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Jan. 25 news wrap-up

January 26, 2022 2:35 amby TheKyivIndependent
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Employees unload a plane carrying new U.S. security assistance provided to Ukraine, at Kyiv’s Boryspil Airport on Jan. 25, 2022.

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Russia’s war against Ukraine

US delivers 300 more Javelins to Ukraine. The aid was delivered to Kyiv on Jan. 25 as part of the United States' rising military support to Ukraine amid the looming threat of Russia's all-out invasion. The new delivery also included SMAW-D anti-fortification weapons.

US warns Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko against helping potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Belarus would face a “swift and decisive response” if it assists ally Russia in invading its northern neighbor Ukraine. Russia has already begun moving troops and combat vehicles to Belarus ahead of joint military drills scheduled for February. 

Johnson: If Russia pursues this path, many Russian sons will not be coming home. In his Jan. 25 speech to parliament, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the U.K., together with Germany, Poland, Italy, France and the U.S. have agreed that if Russian troops move further into Ukraine they will impose “coordinated and severe sanctions, heavier than anything done before against Russia.” 

Johnson also said that the war will be costly for Russia because Ukraine is ready to fight. “Anyone who’s been (to Ukraine) will know that Ukrainians are determined to fight and have become steadily more skilled at guerrilla warfare,” he added.

This week, NATO to send written proposal to Russia regarding its security demands. The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Jan. 25 that there is still “a diplomatic way out” from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but it would require Moscow to de-escalate the tensions and be ready to engage in political talks with the West. “We are ready to sit down… and listen to Russian concerns, but we are not ready to compromise on core principles,” he told CNN. 

Canada orders diplomats' families to leave Ukraine amid fears of Russian escalation. Canadian citizens are advised to leave Ukraine and avoid traveling to the country. Earlier, the U.K. and the U.S. have authorized the withdrawal of non-essential staff from their Kyiv embassies.

Macron, Putin to discuss Ukraine tensions over phone on Jan. 28. French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted clarification on Moscow’s intentions towards Ukraine to “eliminate any misunderstanding or ambiguity.” He told the reporters on Jan. 26 that France is ready to continue dialogue with Russia but the Kremlin will pay a “very high price” if it further invades Ukraine. 

Croatian president calls EuroMaidan Revolution a coup, says will stay out of war in Ukraine. Zoran Milanovic said on Jan. 25 that Croatia should pull all of its forces out of the NATO contingent in Eastern Europe if Russia escalates its war against Ukraine. Milanovic, known for his pro-Russian views, is at odds with the pro-Ukrainian Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who holds most executive power in the country. Plenkovic apologized to Ukrainians for the president’s words.

National  

Ukraine drops 5 spots in the Corruption Perception Index. Ukraine ranked 122nd out of 180 countries, having scored 32 out of 100 points. The main factors contributing to the slide were delayed judicial reform, anti-monopoly legislation, and the Constitutional Court’s interference in anti-corruption work.

Small business owners, self-employed people rally, clash with police. Over 3,000 people gathered on Jan. 25 in front of the parliament to protest against the mandatory introduction of “registrars of operations” (cash registers or card terminals) for small businesses, which came into force on Jan. 1. Protesters tried to enter the parliament building but were pushed back by the police. Over 20 people were injured.

Covid-19 in Ukraine

Rivne and Lviv oblasts to enter red quarantine zone in upcoming days, the health ministry announced on Jan. 25. Lviv Oblast will introduce the red restriction level on Jan. 26, while Rivne Oblast will follow a day later. Both regions have seen an increase in new Covid-19 cases and hospitalization over the past three days. 

One day earlier, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast also entered the red restriction zone, the strictest quarantine level, in which most non-essential shops and venues must ask to see a Covid-19 vaccination certificate, negative PCR test, an antigen test, or a certificate of recovery before allowing entry.

Business

Ukraine's currency falls to 4-year low. The current official exchange rate is Hr 28.7 for $1. The National Bank had to sell $148.3 million in the past two days to curb the currency slump. The currency is dependent on budget payments, which peak in December, according to the bank. 

Ukraine, Hungary extend gas import deal until September. "This will significantly increase Ukraine’s capabilities to pump gas for the next heating season," said a statement by the Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine. The agreement allows Ukraine to import up to 8 million cubic meters of natural gas per day (2.9 billion cubic meters per year) from Hungary.

Co-owner of Delta Bank ordered to repay $157 million debt to Ukraine. Mykola Lagun, former co-owner and CEO of now-defunct Delta Bank, was charged for embezzling more than $38 million (Hr 1 billion) in October, but the court didn’t put him under house arrest, under the condition that he used his new job’s salary to pay a total of $157 million in debt to the state. He declared a salary of $500. At this pace, he will repay the debt in 27,000 years.

Culture

Ukraine to explore ‘world’s exhaustion’ at Venice Art Biennale. Ukraine’s pavilion will feature the "Fountain of Exhaustion" by Pavlo Makov and exhibits on the history of the concept. Read how Makov's artistic response to his city’s water mismanagement in 1995 evolved into a work reflecting the world’s decline in 2022. 

Sword of Hetman Petro Sahaidachny to be exhibited in Ukraine. The military leader, known by the title of hetman, was credited for transforming Ukrainian Zaporozhian Cossacks into an organized army and received the sword as a prize in 1621 from Polish future King Wladyslaw IV Vasa. The relic will be brought from Poland for the 400th anniversary of Sahaidachny’s death this year. 

2 Ukrainian illustrators among the winners of prestigious Italian Illustrators Exhibition. Kyiv artists Polina Doroshenko and Anna Ivanenko are among the winners of the 56th Illustrators Exhibition, the annual art event aimed at showcasing the latest trends in illustration and discovering new artists. Their works will be exhibited at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March and then displayed at several art museums around the world.

Region

Central Asian countries go dark amid international blackout. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan witnessed a large-scale power outage on Jan. 25. According to media reports from Kyrgyz and Uzbek capitals, Bishkek and Tashkent, the cities were without power starting from early morning, along with large parts of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city. 

The three countries share a power grid, and the Kyrgyz energy ministry claimed that the outage was caused by a large accident in Kazakhstan’s power system. Power had gradually returned after several hours.

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