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Live blog: War secrets safe from intel leaks – US, Ukraine

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Ukraine’s leaders have said they don’t see a major US intelligence leak as gravely damaging future offensives.

A key reason: they have long held back on sharing their most sensitive operational information, doubting Washington’s ability to keep their secrets safe.

Ukrainian and US officials said this week that only Ukrainians know some battle plans and other operational information, not the Americans, their most important ally.

That means the leak of secret military documents, including some assessing Ukraine’s battlefield strengths and weaknesses against Russia, may not have been enough — so far — to change the course of the war.

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1747 GMT Hungary forces new energy deals with Russia amid Ukraine war

Hungary has signed new agreements to ensure its continued access to Russian energy, a sign of the country’s continuing diplomatic and trade ties with Moscow that have confounded some European leaders amid the war in Ukraine.

Speaking at a news briefing in Moscow, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Russian state energy company Gazprom had agreed to allow Hungary, if needed, to import quantities of natural gas beyond the amounts agreed to in a long-term contract that was amended last year.

The price of the gas, which would reach Hungary through the TurkStream pipeline, would be capped at $163 per megawatt hour, Szijjarto said, part of an agreement that will allow Hungary to pay down gas purchases on a deferred basis if market prices go above that level.

1736 GMT Russia’s e-conscription overhaul underlines scramble for military manpower

A rapid overhaul to Russia’s conscription system rushed through parliament has underlined a scramble for additional manpower for its forces fighting in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said the “extremely important” law was intended to solve what he called “a mess” in Russia’s draft centres that had been exposed by a partial mobilisation in September, when the government was forced to retract a number of wrongly-issued draft papers.

In some ways, the new laws are harsher than September’s decree on partial mobilisation, whose enforcement was patchy, and varied from region to region.

Whereas in September conscripts, whose draft papers were only considered valid once physic ally presented to them, could avoid the draft simply by avoiding picking up their summons, the new law would make that all but impossible.

1733 GMT UN chief ‘horrified’ by video showing Ukrainian POW being beheaded

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is ”horrified” by a video that shows the brutal execution of a Ukrainian prisoner of war and he has demanded that the perpetrators be held accountable, his spokesperson said.

”Regrettably, this is not an isolated incident, ” Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

He said the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine is ”appalled by these particularly gruesome” videos circulating on social media and it documented several violations of international humanitarian law, including those committed against prisoners of war in its recent reports.

1651 GMT Ukraine war likely to last past 2023: US documents

As many as 354,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured in the Ukraine war which is grinding towards a protracted conflict that may last well beyond 2023, according to a trove of purported US intelligence documents posted online.

If authentic, the documents, which look like secret US assessments of the war as well as some US espionage against allies, offer rare insight into Washington’s view of one of Europe’s deadliest conflicts since World War II.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify the documents and some countries, including Russia and Ukraine, have questioned their veracity, while US officials say some of the files appear to have been altered.

1635 GMT Leaked US intel document claims Serbia agreed to arm Ukraine

Serbia has agreed to supply arms to Kiev or has sent them already, according to a classified Pentagon document, despite the country’s professed neutrality in the Ukraine war and refusal to sanction Russia over its military campaign.

The document, a summary of European governments’ responses to Ukraine’s requests for military training and “lethal aid” or weapons, was among dozens of classified documents posted online in recent weeks.

The document is marked Secret and NOFORN, prohibiting its distribution to foreign intelligence services and militaries. It is dated March 2, and embossed with the seal of the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Serbia’s Defense Minister Milos Vucevic dismissed the document’s assertions as “untrue” in a statement.

“Serbia did not, nor will it be selling weapons to the Ukrainian nor the Russian side, nor to countries surrounding that conflict,” Vucevic said.

1519 GMT Ukraine asks Spain for air defence, weapons

Ukraine’s defence minister has said he had asked his Spanish counterpart to supply air defences, including F-16 jets, and more ammunition to fend off Russia’s offensive.

While Western allies, led by the United States, have been supporting Ukraine with military training and weapons, Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said still more was needed to help end the deadly conflict.

“For us, the number one priority is air defence,” he told a joint news conference with Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles.

1037 GMT   EU vows to hold war criminals to account after Ukraine beheading video

The EU pledged to hold war criminals to account after footage spread online allegedly showing the beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of war by Russian forces.

“We don’t have more information on the veracity of the video. Having said that, if confirmed, this is yet another brutal reminder about the inhumane nature of the Russian aggression,” EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.

“The EU reiterates its firm commitment to holding to account all perpetrators and accomplices of war crimes committed in connection with Russia’s war,” she said.

Ukraine is expected to launch an attack on invading Russian troops in the spring — its first major military push of the year.

1008 GMT — Ukrainian beheading incident needs verification, says Kremlin

The Kremlin has said the authenticity of the “horrible” images showing an alleged decapitation of a Ukrainian prisoner of war has to be verified.

“First of all, the authenticity of this horrible footage needs to be verified,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that “we live in a world of fakes.”

0953 GMT — Zelenskyy vows justice after Ukrainian POW’s decapitation

President Zelensky has denounced Russian “beasts” after a video surfaced on social media purporting to show the decapitation of a Ukrainian prisoner of war. 

“There is something that no one in the world can ignore: how easily these beasts kill,” Zelensky said in a video address released on social media.

“We won’t forget anything, nor will we forgive murderers,” he added, vowing to bring justice to his war-torn nation. 

“This video… The execution of a Ukrainian captive… The world must see it,” Zelensky added in the video address.

AFP news agency was unable to independently verify the footage.

0844 — UK asks for caution on leaked US intelligence material

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has cast doubt on reports that UK special forces have operated in Ukraine, after the allegations emerged from a leaked trove of highly sensitive US documents.

The Guardian and other media outlets said the leaked military and intelligence files suggest that dozens of British special forces personnel have been present in Ukraine so far this year.

The British Embassy in Kiev said in June 2021 that UK and US special forces were holding “joint training activity” with their Ukrainian counterparts. But London has not disclosed their continued presence inside the country since Russia’s invasion in February last year.

“The widely reported leak of alleged classified US information has demonstrated a serious level of inaccuracy,” the UK’s MoD said in a statement posted on Twitter.

0651 GMT — Ukraine seeks more humanitarian aid from India

Kiev has sought more humanitarian aid from New Delhi, India’s External Affairs Ministry said as Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova concluded a three-day visit to the South Asian country.

Besides holding discussions on a range of “bilateral and international issues,” she handed over a letter from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I was glad to pass @M_Lekhi a letter from Ukraine’s President @ZelenskyyUa to Prime Minister @narendramodi,” the Ukrainian minister said on Twitter. “As our countries India & Ukraine have mutual interests & visions, intensified dialogue on the highest level will be fruitful for our people and security in the world.”

“Ukrainian request for additional humanitarian supply, including medicines and medical equipment was also shared by her,” the ministry said.

0731 GMT — UK slaps new sanctions on Russia

Britain added 11 new designations to its Russia-related sanctions list, an update to the government website showed.

0358 GMT Russia conducts ‘successful’ test of ‘advanced’ ICBM

Russia has conducted what it said was the successful test launch of an “advanced” intercontinental ballistic missile, weeks after it suspended participation in its last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States.

The Russian defence ministry said in a statement that a “combat crew successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) of a mobile ground-based missile system” from its Kapustin Yar test site.

“The missile’s training warhead hit a mock target at the Sary-Shagan training ground (Republic of Kazakhstan) with given precision,” it added.

In late February, Putin said Moscow was suspending participation in the New START treaty, under which Russia and the United States had agreed to limit nuclear stockpiles and submit to mutual inspections.

2315 GMT — World Bank says Western Europe need to help fund Ukraine reconstruction

The World Bank is ready to do its part in rebuilding Ukraine after the devastation of Russia’s invasion, but international financial institutions cannot shoulder the sums involved alone and Western European countries will have to chip in, World Bank President David Malpass said.

Malpass, speaking at the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, noted that the World Bank had played a big role in rebuilding Europe’s steel industry after World War Two and could play a similar role in Ukraine.

“But the size is daunting,” he said, citing a recent estimate that it would cost $411 billion to rebuild Ukraine’s economy, or 2.6 times its expected 2022 gross domestic product. The number, calculated by the World Bank, United Nations, European Commission and Ukraine, was up sharply from an estimate of $349 billion released last September.

The World Bank’s total commitments in 2022 totalled $75 billion, a 50 percent increase from the average.

2246 GMT — Russia risks becoming ‘economic colony’ of China: CIA’s Burns

 Russia risks becoming an “economic colony” of China as its isolation from the West deepens following the offensive in Ukraine, US CIA Director William Burns said.

“Russia is becoming more and more dependent on China and, in some respects, runs the risk of becoming an economic colony of China over time, dependent for export of energy resources and raw materials,” Burns said at an event at Rice University in Houston.

2217 GMT — US seeks to reassure allies after Ukraine-related documents leak

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken and defence chief Lloyd Austin have spoken with their Ukrainian counterparts as Washington seeks to reassure its allies after a leaked trove of highly sensitive documents appeared online.

The breach includes classified information about Ukraine’s battle against Russian forces, as well as secret assessments of US allies.

A document reviewed by the AFP news agency highlighted US concerns about Ukraine’s capacity to keep defending against Russian strikes, while the Washington Post reported that another expressed doubts about the success of an upcoming offensive by Kiev’s forces.

“We have engaged with allies and partners at high levels over the past days, including to reassure them about our own commitment to safeguarding intelligence,” Blinken said

Blinken said he had spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and “reaffirmed our enduring support for Ukraine and for its efforts to defend its territorial integrity, its sovereignty, its independence.”

Austin, speaking alongside Blinken, said he had also talked to his counterpart in Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov. “He and the leadership remain focused on the task at hand,” Austin said, noting that “they have much of the capability that they need to continue to be successful.”

Dozens of photographs of documents — some of which also point to US spying on allies and partners including Israel, South Korea and Ukraine — have been found on Twitter, Telegram, Discord and other sites in recent days, though some may have been circulating online for some time.

For our live updates from Tuesday (April 11), click here.

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