RT News – January 19th 2023 Late ~ January 19, 2023

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In Donbass the Wagner private military group reports taking a key suburb of Artyomovsk, also known as Bakhmut. Locals who were safely evacuated have been sharing their stories.

Peace through war? Moscow’s ambassador to the US accuses Washington of giving approval to Kiev for attacks on Russian territory, including Crimea, in what’s been called a potentially incendiary escalation. (see earlier post for write up articles) How far will the west go just to spite Russia ? Rory Suchet and Donald Courter discuss.

Sri Lanka says its hopes are high of securing a much-anticipated loan from the IMF. That’s as India’s External Affairs minister steps in to help the country deal with its economic crisis. Report from Runjun Sharma.

A Russian ice hockey player in U.S. has refused to wear a “gay” symbol on his strip to play. The team is Philadelphia Fliers. Ivan Provorov says he respects everyone’s choices but it goes against his religious beliefs. Caleb Maupin talks about the reaction in USA.

Crypto Arrest: The founder of Bitzlato crypto exchange has been detained in US citing criminal ties (via justice.gov : “Anatoly Legkodymov, a Russian national and senior executive of Bitzlato Ltd. (Bitzlato), a Hong Kong-registered cryptocurrency exchange, with conducting a money transmitting business that transported and transmitted illicit funds and that failed to meet U.S. regulatory safeguards, including anti-money laundering requirements. Legkodymov was arrested last night in Miami and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. French authorities and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) are taking concurrent enforcement actions.)
Chris Emms reports.

Türkiye/USA – F16’s: Many people in Türkiye want to withdraw from the NATO bloc; at the same time Türkiye has asked US to buy F-16 planes. Türkiye has raised concerns about Sweden harbouring known terrorists, in December a terrorist attack in the busiest down-town market in Ankara killed dozens of people and injured more. Yusuf Erim talks in depth about the (complicated) relationship.

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Below – via RT website 1) — Wagner Group claims important gain in Donbass
2) — Ex-Polish FM lambasts ‘corruption’ in EU parliament
3) — Russian Orthodox Church issues apocalyptic warning
4) — Ex-Russian president warns of nuclear scenario in Ukraine
5) — US wants to ‘unlock’ German tanks for Ukraine – DoD
5a) — Poland threatens to ignore German stance on tanks for Ukraine
6) — EU parliament backs tribunal to probe Russia
7) — India accuses BBC of ‘colonial mindset’
8) — Ukrainian refugees mistreated in EU country – report
9) — Iran joins Russia-led free trade zone – media
10) — Food prices in Britain continue to skyrocket;
Costs for essentials soared nearly 17% in December
10a) — More UK retailers risk going bust in 2023 – study

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19 Jan, 2023 10:43

1) — Wagner Group claims important gain in Donbass

Klescheevka is under Russian control, the private military company’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says

Wagner Group troops have captured the strategic village of Klescheevka in Russia’s Donetsk Region from Ukrainian forces, the head of the private military company Yevgeny Prigozhin has said.

“One can safely say that the settlement of Kleshcheevka, which is one of the important suburbs of Bakhmut (called Artymovsk in Russia), has been completely taken under control by the Wagner PMC units,” Prigozhin claimed in a statement distributed by his press service on Thursday.

But while Kleshcheevka has been reportedly “liberated,” intense fighting continues around the settlement, with “the opponent clinging on to every meter of land,” he pointed out.

The Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t yet commented on the situation in Kleshcheevka.

“Contrary to some opinions that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are fleeing Artyomovsk, this is not the case,” Prigozhin said, but still expressed confidence that Artyomovsk, which is a major Ukrainian stronghold and logistics hub “will be captured.”

Klescheevka is located around 9km southwest of Bakhmut. The village, which was populated by just over 500 people before the conflict, had been heavily fortified by the Ukrainian military.

The claimed capture of Klescheevka follows the Russian takeover of the key town of Soledar last week as well as several other settlements in the area as part of the operation to encircle Artyomovsk.

The Russia Defense Ministry praised “the courageous and selfless actions” of the Wagner Group’s strike teams during the battle for Soledar, but pointed out that victory was achieved by a “mixed group of forces,” including aviation and artillery units.

Late last year, the US Department of Commerce labeled the Wagner Group “one of the most notorious mercenary organizations in the world” and put it on the Military End User List, which could potentially restrict the company’s access to any technology made with American equipment anywhere in the world.

Prigozhin ironically reacted to the move by saying that it will definitely make it tougher for the Wagner Group to get ammunition and repair the M-777 howitzers and other US-supplied weapons that its troops have allegedly seized.
https://www.rt.com/russia/570124-klescheevka-donbass-wagner-ukraine/
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19 Jan, 2023 15:35

2) — Ex-Polish FM lambasts ‘corruption’ in EU parliament

The legislative body will do nothing about the problem due to its global ambitions, Witold Waszczykowski claims

The EU parliament has failed to take meaningful measures to tackle corruption within its ranks, Polish MEP Witold Waszczykowski said on Wednesday in the wake of December’s Qatar bribery scandal. He made the comments after the parliament’s session on corruption.

Waszczykowski, who is a former Polish foreign minister, claimed that the root cause of corruption lies within the parliament’s ambition to serve as an ideological arbiter of the world.

“The debate was routine and minimalistic,” he said, referring to the meeting on Wednesday. The measures announced were only “cosmetic” and put some minor restrictions on MEPs, he added.

“All the things that really generate massive corruption – [MEPs’] extensive trips and attempts at ideological oversight of the world – will remain [unaddressed],” the Polish politician said. The European Parliament can influence the opinions of investors, rating agencies and international bodies around the world through its resolutions, including on issues outside the EU, Waszczykowski said, explaining that this creates fertile ground for lobbying and corruption.

“The unbridled activity of the European Parliament should be stopped. It should focus on Europe and abandon the ambition of overseeing the whole world,” he continued, warning that the Qatar scandal last year was just a “tip of an iceberg.”

In December 2022, the EU parliament was rocked by a major scandal, which saw its former vice president, Eva Kaili, and several other suspects arrested. Kaili, her husband Francesco Giorgi, and former Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri were charged with “participation in a criminal organization, money laundering, and corruption.”

The MEPs allegedly engaged in illicit lobbying on behalf of the Qatari government in exchange for millions of euro in cash and gifts. Doha allegedly sought to improve its human rights record through lobbying as it was hosting the FIFA World Cup amid workers’ mistreatment accusations. According to the Italian media, as many as 60 current and former MEPs may have been involved in the scheme.

In the wake of the scandal, the parliament halted all lobbying work related to Qatar. Doha denied any wrongdoing and blasted the decision as “discriminatory.”
https://www.rt.com/news/570152-eu-parliament-corruption-global-ambitions/

(QS – from earlier post “Kaili and her husband Francesco Giorgi were arrested in December by Belgian law enforcement, along with former Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri, whom Giorgi identified as the leader of the bribery ring, and a fourth individual. All were charged with “participation in a criminal organization, money laundering, and corruption.”

Belgian authorities seized more than €1.5 million in assets from properties linked to the four. 60 current and former MEPs have been involved in the scheme, according to Italian media reports, with most hailing from the Socialists & Reformers parliamentary group.”)
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19 Jan, 2023 13:01

3) — Russian Orthodox Church issues apocalyptic warning

Some “madmen” believe Russia could be defeated, but this could trigger the end of the world, Patriarch Kirill has said

Any attempts to destroy Russia could spell disaster for the entire world, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, warned on Thursday.

Speaking after a religious service marking the Orthodox Christian holiday of Epiphany, the primate claimed that both the international community and Russia are facing “very huge threats.”

According to Patriarch Kirill, the root of the problem is that some “madmen” believe that Russia, which “has powerful weapons and is populated by extremely strong people… who had never given in to an enemy and had always emerged victorious, could be defeated under the current circumstances.”

Neither would it be possible to “impose on them certain values that cannot even be called values, so that they would be like everyone else and obey those who have the power to control most of the world,” he noted.

“We pray to the Lord so that he enlightens those madmen and helps them understand that any desire to destroy Russia will mean the end of the world,” he added.

The Patriarch’s remarks echo a statement by former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday, who warned those countries wishing to see Moscow defeated in Ukraine that nuclear powers such as Russia had “never lost a major conflict on which their fate depended.” Should such a nation lose a conventional war, it could trigger a nuclear conflict, he added.

Earlier this month, the head of the Russian Church appealed to both Moscow and Kiev’s forces to establish a truce in the run-up to and during Orthodox Christmas on January 7 to give the faithful a chance to attend religious services.

Hours later, the proposal was supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered Moscow’s troops to stand down for 36 hours. The ceasefire, however, was rejected by Kiev, with Ukrainian officials dismissing the offer as “hypocrisy” and a military ruse.
https://www.rt.com/russia/570134-russian-church-apocalyptic-warning/
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19 Jan, 2023 09:26

4) — Ex-Russian president warns of nuclear scenario in Ukraine

A nuclear power has never lost an existential conflict, Dmitry Medvedev reminds those arming Kiev

“Morons” demanding a Russian defeat in Ukraine seem to be oblivious to the fact that such an outcome could result in a nuclear escalation, former President Dmitry Medvedev has argued.

Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, reiterated the warning ahead of a meeting on Friday of Ukraine’s military donors at the Ramstein US air base in Germany. He lashed out at Western politicians advocating a loss in the conflict for Russia as the only possible option in Ukraine.

“Not one of those morons is apparently willing to make the next logical step: a loss by a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger the start of a nuclear war. Nuclear powers never lost a major conflict on which their fate depended,” he said on social media on Thursday.

The Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki is among those who support sending as many arms as possible to Kiev. He claimed this week that “the defeat of Ukraine may become a prelude to World War III, so today there is no reason to block support for Kiev and postpone matters indefinitely.”

A nuclear escalation was cited by some Western leaders, including US President Joe Biden, as a scenario they want to avoid by restricting their involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. They have also warned Moscow against deploying nuclear weapons in Ukraine, stating that this would be considered a major provocation.

The Russian military doctrine allows the use of such weapons of ultimate resort either in retaliation for an attack against Russia or its allies with weapons of mass destruction, or during a conventional conflict that puts the Russian statehood at significant risk.

Moscow considers the situation in Ukraine to be a proxy war waged against it by the US and its allies. Their goal is to hurt Russia as much as possible, which is why they are prolonging the hostilities by arming Kiev and forbidding it from pursuing a negotiated settlement, senior Russian officials have assessed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that his government would not hesitate to use all means at its disposal.
https://www.rt.com/russia/570118-medvedev-nuclear-escalation-ukraine/
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19 Jan, 2023 11:52

5) — US wants to ‘unlock’ German tanks for Ukraine – DoD

Defense secretary Lloyd Austin is traveling to Berlin to convince his new German counterpart to hand over Leopard 2s to Kiev

Washington claims Russia is preparing a new offensive and has sent Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet with his German counterpart Boris Pistorius on Thursday. The two are set to discuss Berlin’s long-standing reluctance to provide heavy tanks to Kiev, according to a news report on the Department of Defense’s official website.

DoD News reports that Austin is already in Germany and is set to travel to Ramstein Air Base to meet with Pistorius, who has just been appointed to his role, to work on “unlocking” German Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine.

The meeting is a prelude to a summit of the so-called Ukraine Defense Contact Group scheduled for later this week, which will see defense ministers from across Europe convene to discuss further military aid to Kiev.

US officials have claimed that Russia is preparing a spring offensive in Ukraine and have stressed the importance of providing Kiev’s forces with the necessary equipment, such as air defense systems and artillery, to fend off Moscow’s assaults and launch counterattacks of their own.

“But what’s really important at this point is providing Ukraine with armor capabilities, and in particular, maneuver armor capabilities,” a senior defense official was quoted as saying by the DoD.

While the US and its partners have already provided a total of about 900 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, the Pentagon insists that the most crucial step is to provide Kiev with modern mechanized armored capabilities such as the German-made Leopard 2 – the most “immediately accessible and usable tank capability” in Europe, according to the Department of Defense.

The Leopard 2 heavy tank is currently operated by over a dozen European countries, some of which, notably Poland and Finland, have already said they are willing to pass on to Ukraine. However, in order to do this they must first receive a third-party transfer approval from Germany, which has so far refused to furnish this, insisting the US must first commit its own Abrams tanks to Kiev.

Russia, meanwhile, has continued to insist that any weapons being sent to Ukraine only served to prolong the conflict and lead to more unnecessary bloodshed. German tanks “will burn like the rest” of Western weapons, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.
https://www.rt.com/news/570131-us-germany-ukraine-tanks/
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19 Jan, 2023 11:34

5a) — Poland threatens to ignore German stance on tanks for Ukraine

Securing Berlin’s consent to send Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev is “secondary,” says Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

Warsaw is pressuring Berlin to allow it supply German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but does not consider its consent essential, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said.

“Consent is a secondary issue,” he claimed during an interview with Polsat television on Wednesday. Warsaw expects to get Berlin’s permission quickly, but could also “do the right thing on our own,” he added.

Poland has offered 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev and wants other Western nations, including Finland, Denmark and France, to contribute, so Ukraine could get a batch of up to 100 tanks. Morawiecki said replenishing the Ukrainian armor fleet was urgent, because Russia could “probably” launch an offensive as early as February, he added, citing “various” expert opinions.

The Polish leader accused Germany of having been among the “least proactive” European nations in terms of arming Ukraine with tanks. Berlin reportedly wants the US to lead by example before it would be comfortable about allowing German-made armor into Kiev.

Washington has so far declined to provide its M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. US officials believe that Kiev would have a hard time benefiting from them due to their demanding maintenance and time required to train crews, according to media reports.

The Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which includes Kiev’s main Western sponsors, is to meet at Ramstein US air base in Germany on Friday to discuss further military assistance.

In the interview, Morawiecki also expressed concerns about Germany’s new Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, due to his ties with former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his ex-wife, journalist Doris Schroeder-Koepf, who have both been criticized for their ties to Moscow. Pistorius had a 6-year relationship with the latter. Schroeder-Koepf has denounced the Russian military campaign against Ukraine.

Morawiecki stated he was willing to give the man, who took office this week, the benefit of the doubt.
https://www.rt.com/news/570130-poland-germany-tanks-consent/
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19 Jan, 2023 14:50

6) — EU parliament backs tribunal to probe Russia

Moscow has previously said that any establishment of such a court would be “illegitimate” and would not have any jurisdiction

The European Parliament on Thursday voted in favor of an international court to probe Russia over its conflict with Ukraine. Moscow has rejected allegations of war crimes in the past and has also said such a court would have no legal power over it.

In a non-binding resolution, MEPs asked the bloc and its individual member states to create a “special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine,” accusing Moscow of violating international law. The legislators added that the tribunal would “focus on alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.”

“The EU’s preparatory work on the special tribunal should begin without delay,” the resolution said.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky thanked the parliament for the move. “Russia must be held accountable,” he tweeted.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said late last month that an international tribunal tasked with prosecuting Russia would be rejected by Moscow as “illegitimate” and that the West has no legal right to establish it.

He said this in response to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposing a special UN-backed court to probe what she described as Russia’s “horrific crimes” in Ukraine.

Similar suggestions have been made by other Western and Ukrainian officials. Bloomberg reported a few months ago that The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) could start reviewing cases of alleged Russian crimes in Ukraine in late 2022 or early 2023.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that “the current attempt by Western countries to whip up a quasi-judicial mechanism is unprecedented in its legal nihilism and is yet another example of the West’s practice of double standards.”

Moscow launched a military operation in Ukraine last February, citing the need to protect the people of Donbass, as well as Kiev’s failure to implement the 2014-15 Minsk accords.

Kiev and its Western supporters have since accused Russian troops of killing civilians in Bucha, near Kiev, and other areas. Moscow maintains that its forces only strike military targets and has insisted that allegations of atrocities were fabricated.

Ukraine said in the past that peace can only be achieved if Russia faces an international court. Moscow has rejected this demand as unacceptable.

The Kremlin has said Russian investigators were, however, carefully documenting crimes committed by the Kiev regime since 2014, when a violent coup ousted a democratically elected government and Kiev sent its military to Donbass. Peskov said Moscow had not seen “any critical reaction from the so-called ‘collective West’” on those wrongdoings.
https://www.rt.com/news/570143-eu-parliament-russia-tribunal/
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