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US will “vigorously respond” to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

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US President Joe Biden assured his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy this Sunday that the US and its allies would “respond vigorously” if Russia invaded Ukraine, the White House said.

In a press release signed by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, it is said that “President Biden has made it clear that the United States and its allies will respond decisively if Russia invades Ukraine.” Biden and Zelenskiy had a phone call this Sunday, as announced Friday.

Joe Biden, who is multiplying warnings to Vladimir Putin and advocating “reducing tensions,” again warned the Russian president against attempting to invade Ukraine during a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin on Thursday. “I made it clear to President Putin that we would adopt tough sanctions and increase our presence in Europe,” Joe Biden said Friday, in coordination with NATO allies.

Regarding the phone call between the presidents of the United States and Ukraine, Jen Psaki also said that Biden has expressed support for diplomatic efforts, including talks scheduled for January 9 and 10 in Geneva, between US and Russian officials. In Kiev, Zelenskiy said he was satisfied with the “unwavering support” of the United States.

The White House said Friday that Joe Biden “will reaffirm US support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity.” On the same day, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a message on the social network Twitter that he was eager to discuss with Biden “ways of coordinating” actions in the “interests of peace in Ukraine and security in Europe.”

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Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of concentrating tens of thousands of soldiers near its borders in anticipation of a possible invasion. The United States and Russia have scheduled talks on Ukraine for January 10 and 11 in Geneva. It is expected that the delegations of the two countries will be led respectively by Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian counterpart Sergei Ryabkov.

A bilateral meeting between Russia and NATO is scheduled for January 12, followed by a meeting within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) the next day.

The United States, which is often accused of approaching international issues without taking into account the positions of its Western allies, insists precisely on close cooperation with Europeans and Ukrainians.

More than 100,000 Russian soldiers will be concentrated near the borders of Ukraine, from which Russia already annexed part of the territory, the Crimean Peninsula, in 2014.

Moscow denies any war intentions and claims it is threatened by “provocations” from Kiev and NATO, having submitted proposals in early December demanding that the Atlantic Alliance refuse to recognize Ukraine and other countries in the Soviet zone of influence as members and withdraw its military parts to Central and Eastern Europe.

The West also sees Russia as a mentor for pro-Russian separatists involved in a conflict that has raged in eastern Ukraine for nearly eight years.

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.

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Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia

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A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization

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“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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