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Army boss raises partition fears: Ukraine round-up

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Image source, Reuters

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, has warned that Russia is trying to apply what he called the “Korean scenario” to Ukraine, having failed to take the capital and depose the legitimate government.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin would try to impose a demarcation line separating the eastern and southern regions from the rest of Ukraine, since he would not be able to absorb the whole country.

Gen Budanov predicted this quasi-state would be unviable, given the resistance of the local population. He said that what he described as a “total Ukrainian guerrilla safari” was about to open.


The general’s warning came amid continued reaction to US President Joe Biden’s speech in Poland on Saturday, in which he said that Mr Putin should not be allowed to remain in power.

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Mr Biden’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, denied that the US had any plans to bring about regime change in Russia or anywhere else.

And French President Emmanuel Macron warned against the verbal escalation of the war in Ukraine, saying this would make it impossible to bring about a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops.

But this isn’t the first time President Biden has veered off-script and thrown a live grenade into an otherwise well-prepared, measured speech.

Is that a strength – saying what many of his citizens are thinking – or a weakness?

Claims of forced deportation

Mariupol refugees in Taganrog, 21 Mar 22

Image source, EPA

“All of us were taken forcibly”, a refugee from Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol says – from Russia, where they now are.

Ukraine accuses Russia of forcibly deporting its people from war-ravaged cities to Russian-held territory, or all the way to Russia proper. Satellite images show a temporary camp east of Mariupol that is housing an estimated 5,000 people.

Forcibly deporting civilians is seen as an international human rights abuse – but Russia denies it is doing anything of the sort.

But what choice do people have when they are in danger, or are warned of an incoming missile strike if they remain where they are?


Ukraine rejects breakaway referendum plan

Map showing the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatist-held areas within those regions.

Ukraine has described plans by the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic to hold a referendum on joining Russia as having no legal basis.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesman said any referendum would be fake and warned that Moscow would face further isolation if it went ahead.

Earlier, the leader of Luhansk said a vote could happen soon and that the population would vote overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine and join Russia. He later rowed back on that statement, Tass reports, to clarify that he had only been stating a personal opinion – and that no preparations were actually being made for such a vote.

Last month, Russia formally recognised the Luhansk and Donetsk breakaway republics as independent states, paving the way for Russian troops’ invasion of Ukraine.


Ukraine war is our war, say British ex-squaddies

Kieran, Elliot and CJ

The road to war for CJ, Elliott and Kieran ran through Facebook, a cheap flight to Poland and a cold night sleeping outside a railway station.

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher met the former British soldiers in Ukraine just outside a school, a couple of kilometres from the border with Poland. They were waiting for a minibus to transport them, along with other recruits, to Lviv.

“I just can’t sit at home and watch what’s going on and carry on as usual,” said CJ Darton, who served for seven years with the Royal Anglian Regiment.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, he almost immediately began making plans to volunteer.

“If you’re not fighting in someone else’s street, does it end up in yours? Do my kids become a target? Do my mates’ kids?”


How the sex trade preys on Ukraine’s refugees

Refugee on Polish-Ukrainian border

Trafficking rings are notoriously active in and around Ukraine – and the fog of war is perfect cover.

Elena Moskvitina is one of many Ukrainian refugees who have fled the fighting, only to find themselves menaced by pimps, traffickers and abusers.

Elena, who is now safe in Denmark, told the BBC’s Katya Adler how she escaped the clutches of fake volunteers at a refugee centre who offered to give her and her children a lift to Switzerland, along with a group of other women.

To get the men away from her family, Elena promised to meet them when the other women were in their van. But as soon as they left, she grabbed her children and ran.


Spirit of Chernobyl raises funds for refugees

Bottles of Atomik spirit

Image source, ATOMIK

The aptly-named Atomik spirit is made from crops grown in the nuclear disaster zone of Chernobyl – in Ukraine.

Slightly radioactive fruit, once fermented and distilled, is just as good to drink as any other tipple, it turns out.

But now Russian troops have occupied the land this particular crop is grown on. And the company behind Atomik has decided, in a show of defiance, to donate profits from its bottles to Ukrainian refugee causes.


War in Ukraine: More coverage


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