Day 203 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Putin will Fail and Ukraine and Europe will Win, says Von Der Leyen

Ukraine | September 14, 2022, Wednesday // 11:04|  views

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

Zelensky: We fully or partially got back 8,000 square km in two weeks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that 8,000 square kilometers in the Kharkiv region had been fully or partially returned in the past two weeks.

Some of the liberated territories are in southern Ukraine, where the Ukrainian army is fighting to retake the regional center of Kherson, but most are in the eastern Kharkiv region.

Volodymyr Zelensky:

"As of this hour, stabilization activities have been completed in areas with a total area of ​​over 4,000 square kilometers. Stabilization measures continue in approximately as many liberated territories. Remains of the occupiers and sabotage groups are revealed, collaborators are arrested and full security is restored."

Zelensky's adviser Oleksiy Arestovich does not rule out a move to the eastern province of Luhansk, adding that Lyman is currently being stormed and he expects progress in Seversk in the Bakhmut region.

The Ministry of Defense in Moscow, meanwhile, said the Russian army had launched "massive" air and artillery strikes along the entire front.

The leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, called for "maximum mobilization" after the defeats of the last few days.

"The question of victory in Donbas is a question of our historical survival," said Zyuganov.

TASS reports at least five explosions in the Ukrainian city of Kherson this morning. A correspondent of the agency reported that the Russian air defense system was engaged, but there were no signs of missiles in the sky.

Meanwhile, Reuters cited British intelligence as saying it was highly likely that Russia had sent Iranian drones into Ukraine for the first time since the February invasion. In southern Ukraine, the mayor of Mykolaiv reported heavy Russian shelling of the city and heavy damage to residential buildings, but no casualties.

The Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine visited the city of Balakliia, where he said that 150,000 people had been liberated in recent days.

“Long road”

US President Joe Biden described Ukraine's intentions to liberate all territory occupied by Russian forces after the counter-offensive in the northeast of the country as a "long road".

"It's clear that the Ukrainians have made significant progress, but I think it's going to be a long road," US President Joe Biden said when asked if the war was at a turning point.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman John Kirby said Washington could soon announce another package of military aid to Ukraine, without further details.

The director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, announced that she discussed a long-term commitment with President Volodymyr Zelensky, which could grow into a full-fledged financing program for Ukraine. The IMF will grant Ukraine one billion and 400 million dollars in additional support.

In a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin last night, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on the Russian leader to find a solution to the conflict as soon as possible, based on a ceasefire, the complete withdrawal of the Russian military and respect for territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine.

Ukraine will sue for treason those who received Russian passports voluntarily and of their own accord

Ukrainians who voluntarily received Russian passports will be tried for treason. This was announced by the adviser in Volodymyr Zelensky's office, Oleksiy Arestovych.

The adviser to the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president clarified that it is about those persons whose illegal activity was established by the investigation. He added that Ukrainians who took passports of the Russian Federation forced by circumstances, for example, to receive their pension, will not be prosecuted.

Earlier last month, there were reports that residents of the Volchansky District of Kharkiv Oblast had started receiving Russian passports.

In the conditions of a full-scale war, which Russia is waging in Ukraine, national legislation provides for "collaborationism", i.e. deliberate cooperation with the enemy directed against the country in wartime, can lead to a fine of up to 170 thousand hryvnias, which makes approx. $4,600, or imprisonment for 3 to 4 years. If the act is reclassified as treason, then the maximum penalty is life imprisonment with confiscation of property.

The criminalization of replacing Ukrainian citizenship with Russian in wartime was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration Iryna Vereshchuk back in July of this year. "The introduction of criminal liability for obtaining a Russian passport is not so much a legal as a political issue." - Vereshchuk said after a closed interdepartmental meeting in Kyiv.

"The issue is not so much legal as political. On the one hand, the occupier's passport helps the common man survive a temporary occupation. On the other hand, how do we explain such behavior to those of our citizens who are facing death on the front lines for the sake of us all. Including for this reason, there will never be Russian passports on our land," said Vereshchuk. She added that this topic can be debated for a long time, but one should not forget that there is a lot of Ukrainian blood in the red Russian passport - of soldiers, civilians, women and children. Even then, the Deputy Prime Minister categorically stated that the discussions are ahead, but the direction has been determined

A Russian court has allowed the dissolution of a municipal council that sought Putin's removal

A group of local St. Petersburg politicians who have called for President Vladimir Putin to be removed from office over the war in Ukraine is under threat of dissolution following a judge's ruling on Tuesday, one of the group's lawmakers said, quoted by Reuters.

Nikita Yuferev said the judge had ruled that a series of meetings of the Smolninskoye municipal council were invalid, paving the way for its dissolution by the regional governor. Another member of the council, Dmitry Palyuga, said the same court imposed a fine of 47,000 rubles ($780) for "discrediting" the authorities by calling for Putin's removal.

Court officials could not be reached by phone for comment, according to Reuters.

Four more members of the Smolninskoye local council are due to appear in court in the next two days.

Last week, a group of council lawmakers called on the State Duma to charge Putin with treason and remove him from power, citing a number of reasons, including Russia's military losses in Ukraine and the damage to its economy from Western sanctions. Another local lawmaker said 65 municipal representatives from St. Petersburg, Moscow and several other regions had signed a petition she published Monday calling for Putin to resign.

While the calls pose no threat to Putin's power, they are a rare display of dissent by elected officials at a time when Russians risk jail time for "discrediting" the armed forces or spreading "deliberately false information" about them, notes Reuters.

Palyuga told Reuters before his hearing on Tuesday that the group's appeals were aimed not only at liberal Russians but also at "people loyal to the authorities who are beginning to have doubts when they see that the Russian army is not making progress." He expects the number of those people to increase after last week's lightning counteroffensive, in which Ukraine pushed Russian forces out of dozens of towns and retook much of the territory in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast.

Russian political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya said that a bigger threat to the Kremlin than the advisers' protest is the danger of overreacting to it.

"The reaction, or overreaction, may cause more political damage to the regime than this petition. But I have no doubt that all those who signed the petition will come under political pressure," said Stanovaya, founder of the independent analysis project R.Politik.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against people accused of defaming the military, which usually results in fines for a first offense, but a councilor from the Moscow region was jailed in July for seven years after being convicted of spreading false information. Several other journalists and representatives of the opposition have been charged and are threatened with prison, according to Reuters.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that critical viewpoints were tolerated within the law. "As long as they remain within the law, this is pluralism, but the border is very, very thin, one must be very careful here," warned Peskov.

Ksenia Thorstrom, a St. Petersburg city councilor who launched a petition Monday calling for Putin's resignation, said it was too early to tell how the campaign would play out.

"Calling for a politician to resign is absolutely normal. There is nothing criminal about it," she told Reuters. "Of course, there is some risk, but showing solidarity with our colleagues - the independent politicians who still exist in Russia is much more important," she pointed out.

Russia has given $300 million to interfere in the politics of 24 countries since 2014

Since 2014, Russia has secretly spent more than 300 million dollars to influence politicians in more than 24 countries, Washington claims.

The State Department's claim is based on a declassified US intelligence assessment. A senior official in President Joe Biden's administration said: "We think this is just the tip of the iceberg."

Russia has not publicly commented on the claims, with Moscow itself repeatedly accusing the US of interfering in the internal affairs of foreign countries.

US intelligence "believes that these are minimal numbers and that Russia may have transferred additional funds in cases that have not been detected," the Biden administration official said during a briefing.

The US intelligence assessment did not name specific countries or officials believed to have been targeted by Russia - but said Moscow was buying influence on four continents. Money was given to parties, parliamentary candidates, presidential candidates, officials, etc.

In one case, a Russian ambassador to an unnamed country in Asia gave millions of dollars to a presidential candidate.

An administration source familiar with the intelligence report said Russia spent about $500,000 to support the center-right Democratic Party of Albania in the 2017 election and also funded parties or candidates in Bosnia, Montenegro and Madagascar.

The source also said the Kremlin used Brussels as a hub to set up foundations that fund far-right candidates.

Shell companies are said to be used to fund European parties and buy influence elsewhere.

On Monday, the State Department sent a diplomatic cable to US embassies and consulates, most of them in Europe, Africa and South Asia, in which concerns about Russian interference were expressed, BTA reported. It says that, according to American intelligence, Russia plans to transfer "at least another hundreds of millions of dollars" to sympathetic parties and politicians around the world.

Von der Leyen: Putin will fail and Ukraine and Europe will win

We have the necessary courage with the necessary solidarity and Russian President Vladimir Putin will fail and Ukraine and Europe will win”. This was said by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during her State of the Union Address.

"Sanctions will remain. Right now, we have to continue this way, not settle. We have to make it very clear. The same applies to financial support to Ukraine. Rebuilding the country will cost huge resources," she said.

According to her, Europeans are facing a test from those who want to see them divided. "This is not just a war that the Russians started against Ukraine. This is a war for our energy, for our economy and values. This is a war for our future. It's about autocracy versus democracy," said Von der Leyen.

According to the President of the European Commission, courage today has a name - "Ukraine". "Courage has a face, and it is the face of Ukrainian men and women who faced Russian aggression," she emphasized.

Von der Leyen pointed out that since the beginning of the war, Europe has been with Ukraine with weapons, with funding, with the acceptance of refugees and with the "heaviest sanctions" the world has ever seen.

"The financial sector of Russia is on command breathing. The Russian military is taking chips out of dishwashers and refrigerators to repair their military machines because they have no semiconductors. Russian industry is in ruins," she added.

The chairman of the EC reported that so far Europe has given Ukraine more than 90 billion euros in financial aid, without taking military aid into account.

MEPs applauded Zelensky's wife on their feet

The Ukrainian President's wife, Olena Zelenska, is in the European Parliament, while the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, outlines the main priorities of the Commission's work in her traditional State of the Union Address.

"Dear Olena, we are with you, with the Ukrainian people. Once again we want to emphasize that this is a terrible attack on an independent Ukraine. Europe will respond and today we will explain how we will do it," EP President Roberta Metsola said before von der Leyen's speech.

The MEPs, on the other hand, applauded the spouse of the Ukrainian president.

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Tags: Ukraine, Russia, Zelensky, leyen

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