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- European energy corporations appear to have caved to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand that they purchase natural gas via an intricate new payment mechanism, avoiding future gas shut-offs but also giving Putin a public relations triumph while continuing to support his war in Ukraine, the Washington Post reported. The arrangement allows Europe to claim that it is officially paying for natural gas in euros, while Russia claims to be getting payment in rubles – a condition Putin placed on “unfriendly” countries.
- China and Russia conducted their first coordinated military drill since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, launching bombers in northeast Asia as US President Joe Biden visited the region, according to the New York Times.
- President Vladimir Putin signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to inhabitants of two Ukrainian districts, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, which were captured by the Russian military during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Radio Free Europe noted. Meanwhile, Russian soldiers continued their attacks on two important towns in Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region Wednesday, with incessant shelling damaging buildings, killing residents, and threatening the remaining escape routes, Reuters added.
- Russian lawmakers have removed the age restriction for military enlistment in the face of growing casualties following the invasion of Ukraine, the Washington Times wrote. Previously, only Russians between the ages of 18 to 40 and foreigners between the ages of 18 to 30 could enroll as professional troops. Officials said the new policy would make it simpler for military officials to recruit, especially hard-to-find personnel such as those with medical and engineering backgrounds.
- Russian legislators voted this week to prohibit foreigners from hiring Russian surrogate mothers, a practice not uncommon for Westerners, Reuters reported separately.