Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron accused Russia on Friday of being “a power destabilizing Africa”, regretting that Moscow’s choices “do not play a beneficial role for the international community”, in a televised interview on the sidelines of the Paris Summit. Nevertheless, he did not rule out the possibility of dialogue with Vladimir Putin. “If he calls me to propose something, I’ll take it, because France has always been a facilitating and mediating power,” he declared.

Russian army retreats in southern and eastern Ukraine, says Wagner boss
The Russian army is retreating in several areas of southern and eastern Ukraine, the head of the paramilitary group Wagner said on Friday, contradicting Kremlin claims that Kiev’s counter-offensive has failed.

“The (Russian) army is withdrawing in the Zaporijjia and Kherson (south) areas, the Ukrainian armed forces are pushing,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video interview posted on Telegram by his press service.

“The same thing is happening in Bakhmout, the enemy will penetrate deeper and deeper into our defense,” the businessman added, referring to an eastern town that the Russians claim to have captured but where the Ukrainians say they have advanced on the flanks in recent weeks.

“There is no control, there are no military successes” by Moscow, Yevgeny Prigozhin went on, claiming that the Russian military are “washing themselves with their blood”, a way of asserting that they are suffering heavy losses.

Unverifiable from an independent source, Wagner’s comments contradict those of President Vladimir Putin and his Defense Minister, Sergei Choigou, who claim that the Russian army “repels” all Ukrainian assaults.

In recent days, Vladimir Putin has repeated that the Ukrainian counter-offensive was a failure, and that Kiev’s forces had suffered almost “catastrophic” losses. On Thursday, Sergei Choigou said that the Ukrainian army was “regrouping” after failing to break through Russian defenses.

Yevgeny Prigozhin described the Russian Defense Ministry’s victorious declarations as “profound deception”, accusing the General Staff of “hiding” Russian difficulties and losses on the ground.

However, as proof that Moscow is taking the Ukrainian counter-offensive very seriously, Vladimir Putin has spoken out several times in the space of a few days about the situation on the battlefield, whereas in recent months he has tended not to comment in detail on what is happening there.

While many Russian opponents and anonymous figures are in prison for criticizing the conflict in Ukraine, Wagner’s chief openly questioned on Friday the reasons why the military intervention was launched.

“The war was necessary for a group of bastards to be promoted”, he castigated, also accusing Russian “oligarchs” who “needed the war”, while Kiev was according to him “ready for any agreement”.

Macron accuses Russia of being a “power destabilizing Africa”.
French President Emmanuel Macron accused Russia on Friday of being “a power destabilizing Africa”, regretting that Moscow’s choices “do not play a beneficial role for the international community”, during an interview on franceinfo/RFI/France 24 on the sidelines of the Paris summit.

“It’s a power destabilizing Africa through private militias that come to predate and commit atrocities against civilian populations”, said the French head of state, recalling that “this has been documented by the United Nations in the Central African Republic through the Wagner militia”.

Russia claims to have arrested cesium smugglers working for Ukrainian citizen
Russia’s FSB security service said on Friday it had arrested five people attempting to buy 1kg of radioactive cesium-137 for $3.5 million on behalf of a Ukrainian citizen, the TASS news agency reported.

The FSB was quoted as saying that the cesium-137 was to be taken out of Russia to be used to stage an incident with alleged weapons of mass destruction aimed at discrediting Russia.

These claims could not be independently verified and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said this week that Ukrainian spies had received information that Russia was planning a “terrorist” attack on the Russian Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, involving a release of radiation.

Russia denied this and in turn accused Kiev of planning to seize the plant and bomb its facilities, including those where nuclear fuel is stored. It also accused Kiev of planning a “dirty bomb” attack against Russia, which Ukraine denied.

The FSB said on Friday that the people it had detained in the cesium 137 case were already confessing. It gave no further details such as their names or backgrounds.

Ukraine says it shot down 13 Russian cruise missiles overnight
Ukraine’s air force said on Friday it had shot down 13 Russian cruise missiles targeting a military airfield in the west of the country overnight.

“All thirteen Kh-101/Kh-555 missiles were destroyed by anti-aircraft defense,” the air force said on Telegram. “This time, the attack was aimed at a military airfield in the Khmelnytsky region (west),” it added.

Russia has intensified its nightly bombardment of Ukraine with explosive drones and missiles since May, while Ukraine has begun its long-awaited counter-offensive in the east and south occupied by Russian troops.

“The (missile) launches were carried out around midnight from the Caspian Sea by four Tu-95MS bombers,” said the Ukrainian air force.

The mayor of Khmelnytsky, Oleksandre Symtchychyne, reported explosions in the town, which had a population of 275,000 before the Russian invasion at the end of February 2022, before thanking the air force for its work.

Ukraine also reported on Friday some advances in the south, where its troops had “partial success”, according to Ukrainian military spokesman Andriï Kovaliov.

In the east, the Ukrainian army “continues to contain the offensive of Russian troops” and “particularly difficult fighting continues”, he added.

“Our defense forces have stopped the enemy’s offensive in the Kupiansk and Lyman areas”, said Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Maliar on Telegram in the morning.

Biden and Modi take cautious aim at China and Russia in joint statement
The United States and India declared themselves “among the world’s closest partners” on Thursday during a state visit to Washington by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hosted by President Joe Biden.

Washington is frustrated by India’s close ties with Russia at a time when Moscow is waging war on Ukraine. Modi did not address China or Russia directly, and Biden only mentioned China in response to a reporter’s question. But a joint statement issued by the two after their two-and-a-half-hour private meeting appeared to target both nations.

Zelensky says Russia is hiding the bodies of dam-break victims
Russia has formed special groups to collect and hide the bodies of those killed following this month’s breach of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday.

“Russian perversity has formed special groups there to kidnap and, of course, hide the bodies of the victims,” Zelensky said in his late-night video address.

Zelensky described the situation in the Russian-occupied parts of the region as “catastrophic to say the least”.

Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the breach.

The destruction of the dam sent high waters cascading into parts of southern Ukraine downstream of the dam, in particular the Kherson region, partly occupied by Russian troops.

Many people were forced to climb onto rooftops to await rescue, and Ukraine accused the Russian occupation forces of inaction in helping those affected. Residents lacked sanitation and drinking water.

Ukrainian officials put the official death toll at 21, including five from what they described as Russian shelling during evacuation operations. Russian authorities put the death toll at 46.

By admin