TODAY: Ahead of talks, Ukraine accuses Russia of opening new war front; Russian soldiers detained on Ukrainian soil; journalist covering Ukraine protests attacked. Navalny’s wife questioned; Moscow grants asylum to wanted Lithuanian banker; patriotism at the cinema.
Ukrainian security services have accused Russia of opening a new front after an armored column including 10 tanks entered the country’s south east from Russia. The services also released video footage in which Russian servicemen are captured by government forces while fighting alongside pro-Moscow rebels. The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that they are Russian but states that they entered Ukrainian territory by mistake. Moscow’s hopes to send a second aid convoy to Ukraine have been met with disapproval by the U.S. Department of State. Ahead of talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has asserted that Russia is willing to use any form of diplomacy to end the conflict in Ukraine, ‘as long as there is a result‘. ‘It would be a massive mistake to believe that Putin is approaching the summit in a mood to accept humiliation.‘ Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has dissolved parliament and announced early legislative elections.
A correspondent for Ekho Moskvy radio has been attacked while covering single-person pickets supporting Ukraine in St. Petersburg. Police officers have detained a suspect in the case who had been charged with disorderly conduct. See here for details of the latest patriotic stunt by Mustang Wanted, the Kiev-based ‘roofer’ who claimed responsibility for bedecking a Moscow tower with Ukrainian colours. The wife of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya, has been questioned by investigators over an allegedly stolen poster; the Rospilinfo founder says it is part of an ongoing harassment campaign.
Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has a gloomy prognosis for Russia’s economy. In a move unlikely to please Vilnius, Russia has granted asylum to Lithuanian banker Vladimir Romanov, who is wanted on embezzlement charges, and will not extradite him. Russia’s food safety watchdog has ordered the temporary closure of another McDonald’s. Senator Batu Khasikov has suggested restricting cinema showings of foreign films that ‘demonize’ Russia.
PHOTO: “We were told that we were making a 70-kilometer march and nothing else,” a man, who identified himself as Ivan Melchakov,19, said on camera. The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that the ten Russian paratroopers in the country’s east are indeed Russian. (Ukrainian Security Services / YouTube)