A “race to steal money” .. Corruption hampers Russian military reform

The Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday announced the continuation of the rescue operation to evacuate the remaining defenders of the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol, following the evacuation of more than 260 of them in an earlier operation.

The industrial complex has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, and about 600 soldiers have been trapped in underground tunnels and fighting battles to prevent Russian forces from taking full control of the strategic coastal city.

More than 260 fighters were evacuated by humanitarian corridors on Monday to areas controlled by Russian and separatist forces loyal to Moscow, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense announced, adding that “exchange measures” would take place later.

“Activities to save the defenders who are still in the Azovstal countries continue,” the ministry said in a message to Telegram.

“Thanks to the Mariupol defenders, Ukraine has had the necessary time to gather reserves, regroup and mobilize forces and get help from allies,” she added.

The Ukrainian army said in a Facebook message that the defense of the industrial complex had slowed down the movement of 2,000 Russian soldiers to other regions of Ukraine, and prevented Russia from quickly taking possession of the city of Zaporizhia.

In turn, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the “surrender” of 265 Ukrainian soldiers in Azovstal, 51 of whom were seriously wounded.

It stated that all those in need of medical care were taken to the Novoazovsk hospital in the areas controlled by the pro-Russian separatists.

Despite its giant neighbor’s resources, Ukraine has held back the Russian army longer than many expected, thanks to military supplies and money from its Western allies.

In the latest example of this, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense announced that its forces had regained control of an area on the Russian border near Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city.

And that area was subjected to constant attacks, while Kyiv’s profits came at a high cost, as towns were massively destroyed in the bombing.

He returned to retrieve some of his belongings, but returned empty-handed and shocked by the ongoing artillery fire. The 53-year-old joked that his mission was to “try to survive.”

uninterrupted bombardment

Ukrainian officials said Ukrainian forces were withdrawing from the Kharkiv area and moving to Donabs, the eastern region near the Russian border and which had become the new military focus for Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced in his daily message Monday night that “Ukrainian armed forces are responding to ongoing attacks in those regions where Russia is still trying to advance.”

“Severodonetsk and other cities in the Donbass are still the main targets of the occupiers,” he added. breakaway regions along with Donetsk that make up the Donbass region.

Sergei Gaida, governor of Lugansk, said Russian forces were bombarding the city “incessantly”, and announced early Tuesday that two buildings of the city’s general hospital had been hit at night.

“We have ten dead and three wounded in the area,” he wrote on Telegram.

The mayor of Severodonetsk said the city was almost surrounded by Russian forces and separatists loyal to the Kremlin. But efforts to completely circumvent it have come at great cost and the loss of heavy equipment, while railway bridges have been blown up under Russian forces, according to Ukrainian officials.

And Russian bombing continued throughout the country at night, and sirens sounded in the early hours of Tuesday morning over airstrikes over Ukraine, in the city of Lviv, in the west.

An official of the local military administration said that a military infrastructure that was “almost on the border with Poland” was hit in the bombing.

The Southern Military Operational Command reported that Odessa and Mykolaiv were bombed, and that there were casualties in the two cities.

In statements on Facebook, the Southern Command accused the Russian forces of using their cluster munitions indiscriminately in the middle of Mykolaiv.

NATO ‘not an immediate threat’

With no sign from Moscow to withdraw almost three months after the invasion, Finland and Sweden are preparing to abandon decades of military neutrality by applying to join NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his accession to NATO “does not pose a direct threat to us … but the expansion of military infrastructure in the territories of these countries will certainly encourage us to respond.”

Putin’s reaction is moderate compared to the statements of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said the expansion of the alliance was a “serious mistake, the consequences of which would be enormous”.

In any case, the move does not appear to be certain. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced his country’s intention not to approve the candidacy applications, accusing Finland and Sweden of showing leniency with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). ), which classifies Ankara as a terrorist organization.

And Anatolia News Agency reported that Turkey gives special care to Sweden and Finland because they do not agree to extradition requests for people he accuses of being members of “terrorist organizations”.

Any expansion of the alliance requires the unanimity of the 30 member states. However, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Sunday expressed his confidence that Sweden and Finland would join NATO despite Turkey’s opposition.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will meet with Blinken on Wednesday in Washington for talks that are expected to be the most important of Ankara’s objections.

time is running out

European Union foreign ministers met on Monday to discuss plans to increase pressure on Russia by imposing unprecedented economic sanctions, including the Russian oil embargo.

Hungary opposed the proposal because of its cost.

“We are upset that the oil embargo has not yet come into effect,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba later said.

“It is clear who is blocking the issue. But time is running out and Russia is making money every day and putting it into this war.” Meanwhile, the war is a blow to growth on the continent. The European Commission has significantly lowered its forecast for 2022 to 2.7 percent, attributing this to the sharp rise in energy prices.

In a related context, French carmaker Renault handed over its Russian assets to Moscow, while US giant McDonald’s announced its intention to withdraw, citing the “humanitarian crisis caused by the war.”

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