Tag Archives: russia

Russia shelling: ‘All of Ukraine will burn’ with US aid: Medvedev.

Supply of more advanced United States weaponry to Ukraine will not end the war but only prolong it and trigger more retaliatory strikes from Russia, up to the extent of Russia’s nuclear doctrine, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said.

“All of Ukraine that remains under Kyiv’s rule will burn,” journalist Nadana Fridrikhson quoted him as saying in a written interview with her.

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Fridrikhson asked Medvedev, who as deputy chairman of the Security Council has become one of Russia’s most hawkish pro-war figures since its invasion of Ukraine, whether the use of longer-range weapons might force Russia to negotiate with Kyiv.

“The result will be just the opposite,” Medvedev replied in comments that Fridrikhson posted on her Telegram channel.

“Only moral freaks, of which there are enough both in the White House and Capitol, can argue like that.”

The Pentagon said on Friday that a new rocket that would double Ukraine’s strike range was included in a $2.175 billion U.S. military aid package.

With the first anniversary of the invasion approaching on Feb. 24, Russian forces have been on the back foot for the last eight months. They do not fully control any of Moscow’s four Ukrainian provinces unilaterally declared part of Russia.

President Vladimir Putin casts Russia’s campaign in Ukraine as an existential defense against an aggressive West. He has, like Medvedev, several times brandished the threat of a nuclear response, saying Russia will use all available means to protect itself and its people.

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Asked what would happen if the weapons Washington promised Ukraine were to strike Crimea – which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 – or deep into Russia, Medvedev said Putin had addressed the matter.

“We don’t set ourselves any limits and, depending on the nature of the threats, we’re ready to use all types of weapons. By our doctrinal documents, including the Fundamentals of Nuclear Deterrence,” he said. “I can assure you that the answer will be quick, tough, and convincing.”


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Russia’s nuclear doctrine allows for a nuclear strike after “aggression against the Russian Federation with conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened.”

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US to send Ukraine longer-range bombs after months of agonizing.

The United States has agreed to send longer-range bombs to Ukraine after months of agonizing, as Kyiv prepares to launch a spring offensive to retake territory Russia captured last year, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The new weapons will roughly have double the range of any other offensive weapon provided by America, officials confirmed.

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The U.S. will provide ground-launched small diameter bombs as part of a $2.17 billion aid package it is expected to announce on Friday, several U.S. officials said.

The package also for the first time includes equipment to connect the different air defense systems Western allies have rushed to the battlefield, and integrate them into Kviv’s own air defenses to help them better defend against Russia’s continued missile attacks.

For months, U.S. officials have hesitated to send longer-range systems to Ukraine out of concern that they would be used to target inside Russia, escalating the conflict and drawing the U.S. deeper in.

The longer-range bombs are the latest advanced system, such as Abrams tanks and the Patriot missile defense system, that the U.S. has eventually agreed to provide Ukraine after refusing initially. U.S. officials, though, have continued to reject Ukraine’s requests for fighter jets.

Ukrainian leaders have urgently pressed for longer-range munitions and on Thursday, officials said the U.S. will send an undisclosed number of the ground-launched, small diameter bombs, which have a range of about 95 miles (150 kilometers). The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the aid package not yet made public.

To date, the longest-range missile provided by the U.S. is about 50 miles (80 kilometers). The funding in the aid package is for longer-term purchases, so it was not clear on Thursday as to how long it will take to get the bomb to the battlefield in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s defense minister Oleskii Reznikov said on Thursday the country is prepared to offer guarantees to its Western partners that their weapons will not be used to strike inside Russian territory, adding that Kyiv needs weapons with the range of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) to expel Russian forces.

“If we could strike at a distance of up to 300 kilometers, the Russian army wouldn’t be able to mount a defense and will have to withdraw. Ukraine is ready to provide guarantees that your weapons will not be involved in attacks on the Russian territory. We have enough targets in the occupied areas of Ukraine, and we’re prepared to coordinate on (these) targets with our partners,” Reznikov said at a meeting with EU officials.

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The U.S. aid package includes $425 million in ammunition and support equipment that will be pulled from existing Pentagon stockpiles and $1.75 billion in new funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which is used to purchase new weapons from industry.

The USAI, which will pay for the longer-range bombs and the air defense system integration, also funds two HAWK air defense systems, anti-aircraft guns and ammunition, and counter-drone systems.

Since Russia’s invasion last February, Western allies have pledged a myriad of air defense systems to Ukraine to bolster Kyiv’s own Soviet-made S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems, and the latest aid package aims to provide the capability to integrate them all, which could improve Ukraine’s ability to protect itself against incoming Russian attacks.

The U.S. has pledged medium to long-range National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, and truck-launched short-range Avenger air defense systems; the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. are sending Patriot missile defense systems; Germany is sending medium-range IRIS-T air defense systems; and Spain is sending Aspide anti-aircraft air defense systems.

The addition of longer-range bombs into the latest aid package was first reported by Reuters.

Ukraine is still seeking F-16 fighter jets, which U.S. President Joe Biden has opposed sending since the beginning of the war. Asked on Monday if his administration was considering sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, Biden responded, “No.”

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov was asked if Biden’s “no” to F-16s was the final word.

“All types of help first passed through the ‘no’ stage, which only means ‘no’ at today’s given moment. The second stage is, ‘Let’s talk and study technical possibilities.’ The third stage is, ‘Let’s get your personnel trained.’ And the fourth stage is the transfer (of equipment),” Reznikov underlined



Iran calls Ukraine envoy over top aide’s drone strike comments. (Footage)

Iran has summoned Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires to protest “biased” remarks by a presidential aide in Kyiv over a recent drone strike in Iran, the Islamic republic’s foreign ministry said.

Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, linked in a tweet on Sunday Iran’s support for Russia’s invasion of his country with the night-time strike on a military site.

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“Explosive night in Iran – drone and missile production, oil refineries,” he said. “War logic… bills the authors and accomplices strictly.”

“Ukraine did warn you,” Podoliak added.

Iran’s foreign ministry said Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires in Tehran had been summoned to provide “an official and immediate explanation from the Ukrainian government.”

It called Podoliak’s remarks “strange and biased,” adding in a statement it hoped “such positions will not be repeated.”

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Iranian authorities reported an “unsuccessful” drone attack late Saturday night that targeted a defense ministry “workshop complex” in the central Isfahan province, home to the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.

An anti-aircraft system destroyed one drone and two others exploded, the defense ministry said, adding that there were no casualties and only minor damage to the site.


Dramatic video footage widely shared on social media and published by Iranian state media showed a fireball lighting up the night sky, with people outside seen running and emergency service vehicles speeding towards the site.

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Iran of supplying military drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine, a claim that is denied by Tehran



‘Ukraine plans $550m drone investment in 2023’

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Monday said that the country’s military will spend nearly $550 million on drones in 2023 and 16 supply deals have already been signed with Ukrainian manufacturers.

Both Ukrainian and Russian forces have used a wide array of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, for reconnaissance and assault purposes during 11 months of the war.

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“In 2023, we are increasing the procurement of UAVs for the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Reznikov wrote on Facebook. “We plan to allocate about 20 billion hryvnias ($547.05 million) to this segment.”

Ukraine has received significant supplies of UAVs from its partners, from Türkiye’s missile-equipped Bayraktar TB2 to the Norwegian-made Black Hornet reconnaissance drone, which weighs less than 33 grams (0.07 pounds).

Kyiv is now seeking to boost domestic production to build what officials cast as an “army of drones.”

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“The independence of the military-industrial complex is one of the factors of the country’s defense capability,” Reznikov wrote.

Ukraine’s military announced last week it would begin creating assault drone companies within its armed forces, and Reznikov said the Defense Ministry had received applications proposing 75 different Ukrainian-made drones.

“After consultations with the General Staff of the Armed Forces, after tests, the Ministry of Defence has already concluded 16 state contracts with Ukrainian UAV manufacturers,” he wrote



Germany’s Scholz slams ‘irrational’ debate over jets for Ukraine.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has shot down calls on Berlin to send fighter jets to Ukraine as “irrational.”

The calls come just days after Germany’s U-turn on delivering Leopard 2 tanks to the country defending itself against a Russian invasion.

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“It’s strange that this debate is being held,” he said during a press conference in Santiago de Chile on Sunday evening, while on a four-day trip to South America.

A serious debate was now necessary and not “a bidding competition … in which perhaps domestic political motives play a bigger role than support for Ukraine,” Scholz said.

A debate on an issue as important as arms deliveries had to focus on the matter at hand as well as rational considerations, the German chancellor stressed.

Scholz and U.S. President Joe Biden had ruled out no-fly zones over Ukraine shortly after the beginning of the Russian invasion of its neighbor, Scholz pointed out because that would have lead to a conflict between Russia and NATO.

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Likewise, “nonsensical proposals” as the deployment of ground troops had been rejected. “Everything has now been said (on the matter), including by me,” Scholz added.

In the debate on no-fly zones over Ukraine last year, Scholz and Biden rejected the idea because NATO would have had to provide its own fighter jets to enforce it.

If Berlin decided to supply Kyiv with fighter jets, however, those would be operated by Ukrainian pilots.

Ukraine has asked its Western allies to send combat aircraft and the U.S. has not ruled out delivery on principle.

The head of Scholz’s governing Social Democratic Party (SPD) on Sunday also didn’t explicitly rule out supporting Ukraine with fighter jets.

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Asked whether she would rule out the delivery of combat aircraft, SPD leader Saskia Esken told German broadcaster ARD that Germany is not a party to the war, and the government wants to “avoid this in the future.”

“The decisive factor is that Germany and NATO are not party to this war,” which is why the German government is in very close consultation with US counterparts on these issues, said Esken, whose party leads a coalition government under Scholz.

At the same time, it was important for Germany to make it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin with every decision “that we reject Russian aggression.”

The comments come after the German government promised Ukraine a delivery of 14 Leopard 2 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks on Wednesday, after a long period of waiting for a similar commitment from the U.S.



NATO chief asks South Korea to ‘step up’ military support for Ukraine.

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, has urged South Korea to “step up” military support for Ukraine, citing other governments that have changed their policies on exporting weapons to countries in conflict following the Russian invasion.

Stoltenberg made the appeal in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Monday.

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He is in the city on the first leg of an Asia trip that will also include stops in Japan and is aimed at boosting ties with the region’s democratic allies in the face of the war in Ukraine and rising competition with China.

In meetings with senior South Korean officials, Stoltenberg argued that events in Europe and North America are interconnected with other regions, and that the alliance wants to help manage global threats by increasing partnerships in Asia.

Speaking at the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies in Seoul, he thanked South Korea for its nonlethal aid to Ukraine but urged it to do more, adding there was an “urgent need” for ammunition. Russia calls the invasion a “special operation”.

He pointed to countries like Germany and Norway that had “longstanding policies not to export weapons to countries in conflict” that were revised after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

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“If we believe in freedom, democracy, if we don’t want autocracy and totalitarian to win then they need weapons,” he said.

South Korea is an increasingly important global arms exporter and has recently signed deals to sell hundreds of tanks to European countries, including NATO-member Poland. But South Korean law bans the export of weapons to countries in active conflict, which Seoul has said makes it difficult to provide arms directly to Kyiv.

South Korea opened its first diplomatic mission to NATO last year.

Stoltenberg said it was unclear when the conflict in Ukraine would end, saying Putin was preparing for “more war” and actively acquiring weapons from countries, including North Korea.

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In a statement carried by state media on Monday, North Korea called Stoltenberg’s visit a “prelude to confrontation and war as it brings the dark clouds of a ‘new Cold War’ to the Asia-Pacific region”.

Pyongyang on Sunday denied sending weapons to Moscow, accusing the United States of spreading a “groundless rumor”.

“Trying to tarnish the image of [North Korea] by fabricating a non-existent thing is a grave provocation that can never be allowed and that cannot but trigger its reaction,” said Kwon Jong Gun, director general of North Korea’s Department of US Affairs.

He also called it “a foolish attempt to justify its offer of weapons to Ukraine”.

Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden promised 31 Abrams tanks, one of the most powerful and sophisticated weapons in the US army, to help Kyiv fight off Moscow’s invasion


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Russia says Ukraine strike on Hospital killed fourteen.

Ukrainian missile strikes on a hospital in the Luhansk region killed 14 people and injured 24 others on Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said that a U.S. Himars-type multiple rocket launcher shelled the hospital in Novoaydar.

The ministry’s statement came some 10 hours after it said the attack occurred. However, the ministry shared no videos or photos of the incident, and the information could not be independently verified.

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The hospital has provided “necessary medical assistance to the local population and military personnel for many months.”

The Luhansk region is occupied mainly by Russia.

The ministry accused Ukrainian forces of a “deliberate missile strike” against the civilian hospital, saying it was a “serious war crime committed by the Kyiv regime.” The statement said those responsible would be found and held accountable.

Russian state television released unverifiable images showing a destroyed building. A board showing the clinic’s opening hours were overlayed. No people or ambulances were visible in the footage.

Kyiv did not initially respond to the allegations



US to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine: Biden.

U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed that his country will send 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, as he highlighted cooperation with Europe and thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for agreeing to send Leopard tanks to Kyiv.

Biden called the Abrams tanks the “most capable in the world,” in a speech at the White House on Wednesday. He said the U.S. would provide Ukraine with parts and equipment, in addition to training.

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The president praised German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s earlier announcement that 14 Leopard tanks would be delivered to Ukraine.

“Germany has really stepped up and the chancellor has been a strong voice for unity” among Ukraine’s allies, Biden said.

“The expectation on the part of Russia is we’re going to break up,” Biden said of the U.S. and European allies. “But we are fully, totally and thoroughly united.”

The United States had been cool to the idea of deploying the difficult-to-maintain Abrams tanks but had to change tack in order to persuade Germany to send its more easily used Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

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Still, the Abrams — among the most powerful U.S. tanks — will not be heading to Ukraine anytime soon.

Senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision said it will take months, not weeks, for the Abrams to be delivered and described the move in terms of providing for Ukraine’s long-term defense.

Members of the Ukrainian military will be trained on using the Abrams in a yet-to-be determined location. While a highly sophisticated and expensive weapon, the Abrams is difficult to maintain and provides a logistical resupply challenge because it runs on jet fuel.

The total cost of a single Abrams tanks can vary, and can be over $10 million per tanks when including training and sustainment.

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The decisions by Washington and Berlin come as the Western allies help Ukraine prepare for a possible spring counter-offensive to try to drive Russia out of territory it has seized.

“There is no offensive threat to Russia,” Biden said.

Biden speaks with Scholz before announcement
Biden and Scholz spoke in a telephone conversation on Wednesday that also involved French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Scholz’s spokesperson confirmed the call and it was mentioned during Biden’s announcement on Wednesday.

The five-way phone call focused on the security situation in Ukraine and continued support for the Ukrainian fight against Russian forces. All five heads of state and government agreed to continue military support for Ukraine and cooperate closely, it said



Russia says it is working hard to resolve Armenia-Azerbaijan dispute.

The Kremlin Tuesday said it is continuing efforts to resolve a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Lachin corridor, a mountainous road linking Armenia to Karabakh where Russian peacekeepers are stationed.

“The Russian Federation … continues its painstaking work in this direction,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denies that the corridor is subject to a blockade and says activists protesting illegal mining activity are the main reason for the disruption to traffic.

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Russia is an ally of Armenia through a mutual self-defense pact, but tries to maintain warm relations with Azerbaijan and has rejected calls by Yerevan to provide military support.

The standoff is a test of Russia’s authority as the main security guarantor in the region at a time when its struggles in the war in Ukraine risk undermining its primary status among former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus and Central Asia.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military illegally occupied Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

The clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, with the Armenian Army attacking civilians and Azerbaijani forces, violating several humanitarian cease-fire agreements. During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and around 300 settlements and villages that had been occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.

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The fighting ended with a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10, 2020, which was seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia.

However, the cease-fire has been broken several times since then.

Since mid-December, a group of Azerbaijani activists have been protesting illegal mining that has been causing environmental damage in the region. The protests erupted after representatives of Azerbaijan attempting to visit the areas where mineral resources are being illegally exploited were barred access to the area.

Yerevan has been accusing Azerbaijan of creating a “humanitarian catastrophe” by purposefully blocking the only road linking Armenia to the region, which houses thousands of Armenians. It also slammed the Russian peacekeeping contingent claiming it is “failing to fulfill its purpose of clearing the corridor.”

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Baku has consistently rejected Yerevan’s accusations, with Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov stressing that obstacles to the use of the road are created by people who introduced themselves as “the leaders of local Armenians” and claims that the protests on the Lachin road posed the threat of a humanitarian crisis to the local Armenian population are baseless.

Last week, the country also filed a lawsuit against Armenia over its “extensive destruction and deforestation” of the environment throughout its three-decade occupation.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Aliyev to ramp up efforts in bilateral peace discussions with Armenia and urged “an immediate reopening of the Lachin corridor to commercial traffic.”

Blinken also spoke to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian the week prior and voiced “deep concern for the worsening humanitarian situation” in Karabakh due to the blockage of the corridor.

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The U.S. diplomat has been active in mediating between the two former Soviet republics, increasing U.S. influence on an issue long dominated by Russia at a time Yerevan has grown increasingly wary of Russia – formally an ally through a mutual self-defense treaty – for not doing more to end the blockade, especially since Russian peacekeepers are deployed in the corridor.

On Tuesday, another move to contribute to stability and normalization in the region came from the European Council, which deployed the European Union Mission in Armenia (EUMA), a civilian mission, on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.

The deployment followed Russia’s warnings a week before against a “civil monitoring mission” on the border with Azerbaijan without Baku’s consent.

“This is the border with Azerbaijan, so if this mission unfolds without the consent of Azerbaijan, it may simply be counterproductive. Instead of building trust at the border, it can create additional irritants,” Lavrov said.

Stressing that the mission must take into account its legitimate interests in the region, Baku responded it remains of the “firm position that such an engagement must not be exploited for derailing the normalization process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, including in the context of border delimitation process that should be carried out exclusively on a bilateral basis.”

The EUMA will conduct routine patrols and report on the situation, as well as contribute to mediation efforts. It will have an initial mandate of two years and its operational headquarters will be in Armenia.



UN calls out Ukraine grain deal backlog, urges improvement.

The United Nations on Wednesday called out inefficiencies in the operation of a deal allowing Ukraine Black Sea grain exports, but did not lay blame for a backlog of more than 100 ships in Turkish waters waiting on travel approval and inspections.

Under the deal agreed by Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the United Nations in July, ships are inspected in Turkish waters on their way to and from Ukraine. The four parties work together to approve and inspect ships traveling under the agreement.

“The United Nations urges all parties to work to remove obstacles for the reduction of the backlog and improve operational efficiencies,” it said in a statement.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield last week accused Russia of a “deliberate slowdown of inspections,” saying that 5 million tons of food a month should be moving under the agreement.

The Russian U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thomas-Greenfield’s remark.

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“We have been pushing to get more inspections. We’ve been pushing to make sure that the inspections proceed quickly and thoroughly,” deputy U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq said. “Everything has to be done with the cooperation of all the parties, and we’re trying to do everything we can to move it faster.”

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Since November, three inspection teams have been deployed daily and so far this month have concluded 5.3 inspections a day, said the United Nations, adding: “In the last two weeks, the average waiting time of vessels between application and inspection is 21 days.”

It said some 3.7 million metric tons in Ukrainian exports moved under the deal in December, up from 2.6 million in November, while during the past two weeks nearly 1.2 million metric tons of exports shipped.

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The package deal also includes facilitating Russia food and fertilizer exports, including ammonia, and the United Nations has been trying to negotiate a restart of Russian ammonia shipments via a pipeline to a Ukrainian Black Sea port.

“The parties negotiating on how to get ammonia to the market through the Togliatti/Yuzhny pipeline are still in discussions and are yet to reach an agreement,” the United Nations said.

Ammonia is a key ingredient in nitrate fertilizer. Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of its neighbor had stalled Ukraine’s Black Sea exports of foodstuffs and also shut down the ammonia pipeline.

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Russia sends Su-27 jet to intercept German naval plane

Russia deployed an Su-27 fighter jet to intercept a German naval plane over the Baltic Sea after the plane advanced toward its territory, Moscow said Monday.

The defense ministry said that the German aircraft — a P-3 Orion maritime patrol plane — did not cross Russia’s borders and that it turned back after the confrontation.

“After the foreign military aircraft turned away from the state border of the Russian Federation, the Russian fighter returned to its home airfield,” the ministry said.

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Türkiye, UK discuss defense ties, regional developments

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his British counterpart Ben Wallace discussed bilateral, regional defense and security developments and cooperation on Monday.

The defense minister met with the U.K.’s secretary of defense in London for discussions on security.

He was welcomed with an official military ceremony at the U.K. Defense Ministry building by Ben Wallace.

The top defense officials met “to discuss strengthening our defense ties and issues of regional security, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the U.K. Defense Ministry said on Twitter.

Türkiye and the U.K. “enjoy a close relationship as NATO allies with a history of shared responsibilities,” it further said.

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Türkiye ready to end Russian shellings against Ukraine.

Türkiye is ready to undertake the role of a mediator between Russia and Ukraine to facilitate permanent peace between the two countries, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Monday.

According to the Presidential Communications Directorate, Erdoğan told Putin that Ankara is ready for moderation and mediation between the two warring neighbors for permanent peace.

They also discussed the grain corridor and concrete steps for delivering Russian grain processed into flour to African countries.

The two leaders confirmed cooperation, with priorities including Russian gas supplies and the creation of a regional gas hub in Türkiye, the Kremlin said.

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“The exchange of views on the situation around Ukraine continued,” the statement said.

“Vladimir Putin drew attention to the destructive line of the Kyiv regime, which relies on the intensification of hostilities with the support of Western sponsors, increasing the volume of transferred weapons and military equipment,” the Kremlin said in its readout of the call.

It said the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports and ways to unblock fertilizer and food exports from Russia were discussed. Erdoğan and Putin also talked about energy, the Kremlin added.

“Among the priorities is cooperation in the energy sector, including the supply of Russian natural gas and the creation of a regional gas hub in Turkey,” the Kremlin said.

They also discussed the normalization of Turkish-Syrian relations, it said.

Türkiye, internationally praised for its unique mediator role between Ukraine and Russia, has repeatedly called on Kyiv and Moscow to end the war through negotiations.

Last week, Ankara warned that Russia and Ukraine were moving away from a diplomatic solution, making the outcomes of a prolonged war even more complicated.

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Most recently, Türkiye enabled a prisoner swap between the warring countries. Also, Turkish mediation proved vital in facilitating the signing of a deal between Türkiye, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul to reopen certain Ukrainian ports to release grain that had been stuck for months because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war – a development that has been crucial in responding to a growing global food crisis.

Türkiye is one of the most active countries working to ensure a permanent cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia. Its delicately balanced act of assuming a role as a mediator by keeping communication channels with both warring sides open provides a glimmer of hope in diplomatic efforts to find a solution and achieve peace in the Ukraine crisis. With its unique position of having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine, Türkiye has won widespread praise for its push to end the war.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, underlining its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, it also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing through them.

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Türkiye rejects sending cluster bombs to Ukraine.

Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın strongly rejected claims that Türkiye sent cluster munitions to Ukraine during the Russian invasion last year.

“We don’t have cluster munitions, and we haven’t provided them to Ukraine,” Kalın told reporters on Saturday, adding that Ukrainians have also rejected the claims.

U.S.-based Foreign Policy magazine claimed that Ankara sent Kyiv a form of U.S.-designed cluster bomb late last year.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian ambassador in Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, rejected the claims, calling them unfounded rumors and propaganda.

NATO member Türkiye has close ties with Russia and Ukraine and has sought to balance relations through the war. It has criticized Moscow’s invasion and provided Ukraine with arms, including drones, which significantly deterred a Russian advance early in the conflict.

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Ankara refuses to join the West in imposing sanctions on Russia and has cited its reliance on Russian energy supplies. In the meantime, Türkiye has closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing through them. Turkish officials have been actively working to ensure a permanent cease-fire between the warring sides and leading a delicately balanced mediator role by keeping communication channels with both sides open, calling for diplomatic efforts, and stressing that the war can only “end at the negotiation table.”

The country has been aiming to help establish a humanitarian corridor for a long while as well.

Since Russia launched its military operation in February last year, Turkish mediation has facilitated a swap of some 200 prisoners in September and the signing of a deal between Türkiye, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul that reopened specific Ukrainian ports for releasing grain that had been stuck for months, effectively fending off worsening a global food crisis.

Last week, Erdoğan discussed with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy issues related to humanitarian assistance, the grain corridor, and Türkiye’s readiness to contribute to the peace process diplomatically.

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Russia claims capture of Soledar in major battlefield gain.

Russia claimed Friday that its forces had taken control of the salt-mining town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine overnight after days of relentless fighting, claiming Moscow’s first big battlefield gain after half a year of military setbacks.

Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in the town. Earlier on Friday, Kyiv said fighting was still continuing there, after what it described as a “hot” night.

Russia said the capture of Soledar would make it possible to cut off Ukrainian supply routes to the larger nearby city of Bakhmut and trap remaining Ukrainian forces there. Russia has been trying to seize Bakhmut for months in brutal warfare.

“The capture of Soledar was made possible by the constant bombardment of the enemy by assault and army aviation, missile forces and artillery of a grouping of Russian forces,” Moscow’s Defence Ministry said.

Kyiv says Russia threw wave upon wave of soldiers and mercenaries into a pointless fight for a bombed-out wasteland at Soledar and U.S. officials said a Russian victory there, or even in Bakhmut, would make little difference to the overall war.

Soledar, with a pre-war population of just 10,000, sits above cavernous salt mines. Bakhmut, 10 times larger, is a substantial provincial district hub.

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“Even if both Bakhmut and Soledar fall to the Russians, it’s not going to have a strategic impact on the war itself,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House on Thursday, “and it certainly isn’t going to stop the Ukrainians or slow them down.”

The Wagner ultra-nationalist mercenary company run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin had claimed to have captured Soledar on Wednesday, but until now Russia’s defense ministry had stayed silent.

“The night in Soledar was hot, battles continued,” Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“The enemy threw almost all the main forces in the direction of Donetsk and maintains a high intensity of offensive. Our fighters are bravely trying to maintain the defense,” she said, referring to the Donetsk region which includes Soledar.

“This is a difficult phase of the war, but we will win. There is no doubt.”

Outside Soledar on Thursday, Ukrainian soldiers were dug into well-fortified trenches in the wintry woods. Explosions echoed in the distance.

A 24-year-old soldier using the call-sign BUK, told Reuters the intensity of shelling had risen by around 70 percent, but forces were still holding their positions.

“The situation is difficult but stable. We’re holding back the enemy … we’re fighting back.”

Ukrainian officials said on Thursday more than 500 civilians were trapped inside Soledar, including 15 children.

In an overnight video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked two units in Soledar he said were “holding their positions and inflicting significant losses on the enemy.” He did not give more details.

Meat grinder
The front lines in Ukraine have barely budged for two months since Russia’s last big retreat in the south. Meanwhile, the battles around Bakhmut and Soledar became what both sides called a “meat grinder” – a brutal war of attrition claiming the lives of thousands of soldiers needed for decisive battles ahead.

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The new year has brought important pledges of extra Western weapons for Ukraine, which is seeking armor to mount mechanized battles against Russian tanks. Last week, France, Germany and the United States pledged to send armored fighting vehicles.

In recent days, the focus has been on main battle tanks, which Western countries have yet to provide. On Friday, Finland joined Poland in promising to send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of a Western coalition. That requires the permission of Berlin, which has so far been hesitant but has lately signaled a willingness to allow it.

Putin launched the invasion on Feb. 24, saying Kyiv’s ties with the West threatened Russia’s security, and Russia has since claimed to have annexed four Ukrainian provinces. Ukraine and its allies call it an unprovoked war to seize territory, and Kyiv says it will fight until it recaptures all its land.

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Ukraine-Russia war to escalate in coming months: Türkiye.

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The Russian-Ukranian war is likely to escalate in the coming months, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın warned on Friday as Türkiye continues to press for a fair and peaceful solution to the conflict.

“More war means more destruction, and a deeper, longer crisis. This is not good for anyone,” Kalın wrote on Twitter.

“Türkiye will continue its efforts for negotiations, cease-fire, prisoner exchange, nuclear security and grain export,” he added.

Most recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts on the phone on Thursday.

Erdoğan told his Russian President Vladimir Putin that peace and negotiation calls must be supported by a unilateral cease-fire as well as a vision of a fair solution.

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Putin said that Russia was ready for a dialogue on Ukraine but that Kyiv must fulfill the previously announced requirements and consider “new territorial realities,” according to the Kremlin.

Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February last year.

Türkiye has since enabled a prisoner swap between the warring countries. Also, Turkish mediation proved vital in facilitating the signing of a deal between Türkiye, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul to reopen certain Ukrainian ports to release grain that had been stuck for months owing to the ongoing conflict. This development has been crucial in responding to a growing global food crisis.

Türkiye is one of the most active countries working to ensure a permanent cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia. Its delicately balanced act of assuming a mediator role by keeping communication channels with both warring sides open provides a glimmer of hope in diplomatic efforts to find a solution and achieve peace in the Ukraine crisis.

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With its unique position of having friendly relations with both Russia and Ukraine, Türkiye has won widespread appreciation for its push to end the war.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, underlining its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, it also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing.

In a breakthrough, Russian and Ukrainian delegations met for peace talks in Istanbul on March 29. Türkiye also hosted Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Antalya earlier in March.

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Scores Of Soldiers Killed In Ukrainian Strike – Russia

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Russia on Monday said dozens of its soldiers were killed in a Ukrainian strike on Russian-controlled territory in a bloody New Year’s weekend for both sides of the conflict.

In an extremely rare announcement following criticism by Russian military correspondents, the defence ministry said that 63 Russian servicemen were killed “as a result of a strike by four missiles” in the occupied city of Makiivka in eastern Ukraine.

It was the biggest loss of life reported by Moscow so far in a conflict that has dragged on since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade on February 24 last year.

The Russian defence ministry did not say when the strike took place but Ukrainian forces are believed to have struck as Russian troops rang in the New Year.

READ ALSO: Death Toll From Philippine Floods, Landslides Rises To 51

The ministry said US-supplied Himars rocket systems had been used and the target was a temporary deployment point.

Without claiming the strike, Ukraine’s military said that nearly 400 Russian troops were killed.

Russian war correspondents, who have gained influence in recent months, said hundreds could have been killed and accused Russia’s top commanders of not learning from past mistakes.

Former Russian separatist leader Igor Strelkov said the troops largely consisting of mobilised Russians were stationed in an unprotected building that was “almost completely” destroyed because ammunition stored on the premises detonated in the strike. He said “hundreds” have been killed and wounded.

“Ten months into the war it is dangerous and criminal to consider the enemy a fool who does not see anything,” said Andrei Medvedev, deputy speaker of the Moscow city legislature.

The Samara governor, Dmitry Azarov, said that among the victims were residents of his region, adding that a hotline was set up for their relatives.

On social media, some accused the Russian authorities of downplaying the death toll.

“Dear God, who will believe in the figure of 63? The building has been completely destroyed,” one Russian, Nina Vernykh, wrote on Russia’s largest social network, VKontakte.

– ‘War to kill’ –
Russian strikes across Ukraine on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day killed at least five people and wounded dozens.

The Ukrainian capital again came under fire from Iranian-made drones on Monday, although Ukrainian forces claimed the majority were shot down by air defences.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported an explosion in northeastern Kyiv and said emergency services were dispatched.

“An injured 19-year-old man was hospitalised in the Desnyanskyi district of the capital,” he said.

Authorities later said he was hit by the falling debris.

Following the strikes, the power company Ukrenergo said the situation with the electricity supply in Kyiv was now “more complicated”.

“That is why emergency shutdowns are now in effect,” it said.

General Valery Zaluzhny, commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, said that the army had so far liberated “40 percent of the territories occupied after February 24.”

Russia’s New Year assaults — which targeted downtown areas of large cities — show a change in tactics, said an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Russia no longer has any military goals and is trying to kill as many civilians as possible and destroy more civilian facilities,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.

“A war to kill.”

– ‘Extreme hardship’ –
After suffering a series of humiliating battlefield defeats, Moscow started to target electrical and other critical infrastructure in October.

The strikes have caused sweeping blackouts and cut off water supplies and heating to civilians as the temperature in some regions dropped below freezing.

The UN’s human rights chief has warned the campaign has inflicted “extreme hardship” on Ukrainians, and also decried probable war crimes by Russian forces.

Putin declared during his midnight address on New Year’s Eve that “moral, historical rightness is on our side”.

Moscow said its New Year’s attacks had targeted the pro-Western country’s drone production.

“The plans of the Kyiv regime to carry out terror attacks against Russia in the near future have been thwarted,” Russia’s defence ministry said.

Russia has accused Ukraine of targeting its domestic military sites and infrastructure.

In December, Moscow said it had shot down drones three separate times over or near Engels airfield, an airbase in southern Russia more than 600 kilometres (370 miles) from Ukraine. Falling debris killed three people in one of those attacks.

On Monday, Russian officials said a Ukrainian drone had struck an energy facility in the southwestern Bryansk region neighbouring Ukraine.

Bryansk governor Alexander Bogomaz said that the strike had cut off electricity to a village.

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Russia seeks to strengthen military ties with China: Putin to Xi Jinping.

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Russia’s ties with China are the “best in history”, President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, as he said Moscow would seek to strengthen military cooperation with Beijing.

The two leaders spoke via video link on Friday, and Putin said he was expecting Xi to make a state visit to Moscow in 2023. If it were to take place, it would be a public show of solidarity by Beijing amid Moscow’s flailing military campaign in Ukraine. (Watch Video Here)

In introductory remarks from the video conference broadcast on state television, Putin said: “We are expecting you, dear Mr chairman, dear friend, we are expecting you next spring on a state visit to Moscow.”

He said the visit would “demonstrate to the world the closeness of Russian-Chinese relations”.

Speaking for about eight minutes, Putin said Russia-China relations were growing in importance as a stabilising factor, and that he aimed to deepen military cooperation between the two countries. (Watch Video Here)

In a response that lasted about a quarter as long, Xi said China was ready to increase strategic cooperation with Russia against the backdrop of what he called a “difficult” situation in the world at large.

Earlier this month, Russia and China conducted joint naval drills, which Russia’s army chief described as a response to the “aggressive” US military posturing in the Asia-Pacific region.

Xi “emphasized that China has noted that Russia has never refused to resolve the conflict through diplomatic negotiations, for which it [China] expresses its appreciation,” Chinese state broadcaster (Watch Video Here) CCTV reported of the call.

The Chinese leader told Putin that the road to peace talks on Ukraine would not be smooth and that China would continue to uphold its “objective and fair stance” on the issue, according to CCTV.

In February, China promised a “no limits” partnership with Russia, which set off alarm bells in the West. Beijing has refused to criticize Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, blaming the United States and NATO for provoking the Kremlin. It has also blasted the sanctions imposed on Russia.

Russia leading supplier of oil to China
Putin also said Russia has become one of China’s leading suppliers of oil and gas. (Watch Video Here)

“Russia has become one of the leaders in oil exports to China”, with 13.8 billion cubic metres of gas shipped via the Power of Siberia pipeline in the first 11 months of 2022.

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s top crude supplier last month.

Putin added that Russia was China’s second-largest supplier of pipeline gas and fourth-largest of liquefied natural gas (LNG). He said in December, shipments had been 18 percent above daily contractual obligations. (Watch Video Here)

Moscow’s energy exports to China have risen markedly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which started on February 24. Although Western countries imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia, China has refrained from condemning its military campaign, instead stressing the need for peace.

But Beijing has also been careful not to provide the sort of direct material support that could provoke Western sanctions against China. (Watch Video Here)

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said last month that his country’s energy exports to China had increased in value by 64 percent this year, and by 10 percent in volume.

Last week, Putin inaugurated a gas field in eastern Siberia that will allow Russia to increase its energy exports to China as the West seeks to cut its dependence on Moscow.

China and Russia have drawn (Watch Video Here) closer in recent years as part of what they call a “no-limits” relationship acting as a counterweight to the global dominance of the United States.

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Akar holds meeting with Syrian counterpart for 1st time in Russia.

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Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Ali Mahmud Abbas in Moscow for the first time in 11 years.

Akar and the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan headed to Russia’s capital Moscow for discussions on Wednesday. Syrian and Russian intelligence chiefs also attended the meeting, the Defense Ministry said. (Watch Video Here)

“Syrian crisis, refugee issue and efforts of joint fight against all terror organisations on Syrian soil were discussed in the constructive meeting,” the ministry added.

Turkish, Russian, Syrian defense ministers and intelligence chiefs also agreed to continue tripartite meetings to ensure stability in Syria and the region, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

Akar and Fidan’s delegation departed from the Esenboğa Airport in (Watch Video Here) Ankara early Wednesday.

No further information was provided about the issues that were discussed in the meeting.

Turkish officials frequently say that Ankara is determined to continue to push for a diplomatic solution to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the war wages on.

Türkiye is one of the most active countries working to ensure a permanent cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia. Its delicately balanced act of assuming a role as a mediator by keeping communication channels with both warring sides open provides a glimmer of hope in diplomatic efforts to (Watch Video Here) find a solution and achieve peace in the Ukraine crisis. With its unique position of friendly relations with Russia and Ukraine, Türkiye has won widespread praise for its push to end the war.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, underlining its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, it also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing through them. (Watch Video Here)



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Invasion Of Ukraine Revives Nuclear Warfare Nightmare

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Banished from public consciousness for decades, the nightmare of nuclear warfare has surged back to prominence with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, highlighting the erosion of the Cold War global security architecture.

With Moscow on the back foot in its offensive, the military stalemate has raised fears Russia could resort to its nuclear arsenal to achieve a breakthrough.

Russia, along with Britain, China, France and the United States, are the five recognised nuclear weapons powers and permanent UN Security Council members.

“It’s the first time a nuclear power has used its status to wage a conventional war under the shadow cast by nuclear weapons,” said Camille Grand, a former NATO deputy secretary-general.

“One might have imagined that rogue states would adopt such an attitude, but suddenly it’s one of the two major nuclear powers, a member of the UN Security Council,” he told AFP, insisting the actual use of the weapons remains “improbable”.

For now, the moral and strategic nuclear “taboo” that emerged after the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II in 1945 still holds.

But rhetoric has escalated massively.

Russian TV broadcasts since the invasion of Ukraine have repeatedly discussed nuclear strikes on Western cities like Paris or New York.

One former Russian diplomat, asking not to be named, warned that if President Vladimir Putin felt Russia’s existence threatened, “he will press the button”.

The year’s events have been a harsh wake-up call for Europe, which spent decades in a state of relative ease in terms of nuclear security, enjoying the so-called Cold War “peace dividend”.

Across the Atlantic, US President Joe Biden warned in October of a potential “Armageddon” hanging over the world.

Disarmament ‘in ruins’
“The most spectacular event of the past half century is one that did not occur,” Nobel-winning economist and strategy expert Thomas Schelling wrote in 2007.

But the framework that kept world leaders’ fingers off the button after 1945 had been crumbling for years before Putin’s order to invade.

In 2002, the United States quit the critical Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty it had signed with the Soviet Union in 1972, which maintained the nuclear balance of power.

Other important agreements fell away in the years that followed, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that Washington dropped in 2019, blaming Russia for not complying.

“Regarding disarmament, it’s all in ruins, apart from New Start,” Grand said, referring to the Barack Obama-era agreement with Russia to reduce numbers of warheads, missiles, bombers and launchers.

‘Very dangerous crisis’
India, North Korea and Pakistan, along with the five recognised powers, also have nuclear weapons, while Israel is widely assumed to do so while having never officially acknowledged it.

North Korea sharply stepped up missile testing this year, continuing its pursuit of an independent nuclear deterrent that began when it quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo all believe a seventh nuclear weapons test by Pyongyang is imminent.

The isolated dictatorship announced in September a new nuclear doctrine, making clear that it would never give up the weapons and that they could be used pre-emptively.

“We’re going to see a very dangerous crisis in Asia,” Chung Min Lee, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently told a Paris conference.

Non-nuclear countries in the region fear that the protection provided by the US nuclear umbrella is fraying.

“If you imagine extended deterrence as a water balloon, today the water balloon has some critical holes and water is seeping out,” he added.

China’s nuclear arsenal is also growing, with Pentagon estimates putting it at 1,000 warheads — roughly on par with US bombs — within a decade.

And in the Middle East, the struggle to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, hobbled by its brutal repression of recent protests at home, has revived fears that Tehran could soon be a “threshold state” on the brink of building a bomb.

Proliferation fears
In August, a UN conference on the future of the NPT saw a joint declaration by 191 countries blocked at the last moment by Russia.

One French diplomat reported “extraordinarily aggressive nuclear rhetoric” from Moscow and “disdain” for the treaty.

“We saw a break in Russia’s attitude, which had historically been in support of the NPT,” the diplomat added.

China was “very vocal”, offering a “very crude denunciation” of the US-UK-Australia AUKUS Pacific alliance that will deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra, the diplomat said.

Beijing claimed that the alliance risked further nuclear proliferation, while failing to “lift doubts about the opacity of its own nuclear doctrine or the speed at which its arsenal is growing”.

The invasion of a state that willingly gave up nuclear weapons, Ukraine, by its nuclear-armed neighbour has increased fears of proliferation.

“Today, countries like Japan or South Korea might legitimately ask whether” they need a bomb of their own, said Jean-Louis Lozier, a former head of France’s nuclear forces.

“The same is true in the Middle East of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt,” he added.


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Putin bans Russian oil exports to price cap endorsers

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President Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning the supply of oil and oil products in response to the EU price cap from Feb. 1 for five months. (Watch Video Here)

The Group of Seven major powers, the European Union and Australia agreed this month to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil effective from Dec. 5 over Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.

The Kremlin’s decree stated: “This…comes into force on Feb. 1, 2023, and applies until July 1, 2023.” (Watch Video Here)

Crude oil exports will be banned from Feb. 1, but the date for the oil products ban will be determined by the Russian government and could be after Feb. 1.

The decree includes a clause that allows Putin to overrule the ban in special cases. (Watch Video Here)


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Russia says ready to start gas flow via Yamal-Europe pipeline.

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Moscow is ready to resume gas supplies to Europe through the Yamal-Europe pipeline, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told state Tass news agency.

“The European market remains relevant, as the gas shortage persists, and we have every opportunity to resume supplies,” Tass cited Novak as saying in remarks published by the agency on Sunday. (Watch Video Here)

“For example, the Yamal-Europe Pipeline, which was stopped for political reasons, remains unused.”

The Yamal-Europe pipeline usually flows westward but has been mostly reversed since December of 2021 as Poland turned away from buying from Russia in favor of drawing on stored gas in Germany.

In May, Warsaw terminated its agreement with Russia, after earlier rejecting Moscow’s demand that it (Watch Video Here) pays in rubles.

Russian supplier Gazprom responded by cutting off supply and also said it could no longer export gas via Poland after Moscow imposed sanctions against the firm that owns the Polish section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline.

Novak also reiterated that Moscow is discussing additional gas supplies through Türkiye after the creation of a hub there. (Watch Video Here)

He also said that Moscow expects it will have shipped 21 billion cubic meters (bcm) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe in 2022.

“This year we could significantly increase LNG supplies to Europe,” Novak said. “In the 11 months of 2022, they increased to 19.4 bcm, by the end of the year 21 bcm are expected.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Tass, parts of which have been published throughout the (Watch Video Here) weekend, Novak also said that Russia has agreed with Azerbaijan to increase gas supplies for its domestic consumption.

“In the future, when they increase gas production, we will be able to discuss swaps,” he said.

Moscow is also discussing higher supplies of its gas to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, he said.

Novak also said that in the long term, Russia can send its natural gas to the markets of Afghanistan and Pakistan, either using the infrastructure of Central Asia or in a swap from the territory of Iran. (Watch Video Here)


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Russia accuses Ukraine of deadly air base attack

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Moscow said Monday it had foiled a new Ukrainian drone attack on a strategic bomber military base hundreds of kilometres from their joint border, as Kyiv called for Russia’s ouster from the United Nations.

Russia said it had downed the drone at Engels, a base for the country’s strategic aircraft that Kyiv says have been used to strike Ukraine. Three servicemen were killed by falling debris, regional authorities said. (Watch Video Here)

The same day, Russia’s domestic security agency said it killed four Ukrainian “saboteurs”, who allegedly attempted to enter Russia via a border region.

Moscow has accused pro-Kyiv forces of targeting Russian military sites and civilian infrastructure, including blowing up a bridge linking annexed Crimea to Russia.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday it downed a Ukrainian drone at its Engels airfield in the southern Saratov region located more than 600 kilometres (370 miles) from the border with Ukraine. (Watch Video Here)

It was the second attack on the Engels airfield in less than a month and the deepest strike into Russian territory since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.

In early December, the Russian defence ministry said Ukrainian drone attacks caused explosions at two airfields including Engels, leaving three dead. The airfields were targeted with Soviet-made drones, the ministry said at the time. (Watch Video Here)

Separately, Russia’s FSB security service claimed it had killed a group of armed saboteurs from Ukraine that attempted to cross into the Bryansk region carrying “improvised explosive devices”.

A video released by the FSB showed several bloodied bodies sprawled on the ground, wearing winter camouflage and carrying guns. (Watch Video Here)

There was no immediate comment from Kyiv.

The attacks came 10 months into Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine where Russian troops have been battering the country’s energy grid, leaving millions in the cold and dark in the middle of winter.

Ukraine on Monday urged the exclusion of Russia — a permanent member of the UN Security Council — from the world body. (Watch Video Here)

“Ukraine calls on the member states of the UN… to deprive the Russian Federation of its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and to exclude it from the UN as a whole,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

‘Unite the Russian people’

“We have a very simple question: Does Russia have the right to remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council and to be in the United Nations at all?” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Sunday.

“We have a convincing and reasoned answer — no, it does not.” (Watch Video Here)

The five permanent members of the 15-seat Security Council have veto power that can block any resolution.

Despite mounting human and material losses and growing international isolation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has showed no readiness to change tactics.

On Sunday, Putin said his assault on Ukraine aimed to “unite the Russian people”, accusing his country’s “geopolitical opponents (of) aiming to tear apart Russia, the historical Russia”. (Watch Video Here)

The Kremlin chief has reiterated the concept of “historical Russia” to argue that Ukrainians and Russians were one people.

“Divide and conquer, that’s what they have always sought to accomplish and are still seeking to do,” Putin said in a television interview, referring to the West.

“But our goal is different: it’s to unite the Russian people.”

He said that Moscow was ready to negotiate and appeared unfazed when asked about a new air defence system the United States will deliver to Ukraine. (Watch Video Here)

“Of course we will destroy it, 100 percent!” Putin said, referring to the Patriot missile battery promised to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky last week earned firm pledges of support from Washington during his first trip out of Ukraine since the conflict began — including the Pentagon’s most advanced air defence system.

Western military and financial aid has been crucial for Ukraine’s pushback of Russian troops — including from the southern city of Kherson, the only regional capital that was held by Russia.

Despite Russia’s retreat from the city, it remains within reach of Moscow’s weaponry and under constant threat



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Three killed as ukrainian drone drowns in Russian base.

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Russian air defence troops downed a Ukrainian drone as it approached an air base in southern Russia and three people died after being struck by debris, Russian news agencies said Monday.

It was the second attack on the Engels base this month. Engels, in the southern Saratov region, lies more than 600 kilometres (370 miles) from Ukraine. (Watch Video Here)

“On December 26, at around 01:35 Moscow time (2235 GMT), a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down at low altitude while approaching the Engels military airfield in the Saratov region,” the TASS news agency reported, quoting the defence ministry.

“As a result of the fall of the wreckage of the drone, three Russian technical servicemen who were at the airfield were fatally injured.”

The defence ministry said no planes were damaged.

Saratov governor Roman Busargin said there was “absolutely no threat” to local residents, adding that no civilian infrastructure had been damaged. (Watch Video Here)

He warned locals against spreading “fake information”, citing Russia’s strict laws adopted in the wake of its Ukraine offensive at the end of February.

“All stories about the evacuation from the city are blatant lies, created far from the borders of our country,” he said.

On December 5, Moscow said Ukrainian drones had caused explosions at the Engels airfield and another base in the Ryazan region. (Watch Video Here)

Kyiv had not yet commented on the incident.

Russia has blamed Ukraine for drone attacks on its territory and on Moscow-annexed Crimea before.

In late October, Russia blamed Ukraine for a “massive” drone attack on its Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol. (Watch Video Here)

But the Engels attack was the deepest reported strike into Russian territory since fighting began.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has used the concept of “historical Russia” to argue that Ukrainians and Russians are one people — undermining Kyiv’s sovereignty and justifying his 10-month offensive in Ukraine. (Watch Video Here)

He said Russia’s “geopolitical opponents (were) aiming to tear apart Russia, the historical Russia”.


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Russia’s long-range air force to get new hypersonic missiles: Interfax

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Russia’s long-range air forces are set to receive a new wing-borne hypersonic missile, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing the force’s (Watch Video Here) commanding officer.

“In the interests of long-range aviation, the development and supply of the entire range of aviation weapons, including new cruise hypersonic missiles, is being carried out,” Interfax cited the commander, Sergei Kobylash, as saying in an interview with the Russian Defense Ministry’s newspaper.

Russia’s fleet of long-range bombers is part of its nuclear triad and is capable of launching both nuclear and conventional missiles. (Watch Video Here)



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