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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 709

The highest court of the United Nations is poised to make a critical decision on Ukraine’s case against Russia, alleging a breach of international law. Ukraine asserts that Russia violated the 1948 Genocide Convention by justifying an invasion to prevent an alleged genocide of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine. This legal battle unfolded at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) shortly after Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022. In September of the previous year, Moscow’s legal team argued for the dismissal of the case, citing flaws in Kyiv’s legal arguments and challenging the court’s jurisdiction. Notably, the ICJ had already issued emergency measures in March 2022, ordering Russia to immediately halt its military operations in Ukraine.

In a significant diplomatic development, EU leaders successfully garnered the approval of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán for a €50 billion aid package for Kyiv, a move that had faced resistance at a summit in December. Despite tensions and displeasure among European leaders, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo emphasized the immovability of European values, stating, “Our values were not for sale.” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, critical of Orbán, cautioned against rewarding individuals seeking “rotten compromises.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed gratitude for the EU leaders’ agreement on long-term financial assistance while urging them to enhance military aid. Simultaneously, reports surfaced suggesting that Ukrainian forces executed a sophisticated attack using sea drones, resulting in the sinking of a Russian warship near occupied Crimea, showcasing Kyiv’s expanding influence in the Black Sea.

In the realm of military leadership, Chief of the Ukrainian army, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, outlined priorities and challenges in an opinion piece amid speculations about his potential dismissal. Zaluzhnyi acknowledged a reduction in military support from key allies and underscored the necessity for new capabilities to outmaneuver Russia as the conflict enters its third year.

Turning to the US, the Senate is gearing up for a pivotal test vote on legislation that combines border policy changes with wartime aid for Ukraine and other allies. The bill’s fate remains uncertain as some Republicans resist the proposed timeline, and many remain undecided on supporting the border policy adjustments.

In a noteworthy development, Russia’s national guard, Rosgvardia, is integrating former Wagner assault detachments into its inaugural volunteer corps formation, often referred to as Putin’s “private army.”

Looking ahead on the international front, Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Turkey on February 12 for discussions with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Despite facing an international criminal court (ICC) warrant for war crimes, Putin’s visit to Turkey is expected to proceed, given that Turkey does not recognize the ICC.

Finally, a North Korean delegation is slated to visit Russia’s lower house of parliament on February 13, with a reciprocal visit by a Russian parliamentary delegation to North Korea planned for March.

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