War in Ukraine, day 334 Volodymyr Zelensky has said he will not tolerate corruption, a long-standing problem in a country sidelined by its war against Russia, and has promised key decisions to eradicate it this week.
Highlights of the last hour:
- EU negotiates €500 million in new aid to Ukraine
- EU to investigate use of Russian bank assets for Ukraine’s reconstruction
- Germany gives Poland permission to send 2 Leopard tanks to Ukraine
- Ukraine’s president has announced new measures to fight corruption
- Vladimir Putin’s secret plan to allow Russian forces to attack on three fronts at once
- Russia fears that Moscow will be attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles are mounted on buildings
- The Polish prime minister described Germany’s refusal to supply tanks to Ukraine as unacceptable
- Russian forces attempt to launch an offensive in the south of the Zaporizhia region
Update 11:30 – The EU’s foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell, announced on Monday that a deal on 500 million euros in new aid to Ukraine could be reached.
Joseph Borrell said that representatives of the member states will discuss the provision of 500 million euros in aid to Ukraine.
The talks will be held during Monday’s meeting.
EU foreign ministers will try to reach an agreement on the new fund.
Update 10:30 – The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, asked the leaders of the bloc to move forward with discussions on the use of 300 billion euros, representing assets seized by Russia’s central bank, for the reconstruction of Ukraine, the Financial Times quoted Reuters as saying on Monday.
Michael said he would like to look at the idea of managing the Russian central bank’s seized assets for profit, which could then be used for restructuring efforts, the daily said.
This should be done in accordance with justice and fairness and legal principles, the President of the European Council said in the interview.
In November, the European Union froze 300 billion euros worth of Russia’s central bank reserves to allow Moscow to bail out of its invasion of Ukraine.
Update 08:50 – Germany allows Poland to send 2 Panther tanks to Ukraine, Foreign Minister announced from Berlin. The statement was made during an interview with French television LCI, according to Reuters and AFP agencies.
Asked what would happen if Poland decided to send German tanks to Ukraine without the government’s agreement in Berlin, the German foreign minister said Warsaw had not yet officially requested this, and if it did, it would get the deal.
The clarification comes after Poland’s deputy foreign minister said Poland could send 2 Leopard tanks to Ukraine without German permission.
The German government is under increasing pressure to supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks, which could have a significant impact on the battlefield against Russian troops.
“We understand how important these tanks are, and we’re fully aware of that,” Ms Baerbach added.
Experts estimate there are about 2,000 Leopard tanks in use in 13 countries in Europe, and they are seen as vital to Ukraine’s war effort as the conflict enters its second year.
Update 08:00 – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday he would not tolerate corruption, a long-standing problem in a country sidelined by war with Russia, and promised key decisions to eradicate it this week, Reuters writes.
Zelensky’s promise came amid high-profile corruption allegations, including reports of questionable practices in military procurement, despite officials encouraging national unity to deal with the invasion.
“I want it to be clear: the way various people close to state institutions lived or who chased a seat all their lives cannot return what was in the past,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
Ukraine has a long history of widespread corruption and shaky governance, with Transparency International ranking the country’s corruption 122nd out of 180 countries in 2021, no better than Russia.
After Kiev was granted candidate status last year, the EU has made anti-corruption reforms one of Ukraine’s key requirements for accession.
“This week will be a time for appropriate decisions,” Zelensky said. “The results are already ready. I don’t want to make them public right now, but everything will be fine.”
Zelensky, who was elected in a landslide in 2019 on a promise to change the former Soviet state’s regime, said his government had accepted the resignation of a deputy minister after an investigation into bribery allegations.
He did not identify the official, but media reports said Vasyl Lozinski, the deputy regional development minister, was being held on bribery charges.
Renewed attention to the scandal also implicated Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, after a newspaper reported that the military received food at vastly inflated prices.
Reznikov’s ministry described the allegations as “false”, and a parliamentary committee was asked to investigate.
The following scenario is being talked about more and more: Russia, in the near future, will be able to capture the bulk of the Ukrainian army in a pincer, in three directions, on three fronts at once.
A person close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he expected immediate action by Russia to encircle the country with a simultaneous attack on three fronts.
Rustem Umerov, a member of the negotiating team with Russia, said Moscow could prepare for a new attack. He said Ukraine was under threat from many directions, but did not specify where the attacks might come from.
“The Russians are encircling us, attacking us from the Black Sea, from Belarus and the Luhansk and Donetsk regions,” Umerov declared.
Russia declared its first victory in the nearly year-long war by announcing the capture of the city of Soledar in Donetsk. There is still some controversy in the ongoing battle for control of the city, but the Russians have made territorial gains at a great cost. Mercenaries from the Wagner group, Vladimir Putin’s private army, led the attack on the cities of Soledar and Bahmud.
Ukrainian intelligence and security experts believe it’s all preparation for a large-scale ground offensive, backed by many regular military recruits.
“We are watching Russia build up several forces in the Zaporozhye region. It seems that they are planning a pincer attack from the direction of Kharkiv and Zaporozhye and trying to capture all the main defense forces of Ukraine,” said Col. (R.) Oleh Zhdanov, a former member of the Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
War in Ukraine, January 22 | Russia fears that Moscow will be attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles are mounted on buildings
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