NCA: в Лондоні затримали та звільнили під заставу російського мільярдера

NCA: в Лондоні затримали та звільнили під заставу російського мільярдера

Під час обшуку в будинку російського бізнесмена було вилучено кілька цифрових пристроїв та значну суму готівки

У Держдепі США назвали мету запровадження стелі цін на російську нафту

Це потрібно для того, щоб утримати на ринку російську нафту, яка нам потрібна для того, щоб ціни не зросли в результаті скорочення пропозиції, зазначила Нуланд

Russia Rejects G7 Oil Price Cap

Russia is rejecting a price cap of $60 a barrel on Russian oil imposed by the Group of Seven and its allies, TASS quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying Saturday. “We will not accept this ceiling.”

Russia threatened to turn off the oil spigot on the coalition of Western countries that endorsed the cap.

Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27-nation European Union agreed Friday to set the price for Russian oil at $60-per-barrel. The limit will take effect Monday.

The Russian Embassy in Washington said Saturday it will continue to find buyers for its oil, despite what is called “dangerous” attempts by the West to introduce a price cap on its oil exports.

“Steps like these will inevitably result in increasing uncertainty and imposing higher costs for raw materials to consumers,” it said.

The cap proposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen aims to reduce Russia’s oil earnings that support its military and the invasion of Ukraine. But there are questions about how effective the cap will be.

The Monday start date coincides with the European Union’s embargo on most Russian oil shipments. There’s uncertainty about how all this will affect oil markets, which are swinging between fears of lost Russian supply and weakening demand caused by the lagging global economy. Russia could retaliate by halting shipments, and Europe may struggle to replace imports of Russian diesel fuel.

Ukraine calls for lower price cap

The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meanwhile, called Saturday for an even lower price cap.

“It would be necessary to lower it to $30 [per barrel] in order to destroy the enemy’s economy faster,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelenskyy’s office, wrote on Telegram, staking out a position also favored by Poland — a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The West feels that such a reduction in price could undercut the cost of Russian oil production.

“We think the number at $60 a barrel is appropriate” to balance limiting Moscow’s ability to profit and ensuring supply meets demand, John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said Friday, adding that the cap can be adjusted going forward.

Russia has resumed shelling the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. Officials warned that Ukraine faces a tough winter because of the Russian strikes on its energy infrastructure.

“Russian invaders shelled Kherson — damaged power grids. The city was left without electricity again,” Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said on Telegram, adding that technicians were already working to restore power to the recently liberated city on the right bank of the Dnipro River.

Officials in Kherson announced they will help citizens evacuate parts of Russian-occupied territory on the east bank of the Dnipro River amid concerns of intensified fighting in the area.

After Russia’s retreat from Kherson, Ukrainian forces may consider advancing south through the fields of the Zaporizhzhia region to recapture occupied territory and repel the invaders, according to The Washington Post.

Their aim would be to control the land bridge that connects Russia to Crimea. Their counteroffensive must wait, though, until the cold sets in and the muddy ground freezes.

A hardened ground would allow their military vehicles to gain more traction. It’s common for some heavy artillery vehicles to get stuck in mud during warmer weather.

Russia prioritizes Bakhmut

Meanwhile, Russia is investing a large amount of its “over all military effort and firepower,” the British Defense Ministry said Saturday, along a “15-kilometer sector of entrenched front line around the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut” in Ukraine.

“Russia has prioritized Bakhmut as its main offensive effort since early August 2022,” the ministry said in its daily update posted on Twitter. “The capture of the town would have limited operational value although it would potentially allow Russia to threaten the larger urban areas of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk,” according to the report.

However, the defense ministry said, “The campaign has been disproportionately costly” and “Bakhmut’s capture has become a symbolic, political objective for Russia.”

Zelenskyy said in his daily address Friday he and his staff have been working all week “at various levels in European capitals in order to gain a critical mass of support for the launch of a special tribunal – a tribunal on Russian aggression … I am sure that there will be a tribunal, there will be justice” for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden has “no intentions” at present of holding negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin about ending the war in Ukraine, a day after Biden appeared to make a conditional offer to talk to his Russian counterpart.

“We’re just not at a point now where talks seem to be a fruitful avenue to approach right now,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Friday.

When asked about those comments Friday, Kirby noted that Biden said Putin has yet to show any interest in talking.

“Putin has shown absolutely no inclination to be interested in dialogue of any kind. In fact, quite the contrary,” Kirby said.

“The president wasn’t at all indicating that now is the time for talks,” said Kirby. “In fact, he has been consistent that only [Ukrainian] President Zelenskyy can determine if and when there’s going to be a negotiated settlement and what the circumstances around that settlement would look like.”

The Kremlin said Friday that Putin is ready for negotiations with the West — provided the West recognizes Russia’s “new territories” taken from Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests.”

Also Friday, Putin spoke on the phone with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Scholz is quoted as telling Putin “there must be a diplomatic solution as quickly as possible, which includes a withdrawal of Russian troops.”

Some information in this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

Євросоюз погодив стелю ціни на російську нафту в 60 доларів за барель

60 доларів за барель буде дещо нижчою за ту ціну, яку платять великі покупці російської нафти, такі як Китай та Індія, уточнили в ЄС

Макрон пояснив, у яких випадках Франція не передасть зброю Україні

За словами Макрона, Франція не зможе постачати ще більше зброї Україні, оскільки тоді країна стане вразливою для можливого ворогf

Estonia to Buy US Rocket Artillery System in $200M Deal 

NATO member and Russia’s neighbor Estonia is boosting its defense capabilities by acquiring an advanced U.S. rocket artillery system in the Baltic country’s largest arms procurement project ever, defense officials said Saturday.

The deal signed Friday for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is worth more than $200 million and includes equipment such as ammunition and rockets, as well as training.

The package includes HIMARS rockets with ranges of 70-300 kilometers (43-186 miles), the Estonian Center for Defense Investment said in a statement. Lockheed Martin Corp. is expected to make the first deliveries in 2024. Estonian officials didn’t disclose the number of rocket launchers, but local media outlets said the purchase consists of six HIMARS.

“The HIMARS multiple rocket launchers are a new important step in the development of Estonia’s defense capabilities,” Lt. Col. Kaarel Mäesalu, head of the capability development department at the Estonian Defense Forces said in a statement. “This makes it possible to decisively influence the enemy even before coming into contact with our infantry units.”

Estonia’s Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania either have or are currently in the process of acquiring their own HIMARS.

Washington has provided Ukraine with the rocket launchers during Russia’s invasion of the country. The Estonian Defense Ministry said the HIMARS systems “have helped to destroy Russian military ammunition warehouses, transport nodes, and command and control centers with pinpoint accuracy beyond the range of the howitzers Ukraine has been using.”

На острові Ява в Індонезії стався землетрус

Влада попередила жителів у районі епіцентру про можливість нових поштовхів. Загрози цунамі наразі немає

Росія «викликає стурбованість» у питанні дотримання релігійної свободи – держсекретар США

Міжнародна релігійна організація «Свідки Єгови» була визнана екстремістською та заборонена на території Росії у квітні 2017 року. Після анексії Криму Росією у 2014 році сотні кримських татар зазнали кримінального переслідування за участь у релігійному русі «Хізб ут-Тахрір»

White House Says Biden Not Intending to Talk to Putin

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden has “no intentions” at present of holding negotiations with President Vladimir Putin about ending the war in Ukraine, a day after Biden appeared to make a conditional offer to talk to his Russian counterpart.

“We’re just not at a point now where talks seem to be a fruitful avenue to approach right now,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Friday.

At a news conference Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron, Biden said, “I’m prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that yet.”

Biden’s comments appeared to be a cautious diplomatic overture from the White House.

When asked about those comments Friday, Kirby noted that Biden said Putin has yet to show any interest in talking.

“Putin has shown absolutely no inclination to be interested in dialogue of any kind. In fact, quite the contrary,” Kirby said.

“The president wasn’t at all indicating that now is the time for talks. In fact, he has been consistent that only (Ukrainian) President Zelenskyy can determine if and when there’s going to be a negotiated settlement and what the circumstances around that settlement would look like,” Kirby said.

The Kremlin said Friday that Putin is ready for negotiations with the West — provided the West recognizes Russia’s “new territories” taken from Ukraine.

In a statement, the Kremlin said the West must accept Putin’s proclamation that the southern region of Kherson and three other partly occupied regions of Ukraine now belong to Russia, before any talks can take place. Russia’s invasion has been condemned as illegal by most countries.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “The president of the Russian Federation has always been, is and remains open to negotiations in order to ensure our interests.”

Also Friday, Putin spoke on the phone with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Scholz is quoted as telling Putin “there must be a diplomatic solution as quickly as possible, which includes a withdrawal of Russian troops.”

For his part, Putin accused “Western states, including Germany,” of making it possible for Kyiv to refuse to negotiate with Russia.

“Attention was drawn to the destructive line of Western states, including Germany, which are pumping the Kyiv regime with weapons and training the Ukrainian military,” the Kremlin said.

In a written statement, Scholz’s spokesperson said, “the chancellor condemned in particular the Russian airstrikes against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and stressed Germany’s determination to support Ukraine ensuring its defense capability against Russian aggression.”

Speculation about negotiations to end the war has increased as Moscow’s military advances in Ukraine have stalled and in some cases been turned back. Russia’s missile strikes against Ukraine’s power infrastructure have left millions of Ukrainians without power, heat and water as winter sets in.

President Biden has not spoken with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine. Last March, Biden called Putin “a war criminal.”

On Thursday, France announced its support for creating a special tribunal to try those accused of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Russia’s foreign ministry said Friday it was “outraged” by France’s position.

“We demand that French diplomats, who are so attentive to human rights issues, not divide people into ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ ‘ours’ and ‘not ours,'” the foreign ministry said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the EU would try to set up a specialized court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute possible war crimes committed by Russia during its invasion.

Russia has denied targeting civilians and other war crimes.

U.N.-appointed investigators are examining whether Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, leaving millions without heating as temperatures plummet, amount to war crimes, a member of the inspection team said Friday.

Fierce fighting continued Friday in Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where Ukraine’s military said it fought off wave after wave of Russian attacks.

Kyiv said Russian troops attacked Ukrainian positions in 14 settlements, while carrying out 30 airstrikes and 35 multiple-rocket attacks on civilian areas.

The battlefield reports could not be independently verified.

The British Defense Ministry’s intelligence update Friday on Ukraine said, “Russia’s withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River last month has provided the Ukrainian Armed Forces with opportunities to strike additional Russian logistics nodes and lines of communication.”

“This threat has highly likely prompted Russian logisticians to relocate supply nodes, including rail transfer points, further south and east,” according to the report posted on Twitter. “Russian logistics units will need to conduct extra labor-intensive loading and unloading from rail to road transport. Road moves will subsequently still be vulnerable to Ukrainian artillery as they move on to supply Russian forward defensive positions.”

The ministry said, “Russia’s shortage of munitions [exacerbated by these logistics challenges] is likely one of the main factors currently limiting Russia’s potential to restart effective, large scale offensive ground operations.”

Some information in this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

US Designates Iran, China as Countries of Concern Over Religious Freedom

The United States on Friday designated China, Iran and Russia, among others, as countries of particular concern under the Religious Freedom Act over severe violations, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

In a statement, Blinken said those designated as countries of particular concern, which also include North Korea and Myanmar, engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.

Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros and Vietnam were placed on the watch list.

Several groups, including the Kremlin-aligned Wagner Group, a private paramilitary organization that is active in Syria, Africa and Ukraine, also were designated as entities of particular concern. The Wagner Group was designated over its activities in the Central African Republic, Blinken said.

“Around the world, governments and non-state actors harass, threaten, jail, and even kill individuals on account of their beliefs,” Blinken said in the statement. “The United States will not stand by in the face of these abuses.”

He added that Washington would welcome the opportunity to meet with all governments to outline concrete steps for removal from the lists.

Washington has increased pressure on Iran over the brutal crackdown on protesters. Women have waved and burned headscarves, which are mandatory under Iran’s conservative dress codes, during the demonstrations that mark one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

The United Nations says more than 300 people have been killed so far and 14,000 arrested in protests that began after the September 16 death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after she was detained for “inappropriate attire.”

U.N. experts also have called on majority Shiite Muslim Iran to stop persecution and harassment of religious minorities and to end the use of religion to curtail the exercise of fundamental rights.

The Baha’i community is among the most severely persecuted religious minorities in Iran, with a marked increase in arrests and targeting this year, part of what U.N. experts called a broader policy of targeting dissenting beliefs or religious practices, including Christian converts and atheists.

The United States has expressed grave concerns about human rights in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, which is home to 10 million Uyghurs.

Rights groups and Western governments have long accused Beijing of abuses against the mainly Muslim ethnic minority, including forced labor in internment camps.

The United States has accused China of genocide. Beijing vigorously denies any abuses.

The other countries designated as countries of particular concern were Cuba, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The U.S. Religious Freedom Act of 1998 requires the president, who assigns the function to the secretary of state, to designate as countries of particular concern states that are deemed to violate religious freedom on a systematic and ongoing basis.

The act gives Blinken a range of policy responses, including sanctions or waivers, but they are not automatic.

UN Weekly Roundup: November 26 – December 2, 2022 

Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.

UN launches record humanitarian appeal for 2023

The United Nations launched a $51.5 billion appeal Thursday for humanitarian needs in 2023. Needs are the highest they have ever been, with 339 million people in 69 countries requiring some form of humanitarian assistance. That’s 65 million more people than at the start of this year. The U.N. and its partner agencies hope to reach 230 million of those most in need in 2023. U.N. Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said that 2022’s extreme events are spilling into next year, including deadly climate events such as droughts and floods, and the impact of the war in Ukraine. More than 100 million people are displaced globally and 828 million people are facing severe food insecurity. Famine is a real risk for 45 million of them. So far this year, donors have provided $24 billion as of mid-November, but the funding gap stands at 53% with just three weeks left in the year.

EU chief calls for UN-backed tribunal on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Wednesday for a special U.N.-backed court to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression against Ukraine. The U.N. secretary-general’s spokesman said any decision to establish such a tribunal, with or without U.N. involvement, rests with member states. But creating such a court may be difficult.

EU Calls for Special Russia Aggression Tribunal May Be Tough to Realize

Watch this explainer on how Russians accused of war crimes in Ukraine could face prosecution: Video Explainer: How Could Russians Accused of War Crimes in Ukraine Face Prosecution?

Russia donates 260,000 tons of fertilizer to African nations

Russia has donated 260,000 metric tons of fertilizer it produced that was sitting in European ports and warehouses for use by farmers in Africa, the United Nations said Tuesday. The U.N. welcomed the move, saying it would help alleviate humanitarian needs and prevent catastrophic crop loss in Africa. World fertilizer prices have surged 250% since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Russia Donates 260,000 Tons of Fertilizer to Africa

UNESCO warns Australia’s Great Barrier Reef at risk from climate change

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, said Tuesday that “a rapid escalation of corrective measures” is needed to safeguard the future of the country’s Great Barrier Reef. The 2,300 kilometer reef runs along Australia’s northeastern coast and is home to 9,000 known species of marine life. In a report, UNESCO said Australia had failed to adequately address climate change and other key threats, including poor water quality and over-fishing. UNESCO’s World Heritage committee will consider next year whether to recommend the reef be listed as “in danger.”

UN Warns Australia Over Health of Great Barrier Reef

In brief

— UNAIDS said in a report to mark World AIDS Day on December 1 that gender inequalities are holding back the goal of ending the virus by 2030. Watch this VOA report about women at risk in South Africa: African Women and Girls Most at Risk of HIV

— U.N. Human Rights Chief Volker Turk called on Myanmar to suspend all executions and return to a moratorium on the death penalty Friday, following reports that more than 130 people have now been sentenced to death by secret military courts since the February 2021 coup. At least seven university students were also sentenced to death by a military court on Wednesday and as many as four youth activists were reportedly sentenced to death on Thursday. The U.N. human rights office said it is seeking clarification of those sentences. The high commissioner said the military is using the death penalty as a political tool to crush opposition and it shows their disdain for the efforts of regional bloc ASEAN and the international community in trying to end the violence and start a political dialogue.

— The International Labor Organization said in a report Wednesday that real monthly wages have fallen significantly in many countries, hurting low-wage earners the most. The ILO estimates that global monthly wages fell in real terms to minus 0.9% in the first half of 2022, making it the first time this century that real global wage growth has been negative. The organization attributed the decline to global inflation combined with the slowdown in economic growth, due in part to the war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis.

— The U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, told reporters Wednesday that as temperatures begin to drop and snow will soon make many roads impassable, it’s urgent to pre-position humanitarian assistance across the country. Funding shortfalls are making that difficult, as the $4.4 billion humanitarian response is just under half funded. He said 6 million Afghans are a step away from famine levels of hunger and 25 million people overall need some form of assistance. Alakbarov said $768 million is needed to complete winter preparedness — $614 million by the end of this year.

— An inter-agency convoy of 16 trucks carrying 482 metric tons of food and other humanitarian supplies, crossed conflict front lines from Aleppo into Sarmada in northwest Syria on Wednesday. The U.N. said it is the ninth such cross-line convoy since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2585 in July 2021. While important, the U.N. says cross-line convoys are currently unable to replace the massive cross-border operation from Turkey into northwest Syria, which reaches 2.7 million people each month. That operation is up for renewal next month and is likely to face a contentious negotiation, as Russia and the regime in Damascus, have been opposed to its continuation for the last few years.

Quote of Note

“Peace is never easy — but peace is always necessary.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking to reporters Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the sidelines of the African Union-U.N. annual conference.

What we are watching next week

Let’s be honest … football. With the whole world represented at the United Nations, there is definitely some serious World Cup fever going on in Turtle Bay. As the field shrinks to 16, the excitement is growing.

Домовленість ЄС про обмеження цін на нафту значно скоротить доходи Росії – фон дер Ляєн

Рішення має затвердити Рада ЄС, очікується, що це станеться 3 грудня

Detained American in Russia Makes Contact With Family

The brother of American Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since 2018 after being convicted on espionage charges in 2020, says the former U.S. Marine telephoned his parents from Russia early Friday, the first contact in more than a week.

In a statement emailed to media outlets, David Whelan said that his brother said he was transferred to a prison hospital last week for a previously undisclosed treatment. During the call, Paul Whelan said he had been returned to his original prison facility.

Friday’s call was the first the family had heard from him since November 23.

“The call at least acts as a ‘proof of life’ even if nothing else has been explained: When Paul went there, why, why the calls stopped, why the US Embassy had to seek information about his whereabouts and the Russian authorities refused to respond,” said David Whelan.

Speaking on background to reporters Friday, a State Department spokesman said they could confirm Paul Whelan spoke to consular officers Friday and that Whelan had been transferred to a prison hospital Thanksgiving Day and returned to the IK-17 penal colony on Friday.

The spokesman also confirmed Whelan was able to call home Friday, and said the Embassy continues to press for timely updates on his condition.

“We’re grateful that we were able to establish that contact with him,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Friday. “We prefer obviously that he not be in a penal colony … but it was reassuring to be able to hear his voice.”

The Biden administration has been trying for months to negotiate the release of Whelan, a former Marine and Michigan corporate executive, as well as American WNBA star Brittney Griner, convicted and jailed earlier this year.

Whelan and Griner “shouldn’t have to do one more day in Russia, and we’re working very, very hard to see that outcome take place,” Kirby said.

The Associated Press, quoting a Russian diplomat, reported this week Russia and the United States have repeatedly been on the verge of an agreement on a prisoner exchange. The diplomat indicated a deal is still possible before the year’s end.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters.

США, Японія та Південна Корея запровадили нові санкції проти КНДР

Нові санкції запроваджено у відповідь на листопадові випробування балістичних ракет у КНДР

Russian Leaders Could Be Prosecuted for Crime of Aggression

A special court could be set up to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin, his ministers and top generals for the crime of aggression, following the invasion of Ukraine. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

US Whistleblower Snowden Gets Russian Passport, TASS Reports

Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed the scale of secret surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), has sworn an oath of allegiance to Russia and received a Russian passport, TASS reported Friday. 

“Yes, he got [a passport], he took the oath,” Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, told the state news agency TASS.  

Snowden, 39, did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment on the report. 

President Vladimir Putin in September granted Russian citizenship to Snowden, who fled the United States after leaking secret files that revealed the extensive eavesdropping activities of the United States and its allies. 

Defenders of Snowden hail him as a modern-day dissident for exposing the extent of U.S. spying. Opponents say he is a traitor who endangered lives by exposing the secret methods that Western spies use to listen in on hostile states and militants. 

 

Банки Киргизстану відмовилися працювати з російськими картками «Мир» через загрозу санкцій

У листопаді агентство Bloomberg повідомляло, що від роботи з російською платіжною системою через загрозу вторинних санкцій відмовилися шість із девʼяти країн, які раніше приймали картки росіян

Війна в Україні показала, що Європа «недостатньо сильна» – прем’єрка Фінляндії

Санна Марін вважає, що вторгнення Володимира Путіна та окупація частини України виявили як європейські слабкості, так і стратегічні помилки у відносинах з Росією.

Zelenskyy: ‘Ukrainian Rules Will Prevail’

The British Defense Ministry’s intelligence update Friday on Ukraine said, “Russia’s withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River last month has provided the Ukrainian Armed Forces with opportunities to strike additional Russian logistics nodes and lines of communication.”

“This threat has highly likely prompted Russian logisticians to relocate supply

nodes, including rail transfer points, further south and east,” according to the report posted on Twitter. “Russian logistics units will need to conduct extra labour-intensive loading and unloading from rail to road transport. Road moves will subsequently still be vulnerable to Ukrainian artillery as they move on to supply Russian forward defensive positions.”

The ministry said, “Russia’s shortage of munitions [exacerbated bv these logistics challenges] is likely one of the main factors currently limiting Russia’s potential to restart effective, large scale offensive ground operations.”

U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron that he would be willing to talk with Russan President Valdimir Putin only if Putin is looking to put a stop to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Biden said any meeting he would have with Putin would be done after consulting with NATO allies. “I’m not going to do it on my own,” he said.

In his daily address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recalled a referendum held 31 years ago on December 1 “that united the entire territory of our state … Everyone expressed their support.”

“People confirmed the Act of Proclamation of Independence of Ukraine – freely and legally. It was a real referendum …  an honest referendum, and that is why it was recognized by the world …  Ukrainian rules will prevail,” the president said in a swipe at the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Zelenskyy also said in his speech that he wants to ensure Ukraine’s spiritual independence, in a likely reference to a recent raid on Ukraine’s Russian-affiliated Monastery of the Caves, a 1,000-year-old Eastern Orthodox monastery in Kyiv, where security forces were looking to flush out spies housed among the clerics.

An adviser to Zelenskyy says as many as 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mykhailo Podolyak told the Kanel 24 television channel Thursday that between 10,000 to 13,000 soldiers have been killed in the conflict.

Reuters is reporting that three people were killed and seven were wounded overnight in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson region.