Russia Central Bank headquarters in Moscow
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1517 GMT:
The cosmetics firm Avon is still recruiting sales agents in Russia, offering prizes, cash bonuses, and holidays for those who meet targets.
Avon, part of the Brazilian cosmetics firm Natura, said at the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine that it was halting investment and ending exports from its Russian factory. It said it would not shut operations entirely because of local workers dependent on jobs and because “restricting their access to products would have an outsize impact on women and children there”.
Steven Tian of Yale University, part of a research team tracking the response of companies to the Russian invasion, said Avon should be “ashamed”: “There is no excuse for continuing to fund Putin’s war machine…and [there] has been more than enough time to allow for companies to exit in an orderly way.”
An Avon spokesperson declared, “Avon Russia supports women in Russia through locally funded activities to support their social selling businesses. We see this as critical support for women whose livelihoods depend on their Avon business.”
UPDATE 1013 GMT:
Ukraine’s SBU State security service says Defense Ministry officials conspired with employees from a Ukrainian arms firm to embezzle almost $40 million.
The funds were earmarked to buy 100,000 mortar shells.
Five people have been charged, and one detained trying to cross the Ukrainian border. Each faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.
In August 2022, officials signed a contract for artillery shells worth 1.5 billion hryvnias (almost $39.6 million) with Lviv Arsenal.
Company employees were supposed to transfer the funds to a business registered abroad, which would then deliver the ammunition to Ukraine. The munitions were never delivered and the money sent to various accounts in Ukraine and the Balkans, say investigators.
The money has been seized and will be returned to the country’s defense budget, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general.
UPDATE 0853 GMT:
Vladimir Putin says Russia will be “handed over” to those involved in his invasion of Ukraine.
Putin said that 600,000 invaders “should become the basis of the Russian state” and that “the entire state apparatus will be set up to help in their self-realization”: “People who have passed the crucible of combat trials are needed by the fatherland at all times.”
He combined the declaration with a swipe at last month’s “Almost Naked” party in Moscow which featured Russian celebrities.
It is precisely from these people [invading Ukraine] that we must form the country’s elite in the future. Not one of those, excuse me, who expose their genitals or show their butts — well, we need weirdos like that too, let them be.
But the real elite of the country, into whose hands Russia can be transferred, must be formed from these people.
UPDATE 0835 GMT:
The Ukraine Air Force says air defenses downed four of eight Iran-made attack drones launched by Russia overnight.
The Russians also fired two ballistic missiles on the Poltava region in central Ukraine, hitting an industrial facility in Kremenchuk, and three surface-to-air missiles over the Donetsk region in the east.
No casualties have been reported so far.
UPDATE 0824 GMT:
North Korea delivered 1.57 million 152mm and 155mm artillery shells to Russia between September and December, estimates Frontelligence Insight.
The image analysis firm tracked 20-foot shipping containers from North Korea’s Raijin port to the Dunai port near Vladivostok in Russia’s far east, and then across Russia to the Rostov region near the Ukraine border.
North Korean shipments were also transported to Mozdok, more than 600 km (373 miles) from the Ukrainian border. The analysts assess that, given this distance from the frontline, the deliveries might be of ballistic missiles — including those used in attacks across Ukraine on December 30 and January 2.
UPDATE 0758 GMT:
Russian forces killed five civilians across Ukraine on Saturday, including a brother and sister slain by
an unit infiltrating across the northern border.
The siblings, a 54-year-old man and a 68-year-old woman, were shot in the village of Andriivka, in the Sumy region in a 5-km (3.1-mile) buffer zone along the border. They were driving in an SUV when they were attacked by the Russians.
Volodymyr Artyukh, head of the Sumy regional military administration, responded:
I once again appeal to the residents of the 5-km zone with a request for evacuation. This process has been going on for more than a month. Help is provided at every stage.
Russian terrorists continue to kill civilians. By evacuating from dangerous areas, you will save your life.
Two people were killed by Russian artillery shelling of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. In Beryslav in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, explosives dropped from a drone killed one person.
Russian missiles struck an industrial site in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, setting a fire. To the southeast, in the Zaporizhzhia region, an infrastructure site was hit in a drone attack.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has reiterated that about $300 billion of Russia’s assets abroad must be seized to curb the 23-month invasion and deadly attacks on Ukrainian civilians.
In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskiy said:
I want to note the results of communication with our partners regarding Russian assets: this month, we got closer to the decision that we need, which will be fair.
All Russian assets — the assets of the terrorist state itself and its affiliated individuals — which are in different jurisdictions and frozen, must work to protect against Russian aggression. They must be confiscated. And we are doing everything to ensure that this decision is meaningfully prepared in the near future.
The European Union, United States, Japan, and Canada froze about $300 billion of Russian central bank assets soon after the February 2022 invasion.
Canada went further in late 2023, amending its Special Economic Measures Act to allowing the seizure of Russian State and private assets.
On Wednesday, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation for the confiscation of Russian assets and donation of them to Ukraine for reconstruction.
The Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act would be the first American seizure of central bank assets from a country with which Washington is not at war.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed a similar bill, also with near-unanimous bipartisan support.
However, the US holds only about $5 billion to $6 billion of the Russian assets. Most held in Europe, with large share in Belgium’s Euroclear central securities depositary.
Senior EU officials said on Tuesday that the 27-nation bloc is unlikely to confiscate the assets. They cited concerns with the legality of the measure, and potential consequences for the euro currency, assessing that investors might pull out of euro assets because of the prospect of seizure.
The Kremlin has pledged to retaliate with confiscation of Western assets in Russia.