Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls on the international community to clearly denounce Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. Nobody in the world invests more in terrorism than the leadership in Moscow, he said in a video message on Friday night. Russia should therefore be recognized as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.
In the USA, US senators have already introduced a corresponding resolution. However, the decision on this lies with the US State Department, which also keeps the official list of states supporting terrorism. It currently includes the countries of Syria, Iran, Cuba and North Korea, which have been subject to strict sanctions by the USA.
According to Zelenskyy, the Russian armed forces continued “a series of strategically senseless and brutal attacks” on the Donbass in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. Several civilians were killed in different parts of the country, according to Ukrainian sources. As a rule, the information provided by the warring parties can hardly be verified independently. Ukraine has been fighting off a Russian invasion for more than five months now.
Most recently, a successful mediation by the United Nations raised hopes that further compromises might be possible between the warring parties. According to the UN, ships with grain on board will soon leave Ukrainian waters after the agreement between Kyiv and Moscow. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said there were a number of freighters already loaded in the Black Sea ports ready for departure.
A week ago, Ukraine and Russia signed the agreement with the United Nations and Turkey to allow grain exports from Ukraine from three Black Sea ports. After the war began, port operations were suspended for security reasons – Moscow was accused of blocking grain exports as revenge for Western sanctions.
In African countries in particular, the grain blockade had exacerbated the already acute food shortages.
The foreign ministers of Russia and the United States have not spoken to each other since the war began on February 24. Russia’s chief diplomat Sergey Lavrov has now announced that he will respond to his US colleague Antony Blinken’s request for a phone call “if time permits”. At the moment he simply has a busy schedule with international contacts, said the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, according to the TASS agency.
Blinken announced on Wednesday that a phone call “in the coming days” with Lavrov would be about the release of US basketball player Brittney Griner and her compatriot Paul Whelan, who were imprisoned in Moscow. The US Secretary of State also wants to address compliance with the agreement on the export of grain from Ukraine.
According to media reports, Russian attacks on Thursday killed several people in Ukraine. At least five people were killed and 26 others injured in a rocket attack on the central Ukrainian city of Kropvnitsky, Ukrainian media reported, citing the local military administration. Civilians are among the injured.
According to the online newspaper Ukrajinska Pravda, at least 15 people were injured in further rocket attacks in the Kyiv region. Here, too, civilians are among the victims. According to media reports, at least four people were killed by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region.
According to the former head of the Kremlin, Dmitry Medvedev, if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russia will respond militarily. If NATO bases are set up on the territory of the two countries and weapons are stationed, then “our reaction steps would be symmetrical,” said the deputy chief of the Russian Security Council, according to the Interfax agency.
After the Russian attack on Ukraine, Sweden and Finland had applied to join NATO out of concern for their own security. Before that they had been formally neutral. NATO approved the application for membership at the end of June, and ratification by the individual member states has been ongoing since then. Russia shares a more than 1300 km long border with Finland in the north.
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will hold talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in Athens. She then travels to Turkey. The double visit to the two NATO partners is important to her, especially in these difficult times when Russia is trying to split the Western alliance, Baerbock told the Greek newspaper “Ta Nea”.