WORLD BRIEFING: February 1, 2024
A presidential decree is expected by the end of the week to remove Ukraine’s popular army chief Valery Zaluzhny, a source has told CNN. According to one of the sources, at a small gathering at his office on Monday – also attended by Defense Minister Rustem Umerov – the president declared he had “made a decision to dismiss the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.” In a conversation described as “calm,” Zelensky then proceeded to offer Zaluzhny a different position, which Zaluzhny declined.
World Court dismisses much of Ukraine's case against Russia: Judges at the top U.N. court on Wednesday found that Russia violated elements of a U.N. anti-terrorism treaty, but declined to rule on allegations brought by Kyiv that Moscow was responsible for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. In the same ruling, judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Russia had breached an anti-discrimination treaty by failing to support Ukrainian language education in Crimea after its 2014 annexation of the peninsula. The decisions were a legal setback for Kyiv. The court rejected Ukraine's requests to order reparations for both violations and only ordered Russia to comply with the treaties. Ukraine's representative Anton Korynevych stressed the judgment was important for Kyiv because it did establish Russia violated international law. “This is the first time that officially, legally Russia is called a violator of international law," he told journalists after the ruling - Reuters
Russia and Ukraine say they have exchanged captured soldiers - the first such swap since the crash of a Russian plane that Moscow claimed had 65 prisoners of war (PoWs) on board. Russia's military says each side got 195 soldiers back on Wednesday. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says 207 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians were returned. A video filmed by the Ukrainian authorities shows the released men tumbling off buses with shouts of "Glory to Ukraine!" The men are wearing Russian prison uniforms - their heads are close-shaven - and many look very thin after months, or in some case up to two years in captivity. It is the 50th PoW exchange since President Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 - BBC
US President Joe Biden said he has decided on the US response to the drone strike that killed three service members in Jordan. Meanwhile, a powerful Iran-backed militia in Iraq announced the suspension of its operations against US forces. Meanwhile, Israeli aircraft and artillery have again intensified attacks on Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, with helicopters and drones circling several locations, according to reporters in Gaza.
Russia has overtaken the US as Brazil’s prime supplier of diesel. The two are both founding members of the BRICS block of nations. According to the Financial Times, Brazilian imports of diesel from Russia last year soared 4,600 per cent while purchases of fuel oil rose by almost 400 per cent, in a $8.6bn boost to the Russian economy as the war in Ukraine enters its third year. Brasília imported 6.1mn tons of diesel from Russia in 2023, a 6,000 per cent increase from the 101,000 tons the previous year. The value in dollar terms increased 4,600 per cent from $95mn to $4.5bn, according to official government figures. The Latin American nation also increased its purchases of fuel oil from Russia, with imports growing to $5.3bn last year from $1.1bn the previous year. Brazil overtook Turkey in October to become the largest buyer of Russian diesel, according to data from Kpler, while the jump in diesel imports last year means Russia has overtaken the US as Brazil’s largest supplier of the fuel.
Western allies must continue providing assistance to Ukraine in its war with Russia this year, or risk a mistake “of historic proportions,” CIA Director William Burns wrote in a column published Tuesday. Burns laid out his case in a Foreign Affairs column, noting that less than 5 percent of the U.S. defense budget — “a relatively modest investment with significant geopolitical returns” — is all that Washington sends to Kyiv. If an opportunity for serious negotiations to end the war emerges, he wrote, providing arms to Ukraine will put it in a stronger bargaining position. Ukraine’s military would also be able to continue fending off Russian troops while rebuilding its infrastructure, while Moscow spends massive amounts of money to keep the war going, Burns added. “For the United States to walk away from the conflict at this crucial moment and cut off support to Ukraine would be an own goal of historic proportions,” Burns wrote, referencing a soccer term for scoring a goal for the rival team by putting the ball into a player’s own net. Burns is the latest top U.S. official to publicly make the case for greenlighting assistance to Ukraine, as lawmakers battle over a southern border deal that’s holding up $60 billion in aid to Ukraine - Politico
A "dangerous object" found outside the Israeli embassy in Stockholm has been destroyed, Swedish police say. Local reports said the incident triggered a major response, with a wide area cordoned off around the embassy to protect the public. Police told the BBC they could not give further details on the object. They said no-one had been injured. The Israeli ambassador to Sweden said there had been an "attempted attack" on the embassy and its employees - BBC
Former Boeing Co. managers and engineers are issuing startling warnings to people to avoid the 787 Max. “I would absolutely not fly a Max airplane,” said Ed Pierson, a former Boeing senior manager. “I’ve worked in the factory where they were built, and I saw the pressure employees were under to rush the planes out the door. I tried to get them to shut down before the first crash.” Another said: “I would tell my family to avoid the Max. I would tell everyone, really,” said Joe Jacobsen, a former engineer at Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration. Aviation safety experts have pointed to the blowout of an emergency exit door on an Alaska Airlines 787 Max as just the latest example of a deeper problem at the manufacturer. They say the company needs a cultural change. Pierson said that returning the Max 9 to service was “another example of poor decision making, and it risks the public safety.” - Los Angeles Times
The number of people set to attend the opening ceremony of this year's Olympics has been estimated at about 300,000, French Interior minister Gerald Darmanin said on Wednesday, around half as many as were previously expected. The opening ceremony will be a six kilometer parade along the River Seine on July 26. It will take place amid security concerns as France is on a high terrorism alert. "The idea is that there will be 100,000 people on the lower quays (with paying tickets) and more than 220,000 people on the upper quays (with free tickets)," Darmanin told French TV channel France 2
This review is reprinted with the author’s permission from his World Briefing blog. See the original here.
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