When asked by Volodymyr Zelenskyy whether Vladimir Putin was still alive, the Kremlin responded with an ice bath comment. Meanwhile, five Russians who fled Putin have been stuck at an airport for two months and can’t get any further. what happened today

At the end of 2022, Vladimir Putin announced a mass mobilization in Russia. However, not all men wanted to take part. Five Russians fled and flew to South Korea. There, however, they do not receive asylum as hoped and do not come into the country.

They have been waiting at the airport for more than two months, Vladimir Maraktayev told “ntv”. “We’re just waiting, for a while. It’s been two months now, and the third has begun.” He doesn’t do anything at the airport all day, after getting up he gets something to eat from the Ministry of Justice.

The problem: the men lack the money to continue their journey. “Russian credit cards don’t work abroad,” says Maraktayev. “You can’t get the money in your account. For a long time I only had the cash I took from home.”

Now the men are fighting in court for asylum in South Korea. A decision is expected at the end of the month – until then the quintet will remain stuck at the airport.

After rumors about Vladimir Putin’s alleged doppelganger, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy does not really believe that the head of the Kremlin is still alive. “I don’t finally understand if he’s alive,” said Zelenskyj via video at the World Economic Forum in Davos, according to a statement on Thursday. He is not sure whether the 70-year-old shown on the screens is the real Putin. It is also unclear who makes decisions in Russia at all, said the 44-year-old on the question of possible negotiations between Russia and Ukraine on peace.

The Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov once said that he believed there were several doubles of Putin. In fact, Putin once said that he had been advised in the past to use a double at official meetings for security reasons. “The idea came up, but I gave up on doubles,” he said.

The Kremlin has now again rejected the doubts expressed by Kyiv about Putin’s existence. For Zelenskyy, the existence of Putin and Russia is a psychological problem, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The sooner Kyiv realizes that both Russia and Putin will stay in the future, the better for Ukraine.

According to Peskov, Putin only took an ice bath on Thursday. Epiphany, the festival of the Baptist, is celebrated in Russia on January 19. Millions of Orthodox Christians traditionally go ice bathing on the day to wash away their sins. The head of the Kremlin has also been keen to show himself in front of the camera during the procedure for several years. However, this time there was no photo of it.

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has announced the capture of the village of Klishchiyivka near the embattled town of Bakhmut. According to a message from Prigozhin, his mercenaries had completely taken over the place.

However, the Wagner boss praises the Ukrainian forces for their resistance. The enemy would by no means flee from Bakhmut. “The Ukrainian army works cleanly and in a well-coordinated manner. We can learn a lot from her,” says Prigozhin.

All statements made by the mercenary troop leader should always be treated with caution. On the one hand, he likes to stylize the Wagner fighters, often as the only successful formation of the Russian armed forces. In addition, he rarely resists a dig at the Russian Ministry of Defense and its conduct of the war – here apparently in the form of praise for the enemy.

The United States could soon approve a Ukrainian attack on Crimea, the New York Times reports, citing government sources. That would be a crucial turning point, because since the Russian invasion, Biden and his administration have taken a hard line on this, refusing to arm Kyiv to attack the peninsula.

But now that attitude is softening, the report says. The US government decided that “Kyiv needs the strength to attack the Russian sanctuary,” NYT said. At the negotiating table, Ukraine is in a better position with a weakened Russian position in Crimea.

In addition, it is already being discussed whether US HIMARS multiple rocket launchers and Bradley armored personnel carriers could help the Ukrainian troops in the conquest of Crimea and in an attack on the land bridge. However, the topic of concrete weapon assistance has not yet been decided .

Crimea has been under Russian control since 2014, and many Russian military bases are located on the peninsula. Under international law, however, it belongs to Ukraine.

Many Western experts and Russian insiders were expecting Vladimir Putin to give a major speech on Wednesday. An important announcement. On the historically important day – the 80th anniversary of the breakthrough of the Nazi siege of Leningrad. Instead, Putin delivered a small speech. In this he emphasized all the stories that he has been driving for so long.

Putin’s core claims:

Putin’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went a step further (popular in Russian propaganda). He said that the West (i.e. the US and Europe) want to bring about a “final solution” for Russia, just as Hitler did with the Jews in World War II. He, too, stylizes the “special military operation” in Ukraine as just as vital for Russia’s survival as the fight against Hitler.

The experts at the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) have come to the conclusion that Putin has recently deliberately let a few opportunities for a big speech slip by. He doesn’t want to make any big announcements. Instead, like a mantra, he repeats those claims that go down well with the war-hungry ultranationalists.

In particular, the constant comparison to the “Great Patriotic War” (World War II) is heard by all important groups in Russia. The fairy tale of Ukraine’s threat to Russia still lingers in the minds of Russian domestic politics. According to the “ISW” researchers, Putin deliberately does not aim his speeches at the outside world, but exclusively at the inside.

After the death of the Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyj and 13 other people in a helicopter crash, the background is still unclear. President Volodymyr Zelenskyj said in a video speech on Wednesday evening that he had commissioned the secret service to investigate. Monastyrskyj and Deputy Interior Minister Yehwhenij Jenin, who was also killed, are not politicians who “can easily be replaced”. “It’s really a great loss for the state.”

According to the latest information, a child is among the dead in the crash, which occurred on Wednesday morning in a residential area near a kindergarten near the capital Kyiv.

The Airbus H225 helicopter used is not considered particularly reliable. Against the background of the Russian war of aggression, against which Ukraine has been defending itself for almost eleven months, shooting down or sabotage was not ruled out.

According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Ukraine will receive heavier weapons for the fight against Russia. From the meeting of the Ukraine contact group at the Ramstein US base in Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday, the message will go out that there will be “more ongoing support, heavier weapons and more modern weapons”. It is a fight for one’s own values ​​and democracy.

Stoltenberg left it open whether there would be announcements about the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks. It is also conceivable that the Norwegian was alluding to the fact that Great Britain wants to provide Ukraine with 14 Challenger 2 battle tanks.

According to reports, the USA is preparing new large arms deliveries to Ukraine, which is under attack from Russia. The news portal “Politico” reported, citing informed circles, that the United States is considering, among other things, the delivery of Stryker-type wheeled armored personnel carriers. Wheeled armored personnel carriers are used, for example, for reconnaissance and transport and are intended to offer a high level of protection against attacks. The US is not currently expected to approve deliveries of its own Abrams main battle tanks, the report said. The reason is the extensive maintenance and training on the battle tank. There was initially no official confirmation of this.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy accused the international community of hesitating for too long. “The time that the free world needs to think is used by the terrorist state (Russia) to kill,” said the Ukrainian head of state in a video speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. At the moment it is particularly important to anticipate Russia’s military mobilization.

Selenskyj demanded: “The supply of Western battle tanks must forestall a next invasion with Russian battle tanks.” This also applies to the provision of anti-aircraft systems. These must come before the “next Russian missile strikes”.

The US expressed concern about the joint maneuvers by Russia and Belarus. National Security Council communications director John Kirby said Belarus “clearly and demonstrably” supported Russia in attacking Ukraine. “As in the past, these exercises will be observed and monitored by us.” They are being followed “with concern”. So far, however, there are no signs that Belarus itself is planning to invade Ukraine.

The head of the Russian private army Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused employees close to Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin in the presidential administration of treason. They are pretending to be on Putin’s course, but in reality they are disrupting the course of the war and waiting for a quick end to serve up to the US if Russia is defeated, Prigozhin claimed, according to a statement. The businessman’s troops are fighting alongside the Russian army in Ukraine. At the same time, he said that Moscow would soon comply with its demands for the YouTube video platform to be blocked.

What will be important on Thursday:

The defense ministers of several European countries will meet in Estonia ahead of new talks in Ramstein on Western military aid to Ukraine. At a meeting at the Tapa military base on Thursday, they want to present their latest aid packages for Kyiv.