The leader of a Kremlin-backed separatist group in Ukraine’s Donbas region seeks cooperation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid signals the reclusive Asian country is considering sending workers to help rebuild the areas occupied by Russia.
Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin expressed hope that the province and North Korea could achieve “equally beneficial bilateral cooperation in accordance with the interests” of their people, the Central Intelligence Agency said on Wednesday. official press of North Korea.
Only three countries – Russia, Syria and North Korea – have recognized the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, the oblasts that make up the eastern region of Donbass. North Korea is also said to have cooperation talks with Lugansk.
The United States has said that North Korean workers working in Russian-occupied territory would undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty. Furthermore, the notion would run counter to UN Security Council sanctions.
North Korea blamed the United States for the Ukraine crisis, saying the West’s “hegemonic policy” justified Russian force to protect itself.
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►Three people were injured in a Russian missile attack in the Odessa region, a crucial Black Sea location from where Ukrainian ships carrying grain were launched, the spokesman said regional administration Serhiy Bratchuk on Telegram.
►The Ukrainian General Staff reported that 44,100 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24. Russia also lost 1,886 tanks, 4,162 armored fighting vehicles, 792 drones and 233 aircraft, the general staff said.
►Russian occupiers kidnapped Mayor Svitlana Korotun of Verkhny Rohachyk, a village community in the Ukrainian province of Kherson, in northern Crimea. Yury Sobolevsky, first deputy speaker of the regional legislature, said Wednesday that Korotun was taken from her home to an unknown location because she refused to cooperate with the Russians.
►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged Ukrainians to avoid military bases and Russian army ammunition storage facilities amid daily reports of explosions in Russian-occupied areas.
Ukrainian commander concerned about Russian attack from airbase in Belarus
The growing presence of Russian missiles at a Belarusian airfield 15 miles from Ukraine’s northern border is a “cause of concern,” said Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces.
Ukraine is already engaged in a bitter struggle with the Russian invaders for the eastern region of Donbass while trying to recover lost territory in the south. Defending a third flank could expand its capabilities at a time when the Kremlin may seek revenge for this month’s explosions on military targets in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the explosions, but an unnamed Ukrainian official told The New York Times that military and secret operators were behind them.
Belarus has been a staunch ally of Russia in the war and a staging ground for attacks. Zaluzhnyi pointed to the buildup at Zyabrovka airfield as particularly worrying.
Anton Geraschenko, who advises the Ukrainian interior minister, said in a tweet on Wednesday that “Russia is concentrating a large number of surface-to-air missile systems in Belarus near the Ukrainian border”.
Russian army recruits mercenaries from Central Asia to fight in Ukraine
The leadership of the Russian military aims to recruit mercenaries from Central Asian countries to counter the lack of Russian citizens ready to fight, the Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine said.
“In order to at least partially preserve the possibility of forming new reserves, the Kremlin leadership is increasingly trying to to attract foreign citizens to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” a translated Telegram message read.
Meanwhile, four battalions trained in Chechnya would prepare to fight in Ukraine. The groups are mainly made up of young local men abducted by Chechen security forces who are threatened with imprisonment if they do not take part in the war, the Channel 5 news channel reported.
Freezing the war in Ukraine is not possible, says Defense Minister
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said he did not believe it would be possible to “freeze” hostilities in Ukraine, a notion similar to what happened when Russia occupied Donbass in 2014 and that Moscow-backed separatist groups have maintained a long-running conflict with Ukraine. forces.
“The activity reduction option is possible, depending on the season. Modern warfare is a resource war. Resources, of course, are running out on both sides and therefore each side needs time to recover,” Reznikov told Voice of America in an interview that also touched on explosions at Russian military installations in Crimea this month.
Reznikov said he does not foresee a cessation of the conflict “because it is not a conflict. It’s a war. A war for survival. And we will defend ourselves, to survive.
Contribute: The Associated Press