Moment Russian plane carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war appears to crash
Ukraine has claimed they have hit an airfield in Russia-occupied Crimea, as Putin prepares to visit NATO member Turkey.
In a post on Telegram, Ukraine’s Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk said Ukraine hit Belbek airfield on the southwestern tip of the Crimea Peninsula.
He thanked the military for conducting the operation which took place near Russia’s main naval base at Sevastopol.
Moscow said it thwarted the attack by shooting down 20 Ukrainian missiles but some debris had hit a military installation but caused no damage to aviation equipment.
It comes as a Turkish official confirmed that Russian president Vladimir Putin will visit the country in February to meet his counterpart Tayyip Erdogan.
It will be the Russian leader’s first trip to a NATO ally since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Turkey, which shares a maritime border with both Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has sought to maintain good ties with both nations since Moscow’s full-scale invasion.
It has provided military support to Kyiv and voiced support for its territorial integrity, but also opposes sanctions on Russia.
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Athena Stavrou1 February 2024 06:00
Ukraine’s ground commander declined offer to replace his boss as army chief
Ukraine‘s ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi was offered the job of replacing his boss Valeriy Zaluzhnyi as commander of the armed forces, but declined, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
Ukrainian media reported that President Volodymyr Zelensky asked General Zaluzhnyi, head of the Ukrainian army, to step aside this week, but that he refused.
The source, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, was unable to say exactly how or when the job offer was communicated to Syrskyi.
Zaluzhnyi is seen as a hero to many in Ukraine after his troops successfully defended Kyiv against Moscow’s forces at the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion nearly two years ago.
The Ukrainian General Staff and president’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Athena Stavrou1 February 2024 05:00
World Court says Russia discriminated by pushing Russian education in Crimea
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday said Russia had violated the UN anti-discrimination treaty by failing to protect education in the Ukrainian language in Crimea.
Enrolment in education in the Ukrainian language plummeted after Russia in 2014 declared that it had annexed Crimea from Ukraine, the UN’s top court said.
The court did not, however, grant Ukraine the compensation it had demanded from Russia, and rejected other claims of discrimination against ethnic Tatars and Ukrainians after the annexation.
Athena Stavrou1 February 2024 04:00
Full article: Ukraine and Russia exchange hundreds of prisoners of war in first swap after plane crash
“Our people are back. 207 of them. We return them home no matter what,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
“We remember each Ukrainian in captivity. Both warriors and civilians. We must bring all of them back. We are working on it.”
Read the full article below:
Athena Stavrou1 February 2024 03:00
EU will only supply half of promised shells to Ukraine by March
The European Union will fall far short of its target of sending one million artillery shells to Ukraine by March, it said on Wednesday, adding that just over half that number would be delivered by the deadline.
Speaking after an EU defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels, the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said around 52% of the promised rounds would be delivered by March, with the original target to be reached by the end of the year.
The target was set in response to Ukraine‘s need for 155-mm artillery shells, which have become a key element in its fight against Russia’s 2022 invasion as the conflict descends into an intense war of attrition.
“There was some initial inertia, but then once things get set in motion, they can speed up,” Borrell said by way of explanation as to why the EU will not meet its own deadline.
Athena Stavrou1 February 2024 02:00
Senior US official in Ukraine confident Congress will back aid package
A senior US said she was confident that Congress would back a new aid package for Ukraine reflecting broad American support for its war effort.
Ukraine is heavily reliant on support from its Western allies, particularly the United States, to hold its own against Russia’s full-scale invasion, now approaching the two-year mark.
Uncertainty surrounds US economic and military assistance for Ukraine as Congress considers an urgent request from President Joe Biden to approve an additional $61 billion.
The request has been stalled by Republicans’ insistence that it be tied to an unrelated shift in immigration policy.
“Bipartisan support for Ukraine remains strong across the country,” U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told reporters after a day of talks with Ukrainian leaders.
“The American people understand and admire the miracle that Ukraine has already achieved in defending itself against this vicious Russian aggression. They also understand what happens if you continue not only to survive but to thrive.
“I have great confidence that that understanding will be reflected in the vote that the Congress makes on this request from President Biden.”
Athena Stavrou1 February 2024 01:00
Analysis: The rift between Zelensky and Ukraine’s top general comes at a crucial time for Kyiv
It is clear that the country’s president would like to replace his most popular commander but that is proving more difficult than it looks, writes Askold Krushelnycky.
With key Western allies still unable to agree to fresh aid and Russia stepping up both air and ground attacks, the clash has boiled over at a bad time.
Read the full Independent Premium analysis here:
Athena Stavrou1 February 2024 00:01
Anti-war Putin rival Nadezhdin says he has enough signatures to run for president
Russian anti-war presidential candidate Boris Nadezhdin has delivered 105,000 signatures in his support to the Central Election Commission (CEC) – technically enough to challenge incumbent Vladimir Putin in a March election.
However, nobody expects Nadezhdin, 60, to win.
The victory of 71-year-old Putin, who has been in power as either president or prime minister since the end of 1999 and controls all the state’s levers, is widely seen as a foregone conclusion.
In a speech at the CEC, Nadezhdin stressed that the signatures had all been collected inside Russia – in line with the rules – and did not include those gathered abroad.
Election officials will check the authenticity of the signatures submitted by Nadezhdin and other would-be candidates, several of whom have withdrawn from the race in recent days.
He also said that his campaign was entirely funded by what he said were tens of thousands of donations from “ordinary people”.
“Putin committed a fatal error by starting the special military operation (in Ukraine),” Nadezhdin said.
Athena Stavrou31 January 2024 23:00
Russia lawmakers back property confiscations for discrediting army
Russia’s lower house of parliament on Wednesday gave its final approval to a law to allow the authorities to confiscate property from people convicted of deliberately spreading fake news about the army.
The State Duma approved the legislation in its third and final reading by 377 out of a possible 450 votes for, none against and no abstentions, according to footage of the session released by the Duma.
is there no law that punishes the rascals who stab our fighters, soldiers and officers in the back? Many of them … have left the country. But how can we influence them?” chairman Vyacheslav Volodin asked lawmakers during the session.
Russia has cracked down on dissent over its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which Moscow calls a special military operation, as the war between the two countries rumbles on.
Several Moscow residents disagreed with the nature of the punishment, but said they thought discrediting the army should carry some form of prosecution.
“Discrediting the army people might be put in jail, or a criminal case opened against them. But not having their property stripped – a person might have saved up for his property for years or decades,” said Nikita, who gave only his first name.
Athena Stavrou31 January 2024 22:00
World Court dismisses much of Ukraine’s case against Russia
Judges at the top UN court ruled that Russia violated elements of a UN.anti-terrorism treaty, but declined to rule on allegations brought by Kyiv that Moscow was responsible for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.
In the same ruling, judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Russia had breached an anti-discrimination treaty by failing to support Ukrainian language education in Crimea after its 2014 annexation of the peninsula.
The decisions were a legal setback for Kyiv. The court rejected Ukraine‘s requests to order reparations for both violations and only ordered Russia to comply with the treaties.
Ukraine had filed the lawsuit at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, in 2017, accusing Russia of violating an anti-terrorism treaty by funding pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
The court’s judges said Moscow violated the U.N.’s anti-terrorism treaty by not investigating plausible allegations that some funds were sent from Russia to Ukraine to possibly fund terrorist activities.
The 16-judge panel ordered Russia to investigate any plausible allegations of terrorism financing but turned down a request by Kyiv for reparations.
Athena Stavrou31 January 2024 21:46