Ukraine summons Vatican envoy over Pope’s ‘white flag’ remarks – latest

In World


Russian gas pipeline explodes in huge fireball blast amid series of ‘Ukrainian strikes’

Ukraine has summoned the Vatican’s envoy over Pope Francis’s suggestion that Kyiv should “show the courage of the white flag”, remarks that have drawn a widespread backlash.

The Apostolic Nuncio Visvaldas Kulbokas was told that Kyiv was “disappointed” as Ukraine urged the Pope to refrain from statements that “legalise the right of might and encourage further disregard for the norms of international law”, the foreign ministry said.

The Pope sparked anger after a transcript of an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI was released ahead of its broadcast next week.

Russian lawmakers, meanwhile, are seeking to nullify the Soviet decision in 1954 to transfer Crimea from Russia to Ukraine. The move appears to be an effort by Vladimir Putin to rewrite history and justify his illegal 2014 annexation of the peninsula.

It comes as Russia said Ukraine had launched 25 drones overnight, including one that was downed just outside Moscow.

Operations were halted at an oil refinery in western Russia after a drone strike caused a fire in the town of Kstovo.

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Huge fire engulfs oil processing unit in western Russia after drone strike

A huge fire has erupted in an oil processing unit in the town of Kstovo in western Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod after a drone attack, the regional governor said.

Gleb Nikitin said a fuel and energy complex facility was attacked by unmanned aerial vehicles. Russia’s Lukoil-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez refinery is located in the town and is believed to have caught fire.

Work at the refinery was temporarily suspended due to an “incident,” Russia’s RIA state news agency said, citing the oil company.

“In the morning, the Kstovo industrial zone, a fuel and energy complex facility, was attacked by unmanned aerial vehicles,” Mr Nikitin said on the Telegram messaging app.

Shweta Sharma12 March 2024 06:07

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Kremlin claims to have long had reports of Nato advisers in Ukraine

Russian security services have long had information that Nato advisers are in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed on Monday.

The Kremlin spokesperson was commenting on Polish media reports suggesting that Nato soldiers are in Ukraine.

Andy Gregory12 March 2024 05:58

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Russian politicians submit draft bill seeking to nullify 1954 transfer of Crimea

Russian politicians have submitted a draft bill which would seek to rewrite history by nullifying the Soviet decision in 1954 to transfer Crimea from Russia to Ukraine.

The move appears aimed at establishing a legal basis for Russia to argue that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which it claims to have annexed from Ukraine in 2014, was never really part of Ukraine to begin with.

The draft, submitted by a politician from each of Russia’s two houses of parliament, describes the 1954 handover as arbitrary and illegal because no referendum was held and Soviet authorities had no right to transfer territory from one constituent republic to another without consent.

There was no announcement of when it would be debated.

Vladimir Putin has previously denounced the 1954 handover of Crimea under then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev as a violation of legal norms in place at the time.

Crimea residents voted in favour of independence along with the rest of Ukraine in a referendum when the Soviet Union broke up, and Russia and Ukraine subsequently recognised each other’s borders. But Moscow seized military control of Crimea in 2014 and annexed it after a referendum that Ukraine and Western governments declared illegal.

Reuters12 March 2024 04:52

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Russia arrests South Korean man for spying, Tass says

A South Korean man has been arrested in Russia on suspicion of espionage, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Law enforcement agencies said the man, identified as Baek Won-soon, had been detained in the far eastern city of Vladivostok before being transferred to Moscow for “investigative actions”.

The state news outlet said it was the first such case against a South Korean national. It did not provide any detail on the nature of the alleged spying.

An official reached at South Korea’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.

Russia regards South Korea as an “unfriendly” country because of Seoul’s support for Western sanctions against Moscow over the war in Ukraine while it has forged closer relations with North Korea.

Shweta Sharma12 March 2024 04:09

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Tory MP accuses government of cutting defence spending

The government should be “ashamed” for making “deeply dishonourable” cuts to defence spending, a Conservative former defence minister has said.

Mark Francois, a member of the cross-party defence committee, told the Commons: “The red book, the Budget bible, shows very clearly in tables 2.1 and 2.2 that the core defence budget next year has been cut by £2.5bn, that is true.

“It ill beholds any government, let alone one which purports to call itself Conservative, to then try and use one-off payments to Ukraine or for overspends in the nuclear budget from the consolidated fund and pretend they’re part of the defence budget, when everyone in this House knows they’re not.

“So I say to the government, if not to the minister who I have great regard for, as the son of a D-Day veteran, more in anger than in sorrow, what the government have done is deeply dishonourable and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

Defence minister James Cartlidge replied: “When we talk about spending on the nuclear deterrent, or spending to support Ukraine which is purchasing weapons, providing ordnance to them to help ultimately defend ourselves, I do think they are legitimately described as defence expenditure.

“After all, how else are we to pay for them, which budget are we supposed to pay from?”

Andy Gregory12 March 2024 03:49

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Russian lawmakers propose draft bill to nullify Soviet transfer of Crimea to Ukraine

Russian lawmakers have submitted a draft bill to the State Duma that would rewrite a chapter of history by nullifying the Soviet decision in 1954 to transfer Crimea from Russia to Ukraine.

The move appears aimed at establishing a legal basis for Russia to argue that Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which it claims to have annexed from Ukraine in 2014, was never really part of Ukraine to begin with.

The draft, submitted by a lawmaker from each of Russia’s two houses of parliament, describes the 1954 handover as “arbitrary” and “illegal” because no referendum was held and Soviet authorities had no right to transfer territory from one constituent republic to another without consent.

There was no announcement of when it would be debated by lawmakers.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has previously denounced the 1954 handover of Crimea under then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev as a violation of legal norms in place at the time.

Shweta Sharma12 March 2024 03:37

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Ukraine summons Vatican envoy after Pope’s white flag remarks

Ukraine has summoned the envoy to the Vatican to express “disappointment” over the Pope’s remark that Kyiv should have “the courage of the white flag” and negotiate an end to the conflict with Russia.

The papal ambassador to Ukraine, Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, was summoned on Monday, the foreign ministry said.

“Visvaldas Kulbokas was informed that Ukraine is disappointed by the Pontiff’s words,” it said in a statement.

He was told the Pope should refrain from statements that “legalise the right of might and encourage further disregard for the norms of international law,” a statement on the ministry’s website said.

The statement said the Pope “would be expected to send signals to the world community about the need to immediately join forces to ensure the victory of good over evil.”

Shweta Sharma12 March 2024 03:18

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Drone downed outside Moscow – officials

Russia says its air defence systems destroyed a drone launched from Ukraine that was flying towards Moscow.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on the Telegram messaging app there were no casualties and no damage at the site in the Ramensky district where the drone debris fell.

Shweta Sharma12 March 2024 02:57

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Watch: Russian gas pipeline explodes in huge fireball blast amid series of ‘Ukrainian strikes’

Russian gas pipeline explodes in huge fireball blast amid series of ‘Ukrainian strikes’

Andy Gregory12 March 2024 02:45

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Russian student jailed for pro-Ukraine WiFi network name

A Russian student has been jailed for 10 days for naming his WiFi after a pro-Ukrainian slogan, the latest case of an ordinary citizen being swept up in Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on freedom of speech around the war, reports my colleague Shweta Sharma.

A court in Moscow found Oleg Tarasov guilty of spreading propaganda and the “public display of Nazi symbols” on Thursday as it sent him to prison, reported state-run Ria. The Kremlin accuses the Ukrainian government of being composed of neo-Nazis, despite the fact it has a democratically elected Jewish leader in Volodymyr Zelensky.

Tarasov, a student at Moscow State University, had named his WiFi network “Slava Ukraini!”, a popular anti-war slogan that translates to “Glory to Ukraine” in English, according to the independent Russian Telegram news channel Ostorozhno Novosti.

The student was arrested on Wednesday morning after a police officer reported the WiFi network to the authorities.

Andy Gregory12 March 2024 01:42



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