A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Ukraine invasion anniversary
Next Friday (February 24) marks exactly one year since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of Russia’s so-called ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, and the anniversary is set to dominate the news next week. President Joe Biden begins a three-day trip to Poland on Monday (February 20) during which he’s set to deliver a major speech on the conflict, as well as meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and participate in a broader summit with Bucharest Nine leaders. There are also rumors that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could travel to Poland at some point during Biden’s visit. Monday will also see Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba head to Brussels to join EU foreign ministers who will hear new proposals from High Representative Josep Borrell on purchasing desperately-needed ammunition for Kyiv, possibly via the European Peace Facility.
On Tuesday (February 21), Putin delivers his highly-anticipated address to Russian lawmakers in Moscow, coinciding with the anniversary of his decision to recognize the independence of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, the rebel-controlled parts of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Russian lawmakers gather again on Wednesday (February 22) for an extraordinary session, while in New York the UN Security Council meets at Russia’s request to discuss the Nord Stream pipelines after US journalist Seymour Hersh published an article claiming Washington was responsible for the explosion which damaged the pipelines in September. The General Assembly also meets on Wednesday to begin a two-day debate on the conflict as part of the Emergency Special Session established in response to Russia’s invasion.
On Thursday (February 23), Russia marks Defender of the Fatherland Day, which typically sees Putin lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Although the figure is disputed by Moscow, it’s thought that well over 100,000 Russian troops may have been killed so far in the conflict, with the high numbers at least partly attributable to Russia’s decision to send poorly-trained convicts to the battlefield as cannon fodder. On Friday, the anniversary of the invasion, the conflict is set to be discussed at the UN again, this time at what could be a dramatic ministerial-level session of the Security Council. Meanwhile, the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly is due to hold a debate on the conflict in Vienna as part of its winter session amid a row over Austria’s insistence that it is obligated to extend invitations to Russian officials. And while the week’s activities focus on the one-year mark, Ukraine’s Day of Resistance to Occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol on Sunday (February 26) serves as a reminder that the current conflict actually dates back to at least 2014.
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein is due to be sentenced on Thursday (February 23) after being found guilty in Los Angeles in December of three counts of rape and sexual assault following a trial that notably saw California Governor Gavin Newsom’s wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, testify regarding her alleged rape by Weinstein, though the jury was unable to reach a verdict in her case. Weinstein, who is already serving a 23-year-sentence following his 2020 conviction in New York, faces a further 18 years in prison. At the sentencing hearing, the judge is also due to consider a motion filed by defense lawyers seeking a new trial.
In another high-profile case connected to the #MeToo movement, singer R. Kelly is due to be sentenced on Thursday in Chicago after being convicted of child pornography and exploitation charges last September over his sexual abuse of his teenage goddaughter, who testified at the trial under the pseudonym Jane. Kelly, who is already serving a 30-year sentence after being convicted in New York on racketeering and sex trafficking charges, was acquitted in 2008 in a state case over the alleged abuse, partly because at the time Jane had refused to testify against him. It’s thought that the post-MeToo landscape was at least partly responsible for her decision to testify against Kelly.