Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, Russia looked to achieve modest territorial gains in Ukraine’s eastern regions ahead of the anniversary of the war’s commencement, as it sent recruits into the front lines to probe defenses with widely distributed strikes, often with horrific fatalities for its forces, Al Jazeera reported. The advancements come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a rare trip abroad, first to the United Kingdom, where he met with British leaders including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in a bid for more advanced weapons, the Associated Press noted. Zelenskyy also attended a summit in Belgium, where he addressed all 27 leaders of the European Union to express his “gratitude” for their support, Euronews added. He also called for more weapons and urged leaders for faster accession to the EU.

Also this week:

  • Ukraine is expected to replace Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in the wake of a series of corruption scandals and ahead of a possible Russian offensive, The Hill wrote. A number of Kyiv officials, including Reznikov’s deputy, Vyacheslav Shapovalov, were fired last month as part of the government’s anti-corruption drive. The ministry was criticized for allegedly overpaying for food for the Ukrainian military.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation on Monday exempting Russian lawmakers from a previous requirement that they reveal details of their income, spending, and property, in the latest indicator of increasing government secrecy in wartime Russia, the Washington Post noted. The bill, which takes effect on March 1, will continue to require parliamentarians to submit an income declaration, but in a simplified format with no personal information. Previously, income information for deputies and senators was published yearly before April 1.
  • Ukraine’s main Catholic church will switch to a new calendar in which Christmas would be celebrated on Dec. 25 rather than Jan. 7, as part of an effort by Ukrainian institutions to cut cultural ties with Russia, according to Reuters. Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko applauded the action by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), which has just under a tenth of Ukrainians as members.
  • Russia has invited controversial Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters to speak at a United Nations Security Council debate on the Ukraine conflict, Politico reported. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February, the rock star has consistently taken an opposing stance to the West. In August, he accused US President Joe Biden of “fueling the war in Ukraine,” calling him a “war criminal” in an explosive interview with CNN. He also chastised NATO for “pushing right up to the Russian border.”

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