It’s Impossible To Isolate Russia, Putin Vows Oil Supply Cuts

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a BRICS Plus session involving the leaders of several invited states during the 14th BRICS summit - in virtual format via a video call at the Novo-Ogarevo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2022. Mikhail Metzel / Sputnik / AFP
FILE: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a BRICS Plus session involving the leaders of several invited states during the 14th BRICS summit – in virtual format via a video call at the Novo-Ogarevo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2022.
Mikhail Metzel / Sputnik / AFP

 

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday it was “impossible” to isolate Moscow and vowed to cut gas and oil deliveries to countries imposing a price cap on supplies.

Speaking at an economic forum, over six months after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine, the Russian leader sought to pivot towards allies in Asia, the Middle East and Africa as his country faces a barrage of Western sanctions.

“No matter how much someone would like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do this,” Putin told the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

He said the coronavirus pandemic has been replaced by other global challenges “threatening the whole world”, including “sanctions fever in the West”.

Putin has repeatedly said Russia’s economy is weathering the barrage of sanctions well, as the Kremlin’s ties with the West sink to new lows.

On Wednesday, he vowed to cut off any countries imposing price caps on oil and gas exports, just as the European Union proposed to do just that.

Capping prices “would be an absolutely stupid decision”, Putin said.

“We will not supply anything at all if it is contrary to our interests, in this case economic (interests),” he said.

“No gas, no oil, no coal, no fuel oil, nothing.”

Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russian supplies, has accused Moscow of using energy as a weapon and on Wednesday, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen proposed that member states agree a price cap.

G7 industrialised powers pledged Friday to move urgently towards implementing a price cap on Russian oil imports, in a bid to cut off a major source of funding for Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

“Those who are trying to impose something on us are in no position today to dictate their will,” Putin said.

“They should come to their senses.”

Von der Leyen’s remarks come days after Russia closed the key Nord Stream pipeline to Europe, saying it would be under repair for an indefinite period of time.

“They say that Russia uses energy as a weapon. More nonsense! What weapon do we use? We supply as much as required according to requests” from importers, Putin told the economic forum.

“Give us a turbine, we will turn Nord Stream on tomorrow,” Putin said.

The Kremlin insists sanctions have prevented the proper maintenance of Russian gas infrastructure and, in particular, blocked the return of a Siemens turbine that had been undergoing repairs in Canada.

Russian energy giant Gazprom said Wednesday the EU nations had reduced Russia’s gas deliveries by 48 percent since the start of 2022, with the reduction reaching 49 percent if Britain is included in the total.

– ‘Colossal new opportunities’ –
Putin’s participation in the forum in the Far East — a region with close geopolitical and economic ties to Russia’s neighbours in Asia — comes a day after the Russian president oversaw large-scale military drills there.

The week-long Vostok-2022 manoeuvres, were concluding Wednesday and involved several Kremlin-friendly countries, including troops sent by Beijing.

As Moscow seeks to bolster ties with Asia — especially key ally China — Putin welcomed the growing role of the Asia-Pacific region in global affairs.

“The role… of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region has significantly increased,” he said at the forum, adding that partnerships will create “colossal new opportunities for our people”.

Putin was joined at Wednesday’s forum by China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu — who ranks third in the Chinese government hierarchy — with a bilateral meeting scheduled for later in the day.

The Russian leader is expected next week to hold an in-person meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, who has not left China since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two leaders will meet at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) held in Uzbekistan on September 15 and 16, a Russian diplomat said Wednesday.

Beijing and Moscow have drawn closer in recent years, ramping up cooperation as part of what they call a “no limits” relationship, acting as a counterweight to the global dominance of the United States.

Beijing has refused to condemn Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, while Moscow was in full solidarity with Beijing during the visit in August of US House speaker Nancy Pelosi to self-ruled Taiwan, which China considers its territory.

In a sign of further rapprochement, Russia announced Tuesday that China will be switching from US dollars to the national currencies of the two countries — yuan and rubles — to pay for deliveries of Russian natural gas.

AFP

Putin Attends Military Exercises With Chinese Forces Amid Ukraine War

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a BRICS Plus session involving the leaders of several invited states during the 14th BRICS summit - in virtual format via a video call at the Novo-Ogarevo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2022. Mikhail Metzel / Sputnik / AFP
FILE: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a BRICS Plus session involving the leaders of several invited states during the 14th BRICS summit – in virtual format via a video call at the Novo-Ogarevo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2022.
Mikhail Metzel / Sputnik / AFP

 

President Vladimir Putin attended large-scale military exercises on Tuesday involving China and several other Russia-friendly countries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told local news agencies.

Putin was meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and military chief of staff Valery Gerasimov at the Sergeevski military range and could observe the final phase of the military exercises later, Peskov was quoted as saying.

The military drills, called Vostok-2022, started on September 1 and are due to take place until September 7 across several training grounds in Russia’s Far East and in the waters off its eastern coast.

According to Moscow, over 50,000 soldiers and more than 5,000 units of military equipment, including 140 aircraft and 60 ships, will be involved in the drills. The drills are happening amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Participating countries include several of Russia’s neighbours, as well as Syria, India and key ally China.

Similar drills were last held in 2018.

AFP

Russians Bid Farewell To Gorbachev, But Without Putin

People stand in line to attend a farewell ceremony in front of the building of the Hall of Columns, where a farewell ceremony for the last leader of the Soviet Union and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev is taking place in Moscow on September 3, 2022. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)
People stand in line to attend a farewell ceremony in front of the building of the Hall of Columns, where a farewell ceremony for the last leader of the Soviet Union and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev is taking place in Moscow on September 3, 2022. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

 

Russians on Saturday paid their final respects to the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, in a ceremony held in Moscow without much fanfare and with President Vladimir Putin notably absent.

Several thousand mourners queued up to quietly file past Gorbachev’s open casket as it was flanked by honour guards under the Russian flag in the historic Hall of Columns.

The hall has long been used for the funerals of high officials in Russia and it was where the body of Joseph Stalin first lay in state during four days of national mourning after his death in 1953.

With Russia facing increasing international isolation over its military action in Ukraine, many of those in attendance pointed to Gorbachev’s opening of the country to the rest of the world.

“It was a breath of freedom, which was lacking for a long time, an absence of fear,” 41-year-old translator Ksenia Zhupanova said at the entrance to the hall.

“I am against shutting us out from the outside world, I am for openness, for dialogue. This is what Mikhail Sergeyevich showed the world,” she said, using Gorbachev’s patronymic.

The mourners were of all ages, some old enough to remember the years of Soviet stagnation before Gorbachev came to power, others young enough to have only lived in Russia under Putin.

Gorbachev died on Tuesday at the age of 91 following a “serious and long illness”, the hospital where he was treated said.

In power between 1985 and 1991, he sought to transform the Soviet Union with democratic reforms, but eventually triggered its demise.

One of the great political figures of the 20th century, he was lionised in the West for helping to end the Cold War and trying to change the USSR, but despised by many in Russia for the economic chaos and loss of global influence that followed the Soviet collapse.

Putin busy with ‘work schedule’

He had spent most of the last few decades out of the political limelight and his death this week was barely acknowledged in official circles in Russia.

State television on Thursday showed images of Putin, alone, laying a bouquet of red roses near Gorbachev’s open casket at the hospital where he died.

The Kremlin said Putin would not attend Saturday’s funeral due to his “work schedule”.

He had a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, the Kremlin said, during which the two discussed Ukraine and Erdogan passed on his condolences for Gorbachev’s death.

There were few signs of an official presence at the ceremony, where Gorbachev’s daughter Irina Virganskaya sat to the side of the coffin with other family members.

Gorbachev was to be buried later Saturday at Moscow’s prestigious Novodevichy Cemetery next to his wife Raisa, who died from cancer in 1999.

The only senior foreign figure to attend was Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who laid flowers at the casket.

Before the Ukraine conflict, Orban had one of the closest relationships with Putin of any EU leader, but the Kremlin said there were no talks planned during his visit to Moscow.

After Gorbachev’s death, tributes poured in from Western capitals, where he is remembered for allowing countries in Eastern Europe to free themselves from Soviet rule and for signing a landmark nuclear arms reduction pact with the United States.

Berlin flags at half-mast

Known affectionately in the West as Gorby, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

Flags were also flying at half-mast in Berlin on Saturday, in memory of the man who held back Soviet troops as the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

In Russia, Gorbachev’s steps towards peace and reform have been overshadowed by the economic troubles that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.

Putin, who called the Soviet collapse the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, has spent much of his more than 20-year rule reversing parts of Gorbachev’s legacy.

By cracking down on independent media and political opposition, critics say, Putin has worked to undo Gorbachev’s efforts to bring “glasnost”, or openness, to the Soviet system.

And with the launch earlier this year of the military campaign in Ukraine, he has sought to reassert Russian influence in one of the countries that won its independence when the Soviet Union fell apart.

On the streets of Moscow this week some expressed their continued anger and bitterness at Gorbachev, but those who turned up for Saturday’s funeral paid tribute to his legacy.

“(Gorbachev) helped the development of the country, the bringing of freedom of speech and freedom of thought,” said 19-year-old Irina Kaplanova.

He was not an “absolutely ideal politician,” she said, but was “a great reformer, and a person who acted in accordance with their conscience and knew how to admit mistakes.”

AFP

Putin Signs Decree To Increase Russian Army Headcount

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a BRICS Plus session involving the leaders of several invited states during the 14th BRICS summit - in virtual format via a video call at the Novo-Ogarevo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2022. Mikhail Metzel / Sputnik / AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a BRICS Plus session involving the leaders of several invited states during the 14th BRICS summit – in virtual format via a video call at the Novo-Ogarevo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia on June 24, 2022. Mikhail Metzel / Sputnik / AFP

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a decree to increase the headcount of the country’s army, as Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine enters its seventh month.

Russia’s army will have over two million people, including 1.15 million servicemen, starting January next year, according to the decree published on a government portal.

Putin last set the army headcount in 2017 at around 1.9 million people with 1.01 million soldiers.

While the decree does not outline the reasons for the increase, it comes as Moscow’s troops are focused on capturing territories in eastern Ukraine.

The decree also comes at a time of soaring tensions between Moscow and Western countries that have sanctioned Russia over its operation in Ukraine.

 

AFP

Putin Allows Inspectors To Visit Russia-Held Nuclear Plant Via Ukraine

This handout satellite image courtesy of Maxar Technologies released on August 19, 2022, shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, situated in the Russian-controlled area of Enerhodar, eastern Ukraine. (Photo by Handout / Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies / AFP)
This handout satellite image courtesy of Maxar Technologies released on August 19, 2022, shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, situated in the Russian-controlled area of Enerhodar, eastern Ukraine. (Photo by Handout / Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies / AFP)

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed that a team of independent inspectors can travel to the Moscow-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant via Ukraine, the French presidency said on Friday.

The apparent resolution of a dispute over whether inspectors travel to the plant via Ukraine or Russia came as a senior US defence official said Ukraine’s forces had brought the Russian advance to a halt.

“You are seeing a complete and total lack of progress by the Russians on the battlefield,” the official said, speaking to reporters on grounds of anonymity.

According to French President Emmanuel Macron’s office, Putin had “reconsidered the demand” that the International Atomic Energy Agency travel through Russia to the site, after the Russian leader himself warned fighting there could bring about a “catastrophe”.

It specified that Putin had dropped his demand that the IAEA team travel to the site via Russia, saying it could arrive via Ukraine.

Meanwhile, UN chief Antonio Guterres urged Moscow’s forces occupying the Zaporizhzhia plant in south Ukraine not to disconnect the facility from the grid and potentially cut supplies to millions of Ukrainians.

A flare-up in fighting around the Russian-controlled nuclear power station — with both sides blaming each other for attacks — has raised the spectre of a disaster worse than in Chernobyl.

The Kremlin said in a statement earlier that Putin and Macron agreed that officials from the UN’s nuclear watchdog should carry out inspections “as soon as possible” to “assess the real situation on the ground”.

Putin also “stressed that the systematic shelling by the Ukrainian military of the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant creates the danger of a large-scale catastrophe”, the Kremlin added.

The warning came just a day after Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Guterres, meeting in the east Ukrainian city of Lviv, sounded the alarm over the intensified fighting, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the United Nations to secure the site.

The Turkish leader said: “We are worried. We do not want another Chernobyl,” referring to the 1986 nuclear disaster, while Guterres cautioned that any damage to the plant would be akin to “suicide”.

‘Man-made disaster’

During his visit to the southern port of Odessa on Friday, the UN secretary general said: “Obviously, the electricity from Zaporizhzhia is Ukrainian electricity. This principle must be fully respected”.

“Naturally, its energy must be used by the Ukrainian people,” he told AFP in separate comments.

His remarks came after Ukrainian energy operator Energoatom alleged that Russian troops were planning to “shut off the reactors” at Zaporizhzhia, which is capable of supplying four million homes.

On Thursday, Moscow said Kyiv was preparing a “provocation” at the site that would see Russia “accused of creating a man-made disaster at the plant”.

Kyiv, however, insisted that Moscow was planning the provocation, and said Russia’s occupying forces had ordered most staff to stay home Friday and drawn down officials from Russia’s own state nuclear agency.

The UN chief was visiting Odessa as part of an appeal to make Ukrainian grain available to poor countries struggling with soaring food prices, after a landmark deal with Russia last month to allow its export.

Earlier, Guterres met Erdogan — who helped broker the grain deal inked in Istanbul — and Zelensky, saying the United Nations hoped to scale up work under the deal ahead of the winter.

The deal, the only significant agreement between Russia and Ukraine since Moscow invaded in February, has so far seen 25 boats carrying some 600,000 tonnes of agricultural products depart from three designated ports, Kyiv has said.

But during the call with Macron — their first in nearly three months — Putin told the French leader that Russia was facing obstacles in the export of its food products and fertiliser.

Export ‘obstacles’

“There are still obstacles to… Russian exports that do not contribute to the solution of problems related to ensuring global food security,” the Kremlin said.

Guterres is expected to head to Turkey after Odessa to visit the Joint Coordination Centre, the body tasked with overseeing the accord.

The agreement between Kyiv and Moscow to clear exit corridors from three Ukrainian ports, including Odessa, has brought some relief to concerns of global food shortages with the warring countries among the world’s leading producers.

The deal has held, but brought little respite along the sprawling front lines in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces have edged slowly forward after nearly six months of fighting.

The primary tool of Moscow’s forces has been artillery barrages, and recent bombardments over the eastern Donetsk region — which has been partially controlled by Russian proxies since 2014 — left several dead.

The Ukrainian head of the region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on social media Friday that Russian strikes had killed five people and wounded 10 more in three settlements.

Strikes early Friday in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, left one person dead and damaged a school and a private business, the head of the region said. Russian strikes around Kharkiv have killed more than a dozen people over the last two days.

AFP

US Blocks More Than $1bn In Russian Oligarch’s US Assets

In this file photo taken on June 16, 2022 crew members get the mooring ropes ready as the yacht Amadea of sanctioned Russian Oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, seized by the Fiji government at the request of the US, arrives at the Honolulu Harbor, Hawaii. Photo by Eugene TANNER / AFP
In this file photo taken on June 16, 2022 crew members get the mooring ropes ready as the yacht Amadea of sanctioned Russian Oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, seized by the Fiji government at the request of the US, arrives at the Honolulu Harbor, Hawaii. Photo by Eugene TANNER / AFP

 

The United States on Thursday blocked a US-based company worth more than $1 billion linked to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, saying the ally of President Vladimir Putin used it to funnel and invest shadowy funds.

The Treasury Department said that Kerimov, a billionaire active in Russian politics, secretly managed the Delaware-based Heritage Trust which put its money into a number of large public companies.

Heritage Trust, set up in 2017, brought money into the United States through shell companies and under-the-radar foundations established in Europe, Treasury Department officials said.

READ ALSO: Biden Announces $800m In Ukraine Arms, Vows Continued Support

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen vowed that the United States would keep taking action “even as Russian elites hide behind proxies and complex legal arrangements.”

The United States will “actively implement the multilaterally coordinated sanctions imposed on those who fund and benefit from Russia’s war against Ukraine,” she said in a statement.

The action comes weeks after Fiji handed to the United States a $300 million superyacht linked to Kerimov, who has been under US sanctions since 2018 over alleged money laundering and his role in the Russian government.

The United States and European nations have stepped up a crackdown on Russian oligarchs following Putin’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which triggered a slew of Western sanctions.

Kerimov, originally from the Russian republic of Dagestan in the Caucasus, rose to become one of the world’s richest people after the fall of the Soviet Union.

His family controls major gold producer Polyus. The Group of Seven industrial democracies on Sunday agreed on a ban on gold exports from Russia.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index, in newly updated figures, ranked him as the world’s 127th richest person with a worth of $13.3 billion.

Kerimov triggered an international incident in 2017 when he was arrested by French authorities upon flying to Nice, over allegations of tax fraud and the suspicious purchases of five luxury villas.

Russia summoned a French envoy to protest and the charges were eventually dismissed but French prosecutors reopened an investigation in 2019.

BBC News in April said it had seen leaked documents showing Kerimov’s elaborate efforts to hide his wealth, which allegedly included putting a Swiss tattoo artist in charge of a company that transferred more than $300 million.

 

AFP

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