Frozen Russian assets can cover 80% of Ukraine's reconstruction needs

In a recent interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais on January 8, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba revealed that the total amount of frozen Russian assets exceeds 80% of Ukraine's recovery demand. Following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, approximately $300 billion of the Russian central bank's assets were frozen in the West.

Kyiv and its allies have been engaged in discussions for months on finding a legal means to confiscate these funds, with the aim of redirecting them towards Ukraine's war and reconstruction efforts. Talks between U.S. and European officials have reportedly intensified in recent weeks, spurred on by U.S. President Joe Biden's request for a strategy to be prepared by February 24, 2024—marking two years since the commencement of the all-out war.

In the interview with El Pais, Minister Kuleba expressed confidence in Ukraine's ability to access the funds from the frozen Russian assets. He stated, "It will happen 100%, the question is to what extent because there are three elements: the frozen assets themselves, the profits on the assets, and taxes on those profits. But it will happen because it makes sense that Russia should pay."

Kuleba emphasized that there are ample frozen assets to address the reconstruction needs of Ukraine, stating, "And there are enough frozen assets to tackle the reconstruction of Ukraine… We can rebuild schools, hospitals, and infrastructure at the expense of the country that destroyed them."

The prospect of utilizing frozen Russian assets for Ukraine's recovery represents a significant development in the ongoing efforts to address the economic impact of the conflict and support the rebuilding process in the aftermath of the invasion.

Death toll of Russia's Dec. 29 attack on Kyiv rises to 33

The death toll from Russia's mass attack on Kyiv on December 29 has now reached 33, as confirmed by Serhii Popko, the head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, on January 9. The assault marked Russia's largest air attack on Ukraine, targeting multiple cities, including the capital, Kyiv. Mayor Vitali Klitschko described it as the deadliest attack on civilians in Kyiv since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

The 33rd victim was discovered under the rubble of a warehouse in Kyiv's Shevchenkivskyi district, one of the many buildings damaged in the December 29 attack, according to Popko.

During the attack, Russian forces launched 158 missiles and drones at Ukraine, with the majority intercepted by the country's air defenses. While over 50 people were reported killed, and over 160 were injured nationwide, Kyiv has become a focal point for intensified Russian attacks, particularly on critical infrastructure, coinciding with a drop in temperatures, mirroring last year's strategy.

In a more recent large-scale strike on January 8, Russian troops launched 59 missiles and drones at Ukraine, resulting in at least five deaths and 45 injuries, as reported by Ukrainian authorities. The ongoing assaults underscore the severity of the conflict and the devastating impact on civilians and infrastructure in Ukraine.

White House gathers industry leaders to discuss defense tech for Ukraine

White House officials convened a five-hour meeting on January 8 with representatives from the venture capital, technology, and defense sectors to discuss strategies for providing Ukraine with modern weapons systems, as reported by Reuters. The meeting, arranged by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, included key members of the National Security Council and executives from companies such as Fortem Aerospace, Palantir Technologies, and drone producer Skydio.

The objective of the meeting was to emphasize support for Ukraine by addressing key technological challenges that hinder its progress and momentum on the battlefield. Specific areas of technological need discussed included unmanned aerial systems, countering incoming unmanned aerial systems, and addressing demining challenges.

While Sullivan attended parts of the meeting, his deputy Jon Finer led a portion of the event. The discussion provided an opportunity to learn about state-of-the-art systems from various U.S. industries to bring these capabilities to Ukraine's battlefields.

Officials highlighted that progress in providing technological support to Ukraine hinges on Congress unblocking the billions of dollars in supplemental funding requested by President Joe Biden. The aid package has faced delays due to partisan battles over U.S. border and immigration policy.

Notably, the meeting on January 8 was not part of the December agreement between the U.S. and Ukraine to increase weapons production. Lieutenant General Serhii Naiev of Ukraine had warned in November 2023 that the war could expand beyond the country's eastern and southern regions if Russia continued to improve its technological capacities, emphasizing the importance of technological strength in the conflict.