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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK: JANUARY 10– 14

Source : 112 Ukraine

This week's news from Ukraine: Donbas conflict, Covid -19, EU, NATO, Russia, Nord Stream 2, and others
22:23, 14 January 2022

112 Agency

Donbas

Two Ukrainian servicemen deceased in Donbas combat area on January 10. It appears that both fighters stepped on an unknown explosive device, which resulted in their deaths.

If Russia recognizes the self-styled "people's republics" in Donbas as independent states, it will lead to far worse consequences for Ukraine than the similar scenarios that took place in Georgia. First Deputy Chairman of Ukraine's Parliament Oleksandr Korniyenko reported that on January 14.

Vladimir Putin’s plan in Ukraine is plain and simple: it is to destroy Ukraine as a sovereign state. Oleksiy Danilov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council said so in an interview on Thursday.

US citizens were advised to refrain from traveling to Ukraine against the background of Russia's military activity on the Ukrainian border.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitriy Peskov commented on the statement of the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky on the need for a new Normandy Four summit. The Kremlin believes that it is first necessary to implement the previously reached agreements.

French leader Emmanuel Macron welcomed the decision of the United States to participate in the negotiations on the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in Normandy format. 

Covid

The first case of myocarditis associated with Omicron strain was reported in Israel. Besides, the first deaths from Omicron strain were observed in Poland. Omicron outbreak was reported in China; authorities tested the whole city of Tianjin. Besides, quarantine restrictions intensified in Europe due to the spread of the Omicron strain.

The scientists stated that Delta, Omicron strain combination may have a laboratory origin.

This week, Ukraine announced the shortening of the validity of Covid certificates following the EU.

WHO stated that the Omicron variant outbreak will end soon. However, the WHO predicted that half of Europe's residents will fall ill with Omicron strain in the coming month. Besides, the WHO stated that less than half the world's population is vaccinated in 90 countries. Moreover, the WHO calls for the involvement of pregnant women in trials of new Covid-19 vaccines.

 At the same time, the EMA stated that regular Covid-19 booster vaccinations can weaken the immune system.

EU, NATO and Russia

This week, United States and Russia held talks in Geneva. The first round, where representatives discussed the bilateral topics both sides would address during the talks, ended on the evening of January 9. A conversation on nuclear weapons and Ukraine was held on January 10. Blinken expected no breakthroughs in Russia-US security talks. Russia assured US it has no plans to attack Ukraine. The United States intends to continue dialogue on arms control with Russia. Ukraine's Foreign Minister said that the week of big diplomacy for Russia is lost.

US talks with Ukraine about the military buildup. It continues to prepare a response to a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and advice western countries to do the same. US advised Americans not to visit Ukraine. Pentagon sees no reduction in number of Russian troops near Ukrainian borders. US plans to disclose the intelligence about Russia's plans in Ukraine on January 15. Turkey offers US assistance in settling Ukrainian-Russian relations.

US and EU discuss Russian military buildup on Ukraine's border. European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell believes that a Russian military invasion of Ukraine is still possible and that Russia is jeopardizing the security architecture of Europe.

US and Ukraine negotiate prior to Russia-NATO talks, during which Russia demanded solid guarantees that Ukraine never joins NATO, which NATO denied. The United States refuses to let anyone close the door to NATO membership. US Congress offers to consider Ukraine a “NATO+ country”. NATO allies urge Russia to de-escalate and refrain from aggressive force building, malicious actions against allies.

Russia is relocating military helicopters to the Ukrainian border, launches large-scale live fire drills next to the border, runs check of Eastern Military District's combat readiness, carries out a cyberattack on Ukrainian state websites. Russia continues to prosecute 130 citizens of Ukraine on political and religious grounds. Ukraine’s Navy supposes that Russia could invade Ukraine from sea.

Germany urges not to tie Nord Stream 2 to Russian aggression.

Hacker attack

A large-scale hacker intervention occurred in Ukraine on the night of January 13. The attack downed the pages of several ministries, the Cabinet itself, the State Treasury, and the website of Diya app., Ukrainian Information Protection Service stated that there is no data leakage after a hacker attack on state bodies. Law enforcement officers launched an investigation into a cyber attack on Ukrainian authorities. Besides, the EU condemned cyber attacks against Ukraine and offered help.

 

Sanctions

In the event of Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, American and European sanctions will be different but still quite painful. Victoria Nuland, the U.S. Under Secretary of State said so during the briefing on January 11.  

Meanwhile, Democrats in the US Senate have prepared a new package of sanctions against the Russian Federation in case of an invasion of Ukraine.

Russian government compares the warnings about possible Western sanctions with a nervous breakdown (as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did it), or the initiative to end relationships (according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitriy Peskov).  

The Senate of U.S. Congress declined the draft law on the sanctions against Nord Stream 2. Senator Ted Cruz (Texas-R) was the one who offered the bill for consideration. The document did not collect enough votes, with at least 60 of 100 votes necessary to pass. 

Kazakhstan

This week, law enforcement arrested over 1,000 participants of mass riots in Almaty and 9,900 protesters in all of Kazakhstan. No Ukrainians were among the detained or injured. The damages from riots across Kazakhstan amount to $220 million.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said he weathered an attempted coup in the country. He promised that the CSTO anti-terrorist operation will end soon, on January 13. He assesses the CSTO mission as successful. The process of withdrawal of CSTO troops from Kazakhstan is promised to not last more than 10 days. It has officially began in Almaty already.

Kazakhstan elected a new head of government. The Almaty Airport resumed operations on January 13. Kazakhstan stock exchange and banks resume their work.

Putin vowed to defend ex-soviet allies from ‘color revolutions’. Putin’s spokeperson used the situation in Kazakhstan to talk about the dangers of social media. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that it condemns the violence in Kazakhstan and calls for de-escalation. The UN demanded an investigation into the deaths of protesters.

Ukrainian satellite

Ukrainian satellite Sich-2-30 was launched into space the Falcon 9 on January 13. The launch took place at the SLC-40 launch complex at the US Air Force base. 

Falcon 9 successfully delivered Ukrainian satellite to orbit.

The satellite Sich-2-30 was developed and assembled by the Ukrainian company "Southern" Design Bureau during 2017-2020. Some components of the satellite were manufactured by companies from Europe and South Korea. Assemblies and final tests took place in 2021. All tests were successful.

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