Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an official visit to the United States, meeting President Joe Biden and US lawmakers in an effort to urge bipartisan support for more aid to Ukraine, CBS News reported. In an address to Congress where he received multiple standing ovations, Zelenskyy thanked the US for its support against Russia’s invasion but urged lawmakers that “this battle cannot be frozen and postponed.” Following his US visit, European Union officials said Zelenskyy and the bloc’s leaders will hold a summit in February focusing on how the EU can further support Ukraine against Russia, Reuters noted.

In other Ukraine-related news:

  • Zelenskyy’s visit to the US comes as his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is visiting neighboring Belarus, which has sparked concerns that he is seeking to drag the country into his war on Ukraine, The Hill wrote. Analysts believe Russia may be attempting to drive Belarus into the war, or it may just be exploiting the fear of Belarus’s involvement to frighten Western nations and Ukraine. At the same time, China and Russia conducted naval drills this week, which Chinese officials said aim to “further deepen” cooperation between the two nations, according to the Associated Press.
  • A number of European officials suggested that Russia may not be responsible for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines in September, the Washington Post added. Officials noted that months of investigations have not produced evidence suggesting that Russia was behind the sabotage. The explosion prompted many world leaders to initially blame Moscow for sabotaging the undersea pipeline built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan intends to launch a test project next month to carry oil to Germany via Russia’s large Druzhba (“Friendship”) pipeline, despite an EU ban on the vast majority of Russian oil imports due to Moscow’s ongoing unjustified invasion of Ukraine, Radio Free Europe said.
  • Japan approved a plan Thursday to extend the lifespan of nuclear reactors, replace old ones, and even build new ones, a dramatic turnaround in a country that previously vowed to phase out atomic power after the Fukushima accident more than a decade ago, the Associated Press reported. Japanese leaders have begun to return to nuclear energy in the face of global fuel shortages, rising prices, and pressure to decrease carbon emissions – but the announcement was their clearest pledge yet after remaining silent on building more reactors.

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