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Putin accuses the US of wanting to “prolong” the Ukraine conflict

#Putin #accuses #wanting #prolong #Ukraine #conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of delaying the war in Ukraine as explosions rocked a Russian military facility on the Kremlin-controlled Crimea peninsula.

The first UN-chartered ship loaded with grain left Ukraine for Africa after Turkey and the UN struck a deal to ease a global food crisis.

“The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict,” Putin said at the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow.

Washington “is using the people of Ukraine as cannon fodder,” he said, slamming the United States for supplying arms to Kyiv.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, expecting little military resistance and hoping for a lightning takeover that would topple the government in Kyiv within hours.

However, after Russia’s military failed to capture the capital, it has instead engaged in a protracted battle of attrition with the sprawling frontline to the east and south.

The United States has provided important economic and military support to Kyiv, notably by supplying Ukraine with long-range precision artillery that has enabled it to attack Russian supply installations deep in Moscow-controlled territory.

Huge fireballs erupted early Tuesday at the site in Crimea where ammunition was temporarily stored, and plumes of black smoke billowed into the air, images on social media showed.

The Defense Ministry said the fire started around 6:15 a.m. local time (0315 GMT) at a temporary military camp near the village of Mayskoye in the Dzhankoi district and detonated ammunition.

Tuesday’s blasts come a week after similar blasts at a Russian airbase in Crimea killed at least one person and wounded five others.

Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility for any of the Crimea incidents, but senior officials and the military have indicated Ukraine’s involvement.

– “Catastrophe” –

Ukraine’s presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said on Tuesday the recent explosions in Jankoi were a “reminder” that “Russian-held Crimea is experiencing explosions in warehouses and a high risk of death for intruders and thieves.”

He said the blasts were “demilitarization in action” – using the same term Russia uses to justify its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and used the Black Sea region as a base for its invasion.

In the eastern Donbass region, where most of the fighting took place, Ukraine said Russia launched a “massive” offensive from an oil refinery in the recently captured city of Lysychansk in Lugansk province.

The Ukrainian presidency said one woman was killed and two others injured in Donetsk province, which together with Lugansk forms the industrial Donbass now mostly controlled by Russian forces.

Kyiv and Moscow have also exchanged accusations over a series of strikes this month at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine – the largest in Europe.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that a “disaster” at the Russian-controlled facility would threaten the whole of Europe.

– ‘Symbols of repression’ –

On the Black Sea, the UN-chartered ship departed from Ukraine’s Pivdennyi port on Tuesday and will sail to Djibouti “for delivery to Ethiopia,” Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry said.

The MV Brave Commander, loaded with 23,000 tons of wheat, was able to sail after a Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports was lifted last month and safe corridors were established through sea mines laid by Kyiv.

Ukraine hopes that there will soon be two or three similar shipments.

Russia’s invasion has driven an economic, political and cultural wedge between Moscow and European capitals.

The prime minister of ex-Soviet-ruled Estonia said on Tuesday her government had decided to remove all Soviet-era monuments from the country’s public spaces.

“As symbols of repression and Soviet occupation, they have become a source of increasing social tensions – in these times we must minimize the risk to public order,” Kaja Kallas wrote on Twitter.

The move follows similar trends in Poland and Ukraine, which began taking down statues of Soviet leaders in earnest after Russian-backed separatists seized control of parts of the east in 2014.

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#Putin #accuses #wanting #prolong #Ukraine #conflict

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