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While Russia is accusing Ukraine of carrying out attacks on its territory, the U.S. is set to send rocket launchers that could fire into Russian territory. But Washington is also warning Kyiv of the high risks of escalation.
Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out attacks on its territory, the latest indication that the war may be escalating dangerously across the border. The head of the Border Service of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Vladimir Kulishov, claimed that Ukrainian militants were trying to enter the country disguised as refugees.
In an interview with government-owned Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Kulishov said the situation at the border was difficult and that “additional temporary border posts were deployed.” He said that such actions preceded the invasion: “From 2014 to February 2022, the Ukrainian side undertook over 40 anti-Russian actions on the state border.”
Kulishov went further to accuse Ukraine of launching artillery strikes on settlements on Russian territory. “Right-wing radicals and nationalists are trying to penetrate Russia, including those who participated in the hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.”
The claims come as the US looks set to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine next week, which could include multiple rocket launchers. The weapons systems are capable of firing rockets hundreds of kilometers, which is much further than Ukraine’s current capabilities.
Reuters reports that Washington has discussed with Kyiv the dangers of escalating the conflict if they strike deep into Ukrainian territory. U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said that there are no clear geographical restrictions on the use of weapons supplied to the Ukrainian military. Instead, the talks were aimed at reaching a common understanding of the risk of escalation.
Meanwhile Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the arrival of rocket launchers in Ukrainian hands "a serious step towards unacceptable escalation."
Russia Takes Strategic Town In Donbas
The Donbas region
Pro-Russian forces have taken full control Friday of the key town of Lyman in southeastern Ukraine. Forces loyal to Kyiv appeared to have conceded the town, which hosts a major railway hub in the important industrial Donbas region. The pro-Russian Donetsk People's Republic separatists said they were now in full control of it.
Boris Johnson’s Hidden Plan For Strong Anti-Russia Alliance
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to create a new international alliance directed specifically against Russia, Italian daily Corriere Della Sera reports, citing sources.
Johnson spoke about his initiative during a meeting with the Ukrainian President during his April 9 visit to Kyiv, but no further public mention of it has been made.
According to the Milan newspaper, reporting from the Davos summit, the British leader wants to create a "political, economic and military union" that will be an alternative to the European Union, whose leading members Germany and France appear less inclined to do what’s necessary for a clear Russian defeat. Johnson’s alliance would unite countries dissatisfied with the EU policy, and include the UK, Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and possibly Turkey at a later date.
Putin Speaks With Italy’s Draghi, Denies Responsibility For Global Food Shortages
Atlantic Conveyor- food exportscommons.wikimedia.org
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed global food security issues with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, with the Kremlin leader denying any responsibility for the growing shortages of agricultural products in world markets.
Putin said Russia is ready to make a contribution to overcoming the food crisis, subject to the lifting of sanction. The President said that the difficulties that have arisen are related, among other things, to disruptions in the operation of production and logistics chains, as well as the consequences of the financial policy of the West during the pandemic.
“The situation has worsened as a result of anti-Russian restrictions imposed by the United States and the European Union,” the Kremlin said in a statement following the talks.
Moscow Newspapers React To Interest Rate Cut
Central Bank chief Elvira Nabiullina featured on front page
The Russian press on Friday was focused on the surprisingly steep cut in interest rates, from 14% to 11%, announced the previous day by the Central Bank of Russia. Financial daily Vedomosti published a photo of Central Bank chief Elvira Nabiullina, noting that markets were taken by surprise by the third cut in interest rates since late February when the war began, as the Russian economy faces a severe crisis.
Russia Allegedly Resorting To Extreme Measures To Find Army Recruits
Russian Western Military District troops
Russia is resorting to increasingly drastic measures to increase their army size amid reports of heavy losses and poor army morale.
Following news that Russian authorities were considering scrapping the upper age limit of 40 for army recruits, there were allegations from occupied regions of southern Ukraine that Moscow was using the distribution of Russian passports to find recruits.
Head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration in southern Ukraine Oleksandr Starukh warned that "people who have received Russian passports have been mobilized into the Russian army and dumped as meat.”
There were also claims by several Chechen human rights organizations and bloggers about residents of the republic who are kidnapped to be sent as "volunteers" to the war against Ukraine. Potential conscripts are reportedly given a choice: sign a contract or risk being sent to "secret" prisons.
Russian Media Watchdog Deletes 38,000 Messages Calling For War Protests
Roskomnadzor, the Russian state agency overseeing mass media, said it had deleted 38,000 online messages calling for protests against the war in Ukraine, the independent exiled Russian media Meduza reports.
Roskomnadzor chief Andrei Lipov said the agency had also removed “more than 117,000 fakes about the essence of the conflict, the actions and losses of the armed forces” and blocked “1,177 resources with Ukrainian nationalist propaganda with a total audience of over 202 million users.”
First Independent Report Calling Russia’s Actions In Ukraine A Genocide
Body bags of people recovered from a mass grave in Bucha
U.S. President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other world leaders have already accused Russia of “genocide.” But now, for the first time an independent report has used the term, concluding that Russia’s conduct of the war in Ukraine qualifies as genocide.
The report released Friday was signed by more than 30 leading legal scholars as well as genocide experts, accusing the Russian state of violating multiple articles of the United Nations Genocide Convention. The list includes evidence of mass killings of civilians, forced deportations and dehumanizing anti-Ukrainian rhetoric used by Russian officials.
"We assembled top legal experts from around the globe who then examined all the evidence and they came to the conclusion that the Russian Federation bears responsibility for breaches of the Genocide Convention in Ukraine," Azeem Ibrahim of the New Lines told CNN.
Renewed Shelling In Kharkiv, At Least 9 Killed
In Kharkiv, Ukraine, after Russian missile shelling
Nine people including a 5-month old baby were killed in the city of Kharkiv after heavy shelling on residential areas.
The Russian attacks on the northern city, the second biggest in Ukraine, come several weeks after Moscow had apparently withdrawn its troops and ceded full control to Kyiv.
Oleh Synyehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration, said he believed the targeting of residential areas were for the purpose of “terrorizing” local residents.He added that as of now, the Ukrainian armed forces are holding their positions firmly “and there is no question about a possible seizure of the city of Kharkiv.”
Two Russian Soldiers Plead Guilty In Second War Crimes Trial
Two Russian soldiers have pleaded guilty in Ukrainian court to “violating laws and customs of war conducted with preliminary group conspiracy.”
According to the case details made public on the court website, the men fired artillery and damaged “objects of civil and critical infrastructure, including private homes” in the Kharkiv region. The case follows the conviction of a 21-year-old Russian soldier earlier this week in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial, for shooting an unarmed man in the head.
Ex Russian UN Diplomat Boris Bondarev Recounts His Resignation
Boris Bondarev, the former Russian diplomat to the United Nations, resigned earlier this week. In an exclusive interview with Swiss daily, Tribune de Genève, he explains the reason for his decision. He also reveals that he had made his decision on the day Russia declared war on Ukraine, but he needed to bring his wife and cat to safety before officially announcing his resignation.
Your decision is the product of a slow disillusionment with the Russian system. Can you describe the stages?
Our positions are made to please the hierarchy or certain specific individuals, but we do not work for the national interest. And when we make comments, our hierarchy tells us, "Thank you very much, but it's not necessary." The bottom line is that our foreign policy is very loud, very crude, but not effective. Just look at the demands Putin made just before the war in Ukraine. NATO was to go back to the situation in 1997, to promise never to expand... And what did he get? Nothing. We ended up with war.
What will happen to you next? Do you feel safe?
For now, yes, I am grateful towards the Swiss authorities who have contacted me and implemented safety measures for my family and myself. My next priority is to find a job [...]
I resigned not only for my own conscience but also to make a difference. To show Russians that you can actually stand up for what you believe in and that you can be helped and supported in your decisions. There are many Russian diplomats who are close to doing what I did because they are tired of defending positions they don't agree with.
Bondarev also said that he does not consider himself a hero: “but my parents brought me up to believe that a human being should have an opinion and act on it. I was given instructions that I didn't want to follow. It didn't happen all at once, it accumulated over the years. Maybe if it wasn't for the war, I would still be there…”