Russia had not signed any agreements “with North Korea in the area of military-technical cooperation” yet, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed as “nonsense” reports that Russia is accepting North Korean volunteers for the war in Ukraine.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko proposed three-way cooperation with Russia and North Korea, at a meeting with Putin in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Associated Press reported. Lukashenko did not cite specifics, but said Belarus would “look for opportunities.”
Zelensky’s Washington visit was coordinated with the Biden administration in a joint push to get Congress to provide $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, The Post reported. Republican leaders, Democrats and the White House insist that a majority of Congress continues to support helping Ukraine. But there has been growing tension within the Republican Party — and among a small number of Democrats — over how much assistance the United States should grant Ukraine.
Zelensky is “very much abreast” of the debate in Washington,White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. “I don’t believe President Zelensky needs our advice to be an advocate for what Ukraine needs,” Sullivan said. “He has proven over the course of the past 18, 19 months that there is no better advocate for his country, for his people, and for the urgent and continuing need for countries like the United States and our allies and partners to step up to provide the necessary tools and resources that Ukraine needs to be able to effectively defend itself.”
Authorities in Ukraine filed further charges against oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky — one of the country’s richest men, who was detained in a fraud case this month. Ukraine’s main internal security service, the SBU, wrote on Telegram on Friday that Kolomoisky was accused of embezzling the equivalent of around $157 million. Ukraine has doubled down on anticorruption efforts since the war began, as it seeks membership in the European Union.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is “aggressively probing” possible vulnerabilities related to the use of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites in Ukraine, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said. “Neither Elon Musk, nor any private citizen, can have the last word when it comes to U.S. national security,” Reed, the chairman of that committee, wrote in a statement Thursday. Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is also on the Armed Services Committee, made similar calls, saying it would be improper for “one billionaire” to have sway over U.S. foreign policy.
The U.S. ambassador to Russia visited detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. Lynne Tracy met with Gershkovich at the Lefortovo pretrial detention center in Moscow, where the American reporter has been detained for well over 100 days on espionage charges that the United States says are politically motivated. “He remains strong and is keeping up with the news,” the U.S. Embassy in Moscow wrote in a tweet, reiterating a call for Russia to release Gershkovich and another detained U.S. citizen, Paul Whelan.
Ukrainian forces have recaptured Andriivka, a Russian-held village near Bakhmut, according to Ukraine’s general staff early Friday. Ukrainian troops “inflicted significant losses in manpower and equipment on the enemy, and consolidated their new positions,” it said. Russia claimed to have repelled several Ukrainian attacks along the front lines, including in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk.
Wednesday’s attacks on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet “almost certainly” caused major damage to a landing ship and submarine as they underwent maintenance at the Sevastopol naval base, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday. Open-source material indicates that the landing ship Minsk “has almost certainly been functionally destroyed, while the [Rostov-na-Donu submarine] has likely suffered catastrophic damage,” the ministry said. It added that repairs to the submarine are “likely to take many years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” while removing wreckage could leave the docks “out of use for many months.”
Zelensky said Ukrainian forces have destroyed Russian air defense systems in Crimea. “The entire staff of the Security Service of Ukraine and our navy should be specially commended for this. I thank you for today’s triumph,” he said in his nightly address. Ukraine claims to have damaged Russian military sites in Crimea, with Ukrainian news outlets also reporting that an S-400 air defense system was destroyed Thursday. The Post could not independently verify the reports of damage. Geolocated video showed flames and large plumes of smoke rising from a site in Crimea. Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, and the peninsula has come under several attacks in recent months.
A senior Russian security official said Moscow has “identified and neutralized” hundreds of foreign spies in recent years. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said in an article published in the Russian foreign intelligence agency’s magazine Friday: “In recent years, hundreds of employees of foreign intelligence services, as well as other persons involved in organizing intelligence and subversive activities against our country and our strategic partners, have been identified and neutralized.” Patrushev provided no evidence for his claims. Western security officials have said that Russia has significant spying capabilities despite the exposure of multiple operatives in Europe.
It is too early to comment on the cause of the plane crash that killed Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin, Peskov said Friday. “This is not a simple investigation, not a simple accident, an investigation is underway, so it would be premature to comment now,” Peskov said.
Scottish zoo will adopt Yampil the bear, rescued from Ukrainian front line: An Asian black bear found in a Ukrainian zoo near the front line will have a new home in Scotland, Daniel Wu reports. Yampil, named after the Ukrainian village where he was found, was discovered barely alive by Ukrainian troops who recaptured the area from Russian forces last year.
Yampil was whisked from the front line and taken to a Polish zoo, then a Belgian wildlife rehabilitation center, where he was slowly nursed back to health. The center then contacted the Scotland-based Five Sisters Zoo, which had previously taken in rescued brown bears from the center, about potentially adopting Yampil…..