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Russia

Stories under this heading cover Russia, as well as countries in the eastern part of the European continent, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.

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More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners have expressed interest in a new initiative that offers them the opportunity to exchange their prison sentence for military service. According to Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Olena Vysotska, more than 3,000 prisoners have already signed up to contribute to strengthening Ukraine's armed forces. "This response is in line with our expectations when introducing this legislation," Vysotska stated. Furthermore, she noted that up to 20,000 prisoners could potentially be eligible to participate in the programme, with approximately 4,500 having expressed interest thus far. It is important to stress that prisoners convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, other sexual violence, and crimes against national security are excluded from this scheme. This development coincides with Ukraine's urgent need for additional troops in its ongoing conflict with Russia. Russia has similarly implemented analogous arrangements for prisoners of war in the context of this conflict.
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More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

More than 3,000 Ukrainian prisoners join army to fight against Russia

Thousands of Ukrainian prisoners have expressed interest in a new initiative that offers them the opportunity to exchange their prison sentence for military service. According to Ukrainian Deputy Justice Minister Olena Vysotska, more than 3,000 prisoners have already signed up to contribute to strengthening Ukraine's armed forces. "This response is in line with our expectations when introducing this legislation," Vysotska stated. Furthermore, she noted that up to 20,000 prisoners could potentially be eligible to participate in the programme, with approximately 4,500 having expressed interest thus far. It is important to stress that prisoners convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, other sexual violence, and crimes against national security are excluded from this scheme. This development coincides with Ukraine's urgent need for additional troops in its ongoing conflict with Russia. Russia has similarly implemented analogous arrangements for prisoners of war in the context of this conflict.

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Russian cruise missiles destroyed in explosion in Crimea

Russian cruise missiles destroyed in explosion in Crimea

Russian Kalibr cruise missiles have been destroyed in an explosion in the Crimean city of Dzhankoi late on Monday (20 March). According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, they were being transported by rail at the time of the explosion. As has become standard, Ukrainian authorities confirmed the explosions in Dzhankoi, located in the north of the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, but they did not claim an attack. "The [explosions] continue the process of Russia's demilitarisation and prepares the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea for de-occupation," the Ukrainian Defence Ministry said in a statement. Sergei Aksenov, the head of Moscow-installed proxies in Crimea, said that Russian air defense had been working in Dzhankoi, saying that the wreckage injured one person and damaged a household and a shop. Meanwhile Igor Ivin, the head of the occupying administration in Dzhankoi, reported a drone attack. The Kalibr missiles which have reportedly been destroyed in the explosion are designed to be launched from surface ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
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Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin

Xi Jinping arrives in Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin

The Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Moscow for face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday (20 March). Both the Kremlin and China foreign ministry have been tight-lipped about the purpose of the trip, revealing only that Xi and Putin will discuss a "comprehensive partnership and strategic co-operation", adding that Xi will be in Moscow until Wednesday. The visit comes only days after the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued Vladimir Putin with an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes, namely the unlawful deportation of people, including children, from Ukraine to Russia. Xi Jinping is scheduled to have lunch with the Russian President before an informal one-to-one meeting this afternoon, while formal talks with delegations are planned for tomorrow. Ever since 24 February 2022, China's stance over the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has been somewhat ambiguous. China has neither openly welcomed the war, nor openly criticised Russia. Less than a month ago China also published its own 12-point peace plan to bring the war in Ukraine to an end, calling for peace talks and respect for national sovereignty.
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International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin

International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued an international arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova. In a statement released on Friday (17 March), the ICC said that both Putin and Lvova-Belova are "allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation". The statement says that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that both Mr Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova bear "individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes". It also adds that the ICC had considered issuing secret warrants, but decided that public awareness of the warrants "may contribute to the prevention of the further commission of crimes". Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the Ukrainian government estimates that Russia has deported as many as 16,000 Ukrainian children, to Russia.
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Editorial
Editorial: Russia is not interested in peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, nor in the future of Karabakh and its people

Editorial: Russia is not interested in peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, nor in the future of Karabakh and its people

"It is not in the Kremlin’s interest for Armenia and Azerbaijan to normalise relations between them, for lasting peace in the South Caucasus and for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to prosper in a safe and tolerant environment," writes commonspace.eu in this editorial. "Moscow does not want another big war in the region, but it does not want peace either. However it is now time for this vicious circle to be broken, and the next weeks will tell us if this is possible." They add that "in the end it is going to be up to Mr Ilham Aliyev and Mr Nikol Pashinyan to decide if the time has finally come to break the Russian hold and settle for peace. It is decision time, but doubts linger...There are those who are waiting for Moscow to actively support these efforts, or at least not hinder them. They wait in vain."
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Russian fighter jet and US drone collide over the Black Sea

Russian fighter jet and US drone collide over the Black Sea

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet has collided with an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea. The collision rendered the drone "unflyable" according to the Pentagon, forcing the U.S. to crash the drone into the sea. Before the collision, Russian jets are said to have dumped fuel into the path of the drone which the US says was in international airspace. The confrontation between the drone and the fighter jet is said to have lasted between 30-40 minutes, with the collision happening at 07.03 CET. The collision occurred approximately 200km south of Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa. Russia has denied its two Su-27 fighter jets made any contact. In a statement, U.S. Air Force General James Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, said "Our MQ-9 aircraft was conducting routine operations in international airspace when it was intercepted and hit by a Russian aircraft, resulting in a crash and complete loss of the MQ-9." "In fact, this unsafe and unprofessional act by the Russians nearly caused both aircraft to crash," Hecker said.
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EU extends sanctions on Russia for another six months

EU extends sanctions on Russia for another six months

The European Council has announced that it will extend sanctions on Russia for another six months, until 15 September 2023. In a statement released on Monday (13 March), the Council announced: "The existing restrictive measures provide for travel restrictions for natural persons, the freezing of assets, and a ban on making funds or other economic resources available to the listed individuals and entities. Sanctions will continue to apply to 1,473 individuals and 205 entities, many of which are targeted in response to Russia’s ongoing unjustified and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine."The statement continued: "After 24 February 2022, in response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the EU massively expanded sanctions against Russia with the aim of significantly weakening Russia's economic base, depriving it of critical technologies and markets, and significantly curtailing its ability to wage war."
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Wagner troops try to break into central Bakhmut but suffer "significant" losses

Wagner troops try to break into central Bakhmut but suffer "significant" losses

Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine's Ground Forces, has said in the morning of Monday (13 March) that fighting around the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut - an industrial town with a pre-war population of some 70,000 - remains "difficult" as assault units of the Russian Kremlin-backed mercenary group Wagner continue trying to break through Ukrainian defense lines and advance to the central areas of the city. Quoted by the Ukrainian defense ministry's media center, Syrskyi said "in fierce battles, our defenders inflict significant losses on the enemy. All enemy attempts to capture the city are repelled by artillery, tanks, and other firepower." Russia, and in large part Wagner, has been trying to take Bakhmut for some seven months. In recent weeks Russian and Wagner forces have slowly advanced towards the town and have reportedly partially encircled it. Last week Ukraine is understood to have partially withdrawn to west of the Bakhmutka river that divides Bakhmut, and now marks the front line.