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Ukraine Russia war – live: Putin chemotherapy rumour in Pentagon documents as leak suspect arrested

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A suspect in the leak of classified military intelligence in the US has been arrested, as one set of the documents was found to include a rumour that Russian president Vladimir Putin is undergoing chemotherapy.

The FBI confirmed it has “made an arrest and is continuing to conduct authorized law enforcement activity at a residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts,” amid a media report a suspect in the leak of classified has been identified.

Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, has been identified by investigators, senior law enforcement sources told The New York Times and Washington Post.

Hundreds of pages of classified military intelligence have been shared with an online gaming group before becoming public in a string of disclosures last week, including those covering Ukraine and Russia.

One set of papers, labelled as “Top Secret”, said some in Mr Putin’s inner circle were planning to “sabotage” the president by diverting military resources to southern Ukraine while he undergoes chemotherapy.

The papers do not specify what alleged medical condition Mr Putin has but there have been longstanding rumours that the he has cancer.

Key Points

  • Biden says Pentagon leak probe ‘close to answers’

  • Poland asks for approval to send fighter jets to Ukraine

  • Kherson residents detail abuses in ‘deadly Russian torture chamber’

  • Zelensky says Ukraine ‘living through a storm of emotions’ after beheading video

  • Ukraine rejects Wagner’s claims on Bakhmut

Biden breaks silence on leaked Pentagon documents

14:41 , Liam James

President Joe Biden said while he was concerned that sensitive government documents had been leaked, “there’s nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence” (Darlene Superville writes).

It was the first time Mr Biden has commented publicly about the release of Pentagon documents that were posted on several social media sites. They appear to detail US and Nato aid to Ukraine and US intelligence assessments regarding US allies that could strain ties with those nations. The Justice Department has opened an investigation.

Mr Biden noted there was a “full-blown” investigation going on with the intelligence community and the Justice Department. “We’re getting close,” he said on answers. “But I don’t have an answer.”

Biden breaks silence on leaked Pentagon documents

US thinks UN chief too accommodating to Russia, leaked files suggest

04:41 , Sravasti Dasgupta

The US believes that UN secretary general Antonio Guterres is too willing to accommodate Russian interests, according to fresh revelations in leaked classified documents.

The documents suggest that the US has been closely monitoring the secretary general, reported BBC.

They also describe private communications involving Mr Guterres and his deputy as well as candid observations about the war in Ukraine and a number of African leaders.

“Guterres emphasised his efforts to improve Russia’s ability to export,” the document says of the Black Sea Grain deal brokered by the UN and Turkey that was brokered in July amid fears of a global food crisis.

“Even if that involves sanctioned Russian entities or individuals,” the document adds.

Mr Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that the secretary general is not surprised that he was being spied on.

“The Secretary-General has been at this job, and in the public eye, for a long time,” he was quoted as saying.“He’s not surprised by the fact that people are spying on him and listening in on his private conversations. What is surprising is the malfeasance or incompetence that allows for such private conversations to be distorted and become public.”

Surrounded by UN security, UN Sec General, Antonio Guterres, arrives in Mogadishu Tuesday April 11, 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

US, EU, UK brief finance chiefs on sanctions evasion

03:00 , Liam James

Senior officials from the United States, Europe and Britain met representatives of financial institutions to brief them on efforts by Russia to evade Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine, a senior US Treasury official told reporters.

The firms indicated they were working hard to prevent Russian efforts to evade sanctions and export controls, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Western countries are ratcheting up their efforts to crack down on sanctions evasion efforts, the official said, noting Moscow was in a critical period where it needed not only weapons and electronics, but also smaller components to make ammunition.

02:00 , Liam James

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Thursday welcomed the “continuous, ironclad and unprecedented support” of the United States as his country fights Russia‘s invasion, and underscored Ukraine’s commitment to battling corruption.

Shmyhal, speaking alongside US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, said it was critically important for Ukraine to begin reconstruction this year, and said Kyiv had identified a priority funding gap of $14bn needed this year.

Ms Yellen, who paid a surprise visit to Kyiv in February, told Shmyhal she had seen “firsthand the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian military and people,” recounting a visit to a school damaged by Russian attacks where community members were making trench candles to send to the front lines.

She said the United States had stood with Ukraine since the first day of the war, and would continue to back it “for as long as it takes.”

The United States had disbursed significant economic support since the start of the war and would provide more in coming months, on top of security and humanitarian aid, she said.

Jack Teixeira arrest: In pictures

00:30 , Liam James

FBI agents descended on the small town of Dighton, Massachussetts this afternoon to arrest a suspect in the investigation into a massive leak of sensitive government documents.

Jack Teixeira, the suspect, was detained.

FBI agents arrest Jack Teixeira, an employee of the US Air Force National Guard (Reuters)
Teixeira was detained in North Dighton, Massachusetts (Reuters)
Police stand guard in Dighton (AP)

Pentagon leaks: Armed FBI agents arrest Air National Guardsmen over ‘deliberate criminal’ leaks

23:35 , Liam James

Graeme Massie brings full coverage of Jack Teixeira’s arrest:

Armed FBI officers arrested a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard over the alleged leak of classified military intelligence online.

Authorities raided the Massachusetts home of 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, who worked in cyber security for the Guard and took him into custody without incident on Thursday.

Armed FBI agents arrest Air National Guardsmen over ‘deliberate criminal’ leaks

All we know about the 21-year-old National Guardsman suspected of leaking secret Pentagon documents

22:23 , Sam Rkaina

A Facebook post last July from the 102nd Intelligence Wing, which is based at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, congratulated someone by the name of Jack Teixeira for promotion to airman first class, reported The Washington Post.

The US intelligence community has been racing to track down the person who leaked scores of highly-classified documents online about the Ukraine war, and much else, a week after their existence was first revealed.

The so-called “Pentagon Papers”, widely shared and leaving many in Washington ashen-faced with embarrassment, have yet to be officially authenticated but appear to contain details on deeply sensitive matters pertaining to national security and foreign affairs.

The slides of photographed files that were made public include detailed battlefield maps from Russia’s war in Ukraine and the alarming suggestion that the US believes Kyiv will soon run out of missiles for its air defence systems, in addition to awkward revelations about America’s attitude towards many of its allies around the world, including the UK, South Korea, Egypt, Israel and the UAE.

Precisely how many documents were leaked is not known, with estimates varying from 50 into the hundreds.

Click here for all we know so far.

Leaked Pentagon documents include rumour Putin is undergoing chemotherapy

21:20 , Liam James

Recently leaked documents from the Pentagon include a rumour that Russian President Vladimir Putin is undergoing chemotherapy (Ariana Baio writes).

The papers, labelled as “Top Secret”, also indicate that Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev “devised” a plan to “sabotage” Mr Putin while he undergoes medical treatment.

The papers do not specify what alleged medical condition Mr Putin has that requires chemotherapy but there have been longstanding rumours that the Russian president has cancer.

The source’s name is redacted in the report and claims they received their information from an unidentified Russian source who has access to Kremlin officials.

Click here for the full story:

Leaked Pentagon documents include rumour Putin is undergoing chemotherapy

Full story so far: Armed FBI agents arrest Air National Guardsmen over ‘deliberate criminal’ leaks

20:22 , Sam Rkaina

Armed FBI officers have arrested a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard over the alleged leak of classified military intelligence online.

Authorities raided the Massachusetts home of 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, a member of the Guard’s intelligence wing, on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

Hundreds of pages of classified military intelligence have been shared with an online gaming group before becoming public in a string of disclosures last week.

Click here for the full story so far.

Attorney General confirms suspect’s identity

20:01 , Sam Rkaina

The US attorney general has confirmed that Jack Texeria has been arrested in connection with the Pentagon documents leak.

Footage from the scene shows the 21 year-old being taken away by armed FBI agents.

The Massachusetts Guardsman is to be charged with unauthorized removal of classified national defence information.

Suspect in leak of Pentagon secrets Jack Texeira is arrested by armed FBI agents (CNN)
Ppolice block a road in North Dighton (AP)

FBI at scene of national guardsman’s home

19:49 , Sam Rkaina

FBI agents converged at the Massachusetts home of a member of that state’s Air National Guard, who has emerged as a main person of interest in the disclosure of highly classified military documents on the Ukraine war.

Investigators believe that the guardsman, who specializes in intelligence, led the chat group where the documents were posted, according to the two people, who were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

They identified the guardsman as 21-year-old Jack Teixeira.

Law enforcement officials roped off the street near the home. The New York Times, which first identified Teixeira on Thursday, said that a man who had been standing outside the Teixeira home earlier said that “he needs to get an attorney if things are flowing the way they are going right now. The Feds will be around soon, I’m sure.”

The emergence of Teixeira as the apparent primary suspect is bound to raise questions about how the highest-profile intelligence leak in years, one that continues to unfold with almost daily revelations of highly classified documents, could have been caused by such a young, low-ranking service member.

The Biden administration has scrambled for days to contain the fallout from the leaked information, which has publicized potential vulnerabilities in Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and exposed private assessments by allies on an array of intelligence matters.

The National Guard did not confirm his identity but said in a statement that, “We are aware of the investigation into the alleged role a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman may have played in the recent leak of highly-classified documents.”

Pentagon leak “a deliberate criminal act” as suspect arrested

19:35 , Sam Rkaina

The FBI confirmed it has “made an arrest and is continuing to conduct authorized law enforcement activity at a residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts,” amid a media report a suspect in the leak of classified has been identified.

The leak of classified information was a “deliberate, criminal act,” the Pentagon said at a press briefing tonight.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder referred questions about the investigation to the Department of Justice.

Ryder added the Pentagon had taken steps to review distribution lists and ensure that people receiving information had a need to know.

Ukraine, Romania, Moldova sign Black Sea treaty

19:15 , Liam James

Romania, Ukraine and Moldova signed cooperation agreements in Romania’s capital today after a trilateral meeting on ways to strengthen security in their Black Sea region to counter threats posed by Russian aggression.

The Black Sea Security Conference in Bucharest brought together the three neighbouring countries’ foreign and defence ministers, government officials and international partners.

The aim was to address the wide-ranging impact that Moscow’s war in Ukraine is having on the region.

Nato member Romania’s foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu called Russia “the most direct and serious threat” to the Black Sea region and the Western alliance, and said war-torn Ukraine and embattled Moldova are “essential to our future European security”.

(Left to right) Moldova’s Minister of Defence Anatolie Nosatii, Moldova’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicu Popescu, Romania’s Minister of National Defence Angel Tilvar, Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu, Ukraine’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Emine Dzhaparova, and Ukraine’s Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov after the signing of the treaty (EPA)

Main suspect in Pentagon intelligence leak identified

18:55 , Sam Rkaina

A member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard has been identified by investigators as the main suspect in the leak of classified military intelligence online, according to reports.

Authorities are focussing on 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, a member of the Guard’s intelligence wing, senior law enforcement sources told The New York Times and Washington Post.

Hundreds of pages of classified military intelligence have been shared with an online gaming group before becoming public in a string of disclosures last week.

No arrests or charges have been made in the case and investigators continue to collect evidence and are preparing for a prosecution, according to CNN.

Earlier, Joe Biden told reporters in Dublin, Ireland, that the US government was closing in on the leaker.

Click here for the full story.

Pentagon leaks reveal it’s increasingly hard to keep a secret

18:45 , Liam James

The scale of the leak was enormous – thousands of secret documents, some of the most sensitive and important held by United States intelligence, downloaded and put into the public domain in a huge blow to Western security (Kim Sengupta writes).

Classified information was downloaded from the computers of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) by a civilian private contractor who had been vetted and provided with one of the highest forms of security clearance.

That was Edward Snowden, whose devastating disclosures were made almost exactly 10 years ago.

Now there is another huge security leak, from the Pentagon, almost certainly carried out by another civilian contractor.

Click here for the full story:

Pentagon leaks reveal it’s increasingly hard to keep a secret

Russia may consider prisoner swap with US for jailed journalist, says minister

18:15 , Liam James

Russia may be willing to discuss a potential prisoner swap involving jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich with the US after a court delivers its verdict, a top Russian diplomat said today.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state news agency Tass that talks about a possible exchange could take place through a dedicated channel that Russian and US security agencies established for such purposes.

“We have a working channel that was used in the past to achieve concrete agreements, and these agreements were fulfilled,” Mr Ryabkov said, adding that there was no need for the involvement of any third country.

However, he emphasised that Moscow would only negotiate a possible prisoner exchange after a court delivers its verdict in the espionage case against Mr Gershkovich, 31.

The journalist’s detention was widely expected to be used for leverage in prisoner swap discussions with the US.

Gershkovich has been detained in Russia for weeks (AP)

Russian opposition leader may be ailed with ‘slow poison’

17:45 , Liam James

Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition politician, is grappling with severe stomach pain in jail that could be some sort of slow acting poison, his spokeswoman said on Thursday.

An ambulance was called for Navalny overnight on Friday to Saturday to the maximum security IK-6 penal colony at Melekhovo, about 115 miles east of Moscow, where he is being held. Kira Yarmysh, his spokeswoman, told Reuters.

Mr Navalny was suffering from severe stomach pain, she said, and could not eat the prison food provided to him because it was making his pain worse and since Monday has has been banned from buying alternative food.

Germany approves Polish planes for Ukraine

17:15 , Liam James

Germany has approved Poland’s request to export five old MiG-29 fighter jets to bolster Ukraine’s air power against the Russian invasion, the German defence ministry said just now.

Poland’s defence ministry did not immediately comment.

Get ready ‘for real combat’ President Xi tells Chinese forces

16:45 , Liam James

China’s President Xi Jinping has urged his military to strengthen its readiness for “real combat” following the country’s recent display of force around Taiwan (Maryam Zakir-Hussain writes).

Inspecting his country’s Southern Theatre Command navy he stressed the need to deepen military training and preparation, state media reported.

During his visit, Xi said it was necessary to speed up the transformation and construction of the armed forces and comprehensively raise their level of modernization, CCTV news reported.

Get ready ‘for real combat’ President Xi tells Chinese forces

Nato membership the ‘only option’ for Ukraine, says Kyiv

16:15 , Liam James

Ukraine‘s membership in the Nato military alliance is the only option for the country’s future security, defence minister Oleksi Reznikov said today.

“We need a system of guarantees that would make aggression from Russia impossible,” he told a Black Sea security conference in Bucharest. “There is no alternative to Ukraine‘s accession to Nato.”

Nato says it has an “open-door” policy and expects to admit Ukraine in the future.

Last month Jens Stoltenberg, Nato secretary general, said: “Nato allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a member of our alliance, but at the same time that is a long-term perspective.

“What is at issue now is that Ukraine can prevail as a sovereign independent nation.”

Reznikov at the Black Sea Security Conference today (AFP/Getty)

Pentagon leak linked to young gun enthusiast who worked at military base

15:45 , Liam James

The high-profile Pentagon leak which has exposed hundreds of classified documents, including intel about Russia’s war with Ukraine, has been linked to a gun enthusiast in his early 20s.

The man, who is referred to by the initials OG, is understood to have worked on a military base and shared the cryptic information on an online chat group Discord for fellow gamers and weapon fanatics.

The group was most often known as Thug Shaker Central – a nod to the unsubtle racism in the platform.

The invitation-only chat group made up of roughly two dozen people, mostly men and boys, formed in 2020. It is believed that around half of the members were from countries outside of the US.

Pentagon leak linked to young gun enthusiast who worked at military base

Two killed in Kherson strikes – governor

15:20 , Liam James

Russian artillery and aerial attacks killed two civilians and wounded two more in Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson today, the local governor said.

“The army of the Russian Federation hit Zmiivka in Kherson region with guided aerial bombs, they hit a school and … one person was killed and another was wounded,” Oleksandr Prokudin, the governor, said in a television broadcast.

Another man was killed in the shelling of a park inside the city of Kherson early in the morning and another person was wounded in a village elsewhere in the region, he said.

Ukrainian troops recaptured Kherson last November after nearly eight months of occupation by Russian forces who seized it soon after the start of the invasion.

Poland asks for approval to send fighter jets to Ukraine

14:14 , Liam James

Poland has requested the German government’s approval to export old German MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, a spokesperson for the defence ministry in Berlin said on Thursday.

Germany will take a decision as soon as Thursday, the DPA news agency quoted the defence minister Boris Pistorius as saying.

The defence ministry in Warsaw did not immediately comment.

Poland’s request comes after documents purportedly leaked from the Pentagon said Russia could achieve air superiority in Ukraine as early as next month due to dwindling Ukrainian anti-aircraft supplies.

Slovakia last month said it had sent four MiG jets to Ukraine, following Poland’s announcement that it intended to send planes.

Two MiG 29 fighter jets taking part in the Nato Air Shielding exercise near the air base in Lask, central Poland last year (AFP/Getty)

MSF charity met Russian diplomats to plead for aid access

13:46 , Liam James

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) held talks last month with Russian diplomats in Geneva on providing aid to areas of Ukraine under Russian military control but has yet to be granted access, the medical charity said today.

International aid organisations have been unable to reach large swathes of Ukraine controlled by Russian forces despite calls for Moscow to grant safe passage for aid to be delivered to civilians.

“Our discussion … concerned the areas of Ukraine under Russian military occupation, where we are aware of substantial medical humanitarian needs, including the lack of doctors, nurses and essential medicines,” MSF said in a statement.

“However, our teams have not yet been granted access to these areas. We continue to discuss this, and other points related to impartial medical humanitarian care in Ukraine.”

The Russian diplomatic outpost confirmed that talks had taken place but would not disclose the issues that were raised.

Norway expels 15 Russian ‘intelligence officers’ from embassy

12:39 , Matt Mathers

Norway is expelling 15 Russian embassy officials that the foreign ministry said on Thursday were intelligence officers operating under the cover of diplomatic positions, a move which Moscow said it would respond to.

The expulsions amount to a quarter of Russian diplomats currently accredited in Oslo, the Norwegian government said.

It is the latest instance of a Western nation expelling Russian diplomats since the beginning of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. So far this year, Estonia, the Netherlands and Austria have also expelled Russian diplomats.

Norway also expelled three Russians in April 2022.

“Their activities pose a threat to Norway,” Norwegian foreign minister Anniken Huitfeldt told a news conference.

“We have followed their activities over time. They have increased since the invasion of Ukraine.”

The officers concerned must leave Norway shortly, she added.

The Russian foreign ministry said Moscow would respond to the expulsions, state-owned news agency TASS reported, without elaborating.

Anniken Huitfeldt (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Kremlin names Ukrainian suspect over killing of war blogger

12:11 , Matt Mathers

Russia’s top security agency on Thursday accused a Ukrainian man of involvement in a bombing that killed a well-known Russian military blogger at a St Petersburg cafe.

Vladlen Tatarsky, 40, an ardent supporter of the war in Ukraine who filed regular reports on the fighting from the front lines, was killed on April 2 as he led a discussion at a riverside cafe in the historic heart of St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city.

More than 50 people were injured.

A St Petersburg resident, Darya Trepova, 26, who was seen on video moments before the blast presenting Tatarsky with a statuette that contained explosives, was quickly arrested.

According to Russian media reports, she told investigators she was asked to deliver the statuette but did not know what was inside it.

Russian authorities described the bombing as an act of terrorism and blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for orchestrating it.

Ukrainian authorities have not directly responded to the accusation, but an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the bombing as part of Russia’s internal turmoil.

On Thursday, the Federal Security Service, known under its Russian acronym FSB, said a Ukrainian citizen whom it identified as Yuriy Denysov, had gathered information about the blogger and provided Ms Trepova with explosives delivered via courier service.

People leave flowers near blogger was killed (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Kyiv calls for NATO to secure Black Sea and integrate Ukrainian defences

11:32 , Matt Mathers

NATO should play a bigger role in security in the Black Sea, and integrate Ukrainian air and missile defences with those of its allies, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmitro Kuleba said on Thursday.

“The Black Sea is instrumental for making the whole of Europe peaceful and future-oriented,” Mr Kuleba, speaking via video link, told a Black Sea security conference in the Romanian capital Bucharest.

“Sadly, it is also a showcase of how rapidly things can deteriorate if one neglects threats. It’s time to turn Black Sea into what the Baltic Sea has become, a sea of NATO.”

The Black Sea and its Ukrainian coast have been crucial theatres of war since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Both Moscow and Kyiv rely on the sea for exports including supplying world grain markets.

Dmitro Kuleba (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

‘Russian mine’ explodes near reactor at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant

10:59 , Matt Mathers

A Russian mine has exploded near the reactor room of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Ukraine has said.

Energatom, which runs the country’s power plants, said on Thursday morning that a device detonated at the Zaporizhzhia plant in the southeast.

We’ll have more details on this development as they come in.

Alleged leaks about UK special forces in Ukraine could ‘endanger lives’

10:46 , PA

The chair of the Commons defence select committee has warned allegedly leaked documents about UK special forces in Ukraine could “endanger lives”, Rob Freeman reports.

The Ministry of Defence warned against taking allegations contained in the reported leak of US classified information, which have been published online, at “face value”.

But the committee chair Tobias Ellwood told The Times: “Given our long-established lead in scale and capability when it comes to elite forces, it will come as no surprise that our special forces are doing much of the heavy lifting.

“But this deliberate, large-scale disclosure of sensitive material could easily endanger lives and should prompt an urgent review about who has access to sensitive information and how it is shared.”

Alleged leaks about UK special forces in Ukraine could ‘endanger lives’

What we know about the leaked Pentagon documents on Ukraine

10:27 , Andy Gregory

It’s been less than a week since news of highly classified military documents on the Ukraine war surfaced, sending the Pentagon into full-speed damage control to assure allies and assess the scope of the leak.

Overall, the leaked documents present a “very serious risk to national security,” a top Pentagon spokesman told reporters Monday.

Tara Copp and Nomaan Merchant take a look at what the documents are, what is known about how they surfaced, and their potential impact:

What we know about the leaked Pentagon documents on Ukraine

Putin faces communications challenge as Victory Day parades cancelled, says MoD

10:06 , Andy Gregory

The cancellation of high-profile Victory Day parades in Crimea and several Russian regions bordering Ukraine poses a communications risk for the Kremlin over the true scale of Moscow’s war losses, Britain’s Ministry of Defence has suggested.

“Leaders of several Russian regions bordering Ukraine, as well as occupied Crimea, have announced that their usually high-profile 9 May Victory Day military parades will be cancelled,” the ministry said, citing British intelligence.

“Some Russian cities further away from Ukraine have confirmed they plan to go ahead with Victory Day. The cancelled events have likely primarily been called off because of security concerns near the border, as officials have claimed.

“However, the different approaches highlight a sensitive communications challenge for the Kremlin. Putin couches the ‘special military operation’ in the spirit of the Soviet experience in World War Two.

“The message risks sitting increasingly uneasily with the many Russians who have immediate insights into the mismanaged and failing campaign in Ukraine. Honouring the fallen of previous generations could easily blur into exposing the scope of the recent losses, which the Kremlin attempts to cover up.”

Poland ‘sceptical’ about French attempts to broker Ukraine-Russia talks

09:48 , Andy Gregory

Poland is sceptical about French attempts to organise talks between Ukraine and Russia, Warsaw’s foreign minister has said.

“We are sceptical about French initiatives to lead to some form of talks between Russia and Ukraine,” Zbigniew Rau said in a speech to parliament.

“We do not see any signs that Russia is ready to revise its policy of territorial conquests … the possible result of such talks cannot be any separate guarantees for Russia, apart from the observance of the norms of international law.”

Pentagon leaker ‘is young gun enthusiast who worked on military base’

09:20 , Andy Gregory

The person who leaked a huge trove of classified US documents – impacting Washington’s allies, including Ukraine – is a gun enthusiast in his 20s who worked on a military base, the Washington Post has reported, citing fellow members of an online chat group.

The person shared classified information to a group on the instant messaging platform Discord of about two dozen men and young boys who shared a “mutual love of guns, military gear and God,” according to the paper, which based its report on interviews with two members of the Discord chat group.

The person went by the handle OG and was described by one of the sources as being in his early to mid-20s, and was looked up to by members of the group.

“He’s fit. He’s strong. He’s armed. He’s trained. Just about everything you can expect out of some sort of crazy movie,” said one member of the chat group, who was under 18 and spoke on the condition of anonymity with the permission of his mother.

Kherson residents detail abuses in ‘deadly Russian torture chamber’

08:44 , Andy Gregory

Residents in Kherson – the Ukrainian city held by Russia from March to November – have given harrowing accounts of their suffering in an alleged Russian torture chamber.

Human Rights Watch has spoken to residents who described being electrocuted, subjected to fake executions, and having knives held to their genitals in several facilities in the city, one of which was known as the “hole”.

Former detainees consistently reported similar forms of abuse, including severe beatings with sticks and rubber batons, electric shocks, threats of death or mutilation, and use of painful stress positions, the rights group said.

No adequate medical care was provided to detainees, with at least three detainees alleged to have died.

One former detainee told the group: “There were five men … They were all beaten up. There was one who had been shot in the leg; another one had a broken rib. We heard screams all day and night. People would be screaming at 3am and in the evenings … They didn’t give medical help to anyone.”

Another said: “They strip- searched me for tattoos, and had me face the wall completely naked. They put a knife to my genitals – held it between my legs. They stabbed me once below my buttocks. I still have scars … That went on for three to three-and-a-half hours. Then they put a pistol to back of my head and said, ‘If you are Orthodox, pray.’ After that they shot twice [into the air].”

A Ukrainian policeman walks in a basement of the regional police headquarters, allegedly used as a torture site of pro-Ukrainian citizens (GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Real peace means restoring borders of Ukraine, says Kuleba

08:04 , Andy Gregory

All Ukrainian cities and Crimea must and will be part of Ukraine again, and a real peace will come by restoring the country’s borders, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmitro Kuleba has said.

“There is no difference between … any Ukrainian city, they all must and will be Ukraine again,” he told a Black Sea security conference in Bucharest via videolink.

Russian military apparatus rife with infighting, new leaked documents show

07:04 , Arpan Rai

A fresh tranche of 27 pages of leaked documents purport to show the Russian military, Vladimir Putin’s ministers and intelligence apparatus are plagued with infighting.

One of the documents claims Russia’s intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, levied accusations against the defence ministry for “obfuscating Russian casualties in Ukraine”, according to notes from US intelligence officials.

The documents highlight “the continuing reluctance of military officials to convey bad news up the chain of command”, reported the New York Times.

The documents also show the FSB questioning the Russian defence ministry’s own casualty count in discussions within the Russian government.

Estonian PM condemns Ukrainian beheading: ‘Deeply rooted terror’

06:48 , Arpan Rai

Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas has condemned the purported video showing the beheading of a Ukrainian soldier.

“When we think of terrorists, Russian soldiers should come to mind. Russia is a terrorist state. Wagner is a terrorist organisation,” the European leader said, sharing Volodymyr Zelensky’s message on the video.

“Terror was always deeply rooted in the arsenal of the Red Army and it lives on – the collapse of the Soviet Union did not change a thing,” Ms Kallas said.

Wagner likely removing civilians from Bakhmut – ISW

06:19 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s private military Wagner Group is likely involved in the removal of Ukrainian civilians, including children, from Bakhmut, a new assessment suggests.

“Wagner-affiliated source RIAFAN posted footage on 11 April detailing the story of an 11-year-old girl from Bakhmut whom Wagner found and ‘rescued’,” the Institute for the Study of War said.

The US based think-tank said that the Russian commissioner for children’s rights Maria Lvova-Belova reported on 6 April that her administration “is working to provide humanitarian assistance to families with children whom Wagner removed from Bakhmut”.

“It is still unclear where these families and children are being re-homed, but it is likely that Wagner is facilitating their removal further into Russian occupied territory or deportation to the Russian Federation and using humanitarian justifications to do so,” the ISW said.

Alleged leaked documents suggest UK special forces have operated in Ukraine

06:08 , Arpan Rai

Claims that UK special forces have operated in Ukraine have been widely reported after allegedly leaked documents were published online.

The Ministry of Defence warned against taking allegations contained in the reported leak of US classified information at “face value”.

A spokesperson said in a message posted on Twitter: “The widely reported leak of alleged classified US information has demonstrated a serious level of inaccuracy.

Alleged leaked documents suggest UK special forces have operated in Ukraine

Ukraine rejects Wagner’s claims on Bakhmut: ‘More than 20% under control’

04:53 , Arpan Rai

The Ukrainian military has rejected the latest claims over Bakhmut from the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

“I was just in touch with the commander of one of the brigades holding the defence of the city. And I can confidently say that Ukrainian defensive forces control a considerably larger per cent of Bakhmut’s territory,” said Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command.

Ukraine said it controlled “considerably” more than 20 per cent of Bakhmut, the salt-mining city that has become centre stage for the bloodiest battle in the continuing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on Tuesday that his forces have captured more than 80 per cent of the town.

The Russian defence ministry also backed the claims and said that Wagner forces had captured three city blocks. Russian forces, it said, had struck Ukrainian army reserves trying to break through.

Zelensky says Ukraine ‘living through a storm of emotions’ after beheading video

04:28 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russian forces of normalising violence and atrocities in the continuing war in Ukraine as he said that the latest video of beheading shows their pride at being able “to kill”.

“Ukraine is currently living through a storm of emotions. Yesterday, a video of the brutal murder of our soldier by the occupiers – was shared by Russian sources. They are there, in this video, are proud with their ability to kill,” he said in ministerial meeting yesterday.

He added: “You have probably all seen it on the news. And you know, that Russian army tries to make this level of violence and atrocities a routine everywhere on Ukrainian soil. Every time when they do something like this, one gets shocked like for the first time.”

“And deaths brought by Russia must not become a usual routine! The long story of Russian impunity must finally stop,” the war-time president said.

Putin approved WSJ reporter’s arrest – Bloomberg

04:14 , Arpan Rai

Russian president Vladimir Putin personally approved the arrest of US reporter Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges for the first time since the Cold War, reported Bloomberg, citing people aware of the matter.

The move to arrest Gerschkovich came from hawks among top officials of Russia’s security services, the people with knowledge of the issue said.

Zelensky calls on world leaders to act over beheading video

03:00 , Liam James

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has urged world leaders to act after the emergence of footage appearing to show Russian soldiers beheading a Ukrainian prisoner of war.

“How easily these beasts kill. We are not going to forget anything. Neither are we going to forgive the murderers,” Mr Zelensky said of the video, which has not been verified by The Independent, but is circulating online. “There will be legal responsibility for everything. The defeat of terror is necessary.”

It is unclear when or where the video was shot, but the captive is wearing the yellow arm band used by Ukrainian soldiers. A second video appears to show the beheaded corpses of two Ukrainian soldiers next to a destroyed military vehicle.

Click here to read the full story:

Zelensky calls on world leaders to act over beheading video

US Yellen calls to keep up Ukraine aid

02:00 , Liam James

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday called for continued significant aid to Ukraine as it battles against Russia’s invasion, and lauded Ukrainian authorities for their focus on good governance and anti-corruption.

Ms Yellen, who paid a surprise visit to Kyiv in February, spoke at the start of a ministerial meeting on Ukraine during the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund, where Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and prime minister Denys Shmyhal also spoke.

“Supporting Ukraine is a collective effort. We welcome the efforts by our allies and partners to provide significant, predictable, and timely assistance, and urge all of us to continue doing so,” Ms Yellen said.

Yellen arrives at a World Bank Development Committee Plenary at the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington (AFP/Getty)

US intelligence leak complicates summit with South Korea

01:00 , AP

Leaked US intelligence documents suggesting that Washington spied on South Korea have put the country’s president in a delicate situation ahead of a state visit to the US, the first such trip by a South Korean leader in 12 years.

The documents contain purportedly private conversations between senior South Korean officials about Ukraine, indicating that Washington may have conducted surveillance on a key Asian ally even as the two nations publicly vowed to reinforce their alliance.

Since taking office last year, conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol has put a bolstered military partnership with the United States at the heart of his foreign policy to address intensifying North Korean nuclear threats and other challenges. The 26 April summit with President Joe Biden is seen as crucial to winning a stronger US security commitment and resolving grievances over the Biden administration’s economic and technology policies.

Click here for the full story:

US intelligence leak complicates summit with South Korea

US hostage chief pledges to bring home Americans detained in Russia

Thursday 13 April 2023 00:00 , Liam James

The top US hostage envoy has pledged to bring home two Americans detained by Russia – journalist Evan Gershkovich and ex-Marine Paul Whelan – as he pressed Moscow to grant consular access to the Wall Street Journal reporter.

“The president of the United States and the secretary are committed to bringing Evan home and Paul Whelan as well. And we’re gonna find whatever it takes to get that job done,” Roger Carstens, a US special presidential envoy, said on CNN.

Mr Gershkovich appears to be in good spirits and good health, he said. “But we haven’t been able to verify that by way of a consular visit,” Mr Carstens said.

Earlier in Moscow, deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia was weighing granting access.

The US State Department has designated Mr Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” a move Ryabkov said would not change Moscow’s approach. The journalist has pleaded not guilty to espionage charges.

Manchin leads senators in bipartisan Ukraine trip

Wednesday 12 April 2023 23:00 , Liam James

United States senator Joe Manchin visited Kyiv with a bipartisan group of senators to show support for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion.

In a statement after meeting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the Democrat said: “The Ukrainian people continue to show unimaginable courage in the face of Vladimir Putin’s unjust war. I was honored to meet with President Zelensky and members of his cabinet in Kyiv to learn firsthand about the challenges they face as this war rages on.”

Accompanying Mr Manchin was Republican senator for Alask, Lisa Murkowski, who said: “For more than a year, the people of Ukraine have stood against the unspeakable atrocities unleashed against them by Vladimir Putin. Ukraine is an inspiration to the world, and it was an honor to meet with President Zelensky to reiterate our unwavering bipartisan support for their sovereignty and fledgling democracy.”

Manchin passes by damaged Russian tanks exhibited in central Kyiv (AP)
Manchin, Mark Kelly and Murkowski attend a meeting with Zelensky in Kyiv (Reuters)

Two Americans killed while fighting in Ukraine, State Department confirms

Wednesday 12 April 2023 22:00 , Liam James

Two Americans have been killed while fighting in Ukraine, the US State Department has confirmed (Gustaf Kilander writes).

The department didn’t reveal the identities of the US citizens fighting Russian forces but told The Daily Beast that they are in contact with their families.

No additional details on the deceased Americans were available as of Wednesday afternoon.

Two Americans killed while fighting in Ukraine, State Department confirms

The Pentagon leaks are staggering in scale – and expect more to come

Wednesday 12 April 2023 21:30 , Liam James

Kim Sengupta’s take on the ongoing leak of US security documents:

The Pentagon documents currently being leaked are staggering in scale and range, an unveiling of secrets and lies spanning the globe with fresh and detailed instalments being drip-fed every day.

The Ukraine war has been the common link in revealing a web of intrigue involving governments, politicians and diplomats, intelligence agencies and the military, mercenaries and arms dealers and millions of dollars in weapons and oil contracts.

The Pentagon leaks are staggering in scale – and expect more to come | Kim Sengupta

World Bank to give £160m for Ukraine’s battered power grid

Wednesday 12 April 2023 20:45 , Liam James

The World Bank said it would finance $200m (£160m) to help fix Ukraine‘s energy and heating infrastructure, with partners and others to provide another $300m in additional funding as the project expands.

The $200m grant will be used to make emergency repairs to Ukraine‘s transition transformers, mobile heat boilers and other emergency critical equipment, the World Bank said in a statement.

Ukraine endured a brutal Russian campaign of strikes on its energy infrastructure from October last year. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said around one-third of Ukraine’s power system, though British intelligence last week said Russia’s energy assault had subsided in recent weeks.

Smoke billows from a power infrastructure following a Russian drone attack in Kyiv Oblast on 19 December (AP)

Russia says it escorts German naval plane over Baltic Sea

Wednesday 12 April 2023 20:00 , Liam James

Russia said on Wednesday it sent a fighter jet to escort a German reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea after it approached the Russian border.

“The crew of the Russian fighter jet identified the air target as a P-3C Orion patrol aircraft of the German Navy,” Russia’s defence ministry said.

The German plane did not cross the Russian border, it said.

Macron’s China visit a ‘mistake’, says Truss

Wednesday 12 April 2023 19:15 , Liam James

Former British prime minister Liz Truss said it was a mistake and a sign of “weakness” to ask for China’s help in ending the war in Ukraine.

At a speech to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Ms Truss hit out at French president Emmanuel Macron after his visit to China, on which he controversially said Europe should not follow the US over the Taiwan dispute.

Mr Macron said in Beijing: “I know I can count on you [President Xi] … to bring Russia to its senses and bring everyone back to the negotiating table.”

Ms Truss, speaking today, pointed to Russian president Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, and China’s President Xi and “the build-up of armaments in China” and the “menacing” of Taiwan.

She said later in her speech: “Putin and Xi have made it very clear that they are allies against western capitalism. That’s why I think it was a mistake for western leaders to visit President Xi and ask for him to intervene in seeking a resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.”

Truss in Washington today (AP)

US doc leak latest: Ukraine and Russian casualties ‘10 times higher than claimed’

Wednesday 12 April 2023 18:30 , Liam James

As many as 354,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured in the Ukraine war which is grinding towards a protracted conflict that may last well beyond 2023, according to a trove of purported US intelligence documents posted online.

If authentic, the documents, which look like secret US assessments of the war as well as some US espionage against allies, offer rare insight into Washington’s view of one of Europe’s deadliest conflicts since World War Two.

The Independent has not been able to independently verify the documents and some countries, including Russia and Ukraine, have questioned their veracity, while US officials say some of the files appear to have been altered.

According to an assessment collated by the US Defence Intelligence Agency, Russia has suffered 189,500-223,000 total casualties, including 35,500-43,000 killed in action and 154,000-180,000 wounded.

Ukraine has suffered 124,500-131,000 total casualties, including 15,500-17,500 killed in action and 109,000-113,500 wounded in action, according to the document entitled “Russia/Ukraine – Assessed Combat Sustainability and Attrition.”

The figures are around 10 times bigger than any public casualty figures published by either Moscow or Kyiv.

The US was thrown into a diplomatic crisis after documents, labelled “Secret” and “Top Secret”, appeared on social media sites in March, purportedly revealing details of Ukrainian military vulnerabilities and information about allies including Israel, South Korea and Turkey.

The Pentagon issued a statement on Sunday saying it was reviewing the documents, while analysts have said they appear authentic.

US concerned by Hungary’s ‘eagerness’ for Russia

Wednesday 12 April 2023 17:45 , Liam James

The United States has concerns over the Hungarian government’s “continued eagerness” to foster ties with Russia, the US ambassador to Budapest said after Washington announced sanctions against three top officials of the International Investment Bank in Hungary.

David Pressman told a news conference that the government had dismissed US concerns raised over the presence of the Russia-controlled International Investment Bank (IIB) in Budapest.

Hungary yesterday signed new agreements to ensure its continued access to Russian energy – a sign of the country’s continuing diplomatic and trade ties with Moscow.

Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom director, left, and Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian trade minister, pose after signing a document during their meeting in Moscow (AP)

Poland shields gas plant over Russian spy fears

Wednesday 12 April 2023 17:00 , Liam James

Poland will introduce a temporary 200 metre exclusion zone around its Swinoujscie Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal on Thursday, the interior minister said on Wednesday, citing concerns about Russian espionage.

The exclusion zone for members of the public will not affect the terminal’s operations, Poland’s gas pipeline operator said of the plant located on the Baltic coast.

A staunch ally of Ukraine and a hub for deliveries of weapons to Kyiv’s armed forces, Poland says it has regularly found itself the target of Russian efforts to destabilise the country.

In March Poland said it broke up a Russian espionage network that it said was preparing acts of sabotage and was monitoring rail routes to Ukraine.

US sanctions Turkish entities on claims of Russian links

Wednesday 12 April 2023 16:22 , Liam James

Washington imposed sanctions on at least four Turkey-based entities it said violated US export controls and helped Russia’s war effort, in the biggest US enforcement action in Turkey since the invasion of Ukraine last year.

The designations – which included an electronics company and a technology trader alleged to have helped transfer “dual-use” goods – were part of a global sanctions package on more than 120 entities announced by the US Treasury.

The US and its allies imposed extensive sanctions on Russia after its invasion, but supply channels from Black Sea neighbour Turkey and other trading hubs, including Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, have remained open.

A US administration official told Reuters the sanctions targeted entities and people in Turkey’s maritime and trade sectors that were “primarily” Russia-owned or Russia-linked.

“It’s meant as a warning shot in the evolving phase of enforcing export controls,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

Ukraine denies Russia’s Wagner controls 80% of Bakhmut

Wednesday 12 April 2023 15:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine‘s military rejected as untrue a Russian claim to have captured more than 80% of the city of Bakhmut and said on Wednesday that Kyiv’s forces controlled “considerably” more than 20% of it in the east.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern military command, made the comment to Reuters a day after the head of Russia‘s Wagner mercenary group said that his forces were advancing in their bid to seize Bakhmut after months of fighting.

“I was just in touch with the commander of one of the brigades holding the defence of the city. And I can confidently say that Ukrainian defensive forces control a considerably larger percent of Bakhmut’s territory,” he said.

Ukrainian forces have hung on for months in Bakhmut, a small city in eastern Donetsk region, where the fiercest fighting of Moscow’s full-scale Feb. 2022 invasion has killed thousands of soldiers and been dubbed the “meat-grinder”.

Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Tuesday his forces controlled most of Bakhmut including the whole administrative centre, factories, warehouses and municipality buildings.

“Prigozhin needs to show at least some kind of victory in the city, which they have been trying to capture for nine months in a row and that’s why he’s making such statements,” said Cherevatyi.

Ukraine compares Russia to ISIS after beheading video of Ukrainian prisoner of war circulates online

Wednesday 12 April 2023 14:52 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine compared Russia on Wednesday to Islamic State and called on the International Criminal Court to investigate after a video emerged online showing apparent Russian soldiers filming themselves beheading a Ukrainian captive with a knife.

Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity or provenance of the video on social media, which showed a man in uniform beheading a man who wears the yellow arm band used by Ukrainian soldiers.

The Kremlin described the video as “awful” but said its authenticity needed to be checked. Moscow has denied in the past that its troops carry out atrocities during the conflict.

“There is something that no one in the world can ignore: how easily these beasts kill,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video message.

“There will be legal responsibility for everything. The defeat of terror is necessary.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said on Twitter: “A horrific video of Russian troops decapitating a Ukrainian prisoner of war is circulating online.

“It’s absurd that Russia, which is worse than ISIS, is presiding over the UNSC,” he said, referring to the U.N. Security Council, where Russia took up the rotating presidency this month.

“Russian terrorists must be kicked out of Ukraine and the UN and be held accountable for their crimes.”

Militants from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were notorious for releasing videos of beheadings of captives when they controlled swathes of those countries from 2014-2017.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a briefing: “First of all, in the world of fakes that we live in, we need to check the veracity of this footage.”

“Then it could be a pretext to check whether or not this is true, whether it happened, and if it did, where and by whom,” Peskov said.

Ukraine‘s foreign ministry called on the International Criminal Court to “immediately investigate yet another atrocity of the Russian military”.

Egypt wanted to arm Russia with thousands of rockets in secret ‘to avoid problems with West’, report claims

Wednesday 12 April 2023 14:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In case you missed it…

Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah El-Sisi had allegedly ordered 40,000 rockets to be discreetly shipped to Russia, showed some of the classified US intelligence documents that were recently leaked on social media.

Discussions between high-level Egyptian officials about the sale of weapons to Russia were found in the series of classified files, reported The Washington Post.

The leaked documents made their way to gaming social media platform Discord in February and March.

The Egyptian president had ordered his subordinates to facilitate the shipment of the rockets to Russia, but asked officials to secretly handle the production and shipment to “avoid problems with the West”, as per one of the documents dated 17 February.

Egypt ‘wanted to arm Russia in secret to avoid problems with West’

Frontline cemeteries shut to Ukrainians for Easter over dangerous war debris

Wednesday 12 April 2023 14:20 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Hundreds of cemeteries near front lines will be closed to Ukrainians wanting to pay their respects at graves of their relatives for Orthodox Easter this weekend, as officials fear the danger of land mines and unexploded ordnance.

But in the formerly Russian-occupied village of Kobzartsi in the southwest Mykolaiv region, residents say they are hugely grateful that demining officers have been able to clear one of the two local cemeteries of hazards to allow them to visit.

“Thank God that (deminers) came through here. We will visit (the cemetery) as usual, and we will celebrate Easter. Thank God we are alive, this is most important,” said Olena Yarova, a 46-year-old villager.

Many Ukrainians visit the graves of their loved ones around Easter to pay their respects and tidy up the graves.

Only 42 people remain in Kobzartsi out of 1,200 who lived there before Russia invaded in February 2022. Fighting has littered Ukraine with an appalling amount of dangerous war detritus.

The head of the demining unit in Kobzartsi said they had found munitions and debris on the ground.

“If it goes off nearby, there is a 100% possibility of shrapnel wounds. In 90% of such cases a person dies after being hit with such munitions,” said Vladyslav Hrytsai, the officer.

The second cemetery was not demined and 74-year-old Lidiia Osypenko said: “We will go only after the deminers. We will not go without them. It is dangerous to go just like this.”

The village was liberated after months of occupation in November when Ukrainian forces recaptured a swathe of the Kherson region, which was taken shortly after the start of Russia‘s invasion.

The governor of Kherson region, tracts of which remain occupied, has declared a ban on cemetery visits for Easter this year. In the northeastern Kharkiv region, back in Ukrainian hands after a partial Russian occupation, 753 cemeteries have been closed.

Ukraine says Pentagon leaks are a mix of truth and falsehood

Wednesday 12 April 2023 13:53 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine‘s defence minister said on Wednesday that the alleged Pentagon document leaks contain a mixture of true and false information, and that the information which was true was no longer relevant.

Speaking in Madrid, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he believed the leaks were a psychological information operation which would benefit Russia and its allies.

Kremlin says electronic draft papers will fix ‘mess’ at military recruitment offices

Wednesday 12 April 2023 13:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that a move to bring in electronic draft papers for the first time in Russia‘s history was needed to sort out what it called “a mess” at military recruitment offices.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the problems in drafting men into the army had come to light last year when Moscow launched what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Russia says it mobilised just over 300,000 men last year to help bolster its forces in Ukraine where, according to Western officials, it has suffered tens of thousands of casualties in the biggest land war since World War Two.

The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, on Tuesday gave its backing to a package of legislative amendments that will bring in electronic draft papers and close numerous loopholes exploited by draft dodgers.

The changes were rushed through the Duma with little public scrutiny, prompting some lawmakers to complain, and fuelling speculation that Russia may be poised to announce another wave of mobilisation, something the Kremlin has denied.

Peskov said that the changes to how men are drafted – which will apply to both conscripts who are called up twice a year as well as to separate mobilisation campaigns – are badly needed.

“When the special military operation began, you and I saw that in some places we had a lot of mess in the military recruitment offices,” said Peskov.

“That is exactly the purpose of this legislative initiative: to clear up this mess and to make it (the system) modern, effective and convenient for citizens.”

Russia says U.S. intelligence leaks may be fake, part of hybrid war against it

Wednesday 12 April 2023 13:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday that a trove of U.S. intelligence documents posted online in recent weeks might be fake and a deliberate attempt to mislead Moscow.

The documents, the authenticity of which Reuters has not been able to independently verify, include what look like classified U.S. assessments of the war in Ukraine and the casualties purportedly suffered by the two armies, as well as documents covering other countries.

Ryabkov told Russian news agencies on Wednesday that, for now, the leak threw up many questions.

“It’s probably interesting for someone to look at these documents, if they are documents at all, or maybe they are fake, maybe this is a deliberate information dump,” Ryabkov was cited as saying.

“Since the United States is a party to the (Ukraine) conflict and is in essence waging a hybrid war against us, it’s possible such things are being done to mislead the enemy – that is the Russian Federation,” he said.

The Kremlin said earlier on Wednesday that it did not know “like everyone else” how authentic the documents were.

Some national security experts and U.S. officials say they suspect that the leaker could be American, but do not rule out pro-Russian actors.

A former CIA officer has said it is highly likely that Moscow orchestrated the leak in order to sow confusion and potential divisions between Washington and its allies.

When asked about such allegations, the Kremlin has said there’s a tendency to always blame everything on Russia.

Russia says it strikes Ukrainian forces trying to reinforce Bakhmut

Wednesday 12 April 2023 12:29 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s defence ministry said on Wednesday that its forces had struck Ukrainian army reserves trying to break through to the embattled city of Bakhmut, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia also said Wagner mercenary forces had captured three more blocks in their attempt to seize control of the city in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.

UK sanctions ‘financial fixers’ for Russian oligarchs Abramovich and Usmanov- update

Wednesday 12 April 2023 12:09 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Britain on Wednesday sanctioned individuals and companies who it accused of acting as “financial fixers” for Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov.

Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement the new measures targeted those helping the two prominent businessmen to avoid the full cost of sanctions that were imposed following Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are closing the net on the Russian elite and those who try to help them hide their money for war,” foreign minister James Cleverly said in the statement. “We will keep cutting them off from assets they thought were successfully hidden.”

The government said sanctions were imposed on Demetris Ioannides and Christodoulos Vassiliades, two Cypriots it described as “professional enablers” who had helped to create offshore structures and trusts.

The sanctions were also targeted at Usmanov’s financial network, including companies USM, Curzon Square Ltd, and Hanley Limited, according to the statement.

Britain froze the assets of Abramovich and Usmanov within weeks of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

UK sanctions financial network of Russian oligarchs Abramovich and Usmanov

Wednesday 12 April 2023 11:46 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Britain on Wednesday sanctioned individuals and companies with financial links to Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov.

Britain’s Foreign Office said the measures target those helping oligarchs to avoid the full cost of sanctions.

Leaked Pentagon documents claim elite British special forces are in Ukraine

Wednesday 12 April 2023 11:21 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The British defence ministry has deployed some of its elite special forces alongside scores of other Western military personnel to Ukraine during the war, the latest tranche of leaked Pentagon intelligence documents purport to show.

A total of 50 British special forces members are in the war-hit nation, an intelligence document dated 23 March claimed, according to The Telegraph.

It suggests that British soldiers may comprise more than half of the western special forces personnel present in the war-hit nation between February and March this year.

Alongside Britain, Latvia has 17 elite military personnel in Ukraine, France has 15, the US has 14 and there’s one elite soldier from the Netherlands, the report claims.

Arpan Rai reports:

Leaked Pentagon documents claim elite British special forces are in Ukraine

Kremlin says electronic draft papers are needed to sort out ‘mess’ at military recruitment offices

Wednesday 12 April 2023 11:01 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that a move to bring in electronic draft papers for the first time in Russia‘s history was needed to sort out what it called “a mess” at military recruitment offices.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the problems had come to light during a mobilisation drive last year to draft more troops for what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

The lower house of parliament gave its backing to the necessary legislative amendments on Tuesday that will bring in the changes in an effort to make it harder for men to avoid being drafted.

Watch: Putin launches ‘new intercontinental ballistic missile’

Wednesday 12 April 2023 10:24 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia has completed a test-launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile from the Kapustin Yar training ground in Russia’s Astrakhan Region, Kremlin’s Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday.

“On April 11, 2023, the combat crew of the Strategic Missile Troops successfully launched the intercontinental ballistic missile of the land-based mobile missile system from the Kapustin Yar State Central Multiservice Training Ground in the Astrakhan Region,” the report said.