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Ukraine and Eastern Europe

Stories under this heading cover Ukraine and Eastern Europe. 

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Ukraine gears up for EU summit amid warnings of anniversary invasion

Ukraine gears up for EU summit amid warnings of anniversary invasion

As the one-year anniversary of Russia’s re-invasion of Ukraine approaches, Ukrainian officials are expressing concerns of a new major offensive following a recent large-scale Russian mobilisation. This comes as Kyiv prepares to host EU officials on Friday (3 February) for a summit on the embattled counry's progress towards EU membership. Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov estimates that Russia has mobilised up to 500,000 troops, despite official numbers claiming the mobilisation of 300,000 Russian troops. The estimates come after Ukrainian officials have announced high military activity on the Russian side of its border. Russia also celebrates its "Defender of the Fatherland Day" on 23 February, just one day before the one-year mark of the so-called "special military operation". 
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Ukrainian authorities raid tycoon's home amid corruption crackdown

Ukrainian authorities raid tycoon's home amid corruption crackdown

Ukrainian authorities have raided the home of the prominent business tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky amid a nationwide anti-corruption crackdown. On Wednesday (1 February) the home of the former interior minister Arsen Avakov was also searched, and the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers fired the heads of the customs and tax agencies too. Kolomoisky is an erstwhile ally of President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose TV channel gave Zelensky his break with the comedy series Servant of the People, in which Zelensky played a history teacher who ends up becoming president after a student posts a video online of an expletive-laden rant by Zelensky's character about the state of politics in the country. Kolomoisky also backed the former actor's real-life bid for the presidency. He was also the governor of the wider Dnipropetrovsk region from 2014 to 2015, and played a key role in funding volunteer battalions in response to Russia's initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
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Iran summons senior Ukrainian diplomat over drone strike comments

Iran summons senior Ukrainian diplomat over drone strike comments

Iran has summoned the Ukrainian chargé d'affairs in Tehran over comments made by a senior Ukrainian official about a suspected Israeli drone strike on an Iranian military facility late in Isfahan on Saturday (28 January). According to Iran's defence ministry, three drones were involved in the attack about 23:30 local time on Saturday night on what Iran's official Irna news agency called "an ammunition manufacturing plant". Some reports have suggested that the facility in question was connected to the production of missiles, however. The Iranian defence ministry said it had foiled the attack, with the facility suffering only "minor roof damage". The Jerusalem Post on the other hand reported on Sunday morning that the attack had been a "phenomenal success", citing Western and foreign intelligence sources. Although Israel has not publically claimed responsibility for the strike, The Wall Street Journal also claimed on Sunday morning that Israel and Mossad - the national intelligence agency of Israel - were behind it, citing US officials. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian criticised the drone attack as "cowardly" and aimed at creating "insecurity" in the country.
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Germany officially confirms export of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, approves re-export from third countries

Germany officially confirms export of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, approves re-export from third countries

After weeks of growing pressure from allies, Berlin has finally announced that it will send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. It has also approved the re-export of Leopard 2 tanks from third countries. Other countries have also pledged to send Ukraine Leopard 2 tanks, including Poland, Norway and Portugal. It has also been reported that Spain intends to send Ukraine the German-made tanks too. Last week, the UK announced that it would send 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks to Kyiv. The announcement comes as the United States is reportedly considering arming Ukraine with its around 30 of its powerful Abrams tanks, and reports of Switzerland intending to lift its ban on supplying Kyiv with arms. The Leopard 2 first came into service in 1979, has a top speed of 68km/h (42mph), and a maximum range of around 500km (311 miles). They are specifically designed to compete with the Russian T-90 tanks, which Moscow has been using during its full-scale invasion.
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Poland officially asks Germany for permission to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

Poland officially asks Germany for permission to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

Poland has officially asked Germany for permission to send some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, the Polish Defence Minister announced in a tweet on Tuesday morning (24 January). In the tweet, Mariusz Blaszczak wrote: "The Germans have already received our request for consent to the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. I also appeal to the German side to join the coalition of countries supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. This is our common cause because it is about the security of the whole of Europe!'' Germany has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to either supply Ukraine with its Leopard 2 tanks, or at least approve other countries' re-export of them. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had said on Sunday (22 January) in an interview with French television that she would not "stand in the way" of Poland if it wanted to sent its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. On his part, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday morning that Berlin had yet to decide on the delivery of combat tanks to Ukraine, saying that "There is no news that I can deliver at this point. I have said that shortly a decision will be made and I can only assume that will be the case."
Opinion: Kazakhstan’s "Yurts of Invincibility" are more than just a humanitarian initiative for Ukraine

In early January 2023, amid the freezing temperatures and power blackouts of Bucha - the Kyiv suburb now infamous for it being the location of Russian massacres of Ukrainian civilians in early 2022 - there popped up a Kazakh yurt where residents were served free traditional Kazakh food and tea, could keep warm and could charge their electronic devices. Soon after, another yurt appeared in downtown Kyiv.

patrickn97 Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:56
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Ramstein summit: no decision on German tanks as countries make military aid pledges

Ramstein summit: no decision on German tanks as countries make military aid pledges

No decision has been reached on whether Berlin will approve the supply of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine at Ramstein Air Force base summit of global defence leaders in Germany on Friday (20 January). The BBC reports that the Polish Defence Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, remains optimistic that efforts to supply the tanks would be successful, saying, "Defence ministers of 15 countries met on the sidelines of today's conference and we talked about this topic...I am convinced that coalition building will end in success." Both leading up to and during the summit on Friday, numerous countries had made separate pledges of military equipment to Ukraine. The Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lativa, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, the UK, Sweden, Finland, Germany and the United States are among those to have pledged further military aid to Ukraine in the past week.