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Real winter came to Kyiv on Dec. 20-21, with the season's first heavy snowfall and the temperatures sliding to minus 9 Celsius. (Oleg Petrasiuk)
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Editor’s Note: The following is the latest edition of the Kyiv Independent’s newsletter, Ukraine Daily. If you would like to receive news about Ukraine in your mailbox six days a week subscribe here. It’s free.

Russia’s war against Ukraine

Zelensky: Russia could invade Kharkiv. President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he believes Russia could occupy Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv, provoking a large-scale war. It contrasted sharply with his address to the nation, where he downplayed the threat of invasion.

Nations expand defense aid to Ukraine as Russia threatens war. Estonia confirmed its plans to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missile systems. Latvia and Lithuania said they would send FIM-92 Stinger man-portable anti-aircraft weapons. The U.S. State Department has given all three Baltic NATO allies the green light to supply the weapons to Ukraine.

Russian parliament to consider recognizing Donbas proxies as independent states. Next week, the leaders of the State Duma factions will consider an address to Russian President Vladimir Putin to officially recognize the Kremlin proxies that control parts of eastern Ukraine.

US, Russia agree to continue Ukraine talks after Blinken-Lavrov meeting.During their meeting in Geneva on Jan. 21, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov made no breakthrough. However, the two agreed to keep talking.

Russia sends 2 battalions of surface-to-air missile systems to Belarus for joint military drills scheduled for February. The Kremlin began sending its troops and combat vehicles to Ukraine’s northern neighboring country earlier this week as fears are mounting over a possible full-scale Russian invasion.

Spain sends warships to Black Sea amid Russian military build-up. A mine-sweeper is already en route and a frigate will sail within three or four days. Spain’s warships will also join NATO naval forces in the Mediterranean. Madrid is also considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria to reinforce NATO’s troops.

Germany blocks Estonia from sending German-produced weapons to Ukraine. The refusal to permit the transfer concerns 122 mm howitzers. The artillery was manufactured in the now-defunct German Democratic Republic. The decision is just the most recent development in Germany’s record of sabotaging support for Ukraine against Russia’s war.

Poland pledges support to Ukraine in face of Russian threat. After President Volodymyr Zelensky’s two-day visit to Poland, Polish President Andrzej Duda pledged to stand with Ukraine. “Ukraine’s security is part of our own security,” said Duda’s administration.

US reportedly considers evacuating families of diplomats in Ukraine. Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources, that the U.S. is weighing ordering families of diplomats in Ukraine to return home as Russia continues to amass troops and arms along the Ukrainian border.

National

Ukraine to join certification process of Nord Stream 2. Ukraine’s Energy Minister German Galushchenko said that Kyiv will be invited to the European Commission’s discussions regarding the pipeline’s certification. Russia’s controversial pipeline, completed in September, still needs to be certified by Germany’s regulator to operate. After the German regulator completes its inspection, the draft decision will be sent to the European Commission, which will also have a say.

Prosecutors appeal court decision not to arrest Poroshenko. Prosecutors have demanded that ex-President Petro Poroshenko be arrested on $37 million bail in a treason case. A court ruled not to arrest him on Jan. 19.

Selection panel launches judicial reform. The panel for choosing the High Qualification Commission - a judicial governing body – held its first official meeting on Jan. 21. It announced that candidates could apply for commission jobs starting Feb. 4 through March 4.

US prosecutors move to seize $6 million from Kolomoisky in Texas. ​​The U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture complaint on Jan. 20, with the intention of seizing $6 million from Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky’s businesses, allegedly obtained with money stolen and laundered from PrivatBank.

Business

State Food Grain Corporation of Ukraine in default of payment towards Export-Import Bank of China. Ukraine’s state-run grain company, mired in corruption scandals, is unable to repay the next $100 million tranche to the Chinese bank. The tranche is part of a $1.5 billion loan contracted in December 2012. Ukraine might owe over $1 billion to China if Beijing demands the debt be paid in full, but the terms of the loan stipulate it has until 2027 to repay it.

Ukraine invests more than 600 million euros in modernization of its electrical grid. The government invested the sum to update and help merge the country’s electrical network with ENTSO-E, Europe’s energy network, in a move to disconnect Ukraine’s electricity imports from Russia and Belarus by the end of 2022.

Culture

Ukrainian rap diva Alina Pash wins EU prize for young artists. The singer received the Music Moves Europe Award along with five other acts from Europe at a ceremony in the Netherlands on Jan. 20. The jury included an honorary member – rapper Alyona Alyona, the first Ukrainian to receive the recognition last year along with the Public Choice Award.

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2:58 AM

Russia attacks 10 communities in Sumy Oblast.

Russian forces struck 10 communities in Ukraine's northeastern Sumy Oblast in 44 separate attacks throughout the day, the regional administration reported on May 17. At least 183 explosions were reported in Sumy Oblast over the past 24 hours.
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