Russia Prepared For Food Crisis Since Last Year – Putin’s Adviser

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Talent and Success Educational Foundation via a video link at the Sirius Educational Center for Gifted Children in Sochi on May 11, 2022. Mikhail METZEL / SPUTNIK / AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Talent and Success Educational Foundation via a video link at the Sirius Educational Center for Gifted Children in Sochi on May 11, 2022. Mikhail METZEL / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Russia has taken steps to prepare itself for a food crisis threatening the world even before President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine, a Kremlin aide said on Thursday. 

Russia and Ukraine alone produce 30 percent of the global wheat supply.

Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine and a barrage of unprecedented international sanctions on Russia have disrupted supplies of fertiliser, wheat and other commodities from both countries, pushing up prices for food and fuel, especially in developing nations.

READ ALSO: Austria Makes Emergency Plan To Cut Russian Gas Dependency

“Vladimir Vladimirovich understood that these problems could affect Russia,” former economy minister and Putin adviser Maxim Oreshkin told a youth forum in Moscow.

“Russia is actively preparing for global famine, it started at the end of last year,” he added.

Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, after the Kremlin denied for months the possibility of a large-scale offensive against its smaller pro-Western neighbour.

The United Nations this week urged Russian authorities to release grain stuck in Ukrainian ports due to Moscow’s military campaign.

Oreshkin said he believed “global hunger” would begin in late 2022, adding that “ill-thought out” policies by the United States and EU countries were leading to the food crisis.

Oreshkin also said that US attempts to get Ukrainian grain out of the ex-Soviet country would lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Ukraine and “major” food problems for the world.

AFP

Putin Hails ‘Liberation’ Of Mariupol

This handout video grab taken from a footage released by Mariupol City Council on April 19, 2022 shows clouds of smoke billowing above Azovstal steel plant and the destroyed gates of Azov Shipyard, as Russia continues its push to capture the besieged port city of Mariupol. (Photo by Handout / Mariupol City Council / AFP)

 

 

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hailed Russia’s “liberation” of Mariupol after Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told him Moscow controlled the Ukrainian port city apart from the giant Azovstal steel plant.

Taking full control of Mariupol on the Azov Sea would be a major strategic victory for Russia, helping it to connect annexed Crimea to the territories of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“Mariupol has been liberated,” Shoigu told Putin during a televised meeting. “The remaining nationalist formations took refuge in the industrial zone of the Azovstal plant.”

Shoigu said around 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers remained inside the plant, where the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance has been sheltering, using the facility’s network of underground tunnels.

 

Russian soldiers walks along a street in Mariupol on April 12, 2022, as Russian troops intensify a campaign to take the strategic port city, part of an anticipated massive onslaught across eastern Ukraine, while Russia’s President makes a defiant case for the war on Russia’s neighbour. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)

 

Putin said the “liberation” of Mariupol was a “success” for Russian forces, but ordered Shoigu to call off the planned storming of the Azovstal industrial area, dismissing it as “impractical”.

“There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities. Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape,” Putin said.

Thousands of civilians are believed to have died in the city, which was besieged by Russian troops for over a month, with little access to food, water and with no electricity.

Ukraine Conflict: Sarmat Missile Will Make Russia’s Foes ‘Think Twice’ – Putin

A photo combination of Russian President, Vladimir Putin and the testing of a new Sarmat ballistic missile. Credit: AFP/Russian Defence Ministry.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia has successfully tested the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, saying the weapon capable of carrying nuclear charges will make Kremlin’s enemies “think twice.”

The Sarmat — dubbed Satan 2 by Western analysts — is among Russia’s next-generation missiles that Putin has called “invincible,” and which also include the Kinzhal and Avangard hypersonic missiles.

Last month, Russia said it used Kinzhal for the first time in warfare to strike a target in Ukraine, where Russian troops have been engaged in a special military operation since February 24.

“I congratulate you on the successful launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile,” Putin told the army in televised remarks on Wednesday.

“This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats and make those who, in the heat of aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice,” Putin said.

Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement the test “successfully” took place at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia.

According to the ministry, the missile delivered training warheads to the Kura test range of the Kamchatka peninsula, in Russia’s Far East.

“Sarmat is the most powerful missile with the longest range of destruction of targets in the world, which will significantly increase the combat power of our country’s strategic nuclear forces,” the ministry said.

The Sarmat superheavy intercontinental ballistic missile is designed to elude anti-missile defence systems with a short initial boost phase, giving enemy surveillance systems a tiny window to track.

Weighing more than 200 tonnes and able to transport multiple warheads, Putin says the missile can hit any target on Earth.

 

AFP

Putin Bears Responsibility For ‘War Crimes’ In Ukraine – Scholz

A photo combination of Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for war crimes in Ukraine that have already left thousands of civilians dead, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remains a blatant breach of international law,” Scholz told reporters following virtual talks with Western leaders on the conflict.

“The killing of thousands of civilians as we have seen is a war crime for which the Russian president bears responsibility,” he said.

“We feel immense grief for the victims and also, it must be said, great anger towards the Russian president and this senseless war.”

Scholz, who is facing growing pressure at home to authorise sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, said a “new phase” had begun in the conflict with Russia’s fresh offensive in eastern Ukraine.

But despite being repeatedly pressed by reporters on the question of sending tanks, fighter jets or other heavy weapons, Scholz remained vague.

The Social Democrat reiterated that NATO would not get involved in the conflict, but said Western allies were united in their resolve to support Ukraine.

Germany has already shipped anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles, ammunition and other defensive weapons to Ukraine.

Scholz’s government has also pledged more than a billion euros in financial aid for Ukraine so that the government in Kyiv can buy the weapons it needs to fight back.

But Scholz said Germany would not “go it alone” on weapons, and that any decisions would be made in close cooperation with “friends and allies”.

He raised the possibility of eastern European partners sending older, Russia-made “weapons systems” to Ukraine because these would be familiar to Ukrainian troops and could be used immediately.

He also said Ukraine had been asked to draw up a list of weapons it needs that could possibly be bought from the defence industry directly.

Scholz and his center-left SPD party have for weeks argued that sending heavy weapons would risk a spiral of escalation that could see other countries attacked.

But mounting reports of atrocities committed against civilians in Ukraine have fuelled calls for Scholz to take a tougher stance, even among his two coalition partners.

MP Anton Hofreiter from the Green party accused the chancellor of failing “to show enough leadership”.

Lawmaker Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, of the liberal FDP, said Germany should not be guided by fear of escalation, because “Putin is unpredictable anyway”.

AFP

Canada Adds Putin’s Daughters To Sanctions List

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Saint Petersburg governor at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 1, 2022. Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Canada on Tuesday added Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters to its sanctions list, following similar moves by allies, in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Those added to the list — which includes the wife and daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and 10 other “close associates of the Russian regime” — face asset seizures and travel bans.

Britain, the European Union and the United States have already sanctioned Putin’s two daughters: Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova, born in 1985 and 1986 respectively.

Their mother is the Russian leader’s ex-wife Lyudmila, whose divorce from Putin was announced in 2013.

The Kremlin has kept details of Putin’s daughters’ lives a closely guarded secret.

According to the US Treasury Department, Vorontsova conducts genetic research that has been supported by billions of dollars in Russian state funding, and Tikhonova is a tech executive in Russia’s defense sector.

“We will continue to impose severe costs on the Russian regime in coordination with our allies and will relentlessly pursue accountability for their actions,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement.

“They will answer for their crimes.”

Canada has sanctioned more than 750 individuals and entities from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

AFP

Putin Honours Brigade Accused By Ukraine Of ‘War Crimes’

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the situation in the oil and gas sector at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on April 14, 2022.  AFP

 

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday bestowed an honorary title on a brigade accused by Ukraine of “war crimes” and mass killings in the town of Bucha.

The announcement was made on the 54th day of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, with thousands killed and 12 million people fleeing their homes or country in the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

A decree signed by Putin gave the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade the title of “Guards” for defending the “Motherland and state interests” and praised the “mass heroism and valour, tenacity and courage” of its members.

In early April, the Ukrainian defence ministry said the unit occupied the town outside the capital Kyiv and committed “war crimes”.

READ ALSO: Russian Invasion: Pope Calls For Peace In ‘Easter Of War’

The Ukrainian defence ministry’s Intelligence Directorate published the names, ranks and passports details of members of the brigade, saying they will face justice.

A majority of people in Bucha died from gunshot wounds, Ukrainian police said last week.

After the departure of Russian troops, bodies of men dressed in civilian clothes, some with their hands tied, were found scattered in the streets, according to AFP.

AFP

Putin Warns EU Nations Need Ruble Accounts To Get Gas

File: Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow on February 21, 2022.  (Photo by Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP)

 

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned “unfriendly” countries, including all EU members, that they would be cut off from Russian gas unless they opened an account in rubles to pay for deliveries.

Western countries have piled crippling sanctions on Moscow since it moved troops into Ukraine, including the freezing of its $300 billion of foreign currency reserves.

While the United States banned the import of Russian oil and gas, the European Union — which received around 40 percent of its gas supplies from Russia in 2021 — has retained deliveries from Moscow.

READ ALSO: Slovakia Expels 35 Russian Diplomats

“They must open ruble accounts in Russian banks. It is from these accounts that payments will be made for gas delivered starting tomorrow, April 1,” Putin said during a televised government meeting.

He announced that he signed a decree that outlines the “clear and transparent” process.

“If such payments are not made, we will consider this a breach of obligations on the part of our buyers with all the ensuing consequences,” Putin said.

“Nobody sells us anything for free and we are not going to do charity work. That means existing contracts being stopped” if payments are not made, he added.

According to the decree, all payments will be handled by Russia’s Gazprombank, a subsidiary of state energy giant Gazprom.

Buyers will transfer payments into a Gazprombank account in foreign currency, which the bank will then convert into rubles and transfer into the buyer’s ruble account.

No change to contracts

Earlier, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the new payment method would not affect the price of deliveries stipulated in the contracts.

“Those who receive Russian gas… they just acquire rubles for the amount in currency which is stipulated in the gas contract,” Peskov told reporters.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday Western countries would continue paying for Russian gas in euros or dollars.

“We looked at the contracts for the gas deliveries,” Scholz told reporters in Berlin.

“They say that payments are made in euros, sometimes in dollars… and I made clear in my conversation with the Russian president that that will remain the case,” referring to a telephone call with Putin on Wednesday.

On a visit to Berlin, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Paris and Berlin were “preparing” for the possibility “there is no longer any Russian gas”.

Western capital imposed harsh economic sanctions since the start of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine on February 24, accelerating already high inflation and hitting the ruble.

The EU refrained from an energy embargo against Russia. However, the bloc has announced it plans to slash imports of Russian gas by two thirds this year.

While payments for gas in rubles will allow Russia to support its national currency, it will also deprive Moscow of a source of foreign currency.

The Kremlin has also hinted that it may be seeking payments in rubles for other exports too.

Russia has already obliged its exporters, including Gazprom, to convert 80 percent of their revenue into rubles.

According to Russia’s Central Bank, its reserves — including the frozen $300 billion — decreased between February 18 and March 25 from $643.2 to $604.4 billion.

After the introduction of sanctions, Russia expanded the list of what it calls “unfriendly” countries that now includes the United States, Australia, Canada, Britain, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, all EU member states and several others.

 

AFP

Putin Accuses Ukraine Of ‘War Crimes’ In Macron Call

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Russian government via teleconference in Moscow on March 10, 2022. Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Russian government via teleconference in Moscow on March 10, 2022. Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused Kyiv of “war crimes” in a call with his French counterpart, saying that Moscow was doing “everything possible” to avoid civilian deaths in Ukraine.

“Attention was drawn to the numerous war crimes committed daily by the Ukrainian security forces,” the Kremlin said of the call between Putin and Emmanuel Macron.

READ ALSO: Russia Offers Admissions To Nigerians

“In particular massive rocket and artillery attacks on the cities of Donbas,” the Kremlin added, referring to Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, part of which is controlled by pro-Moscow separatists.

Putin told Macron the Russian army was “doing everything possible to safeguard the lives of peaceful civilians, including by organising humanitarian corridors for their safe evacuation,” the Kremlin said.

Both leaders also discussed ongoing talks between Moscow and Kyiv to end the conflict in Ukraine in the telephone call, which was a “French initiative”, it said.

Russian TV Cuts Putin Mid-Speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech at a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on March 18, 2022. (Photo by Alexander VILF / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Russian state television cut President Vladimir Putin’s speech mid-sentence as he was addressing tens of thousands of supporters at Moscow’s main football stadium on Friday. 

As the Russian leader was addressing crowds, state television switched to showing a clip of patriotic music.

Putin was cut mid-sentence as he was saying: “It so happened that the beginning of the operation coincided by chance with the birthday of one of our outstanding military…”.

Russian state television is tightly controlled and such interruptions are highly unusual.

Putin was speaking at an event in support of the Russian army in Ukraine and to mark the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Putin Says Sanctions Will Disrupt Global Food, Energy Markets

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Russian government via teleconference in Moscow on March 10, 2022. Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Russian government via teleconference in Moscow on March 10, 2022. Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that Western penalties against Moscow for its military incursion in Ukraine would destabilise the global energy and food markets and vowed the country would emerge stronger from the crisis.

Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine that began on February 24 has triggered unprecedented Western sanctions and sparked an exodus of international corporations from Russia.

Putin on Thursday however downplayed the massive sanctions, saying Moscow will find a way to “adapt”.

Speaking at a televised government meeting on the 15th day of Moscow’s advance into Ukraine, Putin said that Western sanctions on Moscow had begun to hurt the United States and Europe.

READ ALSO: Russia, Ukraine Ceasefire Talks Fail To Find Breakthrough

“Their prices are rising, but that’s not our fault. It’s the result of their own miscalculations. There’s no need to blame us,” Putin said.

While the 69-year-old Kremlin chief said Moscow was continuing to export oil and gas, including through conflict-torn Ukraine, he blamed the West for sky-rocketing energy prices.

“They are telling their citizens to tighten their belts, to dress warmer,” Putin said.

He stressed that Russia was “respecting all of our obligations in terms of energy supplies.”

Putin scoffed at Washington for what he said were their efforts to sign energy contracts with Western adversaries Iran and Venezuela.

He also warned that the Western penalties could send global food prices soaring, as Russia was one of the world’s main producers of fertiliser.

“If they continue to create problems for the financing and logistics of the delivery of our (fertiliser) goods, then prices will rise and this will affect the final product, food products,” he said.

European wholesale gas and crude oil have rocketed to record, or near-record prices this week due to supply fears linked to Putin’s decision to pour tens ot thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24.

The United States and Britain announced this week they were cutting off Russian energy imports in response to what the Kremlin has termed Moscow’s “special military operation,” triggering another surge in prices.

‘We’ll adapt’

The Russian leader also sought to calm Russians amid fears of shortages of food and medicines.

He acknowledged that Russians may be worried about an interruption of supplies but claimed there was nothing the Kremlin could not solve.

“It is clear that in such moments people’s demands for certain categories of goods always increase, but we have no doubt that we will solve these problems in due course in a calm way and gradually people will find their way,” Putin said.

He said he believed Russians would “understand that there are no events that we cannot solve, they simply do not exist.”

He argued that the current crisis would make the country stronger.

“At the end of the day, all of this will lead to the increase of our independence, autonomy and sovereignty,” Putin said.

Putin, a former KGB officer, said that Moscow’s Soviet experience will help Russians adapt, claiming that Russia has “always” lived under sanctions.

“We will get through this period,” he said, calling for the country to “adapt to the new situation.”

Putin also said that the remaining foreign investors in the country should be “protected”.

“The rights of those foreign investors and colleagues that are staying in Russia and working in Russia, should be reliably protected,” he told his ministers.

Putin launched the Ukraine incursion despite weeks of Western leaders warning him of unprecedented sanctions that would ruin the Russian economy if he did so.

 

AFP

At Least 71 Children Killed In Ukraine Invasion – Parliament Official

Refugees stand by tents as they wait for a transportation train after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing, southeastern Poland on March 10, 2022. PHOTO: Louisa GOULIAMAKI/AFP

 

At least 71 children have been killed in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a war on February 24, a Ukrainian parliament official said on Thursday.

“From the start of the Russian invasion and up to 11:00 am (0900 GMT) on March 10, 71 children have been killed and more than 100 wounded,” Lyudmyla Denisova, parliament’s point person on human rights, wrote in a Telegram message.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Sale On Hold Due To UK Sanctions On Abramovich

Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Thursday condemned Russia’s bombing of a maternity hospital in Ukraine’s Mariupol and demanded Moscow allow aid into the besieged city.

“Russia’s shelling of maternity hospitals is a heinous war crime. Strikes of residential areas from the air and blocks of access of aid convoys by the Russian forces must immediately stop. Safe passage is needed, now,” Borrell wrote in a tweet.

Russia To Continue ‘Uncompromising Fight’ Against Ukraine, Putin Tells Macron

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the head of Russia’s Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, a big business lobby group, at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 2, 2022. Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed no let-up in his invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, even as the warring sides met for ceasefire talks and Kyiv demanded safe passage for besieged civilians.

After the fall of a first major Ukrainian city to Russian forces, Putin appeared in no mood to heed a global clamour for hostilities to end as the war entered its second week.

“Russia intends to continue the uncompromising fight against militants of nationalist armed groups,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin account of a call with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Russian armoured columns from Crimea pushed deep into the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson on the first day of their invasion Thursday, triggering fighting that left at least 13 civilians dead.

Nine Ukrainian soldiers were also killed, the Kherson regional administration said, as the Russian force seized crossing points from Crimea to the mainland and a crossing over the Dnipro river.

But Ukraine insisted on the need for humanitarian corridors, to get urgent supplies into cities and trapped civilians out, as negotiators met at an undisclosed location on the Belarus-Poland border.

They shook hands across a table at the meeting’s start, the Ukrainian delegates in military khaki clothing and the Russians in more formal business suits

A first round of talks on Monday yielded no breakthrough, and Kyiv says it will not accept any Russian “ultimatums”.

Putin, however, said any attempts to slow the talks process would “only lead to additional demands on Kyiv in our negotiating position”.

Macron said he feared that “worse is to come” in the conflict and condemned Putin’s “lies”, according to an aide.

The invasion, now in its eighth day, has created a refugee exodus and turned Russia into a global pariah in the worlds of finance, diplomacy and sports.

The UN has opened a probe into alleged war crimes, as the Russian military bombards cities in Ukraine with shells and missiles, forcing civilians to cower in basements.

“We will restore every house, every street, every city and we say to Russia: learn the word ‘reparations’,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video statement.

“You will reimburse us for everything you did against our state, against every Ukrainian, in full,” he said.

‘Just like Leningrad’

Zelensky claims thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed since Putin shocked the world by invading Ukraine, purportedly to demilitarise and “de-Nazify” a Western-leaning threat on his borders.

Moscow said Wednesday that it has lost 498 troops, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin praised their sacrifice.

“Their exploits will enter into the history books, their exploits in the struggle against the Nazis,” Peskov told reporters.

The Kremlin has been condemned for likening the government of Zelensky, who is Jewish, to that of Germany in World War II.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov kept up the verbal barrage, accusing Western politicians of fixating on “nuclear war” after Putin placed his strategic forces on high alert.

While a long military column appears stalled north of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Russian troops seized Kherson, a Black Sea city of 290,000 people, after a three-day siege that left it short of food and medicine.

Russian troops are also besieging the port city of Mariupol east of Kherson, which is without water or electricity in the depths of winter.

“They are trying to create a blockade here, just like in Leningrad,” Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said, referring to the brutal Nazi siege of Russia’s second city, now re-named Saint Petersburg.

Ukrainian authorities said residential and other areas in the eastern city of Kharkiv had been “pounded all night” by indiscriminate shelling, which UN prosecutors are investigating as a possible war crime.

Oleg Rubak’s wife Katia, 29, was crushed in the rubble of their family home in Zhytomyr, west of Kyiv, by a Russian missile strike.

“One minute I saw her going into the bedroom. A minute later there was nothing,” Rubak, 32, told AFP amid the ruins in the bitter winter chill.

“I hope she’s in heaven and all is perfect for her,” he said, adding through tears, “I want the whole world to hear my story.”

-AFP