Putin appoints governors for Donbass

Strasbourg 05.10.2022 President Putin appoints acting heads of four “new Russian regions”, Russian TASS news agency reports. (Image above: archive)

Following referenda where voters opted for the accession of the regions to Russia, Putin and the heads of the four regions signed treaties on their accession to Russia at a Kremlin-hosted ceremony, the news agency continues. THe moved unanimously condemned by the European Union, assessing the change as “annexation”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed acting heads of the four new Russian regions who will govern until the regions’ heads are elected according to Russian law.

The same politicians who headed the regions prior to their accession to Russia have retained their posts. Denis Pushilin, who was a leader of Russian-speaking protests in the Donetsk Region after a coup in Ukraine, became acting head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Pushilin participated in a ceremony on April 7, 2014 when the DPR was created, and in 2018 he was elected head of the republic.

Leonid Pasechnik has been a head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). In 2014, when protests against Euromaidan events and a nationwide coup began in southeastern Ukraine, he took the side of the Lugansk Region’s people’s militia and was elected head of the republic in 2018.

The leaders of the two self-proclaimed Donbass republics retained the title of heads, while the heads of the other two regions became acting governors.

Yevgeny Balitsky, who has been leading the Zaporozhye Region’s military-civilian administration, will be the region’s acting governor. The military-civilian administration was formed in the region’s liberated areas after those had been taken over by Russian troops. And Vladimir Saldo, previously the head of the Kherson Region’s military-civilian administration, will become the region’s acting governor.

Following referendums where voters opted for the accession of the regions to Russia, Putin and the heads of the four regions signed treaties on their accession to Russia at a Kremlin-hosted ceremony on Friday. Pushilin, Pasechnik, Balitsky and Saldo signed off on the documents on behalf of the four regions.

Kaliningrad: military combat training

Brussels 28.09.2022 Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, September 28, that newly mobilised reservists in the Kaliningrad region have started combat training at the base of Russia’s Baltic Fleet.

“All mobilised military personnel comply with the standards for shooting from small arms. In addition, citizens called up from the reserve restore their skills in the operation and maintenance of weapons, military and special equipment,” the ministry said on its Telegram channel.

Courses have been also held to increase firing skills and prepare military personnel for “confident actions on the battlefield”.

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s first military mobilisation since World War Two last week, which could see hundreds of thousands more people sent to fight in Ukraine.

Russia has a significant military presence in Kaliningrad, a Russian Baltic coast enclave located between NATO and European Union members Poland and Lithuania, including nuclear-capable missiles, its Baltic fleet and tens of thousands of soldiers.

Putin vows to overcome hardships

Brussels 18.07.2022 Russia is not going to lose heart or have decades of its progress reversed, despite inhospitable forecasts from opponents, President Vladimir Putin told the Council for Strategic Development at a meeting on Monday.

The president said Russia was being completely denied access to foreign hi-tech products.

“We understand that this is a major challenge to our country, however we are not going to lose heart or have decades of our progress reversed, despite predictions from a number of our ill-wishers, the opposite is true,” Putin insisted.

“[We are] aware of the huge amount of obstacles” being put up, so Russia will be “looking for new solutions while making effective use of its own technological capacities available in the country and research by innovative Russian companies,” Putin explained.

“I understand that this is a complicated task. All of us are perfectly aware of that. And it’s also clear that we cannot and will not live in isolation from the rest of the world,” the Russian president pledged.

The head of state stressed that Russia cannot be isolated from the rest of the world, or fenced off from it.

“Obviously, we cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world. And we won’t. It is impossible in the present-day world to merely issue as decree and erect a huge fence. It is simply impossible,” he said and outlined top priority tasks.

According to the president, one of such tasks is to develop end-to-end technologies, which have major influence on structural changes in the economy.

Russia: Belgorod hit by missile

Brussels 03.07.2022 At least three people were perished and dozens of residential buildings damaged in the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukraine border, the regional governor said, after reports of several blasts in the city.

At least 11 apartment buildings and 39 private houses were damaged, including five that were destroyed, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov posted on the Telegram messaging app.

Governor Gladkov said earlier that the “incident” was being investigated, adding: “Presumably, the air defence system worked.”

At least four people were injured and two hospitalised, including a 10-year-old boy, he said.

The news agencies could not independently verify the reports. There was no immediate reaction from the Ukraine relevant authorities.

Belgorod, a city of nearly 400,000 some 40km north of the border with Ukraine, is the administrative centre of the Belgorod region.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov confirmed that tonight, from 3:00 to 3:30 Moscow time, the “Kyiv regime” carried out a “deliberate strike with Tochka-U ballistic missiles with cluster munitions and Tu-143 Reis drones on residential areas of Belgorod and Kursk, where there are no military installations”.

All three Tochka-U ballistic missiles with cluster warheads launched by Ukrainian military at Belgorod were destroyed in the air by Russian air defense systems. As a result of the defeat of Ukrainian missiles, the wreckage of one of them fell on a residential building in the city.

Putin follows Peter the Great footsteps

Brussels 11.06.2022 President Vladimir Putin compared himself to the country’s Emperor, Peter the Great (pictured), in a speech marking the 350th anniversary of the figure’s birth.

Putin made the comments while visiting a multimedia exhibit about the 18th-century tzar, who led a conquest of the Baltic region while at war with Sweden. Putin remarked that Peter the Great viewed the land as rightfully Russian, drawing a connection to the current war Russia is waging against Ukraine.

“He was returning it and strengthening it,” Putin said, according to Russian media. “Well, apparently, it has also fallen to us to return and to strengthen.” Putin also underlined that when Peter founded the city of St. Petersburg, “none of the countries of Europe recognized it as Russian.”

“It is impossible — do you understand — impossible to build a fence around a country like Russia,” Putin added. Putin has repeatedly attempted to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since the Feb. 24 beginning of the war, which has since resulted in thousands of deaths and millions of displaced people. Shortly after he launched the invasion, Putin said he was “forced” to attack Ukraine due to Western “intransigence” over security issues.

The Russian president’s comments occurred after the war in Ukraine surpassed 100 days last week.

“Peter the Great fought the Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he fought with Sweden and rejected something there. He didn’t reject anything! He returned,” the head of state explained.

Putin noted that the fate of modern Russia also fell to “return and strengthen” its sovereignty and territories.

Russia accuses EU for grain shortage

Brussels 20.05.2022 Russia can export 25 million tonnes of grain via the port of Novorossiysk starting from August 1 and until the end of this year, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said, speaking at UN Security Council meeting on conflicts and food security Thursday,May 19.

According to Nebenzya, Russia “continues to remain a responsible supplier of food and energy.”

“This year, we expect a record high wheat harvest. In this regard, we can offer 25 million tonnes of grain for export from the port of Novorossiysk starting on August 1 and until the end of this year,” the envoy said.

“We can also discuss other procurements, including considering that, between June and December, potential export of fertilizers will stand at least 22 million tonnes. But, if you have no intention to withdraw your sanctions, imposed on your own initiative, then why do you accuse us? Why do the poorest nations and regions have to suffer because of your irresponsible geopolitical games?” the diplomat pointed out, addressing the representatives of Western states.

In the current circumstances, attempts to “groundlessly shift responsibility” for deteriorating food situations in the world to Russia “are not just absurd, they are sacrilegious.”.

Nebenzya said that grain exports from Ukrainian ports have been blocked because of Ukraine’s military actions, and they are not the result of decisions of Russian Federation.

“You claim that we are allegedly blocking the possibility of exporting agricultural products from Ukraine by sea,” he said at a UN Security Council meeting on food security. “However, the truth is that it’s Ukraine, not Russia, that continues to block 75 foreign ships from 17 states in the ports of Nikolayev, Kherson, Chernomorsk, Mariupol, Ochakov, Odessa and Yuzhny, and it was Ukraine that mined the waterways.”

“Given that, how can we talk about grain export?” he said. “And no matter what you say here today, only you can change this situation, gentlemen.”.

Exported Ukrainian grain is not directed to countries in need, but is being loaded in EU storages – possibly as payment for arms shipments, Nebenzya accused.

“A logical question arises: where do these shipments [of Ukrainian grain] go? What do they have to do with ensuring food security in the world?” Nebenzya said. “We have justified suspicion that the grain does not go to aid the starving global South, but is being loaded in European states’ grain storages. As we understand, this is how Ukraine pays for weapons being shipped by the West.”.

Peskov denies gas boycott of Finland

Brussels 13.05.2022 Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called some Finnish media reports about the termination of Russian gas deliveries to Finland “most likely just another fake.”

While conducting a press briefing in Moscow, Peskov recalled that the media mentioned Finland’s stance to join NATO as a reason for a possible rupture on supplies of energy resources and reminded that Russia delivers gas to many NATO countries, including Germany.

“Gazprom supplies gas to various consumers in Europe, including countries that are members of NATO. Gazprom has repeatedly demonstrated its reliability as a company that supplies energy resources to the European continent. Therefore, these reports are most likely just another fake,” the Peskov said.

However Peskov made a reservation, recalling the decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin that prescribed “unfriendly countries” to pay in rubles for Russian energy resources, and added that if Finnish companies do not abide by the new requirements, then “the decree will be implemented.”

“It is necessary to make it clear with Gazprom how it is with the payment regime. Because there is a decree of the president on a new gas payment regime. I do not know the nuances of how Finnish companies pay, when they need to make payments, and whether they carry them according to the new rules,” he said.

Putin: Russia proceeds with military operation

Brussels 12.04.2022 President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, April 12, Russia will proceed according to plan with military operations in Ukraine as the pro-Western country braces for a major offensive in the east.

“Our task is to fulfil and achieve all the goals set, minimising losses. And we will act rhythmically, calmly, according to the plan originally proposed by the General Staff,” Putin said during a TV press conference.

Speaking to press following a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at “Vostochny” cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, Putin dismissed claims Russian army was struggling against the Ukrainian resistance and was forced to withdraw from around major cities, including the Kyiv.

“Our actions in certain regions of Ukraine were just related to containing (enemy) forces, destroying military infrastructure, creating conditions for a more active operation in Donbas,” Putin said referring to a region in eastern Ukraine, parts of which are controlled by pro-Russia separatists.

Putin also added the military operation was not going to speed up, in order to minimise casualties.

“I often hear the question: is it possible to do it a bit faster? It is. This depends on the intensity of hostilities, but the intensity of hostilities is, unfortunately related to losses,” he explained.

The Ukrainian military commanders claim that Russia’s death toll has risen to nearly 20,000, though this may well be an exaggeration. However the figures, announced by the Russian Ministry of Defence do not seem convincing either.

Russian prisoners of war killings

Brussels 11.04.2022 The evidence has emerged revealing Ukrainian soldiers killings of captured and bound Russian prisoners of war near Bucha, the small town near Kyiv where presumed massacre of Ukrainian civilians happened according to President Zelensky and the international community accusing Russia of war crimes.

Kiev is plotting, with the West’ support, provocations with massacre of civilians in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) to place the blame for it on the Russian army, Colonel Mikhail Mizintsev, chief of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, said on April 10.

“Official Kiev, with the support from several Western countries, continues to plan barbarous and ruthless actions with mass killings of civilians in the Lugansk People’s Republic to later accuse the Russian armed forces and LPR troops,” he said.

According to the Colonel, a provocation is planned in the Ragovka community in the Kiev region. The Ukrainian side, in his words, is plotting to shoot a fake video about searches of places of mass burials of civilians allegedly killed by Russian troops. “A team of Ukrainian forensic experts and police officers will be involved in the provocation to make it look more trustworthy,” he said.

“Reporters from foreign mass media outlets have arrived in the city of Kremennaya in the Severodonetsk district and have accommodated in the building of the local hospital. They are supposed to record the Ukrainian army’s provocation with the alleged selling of ambulance cars carrying patients by Russian troops,” he said.

Apart from that, he said that Ukrainian nationalists have mined reservoirs with chlorine at a water utility in the Popyasnaya district and plan to blow them up when forces of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) approach the city.

Russia-Ukraine: Medinsky continues drafting Treaty

Brussels 03.03.2022 Treaty with Ukraine is not ready yet to be discussed at the highest level, the Kremlin chief negotiator said. The Ukrainian authorities became more realistic in approaching the issues related to Ukraine’s neutral and non-nuclear status, Vladimir Medinsky continued. A draft of a Treaty between Russia and Ukraine is not yet ready “to be presented at the top-level meeting,” while Ukraine became more realistic in approaching the issue of its neutral and non-nuclear status, Medinsky who leads the Russian delegation.

“The Ukrainian side became more realistic in approaching the issues related to Ukraine’s neutral and non-nuclear status but the draft of the agreement is not ready to be presented at the top-level meeting,” Medinsky wrote on his Telegram channel on Sunday, April 3.

Commenting on the remarks by David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, who stated that Russia accepted Ukraine’s stance with the exception of Crimea, he noted that Russia’s point of view with regards to the status of Crimea and Donbass remained unchanged. Medinsky added that Moscow had been trying to achieve Ukraine’s neutral and unaffiliated status as well as security guarantees for it since 2014.

The talks between Russia and Ukraine delegations would continue on Monday April 4 while editing of the text of the agreement continued in a remote format on Friday and Saturday.

On March 29 in Istanbul, the first face-to-face talks in over three weeks between the delegations of Moscow and Kiev took place. The Russian side assessed the results of this round as “positive progress.” Following the talks, Medinsky said that Russia received Ukraine’s written proposals containing provisions on Ukraine’s non-nuclear and unaffiliated status.

However the powerful head of Republic of Chechnya, said that Kremlin would make no concessions in its war in Ukraine, deviating from the official line and suggesting the Russia top negotiator was wrong in articulating the delegation position.

Ramzan Kadyrov, who has Chechen forces fighting in Ukraine as part of Russia’s military operation, said in comments on Telegram that President Vladimir Putin would not simply stop what he had started there.