Russian reinforcements pour into eastern Ukraine, says governor

Russian reinforcements pour into eastern Ukraine, says governor
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Updated 07 February 2023

Russian reinforcements pour into eastern Ukraine, says governor

Russian reinforcements pour into eastern Ukraine, says governor
  • New Russian offensive possible in 10 days, says governor
  • British intel says Russia does not have forces for offensive

KYIV: Russia was pouring reinforcements into eastern Ukraine ahead of a possible new offensive, said a Ukrainian governor, but British intelligence said on Tuesday it was unlikely that Russia would have enough forces to significantly affect the war within weeks.
Desperate for Western military aid to arrive, Ukraine anticipates a major offensive could be launched by Russia for “symbolic” reasons around the Feb. 24 anniversary of the invasion, which Moscow persists in calling “a special military operation.”
Ukraine is itself planning a spring offensive to recapture lost territory, but it is awaiting delivery of promised longer-range Western missiles and battle tanks, and some analysts say the country was months away from being ready.
“We are seeing more and more (Russian) reserves being deployed in our direction, we are seeing more equipment being brought in...,” said Serhiy Haidai, Ukraine’s governor of the mainly Russian-occupied Luhansk province.
“They bring ammunition that is used differently than before — it is not round-the-clock shelling anymore. They are slowly starting to save, getting ready for a full-scale offensive,” Haidai told Ukrainian television.
“It will most likely take them 10 days to gather reserves. After Feb. 15 we can expect (this offensive) at any time.”
The war is reaching a pivotal point as its first anniversary approaches, with Ukraine no longer making gains as it did in the second half of 2022 and Russia pushing forward with hundreds of thousands of mobilized reserve troops.
Britain’s Defense Intelligence said in its daily report that Russia’s military has likely attempted since early January to restart major offensive operations aimed at capturing Ukraine-held parts of Donetsk.
However, Russian forces have gained little territory as they “lack munitions and maneuver units required for a successful offensive,” it said.
“Russian leaders will likely continue to demand sweeping advances. It remains unlikely that Russia can buiild up the forces needed to substantially affect the outcome of the war within the coming weeks.”
In his Monday evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said personnel changes on the border and frontline will bolster Ukraine’s military efforts amid uncertainty over the future of his defense minister, just as Russia advances in the east for the first time in six months.
Zelensky said he wanted to combine military and managerial experience in local and central government but did not directly address confusion about whether his defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, would be replaced.
On Sunday, David Arakhamia, head of Zelensky’s parliamentary bloc, said Reznikov would be transferred to another ministerial job, but on Monday he wrote that “there will be no personnel changes in the defense sector this week.”
Zelensky says he needs to show that Ukraine was a safe steward of billions of dollars of Western military and other aid, and his government is engaged in the biggest political and administrative shake-up since Russia’s invasion nearly a year ago.
“In a number of regions, particularly those on the border or on the front line, we will appoint leaders with military experience. Those who can show themselves to be the most effective in defending against existing threats,” he said.
The European Union said Zelensky has been invited to take part in a summit of EU leaders, amid reports he could be in Brussels as soon as this week, in what would be only his second known foreign trip since the invasion began.
Zelensky’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
NEW RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Ukrainska Pravda on the weekend that intelligence suggested any new Russian offensive would likely come from the east or south.
“Their dream is to expand the land corridor to Crimea in order to continue supplies. Therefore, of course, the key risks are: the east, the south, and after that the north,” he said. Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.
Ukrainian defense analyst Oleksandr Kovalenko said a new Russian offensive could come from one of four directions; the eastern Luhansk region, the Donetsk region, the Zaporizhzhia region and the city and port of Mariupol.
“Things are more serious in Donetsk region, particularly around Bakhmut and Avdiivka. And the Russians will be boosting their contingents there as well as equipment and paratroops,” Kovalenko, from the “Information Resistance group” think tanks, told Ukrainian radio NV.
For months Russia’s main target in eastern Ukraine has been Bakhmut, where its state media said the Wagner mercenary group had gained a foothold. Ukraine said on Monday evening that Russian forces had trained tank, mortar and artillery fire there in the past 24 hours.
Kovalenko said Mariupol, captured by Russian forces last May, could be used by the Russians to bring in troops and equipment for a new offensive.
“It could serve as a transport hub for the Russian occupation forces,” he said.
Kovalenko said Ukraine’s counter-offensive would not happen any time soon and Ukrainian forces would be assuming a defensive position, particularly in Donetsk.
“It may be an active defense, but a defensive position nonetheless. The idea will remain to block any Russian advance,” he said.
“Things could change more quickly in other sectors. But this situation could go on for two to two-and-a-half months — that is the time required for providing the tanks for brigades, training and getting everything outfitted.”


Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention

Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention
Updated 58 min 17 sec ago

Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention

Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention
  • Tate, 36, and his brother Tristan, 34, were arrested in late December
  • Their detention has been extended every month since then by Romanian judges
BUCHAREST: A Romanian court on Wednesday extended the detention of controversial influencer Andrew Tate while he’s being investigated along with his brother for alleged human trafficking and rape.
Tate, 36, and his brother Tristan, 34, were arrested in late December, and their detention has been extended every month since then by Romanian judges.
Under Romania’s legal system, pre-trial detention can be extended to a maximum of 180 days, pending possible indictment.
The Bucharest Tribunal ruled to extend their detention by a further 30 days, a decision which can be appealed.
The latest extension left the brothers “speechless,” their media team said.
“The substantial material damages they have suffered are nothing compared to the moral ones. Their image has been irreparably harmed,” it said.
The brothers continue to deny all charges brought against them.
Tate, a British-American former kickboxer who has millions of online followers, along with his younger brother and two Romanian women, are under investigation for allegedly “forming an organized criminal group, human trafficking and rape.”
As part of the probe, Romanian police raided several properties connected to the Tate brothers and seized many of their assets, including a collection of luxury cars.
A court document from January said that one woman was “recruited” from the UK after she fell in love with Andrew Tate, who then brought her to Romania “with the goal of sexual exploitation.”
In 2016, Tate appeared on the “Big Brother” reality television show in Britain but was removed after a video emerged showing him attacking a woman.
He then turned to social media platforms to promote his divisive views before being banned for misogynistic remarks and hate speech.
Tate was allowed back on Twitter after the South African billionaire Elon Musk bought the company.

Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party

Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party
Updated 22 March 2023

Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party

Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party
  • The ruling was asked for in a joint session of parliament convened over the instability caused by the crisis over Khan
  • The clashes erupted after Khan's supporters prevented police and paramilitary forces from arresting him

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday sought a parliament ruling to empower authorities to tackle former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party’s alleged involvement in violence.
The ruling was asked for in a joint session of parliament convened over the instability caused by the crisis over Khan.
Sanaullah told the house nearly 68 security personnel were injured in clashes and 16 arrested Khan aides will be tried on terrorism charges.
The clashes erupted after Khan’s supporters prevented police and paramilitary forces from arresting him in a case in which he is accused of unlawfully selling state gifts during his tenure as premier from 2018-2022. He denies any wrongdoing.
The minister requested the house give “guidance” to the government about the violence stoked by Khan’s supporters, who he said included “miscreants, armed groups, and terrorists.”
“It is required that the security forces should be given authority and other measures to deal with this issue,” he said, adding that Khan’s agenda is “chaos and anarchy.”
The government has alleged that Khan’s supporters had militants among them and ministers have called for proscribing Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Khan has rejected the allegation, saying that the government wanted his party out of politics.
The former premier has demanded snap elections since he was ousted in a parliamentary vote of confidence in April last year.
Khan’s successor Shehbaz Sharif has said that a general election will be held as scheduled later this year.

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Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial

Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial
Updated 22 March 2023

Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial

Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial
  • "The Norwegian Nobel Committee deplores the arrest of and legal actions taken against Jan Rachinsky and other leading members of Memorial," Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee, said
  • The rights group said Tuesday that Russian authorities had opened a criminal case against Oleg Orlov for "discrediting" the army

OSLO: The Nobel Committee in charge of the Peace Prize on Wednesday condemned the legal actions and what it called “unfounded” charges against members of the prize-winning Russian human rights organization Memorial.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee deplores the arrest of and legal actions taken against Jan Rachinsky and other leading members of Memorial,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee, said in a statement.
“The charges made against them are unfounded and must be dropped,” she said.
The rights group said Tuesday that Russian authorities had opened a criminal case against Oleg Orlov, the co-chair of Memorial, for “discrediting” the army.
The announcement came after security officials raided the homes of several Memorial employees including Orlov, 69, and Rachinsky, its 64-year-old co-founder, earlier in the day.
Memorial established itself as a pillar of civil society by preserving the memory of victims of communist repression and campaigning against rights violations in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
The raids took place after investigators accused Memorial staff of allegedly including World War Two-era Nazi collaborators on their list of victims of political terror, the organization said.
Memorial was disbanded by Russian authorities in late 2021, just months before Putin sent troops to Ukraine.
“(I have) constant pain and shame for the horror that our army is creating in a neighboring sovereign state,” Orlov told AFP last year.
Memorial received the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize along with the jailed Belorusian activist Ales Bialiatski and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties.
Rachinsky said last year that the prize came as a surprise and would give all Russian rights defenders “new strength and inspiration.”
After the start of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, Russian authorities expanded a crackdown on dissent, jailing or pushing into exile nearly all prominent Kremlin critics.
Public criticism of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.


UAE looks to more engagement with India ahead of G20 summit

UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali speaks to Arab News in an interview on Tuesday. (AN photo)
UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali speaks to Arab News in an interview on Tuesday. (AN photo)
Updated 22 March 2023

UAE looks to more engagement with India ahead of G20 summit

UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali speaks to Arab News in an interview on Tuesday. (AN photo)
  • Bilateral relations received boost with last year’s free trade pact
  • Now UAE is also focusing on people-to-people relations, says envoy

NEW DELHI: The UAE wants to expand ties with India beyond the economic spectrum, Abu Dhabi’s envoy to New Delhi told Arab News, as the two countries are increasing engagement during the Indian presidency of the Group of 20 largest economies.

Economic ties between the two countries received a major boost when their Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement came into force in May last year. The landmark deal reduced tariffs on about 80 percent of all goods and provided zero-duty access to 90 percent of Indian exports.

“The momentum has been great. We have had many senior officials coming from the UAE and from India visiting the UAE. We have had quite a few ministers visit. We have a minister visiting almost every month. And non-oil bilateral trade is now above $40 billion and the target is $100 billion by 2027,” UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali told Arab News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

“We are keen on expanding ties with India in every possible way, so not just in the bilateral spectrum of things, but also exploring trilateral, multilateral venues ... you would see us being very active as well in the G20 presidency by the Indian government.”

While Saudi Arabia is the only Middle Eastern country in the G20, India, which is chairing the group this year, can invite non-G20 members to its processes and meetings.

The UAE is India’s special guest — alongside Oman and Egypt — and will also take part in the group’s summit in September.

The growing representation of Middle Eastern countries will result in a “higher engagement between India and the countries in the region,” the UAE ambassador said.

“Alignment in the G20 is important not only between India and the countries in the Arab world, but also among the G20 countries and among the countries that get invited,” Al-Shaali said.

The Indian government, he added, has “made sure that it has a different kind of representation in the G20 meeting than what we have seen in the past few years, and this further affirms the commitment that India has to the region and, of course, it has the region’s support in its G20 presidency.”

While economic ties between New Delhi and Abu Dhabi are reaching new heights under last year’s trade pact, the UAE is also investing in people-to-people relations.

“We are only just starting,” Al-Shaali said. “We are focusing a lot on people-to-people ties. We have just signed an MoU on establishing cultural councils, the second chapter of the India-UAE business council has been established as well ... we are exploring all venues; we are expanding in the areas both countries are interested in.”


Slovakia offered $1bn in US arms in trade-off for Ukraine aid

Slovakia offered $1bn in US arms in trade-off for Ukraine aid
Updated 22 March 2023

Slovakia offered $1bn in US arms in trade-off for Ukraine aid

Slovakia offered $1bn in US arms in trade-off for Ukraine aid
  • "If we don't take them, they will go to another country," Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Facebook
  • Slovakia announced on Friday that it would donate the MiG warplanes to Ukraine

BRATISLAVA: Slovakia on Wednesday said it had received a US offer of $1 billion in helicopters and missiles at a discounted rate in compensation for promising to send MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine.
“We were the first to receive this extremely advantageous offer. If we don’t take them, they will go to another country,” Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Facebook.
“The value of this material is slightly over $1 billion... Slovakia would pay around $340 million over a period of three to four years,” he added.
The offer includes 12 new Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters with accessories, pilot and technician training, along with more than 500 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, he said.
He noted that the offer was notably in compensation for the fighter jets that Bratislava had recently promised Ukraine.
“So let’s summarise: for 13 old MiGs and a part of the KUB air defense system, we have an offer” from the United States, he said.
Slovakia announced on Friday that it would donate the MiG warplanes to Ukraine, the second NATO member — following Poland — to pledge the aircraft.
The batch will include 10 operational MiG-29 fighter jets and an additional three to be used as spare parts. The KUB air defense system is also Soviet-era weaponry.
Slovakia plans to replace the jets with American F-16s, and the changeover should take place no later than January 2024.
Nad said Wednesday that the US deal was also intended to make up for the delay in delivering the F-16s.
“Thanks to our responsible defense policy, relations with the US and also our clear support of Ukraine, we were the first to receive this offer,” Nad said.
“It should also be seen in the context of indirect compensation for the delayed F-16 fighters, where we have long demanded some form of compensation.”