Russia's Military Escalation Against Ukraine: LIVE UPDATES

November 30, 2021
The situation around Donbas is escalating as Russia is increasing its military presence along Ukraine’s border. Here are regular updates.
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As Russia has again started amassing forces on Ukraine’s eastern border, we decided to renew our regular updates concerning the escalation.

18 January, key updates:

  • Several Russian Navy landing ships are leaving the Baltic Sea, according to the Swedish Armed Forces.
  • Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) sees Russia behind false bomb alerts in Kyiv and around Ukraine. Reports, that mostly turn out to be hoaxes, have significantly increased in th recent weeks,- BBC. They say this is 'a common tool in the context of the Russian Federation's hybrid aggression against Ukraine.'
  • Russian test for Scholz: Ukraine crisis exposes divisions in Berlin,- Politico.
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Kuleba in Kyiv on January 19; he will also meet with the employees and families of the US Embassy 'to communicate the Department’s efforts to plan for contingencies, should Russia choose to escalate further,' State Department Spokesperson Ned Price announced.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warns Russia against invading Ukraine,- The Times of Israel reports. He does not see Russian invasion 'as a realistic approach' because 'Ukraine is a powerful country.'
  • Russian troops' buildup near Ukraine has 'no understandable reason' and is 'hard not to take as a threat' German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during today's talks with Lavrov in Moscow,- DW.
  • A large-scale Russian attack on Ukraine is not the most likely scenario, EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said at a meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • Putin's Spokesman Peskov says Moscow can no longer tolerate 'NATO's invasion of Ukraine.'
  • Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces are planning to form 25 brigades (one per region) that will unite more than 150 battalions (one per district),- the press service of the Ministry of Defense announced. The permanent number of Territorial Defense will be 10 thousand servicemen in peacetime and more than 130 thousand persons in the special period, for which a corresponding reserve will be formed.
  • The British aircraft carrying weapons to Ukraine were forced to avoid German airspace after Germany refused to supply defensive weapons to Ukraine,- UK Defence Journal.
  • Putin is fabricating threats to his country from the US and NATO, even though it was he who invaded Ukraine and Georgia,- Member of the US Senate delegation Chris Murphy said in the interview with RFE/RL.
  • Units of the Russian Armed Forces have begun arriving in Belarus to take part in military exercises to be held from February 10 to 20, - Ukrayinska Pravda reports according to the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus.
  • Russia Thins Out Its Embassy in Ukraine, a Possible Clue to Putin’s Next Move, American and Ukrainian officials say,- The New York Times reports. Nearly 50 people, wives and children of Russian diplomats, left Kyiv and Lviv early January.'The slow evacuation may be part propaganda, part preparation for a conflict or part feint, Ukrainian and U.S. officials say. It could be all three,'- NYT.
  • Ukraine's Foreign Ministry 'has not received any information from the Russian side about any evacuation of personnel of the Russian Federation's diplomatic missions from Ukraine,' its Spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko says. No other foreign missions in Ukraine have informed Ukrainian MFA about similar plans, he added. Russian Foreign Ministry says its Embassy in Kyiv is working as usual.
  • UK has begun supplying Ukraine with new light anti-tank weapons in response to “the increasingly threatening behaviour from Russia”, its defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has announced, - The Guardian. He added that this support is 'clearly defensive weapon capabilities; they are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia.'
  • Canada deploys special forces to Ukraine, as part of an attempt by NATO allies to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine, and to identify ways to assist the Ukrainian government, Global News reports.
  • A bipartisan delegation of seven US senators met on Monday with President Zelensky in Kyiv amid the looming threat of a potential Russian invasion of the country,- CNN.

17 January, key updates:

  • The number of 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine's border could double in 2 days, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Lieutenant General Valeriy Zaluzhniy said in an interview with Ukrinform. In a week, he says, Russia could mass 780 thousand troops. 'We are now dealing with the army of the Russian Federation, which today has almost a million servicemen,' he added.
  • The United States and the European Union are no longer considering disconnecting Russia from the international payment system SWIFT if Moscow takes further aggressive steps against Ukraine,- European Pravda reports. 'This step could destabilize financial markets in the short term and promote the development of alternative payment infrastructure, in which the West will no longer dominate in the medium term,' German newspaper Handelsblatt cited its sources from the government. However, Germany insists on exceptions that would allow it to pay for gas and oil imports from Russia, if sanctions are imposed on Russian banks,- ZN.ua.
  • SBU security service responded to 'provocative' statements by the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko 'about the alleged increase in 'radical nationalists' near its own borders who are allegedly 'better than NATO troops,' calling them political manipulation. Together with the Ministry of Defense, Ukraine's Armed Forces, SBU says, they are taking measures 'to prevent destabilization of the situation in the country, including in the information sphere.'
  • Germany's position on arms supplies to Ukraine remains unchanged, the country 'will not depart from the fundamental principles of the Helsinki Final Act,'- German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during her visit to Kyiv before her first official trip to Moscow, emphasizing the need for further dialogue.
  • Over seventy German academics and foreign policy experts published an open letter on January 14 demanding that Germany’s Russia policy be fundamentally changed from tacit encouragement to open resistance of Vladimir Putin’s expansionist designs,- Alexander Motyl writes in his article for the Atlantic Council.
  • Putin's spokesman Dmitriy Peskov says the Kremlin is not interested in monitoring the return of Ukraine's fomer president Poroshenko, despite him being in opposition to Zelensky. But they 'are noting' that Zelensky's political opponents 'have a hard time in Ukraine,'- NV.
  • Former Ukrainian President and opposition leader Petro Poroshenko returned to Ukraine to face court on charges of hight treason that he views as politically motivated. The Pecherskiy District Court on Monday will rule on whether to remand Poroshenko in custody. Ukraine's ex-leader is accused of 'facilitating the activities of the terrorist organizations 'LPR' and 'DPR'' in 2014-15. Read more in the thread below.

15 January, key updates:

  • Russia transfers Iskander missile systems from the Far East to its western regions, Moscow-based Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) writes,- NV. They refer to videos showing launchers, transport-loading vehicles and missiles in Ural region and the Far East that were posted on TikTok on January 11 and 13.
  • US has talked to international energy companies on contingency plans for supplying natural gas to Europe if conflict between Russia and Ukraine disrupts Russian supplies,- Reuters reports.
  • Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says "conceding to aggressive politics may only increase tensions and lead to more aggression." He added that all "security threats originate primarily from Russia," and the Euro-Atlantic community must not succumb to Russia's blackmail and unjustified demands or give in to aggressive behaviour, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.
  • The Kremlin-backed TV station RT dehumanizes Ukrainians, encourages Russian intervention. Director of Russian-language RT broadcasting, Anton Krasovskiy, publicly called Ukrainians "animals", and said that Ukraine would not join NATO, since Russia will send troops to Ukraine, take Ukraine’s Constitution and "burn it" on Kyiv’s Khreshchatyk street because "it's (their) land". In his TV program "Antonyms”, the pro-Kremlin journalist added that Ukrainians “will return home.” Head of the Ukrainian Foundation for Security Studies, Julia Kazdobina, says this should raise reactions from the global journalist community: “It's an attempt to dehumanize Ukrainians, intimidate them and whip up hatred and aggression.”

14 January, key updates:

  • Ukrainian Embassy in Italy complained to Italian public TV Rai1 against the 'one-sided report' from the Russian-occupied Donbas where none of Kremlin's propaganda narratives were 'contested or balanced by the reporter,‘ - Olga Tokariuk said on Twitter.
  • Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, suggests that Russia is behind the cyberattack that hit Ukraine on the night of January 14. The investigation is underway but he says only one country can act "to such an extent today", threatening the existence of Ukraine's public administration in general.
  • The US official says Russia has already "prepositioned a group of operatives to conduct a false-flag operation", which could begin between mid-January and mid-February, a few weeks before a military invasion, - the Guadrian.
  • BREAKING: President Zelensky has invited his American counterpart Biden to hold a trilateral meeting with Putin,- head of the President's Office Andriy Yermak spoke to American diplomat John Herbst. The US officials have accepted the offer "with interest", he says, while Ukraine is waiting "for the reaction of the Russian side".
  • Russia is potentially laying a pretext for an invasion, "including through sabotage activities and information operations", US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said at a Press Briefing on Thursday. According to the intelligence data that the US will publsh within 24 hours, Moscow might accuse Ukraine "of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine". In an interview on RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda, Valeriy Kravchenko, Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Strategic Studies in Kyiv, also said that the Russians are preparing for intervention through provocations and special operations in Ukraine, as Moscow is speaking about "peacekeepers."
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says Moscow has "run out of patience" with the West and urges for a written response to its security demands within a week,- RFE/RL.
  • The websites of some Ukrainian government departments have been hit by a “massive” cyber-attack, knowcking out the Ministry of foreign affairs and the Ministry of education on the night of January 13-14. The SBU security srvice and the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection are investigating the incident but experts mention a “long record” of Russian cyber assaults against Ukraine."- the Guardian.
  • Russia is not afraid of sanctions because it has chosen the course of the Iron Curtain,- Valeriy Kravchenko, Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Strategic Studies in Kyiv, said in his interview on RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda. By stoking an energy crisis in Europe, "Russia is doing everything to create problems," he says.
  • Increased Russian activity in the Baltic Sea “deviates from the normal,” pushes Sweden to raise its military preparedness,- Associated Press.
  • US official warned that the "drumbeat of war is sounding loud" following a week's worth of diplomacy between the West and Russia,- CNN.
  • Biden is planning for a high-profile public showdown with Russia at the United Nations Security Council if Moscow intervenes in Ukraine, - Foreign Policy.
  • NATO Wonʼt Let Ukraine Join Soon,- NYT reports.
  • “Russian influence actors” working for state-run news outlets and on social media are hard at work fabricating “Ukrainian provocations” to justify a new Russian intervention and sow discord in Ukraine,- US official told BuzzFeed News. The number of publications emphasizing the deterioration of human rights, militancy of Ukrainian leaders, as well as blaming the West and ensuring Russian domestic support for military action has increased by 200-percent from the daily average in November.

13 January, key updates:

  • Russia will not even discuss US demands to return its troops to barracks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, calling Washington's demands unacceptable,- Censor.net. The next steps will be determined after Russia receives a written response from the US and NATO to its security proposals, he said.
  • The Baltic States are discussing with their allies to increase NATO's military deployments on their soil to deter Russia,- Euroactiv. NATO’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said Russia's further attack on Ukraine could spur the decision.
  • Denmark will increase its military presence in the Baltics in the face of Russia’s aggressive behaviour, - Euroactiv. Operating under NATO's command, it will deploy four fighters in Lithuania, and use a naval frigate for patrolling. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said they counted on diplomatic solutions with Russia, but "must take precautions." Sweden is reportedly ramping up its military activities on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, too.
  • Russia says it's hitting a dead end in talks over Ukraine, and threatens unspecified consequences in response, - Reuters. "Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russian military specialists were providing options to President Vladimir Putin in case the situation around Ukraine worsens, but diplomacy must be given a chance." Meanwhile, Russia refuses to compromise on its demands to end NATO's open door policy and provide legal guarantees of the Alliance's non-elargement to the east.
  • Moscow threatens "to take necessary measures to ensure strategic balance and eliminate unacceptable threats to (its) national security", if it doesn't get "a constructive response" to its demands, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said. "Putin will continue to undermine Ukrainian democracy & sovereignty, no matter what NATO does," - Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, Michael McFaul, tweeted.
  • The risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than at any time in the last 30 years, Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau said on Thursday in Vienna.
  • The United States will send radar systems and some maritime equipment as part of the additional military assistance that was authorized in late December, - Politico. US Secretary of State Antony Bliknen assured his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that the US and its allies are ready to "increase the defense support to Ukraine," should Russia resort to further military actions.
  • US Senators are ready to sanction Putin if Russia further invades Ukraine. The Biden administration and Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to impose personal sanctions on on Russian President Putin, top government and military officials, Reuters reported. Their proposals include an entry ban to the US and an assets freeze, particularly against President Putin, Prime Minister Mishustin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and Defense Minister Shoigu, as well as those invlved in aggression against Ukraine.
  • There's no direct preparatory work for the start of immediate aggressive hostilities in Ukraine for now, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov said in an interview for Ukrayinska Pravda. He added that they would "speak to the public about it", if anything happens tomorrow.

12 January, news of the day:

  • Russia and NATO concluded their security talks. The meeting was "not an easy discussion" but both sides agreed on the need of dialogue, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. “Our differences will not be easy to bridge,” Stoltenberg said.
  • NATO warned Russia it would not compromise on the alliance’s principles and urged Moscow to “immediately de-escalate the situation in Ukraine” - Russian representatives have not promised to pull back the troops but have not disagreed. NATO reiterated its rejection of Russian demands on NATO's non-enlargement and all troops withdrawal from the member states bordering Russia; offered Russia a range of new security talks over Ukraine; NATO's ready to discuss arms control and missile deployments in Europe. Russian representative had no response to that, "another indication that even Russia’s top diplomats may not know what Mr. Putin’s intentions really are," the New York Times concludes.
  • In a telephone call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Zelensky spoke about the need to impose a preventive package of sanctions against Russia in the event of Kremlin's further aggression.
  • US "will respond resolutely, including with a range of high-impact economic measures,” if Russia resorts tp military action, US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s talks, VOA reports. Smith said they are prepared "to reinforce NATO’s defense on the eastern flank," in case of further Russian aggression in Ukraine.
  • The United States and its European allies have agreed to prepare a package of "very painful" sanctions against Russia, should it proceed with the military escalation, Ukriform reports, citing Victoria Nuland, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs. Allies of the US in Europe "may take parallel steps that are not exactly the same but also painful to Russia because we have different economic exposure," Nuland explained. Export restrictions are under discussion.

11 January, news of the day:

  • What would be Russia’s military options in Ukraine? - The Guardian examines a possibility of Russia's full-scale operation: occupation of Kyiv would be difficult but Russian mechanised forces in Belarus would be an alarming sign for all. Taras Kuzio, an associate fellow with the Henry Jackson Society, says Putin could chose between three military scenarios - 1) occupation and annexation of the part of Donbas; 2) enlargement of the occupied territory with a land corridor to Crimea; 3) cutting Ukraine off from the Black Sea.
  • As the U.S. and Russia talk, Ukrainian troops brace for war, and they're "ready for battle", - CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams reports from Eastern Ukraine where Ukrainian military leaders spoke about their readiness to fight Russia in case of a further invasion.
  • Russia started moving military helicopters to Ukraine's border, a possible sign that planning for an attack continues, - NYT. "While troop movements have slowed, there are still 100,000 military personnel near the border and now the Russians have positioned additional attack aircraft there, American officials said," the New York Times reports.
  • Russia is "a serial rapist" who will "get a kick in the balls", MEP and former Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski tweeted in response to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, who called NATO a geopolitical project to take over the territories orphaned by the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation and the Soviet Union.
  • Excluded from Talks, Ukraine Prepares to Fight, - Olga Tokariuk analyses Ukraine's anbsence in US-Russia talks for CEPA: "Ukrainians know Putin’s Russia better than anyone and have no illusions regarding the Kremlin’s plans. What they do fear is Western betrayal."
  • US quietly authorized an additional 200 million dollars in security assistance to Ukraine in late December,- CNN reported citing its sources. The security package that includes the shipment of similar defensive equipment the US has provided in the past - small arms and ammunition, secure radios, medical equipment, spare parts - was authorized weeks before US-Russia talks in Geneva.
  • Ukraine "armed its partners with arguments" ahead of NATO's talks with Russia, Deputy Head of the President's Office Ihor Zhovkva stated. He emphasized the importance of "clear decisions" to be made on Ukraine's further progress towards NATO membership at the forthcoming NATO Summit in Madrid, "preferably with specific timeframes," Zhovkva added.
  • Russia downplays threat to Ukraine in talks with US,- BBC reports following security talks in Geneva. "The US urged Russia to de-escalate the situation and remove its troops from Ukraine's border but it received no assurance that would happen."
  • Europe should be involved in the negotiation process on resolving the conflict with Russia, Germany's top diplomat, Annalena Baerbock said in her interview for La Stampa. The German foreign minister discussed a common European approach to the threat of Russia's military buil-up on the border with Ukraine with her Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio on Monday.

10 January, key updates:

  • US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke to Russia about reciprocal action to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine and "improve strategic stability." She offered Russia further talks on missile placement, however, ruled out Russian security proposals "that are simply non-starters in the United States", France 24 reports. Sherman added that the US "will not allow anyone to close NATO's open-door policy."
  • The US and Russia concluded high-stakes security talks in Geneva that laster more than 7 hours. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said "the conversation was difficult but concrete.” Ryabkov added that US officials expressed "certain threats, at least warnings." According to Ryabkov, Moscow's representatives explained to their counterparts that Russia did not plan to attack Ukraine and there was "no reason to fear any escalation scenario," but "NATO's non-expansion is an absolute imperative." Ryabkov said the United States seemed to have taken Russia's proposals on "security guarantees" seriously, NV reports. Russia will allegedly decide on its next actions after the Russia-NATO Council and the OSCE talks later this week.
  • "Ukraine demands that the new German government abandon the morally false policy of blocking and immediately provide Kyiv with defense weapons to defend" against Russia,"- Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk said.
  • Ukraine's SBU security service has allegedly detained a Russian military intelligence agent who was planning a "range of terrorist attacks" in Odessa.
  • Ahead of the Russia-NATO meeting in Brussels, Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO would not compromise with Russia on Ukraine's membership,- European Pravda reports.
  • NATO should pack up and return to the borders of 1997, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Sunday in an interview for Russian news agency TASS in Geneva. Earlier on Friday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that real risks of a Russian invasion remain.
  • US-Russia talks begin in Geneva amid tension over Ukraine. Top Russian and US officials met for a working dinner on Sunday night to begin negotiations over threats to Ukraine and Moscow's tensions with the West, "but there was deep pessimism on both sides that a diplomatic solution was within reach," the New York Times reports. Before, the Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had said that it was "naive" to count on "security guarantees" in the forthcoming talks between Moscow and Washington. According to ABC, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken didn't expect any breakthroughs in the bilateral talks in Geneva or in Brussels, at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, or at the OSCE in Vienna later this week.
  • Ukraine is quietly pursuing its own negotiations with Moscow, "fearing the talks will yield little or nothing,"- NYT reports.
  • Putin’s demands are harmful to international peace and security,- Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says.

  • Washington warned Russia on new penalties it may face in the event of its further invasion of Ukraine. This could include restrictions on "products exported from the US to Russia and potentially foreign-made products subject to US jurisdiction",- AP.
  • EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine. They "emphasised the need for Russia to de-escalate and fully implement the Minsk agreements."
  • The US is "not weighing cuts to troops in Europe" and "not looking at changing troop numbers in the Baltics and Poland," Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby said in response to NBC's report.

6 January, key updates:

  • The United States and Germany have different views on the supply of weapons to Ukraine, however, they both support Ukraine in the face of Russian military aggression, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stated during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on January 5, Ukrinform reports.
  • Latvia will send military aid to Ukraine that could include unspecified weapons and systems to Ukraine, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said on Wednesday. "We call on our allies in Europe to do the same. Because Ukraine has the right and must be able to defend itself. Ukraine is largely relieving tensions on our own borders,” Pabriks added. Earlier, the Baltic ministries of defense have unanimously "expressed readiness to provide immediate support for Ukraine, including all available non-military and military instruments of power, including lethal weapons.”
  • There is no security in Europe without the security of Ukraine, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said at the press conference in Stanytsia Luhanska, eatern Ukraine. "It is clear that any discussion on European security must include the European Union and Ukraine. Any discussion about Ukraine must involve Ukraine, first of all." Josep Borrell is the first EU high representative for foreign policy to have visited Donbas since Russia started its war against Ukraine.
  • NATO will hold an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers on January 7 to discuss Russia's increasing military build-up in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and on its borders.

4 January, key updates:

  • Berlin is more ready to support Ukraine's future membership in the EU than NATO, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk said in his interview for European Pravda. He assumed that fear of war overshadowed Germany's clear view of the situation, and Putin was able to slow down Ukraine's progress towards NATO.
  • Former Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said the EU and the US will try to pause arms supplies to Ukraine and the process of rapprochement with NATO so as not to strain relations with Russia.
  • It’s time NATO fulfils its promise and sets out an action plan to give Georgia and Ukraine seats at the NATO table, - former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes for Politico. "If NATO allies engage with Russia’s most recent proposals for a new security relationship in Europe, they will be directly helping him move a step closer to achieving his goal, giving Russia the whip hand over the security of Central and Eastern Europe," he says.
  • Putin is right about one thing: A free, prosperous, democratic neighbor is a threat to his autocratic regime, - Anne Applebaum writes for the Atlantic.
  • EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell will be travelling to Ukraine on 4-6 January. Accompanied by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the HRVP will visit the east of Ukraine and the line of contact, and then travel to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian authorities, the press service of the European Commission announced.
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu have discussed "close coordination" on the threat of Russian escalation in Ukraine.
  • 9 multinational military exercises will take place in Ukraine this year, Ukrinform reports. The military exercises will involve tens of thousands of military personnel from NATO countries.

3 January, key updates:

  • Moscow will hold urgent talks with Ukraine, Germany and France this Thursday under the Normandy format, according to Russian state-run news agency Interfax, DW reports.
  • Ukrainian journalist and UNIAN correspondent Roman Tsymbalyuk, who worked in Moscow for more than 10 years, left Russia after being summoned for questioning by the local prosecutor's office. He is accused of extremism, Ukrayinska Pravda reports.
  • 2022’s Biggest Challenges Come From Russia and Iran,- Joe Lieberman writes for WSJ.
  • The Kremlin expects that the United States will "influence" Ukraine's unyielding position on negotiations with the "L/DNR", - Censor.net reports, citing Russian Foreign Ministry. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said prospects for restoring peace in Donbas are "postponed indefinitely."
  • In a phone call on Sunday, US President Biden reassured Ukrainian President Zelensky that the US and its allies "will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine," the White House said in a statement. They expressed support for diplomatic efforts, and Biden stressed Washington's commitment "to the principle of 'nothing about you without you'."

1 January, key updates:

  • President Zelensky has appointed Yuriy Halushkin Commander of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Halushkin was a participant in an international peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, he served as Chief Inspector of the Ministry of Defense from late 2019 and as a Deputy Chief Inspector from mid-2020.
  • Law "On the Fundamentals of National Resistance", adopted last summer, came into force on January 1. The law provides for the possibility of creating voluntary formations of territorial communities that are allowed to use their own hunting weapons, as well as defines concepts of "national resistance", "territorial defense", "resistance movement", "voluntary formation of a territorial community", etc.
  • The US will have "severe sanctions" and "increase its presence in Europe" if Putin makes a move on Ukraine, President Joe Biden said he made it clear to Russian President on Friday.

31 December, key updates:

  • Russia continues to amass its troops near the border with Ukraine: the discovered camps are growing, new camps are set up, tanks and howitzers are joined by sophisticated air defense systems, Ukriform reports according to the latest investigation by Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT).
  • US President Biden urged Putin to take steps to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine and warned of dire economic consequences in the event of Russia's further invasion of Ukraine. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin held a 50-min phone call late Thursday. Putin warned Biden that imposing new sanctions over Ukraine could lead to a complete breakdown in relations between Russia and the United States. He told his US counterpart that it would be a “colossal mistake”.

30 December, news of the past few days:

  • On Wednesday, December 29, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed future talks with Russia in a conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky. During a phone call, Blinken and Zelensky discussed efforts to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine and upcoming diplomatic talks with Russia - U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price made the above statement.
  • A senior official of the U.S. National Security Council said that President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. President Joe Biden would hold a telephone conversation soon.

28 December, news of the past few days:

  • Ukraine Requires Women to Register for Military Conscription as Russia Threat Looms, Military.com reports. Pregnant women and women with young children are also required to register for possible military conscription if they represent certain professions, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense explained. Meanwhile, the Ministry is working to digitize the process. Deputy Minister of Defense Anna Malyar also said that women can register throughout 2022.
  • Meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine is postponed to December 30, 2021. President Zelensky expanded the list of issues that will be discussed.
  • On air of the Russian state First Channel, right-wing populist and leader of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky said Russia should "selectively punish" Ukrainians, and "hit" in the night after the New Year's Eve.
  • NATO must make its own counter-demands in response to Moscow's ultimatums, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said on Tuesday. Russia's demands on "security guarantees" should be rejected, "as the red lines drawn by the West have been repeatedly violated by the Kremlin," he added.
  • Ukraine's Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov warned heads of local governments against "actions and statements that politicize the organization of territorial defense". In response to the earlier statement by Kyiv's mayor Vitaliy Klytschko about organizing the territorial defense units, Reznikov said that local state administrations "do not create territorial defense headquarters on their own."
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says they "do not rule out that the West wants to arrange a "little war" in Ukraine and blame Moscow for it in order to impose sanctions under the appropriate pretext and suppress its competitive capabilities," Russian TASS agency reported.
  • US President Biden signed into law the draft US Defense Budget for 2022 (NDAA) which includes 300 million dollars aid to Ukraine, Reuters reported.
  • Ukraine, the United States, and the West are working on option "A", a diplomatic solution, "so that they do not have to move to option "B", for which everyone is also actively preparing", Oksana Makarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, told LB.ua.
  • Russia-US talks on Moscow's demands on "security guarantees" will take place on January 10 in Geneva. "When we sit down at the negotiating table, Russia can express its concerns, we will also discuss our concerns in regards to the activities of the Russian Federation," the White House National Security Council representative said.
  • In 2021, NATO Air Policing mission conducted 290 sorties to identify and monitor Russian aircraft, intercepted mostly in the Baltic countries, Ukrayinska Pravda reports.
  • 10 000 Russian troops are reportedly withdrawn from the Ukrainian border after almost the month-long drills, according to the Russian military and Interfax agency. The military servicemen have allegedly returned to their permanent bases.
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "Russia has never been the first to attack anyone".
  • There is no serious risk of Russia's imminent invasion of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said. He added that the Kremlin is resorting to cyber attacks and deepening the energy crisis in an effort to destabilize Ukraine from within.

24 December, key updates:

  • OSCE's special monitoring mission recorded columns of Russian trucks marked as "humanitarian aid" and several units of military equipment in the occupied part of Donbas.
  • Russia did not yet see Brussels' readiness to cooperate with Moscow "on equal terms" in security talks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Friday. To decrease tensions in the region, Zakharova stressed on the "security guarantees" that Russia has demanded before.
  • Russian Federal Security Service informs that a Russian serviceman, allegedly recruited by the military intelligence of Ukraine, was arrested on suspicion of treason. He faces from 12 to 20 years in prison.
  • New satellite images from a private US company show that Russia has continued to build up its forces in occupied Crimea and along the border with Ukraine in recent weeks,- Reuters reports.
  • Almost half of Ukrainians think that the threat of a Russia's further invasion of Ukraine is real, more than 41% believe that there will be no invasion, according to the latest public opinion poll by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.The vast majority of Ukrainians do not believe that direct talks between Ukrainian President Zelensky and Russian President Putin will lead to the return of Crimea (84%) and the occupied part of Donbas (66%), according to the poll by KIIS.
  • Decisions on Ukraine’s security can only be made with Ukraine at the table, and with the EU at the table on matters of wider European security, - Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell agreed in a phone call on Thursday.
  • The US is ready to hold talks with Russia and "will fully respond to Moscow's proposals for so-called "security guarantees" in January.

23 December, news of the day:

Today Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual news conference to answer questions on Russia's domestic issues and foreign affairs, as Moscow is massing forces near the border with Ukraine and tensions with NATO over Ukraine are soaring. Here are the key messages concerning Ukraine:

  • Putin called Ukraine “anti-Russia”, with “constant pumping of weapons, and brainwashing of the population”.
  • There should be no NATO's movement to the East, the ball is on their side, Putin said. He sees "a positive reaction" from the West so far. "The American side is ready for talks in Geneva, representatives have been appointed. We hope that the process will follow this path."
  • Putin refused to guarantee that Russia wouldn't attack Ukraine. Moscow's actions will depend on the "unconditional" security guarantees that the West should give "immediately", the course of the negotiations does not matter, he said.
  • Putin sees Russia as a mediator in helping Donbas people to decide on their future, says Ukraine's "trying to make it a party to the conflict". He accused Kyiv of escalating the situation, refusing to change its Constitution on Donbas autonomy.
  • Putin says it is "almost impossible" to build good-neighborly relations with Ukraine, considering its current leadership. He says President Zelensky fell under the influence of "radical elements", "instead of fulfilling the Minsk agreements, like the previous leaders."
  • Putin sought to turn the tables on Ukraine by assuming that Ukraine might be preparing for a military operation against Donbas, as it has been talking about war a lot.

Jens Stoltenberg called on Putin to withdraw his armed forces from the Ukrainian border ahead of the upcoming holidays. NATO's ready to negotiate with Russia but it will not question Ukraine's right to choose its own path, he told the German news agency dpa.

22 December, news of the day:

  • Putin says Russia has "nowhere to retreat" in a standoff with the United States over Ukraine. During his meeting with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Putin pressed for an urgent US and NATO reply to Moscow's "security" proposals. He stressed that Russia will react "harshly", with military-technical measures, “if the aggressive line" of the West continues.
  • Russia is actively recruiting groups of mercenaries for a “combat mission” to Donbas, Meduza reports, citing veterans of Russian special forces, fighters of PMC Wagner, and mercenaries of the "Union of Volunteers of Donbas", who confirmed their identities. The recruiters have been offering to go on a “business trip to Ukraine”, namely to the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk "people's republics", from late November.
  • 122 000 Russian servicemen are deployed at a distance of 200 kilometers to the borders of Ukraine, another 143 500 are at a distance of 400 kilometers, according to the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, Ukrinform reports.
  • The Baltic countries are ready to provide military and non-military assistance to Ukraine, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said after a meeting with Estonian Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet and his Latvian counterpart Artis Pabriks in Kaunas on Tuesday. While discussing the regional security issues, the ministers spoke about Russia's destabilizing behavior in the region and Europe.
  • Pentagon spokesman John Kirby called statements from the Russian Defense Minister Shoigu about the US private military companies shipping chemicals into Ukraine "completely false". State Department Spokesman Ned Price called on Russia "to stop using false, inflammatory rhetoric and take meaningful steps to de-escalate tensions" to secure further discussions.

21 December, news of the day:

  • "The Biden administration is studying whether and how the United States could support an anti-Russian insurgency" in the event of a possible new Putin's invasion of Ukraine, David Ignatius wrote for the Washington Post.
  • Putin accused the United States of creating tensions in Europe, adding that he is "tired of manipulations" [of the US] in the intenrational law.
  • Danish intelligence points to Russia as one of the biggest threats to the country,- Norway Today reports.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu says that 120 employees of American private military companies are allegedly preparing provocations in the Donetsk Oblast, having brought chemical weapons to Azovske and Avdiivka. As he explained, they are "equipping fire facilities in residential buildings and socially significant facilities, prepare Ukrainian forces for special operations and active hostilities," Ukrayinska Pravda reports.
  • Kyiv City State Administration is planning to check the territorial alarm system by activating electronic sirens. The date of such inspections is currently being decided. Earlier, Kyiv's mayor Vitaliy Klytschko had said that the capital was increasing the number of territorial defense brigades.

20 December, news of the past few days:

  • Lithuania is ready to facilitate Ukraine's accession to NATO and does not accept Russia's pressure on the issue, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said after the Lublin Triangle summit with Ukraine's President Zelensky and Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday. Earlier, Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Arvydas Anušauskas told LRT that his country was ready to hand over lethal weapons to Ukraine.
  • Russia has no right to "dictate" terms to NATO, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said during a visit to German troops in Lithuania, referring to Moscow's list of security demands to the alliance.
  • Ukraine has "enough rifles" in case Russia wants to start a new invasion of Ukraine, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov said after he visited a company that produces such weapons for Ukraine.
  • Russia's intentions are unclear, but it seeks to weaken Ukraine, EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote in his blog. "Different scenarios may develop", and the EU "must hope for the best and prepare for the worst," he said

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