War in the neighborhood: IPN updates

List of states that sponsor terrorism could include one more state

For weeks, pressure has mounted on U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to formally declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, a label currently reserved for North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran. But despite the emotional appeal, Mr. Blinken is resisting a move that could force him to sanction U.S. allies that do business with Russia and might snuff out the remaining vestiges of diplomacy between Washington and Moscow.

Amid outrage over Russia’s brutal military campaign in Ukraine, the U.S. Senate on recently unanimously approved a nonbinding resolution calling on Mr. Blinken to designate Russia as a terrorism sponsor for its attacks in Ukraine, as well as in Chechnya, Georgia and Syria, that resulted “in the deaths of countless innocent men, women and children”, New York Times reported.

Problem is “known and clear”, as is Russian-Ukrainian friendship

The conflict in Ukraine does not warrant Russia’s use of nuclear weapons, but Moscow could decide to use its nuclear arsenal in response to “direct aggression” by NATO countries over the invasion, Russia said on Tuesday at the United Nations.

At a nuclear nonproliferation conference, Russian diplomat Alexander Trofimov rejected “utterly unfounded, detached from reality and unacceptable speculations that Russia allegedly threatens to use nuclear weapons, particularly in Ukraine.” He said Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to weapons of mass destruction or a conventional weapons attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state.

There are millions of patriots of Ukraine all over Russia

Major General of Military Intelligence Vadim Skibitsky said that back in 2015, his department completed the task of infiltrating the Ukrainian intelligence network into the decision-making centers of the Russian Federation.  According to him, it is “very easy” for our citizens to work with the enemy: “We had the same language, the same appearance and, until recently, the same mentality, and we used to be one country. Many Ukrainians lived or live in Russia … And they made a very good public career there. There are many Ukrainians in leadership positions in Russia.”

The intelligence official noted that it was the Ukrainian spies who told that originally a full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation was planned on February 15, however, it was later postponed for nine days. Thus, the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin wanted this day to coincide with the date of the Russian invasion of Crimea

The Pentagon counts and calculates not as Shoigu does

Russia has not managed to destroy any of the U.S.-supplied HIMARS in Ukraine in spite of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu saying otherwise, according to acting Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale. He directly refuted Shoigu, who said this week that Russia had destroyed six of the HIMARS in total.

“We are aware of these latest claims by Minister Shoigu and they are again patently false," Reuters quoted Breasseale as saying. “What is happening, however, is that the Ukrainians are employing with devastating accuracy and effectiveness, each of the fully accounted for precision missile systems the U.S., our Allies, and partners have provided them to defend against Russia’s brutal, criminal invasion.”
Russian army’s advantage cannot be yet overcome

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video address said that Ukraine cannot completely overcome the Russian army’s advantage in artillery and manpower, but “everything possible and everything impossible” is being done to obtain weapons that will help to achieve that goal.

“It is true that we still cannot completely overcome the advantage of the Russian army in artillery and manpower, and this is very evident in the fighting, especially in Donbas, on the Pisky, Avdiivka and other fronts. It's just hell out there [...] But every day our diplomats and all other representatives of our state are doing everything possible and everything impossible to get the weapons that will ultimately help Ukraine stop this horde,” he stated.

In another development, addressing Australian students, Zelensky said the only difference between terrorists and Russia is that “the first take responsibility for their actions, while Russia does not have the courage to do so and has the audacity to blame others for its crimes – other countries and the whole world.”

Ukraine is not a problem and it does not need to be “solved”

Russia is still willing to solve the conflict in Ukraine through diplomacy, however on its own terms, press secretary for the Russian president Dmitry Peskov told the media. He clarified that these terms are known: they were negotiated during the Istanbul talks between the delegations of the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Russia is committed to a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Ukraine, Germany's former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told the Stern edition in an interview.

“The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution,” Schroeder noted, "There was already a negotiated approach to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, for example in Istanbul in March.” He added that Turkey has been very supportive on this issue, “just as it is now very helpful in talks on grain supplies.”

In response, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described Schroeder as a “voice of the Russian royal court” and made clear that the grain agreement would not lead to broader negotiations.

“If Moscow wants dialogue, the ball is in its court. First — a cease-fire and withdrawal of troops, then — constructive (dialogue),” Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

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