Ukraine, Briefly

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Earlier this month, the European Union paved the way for Ukraine to join the bloc, thanks to a move by a European leader to eliminate the roadblock presented in the form of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Politico reported. Orban had threatened to veto the opening of accession talks with Ukraine ahead of a European Council summit, where all members of the bloc must approve the measure. After a tense few hours of discussions, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz asked his Hungarian counterpart to step outside and get some coffee. Orban agreed. As a result, the measure was approved because a unanimous vote can occur even when one member is absent. The move also allowed Orban to continue to display his opposition to the plan.

Also this week:

  • Ukraine alleged front-line Russian soldiers were hit with so-called “mouse fever,” Business Insider reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “mouse fever” as a group of illnesses spread by contact with waste from rodents. These lead to symptoms such as “intense headaches, back and abdominal pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision,” and sometimes even kidney failure. According to the Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate, Russian commanders decided to dismiss privates’ complaints, considering them “another form of evading participation.” Russian troops are made up of many former convicts who do not have access to medical care, amid growing frustration by military personnel over the lack of assistance from the government.
  • A Russian politician who claims to be “pro-peace” asked on Wednesday to register as a candidate challenging President Vladimir Putin in next year’s election, the Associated Press reported. Lawmaker and former journalist Yekaterina Duntsova filed her petition at the Central Electoral Commission after she managed to receive the endorsement of 500 people, as required by law. Should her application be accepted, she would need to gather 300,000 signatures. This would put her in a race against an essentially undefeatable candidate, Putin, whose hold over the political and institutional establishment will likely guarantee him a fifth term. Besides the risk of her candidacy failing, Duntsova could also face the fate of other vocal opponents of the president, who have been jailed, sent into exile, or even, in the case of Putin’s nemesis Alexei Navalny, poisoned. If she wins the March 17 poll, Duntsova said she would strive to free Navalny, release political prisoners, and reform Russia into a “humane” nation, “that’s peaceful, friendly and ready to cooperate with everyone on the principle of respect.”

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