Past 24 hours in the war zone
- Ukraine’s Join-Forces Operation Staff reported four ceasefire violations recorded in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts on 2 February, including one with weapons proscribed by the Minsk accords.
- From 19:30 of Jan 31 to 19:30 of Feb 2, OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission recorded 269 individual cases of ceasefire violation, including 118 in Luhansk Oblast (with 20 explosions) and 75 in Donetsk Oblast (3 explosions).
- On the morning of 3 February, the armed formations in Luhansk Oblast denied the Mission’s passage to non-government-controlled areas from government-controlled areas. The denial occurred at 10:55, at the checkpoint of the armed formations south of the Stanytsia Luhanska bridge.
- French President Emmanuel Maron says he is going to call his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts, Putin and Zelenskyy, and visit Moscow soon.
- Biden, Macron discuss build-up of Russian military on Ukraine’s borders.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again offered to mediate between Ukraine and Russia on the eve of his February 3 visit to Ukraine.
- Finland in talks with Ukraine about defensive weapons supply.
Some 115,000 Russian troops on Ukrainian borders: Ukrainian defense minister
The Russian military land contingent near the borders of Ukraine, including Belarus, as well as in the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea, and Donetsk & Luhansk oblasts totals about 115,000 people, according to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. He says, the units are being redeployed to the training areas in Crimea, and border regions like Voronezh.
US to deploy more troops in Europe
US President Joe Biden has approved sending additional forces to Eastern Europe: 1,000 Germany-based forces would be repositioned to Romania, while 2,000 troops would be deployed from the United States to Poland and Germany. The move is in response to Russia’s deployment of an estimated more than 125,000 troops within striking distance of the Ukrainian border, including nearly half of its available battalion tactical groups and support units.
Meanwhile, Russia has called the decision a “destructive step” that makes it harder to reach a compromise over Ukraine.
Poland to send arms to Ukraine
Poland has joined a growing group of countries declaring they will supply weapons to Ukraine amid the country’s tensions with Russia. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced that the country’s government approved on February 1 the delivery of Piorun (Thunderbolt) short-range, man-portable air-defense (MANPAD) systems and munition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
US seventh military shipment this year arrives in Ukraine
Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov has reported that the 7th US plane has landed in Boryspil, bringing an 85-ton military cargo of ammunition for grenade launchers.
“While the world watches Ukraine, Putin is quietly occupying Belarus”
“The change in Belarus’s geopolitical status over the past 18 months represents one of the most dramatic shifts in the security calculus in Eastern Europe since Russia’s illegal 2014 annexation of Crimea, and perhaps since the end of the Cold War,” Brian Whitmore writes on Atlantic Council.
Ukraine denies Belarusian accusations of sending a drone in its airspace
Ukraine’s MFA denies Belarusian accusations of sending a drone into its airspace on 24 January, calling the incident “a crystal clear example drawn straight from the pages of Russia’s disinformation playbook.”
“Yet another provocation by Belarus. We categorically reject accusations that Ukraine used a UAV on its border with Belarus. We call on Minsk to refrain from playing along with Russia’s destabilizing activities. Calm on Ukraine-Belarus border is in the interest of the whole region,” Ukrainian MFA spokesman Oleg Nikolenko tweeted.
Russia rapidly moving landing ships, submarines of Baltic, Northern & Pacific fleets to Black Sea
Six Russian ships from the Baltic and Northern fleets are heading to the Black Sea to reinforce the current group of seven Russian landing ships near Ukraine. This increases the capabilities of the Russian Navy to land up to 4,200 troops with vehicles in one operation on Ukraine’s coast. At the same time, Russia sent additional missile submarines, missile cruisers, and missile frigates to the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas from its Pacific fleet.
Russia planned graphic video with “corpses” as pretext for Ukraine invasion, US intel says
The US intelligence has made public an alleged plan of Russia to fabricate a graphic video that could serve as a pretext for a new invasion of Ukraine. The propaganda video would have been graphic, with fake corpses and Russian-speaking mourning actors, as well as faked Ukrainian military equipment and Turkish-made Bayraktar drones.
Erdogan in Kyiv: free trade deal, Bayraktar production agreement, mediation offers
On 3 February, President of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Ukraine to meet with his vis-a-vis Volodymyr Zelensky. They clinched a free trade deal and an agreement to expand the production of Bayraktar drones. Erdogan is the latest NATO leader to pay a call to Ukraine after the high officials of the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK in a diplomatic effort amid rising tensions with Russia.
Russia’s drills in Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria
Russia staged military drills in Transnistria, the pro-Moscow separatist region of Moldova, amid Western fears of military actions in neighboring Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said on 1 February.
Moscow bans Deutsche Welle bureau in Russia in tit-for-tat move
Russia has said it is closing the Moscow bureau of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and revoking staff accreditations in Russia, in response to Berlin’s ban on the German-language channel of Russian state TV network RT.
“For Ukraine, less ‘imminent’ threat is still very real”
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is prepared to keep talking, and that he expects visits from European leaders to Moscow soon — after he gets back from the opening of the Winter Olympics on Friday in Beijing. The Biden administration is no longer saying an attack on Ukraine is “imminent.” But even as the threat appears to be subsiding ever so slightly — and perhaps just for a moment — Ukraine remains trapped, Politico argues.
“The new Ukraine needs a new census”
Stalin’s centralization of archives leaves post-Soviet states without key sources on their histories
A frequent refrain of researchers on Soviet history is that key questions will be answered: “when the archives are open.” But while that may be true, it begs the question as to which archives contain the relevant documents given that Stalin and his successors tightly centralized control of documents about republics and kept them in Moscow, Paul Goble writes.