Overview:

  • Moscow updates blacklist for those with negative public views on invasion
  • Visiting the front lines, Zelensky says Russians capitalizing on US aid delays
  • Russian shelling destroys more homes and kills a 57-year-old bystander
  • Kremlin says no conclusive cause of Navalny’s death, but backlash builds
  • Pause in fighting reported around Avdiivka environs after city’s capture
  • Russians make confirmed progress around Robotyne

Promote the invasion or don’t work again, Moscow tells performers and artists

The Kremlin has recently circulated an updated blacklist of 50 public figures who have not given their full-throated support for Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The regular report from British intelligence on Monday reported that celebrities face pressure to display overt support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

One example was pop star Filipp Kirokov, a Bulgarian-born Jewish singer once married to outspoken war critic, Alla Pugacheva. He was censored by Kremlin officials last week for visiting wounded Russian soldiers in Ukraine and was called out for his participation in the now-infamous “Almost Naked” party in a Moscow nightclub that included a host of A-listers.

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The new blacklist almost ensures that non-compliant celebs won’t be performing in Russia any time soon.

“The Kremlin almost certainly intentionally amplified and exploited the scandal, seeking to portray a contrast between Russians ‘patriotically’ supporting the war effort and a hedonistic ‘Westernized’ metropolitan elite,” the UK report read.  “One attendee was jailed, fined under so-called ‘LGBT propaganda’ laws, and served with a summons to a military conscription office.”

President stresses that battlefield difficulties are a result of lagging aid packages

In Show of Support, Starmer Invites Zelensky to Attend Cabinet Meeting
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In Show of Support, Starmer Invites Zelensky to Attend Cabinet Meeting

Starmer is expected to tell Zelensky that Britain will do more in the coming months to dent Russia’s “war machine”, including agreeing a new defense export support treaty.

After visiting troops near a battlefield in the Kharkiv region, President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that “the situation is extremely difficult in several parts of the front line, where Russian troops have concentrated maximum reserves.”

“[The Russians] are taking advantage of the delays in aid to Ukraine, and these are very tangible issues,” Zelensky said in his nightly address to the nation.

“There is a deficit of artillery. There is a need for frontline air defense and for a longer range of our weapons. We are working with our partners as hard as possible to resume and extend support,” he said, saying that the state of affairs on the battlefield is not looking good.

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Republicans in the US House of Representatives have for months blocked President Joe Biden’s $60 billion request for Kyiv, which now sits in front of them in the form of a Senate bill, which is unlikely to be considered by loyal supporters of former president Donald Trump.

Zelensky went on to express thanks in a nod to European Union countries who have tried to fill the void left by Trump supporters by increasing weapons shipments, and joint production of much-needed artillery shells.

“New production that is ramping up. Of course, we still cannot meet all the needs on our own, but every month adds to Ukraine’s strength and capabilities. I thank everyone who works for this,” Zelensky said.

Moscow’s shells bring more death and destruction in civilian neighborhood

Russian attacks have killed more than 20,000 Ukrainian civilians since the start of their full-scale invasion, and have caused hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure damage according to reports from the Kyiv School of Economics, and the tally continues.

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The head of the military administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, Ivan Fedorov, announced on Monday that several villages in the Ternuvate vicinity came under Grad rocket artillery fire, killing a 57-year-old man, injuring several others, and damaging a building.

“Today, at around 15:00, the Rashists shelled two villages of the Ternuvate community, Zaporizhzhia district, with artillery. A man died in Lisne at the bloody hands of the enemy. A civilian building was damaged in Liubytske,” Fedorov wrote.

Navalny’s wife vows to fight for justice, as tributes pop up worldwide

Critics call it a “mockery” that Kremlin’s investigation into the “mysterious” death of leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who died in a Siberian prison last week has yielded no official results, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Western speculation that Russian authorities killed Navalny are “absolutely unacceptable.”

“At the moment, the results of the investigation have not been released, they are unknown,” Peskov said.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, on Monday vowed to continue her husband Alexei Navalny's fight. Just before her meeting with EU leaders in Brussels she said, “I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny. I will continue to fight for the freedom of our country… And I call on you to stand by me.”

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Navalny’s PR team has accused the Kremlin of trying to cover up a murder.

“Investigators told Alexei’s mother and lawyers that they are not handing over the body and in the next 14 days they will conduct a chemical analysis, an investigation,” Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said. “I'll say it again: Navalny’s body is being hidden to hide the traces of the murder. This 14-day ‘chemical analysis’ is an outright lie and mockery.”

Meanwhile, tributes to the opposition martyr have been taking place at the Russian consulate in New York, as well as in Sacramento, California, in Krakow, and elsewhere:

Russian soldiers relaxed and regroup after fall of Avdiivka

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on Monday that “Russian forces are currently regrouping and conducting clearing operations in Avdiivka” after the city’s capture from the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). One AFU spokesperson, Dmytro Lykhoviy, said on Monday that the number of Russian attacks in the Avdiivka area has significantly decreased over the past day, adding that Russian shelling and air strikes have also “significantly decreased,” the ISW reported.

“Russian forces will likely have to conduct an operational pause before resuming significant offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction or will have to transfer additional reinforcements from other sectors of the front to the area to prevent operations near Avdiivka from culminating,” ISW analysts wrote.

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Operations: Zaporizhzhia region

Geolocated footage from Monday seems to show that Russian forces have made headway around Robotyne, with conflicting reports of whether battles are taking place within the city limits.

The footage would indicate that Moscow’s forces recently advanced to the western outskirts of the city, while the ISW cited Russian bloggers’ claims over the past two days that Putin’s soldiers have pushed more than one kilometer west of Verbove and up to two kilometers near Robotyne.

Many such online Russian voices are saying that Moscow’s troops have mostly taken control of the western and southern outskirts of Robotyne, with some of them even saying that combat has started within the city itself,  but the ISW stressed that it has not observed visual confirmation of such claims.

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