Ukraine’s Zelenskyy dismisses calls to cede land for peace — live updates

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  • Ukraine’s president rebuffs calls to cede land to Russia 
  • Putin orders fast-tracking Russian passports for residents in southern Ukrainian regions
  • Luhansk governor says 6 killed in Russian shelling
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz among Thursday’s speakers in Davos

This article was last updated at 06:30 UTC/GMT

British intelligence point to failures of Russia’s airborne forces

The latest intelligence update from the UK’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) highlights the performance of Russia’s airborne forces — the VDV.

The MOD briefing states that the branch of Russia’s armed forces “have been heavily involved in several notable tactical failures since the start of Russia’s invasion.”

These include the attempted advance on Kyiv via the Hostomel Airfield, stalled progress in Izium, and the botched crossings of the Siverskyi Donets river.

The MOD says the failures of the 45,000 strong force “reflects a strategic mismanagement of this capability and Russia’s failure to secure air superiority.”

Russian journalist who staged on-air protest wins ‘creative dissent’ award

Marina Ovsyannikova, the Ukrainian-born Russian journalist who staged an anti-war protest during a live broadcast on Russian TV has been awarded the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent.

Osyannikova interrupted a live news bulletin on Russian state TV during the first few weeks of the invasion, holding up a sign which called for “no war.”

In a tweet, Osyannikova dedicated the award to Ukrainians who have been displaced by Russia’s invasion. 

The award for creative dissent was established by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) and honors those who engage in creative ways of dissent to challenge injustice.

The prize is named after the late HRF chairman, Vaclav Havel, who led a nonviolent revolution which ultimately freed the former Czechoslovakia from communist rule.

The award ceremony took place in Oslo on Wednesday.

Zelenskyy: Calls to cede land aren’t considering ‘ordinary people’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed suggestions that Kyiv cedes control of some areas occupied by Russian forces as a compromise to reach a peace deal. 

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had suggested this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Ukraine should let Russia keep Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

“You get the impression that Mr. Kissinger doesn’t have 2022 on his calendar, but 1938, and that he thinks he is talking to an audience not in Davos but in Munich back then,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address on Wednesday.

Zelenskyy was referring to a pact signed in Munich by Britain, France, Italy and Germany that gave Adolf Hitler land as part of a failed attempt to persuade him to abandon further territorial expansion.

The Ukrainian leader also called out a New York Times editorial that suggested a negotiated peace might require Kyiv to make some hard decisions, arguing that a military victory was not realistic.

“Those who advise Ukraine to give something to Russia, these ‘great geopolitical figures,’ never see ordinary people, ordinary Ukrainians, millions living on the territory they are proposing to exchange for an illusory peace.”

Talks between Ukraine and Russia have been stalled for some time, more than a month according to Russia, with Moscow blaming Kyiv for this.

Summary of Wednesday’s events in the war in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the procedure for residents of the southern Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, largely under Russian control, to get a fast-tracked Russian passport.

Ukraine accused Putin of “criminal” behavior over the announcement.

Meanwhile, the governor of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine said at least six civilians were killed by fresh Russian shelling.

In the southeastern city of Mariupol, Russian forces who had seized control of the strategic port have now allowed its operating “on a daily basis,” the Russian Defense Ministry claimed. 

The European Commission proposed to make breaking EU sanctions against Russia a criminal offense. This would aid in confiscating the assets of companies and individuals flouting the measures.

The Commission said it was seeking a unified approach to deal with sanction evasion.

Meanwhile, Russia called for the easing of international sanctions on Moscow to avoid far-reaching threats to the global food supply.

Moscow said it would allow vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine in return for the lifting of some sanctions, a proposal that Kyiv labeled as “blackmail.” 

To read Wednesday’s live updates in full, click here

kb, fb/msh, rs (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters) 

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