+++ News in the Ukraine war +++: Lviv region attacked with drones

+++ News in the Ukraine war +++: Lviv region attacked with drones

Turkish President Erdoğan has announced the extension of the grain deal with Ukraine. Putin signs controversial law on ‘volunteers’

Several men walk through the remains of a collapsed house

Debris after a missile attack in the Lviv region, March 9 Photo: xMykolaxTysx/imago

No information on the duration of the extension

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Saturday the extension of the grain deal with Ukraine. “After talks with both sides, we have pledged to extend the agreement, which was due to expire on March 19,” the Turkish leader said in a televised address on Saturday, just hours before the deal was due to expire. However, Erdoğan did not initially provide information on the duration of the extension.

Ankara previously said it hoped for a 120-day extension. Russia, on the other hand, insisted on an extension of just 60 days.

The grain deal was signed in July, mediated by the UN and Turkey, to allow Ukrainian grain to be safely exported through a protective corridor in the Black Sea. Turkey had played a key role in launching the UN-backed grain deal. The agreement was initially valid for 120 days and was extended by a further 120 days in November.

According to UN figures, more than 24.1 million tons of grain have been exported so far. Parallel to the grain agreement, an agreement was concluded that allows Russia – despite sanctions – to export fertilizers and food. Moscow has repeatedly complained that this agreement will not be implemented. (afp)

Putin ratifies controversial fake news law

Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has signed the tightening of the controversial law punishing “slander” or “discrediting” of war volunteers. This not only severely punishes criticism of the regular army, but also of “volunteers” fighting in the neighboring country. The law “On entering amendments to the Criminal Code” was published on the official law portal of the Russian government on Saturday. A conviction under the new law carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

The tightening of the law is mainly due to a demand from the head of the notorious Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin. He had recruited rows of serious criminals for the war against Ukraine. The 61-year-old asked politicians to protect the mercenaries – who are officially considered volunteers – from defamation.

In the past few months, the Russian leadership has massively curtailed freedom of expression in its own country in connection with its war of aggression against Ukraine. A number of opponents of the war have been sentenced to several years in prison in recent months for allegedly “discrediting the Russian army” or spreading false reports. Internationally, many are considered political prisoners. (dpa)

Kyiv reports new drone attacks in the west of the country

Ukraine reported new drone attacks on the west of the country on Saturday, especially in the Lviv region. On Friday evening, the Russian army attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made drones, the Ukrainian army said in a statement on the online service Telegram. Eleven of 16 drones were “destroyed”. The attacks were launched from the Sea of ​​Azov and from the Russian region of Briansk.

The region around Lviv in the extreme west of Ukraine was reportedly particularly targeted by the drones. “Around 01:00 in the morning, our region was attacked by Kamikaze drones of the Shahed 136 type,” said regional governor Maksim Kositski. Three drones were shot down and three others hit non-residential buildings, he added. There was damage, but no one was injured.

According to the Ukrainian authorities, three drones were also shot down in the Dnipro region in the southeast. There were no injuries there either, but “critical infrastructure” was hit in Novomoskovsk, there was a fire and four houses were destroyed and six others damaged.

However, drones aimed at the capital Kyiv were all shot down by the Ukrainian air defense, the city administration said. (afp)

Putin travels to peninsula for anniversary of Crimea annexation

Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to the Black Sea peninsula to mark the anniversary of Crimea’s annexation. The casually dressed Putin was seen on state television with a group of officials. Russia declared the Ukrainian peninsula part of its own territory in 2014. The war goal of the government in Kiev is the liberation of Crimea and all other Russian-occupied areas. (rtr)

Wagner boss wants to hire 30,000 new fighters by May

The head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, wants to sign around 30,000 new fighters by mid-May. In an audio message in the short message service Telegram, he explains that 500 to 800 men are recruited every day in the recruitment centers in 42 Russian cities. (rtr)

Pistorius wants Luftwaffe to participate in exercise in Indo-Pacific

If possible, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius wants to involve not only the Navy but also the Air Force in the planned military exercise with partners in the Indo-Pacific in 2024. Pistorius said in Tokyo after talks with his Japanese colleague that they were examining how many aircraft could take part and with which partners. Priority is a naval participation. Details would not be clarified until late 2023 or early 2024. They are also working with Japan on a legal framework, such as how to organize the refueling of aircraft or ships if there are no contracts. (rtr)

Scholz welcomes arrest warrant against Putin in Japan

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has welcomed the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Russian President Vladimir Putin. “No one is above the law,” Scholz said on Saturday during a visit to Tokyo. The International Criminal Court is “an important institution that has been given its mandate through international treaties”.

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin on Friday for kidnapping Ukrainian children to Russia during the Ukraine war. Another arrest warrant was issued for the Russian President’s Child Rights Commissioner, Maria Alexeyevna Lvowa-Belowa, on the same charge.

It is the first arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against a sitting head of state of a UN Security Council member. Internationally, the decision met with a largely positive response.

US President Joe Biden sees the court’s decision as justified, he told reporters on Friday. The International Criminal Court has very strong arguments. However, he is not recognized by the USA, among others. The US State Department said the US had also come to the conclusion that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine and that the perpetrators should be held accountable. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court made his decision independently on the basis of the facts before him. Moscow, on the other hand, described the step as “meaningless”. (afp/rtr)

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