Russia takes war to ‘different stage’ EU official says
Moscow has stepped up its invasion of Ukraine by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians and portraying the conflict as a fight against the West, according to a senior EU official.
Stefano Sannino, secretary general of the European Union’s External Action Service, said on Friday that Russia had taken the war to «another stage», while defending the decision of Germany and the United States. United to send tanks to Kyiv.
He criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for waging a war against NATO and the West, saying it triggered this week’s decision to supply Ukraine with heavy battle tanks.
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo, Sannino said Putin had «moved from a concept of a special operation to a concept now of war against NATO and the West».
The EU foreign policy chief said German and American tanks are intended to help Ukrainians defend themselves rather than attack Moscow.
«I think this latest development in terms of arms supply is just an evolution of the situation and how Russia has started to take the war to another stage,» Sannino said.
The EU does not take the war to another stage, but «just gives the opportunity to save lives and allow the Ukrainians to defend themselves». [themselves] of these barbaric attacks,” he added.
Germany and the United States announced on Wednesday that they would send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine, offering what one expert called an «armored strike force» to help Kyiv break an immediate stalemate. of battle.
Washington will send 31 Abrams M1 tanks, while Berlin has agreed to donate 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its own stocks.
Wagner mercenaries shot dead for fleeing, says ex-commander
A former commander of the Russian Wagner Group, who fled to Norway, saw comrades being shot as they tried to flee the frontline in Ukraine, according to his Norwegian lawyer.
Andrei Medvedev, who fled Russia across the Russian-Norwegian border in January, said he feared for his life after witnessing the murder and mistreatment of Russian prisoners taken to fight for Wagner in Ukraine.
Speaking to Euronews in January, experts made similar accusations that Chechen troops were used to execute defecting Russian soldiers.
Medvedev is living in an undisclosed location in the Oslo area after being released from detention on Wednesday following a «disagreement» with police over measures taken to ensure his safety.
His lawyer, Brynjulf Risnes, said he witnessed «incredibly horrific» situations during the fighting last fall and was «slowly coming to terms with what was happening» in Ukraine.
“His life was chaotic and dangerous and very stressful for a very long time,” Risnes said, “especially, of course, during the fall when he was in Ukraine with the Wagner band.”
«But of course his life wasn’t easy before that either.»
Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have been killed, millions uprooted and cities reduced to rubble since Russian forces invaded Ukraine 11 months ago.
Kripos, Norway’s national criminal police service, which is responsible for investigating war crimes, has started asking him about his experiences and wants to continue, Risnes said.
Kripos is part of a project investigating war crimes in Ukraine led by the International Criminal Court.
Zelenskyy marks Holocaust Memorial Day with moving tweet
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy celebrated Holocaust Memorial Day in a social media post, alluding to the situation in his own country.
«We know and remember that indifference kills with hate,» he said.
«Indifference and hatred are always capable of creating evil together. That is why it is so important that all who value life show determination when it comes to saving those whom hatred seeks to destroy. .»
This year, no Russian officials were invited to the celebrations of the event at Auschwitz due to the military buildup on Ukraine’s borders at that time.
US lawmakers call for China to be sanctioned over Ukraine
On Thursday, U.S. lawmakers urged the Biden administration to take a tougher stance on China, accusing Chinese organizations of supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine.
‘We need to be much more robust’ against China, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said, citing ‘evidence that Chinese companies provide dual-use technology, including semiconductors’, which can be used to guide missiles .
«It seems to me that we shouldn’t give up the possibility of sanctions against China if they provide crucial aid and they shouldn’t be able to hide behind companies,» he said.
Fellow Republican James Risch said China was acting «with impunity» and that the United States should «strengthen sanctions» against the country.
US Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken is due to visit China next month.
Meanwhile, Washington on Thursday announced new sanctions against Wagner and his supporters, including a Chinese company accused of helping them in Ukraine.
A Chinese space research institute, the Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute, is among the organizations the US Treasury Department says provided Wagner with satellite imagery in Ukraine.
China, an ally of Russia, says it is neutral vis-à-vis the conflict in Ukraine, while strengthening ties with Russia, particularly in the energy field, in parallel.
But US officials are increasingly concerned about the support given to Russia through Chinese companies in the field of high technology in particular.
Grain harvest in Ukraine will fall – prediction
According to new estimates, Ukrainian production of cereals and other essential foodstuffs is expected to decline further next year.
Areas sown to grains and oilseeds are expected to fall to «53 million tonnes» in 2023, half of what they were in 2021, according to estimates by the Ukrainian Grain Association (UGA).
«We are at war,» UGA president Nikolai Gorbachev said on Thursday. «We continue to produce cereals but the harvests will decline. For farmers, it is no longer profitable to produce cereals.»
In 2021, 106 million tons of cereals were harvested, a historic record, this figure fell to around 65 million tons for 2022, while «53 million tons» are expected for 2023, he underlined.
Prior to the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest corn exporter and the country was on the way to becoming the third largest wheat exporter.
The 2022 fighting has hampered farmers’ ability to sow, which has been compounded by lack of fuel and the destruction of agricultural machinery and storage infrastructure.
Gorbachev expressed concern about next season’s exports: «For Ukrainian national food security, everything will be fine. But if Ukraine cannot export these 40 or 50 million [tonnes of grain]? Prices will go up. Europe can allow it, but not developing countries,” he said.
Disruptions to Ukraine’s food exports have pushed many developing countries to the brink of starvation sending prices into orbit.
Experts have warned that the food crisis is causing increasing numbers of migrants to come to the European Union.