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Ukraine and Eastern Europe

Stories under this heading cover Ukraine and Eastern Europe. 

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G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

G7 explores ways to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine 

The G7 will explore ways to use future revenues from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the G7 and its allies froze around $300 billion in Russian assets. "We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine," the draft statement said. G7 negotiators have been discussing for weeks how best to use these assets, which include major currencies and government bonds held mainly in European vaults. The United States (US) has been urging its G7 partners - Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada - to support a loan that could provide Kyiv with up to $50 billion in the near term. The cautious language of the statement, lacking figures or specifics, underlines the many legal and technical issues that would need to be resolved before such a loan could be issued. A G7 source indicated that there would be no significant changes to the statement before the final version is released later on Saturday (25 May).

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Ukrainian civil society and city representatives meet LINKS Europe in The Hague to discuss future cooperation

Ukrainian civil society and city representatives meet LINKS Europe in The Hague to discuss future cooperation

On Tuesday (21 February), a delegation of six Ukrainians, including two representatives from the National Interests Advocacy Network NGO “ANTS”, and four representatives from the cities of Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Mariupol, visited the LINKS Europe in The Hague. The Ukrainian delegation included: Vasyl Sehin, the Executive Director of ANTS; Yuliya Vusenko, the regional coordinator of ANTS and the head of the investment commission in Volyn Oblast Council; Olexandr Senkevych, the Mayor of Mykolaiv; Serhii Koreniev, the Deputy Mayor of Mykolaiv; Halyna Luhova, the Mayor, Secretary and Head of the Military Administration of Kherson; and Sergiy Orlov, the Deputy Mayor of Mariupol. The Ukrainian delegation were on a two-day visit to Rotterdam and The Hague to meet with Dutch civil society and city representatives to discuss potential future cooperation between the respective organisations and cities, with a particular focus on developing horizontal EU-Ukraine ties and harnessing knowledge for the reconstruction of Ukraine following the ongoing war’s conclusion.
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Samantha Smith's Group: the global volunteer movement uniting Ukrainians and Russians through English

Samantha Smith's Group: the global volunteer movement uniting Ukrainians and Russians through English

On 24 February 2022, in the town of Kostyantynivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk oblast, Anastasiia woke up at 4am to the sound of explosions. Not in her town, but about 30km away. When the first explosion hit she did not understand what was going on, but once the second explosion hit she rushed to her parents’ room and told them that the war had started. Originally conceived as a protest, Samantha Smith’s Group has evolved into a herculean effort run by a tight-knit, principled and dedicated group of individuals committed to making a very genuine difference to Ukrainians whose lives have been turned upside down by Russia’s invasion of their country. However, although the teachers come from all over the world, from Canada to New Zealand, from the UK to Costa Rica, as well as Ukraine and Belarus, the majority of volunteers teaching English to Ukrainians in Samantha Smith’s Group are actually from Russia.
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US President Joe Biden visits Kyiv

US President Joe Biden visits Kyiv

The President of the United States Joe Biden has made a surprise visit to Kyiv ahead of the first anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last year. On Monday morning (20 February), there were reports of blocked roads and major traffic jams in the Ukrainian capital as speculation built over the potential arrival of an "important guest", according to Ukrainian officials.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and St Michael’s Cathedral has been blocked off with a police and military presence. Just before midday, pictures emerged on social media showing the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walking alongside the US President Joe Biden in central Kyiv. As Joe Biden was seen walking beside Volodymyr Zelensky outside St Michael's Cathedral, heading towards a memorial wall honouring Ukrainian soldiers fallen in Russia's war against Ukraine since 2014, air raid sirens rang out over the Ukrainian capital. It was already known that Biden would be visiting Poland to mark one year of Russia's full-scale invasion, but his visit to Kyiv has come as a complete surprise.
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Ukraine marks the Day of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred

Ukraine marks the Day of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred

Today, on Monday (20 February), Ukraine is marking the Day of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred in commemoration of those who died during the 2013-14 Euromaidan protests, also known as the Revolution of Dignity. It has been marked annually on 20 February following a Presidential Decree signed by then-Ukrainian President on 11 February 2015, "On commemorating the feat of the participants in the Revolution of Dignity and perpetuating the memory of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred." "The Heavenly Hundred" refers to the 108 people who died during the Euromaidan protests nine years ago. This includes 105 Ukrainians and three foreigners, one from Belarus and two from Georgia. It was between 18-20 February 2014 that the Revolution was at its most violent, during which time 78 protesters were killed on Independence Square in Kyiv. After 20 February, over 20 protesters died of their injuries. The day began with a short address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He said: "The time comes when the voices of millions merge into a single voice of the people, saying that Ukrainians want and will live only in a free state. In their own Ukraine. Which will certainly survive. And which will certainly preserve freedom."
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Russia may have lost up to 200,000 troops, according to UK intelligence

Russia may have lost up to 200,000 troops, according to UK intelligence

In a security briefing on the Russia-Ukraine war released on Friday (17 February), the UK Ministry of Defence has announced that they believe that Russia may have lost anywhere between 175,000 and 200,000 soldiers since the 24 February 2022. This figure includes regular soldiers from the Russian Armed Forces and private military contractors from the likes of the Wagner group. The briefing adds that the number of killed could be anywhere between 40,000 and 60,000, and that the casualty rate has significantly increased since Vladimir Putin announced his 'partial mobilisation' in September 2022. It goes on to say that by modern standards, "these figures represent a high ratio of personnel killed compared to those wounded", adding that the casualty rate has likely been exacerbated by "extremely rudimentary medical provision across much of the force". Finally, the briefing writes that Wagner forces have deployed large numbers of convict recruits, who have probably seen a casualty rate of up to 50%.
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Russia launches another wave of missile strikes on Ukraine after very heavy losses

Russia launches another wave of missile strikes on Ukraine after very heavy losses

Russia has unleashed a 15th wave of missile strikes against Ukraine overnight on Thursday (16 February) after reportedly sustaining very heavy losses in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. According to the Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's armed forces Valery Zaluzhny, overnight Russia launched 36 air and sea-based cruise, guided air-to-surface, and anti-ship missiles. He added that 16 of them were shot down by Ukrainian air defence. In a post on Telegram on Thursday morning, Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said, "the situation [in the East] is tense. Yes, it is difficult for us. But our fighters are not allowing the enemy to achieve their goals and are inflicting very serious losses." The latest wave of strikes comes after the military think tank, The Institute for Strategic Studies, suggests that Moscow's has lost as much as 50% of its pre-invasion fleet of modern T-72B3 and T-72B3M main battle tanks. Meanwhile, the UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has suggested that as many as two-thirds of Russia's tanks could be either "destroyed or broken". Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday (15 February), Mr Wallace added that they believe that as much as 97% of Russia's entire army are now in Ukraine. 
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President Zelensky addresses European Parliament

President Zelensky addresses European Parliament

One day after addressing the UK Parliament in the Palace of Westminster in London, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has addressed the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday (9 February). Entering the hemicycle shortly after 11am local time, Zelensky was greeted by MEPs with a standing ovation. President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola opened proceedings with a short speech in which she praised Ukraine's courage in its fight for European values, which "binds all peoples across the continent as sisters and brothers." Referring to Ukraine's ongoing campaign to join the EU, about which some member states have a deal of scepticism and concern, Metsola called on EU leaders to ensure that Ukraine gets "the fastest possible accession process", coupled with funds for reconstruction and more heavy weapons to repel Russia's invasion, including "long-range systems and the jets". "Our response must be proportional to the threat and the threat is existential," Metsola said. Rounding off her introduction, she told Zelensky, "We have your back. We were with you then. We are with you now. We will be with you for as long as it takes. Freedom will prevail, peace will reign and you will win. Slava Ukraini!"
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President Zelensky addresses UK Parliament

President Zelensky addresses UK Parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has addressed a joint meeting of the UK Parliament in the Palace of Westminster in London. Walking on stage shortly after 1pm local time on Wednesday (8 February), President Zelensky was greeted by rapturous applause and cheers from members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Introducing President Zelensky, Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle spoke about his first meeting with the Ukrainian head of state in October 2020, and about Zelensky's remote speech to the House of Commons on 8 March 2022, describing it as "devastating and powerful". The Speaker said he was "honoured you put yourself at risk to address us again and shine a light on the fact that your country is fighting for its survival". Before handing over to President Zelensky, Lindsay Hoyle finished by saying, "We will always be united in our unwavering belief in democracy. Slava Ukraini!" Speaking for some 20 minutes, President Zelensky began by thanking the United Kingdom for its support in training Ukrainian soldiers, also recounting his first visit to London approximately two and a half years ago.