Conflict Risk Alerts

Ukraine

U.S. rejected Russian demands for legal guarantees prohibiting NATO expansion, while tensions over Russian military build-up continued ahead of planned military exercises in Feb. After Moscow 15 Dec proposed to U.S. draft agreement on security guarantees that included provision not to expand NATO eastward, U.S. 26 Jan provided written response rejecting demand after coordinating with Ukraine and European allies; U.S. urged Russia to dismantle its military build-up near Ukraine and continue diplomatic path; rejection followed 21 Jan meeting between U.S. Sec State Blinken and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov that ended without breakthrough (see Russia-U.S.). Meanwhile, Russia continued military build-up. Significant number of Russian personnel and equipment, including Iskander short-range ballistic missiles, during month arrived in Belarus ahead of “Allied Resolve” joint military exercises that will last until 20 Feb; Blinken 19 Jan said Russia may attack Ukraine at “very short notice”, while President Zelenskyy same day said risks of invasion have not increased. Zelenskyy 20 Jan suggested, however, Russia may attempt to occupy Kharkiv city under pretext of protection of Russian-speaking population. Amid tensions, Ukraine has been receiving significant military assistance from U.S., UK and other European countries. Situation in Donbas conflict zone remained relatively calm as shelling decreased compared to Dec; no civilian casualties from live-fire reported while govt sources reported one serviceman killed by live fire, two killed by explosive device detonations, seven injured in Jan; two Russian-backed armed group members were killed during month, one from live fire, and one fighter was injured. Despite tensions, Kyiv continued seeking new Normandy summit with leaders of four countries (Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine). Political advisers of leaders 26 Jan met in French capital Paris; Dmitry Kozak, deputy chief of staff of the Presidential Executive Office, said sides agreed that July 2020 ceasefire agreement in Donbas should be adhered to unconditionally; advisers agreed to meet in German capital Berlin in two weeks to discuss discrepancies over political part of the Minsk agreements. Govt 25 Jan decided to withdraw from parliament its transition policy law that defined Russia as aggressor state and described Kyiv’s vision of how to reintegrate territories seized by Russia’s proxies.

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