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LIVE: Venezuela Says Media Justifying Escalation Against Russia

  • Gas prices are displayed at a gas station in Toronto, Canada, on March 4, 2022.

    Gas prices are displayed at a gas station in Toronto, Canada, on March 4, 2022. | Photo: Zou Zheng/Xinhua

Published 8 April 2022
Opinion

"The Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine has initiated the nationalization of 400 railcars owned by Russian and Belarusian companies," reported Railway Supply magazine.

The military conflict between Ukraine and Russia has lasted 44 days without any sign of a permanent ceasefire. Below are the main events as they happen.

Biden signs bills on tightening trade regime with Russia, Belarus, banning energy import

US President Joe Biden signed bills, passed by the Congress earlier, on suspension of normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and on prohibition of energy import from Russia over the situation in Ukraine, the White House press office said Friday.

According to the press office, Biden signed both papers; previously, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced his intent to do so.

Earlier in March, Biden already signed an order banning energy imports from Russia. The bill, passed by Congress, effectively turns the presidential order into law.

Biden also previously announced US and NATO allies’ intent to abandon the normal trade relations with Russia. According to the US President, each of these nations intend to take steps to strip Russia of the most favored nation status. In the US, such status can be removed only under approval from the lawmakers.

The suspension of this status will allow the US to set higher tariffs for Russian and Belarus than for all other WTO member states. This power will remain in effect until January 1, 2024. In the meantime, the US President would be able to restore normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, should these countries cease what Washington considers aggressive actions against Ukraine, or under other conditions.

Venezuela denounces that the media campaign against Russia could lead to war

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

The President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, denounced during a broadcast of the state channel Venezolana de Televisión that the West is promoting a media campaign against Russia that could lead to a third world war.

"Today more than ever we are seeing a media dictatorship of the West against the world to justify an escalation that could lead to a disastrous war, to a third world war, the West is being alienated economically, politically, diplomatically and militarily to go to a great war against Russia," Maduro said.

US authorities expand export restrictions for Russia and Belarus

The US Administration made a decision to expand the export restrictions for Russia and Belarus, according to a notification published by the US Department of Commerce in the Federal Register Friday.

"This rule expands license requirements for Russia and Belarus under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to all items on the Commerce Control List (CCL)," the document reads.

The list, published on the US Department of Commerce website, includes hundreds of products, including pipe valves, fertilizers and bearings.

Russia restores air service with 50 more states - Prime Minister

Russia withdraws pandemic-related flight restrictions to 52 more countries, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced.

The federal anti-Covid crisis center informed that Russia withdraws restrictions for regular and charter flights to the following countries: Algeria, Argentina, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Venezuela, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Israel, Indonesia, Jordan, Iraq, Kenya, China, North Korea, Costa Rica, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Mozambique, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar, Namibia, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Serbia, Syria, Thailand, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, Fiji, Philippines, Sir Lanka, Ethiopia, South Africa and Jamaica.

While restrictions for some countries have already been lifted earlier, flights to these destinations were limited with quotas. Air service with the rest is being restored for the first time in two years.

In early March, Russia also mutually lifted flight restrictions with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Iran. Currently, flight restrictions have also been lifted with Belarus, Dominican Republic, Egypt, UAE, Turkey, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, South Korea and Cuba.

Over 133,000 people saved from Mariupol via humanitarian corridor - Russian defense ministry

More than 133,200 people have been evacuated from Mariupol via a humanitarian corridor, including 758 in the past day alone, Mikhail Mizintsev, chief of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, said on Friday.

"A total of 133,214 people have been saved from Mariupol via a humanitarian corridor in the easterly direction. During the past day, 758 people were saved from total lawlessness caused by Ukrainian nationalists in the city," he said.

He noted that most of people who are forcibly kept by nationalists in Ukrainian cities are looking for any possibility to be evacuated to Russia. "Over the past day alone, the Russian side received 917 such requests," he said, adding that the database has 2,742,698 names and addresses from 2,126 settlements in Ukraine.

More than 9,780 tonnes of humanitarian cargoes have already been delivered to Ukraine by the Russian side since early March, Mizintsev said.

"Since March 2, a total of 9,780.3 tonnes of humanitarian cargoes have already been delivered to Ukraine by Russia. As many as 772 humanitarian operations have been conducted, including five during the past day in the Kherson region, and in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. As many as 259 tonnes of food products, clothes, medicines and articles of daily necessity were distributed among people," he said.

According to Mizintsev, more than 9,500 temporary accommodation centers are operating in Russian regions. He also said that some 22,500 tonnes of humanitarian cargoes have been raised in Russia to be dispatched to Ukraine.

Western countries, UN, ICRC do not react to torture, execution of Russian POWs

The Western countries, the UN, the OSCE or the ICRC have not yet reacted to monstrous torture and cruel executions of Russian prisoners of war by the Ukrainian army, head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center Mikhail Mizintsev said.

According to him, the issue of the condition of Russian captured servicemen is the most critical one nowadays.

"The countries of the so-called ‘civilized West,’ the United Nations, the OSCE, the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as other international human rights organizations, displaying complete indifference to humanitarian issues initiated by the Russian Federation, to date, have not reacted in any way to statements by the Russian side about monstrous torture and cruel executions of Russian prisoners of war," said Mizintsev, who heads Russia’s Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine.

He noted that, given multiple facts of the gross violations of the Geneva Convention supported by documents which testify to the inhumane treatment of the Russian prisoners of war, Russia undertakes every effort to give the world real truthful information about the atrocities of the Kiev regime.

"To this end, all reports on the crimes of the Ukrainian army and nationalist battalions are carefully documented and digests are sent to the international organizations, including the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the OSCE and the embassies of foreign countries," the military official emphasized.

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Russian FM: Talks Go On Despite Kiev’s Provocative Actions

Ukraine nationalizes all Russian properties. On Friday, Ukraine's Prime Minister Denis Shmygal announced the nationalization of all Russian property in the country. He said that this measure will serve "to offset the cost of part of the losses that Russia is causing us."

The nationalization process will be possible thanks to a law approved by the Parliament that breaks with the Ukrainian Constitution, which establishes that the forced expropriation of properties can only be applied on the condition of prior and full compensation of its value.

Under the new law, however, Russian assets will be confiscated without compensation or the need for a court ruling. The nationalization only required the decision of the Security Council.

"The Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine has initiated the nationalization of 400 railcars owned by Russian and Belarusian companies," reported Railway Supply magazine. 

Russia denies responsibility for the missile strike at the Kramatorsk railway station. According to According to the Russian military, the strike was carried out by a Ukrainian missile division from the Dobropillya area.

"The Kyiv regime tried to prevent the mass departure of residents from the city in order to use them as a 'human shield' to defend the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as in many other settlements of Ukraine, the military department said, "as reported by Sputnik.

Japan to impose fresh bans, asset freezes on Russia. On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that his country will impose additional sanctions on Russia, banning imports of coal and vodka, freezing assets held by major lenders Sberbank and Alfa Bank while halting new investments.

The five-point sanctions list is part of Japan's latest measures to add economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia. The Japanese government plans to expand the number of individuals subject to Japan's asset freezes from 400 to around 550. Japan will also expel eight Russians including diplomats.

Attack on Kramatorsk train station leaves 39 dead. Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kirilenko announced that the attack on the Ukrainian train station in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, left at least 39 dead and 87 wounded. Apparently the station was attacked by Russian forces with "Tochka-U" missiles.

Von der Leyen and Borrell arrive in Kyiv. On Friday, the European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell, and Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger arrived in Kyiv on a visit to see the situation first hand.

They will meet with Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, and other top officials. They are also scheduled to visit Bucha City, where the bodies of civilians were found, some handcuffed and with signs of torture.

The EU officials' trip comes after the approval on Thursday night of the fifth package of European sanctions against Russia, which includes a ban on importing Russian coal, an arms embargo on Russia, and the closure of high-tech exports to Russia.

Prime Minister Heger will propose to Zelensky the departure of Ukrainian wheat by train through Kosice, a Slovak city near the Ukrainian and Hungarian borders.

Lviv constructs container town for fleeing Ukrainians. On Friday, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said that the city of Lviv started to construct a container town for people who fled conflict-affected areas in other parts of the country. After being completed, the settlement comprising 70 containers with furniture, electricity and heat would accommodate up to 350 people.

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