News of the Day: 7 January 2021

The Moscow Times: Russia on Friday confirmed 16,735 Covid-19 infections and 787 deaths.

The Guardian: A Ukrainian opera director arrested in Italy at Russia’s request has pledged to continue his fight against the “oppression” of Vladimir Putin’s government as calls for his release mount from around the world. Yevhen (Eugene) Lavrenchuk, 39, was detained in Naples on an international arrest warrant issued by Russia during a stopover in the city on 17 December. Russia is seeking his extradition for financial crimes allegedly committed when he was director of the Polish Theatre in Moscow. Lavrenchuk left Russia for Ukraine in 2014 in protest at Russia’s annexation of Crimea that year.

The Guardian: The risk of conflict is real as Russia continues to mass its forces and artillery on the borders of Ukraine and make demands that it knows are unacceptable, Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato secretary general, has warned. Earlier, Nato foreign ministers held a final symbolic display of transatlantic unity before a set of three separate critical talks next week with Russia on Moscow’s demands to restore past spheres of influence and have Nato strategic weapons withdrawn from near Russia’s borders.

RFE/RL: Russian troops quickly landed in Kazakhstan on January 6, with more coming from the other CSTO countries. The CSTO stayed out of the 2005, 2010, and 2020 revolutions in Kyrgyzstan, the June 2010 interethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in autumn 2020, and did not attempt to intervene or mediate in the brief border fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in late April 2021 — even though all of the CSTO defense officials were meeting in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, at the time. According to Article 4 of the CSTO Charter, the organization will only send troops to help a member state whose territory or sovereignty is threatened by an external force.

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