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News and Opinion from Ukraine and Europe on Military and Political Developments.

Daily review: Russia brings helicopters to Ukraine border; Ukraine as a NATO Plus country?; woman hostage tortured with screws through knees.

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Past 24 hours in the war zone

  • Joint Forces Operation report two attacks by Russian hybrid forces, near Pisky.
  • Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a landmine blast.
  • Between evenings of January 5 and 9, OSCE SMM recorded 152 violations, including 38 explosions in Donetsk Oblast; 791 violations, including 213 explosions in Luhansk Oblast.

Quick Ukraine news

  • The Security Service of Ukraine officers reported on Monday it had arrested a Russian military intelligence agent who was planning attacks on Ukraine’s largest Black Sea port of Odesa, Reuters wrote . “His main task was to shake up the political situation in the Odesa region through sabotage and terrorist acts,” said the Security Service of Ukraine.
  • The number of Russian troops near Ukraine has remained steady for the past weeks, despite Washington’s concern of a surge. But the U.S. officials report that Russia’s President has recently decided to bring military helicopters to the border with Ukraine. This may signal that Moscow is preparing for the invasion, despite its assurances of the opposite in the talks with the U.S. on Monday.
  • Russia seeks to change NATO’s expansion formula at the summit in Madrid. “We would like the formula adopted by the Bucharest summit in 2008 to be withdrawn and replaced at the NATO summit in Madrid by the following one: ‘Ukraine and Georgia will never become members of the NATO,” said S. Ryabkov, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister and the head of the Russian delegation at a Geneva meeting with the United States.
  • Amid growing tensions with Russia over Ukraine, Canada is preparing to construct an ammunition factory in Ukraine.

Kyiv shows solidarity with the protesters in Kazakhstan

On 10 January, around 100 activists from Kyiv joined in the action of solidarity with the protesters of Kazakhstan near the Embassy of that state. They flew the flags of Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine.

Kazakhstan has seen protests since 1 January. Rising gas prices became their formal reason. From 5 January, protests turned violent, with attacks on the police and the protesters, and the internet being cut off. President Tokayev declared a state of emergency. The next day, Russia and The Collective Security Treaty Organization states sent troops to Kazakhstan to suffocate the protests.

Activists from Kyiv joined in the action of solidarity with the protesters of Kazakhstan

Activists from Kyiv joined in the action of solidarity with the protesters of Kazakhstan. Photo: Mykola Myrnyi

Activists from Kyiv fly the flags of Belarus and Kazakhstan in the action of solidarity with the protesters of Kazakhstan

Activists from Kyiv fly the flags of Belarus and Kazakhstan in the action of solidarity with the protesters of Kazakhstan. Photo: Mykola Myrnyi

President Zelenskyy meets with foreign policy advisers to the leaders of France and Germany

Good news and hope for Ukraine: on Monday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with foreign policy advisers to the leaders of France and Germany in Kyiv.

The parties agreed to pursue efforts for the renewal of the Normandy format on different levels for the peace process in Ukraine, the President’s press service wrote on Tuesday. They emphasised it is important that Russia will join in this effort and contribute to the implementation of the decision of the Normandy format’s Paris Summit.

For the last time, the Normandy format’s leaders met in November 2020.

The Normandy format talks (also the Normandy contact group) involves Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France, who aim to resolve the conflict in Donbas.

US quietly approves another $200 million in military aid to Ukraine

The Biden Administration has quietly authorized $200 million in military aid for Ukraine security in late December, according to CNN, citing numerous unnamed sources.

US queitly authorized another $200 million in military aid to Ukraine: media

US House Republicans propose designating Ukraine as a NATO-Plus country

US House Republicans have introduced the Guaranteeing Ukrainian Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense (GUARD) Act of 2022. “This bill will ensure Ukraine is provided with the military and diplomatic support it needs in the face of Russia’s destabilizing military buildup in and around its borders. The legislation would also hold Vladimir Putin accountable for his aggression by immediately sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to stop it from ever becoming operational,” their press release said.

This legislation would:

  • Significantly and immediately increase military support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including funding for weaponry and training.
  • Designate Ukraine as a “NATO Plus” c ountry to ensure the expeditious consideration of the sale of a range of U.S. defense articles and services.
  • Strengthen targeted sanctions on Nord Stream 2, a Russian malign influence project designed to undermine Ukraine and threaten European energy security.
  • Establish stronger Congressional oversight over the Biden Administration’s use of Russia sanctions by:
    • Providing Congress a veto over the removal of a wider range of Russia-related sanctions, including those related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the Biden Administration’s April Executive Order 14024 (Blocking Property With Respect To Specified Harmful Foreign Activities Of The Government Of The Russian Federation).
    • Establishing a mechanism to require the Administration to review certain persons submitted by Congress for eligibility for Russia-related sanctions.
  • Establish diplomatic and military deterrents to counter Russian aggression by:
    • Reaffirming NATO’s 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration supporting Ukraine and Georgia’s bid to become members of the alliance.
    • Rejecting Russia’s proposal for a deployment moratorium of intermediate-range ground-launched missiles in Europe and requiring a strategy on cooperation with NATO allies on conventional intermediate-range missiles.
    • Calling on the Administration to move expeditiously to submit a nominee for the Ambassador to Ukraine.
    • Requiring a determination on whether the Government of Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism.
    • Limiting security risks related to U.S.-Russian military cooperation.
  • Authorizing $155 million for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to combat Russian disinformation and information operations in the Former Soviet Union for the year 2022.
  • Reaffirming U.S. policy of unwavering commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty.

Latvia arrests two Russia’s spies

Latvia detained two persons suspected of collaboration with Russia’s military intelligence and providing it with secret information, Delfi reports . One of them obtained and transmitted to Russian intelligence information on combat capacities, procedures, plans, and training of Latvian Armed Forces, and an enlarged NATO contingent in the state. The other man allegedly cooperated with Moscow to provide information on Russia’s military interests.

Ukrainian hostage tortured with screws through the knees by Russian-controlled Donbas militants

Olena Piekh, a Ukrainian woman hostage of Russia's militants in occupied Donbas

Olena Piekh, a Ukrainian woman hostage of Russia’s militants in occupied Donbas. Photo:

Olena Piekh is a Ukrainian woman hostage held in dire conditions by Russia’s militants in occupied Donbas. In 2018, they seized her and placed in the Donetsk remand prison. Occupation authorities charged Olena with espionage first and then brought “planning a crime on the territory of DPR” and “state treason” accusations against her. In 2020, an illegal court sentenced Piekh to 13 years’ imprisonment. Now, she is in urgent need of hospitalization after three and a half years of captivity and the torture by militants from the Russian proxy Donetsk People’s Republic. The militants used electric shocks, screws twisted into her knees, asphyxiation and mock executions to coerce the woman into a confession. Olena Piekh and her family are now hoping for a prisoners exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

Kazakhstan opposition activists beaten up and threatened with deportation by Ukraine’s Security Service

Two members of the opposition party from Kazakhstan claim that people identifying themselves as officers of Ukraine’s Security Service pressured them. According to Lyudmila Kozlovska (Open Dialogue Foundation), men without uniforms had beaten up Zamanbek Tieuliev (he now has bruises and teeth beaten out), the coordinators of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan Kyiv office, and had threatened Yeldos Nasipbekov, another coordinator. As the Security Service of Ukraine claims, they spoke with Nasipbekov and Tieuliev in a civilized manner. These two Kazakh opposition activists have been monitoring the shooting of protesters. There are concerns that the Security Service of Ukraine cooperates with that of Kazakhstan and Russia.

Kazakhstan government used convicts for pogroms preceding Russian-led intervention, founder says

Ukrainians in imminent danger of losing their land and homes in Russian-occupied Crimea

Russian occupation regime may sell around six and a half thousand pieces of de jure Ukrainian land in occupied Crimea.

On 3 December, Inna Smal, head of the Russian State Committee for State Registration in Crimea said that the land of the peninsula had been in “foreign possession.” She added it would be forcibly sold by auction. According to the Committee’s data, owners of around five thousand plots of land have sold or re-registered their property since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal decree of 20 March 2020. The document precludes alleged “foreigners” (the majority of whom are Ukrainians) from possessing land in approximately 80% of Crimea. By this, Russia violates the Geneva Conventions.

Czech sentenced to 21 years for terrorism on side of Russian-led Donbas militants

The Prague City Court sentenced Martin Sukup, 49, a former military of the Czech Army, to 21 years’ imprisonment for terrorism. Namely, Sukup fought on the side of Russian hybrid forces in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Czech courts sentenced two more Donbas fighters to 20 years on terrorist charges

According to Prosecutors, Sukup joined Russian proxies in the Donetsk region. He took part in hostilities from June 2014 until at least May 2018. He is reported to have partaken in battles in Kramatorsk and Horlivka, in which the Ukrainian army suffered heavy casualties.

Czechia detains Crimea annexation participant at Ukraine’s request

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