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Russia expands list of ‘unfriendly countries’

Russia has expanded its list of “unfriendly countries” to include Greece, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia and Slovakia, the Russian government has announced.

The blacklisted countries are subject to a quota or even a complete ban when their embassies, consulates and government bodies in Russia want to hire local employees, Xinhua news agency reported.

Now Greece has a limit of 34 people, Denmark 20, Slovakia 16, while Slovenia and Croatia will not be able to hire employees in their diplomatic missions and consular offices, the Russian government said in a statement on Friday.

“Naturally, being included in the list of unfriendly countries entails a decrease in the level of contacts (with Russia),” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily briefing commenting on the government decision.

He did not rule out that the affected countries may face other consequences in addition to the restrictions on the recruitment of personnel.

Russia, Ukraine sign grain deal

Russia and Ukraine separately signed a deal in Istanbul with Turkiye and the United Nations to resume grain shipments from Ukrainian ports to international markets via the Black Sea.

The deal was first signed by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar and the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and later by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov with the other two sides, Xinhua news agency reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: Twitter@KremlinRussia_E)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also attended the ceremony.

The first round of negotiations among military delegations of Turkiye, Russia, and Ukraine, and the United Nations representatives concluded last week with an agreement on the basic principles of the shipment process through the Black Sea. The sides also agreed to establish a coordination center in Istanbul to conduct and control the shipment process.

According to the state-run Anadolu agency, the deal will allow approximately 20 million tons of grain waiting at the ports in Ukraine to be shipped to the world via the Black Sea.

ALSO READ: EU to tighten sanctions on Russia

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Putin warns Germany, France against pumping Ukraine with weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned his European colleagues that pumping Ukraine with Western weapons carries the risks of destabilization, reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a conversation with French and German leaders Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, pointed out the danger of pumping Ukraine with Western weapons. He warned European colleagues that this carries the risks of destabilization.

“The Russian President also sharpened the issue of the dangerous nature of the ongoing pumping of Ukraine with Western weapons, warning in this regard of the risks of further destabilization of the situation and aggravation of the humanitarian crisis,” the Kremlin’s press service said, RT reported.

Putin also announced Moscow’s readiness to facilitate the search for options for the unhindered export of grain.

It is noted that the Russian leader explained the reasons for the difficulties with food supplies, which were the result of the erroneous economic policy of Western countries.

“For its part, Russia is ready to help find options for the unhindered export of grain, including the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports,” the Kremlin said.

Earlier, Putin, in a conversation with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, noted that Russia is ready to help overcome the food crisis through the export of grain and fertilizers, but for this it is necessary to remove politically motivated restrictions imposed by Western countries.

ALSO READ: Trump urges Biden admin to prioritise school security funding over Ukraine aid

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Ukraine claims coup to oust Putin already underway

Major General Kyrylo Budanov said he believed a turning point in the conflict will come later this summer and will eventually see Putin ousted from office

‘Ukraine’s spy chief has claimed that a coup to remove Russian President Vladimir Putin is “already underway” and that Moscow would lose the war by the end of this year.

Major General Kyrylo Budanov said he believed a turning point in the conflict will come later this summer and will eventually see Putin ousted from office, the Daily Mail reported.

“The breaking point will be in the second part of August,” General Budanov told Sky News.

“Most of the active combat will have finished by the end of this year. It will eventually lead to the change of leadership of the Russian Federation. This process has already been launched.

“As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our territories,” he added.

It was also claimed by an unnamed Russian oligarch that Putin is “very ill with blood cancer”, the Daily Mail reported.

The oligarch, who has close ties to the Kremlin, claimed a number of the health problems Putin is believed to be suffering from are linked to him having blood cancer.

General Budanov’s comments are the most upbeat assessment given by any Ukrainian official since the war began on February 24.

But the Ukrainian head of military intelligence was one of the few top officials to correctly predict Russian troops and tanks would pour over the war-torn nation’s borders to try to seize its territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with the Defence Ministry leadership and defence industry heads. (Photo: Twitter@KremlinRussia_E)

However, in a rebuke to Russia’s claims of military prowess, he branded Moscow’s army “a horde of people with weapons”, adding that “this highly publicised Russian power is a myth”.

General Budanov also claimed Putin is in a “very bad psychological and physical condition”, saying that he is suffering from cancer and other illnesses, the Daily Mail reported.

His health has been the subject of speculation this year, with his face becoming visibly puffy from what has been described as steroid use to treat one of his conditions.

ALSO READ: Putin humiliating himself on the world stage, says Truss

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Putin plans ‘all-out war’ on Ukraine ‘within days’

Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that Putin might use Russia’s victory day parade on May 9 to announce the mass mobilisation of his reserves for a final push in Ukraine, reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to declare an “all-out war” on Ukraine “within days” to enable Moscow to launch a general mobilisation of the population, according to Russian sources and Western officials.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what Putin called a “special military operation” to “demilitarise and de-nazify” Ukraine and barred the use of the word “war”, thinking it would be over in a few weeks, The Daily Mail reported.

However, army chiefs, frustrated that the invasion has now stretched into the third week, have called on the President to declare war which would enable a mass mobilisation of Russian troops and an escalation in the conflict.

Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that Putin might use Russia’s victory day parade on May 9 to announce the mass mobilisation of his reserves for a final push in Ukraine.

It comes as former NATO chief Richard Sherriff warned the West must “gear itself up” for a “worst case scenario” war with Russia in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: Twitter@KremlinRussia_E)

A Russian military source told the Telepgraph: “The military are outraged that the blitz on Kiev has failed. People in the army are seeking payback for failures of the past and they want to go further in Ukraine.”

Earlier this week, the Russian military was said to be furious that Putin had downsized the invasion of Ukraine and called for a new escalation of the conflict.

ALSO READ: China’s ‘low profile strategy’ in Russia-Ukraine war

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Biden calls Putin ‘a butcher’

After initially looking to downplay a personal rivalry between himself and Putin, Biden has ramped up his rhetoric against Putin over the last 10 days, reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden on Saturday called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” after meeting refugees in Warsaw, Poland, in an intense criticism of the Russian leader’s actions in Ukraine that have seen millions of refugees flee to the neighbouring countries, CNN reported.

During his visit, Biden was asked by reporters what seeing the Ukrainian refugees at Stadion Narodowy made him think of as he deals with Putin every day.

Biden responded: “He’s a butcher”, CNN reported.

After initially looking to downplay a personal rivalry between himself and Putin, Biden has ramped up his rhetoric against Putin over the last 10 days.

Last week, Biden for the first time called Putin a “war criminal” and then later referred to him as a “murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine”.

He has also called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “inhumane”, CNN reported.

Biden’s new insults further narrow the window of opportunity for improving Russian-American relations. This was stated by the press secretary of Putin, Dmitry Peskov, RT reported.

“Of course, such personal insults narrow the window of opportunity for our bilateral relations under the current administration of the US. We must be aware of this,” he was quoted as saying.

Peskov noted that the leader of the state must remain sober.

ALSO READ: Ukraine War Hits Regional Equations

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Former UK PMs call for Nuremberg-style trial for Putin

Former UK Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Sir John Major have called for a new international tribunal to probe Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine, reports Asian Lite News

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that he backs a “Nuremberg-style” trial for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine, the media reported on Saturday.

Brown is among 140 academics, lawyers and politicians, including Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba and another former British Prime Minister John Major, who have signed a petition calling for the setting up of a new legal system based on the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after the Second World War, the BBC reported.

The petition has already been backed by 740,000 people so far.

(Photo: Twitter@KremlinRussia_E)

Writing in an article for the Daily Mail published late Friday, Brown said creating a new tribunal would close off this “loophole” in international law “that Putin could use to dodge justice”.

“We must move with speed, to assure the people of Ukraine that we are committed to action and not just warm words – and we must make Putin’s collaborators aware that the noose is tightening. If they do not distance themselves from Putin, they face prosecution and prison.

“From Britain – which rightly prides itself on democracy and the rule of law – the message must go out. At Nuremberg we held the Nazi war criminals to account. Eight decades on, we must ensure there will be a day of reckoning for Putin,” he added.

Brown’s remark comes as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is currently investigating Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

(Photo: Twitter@zelenskiy.official)

But, The Hague-based court cannot pursue the crime of aggression without a referral from the UN Security Council, which Russia could veto, said the BBC report.

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, several world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have accused Putin of carrying out war crimes.

Earlier this week, Biden called his Russian counterpart a “war criminal”, triggering the Kremlin to denounce the branding saying that it was an “unacceptable and unforgiveable rhetoric”.

ALSO READ: Panic-struck Europeans begin mass food purchase

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‘This might be the last time you see me alive’: Zelensky tells allies

The Ukrainian presidential advisor earlier warned that Russia wants to kill Zelensky if it takes Ukraine’s capital, reports Asian Lite News

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky had an ominous warning for his European counterparts in a video conference call on Thursday night, Sky News reported.

According to a journalist at Israel’s Walla News, he told other leaders: “This might be the last time you see me alive.”

The Ukrainian presidential advisor earlier warned that Russia wants to kill Zelensky if it takes Ukraine’s capital.

It’s believed Russia is planning to install a puppet government in Ukraine should it successfully capture Kiev, the report said.

:The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has published pictures of the border service facilities in the Kyiv region that were shot by Russian troops on Thursday Feb. 24, 2022 not long after Russian troops launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine.(Photo:IANS/Twitter)

A squad of Chechen special forces ‘hunters’ has been unleashed in Ukraine to detain or kill a set of specific Ukrainian officials, Daily Mail reported.

Each soldier was reportedly given a special ‘deck of cards’ with Ukrainian officials’ photos and descriptions on them, a Moscow Telegram channel with links to the security establishment reported, Daily Mail reported.

The list is of officials and security officers suspected of ‘crimes’ by the Russian Investigative Committee, the report added.

It came as Ukraine’s President admitted that he is ‘target number one’ for Russian assassins in his capital, while his family is ‘the number two goal’ for Putin’s hitmen.

The Chechen squad is thought to be in a Ukrainian forest and was allegedly given an ‘order to kill’ if those on the wanted list could not be detained, the report said.

ALSO READ: Russia turning into a rogue state under Putin

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Russia planning to invade Ukraine on Feb 16?

According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, the US Secret Service, CIA and the Pentagon are said to have received intel of an “exceptionally detailed” invasion plan, scheduled for February 16.

Russia is planning to invade Ukraine on February 16, a credible intelligence report has claimed, as US President Joe Biden urgently arranged a telephone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday in a bid to prevent war, the Daily Mail reported.

According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, the US Secret Service, CIA and the Pentagon are said to have received intel of an “exceptionally detailed” invasion plan, scheduled for February 16.

The plans were passed on to Biden’s government and discussed in a series of secret briefings with NATO allies, the Daily Mail reported.

They are said to contain specific routes that might be taken by individual Russian units and detail what roles they might play in the conflict.

Ukrainian border patrol troops guard the country’s border to Hungary (Photo: -/Ukrinform/dpa/IANS)

Der Speigel suggests the US is mulling whether to make the plans public in a bid to undermine them.

The White House confirmed that Biden and Putin would discuss the crisis by phone today – just hours after thousands of Britons and Americans were warned to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as tensions reached boiling point.

The warning came amid fears that Putin could launch an “aerial bombardment” of Kiev, risking a high civilian death toll.

Several other countries have now told their citizens to get out of the country, including Belgium, who on Saturday warned there would be “no guarantee of evacuation” following a “sudden deterioration”, as “communication links including internet and telephone lines could be seriously affected” and air travel hampered.

ALSO READ: Britons advised to leave Ukraine now

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Putin likely to flag key deals under ‘Atmanirbhar’ logo

With the defence ties being an integral pillar of the ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ between the two countries, India has welcomed Russia’s willingness to actively engage in its ‘Make in India’ initiative for co-development and production of high technology defence items, a report by Ateet Sharma

The Military-Technical Cooperation (MTC) between India and Russia is expected to grow stronger when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold the 21st India-Russia Annual Summit in New Delhi on Monday.

Delivery of the S-400 air defence system and purchase of nearly seven lakh Kalashnikov assault rifles from Moscow, along with plans on joint research and development activities to create new weapons and military equipment systems, will be at the top of the agenda of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu when they both meet for the inaugural 2+2 Dialogue.

With the defence ties being an integral pillar of the ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’ between the two countries, India has welcomed Russia’s willingness to actively engage in its ‘Make in India’ initiative for co-development and production of high technology defence items.

“A lot of preparatory work has been done, during which Russian specialists, together with Indian partners, have developed an effective production model,” Bekkhan Ozdoev, Industrial Director of the weapons complex of Russian state-owned technology conglomerate Rostec, told Moscow-based media group RBC last week on India signing a $590 million contract with Kalashnikov during Putin’s New Delhi visit.

(Photo_India Narrative)

India has last month carved out seven new defence companies out of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) which, as PM Modi said on Vijayadashami, would play an important role in import substitution, in line with the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

If all goes well, the production of the latest AK-203 series of the iconic Kalashnikov rifles will begin in the first quarter of 2022 at Korwa Ordnance Factory in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi.

Expanding Indian-Russian military cooperation

The growing Modi-Putin camaraderie, and the increasing multifaceted bilateral cooperation, is highlighted by the fact that the two leaders have met each other 19 times since 2014.

After their last meeting at the BRICS Summit in Brasilia in November 2019, both have had six telephonic conversations during the Covid-19 pandemic and several virtual interactions on various multilateral platforms.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the establishment of the India-Russia Strategic Partnership and the 11th anniversary of its elevation to a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.

Russian RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile systems are seen on the Red Square for the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2019. (XinhuaBai XueqiIANS)

Russia ranks first in the field of military-technical cooperation between India and foreign countries, acquiring more than 60% of military and technical equipment, including the procurement of spare parts and components for licensed production of weapons and military equipment.

New Delhi has stressed that over the years that the partnership with Moscow has gone from simple buyer-seller relationships to collaborative research, development and production of first-class combat platforms.

The production of supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, jointly developed by India’s DRDO and NPOM of Russia, and the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks remain a standout example of India-Russia defence cooperation.

Both parties are also involved in the joint design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter and the Multipurpose Transport Aircraft, supply of MiG-29K aircraft, MI-17 and Kamov-31 helicopters, modernization of MiG-29 aircraft, manufacturing of frigates and supply of Multiple Launch Missile Systems.

“In our January 26 parade this year, a lot of exhibits were Russian made.that is the measure of cooperation that we have in defence sector,” said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla at Moscow’s Russian Diplomatic Academy, earlier this year.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting the ‘Zvezda’ Shipbuilding Plant, at Vladivostok, in Russia on September 04, 2019. (PIB)

India has also taken a number of steps to expedite the collaboration between the Indian and Russian companies after the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on the joint manufacturing of spares in India signed in Vladivostok on September 4, 2019.

The IGA provides a framework for partnership of Russian Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) with Indian industry for manufacturing of spare parts of Russian origin equipment in use by the Indian defence forces under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Besides conducting INDRA joint military exercises, the Defence Ministers of both the countries continue to hold their annual meetings, alternately in Russia and India, even during the ongoing pandemic.

Last year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Moscow to participate in an event to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory Day Parade at Red Square, had discussed a broad range of areas of cooperation between the two countries in a meeting with Russian Defence Minister, General Sergei Shoigu.

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Putin hopes consistent policy of Israel towards Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he hopes the Israeli government will pursue a policy of continuity with regard to bilateral relations…reports Asian Lite News

“We have developed sufficiently business-like and trust-based relations with the previous government,” Putin said during a meeting with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the resort city of Sochi.

Putin noted that trade and economic ties between the two countries are developing successfully, and bilateral trade grew by 50 per cent in the first seven months of this year despite pandemic-related restrictions.

He also voiced readiness to exchange views with Bennett on the situation in the region, including issues regarding Syria.

For his part, Bennett said he wanted to discuss with Putin the development of the Israel-Russia cooperation in economic, scientific and cultural spheres, as well as the situation in Syria and the Iran nuclear program.

ALSO READ: Naftali departed for Sochi to meet Putin

This was Bennett’s first official trip to Russia after becoming Prime Minister in June.

His predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, held many meetings with Putin.