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Live blog: US urges citizens to leave Russia ‘immediately’ as war rages

Monday, February 13, 2023

“US citizens residing or travelling in Russia should depart immediately,” the US embassy in Moscow has said. “Exercise increased caution due to the risk of wrongful detentions.”

“Do not travel to Russia,” the embassy said.

The United States has repeatedly warned its citizens to leave Russia. The last such public warning was in September after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation.

“Russian security services have arrested US citizens on spurious charges, singled out US citizens in Russia for detention and harassment, denied them fair and transparent treatment, and convicted them in secret trials or without presenting credible evidence,” the embassy said.

Here are the other developments:

0708 GMT – Russian spy service says US grooming armed fighters to attack Russia

Russia’s foreign spy service has said that it had received intelligence that the US military was grooming armed fighters to attack targets in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, headed by an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said it had intelligence that 60 such fighters from groups affiliated with Daesh and al Qaeda had been recruited and were undergoing training at an American base in Syria.

“They will be tasked with preparing and carrying out terrorist attacks against diplomats, civil servants, law enforcement officers and personnel of the armed forces,” said the Foreign Intelligence Service, known by the initials SVR.

0220 GMT – Russia continues to shell Ukraine amid grinding push in east

Russian forces over the weekend continued to shell Ukrainian cities amid a grinding push to seize more land in the east of the country, with Ukrainian officials saying that Moscow is having trouble launching its much-anticipated large-scale offensive there.

One person was killed and one more was wounded on Sunday morning by the shelling of Nikopol, a city in the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, Gov. Serhii Lysak reported. The shelling damaged four residential buildings, a vocational school and a water treatment facility.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, one person was wounded after three Russian S-300 missiles hit infrastructure facilities overnight, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said. The Russian military said they hit armoured vehicle assembly workshops at the Malyshev machinery plant in the city.

Ukrainian forces also downed five drones — four Shahed killer drones and one Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone — over the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions on Saturday evening, Kiev’s military reported.

Overall, Russian forces carried out 12 missile and 32 air strikes in Ukraine over the past 24 hours, as well as over 90 rounds of shelling from multiple rocket launchers, Ukraine’s General Staff reported in its daily update.

0215 GMT – Russia building 200-km water pipeline to Donbas

Specialists from Russia’s defence ministry are building a water pipeline system that would connect the country’s Rostov region bordering Ukraine with the Donbas region inside Ukraine, the state TASS news agency reported late on Sunday.

Moscow last year claimed the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which make up the broader Donbas region in Ukraine, as “republics” of Russia, in a move condemned by most members of the United Nations as illegal.

The project, to be completed in the next few months, will have the capacity to carry 300,000 cubic meters of water per day and will include two 200-km (124-mile) lines, TASS reported, citing the defence ministry.

The water situation in the Donbas region, which has few resources, has been critical.

0110 GMT – Ukraine adopts decree sanctioning 200 people with links to Russia

Ukraine has adopted a decree sanctioning 200 people with links to Russia as Moscow’s “special military operation” against Kiev nears its first year.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed the decree proposed by the National Defense and Security Council, according to a statement by the Ukrainian presidency.

The decree notably targets figures linked with Russia’s nuclear energy sector which Ukraine has attempted to include in a potential 10th sanctions package from European countries.

The sanctions, which will be in effect for 50 years, include measures such as the freezing of assets, complete restrictions regarding travel through the territory of Ukraine and the suspension of economic and financial obligations.

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