Quick Ukraine news
- White House no longer calls Ukraine invasion “imminent.” Psaki had described the possible scenario as “imminent” on January 25. The assessment prompted pushback from Ukrainian officials as they urged residents to remain calm. On Wednesday, Psaki told reporters that they were no longer using the term. “I used that once. I think others have used that once and then we stopped using it because I think it’s sent in a message that we weren’t intending to send, which was that we knew that President Putin had made a decision,” she said. “I would say the vast majority of times I’ve talked about it, we said he could invade it anytime. That’s true. We still don’t know that he’s made a decision.”
- MP Trukhin was expelled from the Servant of the People party after video surfaced showing him attempting to give a UAH150,000 ($5300) bribe to a policeman after causing a road traffic accident.
- Former President Poroshenko’s party European Solidarity surges ahead: it is currently in 1st place (17.5% of those polled would vote for it at parliamentary elections), ahead of incumbent President Zelenskyy’s ruling Servant of the People party (12.8%). Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland polls at 8.7%, the pro-Russian Opposition Platform – For Life ranked 6.3%. According to the poll by the Razumkov Center, voters consider European Solidarity the main opposition party.
- President Joe Biden has formally approved the deployment of 3,000 US troops to Poland, Germany, and Romania, the Pentagon announced Wednesday, in a move to bolster NATO countries in Eastern Europe with tens of thousands of Russian troops amassed along Ukraine’s border.
- The Polish government has approved a decision to provide Ukraine with weapons assistance in the form of anti-missile systems and ammunition.
- The International Monetary Fund stands ready to help countries that may be affected by any spillover effects from a Russia-Ukraine conflict and sanctions imposed by Western governments, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said. She noted that sanctions would inevitably interrupt some financial transactions and financial system functioning, especially if sanctions restrict Russian access to the SWIFT financial transaction network.
EL PAÍS publishes non-public response of US and NATO to Russia’s demands of “security guarantees”
The Spanish newspaper EL PAIS has published the classified answers of NATO and the US to demands for “security guarantees” that Russia made after months of saber-rattling on Ukraine’s borders. They reveal that the US and NATO rejected Russia’s key demands of ruling out Ukraine’s and Georgia’s accession and called upon Russia to withdraw from Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova.
Ukrainian soldiers learn to shoot with SMAW-D grenade launchers
US servicemen from the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine recently took part in teaching soldiers of the 14th separate mechanized brigade to use the M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (SMAW-D) grenade launchers, which arrived in Ukraine as part of US military assistance.
SMAW-D is a single-shot, shoulder-launched weapon designed to defeat hardened structures and punch holes through walls and barriers up to 20cm of concrete or 30cm of brickwork. SMAW-D shells are also effective against lightly-armored vehicles.
In recent weeks, Ukraine has received multiple shipments of weapons from the US and UK, while the Baltics, Poland, Czech Republic, and other countries have pledged to send arms in the nearest time. More about what this means for Ukraine’s army here.
The fallen Defenders of Ukraine, January 2022
Despite yet another ceasefire being agreed between Ukraine and the Russian proxy Luhansk and Donetsk “People’s Republics” in December, hardly a single day has gone by without gunfire, shelling or drone & sniper attacks by the Russian hybrid forces. Four Ukrainian soldiers perished on the field of battle; many others were wounded.
Вічна Пам’ять! Eternal Memory!
Герої не вмирають! Heroes Never Die!
Russia demands 12-year sentence against Crimean Tatar scholar for studying religion
The same prosecutor who sought an 11-year effective death sentence against Oleh Prykhodko for his open opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea has demanded a 12-year sentence against Crimean Tatar Arabic scholar and civic activist, Vadim Bektemirov. The latter is not accused of any recognizable crime and the ‘evidence’ is manifestly flawed, yet on 1 February 2022, prosecutor Sergei Aidinov once again claimed that ‘guilt’ has been proven and that Bektemirov should be sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in Russia’s harshest-regime penitentiary institutions, with the first three years in the appalling conditions of a Russian prison.
US, UK, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland lauch Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine
The Fund will work alongside Ukrainian ministries and local communities to improve public services and to generate economic opportunities in eastern and southern Ukraine, areas most affected by Russian aggression.
Pro-Russian, ruling party Ukrainian politicians promote Telegram channels of Russia’s special services
Some Ukrainian media figures and politicians have been actively disseminating information from anonymous Telegram channels allegedly run or controlled by Russia’s intelligence services, according to the Ukrainian news agency Liga.
These include not only the usual pro-Russian figures, but also MPs from President Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party.
First visit of Dutch Prime Minister to Ukraine in 17 years
Mark Rutte visited Ukraine for the first time in 17 years. President Zelenskyy and he discussed the security situation in Ukraine and steps to de-escalate and peacefully resolve the situation, as well as Ukraine’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration. According to Rutte, the Netherlands is in favor of de-escalation, dialogue between the United States and NATO, and Russia, and supports efforts in the Normandy format.
Rutte said in Kyiv that the Netherlands was offering help to repel cyberattacks that Ukraine has been facing more and more recently.
The Prime Minister also said that the Netherlands will continue to do everything possible to find out the real circumstances and bring to justice those involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the skies over Donbas in 2014.
A joint statement after Mark Rutte’s visit to Kyiv said that the Netherlands would provide about 400,000 euros in aid to Ukraine for a humanitarian program to respond to the coronavirus epidemic in the eastern regions.
The leaders also welcomed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and Philips Medical Systems, aimed at improving the quality of medical services in Ukraine.
In addition, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Vopke Hukstra at the talks in Kyiv agreed on actions to deter Russia from further aggression. And together with Ukraine’s Prime Minister Shmyhal, the sides reached an agreement to organize business missions for investors.
Why is Russia escalating now? Will it launch a major invasion of Ukraine? Three issues to consider.
Today, any move by the Kremlin will have negative consequences for Russia. A further incursion into Ukraine will not be a walk in the park and can undermine Russia’s image as a military power, especially in the eyes of the Chinese leaders. In addition, Russia’s economy could suffer irreparable loss, and the Kremlin will find itself in complete political isolation,
Yet, retreating for the second time in a year will tarnish Putin’s reputation, because who will still believe that he is capable of carrying out his threats?
Diplomat Oleksandr Khara outlines three issues to consider.
In new film, Putin promises ‘no mercy’ to those who ‘cooperated with West’ in destruction of USSR, Kolerov says
In a new documentary film about Russia in the 1990s presented by the Russian state television, Vladimir Putin again denounces the destruction of the Soviet Union, blames it on the actions of the West and on Russians who cooperated with the West, and promises no mercy to those who served as this heinous “comprador“ element, Modest Kolerov says with approval.