Ukraine War: Zelenskyy’s Holocaust Remembrance Day message, Wagner defectors ‘shot’

Russia takes war to ‘different stage’: EU official

Moscow has intensified its invasion of Ukraine by carrying out indiscriminate attacks against civilians and framing the conflict as a fight against the West, according to a senior EU official.

Stefano Sannino, secretary general of the European Union’s European External Action Service, said on Friday that Russia has taken the war to “a different stage,” while defending the decision by Germany and the United States to send tanks to Kyiv.

He criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for waging war against NATO and the West, saying this had triggered a move this week to supply Ukraine with heavy battle tanks.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Sannino said Putin had “moved from a concept of a special operation to a concept now of a war against NATO and the West.”

The EU foreign policy official said the German and US tanks are meant to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, rather than attack Moscow.

“I think this latest development in terms of the arms supply is just an evolution of the situation and the way Russia started to take the war to a different stage,” Sannino said.

The EU is not moving the war to a different stage, but “simply providing a chance to save lives and allow Ukrainians to fight back.” [themselves] of these barbaric attacks,” he added.

Germany and the US announced on Wednesday that they will send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine, offering what one expert called an “armored strike force” to help Kyiv break a battlefield stalemate.

Washington will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks, while Berlin has agreed to deliver 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its own stock.

Wagner mercenaries shot for fleeing, says ex-commander

A former commander of Russia’s Wagner group, who fled to Norway, witnessed his comrades being shot as they tried to flee the front lines 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 have been used to execute deserting Russian soldiers.

Medvedev lives in a secret location in the Oslo area after he was released on Wednesday following a “disagreement” with police over measures taken to ensure his safety.

His lawyer, Brynjulf ​​Risnes, said he had seen some “incredibly horrible” situations while fighting last fall and was “slowly coming to terms with what is happening” in Ukraine.

“His life has been chaotic, dangerous and very stressful for a long time,” Risnes said, “particularly, of course, during the fall when he was in the Ukraine with the Wagner group.”

“But of course, his life hasn’t been 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 has responsibility for investigating war crimes, has started questioning him about his experiences and wants to continue, Risnes said.

Kripos is part of a project to investigate war crimes in Ukraine carried out by the International Criminal Court.

Zelenskyy commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day with an emotional tweet

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked Holocaust Remembrance Day in a social media post, alluding to the situation in his own country.

“We know and we remember that indifference kills along with hate,” he said.

“Indifference and hatred are always capable of creating evil only together. That is why it is so important that all who value life should 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 in Auschwitz due to the military buildup on Ukraine’s borders at the time.

US lawmakers call for China sanctions over Ukraine

US lawmakers on Thursday 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 stronger” against China, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said, citing “evidence that Chinese companies are providing dual-use technology, including semiconductors” that can be used to guide missiles.

“It seems to me that we should not give up the potential for sanctions against China if they provide crucial assistance and they should not be able to hide behind companies,” he said.

His Republican colleague James Risch felt that China was acting “with impunity” and that the United States needed to “tighten sanctions” against the country.

US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken is due to visit China next month.

In parallel, Washington on Thursday announced more sanctions against Wagner and his supporters, which included a Chinese company accused of helping them in Ukraine.

A Chinese space research institute, the Changsha Tianyi Research Institute of Space Science and Technology, is among the organizations the US Treasury Department believes provided Wagner with satellite images in Ukraine.

China, an ally of Russia, says it is neutral towards the conflict in Ukraine while strengthening ties with Russia, particularly in the field of energy, on the sidelines.

But US officials are increasingly concerned about the support given to Russia through Chinese companies in the high-tech field in particular.

Ukraine’s grain harvest will plummet: prediction

Ukrainian production of cereals and other essential foods is expected to fall further next year, according to new estimates.

Areas planted to cereals and oilseeds are expected to fall to “53 million tons” in 2023, half of what they were in 2021, according to estimates by the Ukrainian Grain Association (UGA).

“We are at war,” Nikolay Gorbachev, president of the UGA, said Thursday. “We continue to produce cereals, but the harvests will fall. For farmers, it is no longer profitable to produce cereals.”

In 2021, 106 million tons of grain were harvested, a historical record, this was reduced to around 65 million tons by 2022, while for 2023 “53 million tons” are forecast, he said.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest corn exporter and the country was on its way to becoming the third largest wheat exporter.

Fighting in 2022 hampered farmers’ ability to plant crops, compounded by a lack of fuel and the destruction of farm machinery and storage infrastructure.

Gorbachev expressed concern about exports in the upcoming season: “For Ukraine’s national food security, it will be fine. But if Ukraine cannot export these 40 or 50 million [tonnes of grain]? Prices will increase. Europe can allow it, but not developing countries,” she said.

Disruptions in Ukraine’s food exports have brought many developing countries to the brink of starvation by sending prices into orbit.

Experts have warned that the food crisis is causing the arrival of an increasing number of immigrants to the European Union.

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