Live Updates: Ukraine Suggests Israel, Turkey as Possible Security Guarantors; Russia to 'Cut Back' Operations Near Kyiv

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opening Ukrainian-Russian talks in Istanbul on Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opening Ukrainian-Russian talks in Istanbul on Tuesday. Credit: MURAT CETIN MUHURDAR - AFP

Zelenskyy to address Australian parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy will address Australia's parliament on Thursday evening by video, the parliament was told.

Employment Minister Stuart Robert told parliament on Thursday morning that Zelenskyy would make an address by video facility at 5.30pm (0730 GMT), parliament records showed.

The Australian government didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Australia has supplied defense equipment and humanitarian supplies to Ukraine, as well as imposing a ban on exports of alumina and aluminum ores, including bauxite, to Russia.

It has imposed a total of 476 sanctions on 443 individuals, including businessmen close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and 33 entities, including most of Russia’s banking sector and all entities responsible for the country's sovereign debt.


Kyiv says won't concede territory ahead of peace talks in Turkey

Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine before dawn on Tuesday as Ukrainian and Russian negotiators prepared to meet in Turkey for face-to-face talks, with Kyiv seeking a ceasefire without compromising on territory or sovereignty.

Russia continues missile and bomb strikes in an attempt to completely destroy infrastructure and residential areas of Ukrainian cities, said Ukraine military general staff.

Ukraine said it seized back control of Irpin, near Kyiv. A U.S. official said the eastern town of Trostyanets, south of Sumy, was back in Ukrainian hands. Reuters could not confirm the reports.

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning after a meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported. But a U.S. official said intelligence suggests the symptoms were due to an environmental factor, not poisoning.

The UN human rights office said 1,119 civilians had been killed and 1,790 wounded since Russia began its attack. Nearly 5,000 people, including about 210 children, have been killed in besieged Mariupol, a spokesman for its mayor said.


U.S. liaising with Ukrainian forces in Poland, Pentagon says

The Pentagon on Tuesday clarified that U.S. troops in Poland were "liaising" with Ukrainian forces as they hand over weapons to them, but were not training "in the classic sense" following remarks from President Joe Biden on the matter.

On Monday, Biden told reporters that while in Poland last week, he had been talking to U.S. troops who were helping "train" Ukrainian forces in Poland.

"It's not training in the classic sense that many people think of training. I would just say it's liaising," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

He did not provide details on what exactly the interactions entail or how long they usually lasted. It was not immediately clear whether the distinction between liaising and training had greater significance, as the United States tries to limit any direct military involvement in the war.


Thousands of civilians in Mariupol may have died in past month, says UN

Thousands of civilians may have died in the besieged port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine since bombing began four weeks ago, the head of the UN human rights mission told Reuters on Tuesday, providing its first estimate.

Nearly 5,000 people, including about 210 children, have been killed in Mariupol since Russian forces laid siege to it a month ago, a spokesperson for Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on Monday. His office said 90 percent of Mariupol's buildings had been damaged and 40 percent destroyed, including hospitals, schools, kindergartens and factories.

"We do think that there could be thousands of deaths, of civilian casualties, in Mariupol," Matilda Bogner, head of the UN human rights mission in Ukraine which deploys some 60 monitors, said in a virtual interview. She said the mission did not have a precise estimate but was working to gather more information.


White House investigating allegations of poisoning of Russian billionaire Abramovich

The Biden administration is looking into allegations Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich was poisoned earlier this month during peace negotiations aimed at ending the Ukrainian conflict, White House spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said on Tuesday.

A U.S. official said on Monday that intelligence suggests the sickening of Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators was due to an environmental factor, not poisoning.


Russian forcs have begun moving small numbers of troops away from Kyiv

Russia has started moving very small numbers of troops away from positions around Ukraine's capital Kyiv, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, adding it was more of a repositioning than a retreat or a withdrawal from the war.

"Has there been some movement by some Russian units away from Kyiv in the last day or so? Yes, we think so. Small numbers," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing.

"But we believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine. It does not mean that the threat to Kyiv is over."


Explosions heard outside Russian city close to Ukraine border

A series of explosions were heard on Tuesday night outside the Russian city of Belgorod, close to the border with Ukraine, the local governor said, adding there were no casualties.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said in an online post that the blasts occurred near the village of Krasny Oktyabr, about 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Belgorod. He did not give a reason for the blasts and promised an update later.

Video posted online from two local Belgorod news outlets appeared to show ammunition blowing up in the distance but Reuters was not immediately able to confirm this was the case.Belgorod is 80 km (50 miles) north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which Russian forces have bombarded heavily in recent weeks.


Russia-backed Donetsk Republic will consider joining Russia

The Russian-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine may consider joining Russia once it controls all of Ukraine's Donetsk region, its news outlet cited separatist leader Denis Pushilin as saying on Tuesday.

"The main task is to reach the constitutional borders of the republic. Then we will determine that," Pushilin was quoted by the Donetsk News Agency as saying.


Germany is Ukraine's second largest arms supplier, says top German official

Berlin is the second-biggest arms supplier to Ukraine at the moment, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Tuesday, responding to criticism her country was not delivering enough weapons to Kyiv.

"With regard to Ukraine, Germany has become the second-biggest arms supplier in the meantime, I believe," Lambrecht said at an event of the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, without giving details.


Germany will fast track its military's combat readiness, says defense minister

Germany will build up its military quicker than planned by bringing a division to combat-readiness two years ahead of schedule, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Tuesday, detailing Berlin's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Germany will reach NATO's planning targets faster than promised," she said, according to the draft text of a speech she was due to deliver at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington.

"We will have the planned division of the army combat-ready in 2025, two years ahead of time." While Germany does not have a single combat-ready army division at the moment, it had 12 such divisions in the 1980s during the Cold War.


U.K. wants a full withdrawl of Russian forces from Ukraine

Britain wants to see a full withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine and will judge tentative steps towards a possible peace deal by actions rather than words, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Tuesday.

Asked if Johnson was encouraged by Russia's promise to scale down military operations around Kyiv and northern Ukraine as a confidence-building step, Johnson's spokesman said "we will judge Putin and his regime by his actions, not by his words."

"There has been some reduction in Russian bombardment around Kyiv, largely because Ukrainian forces have been successfully pushing back the Russian offensives in the northwest of the city," he told reporters.

"But fighting continues. There's heavy bombardment in Mariupol and other areas. So we don't want to see anything less than a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory."

The Associated Press

Head of world's Orthodox Christians denounces Russia's invasion

The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians on Tuesday denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an “atrocious" act that is causing enormous suffering.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I didn't mention Russia by name in comments made during a visit to Warsaw after meeting with Ukrainian refugees. Poland has accepted the largest number of people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

“It is simply impossible to imagine how much devastation this atrocious invasion has caused for the Ukrainian people and the entire world,” Bartholomew said at a news briefing. He added that solidarity with Ukrainians “is the only thing that can overcome evil and darkness in the world.”


The Netherlands and Belgium expel Russian diplomats accused of spying

The Netherlands has expelled 17 Russian intelligence agents who were accredited as diplomats, based on information from its own security services, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The reason for this (decision) is information from the AIVD and MIVD showing that the individuals in question, accredited as diplomats at the Russian representations in the Netherlands, are secretly active as intelligence officers," the ministry said.

Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said the government was prepared for any retaliation by Moscow. "Experience shows that Russia does not leave such measures unanswered. We cannot speculate on that, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is prepared for various scenarios that may occur in the near future," he said in a statement.

Belgium has expelled 21 Russian diplomats for alleged spying and posing threats to security, the foreign affairs ministry told Reuters on Tuesday after a Belga news agency report that did not give sources.

The 21 Russians worked at Moscow's embassy in Brussels and consulate in Antwerp. They were all accredited as diplomats but were working on spying and influencing operations, a ministry spokesperson said.The Dutch foreign ministry also on Tuesday expelled 17 Russian intelligence agents who were accredited as diplomats, based on information from its own security services, its foreign affairs ministry said.

The Associated Press

IAEA chief lands in Ukraine to ensure safety at nuclear facilities

The UN nuclear watchdog's director-general arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday for talks with senior government officials on delivering “urgent technical assistance” to ensure the safety of the country’s nuclear facilities, the agency said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Rafael Mariano Grossi’s aim is to “to initiate prompt safety and security support” for Ukraine’s nuclear sites. That will include sending IAEA experts to “prioritized facilities,” which it didn't identify, and sending “vital safety and security supplies” including monitoring and emergency equipment.

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.

Ukraine's ambassador to Israel accuses minister of forgetting lessons of the Holocaust

Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel accused Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked of forgetting the lessons of Jewish history, including the Holocaust, during a cultural event in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, urging her to open up the gates for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

“Today Ukraine is facing horrible humanitarian catastrophe. I feel sorry for Minister Shaked, who forgot that the Jewish people have been refugees for all of their lives. Unfortunately the lessons of history already forgotten. Let me remind you [of] the case of the St.Louis - a vessel boarded with Jews who were trying to escape the horrors of war in Europe and failed to find a safe harbor,” Yevgen Korniychuk said at the opening of a photography exhibition about the war.

The MS St. Louis was a passenger ship carrying hundreds of Jewish refugees which was turned back by various western countries, including Cuba and the United States, before returning its passengers to Europe in 1939.

“Today Ukrainians is facing artificial obstacles to enter Israel and escape horrors of war,” Korniychuk said, stating that he believed most Israelis agreed with him and calling on “the Israeli government to wake up and accompany the spirit of the Jewish people in their actions.”

Korniychuk’s comments came a day after the state informed Israel's High Court that it will continue to restrict the entry of Ukrainian refugees who are not eligible for immigration to Israel under the Law of Return and have no relatives in the country, despite the existence of a visa-free travel agreement between Jerusalem and Kyiv.

Israel's quota for Ukrainian refugees who are ineligible for Israeli citizenship and have no relatives in Israel is 5,000 – though the state said it would allow 20 additional refugees in this category to enter per day, even if the quota is exceeded.


Peace talks in Turkey between Ukraine and Russia have ended

Peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiating teams, held in Istanbul on Tuesday, will not continue for a second day, the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Russia has decided to drastically cut its military activity around Kyiv and Chernihiv in Ukraine, one of its deputy defence ministers said earlier.


Biden, European leader to hold call on Ukraine, Tuesday

U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a call with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said.

Biden is scheduled to convene the call with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 9:15 A.M. (1315 GMT), it said.


Negotiations have yielded significant progress', says Turkish Foreign Minister

Peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Istanbul have yielded "the most significant progress" in the path to a ceasefire since negotiations started, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says.

"We are extremely happy to see an increased rapprochement between the two sides at every stage," Cavusoglu said, adding the top priority is to "secure ceasefire as soon as possible and pave the way for a lasting political solution."

"We see progress to this end in today's meeting," he said, adding foreign ministers of both countries are expected to meet in the next phase to set a mutual understanding and set the stage for a meeting between presidents of Ukraine and Russia.

Turkey separately encouraged both sides to announce a ceasefire and facilitate humanitarian corridors and aid, Cavusoglu added.


Russia promises to scale down northern Ukraine ops in Istanbul peace talks

Russia promised at peace talks on Tuesday to scale down its military operations around Kyiv and northern Ukraine, while Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status but with international guarantees that it would be protected from attack.

The talks in a palace in Istanbul came as Russia's invasion has been halted on most fronts by strong resistance, with Ukrainians recapturing territory in counter-attacks, even as civilians are trapped in besieged cities.

"In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achieving the ultimate goal of agreeing and signing (an) agreement, a decision was made to radically, by a large margin, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions," Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin told reporters.

Russia's General Staff would reveal more detail about those decisions after the Russian delegation returned to Moscow, Fomin added.

The talks held in Istanbul on Tuesday were the first face-to-face meeting between the sides since March 10.

Read more here

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.

Ukraine calls for Israel, other nations, to ban Russian troops’ Z symbol

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for a global ban on a symbol used by Russian troops in Ukraine which has become emblematic of Moscow’s invasion of the former Soviet Republic.

In a post on Twitter, Kuleba called “on all states to criminalize the use of the ‘Z’ symbol as a way to publicly support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” stating that it represents “Russian war crimes, bombed out cities [and] thousands of murdered Ukrainians.”

“Public support of this barbarism,” he insisted, “must be forbidden.”

The Ukrainian embassy sent a diplomatic note to the Israeli Foreign Ministry asking about a ban on the symbol earlier on Tuesday, although a ministry spokesman told Haaretz in the afternoon that he was not aware of any request.

Officials in the German states of Bavaria and Lower Saxony have criminalized the public display of the Z symbol while lawmakers and politicians in Lithuania and Latvia have called for a ban in their respective countries. It was banned within Ukraine this week.

A variety of Nazi and Communist symbols have already been prohibited in Ukraine since 2015, although there has been some controversy over the years regarding the continued public use by the far-right of the symbols of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the 1st Galician, many of whose soldiers were Ukrainian nationalists.


Ukraine president tells Danish parliament Russia sanctions must be tightened

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Danish parliament that Europe must tighten sanctions on Russia, including by blocking trade, stopping buying oil and closing ports to Russian ships.

Speaking via video link, Zelenskiy reiterated that some 100,000 people were still trapped in Ukraine's southern city of Mariupol, which is encircled by Russian forces and under bombardment.


Kremlin says Abramovich acting as go-between in Ukraine talks

Erdogan and businessman Roman Abramovich ahead of the Ukraine-Russia talks in Istanbul, Turkey.Credit: Sergey Karpuhin / POOL / Sputnik

Billionaire Roman Abramovich is not an official member of the Russian team negotiating with Ukraine, but is present at the talks in Turkey to "enable certain contacts" between the two sides, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

"Roman Abramovich is involved in enabling certain contacts between the Russian and Ukrainian sides," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call.

"He is not an official member of the delegation... but nevertheless he is also present today in Istanbul from our side," he said.


Three killed in rocket strike on Mykolaiv region headquarters in southern Ukraine

At least three people were killed and 22 wounded on Tuesday when a rocket struck the regional administration building in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv, the Ukrainian emergencies service said.

In an online post, it said 18 of the wounded had been pulled from the rubble by rescue workers who continue to work at the scene.


Kremlin: Russia and U.S. will need security dialogue sooner or later

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russia and the United States would need to have a dialogue on security sooner or later, but that their relations would inevitably be affected by "personal insults" by U.S. President Joe Biden directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Personal insults cannot but leave their mark on relations between heads of state," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

However, he said: "One way or another, sooner or later, we will have to speak about questions of strategic stability and security and so on."


Kremlin denies Abramovich poisoning claim

The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed reports that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich had been poisoned, saying they were untrue and part of an "information war."

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Abramovich was not an official member of the Russian delegation at talks with Ukraine in Turkey, but that he was present at them.

Peskov told reporters on a conference call that it would become clear either on Tuesday or Wednesday if the peace talks were promising.


Ukraine says negotiators discuss security guarantees, ceasefire to solve humanitarian issues

Security guarantees and organizing a ceasefire to resolve humanitarian problems were being discussed at talks in Turkey between Ukraine and Russia on Tuesday, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

"Intensive consultations are underway right now on some important issues, the most important of which is agreement on international security guarantees for Ukraine, because with this agreement we will be able to end the war as Ukraine needs," said political adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on national television."

The second issue is a ceasefire to solve all the humanitarian problems that have accumulated," he said.

He said another problem was the "escalation of the war" including what he said, without giving details, was the "violation of the rules of war".


Russia warns U.S. of consequences for 'cyber aggression'

Russia's foreign ministry on Tuesday accused the United States of leading a massive cyber operation targeting Russian state institutions on a daily basis and said it would find those responsible for the "cyber aggression."

"There should be no doubt that cyber aggression unleashed against Russia will lead to severe consequences for its instigators and perpetrators," the ministry said in a statement.

"The sources of attacks will be identified and the attackers will inevitably be held accountable for their actions in accordance with the law," it said.


Abramovich attends Ukraine-Russia talks in Istanbul

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators began the first direct peace talks in more than two weeks on Tuesday in Istanbul, with the surprise attendance of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich who is sanctioned by the West over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The two teams sat facing each other at a long table in the presidential office, with the Russian oligarch sitting in the front row of observers wearing a blue suit, a Turkish presidential video feed showed.

Three sources confirmed the unexpected attendance of Abramovich, who had already visited the country since the war began and has two of his superyachts docked at Turkish resorts.

According to the Wall Street Journal and the investigative outlet Bellingcat, which cited people familiar with the matter, Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning earlier this month after a meeting in Kyiv.


Russian, Ukrainian delegations arrive in Istanbul for talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed Russian and Ukrainian negotiators as they arrived at his office in Dolmabahce Palace for talks to end the "tragedy," Erdogan said, adding everyone will benefit from an immediate ceasefire.

Erdogan, who has garnered good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow, said he remains optimistic of a ceasefire deal. However, negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations are proving to be difficult.

Kyiv wants a withdrawal of Russian troops from its territories as well as additional security guarantees.

Moscow is demanding that Ukraine renounce its NATO bid, recognize the breakaway eastern Ukrainian separatist areas as separate states and the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, annexed in 2014, as part of Russia.


Erdogan says Istanbul talks can pave way for Ukraine-Russia leaders' meeting

Progress in talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators starting in Istanbul on Tuesday would pave the way for a meeting of the countries' two leaders, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told the delegations ahead of the talks.

In a televised speech to the negotiators in Istanbul, Erdogan said the time has come for talks to yield concrete results and called for an immediate ceasefire, saying that "stopping this tragedy" was up to both sides.


U.S., allies to aim sanctions at more Russian sectors, supply chains, says Treasury's Adeyemo

The United States and its allies plan new sanctions on more sectors of Russia's economy that are critical to sustaining its invasion of Ukraine, including supply chains, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Tuesday.

Adeyemo, speaking in London on a European trip to consult with allies on strengthening and enforcing sanctions to punish Russia, said that the broadening of these efforts was aimed at undermining "the Kremlin's ability to operate its war machine."

"In addition to sanctioning companies in sectors that enable the Kremlin's malign activities, we also plan to take actions to disrupt their critical supply chains," Adeyemo said in remarks prepared for deliver at London-based think tank Chatham House.

"These are actions we will take in coordination with the more than 30 partners and allies that have joined our coalition in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine," he added, without identifying specific sectors or companies.


U.K.: Abramovich suspected poisoning claims 'very concerning'

Claims that Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich suffered suspected poisoning during attempts to aid peace talks between Kiev and Moscow in Ukraine are "very concerning," the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has said.

It said the U.K. will "continue to assist" by implementing tough sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime as well as by providing defensive and humanitarian support to put Ukraine "in the strongest possible negotiating position."

It was reported on Monday that Abramovich was among a group who suffered symptoms consistent with poisoning after attending peace talks in Ukraine.

The Russian oligarch, who is involved in talks between Kiev and Moscow, along with at least two Ukrainian negotiators, developed red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands since the meeting at the start of the month, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Sources told the PA news agency Abramovich had now recovered and was continuing to try to help with the negotiations.


Amnesty's head accuses Russia of war crimes in Mariupol

Amnesty International is accusing Russia of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

The human rights organization will soon release an in-depth report on the devastation caused by Russia's assault on the city on the Sea of Azov, Amnesty's Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in a press conference in Johannesburg.

“The siege of Mariupol, the denial of humanitarian evacuation and humanitarian escape for the population, and the targeting of civilians, according to Amnesty International's investigation, amounts to war crimes," said Callamard. “That is the reality of Ukraine right now.”

Callamard said "the crisis in Ukraine right now, the invasion ... is not just any kind of violation of international law. It is an aggression. It is a violation of the UN charter of the kind that we saw when the U.S. invaded Iraq.”

On other topics, Amnesty released its annual report Tuesday, with Callamard noting that, amid the pandemic, large corporations and wealthy countries had increased global inequality in 2021.
“Noxious corporate greed and brutal national selfishness, as well as neglect of health and public infrastructure,” deepened existing global inequalities, Callamard said.


Kremlin spokesperson: Russia will not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine conflict

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told PBS in an interview on Monday that Russia would resort to nuclear weapons only in the case of a "threat to the existence" of his country — and not as a result of the current conflict with Ukraine.

"But any outcome of the operation (in Ukraine), of course is not a reason for usage of a nuclear weapon," Peskov said.

"We have a security concept that very clearly states that only when there is a threat for existence of the state, in our country, we can use and we will actually use nuclear weapons to eliminate the threat for the existence of our country."


British intel: Private Russian military company deployed in Ukraine

British military intelligence said on Monday the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, has been deployed to eastern Ukraine.

“They are expected to deploy more than 1,000 mercenaries, including senior leaders of the organization, to undertake combat operations,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said.


Biden says his remarks on Putin reflect his 'moral outrage,' not U.S. policy

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday his remark in Warsaw that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be removed from power reflected his own moral outrage, not an administration policy shift.

"I wasn't then nor am I now articulating a policy change. I was expressing moral outrage that I felt, and I make no apologies," he told reporters at the White House, noting that prior to the remark, made in a speech on Saturday, he had visited with families displaced by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

At the end of the speech in the Polish capital, Biden added an unscripted line, saying that Putin "cannot remain in power." Administration officials rushed to clarify afterward that the White House was not advocating for regime change in Russia.

Biden added on Monday that he was "not walking anything back" by clarifying the remark. Asked whether the remark would spur a negative response from Putin, Biden said, "I don’t care what he thinks. ... He’s going to do what he’s going to do."

But Biden once again suggested Putin should not be leading Russia. If Putin "continues on the course that he’s on, he’s going to become a pariah worldwide and who knows what he becomes at home in terms of support," Biden said.

Bar Peleg

Israel will restrict entry of non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees with no relatives in Israel

The state informed Israel's High Court on Monday that it will continue to restrict the entry of Ukrainian refugees who are not eligible for immigration to Israel under the Law of Return and have no relatives in the country.

Israel's quota for Ukrainian refugees who are ineligible for Israeli citizenship and have no relatives in Israel is 5,000 – though the state said it would allow 20 additional refugees in this category to enter per day, even if the quota is exceeded.

In response to a petition filed against the refugee intake outline, the state said that since the war in Ukraine began, a total of 11,000 Ukrainian citizens who aren't eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return have entered Israel. About 4,975 of them also have no Israeli relatives, and thus, they entered the country within the quota of 5,000.

According to the state's response, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has said she will continue to allow Ukrainians who have relatives in Israel – but are ineligible for immigration under the Law of Return – to enter the country without restriction.

Anshel Pfeffer

Russia forcing occupied Ukrainians to use its mobile network

Civilians in the Russian-occupied areas of southeast Ukraine are being forced to use Russian SIM cards in their phones so Russia can block the flow of information from the areas it has captured.

Ukrainian civilians who have remained in the towns of Berdyansk and Melitopol on the coast of the Sea of Azov, which have been occupied by the Russian army, have been given Russian SIM cards by the occupying forces with which to communicate, according to a Western intelligence source.

Read the full report here.


UN exploring possibility of humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday he has directed the world body's aid chief "to explore with the parties involved" the possibility of a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine.

Guterres also appealed for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire "to allow for progress in serious political negotiations, aimed at reaching a peace agreement based on the principles of the United Nations Charter."



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