As the conflict reaches its day 688 here are the primary advancements.
US Sanctions Russian Entities Over North Korea’s Ballistic Missiles
In response to the transfer and testing of North Korea’s ballistic missiles for potential use by Russia against Ukraine, the United States has imposed sanctions on three Russian entities and an individual. Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, emphasized the gravity of North Korea’s actions, stating that the missile transfer supports Russia’s war of aggression, exacerbates the suffering of the Ukrainian people, and undermines the global nonproliferation regime.
Russian Presidential Hopeful Opposes War in Ukraine
Boris Nadezhdin, a Russian presidential hopeful and vocal critic of the Kremlin’s policies, took a stand against the war in Ukraine. On Thursday, Nadezhdin met with a group of soldiers’ wives who are urging the discharge of their husbands from the frontline. Nadezhdin, actively collecting signatures, aims to qualify to challenge President Vladimir Putin in the upcoming vote scheduled for March 15-17. His stance reflects a growing sentiment within Russia against the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Nadezhdin Criticizes Putin’s War Decisions
Nadezhdin, 60, candidly expressed to the soldiers’ wives that the war was “a big mistake by Putin, of course, and the consequences will be very grave … we want [the soldiers] simply to come back.” Despite this criticism, the prevailing belief among Putin’s supporters and opponents alike is that his re-election is virtually assured, given his total grip on power. Notably, his best-known opponent, Alexei Navalny, is currently serving jail terms totaling more than 30 years in an Arctic penal colony.
EU Industrial Chief Targets €3bn for Defense Equipment
EU industrial chief Thierry Breton is spearheading a new scheme, targeting €3bn to ramp up the production of defense equipment. Emphasizing the need for preparedness against all eventualities, Breton highlights Russia as a major concern. He argues that Europe’s ammunition supplies must be “on a par” with Russia, and he plans to propose extending the initiative beyond ammunition to cover various equipment. The European Commission has already allocated €1.5bn, and Breton aims to double this amount. He recently introduced the idea of a €100bn European defense fund, a matter to be addressed by the next commission, due to be appointed at the end of this year.
Zelenskiy Expresses Gratitude and Requests More Aid
As Volodymr Zelenskiy concluded his tour of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, the Ukrainian president expressed gratitude for the already-delivered Patriot air defense systems, without which it would be “impossible to survive” some attacks. However, he appealed for more deliveries, questioning how one could live peacefully with the threat of numerous such systems. This plea was made during a press conference in Latvia’s capital Riga.
Latvia Announces New Aid Package for Ukraine
Latvia’s president, Edgars Rinkevics, revealed a new aid package, announcing that Riga would deliver “artillery shells, anti-aircraft weapons, grenades, drones” for Ukraine this year. This showcases ongoing international efforts to support Ukraine in its defense against external threats.
Switzerland and Ukraine Host Peace Talks at Davos
On Sunday, Switzerland and Ukraine will jointly host peace formula talks at Davos, marking the fourth and most significant meeting in a series aimed at garnering support for Ukraine’s peace plan. These discussions underscore ongoing diplomatic efforts to find a resolution to the conflict.
Ukraine’s Parliament Rejects Soldier Draft Bill
Ukraine’s parliament has chosen not to debate a bill intended to draft more soldiers. After a closed-door meeting with Ukraine’s military leaders, David Arakhamia, the ruling party leader, cited concerns that “some provisions directly violate human rights.” This decision reflects internal deliberations over balancing national security needs and individual rights.
Mine Countermeasures Naval Group Established in the Black Sea
Top defense officials from Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania signed a memorandum of understanding in Istanbul, establishing the Mine Countermeasures Naval Group in the Black Sea (MCM Black Sea). This group will oversee demining operations in the Black Sea, ensuring safe waters post-Russia’s war. It highlights collaborative efforts to address the aftermath of the conflict.
Russian Shelling Takes Toll on Belgorod Region
Russia’s Belgorod region is facing challenging times due to recent shelling by Ukraine, according to its governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov. This emphasizes the regional impact and the toll that the conflict is taking on both sides.
Kremlin Accuses US of Pressuring European Countries
The Kremlin has accused the US of attempting to pressure European countries into supporting the seizure of frozen Russian assets overseas, alleging it is for financing the rebuilding of Ukraine. This idea has gained momentum, indicating the financial dynamics and international implications surrounding the conflict.
Ukraine Fortifies Defense with Barricades and Trenches
Ukraine is intensifying its defensive measures by building barricades and digging trenches, shifting its focus towards defense. Reuters reporters witnessed trenches being dug with an excavator and shovels at an undisclosed location in the Chernihiv region near the Russian border.
Russian Missile Strikes Spark Concerns for Media Workers
The Ukraine’s national union of journalists condemned Russian missile strikes on a hotel in Kharkiv, viewing it as “the intimidation of media workers to limit the coverage of the war.” Thirteen people, including foreign journalists, were injured, underscoring the risks faced by media personnel in conflict zones.