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Foreign Ministers of NATO to meet virtually on Jan. 7 to discuss Russia’s military buildup along Ukraine’s borders. Even as Russian President Vladimir Putin amassed 122,000 troops within striking distance of Ukraine this past fall, he placed the blame for rising tensions squarely on NATO expansion. The Russian president has demanded guarantees that Ukraine will never be able to join NATO and that the alliance ends military activities within a “comfort zone” around Russia. So far, these proposals have been rejected.
Ukraine will get at least 3 new Mark IV patrol boats from U.S. in 2022. The boats are part of a $600 million deal approved by the U.S. government under the Foreign Military Sale program. They are meant to reinforce Ukraine’s obsolete navy that lost 80% of its power and infrastructure when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Covid-19 in Ukraine
Ukraine begins offering booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine for citizens aged 60 and over. Those eligible can get a booster shot six months after getting their second shot. Pfizer and Moderna shots are recommended for use as boosters. The government also relaxed rules for mixing vaccines – it's now possible to mix Coronavac with AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer or use AstraZeneca as the second dose after an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer).
On Jan. 5, the health ministry will consider offering booster shots to other groups of the population.
Ukraine’s ambassador in Germany: Nord Stream 2 won’t launch soon. Ambassador Andriy Melnyk believes that Russia’s controversial gas transit system won’t be launched until the end of the winter at least. The certification will take until mid-2022, Melnyk told European Pravda. He added that the disagreements over Nord Stream 2 in the newly-formed parliament of Germany “give Ukraine a chance” (to continue to advocate against Nord Stream 2).
Court, prosecutors disagree on whether Poroshenko’s arrest warrant request is active. The Pechersk court in Kyiv said that the investigator who requested an arrest warrant for ex-President Petro Poroshenko has canceled his request, although the State Investigation Bureau denied it. Poroshenko, who is suspected of high treason, has been abroad since mid-December.
Zelensky goes on winter break, stays in same hotel as oligarch Kolomoisky. Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing its sources, that President Volodymyr Zelensky checked into the Radisson Blu Resort hotel in Bukovel, Ukraine’s best-known ski resort in the Carpathian Mountains. Oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky was staying at the hotel at the same time. The oligarch told journalists he didn’t meet with Zelensky and left the hotel on Jan. 4. After the news broke, Zelensky published a statement saying that he went to the Carpathians for a “short winter break.”
Gazprom sharply reduces gas flow through Ukraine. The amount of gas of Russia’s Gazprom that goes to Slovakia through Ukraine’s gas transit system went from 84 million cubic meters on Dec. 31 to 26 million cubic meters on Jan. 3. This follows another decrease in early December: from 109 to 87 million cubic meters a day.
Ukravtodor forced to pay Hr 348 million to Onur. Ukraine’s state road construction and repair agency Ukravtodor paid the Turkish company Onur, one of its biggest contractors, Hr 348 million (nearly $13 million) to settle the debt for a 2020 contract to repair parts of the Kyiv-Odesa highway. The agency was late on its payment, saying that it lacked the funds after the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development stopped financing the project. Onur went to a Kyiv court and won the case in September. In late December, Ukravtodor transferred the money.
Kazakhstan government resigns amid mass protests. The government of Kazakhstan resigned in the early hours of Jan. 5 amid mass protests that began over the weekend. Protests started in reaction to a sharp increase of vehicle fuel prices but even after prices went down, demonstrations continued. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appointed an acting prime minister.
Netflix responds to criticism over ‘offensive’ Ukrainian character in ‘Emily in Paris’ series. Many in Ukraine were outraged with the depiction of the hit show’s Ukrainian character as an ignorant shoplifter with a bad fashion sense. But after a formal complaint from Ukraine’s culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, the streaming giant agreed to “be in closer contact to prevent such cases” in 2022. Still, some Ukrainians defended the show, saying some of the criticism was driven by an inferiority complex.
Archeologists uncover 3rd century burial site in Lviv Oblast. The site is believed to belong to the Wielbark culture, associated with the Goths and other Germanic people. Rare finds include colored glass cups – reportedly the first time glasses that old have been found on the territory of Ukraine. Archeologists have been digging out the site near village Karov in Lviv Oblast since 2017.