Russia continues to reject all offers from Ukraine and Western governments to speed up the peace talks in Donbas. On Thursday, Ukraine offered to include all representatives of the Normandy Four in the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination, which Russia refused to do. Besides, it is the Kremlin that blames the EU for pouring fuel to the fire in Donbas. Foreign Ministry’s Spokeswoman Mariya Zakharova said this is why the peace negotiations are now in the dead end. Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Valeriy Gerasimov claimed it is Ukraine that provokes the escalation in combat zone, and demanded “to stop provocations”.
Western partners keep supporting Ukraine, which could face a full-fledged Russian military invasion anytime. Lithuanian Defense Ministry sent the ammunition, armored vests and ballistic belts. Turkey once again offered to act as a mediator in the talks between Ukraine and Russia. Meanwhile, the US government assigned $ 300 million from the 2022 defense budget for the needs of Ukraine’s military.
Chiefs of Defense of NATO member countries met virtually to address the current security challenges facing the Alliance, including the latest build-up of Russian military force on the borders with Ukraine, in occupied areas of Donbas and in the illegally annexed Crimea.
US President Joe Biden and top-level officials of member countries of the Bucharest Nine discussed Russia's threat on the NATO's eastern flank. Biden stressed the U.S. commitment to continued close consultation and coordination with all the Allies and partners “as they work towards de-escalation of the current crisis through deterrence, defense, and dialogue”.
A new variant of Covid-19 – Omicron appeared in Russia this week. This strain dominates in South Africa; however, no increase in the death rate was observed there. Besides, the CDC reported that most of those infected with the Omicron strain in the US are vaccinated. It was also reported that Omicron strain can be neutralized by three doses of Pfizer.
Meanwhile, EU member countries will agree on a 9-month term of Covid certificates for traveling.
The Biden-Putin phone call took place on December 7 lasted two hours. Earlier, media reported that Zelensky was going to speak with Biden before it, but this information was denied later. Biden did talk with France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Biden and Putin agreed to meet again.
As a result of this conversation, Joe Biden told his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin that in case of the military escalation against Ukraine, Washington would respond with resolute steps, including the economic ones, but does not plan to deploy troops in Ukraine to defend against Russia. NATO Secretary General believes that Putin will refuse to invade Ukraine after talks with Biden.
This week, the ambassadors of the European Union prepared a decision on the application of sanctions against militants of the Russian private military company Wagner and approved them. EU leaders also intend to approve an extension of economic sanctions against Russia for another six months at the next week's summit.
President of the European Council Charles Michel and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken agreed on the need to inflict "quick and serious damage to Russia" if it decides to intensify its aggression against Ukraine.
The United States has imposed sanctions on former Constitutional Court Chairman Oleksandr Tupytsky and former Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration under former President Yanukovych Andriy Portnov with his foundation.
Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff Tiraspol played their last game of this season’s UEFA Champions League. They played a draw (1-1) and left the competition, failing to make it to the playoffs. However, the Moldovan team will now perform in the playoffs of UEFA Europa League.
Lightweight boxers Vasyl Lomachenko and Richard Commey squared off before the title fight slated for December 11. The venue would be Madison Square Garden.
Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison stated that the country intends to join the US in the diplomatic boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Ihor Hamula, the former head coach of Zakarpattya FC passed away. There are no reports about the cause of his death. The coach was 61.
Nord Stream 2
This week, the US Congress released the draft defense budget for 2022; however, it does not include sanctions against Nord Stream 2 anymore. Meanwhile, the new German government, headed by Olaf Scholz, will consider the possibility of halting the operation of Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will bring Russian gas to Europe, as part of a package of sanctions planned in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.