President Poroshenko declared Ukrainian Armed Forces as completely combat ready now. The Department of army procurement will be headed by a volunteer. Twelve soldiers died in a traffic accident while returning home. Preparations for the meeting between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine are continuing.
Key Events In Ukraine
● President Poroshenko took part in a transfer of military equipment to the Ukrainian troops at a military training ground near Zhitomir and stated the complete combat readiness of the Armed Forces.
● According to the State Treasury, the state budget received almost 92% of the planned revenues. The deficit of the general and the special funds reached 36.3 billion UAH. The balance of the Treasury Unified Account fell by half in December, although it grew during the end of the year .
● Presidential and Secretary of Defense Adviser Biryukov stated that the army is plundering up to a quarter of appropriated funds. According to him, the army should switch to the contract base.
● Volunteer Stelmach has been appointed as a Director of the Procurement Department of the Ministry of Defense. Large-scale layoffs in the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff are announced.
● The registration of the members of independent, external knowledge evaluation commissions responsible for enrollment into institutions of high education is happening from January 5 until February 20. The main testing session will be held from April 24 to June 26, and an extra session – from June 9 till July 9.
● Work on the module-home camps for forcebly displaced people provided by the German charity fund “GIZ” is coming to a succesful completion in Dnipropetrovsk region. Thes small towns are operationally self-sufficient.
● The head of the party “Batkivschina” Tymoshenko urged the Ukrainian pilot Savchenko, who was captured in Ukraine, moved out to Russia and held in a Moscow jail, to stop her hunger strike.
● Verkhovna Rada comission to investigate the consequences of the Ukrainian army defeat near Ilovaisk extends its role to investigation of all crimes in the war zone.
● Privatbank imposed restrictions on card transactions due to the difference between the official and the real currency exchange rates.
War in Ukraine
● Local battles continue in Donetsk, Mar’inka, Debaltseve and in the Lugansk region. Observers report regrouping and concentration of Russian troops and mercenaries on the Donetsk, Volnovakha, Debaltsevsko directions and near the “Bahmutka” highway in the Luhans’k region. Russia continues to move troops and heavy ammunition to Ukraine through the open state border.
● Russian troops shelled by “Cossacks” militia in Luhans’k region.
● Miltiants kidnapped seven Ukrainian soldiers departing the war zone.
● Volunteers of the “Responsible Citizens” organization have been kidnapped in Donetsk by militants.
● Due to bad weather conditions near Artemovsk twelve soldiers of the National Guard died and dozens were injured in a traffic accident.
● The “Right Sector” looks at possibilities of launching direct subversive actions in the occupied territories and introducing harsh punishment measures against traitors and criminals, who escaped from Ukraine.
● Lithuania provided Ukraine with uniforms and weapons. Two more aircraft with ammunition from Canada expected in the near future.
● SSU foresees a release of several dozen more POWs before the end of this week.
● Russia wants to use the largest dry dock in the Kerch shipyard for the construction of its own warships, including a helicopter carrier, similar to the French “Mistral” ones.
● The number of officially registered IDPs has increased to 838 thousand.
● Ukrainian products are disappearing from the supermarkets in occupied Crimea due to the introduction of customs dues for imported goods.
Ukraine and the World
● The result of the consultations by the working group preparing a meeting between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany to settle the crisis in eastern Ukraine was the agreement to hold telephone negotiations by Foreign Ministers on January 9. According to the German Foreign Ministry, the meeting in Astana can be held only in case of a real chance for a breakthrough in the negotiations. US will not take part in the talks but will support efforts aimed at overcoming the crisis in Ukraine.
● French President Hollande said the sanctions against Russia may be lifted in case of achieving peace in Donbass. US Department of State spokesman Psaki said that part of the sanctions against Russia may be cancelled in case a real progress is achieved in settling the crisis in eastern Ukraine. A complete lifting of sanctions may be possible only after achieving real results in the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
● The price of Brent fell below $ 53, WTI – below $ 50 per barrel due to the increase in oil production. Along with the fall of the oil prices, FX rate of the Russian ruble against the dollar and the euro is also dropping.
● Foreign Minister Klimkin said that the owners of multiple passports are going to be sanctioned. In the near future he plans to introduce joint border controls with other countries to identify people with dual citizenship. However, the bill, which would introduce responsibility for dual citizenship, is still not reviewed by the Verkhovna Rada.
● Terrorists continue to take hostages despite the “truce” regime. They use captured civilians and Ukrainian soldiers as a way for obtaining ransoms and release of their fighters from Ukrainian captivity.
● Military experts consider rearrangement of Russian troops and liquidation of militant gangs beyond their control in Donbass as a preparation for the spring offensive campaign.
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