Moscow ‘preparing to annex Ukrainian territory’, Putin’s rare trip abroad wins Iranian approval


Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a “special military operation” to ensure its own security.

Russia is now also trying to take over the broadcast towers, he said.

Meanwhile, Kirby said the United States would announce a new arms package for Ukraine in the coming days as it engages Russia in fierce battles in eastern Ukraine.

It will be the 16th fundraising approved by Congress and allocated under presidential authority, he said.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden greet Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House on Tuesday.Credit:PA

The package is expected to include US mobile rocket launchers, known as HIMARS, and cartridges for multiple rocket launch systems as well as artillery ammunition.

The United States has provided $8 billion ($11 billion) in security aid since the war began, including $2.2 billion last month.

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Washington would impose sanctions on officials involved in representing as proxies, Kirby said. He predicted that these proxies would try to organize “mock referendums” seeking to legitimize Russian control as early as September.

Ukraine’s parliament sacked the head of internal security and the prosecutor general on Tuesday, two days after Zelensky suspended them for failing to root out Russian spies.

Ivan Bakanov was removed from his post as head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) by a comfortable majority, several deputies said on the Telegram messaging application.

The leader of Zelensky’s political faction said that Iryna Venediktova was also elected prosecutor general.

Zelensky later announced that he had fired one of the SBU’s deputy chiefs but gave no details. In a late-night video address, he also said he had appointed five new regional SBU directors.

In a statement posted on Telegram minutes before his dismissal was confirmed, Bakanov said “miscalculations” had been made during his tenure, but he was proud of his record.

During his visit to Iran, Putin also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss a deal that would resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, now blocked by Russia. Putin said not all issues have yet been resolved over grain shipments, “but the fact that there is movement is already good.”

It was Putin’s first face-to-face meeting with a NATO leader since the invasion and was a pointed message to the West about Russian plans to forge closer strategic ties with Iran, China and India to help offset Western sanctions imposed during the invasion.

The trip shows how isolated Russia has become, Kirby said.

In Moscow, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said any peace in Ukraine would be as Moscow wanted.

“Russia will achieve all of its goals. There will be peace – on our terms,” said Medvedev, who is now deputy head of the Kremlin Security Council.

Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow saw no desire on Ukraine’s part to abide by the terms of what he described as a preliminary peace deal reached in March.

Putin, speaking to reporters in televised comments after the visit to Iran, said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were offering to mediate.

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Asked about a possible meeting with Zelensky, Putin said Kyiv had not honored the terms of a preliminary peace deal which he said was “virtually concluded” in March, without giving further details.

Negotiations then took place, with both sides making proposals but without a breakthrough. At the time, Zelensky said that only a concrete outcome of the talks could be relied upon.

Reuters

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