The court in Russia disclosed information on the supplies of food for the Russian military deployed on the territory of the so-called "republics" in Donbas. Press secretary of President Putin Dmitriy Peskov said it must have been “a mistake”, denying any presence of these forces in the occupied territories of Ukraine.
Ukraine is ready for any format of negotiations with Russia, but the Kremlin needs to show the same desire to solve the conflict that Ukraine did, president Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Russia claimed that the White House supported provision of the special status for Donbas. Dmitriy Kozak, the deputy head of Russian presidential administration said so after the meeting with Karen Donfried, the US Assistant Secretary of the State.
This week, Cyprus, Italy, Greece, Israel harshen entry restrictions. Poland tightens quarantine restrictions and finds the first Omicron infection case. Japan approves Moderna vaccine for revaccination. Omicron strain also dominates London, and the first death from Omicron was recorded in Britain as well.
WHO claims that the Omicron strain poses a very high global risk, seeing as it is more transmissible than Delta and there's certain evidence that the vaccine can't protect people from it properly, and this opinion is supported by Maria Van Kerkhove, but Pfizer Inc says its coronavirus pills are effective against the Omicron strain. The G7 has named the Omicron coronavirus strain as the biggest current global public health threat.
Pfizer wants to replace AstraZeneca as the main supplier of Covid vaccines to the global COVAX program. Israel is going to donate the AstraZeneca vaccine to Ukraine and African countries. 1.5 million doses are to be delivered in Ukraine, and Ukraine signed an agreement with Pfizer and MSD on Covid pills purchase.
Ukraine is threatened with the reoccurrence of Covid-19 and a new wave of coronavirus. Hospital beds for coronavirus infected people one-third full. Minister of Health of Ukraine Viktor Lyashko signed a decree on the introduction of the third dose of Covid vaccine in Ukraine, and 14 people have already received the booster (third) dose, and children aged 5-11 will be vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ukraine next year.
Ukrainian government extends adaptive quarantine until March 31, 2022. Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Sumy and Cherkasy regions may leave the red quarantine zone in the near future, Vinnytsia and Khmelnytsky regions entered the yellow zone on December 15.
NATO and Ukraine
This week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called for dialogue between Russia and the Alliance. He stated that the decision on Ukraine's accession to NATO will be made only by Ukraine itself and 30 members of the North Atlantic Alliance, and that such a decision is not a threat to Russia, yet Russia demands to exclude Ukraine's accession to NATO in a draft agreement on security guarantees and agreements on security measures for Russia and NATO countries. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is convinced that Russian Federation pushed Ukraine's movement towards NATO membership.
The German government led by Angela Merkel used the NATO consensus mechanism to block arms supplies to Ukraine. Stoltenberg has welcomed the provision of military assistance to Ukraine by Allies. US considers strengthening NATO's eastern flank only if Russia attacks Ukraine.
Sanctions and Nord Stream 2
Newly-appointed Foreign Minister of Germany Annalena Baerbock stated that she sees no reason to launch the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. After this statement, gas in the European market began to rise in price shortly. Besides, some US Senators urge to return the sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 to defense budget.
Meanwhile, Austria urges to put on service the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. However, president of Germany's network agency Bundesnetzagentur said that the Nord Stream 2 is not going to be launched in the first half of 2022.
It was also reported that leaders of the EU member states decided to prolong the current economic sanctions imposed against Russia for another six months. Besides, the European Parliament passed the resolution that condemns the build-up of Russian forces next to the borders of Ukraine and possible further sanctions against the Russian Federation in case of further aggression.
However, a number of leading EU countries oppose the "desire to speed up the development of specific sanctions and other penalties" that will be imposed on Russia if it invades Ukraine.
This week, the UN General Assembly passed the updated and reinforced resolution "Situation with human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, Ukraine".
Besides, Ukrainian servicemen held drills near the border with annexed Crimea.
Ukraine is facing an energy crisis due to the bad lack of coal stocks on its thermal power plants (TPPs). None of these TPPs have even the estimated minimum of coal. The President’s Office claimed that the government purchases coal from abroad; six to ten vessels loaded with coal are supposed to reach the country by the New Year. On Friday, one freighter arrived from Australia.
The Energy Ministry offered the Cabinet to solve the problem, using gas instead of coal. In turn, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal stated that Ukraine has enough gas and coal to pass the heating season. He also said that no fan power outages have occurred since the season began.