Day 346: US Authorizes 'First-Ever Transfer' of Confiscated Russian Assets to Ukraine

    Day 346: US Authorizes 'First-Ever Transfer' of Confiscated Russian Assets to Ukraine
    Last updated Feb 04, 2023
    Image credit: AP [via South China Morning Post]


    • During a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart in Washington on Friday, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said he had authorized the US to begin using assets seized from Russia to aid Ukraine. According to Garland, the money — which amounts to $5.4M — will come from Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev after he was indicted on charges of sanctions evasion last April.
    • Meanwhile, marking another policy reversal after agreeing to send tanks, the US has agreed to send longer-range bombs to Ukraine as part of a $2.2B weapons package announced on Friday. The Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDBs) — expected to take months to arrive — would nearly double Ukraine's strike range to 95 miles (150 km) from the approximate 50 miles (80 km) range provided by HIMARS rockets.
    • While the new weapons would only graze part of Crimea from Ukraine's current frontline positions, Ukraine's National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko this week announced that his country is preparing "assault brigades" to take back the peninsula which Russia annexed in 2014. Klymenko said the brigades would be made up of police, border force, and volunteers.
    • However, in a classified briefing to the US House Armed Services Committee this week, Pentagon officials reportedly told lawmakers that Ukrainian forces are unlikely to be able to recapture Crimea from Russian troops in the near future, according to officials who spoke to Politico under the condition of anonymity.
    • Meanwhile, on the ground, in spite of reports that Russian forces have largely encircled the Donetsk city of Bakhmut — prompting calls from some for a strategic retreat — Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday vowed to continue defending the city. "No one will abandon Bakhmut... We will fight for as long as we can," he said.
    • Elsewhere, after mediation efforts from the United Arab Emirates, Russian and Ukrainian media reported a new prisoner swap on Saturday. Ukrainian sources said 116 of its fighters were released. Russian sources said 63 of its servicemen — including those of a "sensitive category" — were freed.


    Narrative A

    With Ukraine continuing to receive advanced weaponry from the West and Russia exhausting its stockpiles, 2023 is the year of victory for Ukraine — including retaking the territory of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

    Narrative B

    After taking Crimea nearly a decade ago, the peninsula is bristling with air defenses, and Russia has thousands of troops defending it. It's very unlikely that Ukraine will be able to retake the territory any time soon.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 2% chance that Ukraine will officially recognize a former Ukrainian territory (Luhansk, Donetsk, or Crimea) as independent before 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.