Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, Russia replaced the general in charge of its troubled campaign against Ukraine, amid hints of discord among President Vladimir Putin’s senior allies – a reshuffle that opponents say will not repair the Russian military’s problems, the New York Times reported. Gen. Valery Gerasimov, who has taken the place of Gen. Sergey Surovikin, is a longstanding Kremlin ally who has served as chief of the military general staff since 2012. He was a key figure in the February invasion. It was the defense ministry’s second replacement in three months.

Meanwhile, Russian began sending more troops to neighboring ally Belarus this week, Al Jazeera noted. Ukraine claims that Moscow may use Belarus as a staging area for a northern invasion, opening up a new front in the conflict. Meanwhile, Ukrainian intelligence officials have warned that the Kremlin intends to mobilize up to 500,000 men to fight in Ukraine beginning in mid-January, according to Politico.

Also this week:

  • Putin hailed the Russian Orthodox Church for its support of his war in Ukraine on the first Orthodox Christmas since launching the invasion, which he has characterized as a kind of holy war against a decadent West, the Wall Street Journal wrote. At the same time, the Russian leader secretly pardoned scores of convicts before sending them to Ukraine to fight, revealing legal issues in the recruitment plan that promised jailed criminals that their sentences would be commuted only after they completed their military service, the Washington Post added.
  • The US unveiled a series of new sanctions and extra measures aimed at Iran’s aviation and defense sectors, upping the ante in its campaign against Tehran for supplying Moscow with weaponry for its war in Ukraine, CNBC reported.
  • Justice ministers from around the world will meet in the UK capital London in March to increase support for the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigations into alleged war crimes in Ukraine, the Evening Standard noted. The meeting aims to enhance worldwide financial and practical support for the ICC, as well as to coordinate efforts to ensure that it will be able to conduct investigations and prosecute those involved.

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