Russia-Ukraine Crisis: U.S., EU Impose New Sanctions as Russian Troops Advance

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Ukrainian tanks move into the city, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine
Ukrainian tanks move into the city, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern UkraineCredit: CARLOS BARRIA/ REUTERS
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Russia launches full-scale attacks across Ukraine

Russia Ukraine invasionCredit: Reuters

Russian troops launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine on Thursday, as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”

>> Never miss an update: Follow news reports on Ukraine

Not just Ukraine: 'Putin uses Iran to make America look weak.' LISTEN

Russian forces fired missiles at several Ukrainian cities and landed troops on its south coast, officials and media said, after President Putin authorized what he called a special military operation in the east.

Shortly after Putin spoke in a televised address on Russian state TV, explosions could be heard in the pre-dawn quiet of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Gunfire rattled near the capital's main airport, the Interfax news agency said.

Reuters

Kyiv announces air raid alert after Russian missile strikes

Kyiv announced an air raid alert on Friday after Russian missile strikes, according to Ukrainian television.

Ukraine expects a Russian tank attack on its capital, Kyiv, later on Friday which could become the hardest day in the war, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said.

Anton Herashchenko, the adviser, said the defenders of Kyiv were ready with anti-tank missiles supplied by foreign allies.

Reuters

Ukraine's president remains in Kyiv as Russian forces advance on capital

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed on Friday to stay in Kyiv as his troops battled Russian invaders advancing toward the capital in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by President Vladimir Putin. An estimated 100,000 people fled as explosions and gunfire rocked major cities. Dozens have been reported killed.U.S. and Ukrainian officials say Russia aims to capture Kyiv and topple the government, which Putin regards as a puppet of the United States.

Russian troops seized the Chernobyl former nuclear power plant north of Kyiv as they advanced along the shortest route to Kyiv from Belarus to the north."(The) enemy has marked me down as the number one target," Zelenskyy warned in a video message as heavy fighting was reported on multiple fronts.

"My family is the number two target. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.""I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine."Putin says Russia is carrying out "a special military operation" to stop the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people - an accusation the West calls baseless. He also says Ukraine is an illegitimate state whose lands historically belong to Russia.

Asked if he was worried about Zelenskyy's safety, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS: "To the best of my knowledge, President Zelenskyy remains in Ukraine at his post, and of course we're concerned for the safety of all of our friends in Ukraine - government officials and others."

Reuters

Explosions heard in Kyiv as Ukraine downs Russian aircraft

Ukrainian forces downed an enemy aircraft over Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, which then crashed into a residential building and set it on fire, said Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister.

It was unclear whether the aircraft was manned. Herashchenko wrote on Telegram that a nine-story residential building was on fire.

A series of explosions were heard in Kyiv earlier which Herashchenko said were the sounds of air defenses firing at the aircraft.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday and Kyiv has reported dozens of casualties and hundreds of wounded.

Reuters

Putin was duplicitous on phone call, says French President

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin had been duplicitous in his conversations with him, discussing the details of the Minks agreements over the phone while preparing to invade Ukraine.

"Yes, there was duplicity, yes there was a deliberate, conscious choice to launch war when we could still negotiate peace," Macron told reporters after an EU summit in which he said France would add its own sanction to an EU package.

The Associated Press

UN provides $20 million to increase humanitarian operations

The United Nations announced Thursday it is immediately allocating $20 million to scale up UN humanitarian operations in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the announcement saying the UN and its humanitarian partners “are committed to staying and delivering, to support people in Ukraine in their time of need…regardless of who or where they are.”

Liza Rozovsky

137 Ukrainians killed on first day of Russian invasion, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced tonight that 137 Ukrainian civilians and soldiers were killed in the Russian offensive and that 316 were injured.

He added that in a battle in the Odessa district, all Ukrainian border guards were killed.

Zelenskyy denied rumors that he had left Kiev. He noted that Russian sabotage groups had managed to infiltrate Kiev. He said Russia had marked him as number one target and his family as number two target. "The enemies want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state," he said.

Zelenskyy noted that he felt that many countries supported Ukraine, but added: "Who is willing to fight alongside us? Honestly - no one. Who is willing to guarantee us entry into NATO? Honestly - everyone is scared."

At the same time, Zelenskyy signed a general recruitment order in the country. According to the order, the recruitment will take place within 90 days from the moment it takes effect.

Ben Samuels

Blinken and Lapid speak to discuss Ukraine

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday, hours after Lapid condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine as a blatant violation of the international order.

"The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed the premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack by Russia’s military forces on Ukraine and its people," according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Lapid's statement, alongside the U.S. readout, mark a departure in Israel's official tone regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Israel’s first official response Wednesday to Russia’s actions in Ukraine caught the attention of many for its seemingly tepid condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and failure to even mention Russia by name.

These statements were very different from the forceful words offered by other key U.S. allies against Russia. But experts and former senior officials who spoke with Haaretz don't expect the Biden administration to express anger or disappointment at Israel, since the country's cautious pragmatism is largely motivated by Russia’s hold over Syria, and its tacit approval of Israeli military operations against Iranian-backed activities within the country.

Reuters

U.S. lawmakers plan to approve $600 million for Ukrainian weapons

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said lawmakers want to provide Ukraine with $600 million for "lethal defense weapons" to battle Russia's unfolding attack.

"What we're doing with Ukraine is making sure that we have humanitarian assistance to help the people; that we have lethal defense weapons going into Ukraine to the tune of $600 million for them to fight their own fight," she said, speaking to reporters in San Francisco.

Reuters

Decree on the general mobilization of the population signed by Ukraine president

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a decree on the general mobilization of the population in the wake of Russia's invasion, the Interfax Ukraine news agency said on Thursday.

Citing a decree on the presidential website, the agency said the mobilization would be carried out within 90 days of the decree coming into force.

DPA

Hungarian Prime Minsiter condemns Russia's invasion

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday criticized Russia for the first time over its invasion of Ukraine.

"Together with our EU and NATO allies, we condemn Russia's military action," Orban said in a video posted on his Facebook page. "Russia attacked Ukraine with military force this morning," he added.

Orban had so far avoided naming Russia in connection with the acts of war in Ukraine and its preparations. The right-wing nationalist head of government has maintained a friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent years.

He had visited him in the Kremlin at the beginning of the month.
In Budapest on Thursday evening, several thousand people demonstrated against what they see as Orban's pro-Moscow policies. They demanded an end to the Budapest government's dithering and a clear commitment to the West.

Reuters

French President demands Russia end operations in call with Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately cease military operations in Ukraine in a phone call on Thursday that came after consulting with the Ukrainian leader, the Elysee palace said.

Macron told Putin just before entering an EU summit he exposed himself to "massive sanctions", the Elysee said.

Reuters

U.S. expelling Russian diplomat in tit-for-tat move

The United States is expelling the No. 2 diplomat at the Russian embassy in Washington in response to Russia's expulsion this month of the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Moscow, a State Department spokesperson said on Thursday.

"The U.S. believes that it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments. However, we will not let actions like these go without a response," the spokesperson said.

A senior State Department official said the department informed the Russian embassy of the expulsion on Wednesday. The move was not part of Washington's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but part of a dispute over the two countries' diplomatic presence in their respective capitals, the official said.

The Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The embassy website lists the No. 2 diplomat as Minister-Counselor Sergey Trepelkov.

Earlier this month Russia expelled Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman from Moscow.

Russia said that expulsion was in response to the State Department forcing a senior official to leave its mission in Washington. The department spokesperson said the Russian official had departed as part of a normal rotation.

The United States has imposed a three-year limit on the length of diplomatic postings, and Moscow said it would respond in kind. Washington says Gorman had not completed a three-year tour.

A U.S. official has said the dispute has left the U.S. embassy in Moscow staffed well below Russia's mission in Washington and nearing the point of being only able to maintain a "caretaker presence."

Reuters

U.S. says it plans to deliver defensive weapons, Ukraine FM says

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday that he had spoken to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told him about "plans to deliver new defensive weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.

"Kuleba made the remarks on Twitter, but did not give details. He added, "We need the world to help us."

Reuters

EU agrees to new round of Russia sanctions over Ukraine invasion

European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to impose new sanctions on Russia's financial, energy and transport sectors and impose export controls, as well as blacklisting more Russians over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"The European Council today agrees on further restrictive measures that will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action," said a statement by the 27 national EU leaders meeting in Brussels.

"These sanctions cover the financial sector, the energy and transport sectors, dual-use goods as well as export controls and export financing, visa policy, additional listings of Russian individuals and new listing criteria," the statement said.

Reuters

Ukraine says 57 people killed on first day of Russian invasion

Ukraine's Health Minister Oleh Lyashko said 57 people had been killed and 169 wounded on Thursday after Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine.

Separately, the deputy defense minister reported heavy Russian shelling was still underway in the eastern Donetsk region.

Reuters

Military transport aircraft crashes in southern Russia

A Russian AN-26 military transport aircraft crashed in Russia's southern Voronezh region on Thursday, killing its crew on board, Interfax news agency quoted Russian military officials as saying.

The accident could have been caused by a technical failure and has not inflicted any damage on the ground, Interfax said, citing a press office of Russia's western military district.

Reuters

Some 100,000 Ukrainians have left their homes amid invasion

Several thousand Ukrainians have crossed into neighboring countries, mainly Moldova and Romania, while an estimated 100,000 have fled their homes and are uprooted in the country after Russia's invasion, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the figures were compiled from reports from national authorities and its staff and partner agencies. "It's a ballpark figure," she told Reuters.

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U.S. puts new sanctions on Russian banks

U.S. President Joe Biden announced sanctions on four major Russian banks on Thursday, which he said hold $1 trillion in assets. "Putin's aggression will cost Russia dearly," he said.

As part of the United States' commitment to NATO, he said, the country will be stationing more troops in Germany, but clarified: "Our forces will not be engaged in conflict with Russia in Ukraine."

Liza Rozovsky

Russian mothers say soldiers tricked into going to Ukraine

Maria, who lives in the Russian city of Tver, is beside herself with worry about her son, a soldier doing his compulsory service in the Russian army. She knows he’s 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Kharkiv, but not whether he’s in Ukraine or in Russia. “I don’t know why my child is where a war is going on,” she says on the phone, in tears. “I can’t do anything except cry. I think about jumping from the eighth floor. I can’t work, live, eat or drink.”

Russian law prohibits conscripts from being sent to the front unless they choose to sign a contract and become career soldiers. Currently, compulsory service in the Russian army is one year, including four months of basic training.

In reality, says Olga Larkina, chair of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, soldiers are either forced to sign a contract against their will, or their military IDs are confiscated, and they are signed to a contract without their knowledge. In recent days, her organization has received dozens of pleas for assistance about this from parents of draftees.

>> Read Liza Rozovsky's full report

Ran Shimoni

Hundreds protest outside Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv

Hundreds of people are currently outside the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv, protesting Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and expressing solidarity with Kyiv.

Many of the protesters are members of Israel's Ukrainian community.

Four people were arrested during the demonstration for spraying graffiti on the embassy's gate. "The police will allow for freedom of expression and protest, but not permit violating the law and public order," a police statement read.

Reuters

Outskirts of Ukraine port city Mariupol under heavy fire, says diplomatic source

The outskirts of Ukraine's port city of Mariupol came under heavy fire and hundreds of explosions have been observed there, a diplomatic source told Reuters on Thursday, as Ukrainian forces battled Russian invaders on three sides.

Moscow has mounted an assault by land, sea and air in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

Reuters

G7 to hit Russia with 'devastating' sanctions and measures, Biden says

2U.S. President Joe Biden said that he and world leaders agreed to advance "devastating packages of sanctions and other economic measures to hold Russia to account" in a tweet on Thursday evening.

Biden will be giving an address at 8:30 P.M. Israel time regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A Bloomberg reporter citing Sen. Sherrod Brown said that these sanctions will hit Putin personally.

Reuters

Russian military destroyed 83 Ukrainian land-based targets

The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that its ground forces have moved into Ukraine from Crimea, the first confirmation from Moscow that its ground forces have moved in.

Russia previously said only that it unleashed air and missile strikes on Ukrainian air bases, air defense batteries and other military facilities. The ministry said it has destroyed 83 Ukrainian military facilities.

For the first time since the start of the action, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov confirmed the Russian ground troops had rolled into Ukraine, saying they advanced toward the city of Kherson, northwest of Crimea.

Kherson sits on a reservoir providing the bulk of fresh water for Crimea until Ukraine cut it off with a dam in 2017 in response to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Konashenkov said that the Russian troops’ move allowed to resume water supply to Crimea.

Russian forces capture Chernobyl plant

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been captured by Russian forces, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Thursday.

"It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians," he said."This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today," Podolyak said.

In addition, the Podolyak said that Russian forces have also captured the Hostomel Airfield.

Reuters

Putin tells Russian business leaders he had no choice over Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he had no other option but to order what he has called a special operation against Ukraine, saying all of Moscow's previous attempts to change the security situation had come to nothing.

In a televised meeting with business leaders, Putin told Alexander Shokhin, the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, that Moscow had been forced into taking action and knew that sanctions would follow.

"We all understand the world we live in and were prepared in one way or another for what is now happening from the point of view of sanctions policy," Putin said. "Russia remains a part of the global economy."

Reuters

Russia police detain at least 389 people at anti-war protests

Russian police detained at least 389 people at anti-war protests that took place in 39 Russian cities on Thursday, the OVD-Info protest monitor said. The OVD-Info monitor has documented crackdowns on Russia's opposition for years.

A person is detained by police during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday.Credit: EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/ REUTERS

Reuters

Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. says 'all Ukrainians' will fight Russian invasion

Ukraine's ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova said on Thursday that the Ukrainian military was fighting back against a Russian invasion and that "all Ukrainians" would resist the assault.

Markarova held a press conference at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington after Russia launched its attack, calling for other nations to join Ukraine in cutting diplomatic ties with Russia and to impose harsh sanctions.

"Now Ukraine has activated our right to self-defense in accordance with international law," she told reporters. "The combat spirit of Ukrainian military is high. We are fighting, we will be fighting – not only our brave and motivated military but all Ukrainians."

Reuters

UN Security Council to vote on U.S-drafted resolution condemning Russia

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote on Friday on a U.S.-drafted resolution that condemns Russia for invading Ukraine and requiring Moscow to 'immediately, completely, unconditionally,' withdraw from Ukraine, a senior U.S. administration official said.

Russia, one of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council, will likely veto the resolution, the U.S. official said, but Washington and others view the council as a critical venue where Moscow must be forced to explain itself.

"We're not going to stand by and do nothing," the official briefing reporters in a call said.

Reuters

Some Russian government websites intermittently unavailable

The websites of the Russian president, government and State Duma lower house of parliament were intermittently unavailable for users in Russia and Kazakhstan on Thursday.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the problem.

Asked if the Kremlin's website had been hit by a DDoS attack, Kremlin spokesperson told Interfax news agency that he thought the platform was working normally.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Israel pledges aid for Jews in Ukraine

Israel’s Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai announced on Thursday that Jerusalem will provide relief to Ukrainian Jews affected by the invasion, tweeting that “the State of Israel will always take care of Jews in danger wherever they may be.”

“My ministry is preparing an aid package for Jewish communities in Ukraine and will assist them any way we can,” he wrote, without providing particulars. In 2014, the ministry earmarked around 2 million shekels for aid to Jews displaced by the conflict. Haaretz understands that a final aid plan could be approved within days, but could then take up to two weeks to be implemented.

At the same time, the Jewish Agency and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews announced the opening of an emergency hotline to provide aliyah information as well as what they called “general assistance for members of the Jewish community in Ukraine.”

Read the full story here

Reuters

'This is the sound of a new iron curtain,' Ukraine's president says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine was listening to the sound of a new iron curtain falling as Russian troops advanced across his country's territory and he warned that other European countries may be next.

"What we have heard today are not just missile blasts, fighting and the rumble of aircraft. This is the sound of a new iron curtain, which has come down and is closing Russia off from the civilized world," Zelenskyy said.

"Our national task is to make sure this curtain does not fall across our land."

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Odessa's Jewish community begins to evacuate

The Jewish community of Odessa, Ukraine, has begun evacuating members to nearby countries following the Russian invasion on Thursday.

“We’re sending groups out in different ways via different borders. I want to get the people out,” said Refael Kruskal of the city’s Tikva Children's Home. Several buses are taking the community members to unspecified destinations abroad.

“This morning, as soon as we heard the explosions around 4 A.M., I sent a message to everybody to stay at home and I went to the synagogue to meet with the security services and [Rabbi Shlomo Baksht] and we worked on plans. So we’re looking at ways to either hunker down in Odessa or to get out in other ways,” he said.

He also said that a video of a group of Orthodox Jewish men dancing and singing next to their packed suitcases in the local synagogue highlighted the community’s efforts to “lift the spirits of those leaving and now on the way to the border.”

Read the full story here

Reuters

EU leaders to agree second sanctions package on Russia, senior official says

European Union leaders will agree a second package of economic sanctions on Russia at a summit on Thursday evening, after Moscow invaded Ukraine, hitting trade, energy, financial and transport, among other sectors, a senior official said.

"You can expect a lot on export bans, the financial sector, transport, energy ... nothing is excluded," the senior official said.

Reuters

Russian forces moving to take Kyiv using missile onslaught, U.S. says

A senior U.S. defense official said Thursday that Russian forces are making a move on the capital city of Kyiv with the intention of taking main population centers.

The Russians have every intention of basically decapitating Ukraine's government, the official said.

More than 100 Russian-launched missiles were used in the onslaught, including cruise, surface-to-air and sea-launched missiles, according to the defense official.

Russian targets thus far have focused primarily on military and defense objectives, including 10 airfields, the official said.

Reuters

Russian forces trying to capture Chernobyl plant, Ukraine's Zelenskyy says

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy said Thursday that Russian forces are trying to capture the former nuclear power plant Chernobyl and that Ukrainian forces were fighting to prevent them.

Russian troops from the direction of Belarus entered an area near the former nuclear power plant earlier Thursday, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said, as fighting continued across the country.

The mayor of the capital, Kyiv, said four metro stations would be used as air raid shelters, while the local Ukrainian leadership in the Donetsk region said Russian forces had hit a hospital there, killing four people.

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Bennett calls for all Israelis in Ukraine to 'get out now'

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a plea on Thursday for all Israeli citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately, adding that "the door of the State of Israel is always open" to world Jewry too.

To the Israelis still in Ukraine, he said "Get out now. Save your life. Our people are waiting to pick you up at the border crossings in the west of the country," in a speech at a graduation ceremony for military officers.

"These are difficult and tragic moments, and our hearts go out to the citizens of Ukraine who have fallen into this situation without committing any injustice on their own part," Bennett said.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Auschwitz memorial condemns 'barbarity' of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Poland’s Auschwitz memorial condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, implicitly comparing Moscow to Nazi Germany and calling for its leaders to be put on trial for their aggression.

“We express our absolute solidarity with the citizens and residents of the free, independent, and sovereign Ukraine and with all Russians who have the courage to oppose this war. At this moment, the free and democratic world must show if it has learned its lesson from the passivity of the 1930s. Today, it is clear that any symptom of indifference is a sign of complicity,” the Holocaust memorial said in a statement posted to its Twitter account.

Read the full story here

Reuters

Russia sanctions to include military, economy and energy sector, France says

France will respond without weakness to Russia's act of war against Ukraine, said President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, adding that Russia could expect tough sanctions that would hit its military, its economy and its energy sector.

Macron also said that Russia would be asked to hold itself accountable at the United Nations.

Reuters

Ukrainian military plane shot down, five killed

A Ukrainian military plane was shot down on Thursday and five people were killed, Ukrainian police and the state emergency service said, as its armed forces sought to defend against a massive Russian military operation.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday in the biggest attack by one country against another in Europe since World War II.

Anshel Pfeffer

Putin’s miscalculation: Ukraine could become his Afghanistan | Analysis

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it abundantly clear – in his televised address on Monday night, in a lengthy essay he published last July and in his policies over the past two decades – that he does not regard Ukraine as a legitimate independent nation. On Thursday morning, with the wide-scale attack the Russian army launched on Ukraine, he has finally shown any lingering skeptics that he plans to end Ukraine’s 30 years of independence.

But despite Russia’s overwhelming military superiority, this will not be as easy as Putin seems to assume.

Putin’s message to his armed forces that Ukraine is “run by neo-Nazis” isn’t just a ridiculous assertion – especially since Ukraine’s democratically elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is himself Jewish. It is also an insight into Putin’s war strategy.

Read the full story here

DPA

Pro-Russian separatists report dead and injured in eastern Ukraine

Separatists in eastern Ukraine have sustained both military and civilian casualties in the fighting so far, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, told Russian state television on Thursday.

Pushilin blamed artillery fire from the Ukrainian army, though the information could not be independently verified.

The evacuation of civilians to Russia had been stopped for the time being, Pushilin said, adding that Ukrainian soldiers were surrendering in large numbers. "The number of prisoners is increasing," Pushilin said, though there was no way to confirm the claim independently.

Reuters

NATO puts jets on high alert, activates its defense plans

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks as he holds a news conference on Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Brussels, on Thursday.Credit: YVES HERMAN/ REUTERS

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that the Western military alliance will deploy capabilities and forces on its territory after Russian invaded Ukraine, saying it put over 100 warplanes on high alert.

NATO leaders will also hold a virtual summit on Friday. In addition, the alliance activated NATO's defense plans to permit military commanders to move forces, including those at high readiness.

"We must respond with renewed resolve and even stronger unity," Stoltenberg told a news conference after chairing an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors. "What we do is defensive."

Ben Samuels

Israel offered a soft response to Putin's actions. Does Biden care?

WASHINGTON – Israel’s first official response Wednesday to Russia’s actions in Ukraine caught the attention of many for its seemingly tepid condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and failure to even mention Russia by name.

On Thursday, after Russia launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid delivered a short statement denouncing the attack, mentioning Russia by name, and calling for a return to negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv. Even then, however, Lapid devoted only one sentence to the denunciation, and spent most of his statement emphasizing the fact that Israel has strong ties to both Russia and Ukraine, and is mostly concerned with protecting its own citizens and diplomats in those countries.

These statements were very different from the forceful words offered by other key U.S. allies against Russia. But experts and former senior officials who spoke with Haaretz don't expect the Biden administration to express anger or disappointment at Israel, since the country's cautious pragmatism is largely motivated by Russia’s hold over Syria, and its tacit approval of Israeli military operations against Iranian-backed activities within the country.

Read the full story here

DPA

No Russian forces targeting Ukrainian cities, says military leader

Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said that no aircraft, missiles or artillery were being used against Ukrainian cities, according to the TASS news agency.

Russian forces would take out Ukrainian military infrastructure, air defenses and airfields with "high-precision weapons," he said.

Witnesses, on the other hand, reported shelling of civilian targets at several locations. These reports could not be independently verified.

Konashenkov claimed that Ukrainian soldiers were throwing down their weapons in droves and fleeing. Ukrainian forces on the border had offered no resistance as Russian troops moved in, the minister said. Top Ukrainian officials rejected these assertions.

Reuters

18 people killed in Odessa, Ukraine

At least 18 people were killed in Odessa in a missile attack, regional authorities say.

And in the city of Brovary near Kyiv, six people were killed, according to the city's mayor.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Moldovan Jewish community mobilizes to help evacuate Ukrainian Jews

Moldova’s small Jewish community has announced that it has prepared a fleet of buses to evacuate Jews from neighboring Ukraine, in the wake of Thursday’s invasion by Russian forces.

In a statement, the community in the small former Soviet republic that lies to the southwest of Ukraine said its chief rabbi, Pinchas Salzman, had “made extensive preparations” for a Russian offensive over the past several weeks “with the aim of absorbing thousands of Israelis and Jews fleeing the war zones in Ukraine.”

Read full story here

Jonathan Lis

Israel condemns Russian attack on Ukraine: A violation of the international order

Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine on Thursday, calling it a blatant violation of the international order.

Israel, Lapid added, is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Ukraine.

"War is not the way to solve conflicts," Lapid said at a press conference in Jerusalem. "Israel has … good relations with both Russia and Ukraine. There are Jews in both countries, and safeguarding them is our top priority."

"I call on every Israeli to leave Ukraine now while the roads are still open," the foreign minister added.

The Associated Press

China urges involved parties not to 'shut the door to peace' following Russian invasion

China repeated calls for talks to resolve the crisis in Ukraine on Thursday while refusing to criticize Russia’s attack and accusing the United States and its allies of worsening the situation.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing that “China is closely following the latest developments."

“We still hope that the parties concerned will not shut the door to peace and engage instead in dialogue and consultation and prevent the situation from further escalating,”

Although China has not endorsed President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of independence of eastern Ukraine’s separatist areas or Putin’s decision to send Russian forces there, Hua said China “called on parties to respect others' legitimate security concerns.”

Ukrainian army soldiers are seen on an armoured vehicle, in Kharkiv region, UkraineCredit: ANTONIO BRONIC/ REUTERS

Reuters

Ukraine's Zelenskyy calls on citizens to fight, promises weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a call on Thursday upon all citizens who were ready to defend the country from Russian forces to come forward, saying Kyiv would issue weapons to anyone who wants them.

Russia launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday, the biggest attack by one country against another in Europe since World War II, confirming the West's worst fears.

Zelenskyy also urged Russians to come out and protest against the war.

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In Greece, Israel's President Herzog calls on Israelis to leave Ukraine

Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Thursday called on Israeli citizens in Ukraine to leave the country in light of the Russian invasion underway.

After his arrival in Greece on an official visit, Herzog also addressed concern regarding the Jewish community in Ukraine.

"We are of course concerned for the fate of the Jewish community in Ukraine, and we shall offer every possible humanitarian cooperation to the government of Ukraine in partnership with and together with other partners,” a statement from the president's office said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog review the Greek presidential guard before his meeting with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, in AthensCredit: Petros Giannakouris /AP

Reuters

Siren sounds in Polish town Medyka, near Ukrainian border

A siren was going off in the Polish town of Medyka, on the border with Ukraine. Medyka is one of the border checkpoints from which people in Ukraine can leave the country.

After weeks of denying plans to attack neighboring Ukraine, Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast on Thursday.

Jonathan Lis

Embassy officials helping Israelis leave Ukraine via Western border crossing

Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, stationed representatives at border crossings in the south and west of the country – leading into Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania – on Thursday morning to assist Israelis in Ukraine who are seeking to leave.

Brodsky called the Russian assault on Ukraine “the most extreme scenario” and acknowledged that he was surprised by the scope of the attack. “We hadn’t imagined that such a thing was possible. We thought there would be a limited operation,” he told Israeli Army Radio. Brodsky called on Israelis in Ukraine to leave on their own for a neighboring country.

Read full story here.

Reuters

EU says Russian invasion among the darkest hours for Europe

The European Union described the Russian invasion in Ukraine as one of the darkest hours for Europe since World War II.

In response to the invasion, the EU is expected to adopt the harshest package of sanctions ever implemented.

The new EU sanctions would block Russia's access to "key technologies and markets" and the union would also freeze Russian assets in Europe and halt Moscow's access to European financial markets.

"We will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernize... These sanctions are designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin's interests and on their ability to finance the war," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Reuters

Ukraine says Russian military hardware entering from Crimea

Ukraine said on Thursday that Russia was moving military equipment into the country from annexed Crimea and that Russia was shelling it across the country all the way to western Ukraine's Lviv region.

Ukraine was facing non-stop cyberattacks, one official said. Another said that one person had been killed and another injured by shelling in the Kyiv region.

Reuters

Sweden, Denmark move embassy staff from Kyiv

Sweden has moved its remaining embassy staff to Lviv from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Twitter on Thursday.

"All diplomatic staff relocated to Lviv last night," she said. "Embassy continues to operate from there."

Meanwhile, Denmark's foreign ministry said it had shut down its embassy in Ukraine's capital. It made the announcement in a notice on its web page, citing safety concerns.

DPA

NATO allies to hold crisis talks

Representatives of the 30 NATO states are due to hold crisis talks in Brussels on Thursday morning starting at 8:30 am (0730 GMT), a British representative announced.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg strongly condemned "Russia's reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine."

"Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country," Stoltenberg said in a statement. It is a "serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security," Stoltenberg said.

NATO sources said the Russian attack does not only target eastern Ukraine.

DPA

Biden speaks with Ukraine's Zelenskyy, condemns Russian attack

U.S. President Joe Biden has condemned the "unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces" on Ukraine in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy.

Biden said in a statement he briefed Zelensky on Washington's and its allies' planned next steps against Russia, including "severe sanctions."
Zelenskyy asked Biden to call on world leaders to speak out clearly against Russian President Vladimir Putin's "flagrant aggression," the statement added.

Russian troops launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine on Thursday, as President Vladimir Putin cast aside international condemnation and sanctions and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”

Russian forces fired missiles at several Ukrainian cities and landed troops on its south coast, officials and media said, after President Putin authorized what he called a special military operation in the east.

Shortly after Putin spoke in a televised address on Russian state TV, explosions could be heard in the pre-dawn quiet of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Gunfire rattled near the capital's main airport, the Interfax news agency said.

Ukrainian fighter jet in the skiesCredit: STR - AFP

Reuters

Ukraine president declares martial law amid Russian missile strikes

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday that Russia had carried out missile strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure and the country's border guards, and that explosions had been heard in many cities.

He said that martial law had been declared across the country and that he had spoken by phone to U.S. President Joe Biden. In a separate statement, the Ukrainian foreign ministry said the purpose of Russia's military operation was to destroy the Ukrainian state.

Reuters

A 'full scale invasion' has been launched says Ukrainian Foreign Minister

Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and is targeting cities with weapons strikes, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet on Thursday.

Interfax Ukraine reported rocket attacks on military facilities throughout Ukraine and that Russian troops had landed in the southern port cities of Odessa and Mariupol.

It also reported staff and passengers evacuating Kyiv's Boryspil airport." Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes," Kuleba said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin."This is a war of aggression.

Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now."

Reuters

Ukraine's top diplomat requests urgent UN Security Council meeting

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday he had demanded an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council regarding the latest appeal of pro-Russian separatists to Russia for military assistance.

"Ukraine has requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council due to the appeal by Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk to Russia with a request to provide them with military assistance, which is a further escalation of the security situation," Kuleba said on Twitter.

DPA

Ukraine receives anti-aircraft missiles from Latvia

Ukraine has received a shipment of anti-aircraft missiles from Latvia, the Defense Ministry in Riga announced.

The Stinger weapons systems arrived in Kyiv and were handed over to Ukraine, the ministry said, but no details were given on the number of missiles delivered.

Latvia, together with its Baltic neighbors Estonia and Lithuania, had previously announced that it would deliver US-made weapons systems to Kyiv with Washington's approval.

new-hdc-logo

U.S. reportedly warns full-scale Russian invasion possible within 48 hours

Russia will likely begin a full-scale invasion of Ukraine within 48 hours, news magazine Newsweek reported Wednesday, citing U.S. intelligence officials.

"The President of Ukraine has been warned Russia will highly likely begin an invasion within 48 hours based on U.S. intelligence," the U.S. official with direct knowledge told Newsweek.

The potential attacks are likely to include airstrikes by Russia as well as cruise missiles and ground invasion, according to the U.S. intelligence official.

Reuters

Putin fully prepared for large-scale invasion of Ukraine, U.S. official says

A U.S. defense official said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is fully prepared for a large scale invasion of Ukraine, which is a likely option, according to assessments.

A U.S. official said there were indications that Russia has plans to use its military reserves and National Guard, suggesting long-term goals in Ukraine.

DPA

EU leaders adopt Russia sanctions, hold special Ukraine crisis summit

EU leaders are set to meet in Brussels for a special summit on Thursday to discuss the Ukraine-Russia crisis, European Council President Charles Michel announced.

In total, the European Union has now sanctioned 555 individuals and 52 entities for violations of Ukraine's independence, but a statement issued on behalf of the member states stressed the bloc was holding further measures in reserve "in case of need."

Among those targeted are the 351 members of the Russian parliament who backed Moscow's decision to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian government troops have been battling Russian-backed separatists for eight years.

Reuters

Ukraine says mass cyberattack targets government websites, banks

The websites of Ukraine's government, foreign ministry and state security service were down on Wednesday in what the government said was the start of another massive denial of service (DDoS) attack that began at around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT).

Ukrainian authorities said this week they had seen online warnings that hackers were preparing to launch major attacks on government agencies, banks and the defense sector.

Ukraine has suffered a string of cyberattacks that Kyiv has blamed on Russia. Moscow, which is caught up in a mounting confrontation with the West over Ukraine, has denied any involvement.

The Associated Press

Russia begins evacuating embassy in Ukraine

Russia began evacuating its embassy in Kyiv, and Ukraine urged its citizens to leave Russia on Wednesday as the region braced for further confrontation after President Vladimir Putin received authorization to use military force outside his country and the West responded with sanctions.

Russia began pulling personnel from its diplomatic posts in Ukraine, state news agency Tass reported, a day after the Foreign Ministry announced a plan to evacuate, citing threats. By Wednesday afternoon, the Russian flag was no longer flying over the embassy in Kyiv, and police surrounded the building.

DPA

Russia plans 'strong response' to sanctions imposed by the U.S.

Russia said it will provide a "strong response" to the sanctions imposed by the United States amid the Ukraine conflict.

This response must be "not necessarily symmetrical, but balanced and perceptible for the American side," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia has already proven in the past that it is able to minimize the consequences of foreign punitive measures, it added. "And more than that, pressure from sanctions cannot affect our determination to defend our interests."

Reuters

Ukraine wants security guarantees from Russia, Zelenskyy says

Ukraine wants security guarantees from Russia as a step towards ending the standoff between the two countries, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday in a briefing with his Polish and Lithuanian counterparts.

"I believe that Russia should be among those countries that provide clear security guarantees. I have many times suggested that the President of Russia sit down at the negotiating table and speak," he said.

new-hdc-logo

EU sanctions Russian Defense Minister in first round of retaliatory measures

The European Union is set to sanction Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the country's Internet Research Agency, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The U.S. had previously sanctioned Russia's IRA for alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

The EU sanctions against Shoigu represent the first round of retaliatory measures by the Union following Russian recognition of the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine and deployment of troops, brandished as “peacekeepers,” to the region.

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow last week.Credit: SHAMIL ZHUMATOV - AFP

Reuters

Ukraine to impose state of emergency, says top security official

Ukraine's top security official Oleksiy Danilov said on Wednesday that Ukraine would impose a state of emergency on all of its territory, apart from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions where it has been in place since 2014.

He said that the emergency state would last 30 days and could be extended for another 30 days.

Pro-Russian separatists have controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014. Russia recognized them as independent states and approved use of its troops abroad this week.

Danilov also said that Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had not discussed the development of nuclear weapons, something Vladimir Putin has said posed a strategic threat for Russia.

Reuters

Ukraine MPs vote to give permission for civilians to carry firearms

Ukraine's parliament on Wednesday voted to approve in the first reading a draft law which gives permission to Ukrainians to carry firearms and act in self-defense.

“The adoption of this law is fully in the interests of the state and society,” the authors of the draft law said in a note, adding that the law was needed due to “existing threats and dangers for the citizens of Ukraine”.

Reuters

Russia open to diplomacy but won't compromise on its security, says Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on MondayCredit: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY - AFP

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia was always open to diplomacy but put its own national security interests first and would continue to strengthen its military in the face of what he called a difficult international situation.

Putin, speaking in a video statement released to coincide with the annual Defender of the Fatherland Day, did not mention his standoff with the West over Ukraine which has seen Western sanctions imposed on Russia after he decided to recognize the independence of two breakaway Ukrainian regions.

But he used the appearance to send a message to the West about his stance over the issue all the same.

“Our country is always open to a direct and honest dialogue and ready to search for diplomatic solutions to the most complicated issues,” said Putin.

“But I want to repeat that Russia's interests and the security of our people are unconditional. So, we will continue to strengthen and modernize our army and navy." The United States has accused Putin of massing more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine's borders in preparation for what it fears could be a full-scale invasion. Russia has repeatedly denied plans for such an attack but says it has a duty to protect people living in the two breakaway regions.”

We can see the difficult international situation and the threats posed by current challenges, such as the erosion of the arms control system and NATO’s military activities,” said Putin.

“And yet, Russia’s appeals to build a system based on equal and indivisible security that would reliably defend all countries, remain unanswered.”

Reuters

Ukraine starts drafting reservists aged 18-60 after president's order

Ukraine on Wednesday has started conscripting reservists aged 18-60 following a decree by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the armed forces said in a statement.

The maximum service period is one year.

Zelenskyy on Tuesday said he was introducing the conscription of reservists but ruled out a general mobilization after Russia announced it was moving troops into eastern Ukraine.

Reuters

Ukraine says one soldier killed, 6 wounded in separatist shelling

Not just Ukraine: 'Putin uses Iran to make America look weak.' LISTEN

The Ukrainian military said on Wednesday one soldier had been killed and six wounded in shelling by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine in the past 24 hours as ceasefire violations remain at a high level.

A Ukrainian serviceman smokes at a position on the front line with Russia-backed separatists near the settlement of Troitske in the Lugansk region on Tuesday.Credit: ANATOLII STEPANOV - AFP

The military said on its Facebook page it had recorded 96 incidents of shelling by separatists over the past 24 hours compared with 84 a day earlier. It said separatist forces used heavy artillery, mortars and Grad rocket systems.

Ukraine has accused Russia of provoking violence, saying it used it as a pretext to formally recognize eastern Ukraine as independent and move its troops into the region, precipitating a crisis that the West fears could unleash a major war.

Reuters

New images show military deployments are continuing in Belarus

A satellite image shows a close up of assembled vehicles at V D Bolshoy Bokov airfield, near Mazyr, Belarus, on Tuesday.Credit: Reuters/Maxar Technologies

Satellite images show a new deployment of more than 100 military vehicles and dozens of troop tents in southern Belarus near the Ukraine border, a private U.S. company said on Tuesday.

The images released by Maxar Technologies, which has been tracking the buildup of Russian forces for weeks, could not be independently verified by Reuters.

The images also showed a new field hospital has been added to a military garrison in western Russia close to the border with Ukraine, Maxar said in a statement.

DPA

White House says Biden-Putin meeting off the table

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, On Tuesday.Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI - AFP

Plans for a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are currently off the table, the White House said Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing that Biden is always ready for diplomacy, however now, when Russia appears to be continuing preparations for an assault on Ukraine conflict, is not the right time.

"We're never going to completely close the door to diplomacy," Psaki said, but stressed a change of course from Moscow is needed.
Discussions on a potential meeting between Putin and Biden had been underway in recent days and the U.S. president had in principle agreed to it, according to the White House.

Psaki further stated that there was never a concrete timetable for another meeting between the two presidents – these details were due to be discussed between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday, however this meeting has been cancelled.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Jewish leaders brace for food shortages, antisemitic provocations

With Russian troops moving into eastern Ukraine following Moscow’s official recognition of two breakaway separatist enclaves on Monday evening, local Jewish leaders have expressed concern not only that their constituents could be displaced by renewed fighting, but that the Kremlin may attempt to use antisemitic provocations to delegitimize their country.

Speaking to Haaretz from the eastern city of Dnipro, Rabbi Meir Stambler, the chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine, said that he is more worried about the possibility of antisemitic provocations carried out by Russian agents than a full-scale war.

“We were never concerned about security, but now we are worried that the situation might change, so that’s why we are working on safety precautions for all the rabbis, communities, schools and synagogues,” Stambler told Haaretz. “They want to [accuse] Ukrainians of being antisemites or fascists."

>> Click here to read the full report

haaretz-weekly-new

Not just Ukraine: 'Putin uses Iran to make America look weak' | LISTEN

As war gets closer in Ukraine, signs of progress are being reported from Vienna, where Iran and world powers are discussing a new nuclear agreement. Is a new deal actually within reach, and will it be a weaker, more dangerous agreement as Israeli officials have been warning? Nuclear historian Avner Cohen joins the podcast to answer these questions, and also to explain how Putin is using the Iran card against America, and why China won't mind if Iran becomes a nuclear threshold state.

Not just Ukraine: 'Putin uses Iran to make America look weak.' LISTEN

Anshel Pfeffer

Ukraine crisis: Putin shows the world his alternative reality | Analysis

Russian President Vladimir Putin began his televised address Monday night, when he announced his recognition of two separatist republics in Ukraine, with a lengthy history lecture on the “creation” of Ukraine as an artificial construct to serve the needs of the Bolshevik leaders a century ago. He then went on to another disquisition on the circumstances of the disintegration of the Soviet Union over 30 years ago.

Putin’s history lesson clarified, for those who did not yet realize it, that he lives in a revisionist historical reality of his own and that he’s determined, while there’s still a breath in his body, to turn back time until his narrative is reality.

Read full analysis here

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