Ukraine war – latest: Arrest warrant issued for Putin as Wagner group starts huge recruitment drive

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Arrest warrant issued for Vladimir Putin over ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group plans to recruit approximately 30,000 new fighters by the middle of May, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday.

He said in an audio message on Telegram that Wagner recruitment centres, which he said last week had opened in 42 Russian cities, were hiring on average 500-800 people a day.

It comes after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is accused of unlawfully deporting children to Russia

Responding to the ICC move, US President Joe Biden said Mr Putin had “clearly committed war crimes.” He added: “I think it’s justified. But the question is – it’s not recognised internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia doesn’t recognise the ICC and regards its decisions “legally void”.

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Russian mercenary chief aims to recruit 30,000 new fighters by mid-May

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group plans to recruit approximately 30,000 new fighters by the middle of May, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday.

He said in an audio message on Telegram that Wagner recruitment centres, which he said last week had opened in 42 Russian cities, were hiring on average 500-800 people a day.

Prigozhin has been directing Russia’s operations in the key town of Bakhmut in one of the war’s longest and fiercest battles.

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Matt Mathers18 March 2023 11:43
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Germany’s Scholz says ICC warrant for Putin shows ‘nobody is above the law’

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it showed that “nobody is above the law”.

The ICC on Friday called for Mr Putin’s arrest on suspicion of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of people from Ukraine to Russia since Moscow launched its invasion of its neighbour last year.

“The International Criminal Court is the right institution to investigate war crimes … The fact is that nobody is above the law and that’s what’s becoming clear right now,” Mr Scholz said at a joint news conference in Tokyo with Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday.

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 11:13
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Ukraine grain deal crucial for food supplies

The extension of a deal enabling Ukraine to export grain is crucial to ensuring global food supplies and keeping prices from spiralling, the United Nations’ humanitarian chief has said, on the eve of the agreement’s expiration.

Russia’s UN ambassador reiterated that Moscow is ready to extend the deal – but only for 60 days, just half the 120 days in the agreement.

The original 120-day agreement was renewed last November and expires on Saturday.

It would be automatically extended for another 120 days unless one of the parties objects – and Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia said Russia has formally objected.

UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs Martin Griffiths said it was vital for the UN-Russia memorandum to be fully implemented.

Mr Nebenzia said “the memorandum is simply not working” and the UN has to recognise it has “no leverage to exempt Russian agricultural export operations from Western sanctions” and its efforts have not produced results.

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 10:50
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Britain welcomes issuing of arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin

Britain has welcomed the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly said it was essential that those at the top of the regime in Moscow were held to account for the atrocities which have taken place since the invasion a year ago.

Gavin Cordon reports:

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 10:35
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Russian attacks continue in wake of Putin arrest warrant

Widespread Russian attacks continued in Ukraine following the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights.

Ukraine was attacked by 16 Russian drones on Friday night, the Ukrainian Air Force said in the early hours of Saturday. Writing on Telegram, the air force command said that 11 out of 16 drones were shot down “in the central, western and eastern regions.” Among areas targeted were the capital, Kyiv, and the western Lviv province.

The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defenses shot down all drones heading for the Ukrainian capital, while Lviv regional Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi said Saturday that three of six drones were shot down, with the other three hitting a district bordering Poland. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attacks were carried out from the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov and Russia’s Bryansk province, which borders Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military additionally said in its regular update Saturday morning that Russian forces over the previous 24 hours launched 34 airstrikes, one missile strike and 57 rounds of anti-aircraft fire. The Facebook update said that falling debris hit the southern Kherson province, damaging seven houses and a kindergarten.

According to the Ukrainian statement, Russia is continuing to concentrate its efforts on offensive operations in Ukraine’s industrial east, focusing attacks on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka and Shakhtarsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk province. Pavlo Kyrylenko, regional Gov. of the Donetsk province, said one person was killed and three wounded when 11 towns and villages in the province were shelled on Friday.

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People inspect a damaged restaurant after Russian shelling hit in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Saturday

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 10:07
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Top Ukraine, US defence officials discussed military aid in call- Kyiv

Three senior US security officials held a video call with a group of their Ukrainian counterparts on Saturday to discuss military aid to Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff said.

“We discussed the further provision of necessary assistance to our country, in particular vehicles, weapons and ammunition,” Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram.

He added that Zelenskiy had joined the meeting at the end to give his views on the liberation of Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia.

Matt Mathers18 March 2023 09:24
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Ukrainian soldiers sent to defend Bakhmut ‘fear they are being sent to their deaths’

Ukrainian soldiers fighting in Bakhmut fear “they are being sent to their deaths” amid a relentless push by Russian forces to capture a city.

Putin’s forces are said to outnumber Ukrainians by two or three times on the Bakhmut front, where an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 troops are currently fighting.

The relentless Russian bombardment has ravaged the city with soldiers fighting house-to-house battles in the ruins.

Read the full story here:

Arpan Rai18 March 2023 08:35
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Putin’s arrest warrant for war crimes welcomed in UK and US

Joe Biden has joined Britain in welcoming the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine.

Mr Biden said Mr Putin had “clearly committed war crimes” and the warrant, although not recognised in the US, was “justified” and made “a very strong point”.

His remarks came after UK foreign secretary James Cleverly said it was essential that those at the top of the regime in Moscow were held to account for the atrocities which have taken place since the invasion a year ago.

Read the full story here:

Arpan Rai18 March 2023 08:07
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Russia looking to recruit 18-year-olds for war in Ukraine under new law – MoD

Russian authorities are likely preparing to facilitate wider military conscription to resource its military requirements and reduce the age bracket down to 18 years of age from existing 21 years, effectively recruiting high-school graduates for the continuing war in Ukraine.

“On 13 March 2023, Russian Duma deputies introduced a bill to change the age bracket for conscription to men aged 21-30 years, from the current 18-27. The law is likely to be passed, and would come into force in January 2024,” the British defence ministry said today.

It added that Russia has continued to run conscription call-up cycles twice a year since Soviet times. These call-up cycles are distinct from the exceptional ‘partial mobilisation’ of veterans carried out since September 2022, the ministry noted in its latest intelligence update on the grinding war in Ukraine.

“Russia continues to officially bar conscripts from operations in Ukraine, though at least hundreds have probably served through administrative mix ups or after being coerced to sign contracts,” the MoD said.

It added: “Many 18-21 year old men currently claim exemption from the draft due to being in higher education. The authorities are highly likely changing the age bracket to bolster troop numbers by ensuring that students are eventually forced to serve.”

“Even if Russia continues to refrain from deploying conscripts in the war, extra conscripts will free up a greater proportion of professional soldiers to fight,” the ministry said.

Arpan Rai18 March 2023 07:08
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UN working on renewing grain export deal

The United Nations is “doing everything possible” to make sure a deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports continues, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council, hours before the pact is due to expire.

He also said “meaningful progress” had been made on a separate pledge by the United Nations to help facilitate Russian food and fertiliser exports, “but impediments remain, notably with regard to payment systems.”

“It is vital for global food security that both of these agreements continue and should be fully implemented,” Griffiths said.

The Kremlin said Russia was extending the agreement for 60 days.

Jane Dalton18 March 2023 07:00

Source: independent.co.uk