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Putin sends girl who drew anti-war picture to orphanage

A 12-year-old Russian girl has been sent to an orphanage after she drew an anti-war picture at school, reports say.

Masha Moskaleva’s drawing featured both the Ukrainian and Russian flags, emblazoned with the words “No to war” and “Glory to Ukraine”, and a woman shielding her child from Moscow’s missiles.

Independent rights watchdog OVD-Info said that the teenager’s art teacher reported her work to the school’s headteacher, who then alerted Russian authorities.

Local law enforcement in the town of Yefremov in the Tula region, south of Moscow, took action in April 2022, charging her father Alexei Moskalev, 53, with “discrediting” the Russian army for an anti-war comment he wrote on social media platform Odnoklassniki, OVD-Info said.

His daughter, who was left home alone after her father’s eventual arrest on Wednesday, was taken to a foster care facility in Yefremov, according to the watchdog.

It comes as Russia’s defence ministry claims its forces have repelled what it described as a massive drone attack on Crimea by Ukrainian forces.

Table of Contents

Key Points

  • Russia says it repelled ‘massive Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea’

  • Putin bans Russian officials from using foreign words: ‘Degenerate West’

  • Bakhmut and other frontlines a ‘grinding slog’, says US

  • Putin’s forces unlikely to make major gains in Ukraine this year, says US official

  • Russia likely out of drones, will seek resupply – MoD

Putin sends girl who drew anti-war picture to orphanage

16:17 , Emily Atkinson

A 12-year-old Russian girl has been sent to an orphanage after she drew an anti-war picture at school, reports say.

Masha Moskaleva’s drawing featured both the Ukrainian and Russian flags, emblazoned with the words “No to war” and “Glory to Ukraine”, and a woman shielding her child from Moscow’s missiles.

Independent rights watchdog OVD-Info said that the teenager’s art teacher reported her work to the school’s headteacher, who then alerted Russian authorities.

Local law enforcement in the town of Yefremov in the Tula region, south of Moscow, took action in April 2022, charging her father Alexei Moskalev, 53, with “discrediting” the Russian army for an anti-war comment he wrote on social media platform Odnoklassniki, OVD-Info said.

His daughter, who was left home alone after her father’s eventual arrest on Wednesday, was taken to a foster care facility in Yefremov, according to the watchdog.

Zelensky likens Russian attacks to Jewish massacre of WWII

18:14 , Jane Dalton

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has likened Russia’s actions in the war to one of the deadliest single operations against Jews during the Holocaust in the second world war.

Over two days in 1941, more than 33,000 Jewish people were murdered at Babi Yar in Kyiv.

Posting a photo of Russian missiles in the capital a year ago, he recalled the wartime tragedy and wrote: “On March 1, 2022, this Russian crime was committed – against history, against humanity, against Kyiv and Ukraine.”

He added: “We will hold the terrorist state fully accountable for its genocidal war. Every murderer, terrorist and torturer will be brought to justice. Historical justice will be restored.”

Lavrov to tell G20 world is ‘on brink of disaster’ and rip into US at Delhi gathering

17:53 , Eleanor Noyce

The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will condemn the “destructive policy” of the United States and its allies at a meeting of G20 foreign ministers as the year-long Russian war in Ukraine casts a shadow over the summit in Delhi.

Mr Lavrov will focus on “attempts by the West to take revenge for the inevitable disappearance of the levers of dominance from its hands”, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Germany has pledged to counter Russian “propaganda” at the two-day foreign minister’s gathering which started on Wednesday. Foreign ministers and delegations from 40 countries have gathered in India’s capital for the summit.

While host countries can extend invitations to non-member countries such as Ukraine, India has not called on Kyiv to attend – but has invited nine guest nations: Bangladesh, Egypt, Netherlands, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the UAE.

Read more:

Lavrov to use G20 summit to rip into ‘destructive’ US over Ukraine

Lavrov holds talks with Indian and Chinese ministers

17:15 , Jane Dalton

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has held talks with his Indian counterpart, a day before attending the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in India, which has kept a largely neutral stance on Russia’s war.

India has declined to blame Russia, seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply boosting its purchases of Russian oil.

Besides meeting Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Mr Lavrov also held talks with counterparts from Turkey, South Africa and Brazil, a senior Indian diplomat said.

He is due to meet Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang later.

Images capture civilian volunteers taking position in a suburb of Kyiv

16:10 , Emily Atkinson

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

Putin ally moves to up jail time for insulting the army

15:40 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s top lawmaker said on Wednesday he was introducing amendments to a wartime censorship law that would increase the maximum penalty for discrediting the army from five to 15 years in jail and extend the law to cover the Wagner mercenary force.

Moscow introduced sweeping censorship laws shortly after ordering tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine a year ago.

“Discrediting” the army can currently be punished by up to five years in prison, while spreading knowingly false information about it can attract a 15-year jail sentence.

Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said on Wednesday his amendments would toughen the law and bring in a maximum punishment of 15 years in jail for both offences.

“This initiative will protect everyone who today is risking their lives to ensures the security of the country and our citizens”, Volodin, a close ally of President Putin, wrote on Telegram. “The punishment for violators will be severe.”

His proposals envisage fines of up to five million roubles, correctional or forced labour of up to five years, or imprisonment up to 15 years.

Russia ‘will not rejoin nuclear treaty unless US changes Ukraine stance’

15:10 , Emily Atkinson

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday that Moscow would not review its suspension of the New START nuclear arms treaty with the United States until it changed its policy on Ukraine, Interfax reported.

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President Vladimir Putin last week announced that Moscow was suspending its participation in the deal, accusing the United States of trying to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia in Ukraine. He signed the suspension into law on Tuesday.

Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying: “Until the United States changes its behavior, until we see signs of common sense in what they are doing in relation to Ukraine … we see no chance for the decision to suspend New START to be reviewed or re-examined”.

Germany’s Scholz promises ramping up of ammunition production

14:29 , Emily Atkinson

Germany will ramp up ammunition production while ensuring it has enough replacement parts and repairs capacity in its defence industry after one year of providing military support to Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday.

“This will remain an ongoing task because we have said that we will support Ukraine for as long as necessary,” Scholz said in Berlin following a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins.

China and Belarus leaders call for ceasefire

13:40 , Jane Dalton

The presidents of China and Belarus have jointly urged a ceasefire and negotiations to bring about a political settlement to the war.

It amounted to an endorsement of a Chinese 12-point peace proposal issued on Friday that calls for the territorial integrity of all countries to be respected.

From AP:

China, Belarus presidents call for Ukraine cease-fire, talks

Uncrowned queen of Russia: Putin ‘funnels millions by buying largest apartment in Russia for gymnast lover’

13:20 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin bought his gymnast lover the largest apartment in Russia and a wooden mansion deep in the countryside, according to an investigation.

A report by Project, a Russian opposition website banned by the Kremlin, alleged that Putin, 70, funnelled millions in illicit funds into properties for his 39-year-old girlfriend Alina Kabaeva.

Ms Kabaeva, who has been called “the uncrowned queen of Russia”, is believed to have been in a relationship with the Russian president since the early 2000s, including while he was still married.

Martha McHardy has the details:

Putin ‘funnels millions by buying largest apartment in Russia for gymnast lover’

Watch: Multiple armoured Russian vehicles destroyed in battle near Maryinka

12:50 , Emily Atkinson

Argentina wants Ukraine war to end, says foreign minister

12:20 , Emily Atkinson

Argentina’s foreign minister Santiago Cafiero said Tuesday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must stop and has not only destabilized peace but also impacted prices in his country.

“Latin America is a zone of peace, the most densely populated zone of peace,” Cafiero told The Associated Press in an interview. “And we have no military developments and no military infrastructure to participate in a war that we demand should be finished and should not continue.”

He said that Argentina had condemned Russia’s invasion from the onset “because Argentina believes that the principle of territorial integrity was violated by Russia. Argentina has always had the same message at international forums.”

“What we need is peace and escalation will only destroy — especially when it comes to creating lasting peace,” he said.

 (EPA)

(EPA)

Independent TV releases first feature-length documentary The Body in the Woods

12:05 , Emily Atkinson

Independent TV has released The Body in the Woods, a new feature-length documentary from International Correspondent Bel Trew, which delves into Ukraine’s unprecedented search for its missing and dead in the middle of Europe’s bloodiest war in generations.

It comes as the world marks one year since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. The 40-minute documentary, from the new TV and documentary team at The Independent, opens with the discovery of a body of a young man found bound, shot and burned beside an abandoned Russian camp in the woods outside Kyiv.

Following today’s release, viewers are now able to watch it online at the Independent TV hub (independent.tv), on The Independent’s new smart TV app, and on the Independent mobile app.

More information on how you can watch our new documentary can be found here:

Independent TV releases first feature-length documentary The Body in the Woods

Russia says it repelled ‘massive Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea’

11:50 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s defence ministry claims its forces have repelled what it described as a massive drone attack on Crimea by Ukrainian forces and that there were no casualties, Russian news agencies reported.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv demands that Moscow hand it back.

ICYMI | Drone crash near Moscow a ‘failed attack on civilian infrastructure’

11:20 , Emily Atkinson

A drone that crashed in the Moscow region was likely a failed attempt to target civilian infrastructure, according to the regional governor.

The drone crashed near a natural gas distribution station – owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom –near the town of Kolomna, around 110km (70 miles) southeast of Moscow, on Tuesday.

A spate of drone attacks prompted Vladimir Putin to order that the Russian border with Ukraine be tightened.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for attacks inside Russia.

Posting to Telegram on Tuesday, governor Andrei Vorobyov said the target of the drone in Kolomna “was probably a civilian infrastructure facility, which was not damaged.”

“There are no casualties or damage on the ground. The FSB (Russian security service) and other competent authorities are investigating,” he added.

Lavrov talks security and trade issues with Indian counterpart

10:50 , Emily Atkinson

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi on Wednesday, a day before attending the G20 foreign ministers meeting, Indian and Russian officials said.

The two ministers assessed the current security situation in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and ironed out issues on the use of local currencies for settling trade, said a senior Russian official.

Lavrov is scheduled to meet his Chinese, Bangladeshi and South African counterparts later on Wednesday, the official added.

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

“We will urge our constructive colleagues in the G20 to convert to national currencies, to align clearing and settlement mechanisms, and to create independent insurance plans and transport routes,” the Russian embassy in New Delhi said in a statement ahead of the meetings.

“We will describe in detail Russia’s actions to reduce these threats and diversify foreign economic ties and logistics corridors.”

India has refused to blame Moscow for the Ukraine conflict, while seeking a diplomatic solution and sharply boosting its purchases of Russian oil.

Putin bans Russian officials from using foreign words: ‘Degenerate West’

10:20 , Emily Atkinson

Russian government officials will be banned from using most foreign words while carrying out their duties under plans drawn up by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Putin made an amendment to a 2005 law designed to protect and support the status of the Russian language.

Officials will not be allowed to use words and expressions “that do not correspondent to norms of modern Russia,” the Russian government’s website said.

Matt Mathers reports:

Putin bans Russian officials from using foreign words: ‘Degenerate West’

Hungary’s President urges lawmakers to ratify Nordic Nato entry

09:50 , Emily Atkinson

Hungarian President Katalin Novak urged lawmakers on Wednesday to ratify Finland and Sweden’s Nato entry “as soon as possible” as deputies started debating the motions after months of the bills being stranded in parliament.

“It is a complex decision, with serious consequences, so careful consideration is necessary,” Novak said on Facebook.

“My position is clear-cut: in the present situation, the accession of Sweden and Finland is justified. I trust the National Assembly will make a wise decision as soon as possible!”

In pictures: Ukraine’s army plan tactics with foreign instructors in Kharkiv

09:20 , Emily Atkinson

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Finnish parliament expected to ratify Nato’s founding treaties

08:50 , Emily Atkinson

The Finnish parliament is expected to ratify Nato’s founding treaties today to allow the country to eventually become a member of the military alliance.

Hungary’s parliament will start also start debating the ratification of Finland and Sweden’s Nato membership on Wednesday.

In November, prime minister Viktor Orban said that his nationalist government had already decided to support the Nordic countries’ Nato accession.

What do we know about today’s G20 meeting in India?

08:20 , Emily Atkinson

The G20 meeting will be attended by 40 delegations including prime minister Rishi Sunak, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang.

After a welcome dinner later on Wednesday, discussions will be held on Thursday.

G20 includes the wealthy G7 nations as well as Russia, China, India, Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia, among other nations.

The meeting comes days after a meeting of finance chiefs of G20 countries in Bengaluru which was overshadowed by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Latest images from Izium, where Kyiv believes more than a thousand people were killed by Russian forces

07:50 , Emily Atkinson

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

(Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Russia-Ukraine conflict ‘to be an important point of G20 discussion’

07:25 , Emily Atkinson

The Russia-Ukraine conflict will be an important point of discussion when the foreign ministers from around the world meet during Thursday’s G20 gathering in New Delhi, India’s foreign secretary said.

Top diplomat Vinay Kwatra told reporters on Wednesday that it was equally important to focus on the impact of the Ukraine conflict on the world and challenges it poses to developing countries.

Watch: Ukrainian forces demobilise Russian tanks near Donetsk frontline

07:00 , Emily Atkinson

Russia likely out of drones, will seek resupply – MoD

06:41 , Arpan Rai

Russia has likely run down its current stock of drones and will ask for fresh supplies from its allies, the British defence ministry has assessed.

The ministry pointed to the downing of 11 Shahed one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA UAVs) out of 14 launched overnight on Monday.

“Prior to this 26 February attack, there have not been any reports of OWA UAVs being used in Ukraine since around 15 February this year. This decrease in OWA UAV attack tempo likely indicates that Russia has run down its current stock: it will likely seek a resupply,” the MoD said.

It added that due to the vector of the attack, these Shahed-UAVs were highly likely launched from the Bryansk oblast in Russia.

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“Previously, the only observed launch site since mid-December 2022 was from the Krasnodar region, across the Sea of Azov,” it added.

“A second launch site would give the Russians a different axis of attack, closer to Kyiv. This is likely to decrease time in the air over Ukraine and an attempt to further stretch Ukrainian air defences,” the ministry said.

Bakhmut ‘reduced to ruins’

06:14 , Arpan Rai

Russian forces have continued their ground attacks near Bakhmut and made tactical gains within the city yesterday, said the Institute for the Study of War.

Wagner Group-affiliated media outlet RIAFAN posted footage this week showing Wagner fighters walking around northern Bakhmut near the Stupky railway station and “Sady Bakhmuta” garden store, indicating that Wagner has advanced in northern Bakhmut, the US-based think-tank said.

Additionally, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces colonel general Oleksandr Syrsky has said that Wagner, the Russian mercenary group that includes many prison convict recruits, is increasingly committing its best-prepared assault units to offensives in the area.

Journalist Christopher Miller shared another video of Bakhmut amid the continuing onslaught in the grinding war and said that the critical mining city has been reduced to ruins.

“Another video of Bakhmut. This is the east side of the city, across the Bakhmutka river where the Russians have been based. It was a quiet district. There were several churches and the sparkling wine factory. Russia has reduced it to ruins,” he said.

In pictures: Relatives and friends attend the funeral of Vasyl Chepak, a Ukrainian serviceman killed in combat

06:00 , Emily Atkinson

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

 (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

Russian TV and radio hacked amid flurry of drone strikes

05:39 , Arpan Rai

A flurry of drone attacks on Monday night and yesterday morning targeted regions inside Russia along the border with Ukraine and deeper into the country, with one drone crashing just 100 kms (60 miles) away from Moscow, confirmed local Russian authorities.

Regional officials in southern and western Russia reported a string of drone attacks near the border with Ukraine and deep inside the country that resulted in no casualties, as the war with Kyiv trudged on.

It was accompanied by a hacking attack which triggered some Russian regional broadcasters to put out a false warning urging people to take shelter from an incoming missile bombardment, the emergencies ministry said.

Read the full story here:

Flurry of drone strikes hits Russia as TV, radio are hacked

Drone attacks highlight Russia’s vulnerabilities

05:23 , Arpan Rai

Late on Monday four small drones targeted the Russian city of Belgorod, including one that reportedly flew into an apartment window.

Another drone was downed early Tuesday over the neighbouring Bryansk region in western Russia, according to local officials.

On Tuesday, a drone also hit an oil refinery in the southern port of Tuapse in Russia’s Krasnodar region, damaging some equipment but missing oil reservoirs. Some Russian reports identified the aerial vehicle as an Israeli-made Aerostart drone.

Another drone, reportedly a massive Soviet-built jet-powered Tu-141 Strizh, fell into a field in the neighbouring region of Adygea, damaging a farm building.

Russia has blamed this spate of drone strikes on Ukraine. If true, they show an ability to target areas in southern as well as western Russia, and reflect the Ukrainian military’s growing reach.

Read more here:

Drone attacks on Russia underline its vulnerability

Watch: Russia temporarily closes airspace over St Petersburg after ‘unknown object spotted’

05:00 , Emily Atkinson

He left Silicon Valley to fight on the frontline in Ukraine. Now he’s advising Zelensky’s government

04:00 , Emily Atkinson

Andrey Liscovich packed up his life in Silicon Valley and returned to Ukraine at the start of the war, helping source and supply items to fighters on the frontline. One year on, he tells Rachel Sharp how he is now advising the Ukrainian government – and how his life has changed:

He left Silicon Valley to fight in Ukraine. Now he’s advising Zelensky’s government

Putin’s forces unlikely to make major gains in Ukraine this year, says US official

03:42 , Arpan Rai

A senior Pentagon official has said that the US does not expect Russia to make significant territorial gains in the continuing war in Ukraine in the near term.

“You may see small portions of territory change hands in the coming weeks and months. I do not think that there’s anything I see that suggests the Russians can sweep across Ukraine and make significant territorial gains anytime in the next year or so,” Colin Kahl, under secretary of defence for policy, told members of the House of Representatives.

The official described the war’s frontlines as a “grinding slog”.

War in Ukraine may last for another two-three years, says US official

03:41 , Arpan Rai

US under secretary of defence for policy Colin Kahl has said that Washington does not rule out that the war in Ukraine might last for another two to three years in testimony at the US Congress yesterday.

“It is difficult [to predict how long we will need to support Ukraine through the war] as we do not know the exact trajectory of the conflict. The conflict may end in six months, or it may end in two or three years,” the official said.

He added that president Joe Biden will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

The official also added that Ukraine is dependent on assistance from the US and its partners.

Putin signs bill to suspend last nuclear arms pact with US

03:16 , Arpan Rai

Vladimir Putin has signed a bill formally suspending the last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the United States, amid soaring tensions with Washington over Moscow‘s action in Ukraine.

The Russian president had declared the move a week ago in his state-of-the-nation address, saying that Moscow was suspending its participation in the 2010 New START treaty and arguing that Russia can’t accept inspections by the US of its nuclear sites under the pact at a time when Washington and its Nato allies have openly declared Russia’s defeat in Ukraine as their goal.

Both houses of parliament quickly ratified Mr Putin’s bill on the pact’s suspension last week.

Putin signs bill to suspend last nuclear arms pact with US

‘This film is about truth’: Ukrainian officials praise Independent’s first feature-length documentary

03:00 , Emily Atkinson

Senior figures in Ukraine have praised The Independent’s first feature-length documentary, which centres on Kyiv’s unprecedented search for its missing and dead during Russia’s war.

The 40-minute documentary from international correspondent Bel Trew, titled The Body in the Woods, premiered at Kyiv railway station on Saturday, one day after the first anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

In attendance at Saturday’s screening were several prominent Ukrainian officials and some of the families featured in the film, which marks the first in-depth investigation into the scale of the difficulties Ukrainians face trying to find and identify those killed.

Andy Gregory has the story:

Senior Ukrainian officials praise The Independent’s new documentary

Ukraine’s northeastern front could decide new battle lines

02:00 , Emily Atkinson

A tank carrying Ukrainian infantry speeds toward a target position marked with a metal sheet. The soldiers climb down, hurl grenades and unleash a crackle of machine-gun fire. Then they repeat the moves, getting faster with every iteration.

It’s only a drill. But with the sounds of the real war rumbling just seven kilometers (four miles) away, this daily training underscores the high stakes on Ukraine’s northeastern front, where military officials say a much-anticipated Russian offensive has already started, with fighting that could determine the next phase of the conflict.

Time is of the essence here, so speed and cohesion is the goal of the exercises that combine reserve tank and the infantry assault units.

More on this story here:

Ukraine’s northeastern front could decide new battle lines

Watch: Ted Cruz says Volodymyr Zelensky is ‘engaged in theatre’ after Joe Biden visits Ukraine

01:00 , Emily Atkinson

Drone attacks on Russia underline its vulnerability

00:00 , Emily Atkinson

A spate of drone strikes that Russian authorities blamed on Ukraine targeted areas in southern and western Russia, reflecting the Ukrainian military’s growing reach.

While the attacks apparently did not inflict any significant damage, their number and scope posed a new challenge to Russia as the war dragged into a second year. One assault came as close as 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Moscow.

Some observers said the strikes could be a rehearsal for a broader Ukrainian attack on facilities deep inside Russia.

The Associated Press takes a look at drone attacks on Russia, their results and implications:

Drone attacks on Russia underline its vulnerability

No evidence of fraud in weapons to Ukraine, watchdog says

Tuesday 28 February 2023 23:00 , Emily Atkinson

The Pentagon’s inspector general said Tuesday his office has found no evidence yet that any of the billions of dollars in weapons and aid to Ukraine has been lost to corruption or diverted into the wrong hands, but cautioned that those investigations are only in their early stages.

Keeping military aid to Ukraine protected from waste or fraud has become a critical part of keeping support for Ukraine intact in Congress, where some lawmakers have already begun to question why the U.S. is spending so much to help Kyiv.

Robert P. Storch was pressed by House members several times about any fraud findings. He said a number of tips and allegations have come in to a new hotline, but there have been “limited findings” to date, with many reports pending.

No evidence of fraud in weapons to Ukraine, watchdog says

Putin signs bill to suspend last nuclear arms pact with US

Tuesday 28 February 2023 22:00 , Emily Atkinson

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill formally suspending the last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the United States.

Putin had declared a week ago in his state-of-the-nation address that Moscow was suspending its participation in the 2010 New START treaty.

He had charged that Russia can’t accept U.S inspections of its nuclear sites under the pact at a time when Washington and its Nato allies have openly declared Russia’s defeat in Ukraine as their goal.

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Both houses of parliament quickly ratified Putin’s bill on the pact’s suspension last week. On Tuesday, Putin signed it into law, effective immediately. The document says that it’s up to the president to decide whether Moscow could return to the pact.

Putin has emphasized that Moscow was not withdrawing from the pact altogether, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said the country would respect the caps on nuclear weapons set under the treaty and keep notifying the US about test launches of ballistic missiles.

Putin orders tighter security at Russia-Ukraine border after spate of drone attacks

Tuesday 28 February 2023 21:00 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin has ordered that the Russian border with Ukraine be tightened after a spate of drone attacks while Moscow’s forces pushed to encircle the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Taking Bakhmut, the scene of some of the war’s fierecest, would be Russia‘s first major prize in more than six months and open the way to seizing bigger cities in the Donetsk region, one of four regions Moscow seeks to control. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has sid the situation in Bakhmut is becoming “more and more difficult”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the FSB security service on Tuesday to bolster security in the four regions, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – currently only partially controlled by his forces – and also to counter what he described as growing espionage and sabotage operations against Russia by Ukraine and the West.

Chris Stevenson reports:

Putin orders tighter security at Russia-Ukraine border after spate of drone attacks

Trump mocked after revealing his plan to end Ukraine war: ‘Knock heads and get it done’

Tuesday 28 February 2023 20:40 , Emily Atkinson

Critics have mocked former President Donald Trump after he suggested that the solution to the war in Ukraine would be to “get people in a room” and “knock heads.”

Mr Trump made the comments on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, in a radio conversation with host Glenn Beck.

“The saddest part about the war is that this is a war that should’ve never happened, right, okay?” the 45th president said. “So now it happened. Now you have to get people in a room. You have to knock heads and you have to get it done.

Sheila Flynn reports:

Donald Trump mocked after sharing his plan to end Ukraine war: ‘Knock heads’

Russia bans government officials from using most foreign words

Tuesday 28 February 2023 20:10 , Emily Atkinson

Russian government officials will be banned from using most foreign words when carrying out their duties, according to an amended law on the formal use of Russian that president Vladimir Putin signed on Tuesday.

Since launching the invasion of Ukraine a year ago, Putin has said he wants to protect Russia from what he calls a degenerate West that he alleges is trying to destroy the country.

The amendments to the 2005 law are designed to protect and support the status of Russian, according to a text posted on the government’s website.

“When using Russian as the state language of the Russian Federation, it is not allowed to use words and expressions that do not correspond to the norms of modern Russian … with the exception of foreign words which do not have widely-used corresponding equivalents in Russian,” says the text.

A list of foreign-based words that can still be used will be published separately. The amendments do not mention any punishments for those who fail to respect the updated law.

Vladimir Putin gives Steven Seagal ‘friendship’ award

Tuesday 28 February 2023 19:40 , Emily Atkinson

Russian President Vladimir Putin has handed actor Steven Seagal the Order of Friendship award for his “humanitarian work”.

The 70-year-old actor, who also holds Russian citizenship, has reiterated his support for Putin plenty of times in the past. In fact, last year, a birthday dinner was held in his honour in Moscow.

The awarding of the Order of Friendship was announced on the Russian government’s internet portal over the weekend.

Peony Hirwani reports:

Vladimir Putin hands Steven Seagal Russia’s Order of Friendship award

ICC’s top prosecutor in Ukraine to probe Russian attacks on power grid

Tuesday 28 February 2023 19:10 , Emily Atkinson

The International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor was in Ukraine on Tuesday to investigate Russia’s campaign of missile and drone attacks on power and other infrastructure that killed hundreds of civilians and left millions with no electricity or water.

Russia says they are legitimate strikes aimed at weakening the enemy’s military, but Ukraine casts them as a means of intimidating ordinary people.

The Geneva conventions and additional protocols shaped by international courts say parties involved in a military conflict must distinguish between “civilian objects and military objectives” and that attacks on civilian objects are forbidden.

“Generally we see clearly a pattern, I think, in terms of the number, scale and breadth of attacks against the power grids of Ukraine and we need to look at why that’s taking place; are they legitimate targets or not?” ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said.

From war crimes, to spies and cyberattacks: Ukraine’s domestic spy chief on fighting Russia across all fronts

Tuesday 28 February 2023 18:40 , Emily Atkinson

The head of the security service of Ukraine speaks to Bel Trew from Kyiv about how Moscow ‘will never break us down:

‘They won’t break us’ Ukraine’s domestic spy chief on fighting Russia on all fronts

Watch: Ukrainian flags fly at military cemetery in Dnipro honouring fallen soldiers

Tuesday 28 February 2023 18:05 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine frontline ‘a grinding slog’, says US under secretary for defence policy

Tuesday 28 February 2023 17:34 , Emily Atkinson

Colin Kahl, the US under-secretary of defence for policy, described the front line in Ukraine on Tuesday as a “grinding slog” and said he did not expect Russia to be able to make significant territorial gains in the near term.

“So you may see small portions of territory change hands in the coming weeks and months. I do not think that there’s anything I see that suggests the Russians can sweep across Ukraine and make significant territorial gains anytime in the next year or so,” Kahl told a House of Representatives hearing.

US partners ‘share concern China considering lethal aid for Russia’s war’

Tuesday 28 February 2023 16:59 , Emily Atkinson

The top US diplomat for East Asia Daniel Kritenbrink says the United States has shared its concerns that China is considering providing lethal assistance to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Kritenbrink made the remark at a US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on China.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said earlier that if China provides lethal aid to Moscow for the conflict it will be a serious problem Beijing in its relationship with countries around the world.

Ukraine urges UN and Turkey to start talks to extend grain deal

Tuesday 28 February 2023 16:23 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine has sent an appeal to the UN and Turkey to start negotiations on extending a grain export deal, but there has been no response, a Ukrainian government source said on Tuesday.

Yuriy Vaskov, Ukraine‘s deputy minister of restoration, told Reuters last week that Kyiv would ask all sides to start talks to roll over the deal, seeking an extension of at least one year that would include the ports of Mykolaiv.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the UN and Turkey last July allowed grain to be exported from three Ukrainian ports. The agreement was extended in November and will expire on March 18 unless an extension is agreed.

“We have sent a letter requesting that we start dealing with this issue as March 18 is very soon, but we have not had any feedback so far,” a source said.

Belarus official says claim activists blew up Russian spy plane near Minsk is fake

Tuesday 28 February 2023 15:52 , Emily Atkinson

A senior Belarusian official on Tuesday dismissed as fake a claim by anti-government activists that they had blown up a Russian military surveillance aircraft in a weekend drone attack on an airfield outside the Belarusian capital Minsk.

Aliaksandr Azarov, leader of Belarusian anti-government organization BYPOL, was quoted on Sunday as saying that Belarusian “partisans” had used drones to carry out the attack on a Russian Beriev A-50 spy plane.

He did not provide immediate evidence to back his assertion.

“Given the absence of an official reaction, I am deeply convinced that this is another fake (claim) aimed at highlighting certain failures in our national security,” Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Ambrazevich told Reuters on the sidelines of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday.

Flurry of drone strikes hits Russia as TV, radio are hacked

Tuesday 28 February 2023 15:00 , Emily Atkinson

Regional officials in southern and western Russia reported a string of drone attacks near the border with Ukraine and deep inside the country that resulted in no casualties, as the war with Kyiv trudged on Tuesday.

At the same time, the hacking of Russian TV channels and radio stations as well as the temporary closure of St. Petersburg’s airport fed suspicion that Kyiv could be behind the disruption.

A flurry of drone attacks on Monday night and Tuesday morning targeted regions inside Russia along the border with Ukraine and deeper into the country, with one drone crashing just 100 kilometers (60 miles) away from Moscow, according to local Russian authorities.

Read our report in full here:

Flurry of drone strikes hits Russia as TV, radio are hacked

Watch: Ukrainian forces demobilise Russian tanks near Donetsk frontline

Tuesday 28 February 2023 14:30 , Emily Atkinson

In pictures: Damage by Russian military strike on Chasiv Yar, Donetsk

Tuesday 28 February 2023 14:00 , Emily Atkinson

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

 (REUTERS)

(REUTERS)

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(REUTERS)

US ‘to target Chinese companies if Beijing provides lethal aid to Russia’

Tuesday 28 February 2023 13:30 , Emily Atkinson

Washington will not hesitate to target Chinese companies and individuals with sanctions if Beijing violates US sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war, secretary of state Antony Blinken has said.

If China provides lethal aid to Moscow for the conflict, it will be a serious problem for Beijing in its relationship with countries around the world, Blinken told reporters during a trip to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Putin tells FSB security service to up its game against Western spy agencies

Tuesday 28 February 2023 12:58 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the FSB security service on Tuesday to step up its activity to counter what he described as growing espionage and sabotage operations against Russia by Ukraine and the West.

In a speech to FSB officials, Putin said the agency had to stop “sabotage groups” entering Russia from Ukraine, step up protection of key infrastructure, and prevent any attempts by Western security services to revive what he called terrorist or extremist cells on Russian territory.

“Western intelligence services have traditionally always been actively working in Russia, and now they have thrown additional personnel, technical and other resources against us. We need to respond accordingly,” Putin said.

He instructed the FSB to prevent illegal weapons flows into Russia, and to strengthen security in four regions of Ukraine that Moscow has partially seized and claimed as part of its own territory, a move most countries do not recognise.

 (via REUTERS)

(via REUTERS)

Belarus official says claim activists blew up Russian spy plane near Minsk is fake

Tuesday 28 February 2023 11:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A senior Belarusian official on Tuesday dismissed as fake a claim by anti-government activists that they had blown up a Russian military surveillance aircraft in a weekend drone attack on an airfield outside the Belarusian capital Minsk.

Aliaksandr Azarov, leader of Belarusian anti-government organization BYPOL, was quoted on Sunday as saying that Belarusian “partisans” had used drones to carry out the attack on a Russian Beriev A-50 spy plane.

He did not provide immediate evidence to back his assertion.

“Given the absence of an official reaction, I am deeply convinced that this is another fake (claim) aimed at highlighting certain failures in our national security,” Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Ambrazevich told Reuters on the sidelines of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday.

Belarus has allowed Russia to use its territory to launch attacks on Ukraine but has refrained so far from getting directly involved in the war.

The A-50 plane has the NATO reporting name of Mainstay and is an airborne early warning aircraft with command and control capabilities and the ability to track up to 60 targets at a time.

Reached by telephone on Monday, Azarov told Reuters the operation, which purportedly caused serious damage to the Russian aircraft, had taken several months to plan and that “partisans” would try to carry out more actions in the future.

BYPOL, his organization, includes former law enforcement officers who support opposition politicians. It has been branded a terrorist organization by Minsk.

The Kremlin has declined to comment on the alleged attack.

China ‘very clearly’ have taken sides in the Ukraine-Russia war, US spokesperson says

Tuesday 28 February 2023 11:29 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

China has been accused of “very clearly” taking sides in the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US department of state spokesperson said.

Ned Price told a news briefing: “There are countries around the world that, if they sought to bring this war to an end, would have a significant amount of leverage with the Russian Federation, with other key countries. The People’s Republic of China [PRC] certainly falls within that category.

“But to date, at least, despite the PRC’s protests to the contrary, we have seen them very clearly take a side in this war.”

Moscow says Ukraine launched failed drone attacks on Russian territory overnight

Tuesday 28 February 2023 11:19 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s defence ministry on Tuesday accused Ukraine of launching attempted drone strikes against civil infrastructure targets in two southern Russian regions overnight, but said the attacks had failed.

There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian authorities.

“Overnight, the Kyiv authorities attempted to use unmanned aerial vehicles to attack civilian infrastructure facilities in the Krasnodar and Adygea regions,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

It said its anti-drone defence systems had repelled the attacks, causing the drones to veer off course and fail to inflict any damage.

“Both drones lost control and deviated from their flight paths. One fell into a field, the other, deviating from its trajectory, did not harm the intended target,” it said.

Russian state news agencies had earlier reported a fire at an oil depot in the Krasnodar region, around 240 km (149 miles) south-east of the Crimean peninsula, after a drone was spotted flying overhead.

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