Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday declared martial law in four regions of Ukraine that Moscow illegally annexed as Ukrainian forces continue their relentless campaign to control the occupied territories.
Putin provided few details on what martial law would entail, but it is likely to include restrictions on travel and public gatherings, strict censorship and broad powers for law enforcement agencies.
President Joe Biden called the tactic an attempt at intimidation by Putin — “the only tool for that” — and said it wouldn’t work.
Putin also granted additional emergency powers to the heads of Russia-appointed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhia regions. Ukrainian forces have retaken land in all four places. Putin ordered the creation of a coordination committee to increase interaction between government agencies to handle his controversial “special military operation.”
The Russian leader signed a decree restricting movement in and out of Russian regions bordering Crimea and Ukraine, including Krasnodar, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Kursk and Rostov. Security will be increased at government buildings, transport and communication hubs and other places.
“I think Vladimir Putin has found himself in an incredibly difficult position,” Biden told reporters Wednesday, “and what that reflects to me is that the only tool available to him is to brutally oppress individual citizens in Ukraine — Ukrainian citizens. to threaten
“They won’t do that.”
– Contributed by Francesca Chambers, USA Today
►EU member states on Wednesday agreed on a new round of sanctions against Iran for supplying Russia with drones used to attack Ukrainian targets.
►Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said heat would be pumped into city buildings from Thursday – days earlier than usual – to encourage residents not to turn on electric heaters and overload the power supply system, which has been compromised by Russian attacks.
Ukrainian officials said Russian forces attacked nine southeastern regions of Ukraine on Wednesday using drones, rockets and heavy artillery. The attacks have once again emphasized the destruction of energy facilities, the President’s office said. It is reported that six civilians were killed.
► Russian forces say they have foiled Ukraine’s attempt to seize control of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.
► Hedvig Moe, deputy chief of Norway’s domestic security agency, said there was an “elevated intelligence threat from Russia” after drones were spotted near key infrastructure sites.
About a dozen people and two companies were indicted in two cases on Wednesday for trying to help the Russian military through illegal schemes to export dual-use technology, some of which was used by Russian forces in Ukraine. The Justice Department said.
Five Russian nationals and two Venezuelan oil traders were charged in the Eastern District of New York with money laundering and sanctions evasion for trying to share US military technology with Russian industries.
In another indictment, unsealed in the District of Connecticut, three Latvians, a Ukrainian living in Estonia and two companies were charged with conspiring to smuggle from the United States to Russia machines used in nuclear proliferation and defense programs. The so-called “jig grinder” never came to Russia.
“This week’s indictments and arrests highlight the FBI’s work to counter Russia’s flagrant evasion of U.S. sanctions and violations of export regulations,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
From Russia Without Love: The Kremlin is close to breaking ties with the West
It makes no sense for Russia to maintain a diplomatic presence in the West after Europe decided to cut off any economic cooperation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday. Speaking to college graduates entering Russia’s diplomatic service, Lavrov said working conditions for Russians in Western nations “cannot be called humane.” Russian diplomats often face physical threats, he said.
“There is no point or desire to maintain the former presence in Western states,” Lavrov said. “You can’t force love.”
Most Western nations have imposed severe sanctions on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. Russian diplomats have been accused of espionage or other misconduct and have been expelled from some Western countries.
Developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America need extra attention, Lavrov said. Agreements requiring diplomatic support are being worked on, including business, cultural, humanitarian and educational projects, he said.
The top Russian military commander in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovykin, admitted on Russian TV on Wednesday that the situation for Russian forces in the Kherson region was “very difficult”. Ukraine is pressing its offensive in that southern province regardless of casualties, Surovykin said.
However, a senior Ukrainian official said Russian forces in Kherson were trying to scare residents by threatening to bombard the Ukrainian city and holding evacuation “propaganda shows”.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said in a message on Telegram on Wednesday that the bombing of Ukrainian cities “was carried out only by Russian terrorists.” Ukrainian forces are expected to begin efforts to retake the pop city of Kherson soon. 250,000.
Local officials said on Wednesday that 5,000 people had left the city out of an expected 60,000, with residents receiving text messages urging them to evacuate. Although evacuation is considered voluntary, often the only way out is to Russia or territory it controls.
The same Iran-made drones that have deeply damaged Ukraine’s energy sector and terrorized its population could threaten Israel, trying to maintain a difficult balance in its stance on war.
Israel has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but has rejected repeated requests for air defense systems and other military equipment as it seeks to preserve its strategic ties with Moscow. The growing relationship between Russia and Iran — which has threatened to use those Shahad drones on Israel, its sworn enemy — complicates that relationship.
On Monday, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister, Nachman Shai, said on Twitter that the country should side with Ukraine and provide military aid.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the drone strikes in Ukraine have raised new concerns in Israel.
“We are looking at it closely and thinking about how the Iranians can be used in Israeli population centers,” he said.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre declined to discuss House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s comments that Ukraine would not receive a “blank check” in efforts to expel invading Russian forces if Republicans take over the House in the midterm elections. Jean-Pierre instead thanked congressional leaders for their bipartisan efforts to “support Ukraine in defending itself against Russian war crimes and atrocities.”
McCarthy has an inside line to become speaker if the GOP takes control of the House, as expected. Any significant reduction in American support would represent a major setback for Ukraine, which has gained ground and momentum in its bid to repel Russian aggression thanks to HIMARS rocket launchers and other US-supplied weapons.
“I think people are sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” McCarthy told Punchbowl News.
Contributed by: Associated Press