Hacking mother's milk.
News Items will not be distributed over the holiday weekend. It will resume distribution Tuesday, 21 February. However, a News Items Note (or two!) will be distributed over the course of the long weekend. It’s just not clear when.
1. Russia will start nuclear exercises to test its ballistic and cruise missiles on Saturday as western powers continued to warn that the Kremlin is contemplating an imminent invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s defense ministry said on Friday that its air force, southern military district, strategic missile forces and northern and Black Sea fleets would take part in the drills. “The strategic containment forces exercises were planned earlier to test the preparedness of military command organs, launch crews, crews on warships and strategic launch platforms to fulfil their allotted tasks, as well as the reliability of nuclear and non-nuclear strategic arms,” the ministry said, according to Interfax. (Source: ft.com)
2. The U.S. ramped up warnings of a possible Russian attack on Ukraine, with President Joe Biden saying a “false-flag” event may be underway and a top diplomat describing Moscow as moving toward an “imminent invasion.” Russian officials said no invasion of Ukraine was underway and none was planned. But the Kremlin said in an official response to the Biden administration’s proposed security assurances that the offers were unsatisfactory and Russia might have to resort to unspecified “military-technical measures.” (Sources: bloomberg.com, whitehouse.gov)
3. Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels reported increased shelling in eastern Ukraine for a second straight day today, an escalation that Washington and other Western allies say could form part of a Russian pretext to invade. Russia denies Western accusations that it is planning an invasion and has said this week it is drawing down forces massed near Ukraine. Western countries say they believe the opposite: more equipment and personnel are arriving and making the sort of preparations normally seen in the final days before an attack. Financial markets, on edge over the prospect of a major war in Europe, took some comfort from an announcement overnight that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had agreed to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next week - provided Russia has not invaded first. (Source: reuters.com)
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