelensky smacks Medvedchuk’s new channels that appeared after last ban
Compounding sanctions against TV channels allegedly linked to Opposition Platform – For Life leader Viktor Medvedchuk from earlier this year, Zelensky sanctioned the TV channels that popped up in their place.
Lithuania will never abandon Ukraine, volunteer helping Ukrainian army says
Lithuanian help for Ukraine has had many different forms, from politicians’ steadfast condemnation of Russian aggression to the Baltic country’s readiness to supply lethal weapons to fend off Russia’s hybrid war in Donbas. Yet the help is not only at the official level: civil society initiatives have been very active, as well. The Lithuanian NGO “Blue/Yellow” is one such initiative, which has provided about $1 mn worth of humanitarian aid and military equipment to Ukraine’s army.
Its founder Jonas Ohman told us he believes the war in Donbas is a drone war, why he thinks the “volunteer approach” to assisting Ukraine is better than official measures, and why he continues to fundraise and send military equipment such as small drones and periscopes to the Donbas frontline.
Francis Fukuyama speaks out in defence of Crimean Tatar journalist Osman Arifmemetov, imprisoned for reporting on Russia’s repression in occupied Crimea
Prominent US political scientist Francis Fukuyama has written a powerful letter expressing admiration and support for imprisoned Crimean Tatar journalist Osman Arifmemetov. Such statements are particularly important since Russia is not only using grotesque ‘terrorism’ charges as a weapon against Crimean Tatar journalists and civic activists, but is also claiming that those who speak out in their defence are ‘justifying terrorism’.
European Court of Human Rights stays Russia’s execution of vital Memorial Society and Memorial Human Rights Centre
On 29 December, the European Court of Human Rightsapplied Rule No. 39, halting Russia’s implementation of the rulings on 28 and 29 December which order the closure of the Memorial Society and the Memorial Human Rights Centre, pending the Court’s consideration of Application 9988/13 over the law on ‘foreign agents’. This, in theory, should not be only a temporary stay of execution, given the use of this particular law as the pretext for closing Russia’s most vital human rights NGOs. In fact, there would be no guarantee that Russia would comply with a ruling from ECHR regarding the ‘foreign agent’ law, but it would now be in breach of Article 34 of the European Convention were it to flout Rule 39.
Meet Gekata, a Ukrainian-developed intelligence-gathering drone
Ukraine has launched a new localy-developed intelligence-gathering drone called Gekata. Its purpose is searching, detection, classifying & id-ying signal pulses from radar stations, electronic warfare support measures, anti-craft warfare & airplanes