US ambassador visits arrested journalist Wall Street Journal

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In this live blog you can read the most important developments surrounding the war in Ukraine.

US Ambassador visits Evan Gershkovich

The United States Ambassador to Russia today visited American journalist Evan Gershkovich. According to the ambassador, she found Gershkovich in good health.

The embassy announced the visit on Twitter:

Gershkovich, 31, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, was arrested in Yekaterinburg last month. According to the Russian security service FSB, he is guilty of espionage for the US government by gathering information about a weapons factory. Both he, his employer and the US government deny the accusation. The arrest sparked protests and concern worldwide. Gershkovich is in custody.

The court has announced that Gershkovich must remain in custody for at least two months. According to the Kremlin, a possible prisoner exchange is only possible after the court has ruled. It is unclear when that will happen. In similar cases, this sometimes took longer than a year.

Gershkovich is in Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison (photo from late March)

Ukraine: No Chinese weapons found on the battlefield

Ukraine has not found any Chinese weapons used by Russia on the battlefield. That is what the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, said in an interview with a Ukrainian TV channel.

If that does happen, Ukraine will announce it immediately. Danilov referred to the Iranian kamikaze drones deployed by Russian troops in Ukraine. Ukraine immediately announced this to the world. Western allies then announced the delivery of advanced anti-aircraft systems.

Yesterday, China’s Defense Minister visited Russian President Putin. President Xi was also recently in Moscow. Ukrainian President Zelensky has asked Xi to come to Kiev, but there are no signs of a visit from Xi soon. The Chinese leader has not spoken to Zelensky after the Russian raid on Ukraine.

Kara-Moerza conviction leads to worldwide disapproval

Political leaders around the world have reacted with horror to the conviction of Kara-Moerza, the Russian opposition leader who was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for spreading misinformation and high treason.

A United States spokesman called Kara-Moerza “another victim of increasing repression by the Russian government” and urged the release of the opposition leader in his response. He also asked for the release of 400 other political prisoners in Russia.

The European Union speaks of an “excessively high sentence” and accuses Russia of abuse of power “to put pressure on activists and all opponents of the illegal war against Ukraine”. The United Kingdom, Germany and France also express their disgust at the conviction.

Slovakia also temporarily stops importing grain from Ukraine

Slovakia also temporarily suspends the import of Ukrainian grain, among other things. Earlier, Poland and Hungary did the same after protests from Polish and Hungarian farmers. They are afraid that they will no longer be able to sell their products at a reasonable price due to an overabundance of Ukrainian grain on the market.

Due to the war with Russia, it is no longer possible for Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea. That is why the European Union created a number of ‘solidarity corridors’ through which Ukrainian products could still be exported to countries outside Europe via Poland and Hungary. In this way, the products would not compete with local farmers, but that did not always work out in practice.

The European Commission expressed its dissatisfaction with the measures taken by Poland and Hungary last week, calling them “unacceptable”. A meeting is scheduled for later this week in Brussels to discuss the situation in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

Russian opposition leader Kara-Murza sentenced to 25 years in prison

Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for spreading false information about the Russian army and high treason. It is one of the longest sentences ever imposed on a political opponent of President Putin.

Kara-Moerza is one of the best-known opposition figures in Russia and survived two poisoning attempts. He was arrested in Russia in April last year for a speech he had given a month earlier in the parliament of the US state of Arizona. In it he had criticized the Russian army in Ukraine. Not long before, a new Russian law had entered into force that made it a criminal offense to spread “misinformation” about the Russian army.

Kara-Moerza refused to ask the court to acquit him yesterday, saying he still stands by his verdicts.

Vladimir Kara-Murza at a hearing last October

Thirteen Slovak fighter jets now all in Ukraine

All thirteen fighter jets that Slovakia promised to Ukraine have arrived at their destination. Last month, the first MiG-29 fighter jets arrived in Ukraine and this second delivery completes the promised number of Slovak fighter jets.

In addition to Slovakia, Poland also supplies fighter jets to the Ukrainian armed forces. Warsaw has so far delivered eight MiG-29s and has pledged at least another six fighter jets.

Because the Ukrainian army has been using this type of fighter jet for some time, additional training is not necessary. The combat aircraft can be deployed immediately.

‘Dutch soldier in Ukraine collects intelligence’

According to De Telegraaf, the Dutch soldier who would be active in Ukraine collects intelligence there. The newspaper relies on anonymous sources around the Corps Command Troops.

The presence of Western special forces in Ukraine, including a soldier from the Netherlands, was recently publicized through the Pentagon leak. The Department of Defense is not responding to questions about the leak. But according to the newspaper, the soldier in question belongs to a newly established company.

The soldier is referred to as a ‘liaison officer’, who is involved in, among other things, Dutch arms deliveries to Ukraine. He would also gather intelligence as part of 102 Company. This unit is described as a special reconnaissance unit; the members are trained to blend in with their surroundings.

The possible presence of NATO troops in Ukraine is extremely sensitive. The West claims that it only supplies Ukraine with equipment and ammunition and that it trains Ukrainian soldiers abroad, but that there are no units in the country.

  • Are Western special forces in Ukraine? ‘There are strange things in leaked document’

Ukrainian Defense Minister: ‘Fewer deaths than in Turkey earthquake’

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksij Reznikov has given an indication of the magnitude of the losses on the Ukrainian side since the outbreak of war with Russia. Reznikov told Spanish newspaper La Razón that he “cannot give an exact figure, but I assure you it is lower than the death toll in the Turkey earthquake”. More than 50,000 people died in that earthquake.

Ukraine has so far made no official statement on the number of dead and injured: only estimates exist. Russia also does not provide figures on its own victims. According to Ukraine, an estimated 182,000 Russian soldiers were killed.

CBS: war in Ukraine has hardly any impact on Dutch oil consumption

The war in Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions against Russia have had little effect on oil consumption in the Netherlands. This has been established by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of figures for 2022.

According to Statistics Netherlands, the refinery sector in our country processed almost as much oil last year as in 2021. The consumption of petrol, diesel and LPG (autogas) fell by only 1 percent. One of the reasons for the small decline is that sanctions on imports of Russian oil products only came into effect in December last year or February this year.

It is also true that Russian oil was simply replaced by oil from other countries. At the end of last year, for example, more oil came in from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kazakhstan to compensate for the loss of Russian oil.


Welcome to this week’s live blog about developments in Ukraine. Last week’s blog can be read here.

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