Zelenskyy vows to bolster marine corps – DW – 05/24/2023

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday that Kyiv is planning to reinforce its marine brigades.

“New marine brigades will be added to our existing units, and we will provide them with modern weapons and equipment,” he said in his nightly video address.

Ukraine’s “key task” was “to bolster our defense, to increase the capabilities of our warriors and our country as a whole,” he said.

Zelenskyy made the comments after visiting front-line positions near the towns of Vuhledar and Maryinka in the Donetsk region.

He presented awards to dozens of soldiers on the national Day of the Ukrainian Marines.

Here are some of the other developments concerning Russia’s war in Ukraine on Wednesday, May 24:

Russia ‘struggled to enforce discipline’ in military — UK 

The British Defense Ministry said in its regular intelligence update that the number of Russian deserters in the war against Ukraine has recently increased significantly.

Citing “credible research by independent Russian journalists,” the report said Russian military courts dealt with 1,053 cases of military personnel going absent without leave (AWOL) between January and May 2023, more than during the whole of 2022.

“Russia’s military has struggled to enforce discipline in its ranks throughout its operations in Ukraine,” the report said, adding that the situation likely worsened for Russia after last year’s forced mobilization of reservists.

Those who have gone AWOL have likely been handed suspended sentences so they could be redeployed in the war, the report said, citing court data. 

“Russia’s efforts to improve discipline have focused on making examples of defaulters, and promoting patriotic zeal, rather than addressing the root causes of soldiers’ disillusionment.”

Russia makes it harder to avoid conscription

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Prigozhin: Russian elite shielding from war could trigger unrest

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian private military company Wagner, warned that Russia could face a revolution if Moscow’s elite did not get “serious” about the war, according to a report by Reuters news agency. 

“Most likely of all, this scenario will not be good for Russia so we need to prepare for an arduous war,” he said in an interview cited by Reuters. 

“We are in such a condition that we could […] lose Russia — that is the main problem… We need to impose martial law.”

Prigozhin said the Russian elite were protecting their children from fighting in the war while ordinary Russians were on the frontline, possibly triggering turmoil in Russia. 

Belgorod under drone attack again, governor claims 

Belgorod has once again come under drone attack, according to the governor of the Russian region close to the Ukraine border. 

Vyacheslav Gladkov reported on his Telegram channel that no one was injured after an explosive was dropped. 

Russia said Tuesday it had quashed an attack by Ukrainian saboteurs on the region, following a 24-hour battle that left 70 people dead. Kyiv denied any involvement.  

The US said it does not “encourage or enable attacks inside Russia.” State department spokesperson Matthew Miller told a press briefing, however, that as Russia was the aggressor, the US would “leave it to our Ukrainian partners to decide how to conduct this war.” 

Miller also said Washington was “skeptical” about reports that US-supplied weapons had been deployed during the attack on Belgorod.  

Russia claims to ‘eliminate’ cross-border attackers

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Russian jet intercepts two US bombers over Baltic — Russian media

A Russian military jet was dispatched to intercept two US bombers that were flying over the Baltic Sea, Russian news agencies TASS and Interfax reported citing military sources.

The Pentagon said that the aircraft was part of a long-planned exercise in Europe.

A US Defense Department spokesperson said that the interaction with the crew of the Russian aircraft was “safe and professional.”

The two Russian Su-27 jets took off after two US supersonic B-1B bombers approached Russian airspace, according to Russian media.

Very few Russian conscientious objectors have received asylum in Germany — report

Only 55 Russian conscientious objectors have received asylum so far in Germany, the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reports.

Germany has received just under 2,500 asylum requests from Russian conscientious objectors. Eighty-eight applications have been denied.

Some 671 requests were resolved either by being transferred to another country under the EU’s Dublin procedure or due to withdrawal by the applicant.

A total of 1,671 applications are still pending.

Jan Korte, lawmaker for the Left party, criticized the small intake of men refusing military service.

“If well over 100,000 men of military age leave Russia and refuse Putin’s war, but only 55 of them find official protection in Germany, something is going terribly wrong.”

He accused Germany’s government of being “cynical” and “pursuing the decimation of Putin’s army by supplying arms, but not by supporting desertion and conscientious objection.”

More DW content on Russia’s war in Ukraine

Despite rocket fire and power outages, the music scene in Kyiv remains active. Ukrainian bands are playing across Europe, too, to raise funds for Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin has admitted to leading the Wagner Group of mercenaries and a massive internet troll farm. But is he a threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin, or is he just doing what the Kremlin leader wants?

Ukrainians are fighting for the right to decide their own future. And yet, part of that future is already in Russian hands. DW’s Max Zander investigated how Russia is allegedly deporting Ukrainian children, and how some parents are getting them back. Watch the report below.

Getting Ukrainian children back from Russia

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fb, sdi/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

2023-05-24 03:36:01