Negotiations in Minsk between representatives from Ukraine, Russia, OSCE and militants have not resumed today. 146 ukrainian military men have been released from militants’ captivity. Railway and bus connection between Ukraine and Crimea froze. Russian banks operating in Crimea were disconnected from the Visa and MasterCard international payment systems.

Key Events In Ukraine

●      President  Poroshenko approved the list of Ukrainian participants at the Ukraine-NATO  joint working group on military reform. Deputy secretary of the NSDC Mr. Koval has been appointed as a co-chairman of the group.
●      NSDC Secretary Turchinov urged Ukrainians to be ready to mobilize if Russia launches a full-scale war. If all peaceful ways to settle the conflict in Donbass are exhausted, martial law would be introduced.
●      The Verkhovna Rada deputies created an interfractional association that will focus on the peaceful return of Crimea.
●      President Poroshenko appointed three deputy heads of his administration with responsibilities including regional policy, domestic policy and outreach to law enforcement agencies. Four heads of regional administrations were replaced.
●      The Service of special communications signed an agreement with Microsoft on cooperation in the field of cybersecurity.
Microsoft said that at least 70% of the software installed on computers in the governmental sector of Ukraine is unlicensed.
●      The official FX rate of hryvnia (UAH) has not changed: 15.77 UAH / USD. 19.27 UAH / EUR, 3,00 UAH / 10 RUR (+0.11 UAH).
●      NBU agreed on the text of the memorandum on restructuring debt on foreign currency loans. The loans are to be converted to the national currency, part of the debt would be written off in proportion to the amount of repayment, the interest rate would be fixed at the levels similar to foreign currency rates for three years, the penalty would be debited by banks, and borrowers’ responsibility would be limited only to the real estate on which the loan was issued.

War in Ukraine

●      No resumption of the talks in Minsk with the participation of Russia, Ukraine, OSCE and the terrorist “republics” of Donbass.
●      President Poroshenko announced that Ukrainian army regained control over Chongar peninsula in Kherson region.
●      Militants continue shelling and attacking the positions of Ukrainian army and local populated areas. Official Army loss per day is 1 killed and 1 wounded. Diversion militant unit was defeated, with 2 militants captured near Lysychans’k.
●      SSU reported on the completion of prisoner exchange: 222 captured militants were swapped for 146 Ukrainian servicemen.
●      Ukraine froze the rail, freight and passenger traffic to Crimea from December 26 for “security reasons”. Trains will go only to Novoalekseevka and Kherson railway stations. Carriers ordered to cancel bus travel to Crimea and to stop selling ticketsl.

Ukraine and the World

●      Operational meeting of Russian Security Council was held under the supervision of Presiden Putin. According to the press service of the Kremlin, the main themes discussed were the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, international affairs and results of the Minsk talks.
●      Russian President Putin introduced a new Russian military doctrine, which takes into account the lessons of the war in Ukraine. The main identified threats are conflicts in the close proximity of Russia: in Ukraine, North Africa, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, the NATO’s military build-up, expansion of the NATO to the East and the establishment of regimes in neighboring countries whose policies threaten the interests of the Russian Federation. The doctrine introduced new methods of warfare. There are “indirect actions”, using the protest potential of the population, radical extremist organizations and information/media aggression.
Meantime, the NATO spokesman said that the Alliance is not a threat to either Russia or any other country and it’s goal is ensurig the safety of its members.  Russian aggressive actions in Ukraine violated international – and threatened European security.
NATO will continue to try to build a constructive relationship with Russia.
●      According to media, Russia is preparing to complete the annexation of South Ossetia.
●      International payment systems Visa and MasterCard followed the EU and US decision to sanction companies operating in Crimea and disconnected support for credit card operations at several dozen Russian banks.

Trends

●      There is a growing number of suicide attempts among temporary migrants from Donbass as a result of failure to find jobs and housing in new places.
●      President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the Parliament met with the leaders of parliamentary fractions in attempt to persuade them to adopt a single legislation package consisting of the laws proposed by the government and a budget based on them. It is argued that otherwise the country would not receive the next tranche of a IMF stand-by credit and would slide into financial collapse.
On the other hand, according to economists and lawyers, the proposed legislation changes would lead to destruction of small and medium-sized businesses, and would not address the biggest holes in the budget – the pension fund,  “Naftogaz” deficit and refinancing the commercial banks.

 

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