Day 385 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russia hit a US Drone over the Black SeaUkraine | March 15, 2023, Wednesday // 09:34| views
Day 385 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Peskov: Relations between Russia and the US are in a very sad state
- The US condemned the drone incident over the Black Sea, Russia described it as a provocation
- The US will publish footage of the clash over the Black Sea
- The Kremlin's prophecy: Soon the Black Sea will also become internal for Russia
- British and German fighter jets have intercepted a Russian Il-78 aircraft near Estonian airspace
- Phosphorus munitions were fired at the town of Chasiv Yar in Ukraine
- Putin: Russia is fighting for its existence
- Ukraine accused Russian snipers of raping a 4-year-old girl
- The EU is exploring sanctions over the destabilization of Moldova
- Lithuania declared "Wagner" a terrorist organization
- Bashar Assad arrived in Moscow for a meeting with Putin
- Denmark will create a fund to help Ukraine in the amount of 940 million euros
Peskov: Relations between Russia and the US are in a very sad state
The Kremlin said today that relations with the United States are in a "sad state" and at an all-time low after Washington accused Moscow of shooting down an American spy drone over the Black Sea, Reuters reported.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there had been no high-level contact with Washington over the incident, but that Russia would never refuse to engage in constructive dialogue. The US military said yesterday that a Russian fighter jet struck the propeller of its spy drone in international airspace over the Black Sea, causing the unmanned aerial vehicle to fall into the sea. Russia has denied this, suggesting the drone crashed due to "abrupt maneuvering".
RIA Novosti: Ukraine will soon receive MiG-29 aircraft
Ukraine will soon receive MiG-29 aircraft from several countries, RIA Novosti reports, citing Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller. Kyiv is demanding that Western allies also supply fighter jets needed to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression.
On Tuesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw could provide Kyiv with fighter jets in a few weeks. According to the latest data, Poland has 22 MIG-29A and six MIG-29UB aircraft, the Russian agency specifies.
Individual representatives of the US administration are lobbying for the sending of F-16 fighter jets, but President Joe Biden answered in the negative when asked directly by journalists whether there would be such deliveries. At the same time, French President Emmanuel Macron did not rule out such a possibility, RIA Novosti also writes.
The US condemned the drone incident over the Black Sea, Russia described it as a provocation
The reasons for the incident, in which a Russian Su-27 fighter jet hooked the propeller of an American unmanned reconnaissance aircraft over the Black Sea, are still being clarified. The White House and the Pentagon condemned the incident, and Russia's Defense Ministry said its fighter jets did not come into contact with the American drone.
Washington claims that the US Reaper drone was in international airspace when it was intercepted by two Su-27 fighter jets yesterday morning. After a series of dangerous maneuvers, one of them hooked the drone's propeller and it fell into the sea. On the Russian side, it was stated that the reason for the fall of the drone was a sharp maneuver.
Moscow views the incident over the Black Sea as a provocation, said Russian Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov after being summoned to the State Department. The American side has protested because of "unprofessional actions" by the Russian side, Antonov said. He emphasized that Moscow is not interested in confrontation, but in pragmatic relations with Washington. The incident is indicative of the increased risk of direct confrontation between Russia and the United States amid the war in Ukraine, the BBC notes.
The High Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is unanimous in favor of defense in the eastern part of the country, including the besieged city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, adding:
"The main focus is on the operational and strategic group of troops in Hortitsa and Bakhmut. There was a clear position of the entire command: Strengthen this sector and destroy the occupiers as much as possible."
The Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov announced that a meeting of the Contact Group for the Defense of Ukraine in the Ramstein format is coming up today.
The US will publish footage of the clash over the Black Sea
The United States accused Russia of "inappropriate, irresponsible and dangerous behavior" in connection with yesterday's incident over the Black Sea.
Washington warns Moscow not to escalate the situation in the region. The US military said it was forced to crash its unmanned drone after it was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet that damaged its propeller.
Moscow denied and said the US drone probably crashed as a result of a sudden maneuver. Russia's Defense Ministry has denied claims that there was any collision at all.
Moscow says its fighter jets took off after it was determined there was an intruder threatening to enter Russian airspace.
White House National Security Adviser John Kirby said footage of the collision between the drone and the Russian plane would be released to end speculation.
#American media simulated the collision between a drone and a fighter jet over the #BlackSea. pic.twitter.com/ohxdKjqIJo— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 15, 2023
The Kremlin's prophecy: Soon the Black Sea will also become internal for Russia
Vladimir Putin's regime continues to issue threats to countries that support Ukraine in its fight against Russian invaders. Puppet pro-Russian leaders are often used in the strategy of intimidation.
The latest example is the so-called governor of the Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo.
"The Sea of Azov has already become an internal sea of Russia, and I think that the Black Sea will soon become one as well," he announced.
His heartfelt speech was shared on Twitter by the adviser to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Anton Gerashchenko.
"What would Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia say about this matter," asked Gerashchenko with a sneer.
Saldo is known for his pandering to the Kremlin. In December last year, he called on the population of the occupied Kherson region to exchange their money in rubles, because "payments in the Ukrainian national currency hryvnia will not be accepted from January 1, 2023." According to him, the reason for this is the devaluation of the hryvnia due to the country's economic problems.
Two months earlier, Vladimir Saldo called on the civilian population of the area to evacuate due to "daily rocket attacks by the advancing Ukrainian forces". He advised people to "save themselves" in Russia by going there for "rest and study". For this purpose, he asked for help from Moscow.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin immediately joined his tone.
"The government has decided to organize assistance for the departure of the residents of Kherson region to other regions of the country. We will provide everyone with free accommodation and everything necessary," Khusnullin pointed out.
British and German fighter jets have intercepted a Russian Il-78 aircraft near Estonian airspace
A pair of British and German Typhoon fighter jets intercepted a Russian Il-78 jet near Estonian airspace after its pilots failed to establish contact with Estonian air traffic control, the BBC reported. Il-78 or "Midas" according to NATO classification is designed for air refueling of military aircraft.
The interception operation is routine, but it is the first time it has been carried out by fighter jets from two countries. The British and German air forces are participating in a NATO mission to control the airspace in the area.
There is no indication of a connection between this incident and the case of the downed US Reaper drone in the Black Sea.
Phosphorus munitions were fired at the town of Chasiv Yar in Ukraine
Incendiary munitions with white phosphorus were fired yesterday by Russian forces at a deserted area in Chasiv Yar, a town in the immediate vicinity of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Two shells were fired five minutes apart at around 16:45 p.m. (14:45 GMT) in the direction of a road that runs through the southern outskirts of Chasiv Yar and leads to Bakhmut, where the longest and bloodiest fighting since the beginning of the Russian invasion. The whistling of the shells was followed each time by the explosions of the ammunition, scattering small burning balls of white phosphorus. They set fire to the vegetation on both sides of the road, with the fire covering an area the size of a football field.
AFP was unable to establish whether the shelling was aimed at positions or a camp of Kyiv troops, but a green pickup truck with a white cross, an emblem used by the Ukrainian army, was parked near one of the roads in the burned area. The nearest houses are located about 200 meters from the outer perimeter of the affected area.
Phosphorus ammunition is an incendiary weapon, the use of which is prohibited against civilians, but not against military targets, as provided for in a convention signed in 1980 in Geneva. Kyiv has accused Moscow of using them repeatedly since the start of its invasion of Ukraine, particularly against civilians, which the Russian military strongly denies.
Putin: Russia is fighting for its existence
Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that the very existence of Russia as a country is at stake in Ukraine, Reuters reported, quoted by BTA.
"For us, this is not a geopolitical task, but a task for the survival of Russian statehood, creating conditions for the future development of the country and our children," Putin said during a visit to an aviation plant in Buryatia.
He accused the West of using Ukraine as a tool to wage war against Russia in order to inflict a "strategic defeat" on it.
The US and its allies say they are helping Ukraine defend itself against an imperial-style invasion that has destroyed cities, killed thousands of civilians and driven millions from their homes.
Putin said in response to a question that he had been worried about the economy when the West imposed unprecedented sanctions last year, but he said it had turned out to be stronger than expected.
"We have repeatedly increased our economic sovereignty. However, what did our adversary count on? That we will collapse in 2-3 weeks or a month," the president asked rhetorically.
According to him, the enemy expected that factories would stop, the financial system would collapse, unemployment would rise, people would take to the streets to protest and Russia "would be shaken from within and collapse."
"It didn't happen," he said. "It turned out, for many of us and even more so for Western countries, that the fundamental foundations of Russia's stability are much stronger than anyone thought," Putin said.
Ukraine accused Russian snipers of raping a 4-year-old girl
Ukraine accuses two Russian snipers from the Samara garrison of sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl and gang-raping her mother in front of her father, reports Unian news agency.
Yevgeny Chernoknizhny (28) and an unnamed 32-year-old Russian man are among the subjects of one of the largest investigations into sexual violence since the start of the Ukraine war, along with four other Russian soldiers, Reuters reported, citing the Ukrainian prosecutor's office.
The incidents believed to involve the group are part of a series of sexual crimes committed by Russian soldiers from the 15th Motorized Rifle Brigade in the Brovarsky district of Kyiv Oblast in March last year. Most of the atrocities were committed on March 13.
Then the military man, in a drunken state, invaded the yard of the house where the young family lived. According to the investigators, the Russians beat the man with a metal pot, then forced him to kneel with a gun.
During this time, his wife was gang-raped. At the same time, violence was also committed against the couple's 4-year-old daughter. One of the soldiers said he would "make a woman out of her".
After the attack on the girl and her parents, two soldiers entered a nearby house, beat and raped a 41-year-old pregnant woman and a 17-year-old girl who were there. In another place where several families lived, soldiers gang-raped a 15-year-old girl and her mother.
It is known that all the mentioned victims survived and received psychological and medical help. At the same time, cases of killing of civilians during the same period are also being investigated. Prosecutors say an investigation is underway into the possible role of officials in the attacks on civilians in the Brovarski area.
Earlier, TSN reported that 12 residents of a village in the Kyiv region, including three minors, suffered from the actions of Yevgeny Chernoknizhny, who was liquidated in April 2022, and his brother Vadim Shakhmatov.
The EU is exploring sanctions over the destabilization of Moldova
The European Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and EU member states are exploring the possibility of a new sanctions regime targeting individuals trying to destabilize Moldova.
This was stated in the European Parliament in Strasbourg by the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi. He was speaking on behalf of the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, at a debate on the challenges facing the former Soviet republic, which was granted candidate status.
Borell himself is working for the recent deployment in Moldova of a civilian mission within the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) of the EU, added Varhelyi.
Pro-Russian oligarchs in the country are believed to be behind the anti-government protests.
“Moldovans are Europeans and what is happening now on the streets of Chisinau was invented in Putin's laboratories,” according to Romanian MEP Vlad Gheorghe from the liberal group "Renew Europe" (RE). And it is financed with money stolen from Moldovan banks.
"With the stolen billion, the oligarchs are now directly paying the so-called protesters. There is evidence to support this," Gheorghe pointed out.
He called for these oligarchs to be cut off from Europe's money. If this happens, they will not have enough money to organize these false protests, according to the MEP.
It is time for the Magnitsky Act to be applied to the corrupt oligarchs led by Ilan Shor. It is no longer possible to stand idly by and watch the Moldovan oligarchs move their money from one part of Europe to another, concluded the Romanian representative.
Bulgarian conservative MEP Angel Djambazki from IMRO attacked the Kremlin for fueling tensions in Moldova. However, he accused the authorities in Chisinau of taking away the autonomy of the Bulgarian minority.
"There's something I don't understand. And that is why it is necessary right now, when the Moldovan public needs unity, that the authorities in Moldova try to continue to take away the autonomy of the Bulgarian community there," he said.
And he added that there are between 100,000 and 300,000 Bulgarians in the country, who have been living there since 1776.
"Why is it necessary to fragment this autonomy, to turn these people into enemies, to deprive these people of their civil and political rights? This thing has to end," insisted Djambazki.
He named Oliver Varhelyi as the man responsible for putting an end to it. The MEP praised the Hungarian European Commissioner for brilliantly defending the rights of the Bulgarians in the Republic of North Macedonia (RNM), and expressed the hope that he would fight "like a lion" for the rights of Bulgarians in Moldova as well.
Before Moldova, MEPs discussed the situation in Georgia. Oliver Varhelyi called on the authorities in Tbilisi to continue with the necessary reforms for the country to receive the status of a candidate member.
He defined as a positive sign the withdrawal of the law on the transparency of foreign influence, considered an analogue of the Russian law on foreign agents. This happened after mass protests in the country.
Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete from the European People's Party (EPP) expressed admiration for the actions of the Georgians and said that their country's approach to the EU is particularly important against the background of the raging war in Ukraine and attempts to destabilize Moldova.
“Your courage stopped the passage of the Kremlin-inspired Foreign Agents Act. But we should not be naive - the struggle does not stop there. These phenomena remind us extremely painfully that we will never have lasting peace and security in Europe if these three zones remain. The place of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia is firmly in the EU. Only the Georgian people can hold their government to account and challenge the power of their oligarchs," she said in the hall.
Lithuania declared "Wagner" a terrorist organization
Lithuania's parliament voted unanimously on Tuesday to designate the Russian Wagner mercenary force a "terrorist organization", accusing them of "systematic, serious crimes of aggression" in Ukraine.
In the resolution, the MPs state that "Wagner" is a threat to state and public security.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Wagner mercenaries have committed "systematic, serious crimes of aggression - killing and torturing civilians in Ukraine, bombing homes and other civilian objects - this is tantamount to terrorism," the document says.
The group is said to receive free military equipment from the Russian government, including Grad missile systems, tanks and armored vehicles, and is trained by Russia's military intelligence (GRU).
The resolution also states that "Wagner" is a threat to state and public security. The document also calls on other countries to follow Lithuania's example.
In May, the Lithuanian Seimas also recognized Russia's actions in Ukraine as genocide and Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Meanwhile, in a speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said that "the European project is threatened" by the war in Ukraine, and called on European public opinion to unite even more strongly around aid to Ukraine.
Nauseda reported that Lithuania raised 6 million euros for the purchase of combat drones for Ukraine and 40 million euros for air defense radars.
He called on other European countries to follow the example of Vilnius, which refused to use Russian energy sources for its needs and insisted on stricter sanctions against Russia "to stop the war".
The president called for the creation of a special military tribunal to punish the perpetrators of crimes in Ukraine, which he described as "unspeakable terror."
"We cannot allow Russia to succeed," Nauseda said, adding that the war represented a "historic turning point" in the assessment of European values.
Bashar Assad arrived in Moscow for a meeting with Putin
The President of Syria Bashar Assad arrived on a visit to Moscow. His program includes a meeting with Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin website states that the two will discuss current issues related to the development of Russian-Syrian cooperation in the political, commercial, economic and humanitarian spheres, as well as the prospects for a comprehensive resolution of the Syrian conflict.
The meeting between Assad and Putin comes on the day of what is believed to be the start of the war in Syria, which began as part of a larger 2011 movement known as the Arab Spring that marked the desire for democracy and more rights in the region.
In 2015, Russia launched a military offensive in Syria that helped turn the tide of the conflict in favor of pro-government forces and the Assad regime.
Denmark will create a fund to help Ukraine in the amount of 940 million euros
Denmark announced today that it is creating this year a fund to help Ukraine in the amount of 7 billion kroner (940 million euros) by virtue of an agreement between almost all political parties in the country, AFP reported, quoted by BTA.
The government project was supported by 159 deputies in the 179-seat parliament, Finance Minister Nikolay Vamen specified in a communique.
The funding will be implemented in particular through a more flexible financial policy and redirection of part of the development funds granted by Denmark, the minister indicated.
The new fund includes three sections. The largest - military aid, this year will be in the amount of nearly 5.4 billion crowns (725 million euros). 1.2 billion kroner (161 million euros) will be set aside for humanitarian purposes and recovery, and 400 million kroner (54 million euros) will be allocated for commercial initiatives.
"We cannot wait until the last bullet is fired," emphasized the first Danish diplomat, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, presenting the project to journalists.
In addition, the government noted that in 2024-2027 it will allocate funds to cover military aid costs in 2022 and 2023.
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