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EU completes sanctions against Russia after blacklisting 144 individuals and 48 entities – Newsroom

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This was stated by EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell at a press conference in Brussels after a meeting of European foreign ministers, indicating that the list of individual sanctions was agreed upon by the “twenty-seven”, so the final agreement is expected “this week” and that the EU will approve “in a few hours” a “hard package” of measures to be imposed on Russia in response to the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

The ninth package of sanctions, which has been discussed by EU member states for several weeks, will include measures against Iranian exports of “drones” (unmanned aerial vehicles) to Russia and restrictions on the financial sector.

All European sources interviewed indicated that it could be approved before the European Council next Thursday.

“There is no 100% agreement. Some Member States disagree. I am sure that we will come to an agreement, the problem is not the member state, but what exceptions we apply so that there is no collateral damage and that, at the same time, we do not deprive them of the sanction. impact,” said the head of EU diplomacy.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albarez later clarified at a press conference after a meeting with European colleagues that the sanctions would affect 144 people and 48 organizations involved in the aggression against Ukraine.

The meeting was held in an atmosphere of tension due to Hungary’s threat to block the approval of sanctions against Russia, Budapest’s attitude extends to other initiatives such as macro-financial assistance to Ukraine in the amount of 18 billion euros for 2023.

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The Spanish Foreign Ministry criticized the fact that aid to Kyiv has not yet been approved, given that the country “desperately needs” it.

“We do not agree with the position of those who are preventing its approval,” he said, insisting that support for this macro-financial assistance package is “overwhelming.”

With regard to the situation in Iran, the EU has also taken decisions today, such as imposing sanctions on a senior religious figure and Iranian state radio and television officials for their role in quelling social unrest in the country following the execution of the second person convicted for participating in the protests that are rocking the country. for almost three months now.

“Iranian authorities continue to crack down on demonstrations and execute demonstrators. We are targeting those who are involved in this repression,” Borrell explained at his press conference after the meeting of the public bloc MNE.

The European Union has included senior Shia cleric Sayyid Ahmad Khatami, 15 military officials and four members of IRIB, Iran’s state radio and television, on its “black list” of people who are banned from entering EU territory.

Iran today executed by hanging a man convicted of participating in demonstrations that have been taking place in the country for almost three months. It was the second execution related to the protest sparked by the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in Tehran on September 13 after she was arrested by the vice police for not wearing a well-fitting hijab. see part of the hair.

The executions are a “blatant attempt to intimidate” the demonstrators into “expressing their opinions in the street and demanding to live freely,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock.

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The EU also added to its “black list” four more people associated with the supply to Russia of Iranian “drones” used to attack Ukraine, including the director of MADO, a manufacturer of “drones”, and two legal entities: DAMA . , also a manufacturer of “drones”, and a company of the Revolutionary Guards, specializing in the development of ballistic missiles.

Josep Borrell was to inform the Iranian foreign minister of the new sanctions approved by the EU, stressing: “We must continue to talk to each other despite our differences and maintain channels of communication.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that its country is showing “maximum restraint against unrest” in response to European outrage following the first execution of a 23-year-old boy linked to a protest movement against the theocratic regime that has been operating in the country since 1979. .

Iranian authorities killed more than 500 people and detained more than 15,000 people, 11 of whom were sentenced to death, during protests that began on September 16, the day Mahsa Amini died, according to the Oslo-based NGO Iranian Human Rights. as a result, the hospital in the Iranian capital, where she was taken three days earlier, is already in a coma, after being brutally attacked and detained on the street by the vice police.

The EU is also trying to salvage an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program signed with Tehran in 2015, about which the head of European diplomacy said: “The situation is difficult, but there is no better chance to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.”

“Sanctions and nuclear weapons are two separate dossiers,” the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy said.

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Iran spent about 18 months negotiating with Germany, France, the UK, Russia, China and, indirectly, the United States – signatories to the original text – to maintain the 2015 nuclear deal, which limited Iran’s nuclear program to civilian purposes. purposes in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

In 2018, the pact was unilaterally abandoned by then-US President Donald Trump, who re-imposed sanctions on Iran, causing it also to gradually cease to fulfill its obligations.

In late November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear monitoring body, confirmed that Iran was enriching uranium up to 60% at the country’s underground fuel plant (when 90% enriched uranium is needed to produce an atomic bomb) – a level far from the 3.67% agreed upon in the 2015 text.

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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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