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President of Senegal travels to Moscow and Kyiv on behalf of the African Union – Columnist

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The President of Senegal announced this Sunday that he will travel to Russia and Ukraine on behalf of the African Union, which he currently leads, following an invitation from Moscow and an expressed desire by the President of Ukraine to contact African leaders.

Macky Sall said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he had received a mandate from the African Union to travel. He added that Russia had sent a corresponding invitation. The trip, originally scheduled for May 18, could not take place “for scheduling reasons”.and therefore proposed new dates, said the President of Senegal.

“As soon as it is resolved, I will naturally go to Moscow, as well as Kyiv, and we also agreed to meet with all the heads of state of the African Union, who, of course, with the president. [ucraniano, Volodymyr] Zelensky, who stated the need to communicate with the heads of African states,” said Maki Sall.

This will also happen in the coming weeks,” he added.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has divided African countries and also hit their economies hard, for example due to rising grain prices and fuel shortages.

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Senegal, which has strong relations with Western countries, surprised on March 2 by abstentions in the UN General Assembly vote in favor of a resolution that demanded that “Russia immediately cease the use of force against Ukraine.”

Senegal, on March 24, voted for a second resolution demanding an immediate end to the war from Russia. In both cases, almost half of the African countries abstained or did not vote.

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Up to ten years in prison. Putin toughens penalties for surrendering or refusing to fight

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The amendments provide for punishment of up to ten years in prison for soldiers who deserted or surrendered “arbitrarily”. Risk of the same punishment for those who refuse to fight or disobey orders during the mobilization phase..These amendments, recently approved by the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, have already been published on the Government portal.

The amendments are based on last week’s announcement of a partial mobilization of reservists to reinforce Russian forces involved in the invasion of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s order for such a mobilization, which initially involves 300,000 people, has resulted in large numbers of Russians attempting to leave the country. It also sparked waves of protests that led to mass arrests.

Already This Saturday, according to the non-governmental organization OVD-Info, Russian authorities detained more than 700 people during demonstrations “in 32 cities” – most of them in Moscow – against mobilization for war..

Armed forces open to foreigners
The President of Russia also signed a law aimed at accelerating the acquisition of Russian citizenship by foreigners who have served in the army for at least one year – foreigners no longer need to provide proof of five years of residence in Russia.

The law will mainly target immigrants from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, who occupy the heaviest jobs in major urban centers, especially in the capital Moscow.

Recall that Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan last week appealed to their citizens not to participate in any conflicts.

with agencies

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Russia has already been defeated. Reservist mobilization is a sign of desperation, says former Zelensky adviser

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“Russia has already failed to achieve its goals: take away the independence of Ukraine, kill the president, install a puppet regime, take over Kyiv and turn Ukraine into a Russian bay,” secretary Yulia Mendel, 35, told Lusa. Zelensky in the period from 2019 to 2021.

“In one fell swoop, [o Presidente russo, Vladimir] Putin thought that he would take the country, which makes no sense, because Ukraine is the largest territory of freedom in the post-Soviet space, and if someone comes to Kyiv, they will understand that we were never welcome in Russia and we knew that Russia fought in Donbas and annexed Crimea [em 2014] – therefore, it was an enemy – therefore, it would be impossible to obey Russia in any way,” he said.

Mendel, a Kyivian who believes Ukraine will win the war, has just published a book in the US about his experience as part of a team of “comic actor-turned-statesman and statesman-turned-military leader” titled The Fight for Our Lives is Mine. time with Zelensky, Ukraine’s battle for democracy and what it means for the world (“it means for the world”, in free translation), published by One Signal, endorsed by Simon & Schuster, but not yet published. published in Portugal.

“Yes, I believe that we will win this war – I must believe that we will win this war, because I believe in my country and will always believe in my country. We simply have no alternative, this is a battle for our very existence. We must stop him, fight back this brutal invasion. The world cannot be so unfair – justice and freedom must prevail, and we must believe in it, ”he said.

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Regarding the ongoing counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces, which have already reclaimed vast tracts of territory from the Russian army, Zelensky’s former adviser was categorical: “All Ukrainians believe that this counter-offensive can produce results; we have a lot of trust in our army and our volunteers and believe that they can bring peace to Ukraine and start rebuilding our territories and bringing back our people.”

“There are 1.2 million Ukrainians who are still under occupation. [russa], it’s a terrible thing. So, on the one hand, we are celebrating the counteroffensive, and on the other hand, our hearts bleed when we see all these mass graves and when we see signs of torture and corpses that the Russians tortured and killed – killed – children, families … “, – noted

“This is a terrible experience, and it is very scary to realize what we find [nos territórios recuperados]what will happen in the territories that are still under Russian occupation,” he added.

As for Putin’s announcement of a partial deployment of reserve soldiers – about 300,000, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu – Yulia Mendel called it a desperate measure.

“Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization is actually a sign of desperation, because he realized that he had achieved everything possible with the number of troops that he had been preparing for about ten months and that this was not enough – and, of course, it is scary that he is going to mobilize people from the occupied territories and send the Ukrainians to fight the Ukrainians. Let’s see how it goes…”, he commented.

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On the other hand, he pointed out, this announcement of the mobilization of reservists provoked in Russia what Zelensky’s former press secretary interpreted as a “positive sign.”

“A positive sign is that we see how part of the Russians are rising up and taking to the streets against the mobilization. Sure, it’s a bit cynical of them to agree to kill Ukrainians rather than go to the front lines and get killed, but at least it’s a sign of hope that the decisions of this 23-year-old dictator are opening cracks in his regime. which gives some hope,” he stressed.

“The bloodier it is, the more people he sends there, the bloodier this war will be,” which will provoke further protests from the Russian population, he added, as they have already set fire to several recruiting stations with Molotov cocktails. after the announcement of the mobilization of reservists, after the Russian security forces had already begun to detain more than a thousand protesters in about 40 cities of the country.

As for Putin’s speech Wednesday, in which he made a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons and said, “That’s not a bluff,” a former Zelenskiy adviser said she didn’t know “what to think about whether Putin is really considering starting a Third World War.” “

“I think the world is trying to do everything not to repeat this kind of past experience (the use of nuclear weapons), but in fact there are already some parallels with the Second World War, such as the practices of genocide and the crisis of artificially created famines… That is why Ukraine is fighting for our lives and asks the world to increase its aid, citing war, sanctions, resources, weapons, training, humanitarian aid and refugee aid.”

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Yulia Mendel ends her book with “special gratitude to all those who understand that Ukraine is not a country of the past.”

“We are the future. We broke the fetters of the post-Soviet space and became a territory of freedom. And now everyone knows,” he wrote.

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Joe Biden promises ‘fast and hard’ response if Russia annexes Ukraine

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US President Joe Biden warned on Friday that Russia would pay “quickly and seriously” if it uses “fake” referendums to annex territories belonging to Ukraine.

“The Russian referendums are a farce, a false pretext for trying to annex parts of Ukraine by force, a blatant violation of international law,” Biden said in a statement.

“We will work with our allies and partners to impose rapid and severe additional economic costs on Russia,” he added.

The referenda started this morning in Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and will last five days.

Ukrainian authorities say people are voting under threat of punishment.

On the other hand, the chairman of the Russian parliament (Duma) justified the referenda as “the right to self-determination of peoples enshrined in the UN Charter“, Viacheslav Volodin urged in a message posted on Telegram.

The European Union has also already said that it will reject the result of the referendum on the annexation of territories, whatever it may be.

“The whole world has heard Putin’s latest statement about his plans to hold fake referendums as a prelude to an illegal annexation that will never be recognized,” said the head of European diplomacyJosep Borrell in New York.

*with AFP

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