Russian Olympic officials on Thursday welcomed the International Olympic Committee’s decision to allow Russian athletes to compete in the Summer Olympics in Paris next year.
The IOC Executive Board has agreed to allow individual athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete in Olympic events if they do not «actively support» Russia’s war in Ukraine. Athletes must also compete under neutral status.
«I believe it’s already a success,» said Igor Levitin, vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee. «The Olympic community realizes that the Olympic Games cannot take place without the participation of Russia.»
International athlete advocacy group Global Athlete issued a statement lambasting the IOC’s decision, saying it «sends a message to the world that the International Olympic Committee endorses Russia’s brutal war and invasion of Ukraine.» .
BIDEN SEEKS TO AVOID WIDER WAR:Delivery of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine escalates conflict
►The United States will send the Abrams tanks to Ukraine in their more advanced M1A2 configuration, rather than the older A1 version currently in stock, Politico reported, citing three unidentified officials who it said were aware of the deliberations .
►The US Treasury has called the Russian private militia Wagner Group a «significant transnational criminal organization». The statement freezes Wagner’s US assets and prohibits Americans from providing financial or other support.
►Ukrainian security services said they arrested a lieutenant colonel accused of carrying out intelligence operations and passing state secrets to Russian contacts.
►The EU believes it has the legal power to «temporarily mobilize» more than $36 billion in Russian central bank assets to help pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction, Bloomberg reported, citing people who , according to her, knew the financial details.
►Of the 50,000 convict-conscripts recruited from Russian prisons by the Wagner Group to fight in Ukraine, 40,000 are dead or missing, and only 10,000 are still fighting, says Olga Romanova, head of the prisoners’ advocacy group Russia Behind Bars.
UKRAINE TO GET ELITE TANKS: Here’s how they will help in the war with Russia
No sign that US aid is being stolen from Ukraine, administration officials say
The United States has seen no indication that its aid to Ukraine is being stolen or misused, Biden administration officials told a Senate committee on Thursday, two days after several Ukrainian government officials were expelled. amid allegations of corruption.
Among those who left President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration was his deputy chief of staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, who was accused in the media of driving an SUV donated for humanitarian aid. Ukrainian media also reported that the Defense Ministry was buying food for troops at high prices as part of a possible profiteering scheme.
Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs, told senators that the government reshuffle in Ukraine was evidence of Zelenskyy’s efforts to root out corruption, a key message from his campaign.
“We have been very clear that we need to see, as they continue this war, anti-corruption measures, including good corporate governance and judicial measures, moving forward,” said Nuland.
Any sign of corruption could jeopardize the influx of billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid Ukraine has been receiving from the United States and its allies since Russia invaded 11 months ago.
Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told senators that U.S. officials had «not seen credible evidence of any diversion of U.S.-supplied weapons outside of the United States.» ‘Ukraine».
Russia responds to tank deal with massive missile attack
Russia launched a massive missile assault on non-military Ukrainian targets on Thursday, killing at least 11 people a day after the United States and Germany agreed to send dozens of elite tanks to Ukraine in the part of a deal that could change the fortunes of combatants on both sides of the 11 Month War.
Ukraine’s air defense shot down 47 of the 55 missiles Russia fired at energy and other critical infrastructure, the head of Ukraine’s armed forces said. Valerii Zaluzhnyi said 20 missiles were destroyed over Kyiv alone in what was Russia’s first such barrage in nearly two weeks. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person was killed by falling debris from a rocket.
Eleven deaths have been confirmed and at least 11 others have been injured across the country, state emergency services reported. In Zaporizhzhia province, a missile killed three people and injured seven others, local officials said.
«Russia’s goal remains the same – psychological pressure on Ukrainians and destruction of critical infrastructure,» Zaluzhnyi said.
2 Germans face treason charges, accused of passing secrets to Russia
German authorities have arrested a second suspect in a spy case that has embarrassed Germany’s foreign intelligence agency. Federal prosecutors said Arthur E., a German citizen whose last name has not been released, was arrested at Munich airport last month after arriving from the United States. Prosecutors said the suspect was charged with passing state secrets to Russian intelligence. Arthur E. was not an employee of the German spy agency, prosecutors said. German authorities said they were supported in their investigation by the FBI.
Authorities said the suspect obtained the information from Carsten L., an agency employee arrested in Berlin on December 21. Both suspects face treason charges.
German tanks could roll in Ukraine in March
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Ukrainian crews would begin training in Germany in a few days on German-made Marders, which are infantry fighting vehicles, while training on tanks more heavy Leopard 2 would start «a little later».
«Anyway, the goal with the Leopards is to have the first company in Ukraine by the end of March, beginning of April,» he said. «I can’t say the specific day.»
Germany said it would supply 14 high-tech Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine and allow other European countries to send up to 88 more. The United States will send 31 elite M1 Abrams tanks and support vehicles to Ukraine, the Biden administration has announced.
Britain, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada are among other countries supplying tanks and heavy armored vehicles to Ukraine.
GERMAN LEOPARD 2 TANKS: Tanks head for Ukraine
Four expelled from Australian Open after waving Russian flags, threatening guards
Four people who displayed Russian flags and threatened security guards were kicked out of the Australian Open, tournament officials and police aides on Thursday. The Open, the first tennis grand slam of the year, has banned Russian and Belarusian flags from its grounds due to the war in Ukraine.
Flags, including at least one bearing the likeness of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were waved during a rally outside the Rod Laver Arena after Novak Djokovic beat Russian player Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Wednesday in the quarter-finals.
«Players and their teams have been informed and reminded of the event’s policy regarding flags and symbols and to avoid any potentially disruptive situation,» Tennis Australian said in a statement.
One of Russia’s most popular websites is banned
Russia has banned the popular news site Meduza, designating the Latvian-based and Russia-focused site as an illegal «undesirable organization» that poses «a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and national security of the Russian Federation». The website was launched in 2014 by former employees of a Russian-based website that had struggled to remain independent.
Among the articles in the publication on Thursday is one titled “A Casting for Opportunists” which discusses the Kremlin preparing for “elections” in newly annexed regions of Ukraine. Another explains how «the arbitrary and cruel application of the law reduces Russian society to paranoia and paralysis»
US wants to stop Russia from flying US-built planes to Turkey
US officials are pressuring Turkey to block Russian airlines from flying US-made planes to and from the country as the Biden administration attempts to further squeeze Russia economically, the Wall Street Journal has reported. , citing officials who the newspaper said were aware of the talks.
Administration officials warned as early as August that Turkish companies and individuals could face fines or other penalties for activities that help Russia. Turkey’s finance ministry then said it «would not allow any institution or individual» to use Turkey to evade sanctions. More recently, U.S. officials warned against services such as refueling and providing spare parts to U.S.-made planes flying to and from Russia and Belarus, the Journal reported.
“At some point they will have to take action related to law enforcement,” Emily Kilcrease, a former deputy deputy U.S. trade representative and now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, told the Journal. “Otherwise, everything falls apart, if it turns out that they have knowledge of violations and they could not do anything to remedy them.”
Contribute: The Associated Press