After reports of tens of thousands of casualties in the war against Ukraine, the head of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6 has ridiculed the Russian army. “You’re running out of breath…” Richard Moore tweeted on Saturday. He quoted a tweet from the British Ministry of Defense from the previous day. “The Kremlin is desperate. Russia has lost tens of thousands of soldiers and is using Soviet-era weapons. Their outdated missiles are killing and injuring innocent Ukrainians,” the agency wrote. “Russia will not win this unjustified war.”
MI6, otherwise known for its secrecy, has been much more transparent since the beginning of the Russian war, and secret service chief Moore keeps looking for the public. In addition, the British Ministry of Defense publishes the latest secret service findings on the course of the war on a daily basis. London wants to counter statements from Moscow.
After the killing of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in a Russian-controlled camp, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced retaliation. It was a deliberate Russian war crime, the President said in a video message. He again called on the world community to officially classify Russia as a terrorist state.
The Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow published the names of 50 prisoners killed and 73 injured on Saturday. They were held in a prison in the town of Olenivka, near Donetsk in pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory. A rocket allegedly hit the barracks on Friday night. Russia blames the US-made Himars multiple rocket launchers used by the Ukrainian army for the hit.
The Russian energy giant Gazprom has turned off the gas supply to the Baltic EU country Latvia. The energy giant announced on Saturday that the company had stopped deliveries because the conditions for withdrawing gas had been violated. The state-owned company did not give details of the violations.
Russia had recently halted gas supplies to several EU countries, including Poland and Bulgaria, because they refused to pay in rubles. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin introduced this new regulation in response to EU sanctions against Russia. Payments were usually made in euros or dollars.
The day before, the Latvian gas supply company Latvijas Gaze announced that it would buy gas from Russia again and pay for it in euros and not in rubles. However, the gas will not be bought by Gazprom, but by another Russian supplier, said company boss Aigars Kalvitis. He did not say the name, citing trade secrets.
Poland asks Germany for a better offer for a ring swap of tanks to support Ukraine. Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak wrote a letter to his German colleague Christine Lambrecht (SPD), which was published by the Wpolityce portal in Warsaw on Friday evening. He hopes for a “serious offer” that will “contribute significantly to strengthening Polish and regional defense capacities”.
Poland gave Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia, arms for almost 1.7 billion euros, the minister wrote. These included tanks, armored personnel carriers and other heavy weapons, some of post-Soviet design and some of the most modern, such as the Krab howitzer. “These shipments have created gaps in our defense capabilities.”
Poland was not satisfied with the previous Berlin offer of 20 Leopard 2 tanks with piecemeal delivery from 2023. When dissatisfaction became public in Warsaw, Lambrecht explained again in a letter to Blaszczak how small the German holdings were. She suggested both countries should order new Leopard 2 together. Poland should be given priority in extradition. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported on this letter.
In exchange for the release of two imprisoned US citizens, Russia has apparently demanded the release of the Russian Vadim K., who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany for the Tiergarten murder. The spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, confirmed on Friday the US news channel CNN that Russian officials had made such a move. However, he firmly rejected the request.
“Holding two US citizens hostage in exchange for a killer in a third country is not a serious counteroffer,” Kirby said. “It is a malicious attempt to evade a very serious offer and proposal from the United States.” However, US representatives had contacted Germany to find out in principle whether K. could become part of the swap deal, the news channel reported at Appeal to a German government representative. But that was never seriously considered. Russia must take the US offer seriously.
The US is currently trying to free basketball player Brittney Griner and former US soldier Paul Whelan who are also being held in Russia. According to media reports, the US plan communicated weeks ago includes an exchange of the two US citizens with the Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout, who is in prison in the US. CNN then reported on Friday, citing informed circles, that Russian representatives had requested through informal channels that the United States release Vadim K. as part of a prisoner exchange.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov for the first time since the start of the war in Ukraine. On Friday morning (local time) there was an “open and direct discussion” about an offer to release US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was imprisoned in Russia, and American citizen Paul Whelan, Blinken said in Washington. “I urged the Kremlin to accept the substantive proposal that we (…) made.” The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the phone call between the two chief diplomats.
After the momentous attack on a prison in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj accused Russia of having committed a war crime with it. “Today I received information about the occupiers’ attack on Olenivka in the Donetsk region,” Zelenskyy said in his daily speech on Friday. “This is a premeditated Russian war crime, a premeditated mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war.” The Ukrainian president called the number “more than 50 dead”.
The detention center in Olenivka, where Ukrainian prisoners of war were held, was bombed on Friday. After that, Russia and Ukraine accused each other of being responsible for the attack. The Russian Defense Ministry said a US-supplied Himars missile launcher was used. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, on the other hand, said the Russian army had bombed the detention center. According to Russian sources, Ukrainian prisoners of war, including members of the Azov regiment, were being held in Olenivka in the region controlled by pro-Russian separatists. There were different reports about the number of victims. The leader of the pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Denis Puschilin, spoke of 47 dead.
Former US General David Petraeus thinks it’s possible that Ukraine can regain territory occupied by Russia in the war of aggression. “Indeed, it seems increasingly likely that Ukrainian forces could recapture much, if not all, of the areas occupied by Russian forces in recent months,” he told Bild (Saturday). “If NATO and other western states continue to allocate resources at the current pace, … I believe the Ukrainian forces will be able to stop further Russian advances and begin to retake the territories captured by the Russians since February 24 ‘ said Petraeus. Russia launched its war of aggression against the neighboring country at the end of February.
What will be important on Saturday:
After Zelenskyj’s visit to the port city of Odessa, it is expected that the export of millions of tons of grain by ship across the Black Sea, which has been impeded for a long time, will begin. The head of state had announced that the first ship should start soon.
After a long wait, the first Gepard anti-aircraft tanks have arrived from Germany. The Ukrainian military says it bombed a Russian-held bridge in Kherson. All news about the war in Ukraine can be found here in the ticker.
Ukraine’s three ports intended for the export of grain resumed work on Wednesday, according to the Navy. The federal government approves the sale of 100 modern self-propelled howitzers to Kyiv. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war in the ticker.