WORLD BRIEFING: February 5, 2024

The US carried out more strikes against Houthi missiles in Yemen on Sunday, US Central Command (Centcom) said in a statement. It said US forces struck a land-attack cruise missile and four anti-ship missiles that "were prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea.” The latest action comes a day after joint US-UK strikes on Houthi targets. The UK says these were in self-defense to stop the Houthis' attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea. The Houthis have vowed the strikes will "not go unpunished" - BBC

About two dozen people, mostly journalists, were briefly detained at a protest in central Moscow, as wives and other relatives of Russian servicemen mobilized to fight in Ukraine called for their return, according to media reports. The soldiers’ relatives gathered on Saturday to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside the Kremlin walls. They marked 500 days since Russian President Vladimir Putin in September 2022 ordered a “partial mobilization” of up to 300,000 reservists in Moscow’s war against Ukraine. The call-up was widely unpopular and wives and relatives of some of the reservists have campaigned for them to be discharged and replaced with contract soldiers. Saturday’s demonstration was organized by one such campaign group, The Way Home, that on Friday posted on Telegram calling on “wives, mothers, sisters and children” of reservists from across Russia to come to Moscow to “demonstrate [their] unity.” “We want our husbands back alive,” one of the protesters, who only gave her name as Antonina for fear of reprisals, is heard saying in a video published by independent Russian news outlet SOTA vision - Al Jazeera


In remarks aired over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to signal that he intends to sack his top commander-in-chief. In an interview with Rai1 about Gen. Valerii Zaluzhny, he said: “This is a question that concerns the people who should lead Ukraine. A reboot and a new beginning are needed. The replacement of a number of government officials, not only in the military sphere. I'm thinking about replacing, that's true" - Ukrainska Pravda


Meanwhile, according to Reuters, the Ukrainian government has informed the White House that it plans to fire Zaluzhny, two knowledgeable sources said. A source close to Zelensky's office said the pair are locked in a dispute over a new military mobilization drive, with the president opposing Zaluzhnyi's proposal to call up 500,000 fresh troops. The source, however, added that the process for relieving Zaluzhnyi of his post as the commander in chief of Ukraine's armed forces was on hold for the time being as the sides work out their next steps. It was unclear how long that process would take, added the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. A second knowledgeable source said that the White House did not express a position on the plan to replace Zaluzhnyi.

Donald Trump, in an interview that aired on Fox News on Sunday, suggested falsely that Latin American governments were picking the citizens they didn’t want and shipping them to the U.S. border, resurrecting a claim that was central to his 2016 campaign - NYT


Millions of barrels of fuel made from Russian oil are still being imported to the UK despite sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine, research claims. A so-called "loophole" means Russian crude is refined in countries such as India and the products sold to the UK. This is not illegal and does not breach the UK's Russian oil ban, but critics say it undermines sanctions aimed at restricting Russia's war funds. The UK government denied there had been any imports of Russian oil since 2022. But a spokesman said internationally recognized "rules of origin" define that crude, once refined in another country, is classed for the purposes of trade as originating from the refining country - BBC

The National Public Television and Radio Company of Ukraine of Ukraine allocated around $291,000 (almost UAH 11-million) for the creation of the final concert of the national selection for Eurovision 2024, according to an entry on the Prozzoro system. The sum went to the production unit of "1+1 media” according to the entry dated January 26 and reported to Detektor Media. “Services for the production (creation) of audio and audiovisual works (content) for the implementation of the creative project "Eurovision Song Contest-2024", - says the information on the subject of procurement. The expenditure from the budget of the state - which is facing a $5-billion monthly gap - has ignited a firestorm of criticism on social media, with people saying it should’ve been spent on military needs.


This review is reprinted with the author’s permission from his World Briefing blog. See the original here.

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