Russia on Tuesday expanded its military conscription base after a vote to raise the upper age limit from 27 to 30 passed in the lower house.
The bill, once signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, is expected to add 2.4 million men to Russia’s forces and will prohibit conscripts from leaving the country once they are called up for duty.
The same day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he would not tolerate corruption or treachery in affairs of state as the country continues to wage its war against Russia.
Zelensky’s appeal, shared in his nightly address, came after the arrests of a military recruitment official accused of mass embezzlement and of a parliamentarian suspected of collaborating with Russia.
On the front lines, Kyiv said Tuesday that its military had made small advances against Russian forces in parts of southern Ukraine, moving forward toward the southeastern village of Staromayorske in the Donetsk region.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said it had destroyed two unmanned Ukrainian boats engaged in an attack on one of its Black Sea fleet patrol ships.
Ukraine-NATO Council holds urgent meeting to discuss Black Sea security
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the NATO-Ukraine Council met to discuss the security of the Black Sea following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
“At the level of the alliance, the Russian attacks against our country and our ports have been clearly condemned,” Zelensky said during a nightly address.
“We discussed what specific actions can bring calm and predictability to the Black Sea region. Thank you all for the substantive work of today’s NATO-Ukraine Council,” Zelensky added.
‘Staggering’ and ‘truly shameful’ – US slams Russia for attacks on Ukrainian heritage sites
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the Russian attacks on Ukrainian cultural heritage sites “staggering” and “truly shameful.”
Earlier in the week, Odessa’s historic Transfiguration Cathedral was destroyed in a Russian missile strike.
Thomas-Greenfield said that according to the latest figures collected by UNESCO, about 270 cultural sites have been damaged since the start of the war last year.
“The loss of Ukrainian cultural heritage is staggering, and it is truly shameful,” she said, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “silence your guns, withdraw your troops and end your brutal aggression.”
EU expands sanctions on Belarus for involvement in Russia’s war in Ukraine
The European Union wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that it was imposing additional sanctions on Belarus for the country’s involvement in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The European Union has agreed on a draft resolution to ban exports of aviation equipment to Belarus, Russia’s closest ally.
North Korea and Russia to strengthen cooperation, Defense Minister Shoigu says
Russia and North Korea on Wednesday announced plans to strengthen their defense cooperation, Reuters reported Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.
“I am convinced that today’s talks will contribute to strengthening cooperation between our defense departments,” Shoigu said after a meeting in Pyongyang with his North Korean counterpart.
Moldova to cut number of Russian embassy staff, Tass reports
Moldova’s foreign minister said Wednesday that it had cut the number of staff at its Russian embassy.
“The decision follows numerous unfriendly actions towards the Republic of Moldova, which are unrelated to the diplomatic mandate, as well as attempts to destabilize the internal situation of our country,” the ministry said.
In line with principles of equal diplomatic representation, this will reduce Russia and Moldova’s foreign mission in each other’s countries to 10 diplomatic posts and 15 administrative and technical positions each.
Russian Ambassador to Moldova Oleg Vasnetsov said that Chisinau’s move “undermines the opportunity for dialogue between the two countries.”
“All this so-called spying scandal is a pretext for the decision made ages ago to reduce the number of diplomatic staff,” Vasnetsov told a press briefing.
US approves security package worth $400 million for Ukraine
The Biden administration approved a new security assistance package for Ukraine worth $400 million.
“The people of Ukraine continue to bravely defend their country against Russia’s aggression, while Russia continues its relentless and vicious attacks that are killing Ukrainian civilians and destroying civil infrastructure,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a release announcing the arms package.
The weapons included in the latest package include: Additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS; Stinger anti-aircraft systems; Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS; 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds; 120mm and 60mm mortar rounds; 32 Stryker armored personnel carriers; Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided or TOW missiles; Javelin and other anti-armor systems and rockets; Hornet unmanned aerial systems; Hydra-70 aircraft rockets; and tactical air navigation systems.
Putin expected to visit China in October, Kremlin says
The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin was invited and plans to attend the Belt and Road forum in China in October, Reuters reports.
The Biden administration has reiterated that Beijing should not assist Moscow as Washington and its Western allies coordinate rounds of sanctions for the Kremlin’s ongoing war in Ukraine.