Saturday, 02 March 2024 04:39

What to know after Day 737 of Russia-Ukraine war

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RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

CIA has ‘many bases’ in Ukraine – FSB boss

The CIA has “many” bases in Ukraine, the head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Aleksandr Bortnikov told Russian television on Thursday, when asked about a New York Times report on the spy network.

The US newspaper described a decade-long record of cooperation between the American spy agency and Ukrainian special services.

According to the article, which was published last Sunday, the CIA has 12 secret bases on Ukrainian soil which are actively working against Russia. The paper wrote that over the past eight years, the CIA has trained and equipped Kiev’s intelligence officers in underground bunkers, some of which are nestled deep in the forests of Ukraine.

“They [US intelligence] had entered there a long time ago and are using this resource to do the dirty work, on their own and with the hands of the Ukrainian special services,” Bortnikov told Channel 1.

He said “work is ongoing,” when asked whether Russia can get to the CIA sites.

Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested that the Americans have far more outposts in Ukraine than the 12 bases reported by the NYT. Russia was not oblivious to the clandestine Western activities within the borders of its hostile neighbor, officials in Moscow have said.

The new report confirms that Ukrainian commando units involved in anti-Russian sabotage had received special training from American agents, who also helped them track Russian troop movements. Kiev was also behind the targeted assassination of several high-profile figures in Donbass over the years, the newspaper said.

Last year, The Washington Post published a similar expose on the CIA’s role in turning Ukraine into a tool against Russia. Unlike the NYT, the Post discussed Kiev’s state assassinations program in detail and Ukraine’s apparent role in the deaths of journalist and political activist Daria Dugina and military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, both of whom were murdered in bomb attacks on Russian soil.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Netherlands' Rutte signs security deal in Ukraine, promising artillery funding

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte signed a security deal with Ukraine in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Friday and said the Netherlands would help fund the supply of 800,000 artillery shells to hold back Russian forces.

Rutte met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on a surprise visit to Kharkiv, just 40 km (26 miles) from the Russian border, and became the seventh Western leader to sign a 10-year security agreement with Ukraine in the last two months.

"The Netherlands will contribute to the Czech Republic's initiative to purchase 800,000 artillery shells, he told a news conference, saying they would arrive within weeks.

Ukraine is critically short of artillery rounds as its troops try to hold back Russian forces who are again on the offensive in the east, two years after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion.

The Czech Republic said last month it had sourced 500,000 rounds of 155 mm shells and 300,000 122 mm rounds from third countries, which could be delivered to Ukraine in weeks if funding was secured.

The shells would plug a big hole in Ukraine's stockpiles with a vital package of U.S. military assistance stuck in Congress facing months of Republican opposition.

Rutte said the Netherlands would donate 150 million euros ($162 million) to the Czech initiative, taking the total raised so far to 250 million euros.

The security agreement he signed with Ukraine included 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in military aid from the Netherlands this year, as well as other defence assistance over the next 10 years, Zelenskiy said.

RUTTE'S VISIT TO KHARKIV A RARE ONE

The visit to Kharkiv was a rare one by a senior Western politician as the city is regularly attacked by Russian air strikes and is much closer to the Russian border than Kyiv.

The two leaders visited an underground classroom established to allow schoolchildren to attend classes in person, safe from missile strikes.

Rutte praised the courage and determination of the children and teachers as "a true beacon of hope that inspires Ukrainians to keep fighting and allies to keep supporting Ukraine".

"The task facing Ukrainian allies is clear – do whatever you can to provide what is needed, [for] as long as it takes," he said.

Zelenskiy described Rutte's visit as "symbolic" in a "city that has survived a lot".

"Here in Kharkiv, it's 100% obvious that Russia is waging a criminal war, its objective is only destruction."

In a statement on Telegram, Zelenskiy said that more than 20,000 buildings - schools, universities, churches, kindergartens and residential houses - had been destroyed in Kharkiv in the last two years.

Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Denmark and Britain have all signed bilateral security deals over the past two months that are meant to tide Ukraine over until it can reach its aim of joining the Western military alliance, NATO.

Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskiy's office, said agreements were also being discussed with other countries. ($1 = 0.9246 euros)

 

RT/Reuters

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