– Prison for Russians who cooperate with foreigners –
Russian parliament introduces harsh prison terms for cooperating with foreigners and calls for undermining national security.
In a bill reminiscent of the Soviet era, establishing and maintaining “confidential” cooperation with a foreigner or international organization and helping them to act against Russia’s interests will be punishable by up to eight years from prison.
Public calls for action against Russia‘s security will be punishable by up to seven years in prison.
They are part of an unprecedented crackdown on dissent under President Vladimir Putin, which has intensified since he sent troops to Ukraine.
– Residents urged to flee the city of Donbass –
Ukrainian officials are calling on civilians to urgently evacuate Sloviansk as Russian troops step up their bombardment of the city in their effort to conquer the Donbass region from Donetsk.
At least two people were killed and seven others injured in Sloviansk on Tuesday as rockets slammed into a market and surrounding streets, bringing the death toll in Russian strikes since Sunday to at least eight.
The Governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko, reiterates his calls for the evacuation of the inhabitants.
The British Ministry of Defense in an intelligence memo predicts that “the battle of Sloviansk will be the next key fight in the struggle for Donbass” after the fall of the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
– Russia denounces leaked Macron appeal –
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reacts angrily to the publication of a call between President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Putin on the eve of the war, calling it a breach of “diplomatic etiquette”.
Details of the confidential February 20 appeal were revealed by broadcaster France 2 in a documentary about the French president’s handling of the conflict.
In the exchange, Putin describes the 2014 Euromaidan revolution that brought pro-Western leaders to power in Ukraine as a coup.
However, at Macron’s insistence, he agrees in principle to the idea of a meeting with US President Joe Biden in Geneva. Four days later he sent troops to Ukraine.
Lavrov said Russia had nothing to be ashamed of.
– Medvedev brandishes the nuclear threat –
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev suggests the world could be heading towards nuclear war if the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is investigating alleged war crimes in Ukraine, punishes Moscow for its alleged crimes.
“The idea of punishing a country that has the largest nuclear arsenal is absurd in itself,” Medvedev, a close ally of Putin, said on the Telegram messaging app.
“And potentially creates a threat to the existence of mankind,” he added.
Medvedev, who was Putin’s deputy president between 2008 and 2012, is the deputy head of the Security Council. He has regularly assaulted the West on social media since the start of the war.
– No NATO troops planned in Sweden, Finland –
NATO told AFP it had no plans to send troops to Sweden and Finland once they complete the membership process launched this week.
“We don’t plan to have an additional presence in either country, they have tremendous national forces. They are able to defend themselves,” Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said in a telephone interview.
Putin warned that Moscow will “respond symmetrically” if NATO installs troops and infrastructure in the Nordic states.