Ukraine Daily Summary - Friday, January 26

Special section on Il-76 crash -- Russia imported over $1 billion worth of advanced US and European chips in 2023 -- Forced conscription in occupied Ukraine pushes essential services to brink -- Some POWs from Russian list of Il-76 crash victims had already been exchanged -- PACE calls on European parliaments to recognize Russia's abduction of Ukrainian children as genocide -- and more

Friday, January 26

Russia’s war against Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen install an automatic cannon after preventive maintenance on an armoured military vehicle at a workshop in the Donetsk region, on Jan. 25, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)

Lithuanian foreign minister arrives in Kyiv. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis announced that he arrived in Kyiv on Jan. 25. “I am back in the capital city of the most inspirational Europeans I ever met, finding out how Lithuania can help even more,” Landsbergis posted on X.

Deputy PM: Kyiv working on Orban’s visit to Ukraine. Ukraine is working to organize an official visit of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the first in 14 years, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna confirmed to Reuters on Jan. 25.

Official: 2 Ukrainian teenagers deported by Russia return to their families. Two Ukrainian teenagers previously deported to Russia from the occupied part of Kherson Oblast returned to their families in Ukraine, Kherson Oblast Governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported on Jan. 25.

Deputy PM denies alleged pressure on EU to return refugees to Ukraine. Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna’s comment came after Politico, citing unnamed European diplomats, reported that Ukraine is allegedly negotiating with the EU to establish new rules to encourage the return of Ukrainian refugees in 2025.

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IAEA chief to visit Zaporizhzhia plant and Kyiv, Moscow to discuss nuclear safety. After his inspection of the Zaporizhzhia plant, IAEA Director Rafael Grossi said he would go to Russia, to engage in a political and technical dialogue with officials there.

Bloomberg: Russia imported over $1 billion worth of advanced US and European chips in 2023. Despite sanctions, Russia imported advanced chips valued at more than $1 billion from U.S. and European companies during the initial nine months of 2023, according to classified data from the Russian customs service obtained by Bloomberg.

Russian court sentences Daria Trepova to 27 years over explosion that killed propagandist Tatarsky. A court in Russia’s Saint Petersburg found Daria Trepova guilty of carrying out an explosion that killed a high-profile pro-Kremlin military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in April last year, sentencing her to 27 years in prison, BBC Russia reported on Jan. 25.

Russian ex-warlord Girkin sentenced to 4 years on extremism charges. The Moscow City Court sentenced Russian warlord Igor Girkin, also known as “Strelkov,” to four years in prison for inciting extremism online, the Russian independent news outlet Mediazona reported on Jan. 25.

Il-76 crash

UN Security Council discusses Il-76 crash. “The United Nations is not in a position to verify these reports or the circumstances of the crash,” U.N. Under-Secretary General Rosemary DiCarlo said during the meeting.

Ombudsman: Some POWs from Russian list of Il-76 crash victims had already been exchanged. The list of prisoners of war claimed by Russian propagandists to have been on board the Il-76 aircraft that crashed on Jan. 24 includes those who had already been swapped before, Ukraine’s chief Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets told Sky News on Jan. 25.

Russia says Ukraine had 15-minute warning before Il-76 flight, Kyiv denies claim. Senior Russian lawmaker Andrey Kartopolov claimed on Jan. 25 that Ukraine was given a 15-minute-warning ahead of the flight of the Il-76 plane that crashed in Belgorod Oblast on Jan. 24, though Ukrainian officials deny receiving any such notification.

Military intelligence on Il-76 crash: Russia could use Ukrainian POWs as human shields. Russia could have used Ukrainian prisoners of war as a human shield to transport ammunition and weapons for missile systems, Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesperson Andrii Yusov suggested on Jan. 25 when commenting on the crash of the Il-76 aircraft that Moscow claims had Ukrainian POWs on board.

Ombudsman: No sign so far from crash site images that Il-76 plane had large number of passengers. Photos and videos from the site of the Russian Il-76 plane crash, in which Russia claims 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed, do not indicate “any signs that there were such a large number of people on the plane,” Chief Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on air on Jan. 25.

Military intelligence: Senior Russian officials were supposed to be on Il-76 flight but did not board. High-ranking Russian officials were supposed to be on board the Il-76 aircraft that crashed in Belogorod Oblast on Jan. 24, but the Federal Security Service (FSB) did not allow them to board at “the last moment,” Andrii Yusov, Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesperson, told RFE/RL on Jan. 25.

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Ukraine war latest: UN Security Council to hold session on Il-76 crash

The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on the crash of the Russian Il-76 transport plane, which Russia claims carried Ukrainian prisoners of war, the Voice of America reported on Jan. 25. The plane crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast on Jan. 24, with the cause of the incident still unclear.

Photo: Arda Kucukkaya/Anadolu via Getty Images

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Forced conscription in occupied Ukraine pushes essential services to brink

As the Kremlin continues to conscript local Ukrainians, the shortage of essential workers is only expected to worsen. Conditions have gotten so bad that Ukraine’s military intelligence says that resistance to Russia in occupied territories has seen a recent increase.

Photo: Francis Farrell/The Kyiv Independent

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Human cost of war

Russian attacks kill 3, injure 31 over past day. Russia carried out attacks against nine of Ukraine’s oblasts over the past day, killing at least three people and injuring at least 31, local officials reported early on Jan. 25.

International response

EU begins screening of Ukrainian legislation in first step toward accession talks. The European Commission has started assessing Ukrainian legislation for compliance with EU laws, which “lays the groundwork for the (membership) negotiations,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Jan. 25.

Scholz on security guarantees for Ukraine: ‘I assume we will finalize it soon.’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that he expects Kyiv and Berlin to agree on security guarantees “soon” during the press conference on Jan. 24.

Latvian president supports ban on Russian grain imports. Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics said at a press conference on Jan. 24 that he would support a ban on the import of Russian grain “both for political and economic reasons.”

Denmark announces $13 million for Ukraine’s cybersecurity. “This assistance is an important contribution to the long-term support for strengthening Ukraine’s cyber defense,” said Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.

PACE calls on European parliaments to recognize Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children as genocide. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution calling on European leaders to make all efforts to return Ukrainian children abducted by Russia home, the Council of Europe’s press service said on Jan. 25.

EU, Lithuania allocating $16.7 million for school shelters in Ukraine. The project will prioritize Ukrainian regions close to the front line or the border with Russia — Chernihiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, and Odesa — the Lithuanian Central Project Management Agency wrote in a press release. The organizers plan to build at least five next-to-school bomb shelters in these oblasts.

US Senate committee backs bill to seize Russian assets to help Ukraine. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee almost unanimously approved a bill on Jan. 24 that would pave the way for Washington to confiscate Russian assets and hand them over to Ukraine for reconstruction of the country, Reuters reported.

In other news

Turkey formally ratifies Sweden’s NATO accession. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed into force the parliament’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership, Reuters reported on Jan. 25, citing the Turkish presidency’s official gazette.

Ukrainian tennis player Yastremska knocked out of Australian Open in semi-final. Ukrainian tennis player Dayana Yastremska lost in straight sets to China’s Zheng Qinwen in the semi-final of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Suspilne Sport reported on Jan. 25.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Martin Fornusek, Elsa Court, Francis Farrell, Dinara Khalilova, Abbey Fenbert, and Olena Goncharova.

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