Tuesday, January 31

Putin has used two-thirds of Russian total combat power amassed for invasion, US defense official says 

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Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow, on February 21. (Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images) , 2022. – President Vladimir Putin said on February 21, 2022, he would make a decision “today” on recognising the independence of east Ukraine’s rebel republics, after Russia’s top officials made impassioned speeches in favour of the move. (Photo by Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has used two-thirds of the Russian total combat power “he applied to this invasion,” a senior US defense official told reporters Sunday.

This “still means he has a third outside Ukraine, which is not insignificant,” the official said.

The US has assessed that “as of this morning” Russian forces “have launched more than 320 missiles.”

The majority of those missiles are “short-range ballistic missiles,” the official added.15 min ago

Spain will close airspace to Russian airlines

Spain will close its airspace to Russian airlines, according to the Spanish Ministry for Transport. 

The Ministry for Transport announced the move in a tweet Sunday saying the country would “proceed to close its air space to Russian airlines” following the European Union’s directives of cooperation. 

Spain joins a slew of other countries that have closed their airspace to Russian airlines this weekend in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including Germany, Italy, France and Canada.

Czech Republic joins Poland and Sweden in refusing to play Russia in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

The Czech Republic football national team has joined Poland and Sweden in refusing to play Russia in a potential match at the upcoming men’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The Czech FA executive committee, staff members and players of the national team agreed it’s not possible to play against the Russian national team in the current situation, not even on the neutral venue,” the Czech team wrote on Twitter Sunday. “We all want the war to end as soon as possible.”

Poland and Sweden, individually, made their announcements on Saturday.

More context: Russia is scheduled to host Poland in a playoff semifinal on March 24. The game is due to be held at the VTB Arena in Moscow.

The winner of the Poland-Russia match would host either Sweden or Czech Republic on March 29 in the final of their World Cup qualification route.

Read more about this here.

Ukraine’s ambassador to US: “We’re ready for peace talks, we’re not ready to surrender”

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova speaks at a press conference on February 25, in Washington, DC.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova welcomed the news of talks with Russia as a possible way to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine but added her home country is “not ready to surrender.” 

Markarova said in an ABC News interview on Sunday Ukraine’s focus has always been on using diplomacy to resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in response to news Ukraine has agreed to meet with Russian negotiators at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. 

“Our president, from the beginning, even before the war started, always focused — was focused on the diplomatic solution,” Markarova said. “And even after the war started, he actually called for peace talks all the time, but he always said, we’re ready for peace talks, we’re not ready to surrender,” she said.

Markarova also called on the West to offer more military aid to the Ukrainian military and pushed the US and its allies to issue further sanctions on Russia. Markarova also called on US businesses to consider divesting from Russian businesses and financial institutions. 

“We are grateful for everything that is there already and that is about to come, and we need more because we are defending our country against a very strong enemy. We also need sanctions, more sanctions, and we need Russia to clearly see that and feel that it’s not okay in the 21st century, to attack another country, a sovereign country without any reason,” Markarova said. 

“And I also would like to use this opportunity also to call on American business,” Markarova added. “I think it’s time to think about saving reputations and not cooperating with a regime that will end up in The Hague for everything they’ve done and they’re doing now to Ukraine,” referring to the International Court of Justice where alleged war crimes are heard,” she said.

Background: On Saturday, the White House, alongside the European Commission and other allies, announced their intent to expel some Russian banks from the international banking network SWIFT and target the Russian Central Bank with severe sanctions. 

Markarvoa also gave an update on the safety of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying he is “as safe as our country.” 

 “He is as safe as our country, and that’s the choice he made to stay in Kyiv, to stay in Ukraine and lead the nation in this very difficult moment,” Markarova said. 

Ukrainian foreign minister: Putin’s nuclear readiness move attempts to put pressure on Ukraine

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Sunday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s order to put Russian deterrent forces on alert was an effort to raise pressure on the Ukrainian delegation at Monday’s scheduled talks.

“As you notice, this order by President Putin came shortly after the announcement was made about the two delegations ready to meet. And we see this announcement this order, as an attempt to raise stakes and to put additional pressure on the Ukrainian delegation,” Kuleba said a briefing in Kyiv.

Kuleba added, “But we will not give into this pressure” and said, “We will approach this talks with a very simple approach.”

Kuleba indicated that Ukrainian officials are willing to “listen to what Russia has to say.”

“We will tell them what we think of this. And what we are ready to discuss is how to stop the war and the occupation of our territories. Full stop,'” the foreign minister said.

Kuleba said Putin’s decision “to put on high alert his nuclear weapons is a direct threat to us. I have very simple message. It will be a catastrophe for the world, but it will not break us down.”

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