Putin on sanctions; Zelenskyy suspends advisers

Russia faces a “major challenge” from sanctions denying access to foreign technology, President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

But Putin told his Council for Strategic Development that his country would not “lose heart” and see decades of progress reversed. Putin called for the expansion of technological, research and innovation capabilities of Russian companies.

Russia has struggled to keep commercial jets serviced, and defense experts say the Russian military has been forced to use legacy military hardware while trying to piece together its more modern weapons systems.

“Obviously, we cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world. And we won’t,” Putin said in a report in Tass. “It’s impossible in today’s world to just issue an executive order and put up a huge fence. It’s just not possible.”

Latest developments:

►The Swiss army announces that it will offer mine clearance training to Ukrainian experts. Ukrainian authorities have already removed tens of thousands of mines and explosive devices, the Geneva demining center said.

►Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska in Washington on Monday as Zelenska presses her husband’s campaign for more military support from the West.

►Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Iran on Tuesday to build support during meetings with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

►Sri Lanka’s interim President Ranil Wickremesinghe, citing food shortages and soaring prices, has warned that sanctions could hurt the developing world more than Russia.

►Odessa and Alexandria have joined a growing list of Ukrainian cities removing monuments honoring the country’s ties with Russia. Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991.

USA TODAY ON TELEGRAM: Join our Russia-Ukraine War Channel to get updates straight to your phone.

Zelenskyy suspends 2 of his top advisers pending investigation into treason

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has suspended two of his top advisers amid widespread treason allegations involving officials accused of collaborating with Russian forces in occupied towns and villages.

Zelenskyy on Sunday signed decrees removing from office Iryna Venediktova, the prosecutor general who led the Ukrainian investigation into Russian war crimes, and the head of the security services and longtime friend of Zelenskyy, Ivan Bakanov. On Monday, Andrei Smirnov, deputy head of the president’s office, said the decrees were not firings, but suspensions so advisers could not influence an investigation.

Zelenskyy signed a decree on Monday appointing Bakanov’s first deputy, Vasyl Maliuk, to head the agency on an interim basis. Maluik has a reputation for fighting corruption. More than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the security service in the occupied territory are working “against our state”, Zelneskyy said. Over 650 criminal charges have been filed for treason and collaboration.

“Such a spectrum of crimes … raises very serious questions for the leaders involved,” Zelenskyy said in a statement. “Each of these questions will receive an appropriate answer.”

In Russia, losing a son in war can get you a new car

Russian state TV ran a story about the unexpected benefits of having your son killed in Ukraine, says Francis Scarr, who translates Russian TV for BBC Monitoring. Scarr posted a video of the report on twitter, showing a family with the new Russian-made Lada car they apparently bought with “coffin money” given by the state to the families of war victims. The deceased soldier’s father, identified as Alexei, says his son always wanted a white car.

“In memory of our son, we bought a nice new car,” says the father. The clip ends with what is described as the vehicle’s first trip – to the graveyard.

Russian Defense Minister: Targeting Western Missile Systems

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited the Vostok Battalion in Ukraine’s Donbass, asking the commander to prioritize the destruction of Ukrainian long-range missiles and artillery, the Defense Ministry said by telegram. Western weapons systems, including the American-made HIMARS, have enabled Ukraine to target Russian military positions well beyond the front lines, sparking growing concern in the Kremlin. Russia has tried to strengthen its grip on the areas of Donbass that it now controls.

Shoigu ordered units on all operational fronts to “eliminate the possibility for the Kyiv regime to inflict massive missile and artillery strikes” on territories under Russian control, according to the The Times of Moscow.

EU pledges an additional $500 million in military aid to Ukraine

European Union foreign ministers were meeting via video conference Monday to tighten sanctions on Russia and consider ways to ban gold exports “in the hope that the measures could finally begin to have a decisive impact. on the war in Ukraine”. The group was exchanging views on Russian aggression with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba – and pledged an additional $500 million in military aid from Ukraine’s coffers.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said “the most important thing is the ban on Russian gold”, which is Moscow’s second largest export industry after energy.

Contributor: The Associated Press

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