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Ukraine war briefing: US and most EU countries to boycott Putin swearing-in ceremony


US spokesperson says no envoy will attend because Russian president’s election was not ‘free and fair’. What we know on day 804

The US and most EU nations will boycott a Kremlin ceremony to swear in Vladimir Putin for a new six-year term as president on Tuesday, but France and some other EU states were expected to send an envoy despite a plea by Kyiv. “No, we will not have a representative at his inauguration,” Matthew Miller, a US state department spokesperson, said. “We certainly did not consider that election free and fair but he is the president of Russia and he is going to continue in that capacity.”

Russia threatened to strike British military facilities and ordered its military to hold battlefield nuclear weapons drills in a move the Kremlin described as a response to comments from the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and from the British foreign secretary, David Cameron. Macron has said he would “not rule out” the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and Cameron said it was up to Kyiv how it used British weapons, including against targets inside of Russia.

French president Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen pressed Chinese leader Xi Jinping at a summit in Paris on Monday to use Beijing’s influence to halt the Russian war against Ukraine. Europe is concerned that while officially neutral over the Ukraine conflict, China is essentially backing Russia, which is using Chinese machine tools in arms production. “More effort is needed to curtail delivery of dual use goods to Russia that find their way to the battlefield,” von der Leyen said after talks, adding that “this does affect EU-China relations”.

Russian forces have taken control of the settlements of Soloviove in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region and Kotliarivka farther north in the Kharkiv region, the defence ministry said on Monday. Ukraine’s military made no mention of either locality in its evening General Staff report.

The Ukrainian weightlifter Oleksandr Pielieshenko, who finished fourth in the 85kg light-heavyweight category at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, has been killed defending his country. The news was confirmed by the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, who said Pielieshenko died during combat operations on Sunday. He had joined up in the first few days of the Russian invasion in 2022.

A Russian journalist who has worked for both state-funded and independent media was detained Monday and faces charges of justifying terrorism through posts on the Telegram messaging app, her lawyer said. Nadezhda Kevorkova is expected to appear in court on Tuesday, her lawyer Kaloy Akhilgov said on Telegram. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Akhilgov said the charges involve two posts, one in 2018 and the other in 2021.

An American soldier was detained in Russia last week on charges of “criminal misconduct,” the US army said Monday. The soldier – whose name was not released – adds to the number of Americans held in Russia at a time of deep tensions with Washington over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has written columns as a contributor for The Washington Post from his prison cell in Russia, won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. The Russian politician, author and historian has been imprisoned in Russia since April 2022. He was convicted of treason last year for denouncing the war in Ukraine.

Poland’s government said Monday it was financing the operation of 20,000 Starlink internet devices in Ukraine – an essential network for the country’s military communications as it fights off Russia’s invasion. Starlink, owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that can provide internet to remote locations, or areas that have had normal communications infrastructure disabled.

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