MOSCOW, RUSSIA JULY 20, 2022: Russia s President Vladimir Putin attends a plenary session at the Strong Ideas for a New Time forum at the GES-2 decommissioned power station. Alexei Maishev/POOL/TASS PUBLICATIONxINxGERxAUTxONLY TS13AF49

According to MI6 chief Richard Moore, half of all Russian spies in Europe have been expelled since Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine began. According to the last count, there are “about 400 Russian intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover,” Moore said at the US Aspen Security Conference.

According to the head of the British secret service, the expulsion of around 400 diplomats from European countries such as France and Germany drastically reduced the Kremlin’s espionage capacities. “That probably cut in half their ability to spy for Russia in Europe,” Moore said. Western intelligence agencies have made concerted efforts to disrupt Russia’s spy networks since the invasion in February.

In April this year, Germany expelled 40 Russian diplomats and France 41. Great Britain is one of the few countries that has not expelled any diplomats since the beginning of the war of aggression. The reason is the previous expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats after the poisoning of defector Sergei Viktorovich Skripal and his daughter in 2018, as reported by the British newspaper The Guardian. (Alexandra Best, tsp)

Ukraine will only accept an end to the war on its own terms, said Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian president at a press conference on Thursday. That means that “the occupiers have to leave our entire territory,” Podolyak added. The war could not be ended under any other conditions. Accordingly, Ukraine would not accept any “pseudo-referendums” or other legal decisions by Russia in the occupied territories. “So the war will go on until these territories are liberated and they will never be recognized as Russian by anyone,” he said, ruling out that Ukraine would cede territory to Russia.

He also commented on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement that the “geographical” objectives of the Russian invasion of Ukraine had changed and were no longer just about the so-called “People’s Republics” of Luhank and Donetsk: “Lavrov’s statement is pure propaganda for the domestic audience.” According to Podolyak, the Russian Foreign Ministry has behaved very unprofessionally and is gradually beginning to tell the truth about the war that Russia is waging in Ukraine. “They want to invade our territory and destroy Ukraine, expel our people or relocate them to camps in Russia, and then build another Donetsk and Luhansk on the destroyed land, as they have been doing for the last eight years,” Podoliak said. mlk)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will address the Arab League at its Cairo headquarters on Sunday. As the state organization announced on Thursday, Lavrov will meet the Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Abul Gheit and representatives of the 22 Arab member states. The consequences of the Russian war of aggression have also caused food insecurity in Arab countries, since many of these countries are heavily dependent on grain imports from Ukraine. (AFP)

Amid tensions with Israel over the Ukraine offensive, the Kremlin wants the Jewish Agency, which handles the immigration of Jews from all over the world to Israel, to be banned from working in Russia. The Ministry of Justice has applied for the organization to be dissolved, a court spokeswoman said on Thursday in Moscow, according to Russian news agencies.

The ministry cited “violations of the law” as justification. The court spokeswoman did not say exactly what violations of the law the Israeli organization was accused of. Deliberations on the application were scheduled to begin on July 28. The globally active Jewish Agency began its work in Russia in 1989, two years before the end of the Soviet Union. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the ex-Soviet Union emigrated to Israel.

Israel has condemned the Russian operation in Ukraine. At the same time, however, the Hebrew state is trying to exercise restraint towards Moscow in view of the close ties between the two states. At the end of last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized Israel for not imposing sanctions on Russia. (AFP)

According to a media report, Europol warns of arms smuggling from Ukraine to the EU. According to a Europol letter to the Council of the European Union, which is available to the SWR, the EU police authority is aware of several cases of illegal firearms exports. The smuggling is operated by criminal networks.

In addition, weapons caches may have been set up along the Ukrainian border with the EU in order to organize the transport of the weapons. According to Europol, there is also a suspicion that some refugees from Ukraine have brought firearms into the EU. (Reuters)

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has warned of a nuclear escalation in the Ukraine conflict. In an exclusive interview with the AFP news agency on Thursday, Lukashenko called on the West, Ukraine and Russia to end the conflict in order to avert an impending “nuclear war”.

Lukashenko is an ally of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, who ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine at the end of February. “We have to stop and make an agreement to end this chaos, this operation and the war in Ukraine,” Lukashenko said in an exclusive interview with the AFP news agency. “We must go no further,” added the Belarusian President. Because the “abyss of a nuclear war” is looming. It shouldn’t come to that.

Lukashenko urged the Ukrainian government to resume negotiations with Russia. “Everything depends on Ukraine,” he said. Currently there is a possibility “that the war can be ended under more acceptable conditions for Ukraine”. He called on Ukraine to “sit down at the negotiating table and agree that it will never threaten Russia.”

Lukashenko assigned responsibility for the military escalation of the Ukraine conflict to the West, which “provoked” this military conflict and continues to fan it. Russia responded to the NATO threat, he said. “If Russia hadn’t forestalled NATO, you (the western countries) would have organized and struck,” said the Belarusian ruler. (AFP)