Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, US authorities charged four Russian soldiers with war crimes for allegedly abducting and torturing an American citizen living in Ukraine, the BBC reported. The American, residing in Ukraine since 2021, was held for about 10 days in April 2022, enduring mock executions and beatings. This marks the first time the US has filed charges under its war crimes law. The accused soldiers remain free even as past cases have seen Russians facing charges be taken into custody abroad. The charges include conspiracy to commit war crimes, torture, inhuman treatment, and unlawful confinement, carrying a potential life sentence if convicted.

Also this week:

  • A former pro-Kremlin Ukrainian lawmaker was shot dead in a Moscow suburb Wednesday, in what observers described as an attack carried out by Ukrainian intelligence, the Guardian wrote. Illia Kyva, 46, was a member of parliament until he fled to Russia a month before the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. There, he became a vocal critic of Kyiv on Russian state television. Ukrainian authorities considered him a “traitor” to the nation and sentenced him in absentia to 14 years for treason. Soon after the assassination, anonymous sources speaking to Reuters and local media alleged that the Ukrainian secret service was behind it. Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov did not confirm the claims, but did welcome the fact that Kyiv was “done,” and warned that a similar fate awaits other Ukrainian traitors and supporters of President Vladimir Putin. On the same day, pro-Russian Luhansk lawmaker Oleg Popov died in a car bomb attack. The government of Ukraine has not commented on it to date.
  • Polish truckers protesting on the border with Ukraine have severely impacted military aid supplies donated by charities in Poland, Reuters reported. The truckers have been blockading the border crossings for a month to denounce Ukrainian drivers’ permit-free access to European Union territory, which they consider unfair competition. The protesters claimed they had let military aid pass through. However, civilian and commercial trucks transporting supplies have been forced to join a slow line attempting to cross the border, imperiling critical supplies such as drones, body armor, and vehicles. The Poland crossing is vital because of the Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. The preeminent charity, Come Back Alive, said they were in talks with Polish authorities to solve the gridlock.
  • EU leaders have been trying to salvage a plan to launch EU membership talks with Ukraine after Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban threatened to veto it, the Guardian reported. Orban, who has stood out as a pro-Russian figure in Eastern Europe, told the European Council to remove Ukraine’s prospective EU membership from the agenda of a Council meeting to be held next week. Analysts in Budapest believe that Orban will stay the course in opposing Ukraine’s membership in the bloc. Meanwhile, EU officials hope that Ukraine can join the bloc by the end of the decade.
  • The number of Ukrainian children deported to Russia by occupying forces has reached almost 20,000, the country’s human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets told a conference in Kyiv, with Russia “continuing to deport more and more groups of Ukrainian children from our state every day”, the Guardian reported. In March, the international criminal court in The Hague issued arrest warrants for Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, in relation to the forced deportation of children.

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