This handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Syria's President Bashar al-Assad as he chairs the central committee of the ruling Baath party in Damascus on October 7, 2018. (Photo by - / SANA / AFP) / == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SANA" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==

Putin will seize the opportunity mercilessly and try to cause as much trouble as possible for the EU – now that he can.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced the creation of a new parliamentary commission to oversee the use of Western weapons. There are no allegations of misuse of weapons from the West, Zelenskyj emphasized in his video speech on Tuesday. “But in order to eliminate all manipulations by Russian propagandists and those who help them in Ukraine or elsewhere, such an additional parliamentary control tool will be established,” he said.

After the recent dismissals in the security organs, which fell victim to Zelenskyy’s childhood friend Ivan Bakanov as head of the secret service, the Ukrainian president also wants to push ahead with the realignment of these authorities. Zelenskyi appointed new heads of the SBU secret service in five regions. He also reported another layoff at the top. He fired another SBU deputy chief, Zelenskyj said.

The restructuring of the security apparatus after almost five months of war is apparently based on the leadership in Kyiv’s increasing dissatisfaction with the results of the secret service’s work. “Unsatisfactory work results” had already been mentioned by Selenskyj the day before as a reason for the dismissal of dozens of agents. (dpa)

The US government assumes that Russia wants to annex more areas of Ukraine. The model is the action on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014, said the communications director of the National Security Council in the White House, John Kirby, on Tuesday. Intelligence information indicated that Russia wanted to hold “sham referendums”. According to Kirby, Russian bank branches are to be set up in the affected regions in order to introduce the ruble as a currency there.

Internet access should also be checked. Moscow also wants to force people to apply for Russian citizenship. “The Kremlin has not announced the schedule for the referendums, but Russian officials in those areas claim they will take place later this year, possibly in conjunction with September’s Russian regional elections,” Kirby said. The regions affected include the Cherson and Zaporizhia regions, as well as the entire Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

The Kremlin has not yet confirmed such plans. However, the administrations deployed by Russia in the occupied territories have repeatedly stated that they want to hold referendums on accession to Russia. (dpa)

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has again accused the West of NATO’s eastward expansion. Had Russia not taken the initiative in the war of aggression against Ukraine, another conflict would have erupted, Khamenei said during a meeting with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin in Tehran on Tuesday, state broadcaster Irib reported. He was alluding to an argument put forward by Russia, according to which Moscow felt restricted by the inclusion of Eastern European states in the defense alliance and, above all, by Ukraine’s potential NATO membership.

Khamenei, who according to the constitution has the final say in all strategic matters in Iran, pledged his support to Russia. Relations are good for Russia and Iran as both states are hit by US sanctions. The 83-year-old also demanded that the US military should withdraw from the civil war in Syria. (dpa)

The US puts Russia on a blacklist of countries involved in human trafficking and forced labor. The list is part of a report by the US State Department. The government in Moscow is also accused of recruiting child soldiers and kidnapping children to Russia. Millions of Ukrainians have fled the Russian attack, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, the report said. (Reuters)