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Jan. 31 news wrap-up

February 1, 2022 9:56 amby TheKyivIndependent
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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

NATO chief sees “no sign” of Russian military build-up slowing down. “There’s a continued military buildup, the largest massing of forces in Europe since the Second World War, and these are combat-ready heavy equipped forces,” the bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Washington Post. The NATO chief said that as the build-up continues, “it's for Russia to explain and for Russia to de-escalate and for Russia to engage in a serious political dialogue with NATO and NATO allies.”

US, Russia clash at UN Security Council meeting over Ukraine. The meeting held on Jan. 31 quickly devolved into a sharp confrontation with little result, as Russia actively denied responsibility for its war against Ukraine. Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya accused the U.S. of “whipping up hysteria” over Ukraine, calling the meeting an attempt to mislead the international community with a “PR stunt.”

Poland, UK to announce new cooperation format with Ukraine. Evropeiska Pravda reported, citing diplomatic sources, that the nature of the format has not yet been revealed. The UK's foreign secretary mentioned earlier that Britain and Poland are strengthening their bilateral partnership and developing new trilateral ties with Poland and Ukraine.

Poland to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons. Pawel Soloch, the leader of Poland’s National Security Bureau, said that Warsaw intends to send air defense weapons to Ukraine, adding that several dozen could be transferred “within the next several days.” Warsaw will also provide Kyiv with humanitarian assistance.

US draws up sanctions against Putin's inner circle. The Financial Times reported, citing unnamed administration officials, that the individuals and family members include many who are "particularly vulnerable" because of their ties with the West. Meanwhile, the UK is moving forward with legislation that would allow it to target any company that's linked to the Russian state.

Stoltenberg “concerned” by European reliance on Russian gas. The NATO chief said on Jan. 30 that the current Russia crisis “demonstrates the vulnerability of being too dependent on one supplier of natural gas,” and that the bloc’s members agreed on the need to diversify supplies.

US plane with 84 tons of ammunition arrives in Kyiv. This is the fifth shipment of defense aid that the U.S. has sent to Ukraine in recent weeks. Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that Kyiv is waiting on another shipment to arrive in the next few days.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Ukraine on Feb. 3.Erdogan has repeatedly tried to mediate between Ukraine and Russia amid growing tensions over the threat of invasion. On Jan. 26, Erdogan said that Russia would be unwise to attack Ukraine and if it did, Turkey would do what is necessary as a NATO member, while also calling for a diplomatic settlement to the crisis.

As Ukraine’s allies in the West send military aid to bolster the country’s defenses against a possible Russian military escalation, there are ways for individual foreigners to help Ukraine too. Here’s how foreign citizens can participate in defending Ukraine against Russia, should there be an invasion.

France to send frigate to Black Sea. The country's Defense Ministry said on Jan. 31 that it would send the ship to the Black Sea as Russia is escalating its aggression against Ukraine.

CORRECTION: Ukrainian fishermen were falsely reported detained by Russians in Azov Sea. According to the president’s representative in Crimea, Anton Korynevych, the two were found on Jan. 31 after they went missing days before. The fishermen’s boat engine stalled causing the vehicle to drift at sea. The two are now in a hospital in the southern Kherson Oblast.

National

Washington reportedly approves new ambassador to Ukraine. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has decided to appoint the current ambassador to Slovakia, Bridget Brink, as the ambassador to Ukraine. The U.S. is still awaiting Kyiv's approval, CNN and Bloomberg reported. For now, Charge d'affaires Kristina Kvien remains at the embassy in Kyiv. The U.S. has not had an ambassador to Ukraine since 2019. 

Russian-backed agitators caught planning fake riots in Ukraine. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has stated that it has detained Russian-sponsored agents who attempted to stage provocations in Ukraine, using up to 5,000 paid protestors and thugs, to launch violent protests. According to Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy, these protests were to be held in the cities of Sumy, Chernihiv, Poltava, and Cherkasy in order to “destabilize the situation in Ukraine.”

Health Minister: Omicron strain detected in 20 Ukrainian oblasts. Omicron, a new highly transmissible Covid-19 variant, is currently present in 20 out of 24 Ukrainian oblasts, according to Health Minister Viktor Lyashko. The minister said that the highest numbers of cases are now registered in Zhytomyr Oblast, Chernivtsi Oblast, Ternopil Oblast, and the city of Kyiv.

In other news

Finance Ministry pays $88 million to settle debt of state grain operator. The State Food and Grain Corporation was unable to pay back its loan tranche to Export-Import Bank of China on Jan. 22. Much of China’s $1.5 billion loan from 2012 was allegedly squandered through theft and corruption schemes, according to Ukraine’s anti-corruption officials.

Ukraine's industrial production grew by 1.1% in 2021. The production slightly recovered last year after a 4.5% decline in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The growth was driven by the production of electrical equipment, plastic products, optical equipment, computers, coal, and metal ore mining. Among the best performing regions for the growth rates were Volyn, Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa and Zhytomyr oblasts.

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