Russian leaders are divided on the launch of a major winter offensive, says Washington

Cover image: Residents use a ladder to enter a building damaged by Russian shelling in Kherson on December 20, 2022. DIMITAR DILKOFF / AFP

  • Moscow says it does not want to absorb Belarus. Russian President Vladimir Putin assured that Russia « n’a[vait] no interest” to absorb Belarus, its closest ally, very dependent on Moscow for gas and oil supplies. Mr Putin was speaking at a press conference with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, following their talks in Minsk. The master of the Kremlin insisted on the close ties between the two countries, “the closest allies and strategic partners” who resist ” in an effective way “ Western sanctions.
  • The two countries have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in ” all the domains “, also declared the head of the Kremlin, in particular in the defense sector. These are the “common measures to ensure safety” of both countries, “mutual arms deliveries”, as well as joint manufacture of armaments, Putin said. Russia will also continue to train Belarusian servicemen to fly Soviet-designed Belarusian aircraft capable of carrying nuclear bombs, according to the same source.
  • The Russian military claims to have shot down four American-made missiles near Ukraine. “Four American HARM anti-radar missiles were shot down in the airspace of the Belgorod region”, said the Russian Ministry of Defense in its daily report published on Telegram, without further details. Asked by Agence France-Presse, the Pentagon said “not being able to confirm this information”.
  • Canada to seize assets of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. The Canadian government announced on Monday that it has begun a process to seize $26 million from a company owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, under sanctions in retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Several Western countries have already seized yachts and frozen assets linked to Russian oligarchs in order to put pressure on Vladimir Putin and his entourage.
  • EU ministers agree gas price cap. EU energy ministers have agreed to a cap on gas prices, says on Twitter a spokesperson for the Czech Presidency of the European Union (EU), Dmitrij Cernikov. According to a document seen by the Reuters news agency, the cap will be triggered if the price of monthly contracts on the TTF benchmark gas market exceeds 180 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) for three successive days. This cap will apply from February 15 and will not initially concern over-the-counter purchases, the document specifies.
  • Moscow described as “unacceptable” this decision of the Twenty-Seven. “It is a violation of the market process for price formation”said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies.

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