Past 24 hours in the war zone
- JFO report no attacks/shelling by Russian occupation forces.
- As of 19:30 Jan 18, OSCE SMM recorded 14 violations, incl 4 explosions in Donetsk Obl; 44 violations in Luhansk Obl.
Ukraine news flash
During a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence, MPs from the ruling and opposition factions unanimously voted in favor of draft amendments to the law on national resistance concerning full armament of territorial defense volunteers.
Ukraine DM Reznikov is convinced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be a disaster for Europe, but it can be prevented by military support to Ukraine
“It will be a disaster not only for Ukraine, it will be a disaster for Europe, because several million migrants, our refugees will be at the Ukrainian-Polish border, or maybe between Poland & Germany”
Tweet of the day
Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy responds to US president Biden’s prediction on 19 January that Russia will invade Ukraine and his suggestion that the West’s response could be more muted for a “minor” incursion
US clears Baltic States, Britain to send American-made weapons to Ukraine
The US State Department has cleared the Baltic states and Britain to send “US-made missiles and other weapons to Ukraine,” according to Reuters citing three unnamed sources. The report comes a month after the Baltic States declared readiness to provide military assistance to Ukraine.
Ukrainian accused of torturing hostages at Russian-controlled Izolyatsia secret prison flees to France and ‘asks for political asylum’
A Ukrainian court which was due to begin the trial of Yevhen Brazhnikov on charges of torturing Ukrainian hostages has instead ordered that an arrest warrant be issued, and that Brazhnikov be placed on the international wanted list. There remain very serious questions as to how a person facing the charges before Brazhnikov should have been able to leave the country on the eve of the trial.
“They’re killing my father!” Daughter of 63-year-old Ukrainian imprisoned for opposing Russian occupation of Crimea
Oleh Prykhodko’s wife and daughter were allowed a three-hour meeting with the Ukrainian political prisoner on 18 January, and report that the 63-year-old is in a terrible state after torture and ill-treatment in Russian captivity. Prykhodkho’s daughter, Natalia told Crimean Realities that her father himself says that they are killing him, and that he will not get out alive.
Russia downscales demands to keeping Ukraine, Georgia out of NATO
One month after demanding wide-reaching restrictions on NATO’s activities that were rebuked by the Alliance, Russia is signaling it can make do with a downscaled version: that Ukraine and Georgia never join.
Zelenskyy tells US senators post-invasion sanctions are no help
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told US senators visiting Kyiv this week that waiting to impose sanctions on Russia until after an invasion is of no use to Ukraine, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.
The Senate is currently working on a major sanctions package to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine. Democrats and Republicans are united in their support for Ukraine, but divided over whether it would be more effective to sanction Russia now to signal resolve, or hold up the threat of future sanctions to demonstrate the high costs of an invasion.
‘They’re Going To Ukraine’: Social Media Chatter Sheds Light On Russia’s Military Mobilization
Russian-language social media posts are helping expose the scale and nature of Moscow’s military mobilization amid rising tensions with NATO, and shedding light on concerns voiced by relatives of troops headed westward for apparent deployment near Ukraine, a joint investigation by RFE/RL’s Russian Service and the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) shows.
While the posts give no specific indication of whether President Vladimir Putin has decided to launch a new military offensive targeting Ukraine, they serve as evidence that troops and equipment are being moved en masse from Russia’s Far East and offer a rare glimpse into the fears voiced by relatives of the soldiers.
In about half of the posts, the investigation notes, the friends and relatives of Russian contract soldiers write about the soldiers’ dispatch “for assignment” or “for training.”
Most make clear that the destination of those trips is Belarus, Ukraine’s northern neighbor and a staunch Russian military ally, while others say less specifically that they are going to areas near Ukraine.
US sanctions four Ukrainians for destabilizing Ukraine on behalf of Russian government
On 20 January, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) enacted sanctions on four Ukrainian citizens engaged in Russian government-directed influence activities to destabilize Ukraine, including two MPs from the pro-Russian Opposition Platform-For Life party.
They are Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshyn, current Ukrainian Members of Parliament from the party led by “Putin’s best man in Ukraine” Viktor Medvedchuk, as well as former Ukrainian officials Volodymyr Oliynyk and Vladimir Sivkovich.
Winter political prisoner letter marathon
Writing letters of support to those who have been unjustly convicted is extremely important. And it’s something anybody can do, Kremlin hostage Arsen Abkhairov said in his last words in court.
“… Numerous and regular letters from the free world, from different parts of Crimea, Ukraine, and the rest of the world are breaths of fresh air, inspiring us and making us stronger. Everybody can do this, and I’d like to underline how important they are for us. Every action, every protest by human rights activists supporting political prisoners reaches our walls…” — excerpt from Arsen’s closing statement in court on 2 November 2020 in Rostov-on-Don.
Arsen is the father of 2 young children. After Russia’s occupation of Crimea, he attended trials in cases of unjustly imprisoned Crimean Tatars, supported and cared for the families of political prisoners, and was an overall human rights activist. This eventually led to the security forces of the Russian Federation accusing Arsen of participating in the activities of a terrorist organization and sentencing him to 13 years in prison.
Make the winter of one of the 127 Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin a little warmer, join the Winter letter marathon for Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin – 2022!