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Daily review: Russian general who led Crimea occupation heads military mission in Kazakhstan, NATO coordinates position ahead of meeting with Russia.

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Past 24 hours in the war zone

  • Headquarters report 2 attacks by Russian-backed militants, namely in Luhanske & Starohnativka.
  • Donbas militant sentenced to 7 years in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya for trying to set a Ukrainian Orthodox church on fire. His mission was to destabilize the situation in the region on religious grounds.

News flash

  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed a build-up of Russian forces around Ukraine in phone calls with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. He stressed that “NATO respects the right of every country to choose its own path.”
  • After visiting the contact line in Donbas for the first time, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that any further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe costs for Russia, and highlighted the EU’s coordination with the U.S., NATO and other likeminded partners. Borrell confirmed that there is no security in Europe without the security of Ukraine. He also had meetings with Ukraine’s minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba and Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
  • Following a videoconference of NATO foreign ministers, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine and actively uses disinformation to distort the perception of this reality in the West. It won’t work, he said, adding that diplomatic solution to current tensions is still very desirable and possible “if Putin chooses this way.”
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba discussed the potential response of the United States and its allies to the build-up of Russian military forces near Ukraine’s border and discussed the upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia. The Secretary stressed there will be “no conversations about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
  • Reportedly, during the upcoming talks with Russia, U.S. may discuss the scope of military drills held by both powers, the number of U.S. troops stationed in the Baltic states and Poland. U.S. troop cuts in Poland and the Baltic would have to be matched by Russian moves in the area. The White House denies permanent cuts are under consideration.
  • B elarusian dictator Lukashenka anticipated that nations and states will be unifying into alliances in 2022. He also said: “We must do everything to return Ukraine to the bosom of our true faith.”
  • 6 0% of Germans support the certification and beginning of the use of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline with Russia. Only among the voters of Alliance 90/The Greens majority is against.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron announced a new meeting in the Normandy format , which involves representatives of Ukraine, Germany, France, and Russia to find a solution to the rising tensions concerning Russian military buildup around Ukraine.
  • M inistry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan officially reported it arrested 3,800 protesters, “liquidated” 26, according to a local news agency Tengrinews.kz .
  • The President of Kazakhstan Kasim-Jomart Tokayev thanked Russian President Putin for his assistance in suppressing protests across the country. He also said he allowed to fire at protesters without warnings. At least, 2,000 Russian troops were already deployed to Kazakhstan.

The same Russian general who headed occupation of Crimea in 2014 now heads pro-Russian military mission in Kazakhstan

The CSTO military mission in Kazakhstan is headed by Russian General Andrei Serdyukov, who led the operation to invade and seize Ukrainian Crimea in 2014. This was announced by the representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense Igor Konashenkov, Russian media report.

Serdyukov was also the head of the formation and deployment of the Russian occupation forces in Donbas under the pseudonym “Sedov.” In particular, he managed the deployment of the Territorial Forces Center of Russia’s Southern Military District to operations in Ukraine.

From April to September 2019, Serdiukov led a group of Russian armed forces in Syria.

The irst Russian troops were deployed to Kazakhstan on 6 January 2022 as part of the CSTO military mission in Kazakhstan at the request of Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to suppress local protests and rebels.

Russian general who led Crimea occupation charged with CSTO military mission in Kazakhstan

Arrest of Poroshenko’s property includes property of TV channels that don’t belong to Poroshenko, the real aim is to “stop freedom of speech”, opposition claims

Poroshenko’s property that belongs to him according to state registeres was arrested by Kyiv Pechersk district court decision on 6th January, in the Orthodox Christmas Eve that remains widely celebrated in Ukraine.

At the same time, the European Solidarity Party, which Poroshenko leads, said that assets of Poroshenko’s Channel 5 and Direct had also been arrested. The party believes that this court decision is an attempt to “prevent any criticism of the government in the information space.” The party also claims a conflict of interest between Pechersk court judge Vita Bortnytska, whose research supervisor in 2009 was current Deputy Head of the President’s Office Oleh Tatarov.

The State Bureau of Investigation later denied that assets of TV channels were frozen. Poroshenko’s lawyer Ihor Holovan in turn presented documents proving that the assets of two companies which according to Holovan are crucial for the broadcasting of TV channels, were arrested.

The TV channels that investigators allegedly try to close in this way belonged to Poroshenko earlier. However, he sold them to journalists in November 2020 to comply with the new “anti-oligarch” law.

“We are convinced that [prosecutors and the judge] acted intentionally, because, in our opinion, the main customer, Zelenskyy, is interested in the destruction of opposition TV channels,” Holovan said.

Ukraine’s former President Poroshenko charged with state treason and aiding terrorism

NATO will not compromise on core principles during the upcoming talks with Russia — Stoltenberg after a videoconference of NATO foreign ministers

NATO Foreign Minister conducted their extraordinary meeting on 7 January to coordinate and agree position for the upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has pledged to engage “in good faith and on substance” in talks with Russia next week, but he said the alliance will not compromise on core principles, including the right of nations to decide whether they want to join. He spoke after a videoconference of NATO foreign ministers, saying the meeting had stressed “that any further aggression against Ukraine would have significant consequences and carry a heavy price for Russia.”

Stoltenberg also said that NATO should be prepared to the scenario that talks with Russia may fail and highlighted Russia distorts reality upside down in its messages:

“The whole idea that Ukraine is a threat to Russia is to put the whole thing upside down. Ukraine is not a threat to Russia,” he said. “I think if anything it is the idea of a democratic, stable Ukraine which is a challenge for them and therefore NATO will continue to provide support to our partner, to a sovereign nation, but also, of course, recognising that Ukraine is a partner and not a NATO ally.”

The first meeting is scheduled to take place in Geneva on January 10 when veteran U.S. and Russian diplomats are scheduled to gather in an effort to avert a crisis. The same day, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will visit NATO headquarters in Brussels, rfe/rl reports.

The NATO-Russia Council is then slated to meet for the first time since 2019 on January 12 to discuss Ukraine, transparency, and risk reduction.

EU foreign ministers then meet in northwestern France on January 13-14, with reports suggesting they and their allies are preparing harsh punitive measures to be enacted if Russia escalates militarily against its neighbor.

Four ways NATO can help Ukraine resist Russian aggression

There are four ways NATO can help Ukraine resist Russian aggression. Two of them will actually work.

Four ways NATO can help Ukraine resist Russian aggression

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