This Friday our #HybridWeekly rubric includes:
Russia refused to restore the ceasefire at the frontline as suggested by the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group and supported by the OSCE representatives. At the same time, the aggressor has been drawing up battalion tactical groups to the east of Ukraine and Crimea. It is estimated that the 28 battalion tactical groups that have been stationed near Ukraine’s eastern borders for several years now will increase by another 25 military units. This is the typical Kremlin strategy of first building up pressure and then pushing for negotiations with its own agenda.
The narrative of “repressions” against pro-Russian forces, which started after the ban of three pro-Kremlin TV channels, continues to be exploited: this time the searches at the “Ukrainian Choice” organization are used. This NGO is headed by Medvedchuk, Putin’s closest ally in Ukraine and the leader of the pro-Russian “Opposition Platform—For Life” party. The organization’s leaders have been suspected of taking part in the organization and conduct of an illegal “referendum” in the occupied Crimea.
Pro-Russian forces target parishioners of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) by turning them against closing churches for Easter, which has not even been announced yet. The Moscow Patriarchate’s influence was notable last year when it encouraged believers to attend church services despite the pandemic restrictions.