Massive New 600 Billion Euro Estimate Of War Damage, EU Says Russia Will Pay
The European Union is committed to setting up a special court with the backing of the UN to investigate and prosecute Russian war crimes in Ukraine, and force Russia and its oligarchs to pay the growing pricetag for the destruction of the country.
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised in a video statement that “Russia’s horrific crimes will not go unpunished.” She said that it was estimated so far that 20,000 Ukrainian civilians and 100,000 Ukrainian military officers had been killed so far.
Von der Leyen laid out revised figures for the pricetag of the destruction inflicted: “The damage suffered by Ukraine is estimated at €600 billion. Russia and its oligarchs have to compensate Ukraine for its damage and for the costs for rebuilding the country,” she said. “And we have the means to make Russia pay. We have blocked 300 billion euros of the Russian Central Bank reserves and we have frozen 19 billion euros of Russian oligarchs' money.”
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky has accused Russia of committing 400 war crimes during the occupation of the southern region of Kherson alone.
Russia To Invest In Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure
Russia will focus on building infrastructure for its nuclear forces in 2023, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu announced Wednesday. The country has the largest nuclear stockpile in the world, of over 6,000 warheads. Shoigu also said that Russia was building facilities to accommodate new missile systems.
Moscow pulled out of nuclear arms talks with the U.S. that had been scheduled to take place in Cairo this week, accusing Washington of “toxic” anti-Russian behavior.
U.S. And Germany Provide Aid To Help Repair Ukraine Energy Infrastructure
Germany said Wednesday it will provide "more than 350 generators" as well as 56 million euros of financial aid to Ukraine. This follows the announcement that the United States will provide more than $53 million to buy critical electricity grid equipment. The aid packages come as Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is being targeted for more than a month by intense Russian strikes.
Meanwhile, the French Economy Ministry also announced a bilateral loan of 100 million euros to help support the Ukrainian economy, which comes on top of 300 million euros granted in March.
Can Ukraine Still Win? German Daily Asks On Its Front Page
“Can Ukraine still win?” asks Tagesspiegel on its front page today. The Berlin-based daily features an interview with former CIA director David Patraeus, who voices his skepticism as to the possibility of victory, instead saying the war can only end with a “negotiated solution.”
Czech Activists’ Call For “Gift” For Putin: Cutting Off Electricity As Payback
Screenshot website Gift for Putin
The Czech project Gift for Putin published a petition calling to cut off electricity to any building in the country belonging to the Russian Federation, including the embassy building in Prague.
"Russia has decided to break Ukraine with darkness and cold. From the point of view of a higher moral principle, we ask the relevant state and private energy distributors to give the Russian diplomats in Prague a taste of their own medicine. We request the disconnection of all buildings owned by the Russian Federation from gas, water, and electricity," reads the petition's text.
The Gift for Putin project was launched by Czech activists in the first weeks of the war and is now successfully collecting donations to buy cars, drones, and ammunition for the Ukrainian army.
Jailed Belarusian Opposition Leader In Intensive Care
Belarusian opposition activist Maria Kolesnikova
The jailed Belarusian opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova has been admitted to intensive care and undergone surgery according to reports. “Maria is in the emergency hospital in Gomel, in the intensive care unit,” said the press service of Viktor Babaryko, another opposition politician.
Her father, Alexander Kolesnikov, said his daughter was in a serious but stable condition. The doctors did not share her diagnosis or any other details with him about the surgery, Kolesnikov said.
Kolesnikova, who is serving an 11-year sentence, was one of a trio of female leaders along with Veronika Tsepkalo and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who led demonstrations against Alexander Lukashenko in 2020 against the strongman’s claim to a sixth presidential term.
In September 2020, the country’s KGB security service drove her to the Ukrainian border after putting a sack over her head and pushing her into a minibus, but at the frontier Kolesnikova ripped up her passport so she could not be deported.
“Surrender Hotline” Has Received More Than 3,500 Calls
The “I Want To Live” project is a hotline where Russian troops can call and arrange the best way to surrender to Ukrainian forces. Officials in Kyiv now say they've had more than 3,500 contacts from Russian soldiers, as well as their families, since the hotline was opened in September.
There's been an increase since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Russian men, and since the city of Kherson was liberated. BBC met with a Ukrainian call handler who speaks to Russian soldiers every day, who either get in touch over the phone or via messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp.
Some of the callers don’t call to surrender, “but to find out how they could if needed. It's different every time,” she says. Moscow has recently blocked the phone numbers from being reached inside Russia.
Estonia Issues New 2-Euro Coin In Support Of Ukraine
\u201cEstonia's central bank @EestiPank issued 2-euro coins dedicated to #Ukraine. Today they go into circulation.\n\nThe coin is designed by Ukrainian refugee Daria Titova. \n\nIt will be a daily reminder of Ukraine's fight for freedom and its future in the EU.\nhttps://t.co/diMTgryMkF\u201d— Kaja Kallas (@Kaja Kallas) 1669739688
The bank of Estonia is issuing two million €2 coins with a special design in support of Ukraine. Set for distribution to banks and retailers, the coin can also be bought as a commemorative product, with proceeds to support Ukraine. "This coin reminds people that freedom is the highest value and it comes at a very high price," said Eesti Pank Governor Madis Müller.
The new two-euro coin features the words “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine) and shows a girl protecting a bird in her hand, as a symbol of tenderness. It was designed by Daria Titova, a Ukrainian refugee from Kharkiv.