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In The News

Putin Turns Up The Dial In Donbas

Russia may allow over-40s to enlist in military as resources are needed to step up the assault in eastern Ukraine.

Putin Turns Up The Dial In Donbas

Ukrainian soldier and his dog on the outskirt of the separatist region of Donetsk

Irene Caselli, Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

Signs are pointing to Russian combat operations accelerating in the southeastern Donbas region, as the invasion in Ukraine nears the three-month mark. The British Ministry of Defence said Friday that more Russian troops are likely to be deployed to Donbas to reinforce operations there once they finish securing the strategic port city of Mariupol, where a growing numbers of Ukrainian soldiers has surrendered this week.

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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainian students during a virtual address on Thursday that the war is not over yet, and is entering “the final stage (which) is the most difficult, the bloodiest.” He added that it is not time yet for him to tell Ukrainians abroad to return home.

In a later speech, Zelensky said that Russian forces have “completely destroyed” the southeastern region of Donbas. "It is hell there — and that is not an exaggeration," he said in a late night video address.

Short On Troops, Russia May Allow Over-40s To Enlist

Russian army during Victory day parade

Sergei Bobylev/TASS/Zuma

The Russian parliament announced on Friday that, facing an urgent need to boost its war efforts in Ukraine, it would consider a bill to allow Russians over 40 and foreigners over 30 to enlist in the military.

"Clearly, the Russians are in trouble. This is the latest attempt to address manpower shortages without alarming their own population,” said retired U.S. General Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe.

Russia’s State Duma, parliament's lower house, said the move would allow the military to use the skills of older professionals. For the time being, only Russians aged between 18 and 40 can enter the military.

Russia Turns Its Firepower On Odessa

A destroyed hotel in Mykolaiv, Ukraine

Vincenzo Circosta/ZUMA

Air strikes on the port city of Odessa have become more frequent over the past three weeks, with fears rising that it could follow Mariupol as Vladimir Putin’s next principal target.

Ukrainian forces resisting in and around the city of Mykolaiv, 80 miles up the coast, have prevented Odessa from being encircled by Russian forces. But Anna Akage writes that Russia has multiple motivations, both symbolic and strategic, for focusing attacks on the southern city. Chief among these reasons is that Moscow wants to intimidate Moldova, whose border lies only 35 miles away, with its own internal battle with pro-Russian separatists in the breakaway republic of Transnistria. Read more here

China Buys Coal From Russia- Helping Moscow

Cargo transporting coal and other goods


China is purchasing record amounts of cheap coal from Russia while Western nations continue to apply heavy sanctions on Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine.

Still, says Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, a Helsinki-based think tank,China is being careful that even while acting in its own economic interests and maintaining relations with Russia, it doesn’t go to far in antagonizing the West.

"So far,” Myllyvirta said, “the government seems to be walking a line of maintaining friendly relationships with Russia without encouraging or directing Chinese firms to increase business with the country, and discouraging anything that might run afoul of the sanctions imposed on China."

NY Times Finds New Evidence Of War Crimes In Bucha

The New York Timesconducted a week-long investigation that pieced together witness testimony, video footage of Russian soldiers leading a group of Ukrainian captives to a courtyard in the city of Bucha to find conclusive evidence of cold-blooded executions of civilians, and possible war crimes. The video was captured by a security camera and a witness in a nearby house.

A drone video also obtained by the Times confirms that they were executed on March 4 in Bucha.

Ex German Chancellor Schroeder Stripped Of State Privileges For Putin Ties

Former Federal Chancellor Gerhard SCHROEDER

Frankhoermann/Sven Simon/DPA/Zuma

The German parliament has announced that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will lose his taxpayer-funded office and staff for failing to take distance from his Russian business ties and from Vladimir Putin himself, whom Schroeder still considers a personal friend.

Schroeder is to be stripped of his office and staff, which cost €407,000 in taxpayer funds last year, reports Deutsche Welle.

Germany’s conversative opposition also sought in vain to strip the 78-year-old former chancellor of his €100,000 annual pension too. Both the office and pension are among the privileges that chancellors keep when they step down.

On Thursday, majority of members of the European Parliament called on the EU to impose sanctions against Europeans who are still on the boards of Russian firms, including Schroeder and Austria’s ex-Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl.

But German Chancellor Olaf Scholf rejected the call for sanctions. “I don’t think anything else is necessary at the moment,” Scholz said during a visit to The Netherlands. “It would be best if Gerhard Schroeder resigned from his positions.”

Japan Backs Security Measures For Ukrainian Nuclear Plants

Two cooling towers are pictured on the premises of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine

Dmytro Smolyenko/Ukrinform/Zuma

Having been victim of both nuclear attacks and nuclear accidents, Japan has pledged $2.1 million euros to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) for its efforts to ensure the security of Ukrainian nuclear facilities attacked by Russia.

Japan Today reports that Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi made the promise after a meeting with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, who arrived in Japan at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant. He noted that Japan will finance the sending of IAEA experts to Ukraine and the provision of the necessary equipment for Ukrainian nuclear facilities.

The Economist Front Page 

UK-based weekly The Economist has a vivid cover image of what many are warning is a looming hunger crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine. Here is a piece from Carlo Petrini, the Italian founder of Slow Food, urging action on both short and long-term risks around food supply.

Arrest Warrant For Pro-Russia Former Ukrainian President

Former President Viktor Yanukovych

Sharifulin Valery/TASS/Zuma

A Kyiv court has granted permission for the arrest of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The former president is accused of smuggling 20 people into Russia from Donetsk Oblast in 2014 with the assistance of three helicopters of the Russian Armed Forces, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said in a statement published to its website. Yanukovych was convicted in absentia for treason in 2019 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He is believed to live in exile in Russia.

Biden In Asia Set To Sign $40 Billion Aid Package To Ukraine

Joe Biden before leaving on his trip to Asia

Oliver Contreras/CNP/Zuma

After the Senate voted on Thursday to pass the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, the bill itself is being flown to South Korea for the signature of President Joe Biden, who is currently on a trip to Asia.

"I applaud the Congress for sending a clear bipartisan message to the world that the people of the United States stand together with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their democracy and freedom," Biden said in a statement.

Russian Director Calls For End Of Russian Culture Boycott During Cannes Festival

Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival, Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov made a plea to end the boycott on Russian cultural works and artists: “Boycotting Russian culture strikes me as unbearable,” he said during a press conference promoting his most movie, Tchaikovsky’s Wife. “Russian culture has always promoted human values, the fragility of man, the compassion one can have.”

Allowing Serebrennikov’s film in the competition has sparked criticism that is defies a European ban on culture works that may benefit Russian oligarchs.British Film Magazine, Screen Daily, also reported that Serebrennikov has called to end the sanctions imposed on Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich by the United Kingdom and European Union. Abramovich has long been a major patron of the arts, though he also has had close ties in the past to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Poland's Influencer #MeToo: Top YouTubers Face Allegations From Underage Girls

The Polish Prime Minister has launched an investigation into Polish YouTubers suspected of grooming underage girls. Dubbed by some as the “Polish #MeToo”, the scandal (also nicknamed "Pandora Gate") has prompted new questions into the investigation, prevention, and punishment of pedophilia in the country.

Screenshot of ​Polish influencer Stuart Burton, aka Stuu

Polish influencer Stuart Burton, aka Stuu (right)

Katarzyna Skiba

WARSAW — Stuart Burton, a Polish YouTuber known online as “Stuu” is being investigated by the Polish government after a creator online revealed inappropriate messages he allegedly exchanged with underage fans.

Beginning his career under the pseudonym “Polish Penguin”, Stuu started uploading videos of himself playing video games, mainly Minecraft, which brought him widespread success with a young audience. He went on to gain nearly 5 million subscribers, and garner hundreds of thousands of views per video.

Eventually, Burton expanded his brand to include lifestyle content, and became one of Poland’s most popular YouTubers. He also founded “Team X”, a group of influencers who were included in his videos.

In spite of his success, Burton suddenly stopped uploading any content onto YouTube after just one year, without any prior warning or indication that he planned to quit his career. Just before disappearing from YouTube, a former partner and fellow influencer, Justyna Suchanek, posted a tearful video, stating that an online personality she knew was harming children.

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