War Update #12 – Ukraine War International Isolation Expanding for Russia

Russian forces strike at residential buildings in central Chernihiv. According to the Northern Territorial Defense Forces, there is no military infrastructure in the nearby area, only several schools, kindergartens, and a hospital. Photo: Northern Territorial Defense Forces.
Russian forces strike at residential buildings in central Chernihiv. According to the Northern Territorial Defense Forces, there is no military infrastructure in the nearby area, only several schools, kindergartens, and a hospital. Photo: Northern Territorial Defense Forces.

Russian Troops Continue to Advance

Despite reports of logistical problems getting fuel for military vehicles, difficulty getting food, and low morale, Russia military forces are continuing their assault on the freedom of Ukraine.

Ukraine President Zelensky reports that foreign fighters have begun to arrive in Ukraine to help battle the Russians. “Ukraine is already greeting foreign volunteers. (The) first 16,000 are already on their way to protect freedom and life for us, and for all,” Zelensky said. You can join them, read: How to fight for Ukraine.

Top Ten Things YOU Need to KNOW

  • Russian forces have struck at residential buildings in central Chernihiv. According to the Northern Territorial Defense Forces, there is no military infrastructure in the nearby area, only several schools, kindergartens, and a hospital.
  • The Assembly of First Nations in Canada, National Chief RoseAnne Archibald offered the below statement on behalf of the AFN Executive Committee regarding the current situation in Ukraine. “We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and the many Ukrainians across Turtle Island as they respond to the attacks against their government, people and families. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by the invasion by Russia, especially the little ones. We lift up the courageous resistance led by Ukrainians in their efforts to protect their sovereignty. We encourage First Nations, Indigenous peoples and all Canadians to keep Ukraine in their hearts and minds, now and in the difficult days ahead.”
  • Russian and Belarus athletes banned from Winter Paralympics: IPC
  • Ending Russia’s free press: Roskomnadzor has ordered Google to remove from its app store the mobile apps for the radio station Ekho Moskvy and the television network Dozhd. Earlier Thursday, Ekho announced that the organization’s Board of Directors has decided to shut down both the news outlet’s radio station and website. Both independent news outlets were removed from the airwaves earlier this week in retaliation for reporting facts about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Google has reinstated Ekho Moskvy’s YouTube channel across Europe. The independent radio station’s account was briefly made inaccessible throughout Europe as part of the crackdown on Russian state media.
  • More Western companies withdraw from Russia: Spotify closes its offices in Russia “indefinitely,” removes all content from Kremlin-backed outlets Russia Today and Sputnik, and restricts “discoverability” of other Russian state-affiliated content. The streaming service will remain active within Russia, however. “We think it’s critically important to try to keep our service operational in Russia to allow for the global flow of information,” says a Spotify representative. Additionally, Harley Davidson, Apple, Oracle, Mercedes-Benz, and H&M all announced that they are suspending sales in Russia.
  • Catastrophe in Ukraine: More than one million refugees have fled Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion, according to the United Nations. Ukrainian officials are asking international organizations to help form humanitarian corridors to supply basic necessities and evacuation routes to cities now encircled by Russian troops. Mykhailo Podoliyak, an adviser to President Zelensky, warned that settlements occupied by the Russian military have collapsed into “looting, robbery, and murder.”
  • Russian government scrambling to keep it together: Russia’s federal government cabinet has submitted legislation to the State Duma outlining socioeconomic measures to support households and businesses as the economy reels from international sanctions. The emergency plan would suspend all inspections on small and medium-sized businesses until the end of 2022, simplify state procurement procedures, restrict pharmaceutical exports, control vital drug prices against changing exchange rates, conduct additional inflation adjustments for social security pensions, and adjust admission rules at state universities to accommodate students whose studies have been disrupted abroad.
  • Duelling death tolls: For the first time since the start of President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry has issued a statement on Wednesday specifying its combat losses at 498 Russian soldiers who have died in the war. Officials in Kyiv, meanwhile, say the actual is more than ten times greater citing that at least 5,840 killed Russian soldiers have been killed in action.
  • Old-media protest and politics: The politics of the invasion continue to play out in regional newspapers. In Yakutsk, a local paper ran a front-page cover with the words “NO TO WAR”. However the local distributor refused to sell that issue of the paper over concerns that it would lead to trouble for violating the federal regulator’s ban on calling the invasion a “war.” A day earlier police raided the offices of another publisher offices in the same region after several of its newspapers ran above-the-fold anti-war messages. Meanwhile, the official newspaper of record in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region in the capital city of Yekaterinburg added the Latin letter “Z” to its frontpage banner, embracing a meme that Russia Today and other Kremlin propagandists have tried to popularize. (The “Z,” or “Zorro,” graffiti has appeared painted on invading Russian armor in Ukraine. Previously, the governor of Kemerovo ordered the “Z” to appear on his administration’s official paperwork.
  • Another open letter to Putin: Over 600 people living in Russia’s Sakhalin region have signed an open letter to Vladimir Putin “and his entourage” advocating an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. President Putin’s war has become a national security threat itself, according to the authors. “We don’t want to live in international isolation.”

Economic Sanctions Hitting Hard at Russia

Sanctions on Russia Thomson Reuters Foundation

The European Union’s sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine are starting to have an initial impact, according to a European Uniotn official.”We believe that the package of sanctions we’ve put on the table is quite impressive and is now starting to have the first effects,” the official said. “Take the economic side, we have the Moscow stock exchange being closed since Monday. The depreciation of the rouble is also quite impressive. The fact that the Russian Central Bank had to double his interest rate to 20% also,” the official added.

There is a growing number of sanctions hitting Russia over President Vladimir Putin’s war and the decision to invade Ukraine.

Statement on behalf of the Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition: A call to action on state-sponsored disinformation in Ukraine

As 2022 Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition, Canada leads a coalition of 34 governments united by our belief that the same human rights people enjoy offline must be protected online.

The unprovoked and unjustifiable attack by the Russian Federation against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of the democratic state of Ukraine was preceded by a steady outpouring of fabricated claims and unfounded allegations online by the Russian Federation.

We have since witnessed a continued onslaught of disinformation orchestrated by the Russian Federation.

At an unprecedented moment in history, when people around the world are turning to the Internet to connect, learn and consume their news, the Russian Federation’s coordinated disinformation campaign has conjured false and misleading narratives intended to corrupt the information environment. This campaign aims to sow confusion, seed division, and erode trust in democracy. It ultimately puts lives at risk.

State-sponsored disinformation campaigns undermine peace, prosperity and individual freedoms, threatening to destabilize the fabric of our rules-based international system.

A strong democracy relies on access to diverse and reliable sources of news and information so that members of society can form opinions, hold governments and individuals to account, and participate in public debate.

The Freedom Online Coalition stands for the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms online and offline.

We stand with the people of Ukraine, reaffirming that they should be able to participate meaningfully in society online and offline, free from oppressive practices such as state-sponsored disinformation.

We call for the cessation of the conducting and sponsoring of disinformation campaigns, and urge all stakeholders to take active steps to address the issue in a manner that respects human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

We call for the end of Internet shutdowns and the blocking or filtering of services. We also call for the Russian Federation to refrain from content restrictions on the Internet that violate international human rights laws. States must not unduly restrict, moderate or manipulate online content or disrupt networks to deny users access to information, contrary to their international obligations.

More than ever, social media platforms are powerful tools of information. They play a key role in the health of democracies and global stability. Social media platforms play an important role in the fight against disinformation—in the last few days, we have seen them make unprecedented and powerful decisions to restrain the Russian Federation’s attempts to misinform national and international audiences.

While respecting freedom of expression, Canada calls on platforms to work with the Freedom Online Coalition and to keep taking every step possible to counter state-sponsored disinformation, including that propagated by Russia Today and Sputnik channels online. We offer our continued collaboration to get this done in a manner guided by respect for human rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Together, let’s send a clear message—the world order we have fought hard to maintain is under attack. Disinformation cannot be enabled, whether through state media, private media or social media platforms.

We support Ukrainians’ human rights and Internet freedoms, and will work together to counter state-sponsored disinformation, which puts democracies and lives at risk.

Endorsed by: Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States

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