Vice-President of the European Parliament Nicola Beer has met Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her hotel suite in Brussels recently. During the meeting, both sides underscored the urgency to end conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. Also read: PM Hasina highlights AL’s struggles to restore democracy in Bangladesh during discussion with European Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen The Prime Minister stated Bangladesh’s position against wars anywhere in the world, highlighting that women and children suffer the most in wars and conflicts. The European Parliament’s Vice-President underscored closer cooperation between the European Parliament and Bangladesh Parliament, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday (October 26, 2023). Also read: Bangladesh can support EU’s efforts to diversify production of pharmaceuticals, vaccines: PM tells EIB President Both sides also discussed women’s empowerment, particularly in politics, education and workforce.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (September 13, 2023) told the parliament that the Bangladesh’s food security remains protected even amid the ongoing international crisis. “Bangladesh has successfully faced Covid-19 pandemic. The food security remains protected in the country amid the current international crisis as well,” she said. The premier made the remarks while replying to a question from Awami League lawmaker Md Shahiduzzaman Sarkar (Naogaon-2). Earlier, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhry presented the question-answer session at the beginning of the day’s business. Despite move to rein in price hike, food inflation rose to 12.54 percent in August: BBS The PM said Bangladesh has already attained food autarky. “The government has been working intensively to maintain our (food) self-sufficiency,” she said. She said the crisis has been created in the global supply chain of different commodities including foods following the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. “In this situation, the government has regularly been taking various steps on national and international levels to ensure food security by facing this crisis,” said Hasina. She said Bangladesh has successfully attained the food autarky thanks to agricultural research, extension, continuous materials support and policy support in the agriculture sector. “Bangladesh has now become a role model on the global stage in case of food security,” she said. Dhaka finds Russian agri commodities competitive on price, but payment issues linger She said the country’s food grains production was 328.96 lakh metric tons in 2008-09 fiscal year, which went up to 477.68 lakh metric tons in 2022-23 fiscal year. Efforts to continue for recognition of 1971 genocide: PM In reply another question from Awami League lawmaker Anwer Hossain Khan (Laxmipur-1), the prime minister said many countries demanded the recognition of genocide committed in their respective countries as International Genocide Day. Later, the United Nations General Assembly on September 11, 2015 adopted a resolution through discussion to observe December 9 as the International Day for the Prevention of Genocide. “Since December 9 has been observed as the International Day for the Prevention of Genocide, the proposal to observe another International Day on the same issue would not be rational,” she said. She, however, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs and the Liberation War Museum and some members of the martyrs' families are making efforts to achieve international recognition of the genocide taken place in Bangladesh in 1971. The leader of the House said individuals and organizations working on the genocide are also working to attain the recognition of the genocide. She said international recognition of the 1971 genocide taken place in Bangladesh is as complex and time-consuming as any other genocide in the world. However, it would be easy to get international recognition of genocide by creating the global public opinion in favor of recognizing the genocide committed in Bangladesh. “Efforts will continue on the part of the government in this regard,” she said. Onion prices cross Tk 100 per kg in Dhaka after India imposes extra duty 854km highways made four-lane, 1,131 bridges constructed since 2009: PM Some 854 kilometers of highways have been upgraded to four-lane ones, while 11,434 kilometers of highways have been developed and construction of 1,131 bridges (123,254 meters) has been completed through 431 projects under the Department of Roads And Highways during the three terms of the present government from 2009 to 2023, said the Prime Minister replying to a question of Jatiya Party lawmaker Hafiz Uddin Ahmed (Thakurgaon-3). In the current financial year, she said the works are underway to upgrade some 574km of highways to 4-lane ones, develop 4,634km of highway and construct 750 bridges (64,844 meters) under 131 projects. Sheikh Hasina said the highway development projects completed during her three consecutive tenures from 2009 to June 2023 includes Up-gradation of Dhaka-Chattogram National Highway to 4-lane (Daudkandi-Chattogram Section) project, Joydebpur-Mymensingh Highway Development Project, Joydevpur-Chandra-Tangail-Elenga Highway Project with service lanes on both sides; Jatrabari Intersection-Mawa section of Dhaka- Khulna (N-8) Highway (including Ekuria-Babubazar link road). Read more: Despite move to rein in price hike, food inflation rose to 12.54 percent in August: BBS Among the bridges constructed in the three terms of the government were 2nd Kanchpur Bridge, Meghna Bridge, Gomti Bridge, Payra Bridge (Lebukhali Setu) over Payra River on Barisal-Patuakhali highway and Madhumati Bridge constructed over Madhumati River under Cross-Border Road Network Improvement Project (Bangladesh), she added. Proposed investment in economic zones rose to US$ 26 billion: Answering a question from AL lawmaker Md. Mamunur Rashid Kiron (Noakhali-3), the Leader of the House said that the overall proposed investment in the economic zone has now reached USD 26 billion. Besides, 41 companies have started commercial production and 50 industries are under construction in different zones, she said, adding that these industries have produced products worth USD 14.8 billion and exported products worth USD 291 million, creating 50,000 jobs in these industries. Read more: Half of Boro paddy procurement target not achieved yet, Food Minister tells JS
Russian forces fired cruise missiles at the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa overnight and shelling destroyed homes in the eastern Donetsk region early Wednesday, killing at least six people and injuring more than a dozen others, regional officials said. A Ukrainian military spokesman said Russian forces have stepped up aerial strikes in their more than 15-month war against Ukraine, just as the country's troops have reported limited gains in an early counteroffensive. Also Read: Ukraine recaptures village as Russian forces hold other lines, fire on fleeing civilians elsewhere In the east, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram that at least three people died after shelling destroyed seven homes and damaged dozens more in the cities of Kramatorsk and Konstantinovka. In Odesa, three employees of a food warehouse were killed and seven others injured in a strike that damaged homes, a warehouse, shops and cafes downtown, he regional administration said on Facebook. Another six people — guards and residents of a neighboring house — were injured. Searchers were looking for possible survivors under the rubble, it said. Also Read: Ukraine's dam collapse is both a fast-moving disaster and a slow-moving ecological catastrophe The attack on the port city, launched from the Black Sea, involved four Kalibr cruise missiles, three of which were intercepted by air defenses, the administration said. Andriy Kovalov, a spokesperson for Ukraine's General Staff, said Russian forces have increased missile and aerial strikes on Ukraine. In a briefing, he said strikes on the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Kirovohrad regions, in addition to the Odesa region, involved Kh-22 cruise missiles, sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles, and Iranian-made Shahed drones. Nine were intercepted. Kovalov said Ukrainian forces made advances on several fronts of the roughly 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line, and fighting was continuing in or near at least two settlements in the eastern Donetsk region. Russia has occupied and controls nearly one-fifth of Ukrainian territory. Also Read: Top UN court allows a record 32 countries to intervene in Ukraine's genocide case against Russia Britain's Ministry of Defense, which has regularly issued updates on the conflict, wrote on Twitter that southern Ukraine "has often been more permissible for Russian air operations" compared with other parts of the front. Separately, the mayor of the central city of Kryvyi Rih, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown, said the death toll from a Russian strike a day earlier that hit an apartment building had risen to 12.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (May 31, 2023) said that the government is making every effort to keep Bangladesh's economy alive despite the global economic recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war. The prime minister said this while responding to a tabled question of Awami League MP elected from Chattogram MA Latif for PM’s question-answer session. She said the government has been able to quickly bring the country's economy to the pre-Covid high growth trend dealing with the recession, inflation and instability in the global economy caused by the pandemic and the war. Read more: President Erdogan and PM Hasina vow to take Dhaka-Ankara ties to new height “Amid the crisis over Covid, our growth in the financial year 2019-20 was 3.45 percent which was one of the highest in the world for that period,” she claimed. She said that due to the various steps taken by the government to boost the economy, the GDP growth in the financial year 2020-21 increased by 6.94 percent. “It further increased to 7.10 percent in FY 2021-22.” Hasina also highlighted various measures taken by the government to keep the economy of the government alive. Read more: PM calls for more Swedish investment as H&M boss calls on her These included government expenditure rationalisation, social protection, subsidies in electricity, energy and agriculture sectors, export incentives, rise in remittance inflow, monetary policy etc, she said. In response to the question of Jatiya Party MP elected from Dhaka Syed Abu Hossain, the prime minister highlighted the various steps taken by the government to control the prices of daily commodities and said as a result of the government's activities, it has been possible to control the prices of essentials and the poor people are benefiting from it. In response to the question of Jatiya Party MP elected from Pirojpur Rustam Ali Farazi, the she said that it will be possible to start rail traffic on the Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga section of the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project by September 2023 and the Jessore section from June 2024. Read more: Work together to regain lost glory in science and technology: PM Hasina to Muslim community In response to reserved seat MP Kha Mamata Lovely's question, the prime minister said that 555,134 families have been rehabilitated through the Ashrayan project.
Russian air defenses stopped eight drones converging on Moscow, officials said Tuesday, in an attack that authorities blamed on Ukraine, while Russia pursued its relentless bombardment of Kyiv with a third assault on the city in 24 hours. The Russian defense ministry said five drones were shot down and the systems of three others were jammed, causing them to veer off course. It called the incident a "terrorist attack" by the "Kyiv regime." The attack caused "insignificant damage" to several buildings, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said. Two people received medical attention for unspecified injuries but did not need hospitalization, he said in a Telegram post. Residents of two high-rise buildings damaged in the attack were evacuated, Sobyanin said. Andrei Vorobyov, governor of the wider Moscow region, said some of the drones were "shot down on the approach to Moscow." Ukraine made no immediate comment on the attack, which would be one of its deepest and most daring strikes into Russia since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than 15 months ago. The attacks have raised questions about the effectiveness of Russia's air defense systems. A senior Russian lawmaker, Andrei Kartapolov, told Russian business news site RBC that "we have a very big country and there will always be a loophole where the drone can fly around the areas where air defense systems are located." Kartapolov said the purpose of the attacks was to unnerve the Russian people. "It's an intimidation act aimed at the civilian population," RBC quoted him as saying. "It's designed to create a wave of panic." Moscow residents reported hearing explosions before dawn. Police were seen working at one site of a crashed drone in southwest Moscow. An area near a residential building was fenced off, and police put the drone debris in a cardboard box before carrying it away. At another site, apartment windows were shattered and there were scorch marks on the building's front. It was the second reported attack on Moscow. Russian authorities said two drones targeted the Kremlin earlier this month in what they portrayed as an attempt on President Vladimir Putin's life. Ukrainian drones have reportedly flown deep into Russia several times. In December, Russia claimed it had shot down drones at airfields in the Saratov and Ryazan regions. Three soldiers were reported killed in the attack in Saratov, which targeted an important military airfield. Earlier, Russia reported shooting down a Ukrainian drone that targeted the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol in Russia-annexed Crimea. In Ukraine, Russia launched a pre-dawn air raid on Kyiv, killing at least one person and sending the capital's residents again scrambling into shelters. At least 20 Shahed explosive drones were destroyed by air defense forces in Kyiv's airspace in Russia's third attack on the capital in the past 24 hours, according to early information from the Kyiv Military Administration. Overall, Ukraine shot down 29 of 31 drones fired into the country, most in the Kyiv area, the air force later added. Before daylight, the buzzing of drones could be heard over the city, followed by loud explosions as they were taken down by air defense systems. In the overnight attacks on Kyiv, one person died and seven were injured, according to the municipal military administration. A high-rise building in the Holosiiv district caught fire after being hit by debris either from from drones being hit or interceptor missiles. The building's upper two floors were destroyed, and there may be people under the rubble, the Kyiv Military Administration said. More than 20 people were evacuated. Resident Valeriya Oreshko told The Associated Press in the aftermath that even though the immediate threat was over, the attacks had everyone on edge. "You are happy that you are alive, but think about what will happen next," the 39-year-old said. A resident who gave only her first name, Oksana, said the whole building shook when it was hit. "Go to shelters, because you really do not know where it (the drone) will fly," she advised others. "We hold on." Elsewhere in the capital, falling debris caused a fire in a private house in Darnytskyi district and three cars were set alight in Pechersky district, according to the military administration. The series of attacks that began Sunday included a rare daylight attack Monday that left puffs of white smoke in the blue skies. On that day, Russian forces fired 11 ballistic and cruise missiles at Kyiv at about 11:30 a.m., according to Ukraine's chief of staff, Valerii Zaluzhnyi. All of them were shot down, he said. Debris from intercepted missiles fell in Kyiv's central and northern districts during the morning, landing in the middle of traffic on a city road and also starting a fire on the roof of a building, the Kyiv military administration said. At least one civilian was reported hurt. The Russian Defense Ministry said it launched a series of strikes early Monday targeting Ukrainian air bases with precision long-range air-launched missiles. It claimed the strikes destroyed command posts, radars, aircraft and ammunition stockpiles, but didn't say anything about hitting cities or other civilian areas.
Ukraine's capital was subjected to the largest drone attack since the start of Russia's war, local officials said, as Kyiv prepared to mark the anniversary of its founding on Sunday (May 28, 2023). At least one person was killed. Russia launched the "most massive attack" on the city overnight Saturday with Iranian-made Shahed drones, said Serhii Popko, a senior Kyiv military official. The attack lasted more than five hours, with air defense reportedly shooting down more than 40 drones. A 41-year-old man was killed and a 35-year-old woman was hospitalized when debris fell on a seven-story nonresidential building and started a fire, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. Ukraine's air force said that Saturday night was also record-breaking in terms of Shahed drone attacks across the country. Of the 54 drones launched, 52 were shot down by air defense systems. Read more: Russian prime minister says pressure from West is strengthening ties with China In the northeastern Kharkiv province, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said a 61-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man were killed in two separate shelling attacks. Kyiv Day marks the anniversary of Kyiv's official founding. The day is usually celebrated with live concerts, street fairs, exhibitions and fireworks. Scaled-back festivities were planned for this year, the city's 1,541st anniversary. The timing of the drone attacks was likely not coincidental, Ukrainian officials said. "The history of Ukraine is a long-standing irritant for the insecure Russians," Ukraine's chief presidential aide, Andriy Yermak, said on Telegram. Read more: The cyber gulag: How Russia tracks, censors and controls its citizens "Today, the enemy decided to 'congratulate' the people of Kyiv on Kyiv Day with the help of their deadly UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)," Popko also wrote on the messaging app. Local officials in Russia's southern Krasnodar region said that air defense systems destroyed several drones as they approached the Ilsky oil refinery. Drone attacks against Russian border regions have been a regular occurrence since the start of the invasion in February 2022, with attacks increasing last month. Earlier this month, an oil refinery in Krasnodar was attacked by drones on two straight days. Read more: Russia fights alleged incursion from Ukraine for 2nd day, reports more drone attacks
Russian troops and security forces fought for a second day Tuesday against an alleged cross-border raid that Moscow blamed on Ukrainian military saboteurs but which Kyiv portrayed as an uprising against the Kremlin by Russian partisans. Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region on the Ukraine border, said forces continued to sweep the rural area around the town of Graivoron, where the alleged attack on Monday took place. Ten civilians were wounded in the attack, he said, and one died during evacuation. Gladkov urged residents of the area who evacuated on Monday to stay put and not come back to their homes just yet. "We will let you know immediately ... when it is safe," Gladkov said. "Security agencies are carrying out all the necessary actions. We're waiting for the counterterrorism operation to be over." Also Read: Russia alleges border incursion by Ukrainian saboteurs; Kyiv claims they are disgruntled Russians It was impossible to independently verify who was behind the attack or what its aims were, and disinformation has been one of the weapons of the almost 15-month war. While it is not the first time Russia has alleged an incursion by Ukrainian saboteurs, it is the first time the operation to counter the raid has continued for a second day, highlighting the struggles Moscow is facing amid its bogged-down invasion of Ukraine and embarrassing the Kremlin. The British Defense Ministry said Russian security forces "highly likely" clashed with partisans in at least three locations within Belgorod. "Russia is facing an increasingly serious multi-domain security threat in its border regions, with losses of combat aircraft, improvised explosive device attacks on rail lines, and now direct partisan action," it said in a tweet on Tuesday. In addition to the alleged incursion, Gladkov reported multiple drone attacks on Graivoron and other settlements of the Belgorod region on Monday night. The attacks resulted in no casualties, but damaged buildings and caused a fire. On Tuesday morning, two more drones were shot down by the region's air defense systems. Also Read: New sanctions: How effective are they in stopping Russia's invasion of Ukraine? According to Gladkov, an elderly woman died during evacuation, and two more people were wounded "in the settlements the enemy entered." That brought the total number of those wounded during the attack to 10. Gladkov first reported on Monday afternoon that a Ukrainian Armed Forces saboteur group entered Graivoron, a town about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the border with Ukraine. The town also came under Ukrainian artillery fire, he said. He later announced a counterterrorist operation in the area, and said that authorities were imposing special controls, including personal document checks, and stopping the work of companies that use "explosives, radioactive, chemically and biologically hazardous substances." Ukrainian officials blamed the incident on Russian guerrilla groups bent on changes at the Kremlin. Ukraine intelligence representative Andrii Cherniak said Russian citizens belonging to murky groups calling themselves the Russian Volunteer Corps and the "Freedom of Russia" Legion were behind the assault. Also Read: ‘Exhaust them’: Why Ukraine has fought Russia for every inch of Bakhmut, despite high cost The Russian Volunteer Corps claimed in a Telegram post it had crossed the border into Russia again, after claiming to have breached the border in early March. The Russian Volunteer Corps describes itself as "a volunteer formation fighting on Ukraine's side." Little is known about the group, and it is not clear if it has any ties with the Ukrainian military. The same is true for the "Freedom of Russia" Legion. The Belgorod region in southwest Russia, just like its neighboring Bryansk region and several others, has witnessed sporadic spillover from the 15-month war, with its border towns and villages regularly coming under shelling and drone attacks.
The nine-month battle for Bakhmut has destroyed the 400-year-old city in eastern Ukraine and killed tens of thousands of people in a mutually devastating demonstration of Ukraine's strategy of exhausting the Russian military. The fog of war made it impossible to confirm the situation on the ground Sunday in the invasion's longest battle: Russia's defense ministry reported that the Wagner private army backed by Russian troops had seized the city. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meanwhile, said Bakhmut was not being fully occupied by Russian forces. Regardless, the small city has long had more symbolic than strategic value for both sides. The more meaningful gauge of success for Ukrainian forces has been their ability to keep the Russians bogged down. The Ukrainian military has aimed to deplete the resources and morale of Russian troops in the tiny but tactical patch of the 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) front line as Ukraine gears up for a major counteroffensive in the 15-month-old war. "Despite the fact that we now control a small part of Bakhmut, the importance of its defense does not lose its relevance," said Col.-Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the Commander of Ground Forces for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. "This gives us the opportunity to enter the city in case of a change in the situation. And it will definitely happen." Also Read: Ukraine says troops still engaging Russian forces in Bakhmut after Moscow announces victory in city About 55 kilometers (34 miles) north of the Russian-held regional capital of Donetsk, Bakhmut was an important industrial center, surrounded by salt and gypsum mines and home to about 80,000 people before the war, in a country of more than 43 million. The city, named Artyomovsk after a Bolshevik revolutionary when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, was known for its sparkling wine produced in underground caves. It was popular among tourists for its broad tree-lined avenues, lush parks and stately downtown with imposing late 19th century mansions. All are now reduced to a smoldering wasteland. Fought over so fiercely by Russia and Ukraine in recent months has been the urban center itself, where Ukrainian commanders have conceded that Moscow controlled more than 90%. But even now, Ukrainian forces are making significant advances near strategic roads through the countryside just outside, chipping away at Russia's northern and southern flanks by the meter (yard) with the aim of encircling Wagner fighters inside the city. Also Read: Ukraine’s Zelenskyy at center of last day of high-level diplomacy as G7 looks to punish Russia "The enemy failed to surround Bakhmut. They lost part of the heights around the city. The continuing advance of our troops in the suburbs greatly complicates the enemy's presence," said Hanna Maliar, Ukraine's deputy defense minister. "Our troops have taken the city in a semi-encirclement, which gives us the opportunity to destroy the enemy." Ukrainian military leaders say their months-long resistance has been worth it because it limited Russia's capabilities elsewhere and allowed for Ukrainian advances. Also Read: Ukrainian president meets with world leaders at G7 as Russia claims a key victory in the war "The main idea is to exhaust them, then to attack," Ukrainian Col. Yevhen Mezhevikin, commander of a specialized group fighting in Bakhmut, said Thursday. Russia has deployed reinforcements to Bakhmut to replenish lost northern and southern flanks and prevent more Ukrainian breakthroughs, according to Ukrainian officials and other outside observers. Russian President Vladimir Putin badly needs to claim victory in Bakhmut city, where Russian forces have focused their efforts, analysts say, especially after a winter offensive by his forces failed to capture other cities and towns along the front. Some analysts said that even Ukraine's tactical gains in the rural area outside urban Bakhmut could be more significant than they seem. Also Read: Zelenskyy says ‘Bakhmut is only in our hearts’ after Russia claims controls of Ukrainian city "It was almost like the Ukrainians just took advantage of the fact that, actually, the Russian lines were weak," said Phillips O'Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews. "The Russian army has suffered such high losses and is so worn out around Bakhmut that ... it cannot go forward anymore." Ukrainian forces in the outskirts of Bakhmut and in the city bore relentless artillery attacks until a month ago. Then, Ukrainian forces positioned south of the city spotted their chance for a breakthrough after reconnaissance drones showed the southern Russian flank had gone on the defensive, Col. Mezhevikin said. After fierce fighting for weeks, Ukrainian units had made their first advance in the vicinity of Bakhmut since it was invaded nine months ago. In all, nearly 20 square kilometers (eight square miles) of territory were recaptured, Maliar said in an interview last week. Hundreds of meters (yards) more have been regained almost every day since, according to Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine's Operational Command East. "Previously we were only holding the lines and didn't let Russians advance further into our territory. What has happened now is our first advance (since the battle started)," Maliar said. Victory in Bakhmut does not necessarily bring Russia any closer to capturing the Donetsk region — Putin's stated aim of the war. Rather, it opens the door to more grinding battles in the direction of Sloviansk or Kostiantynivka, 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, said Kateryna Stepanenko, a Russia analyst at the U.S.-based think tank Institute for the Study of War. Satellite imagery released this week shows infrastructure, apartment blocks and iconic buildings reduced to rubble. In the last week, days before Russia announced that the city had fallen into their control, Ukrainian forces retained only a handful of buildings amid constant Russian bombardment. Outnumbered and outgunned, they described nightmarish days. Russia's artillery dominance is so overwhelming, accompanied by continuous human waves of mercenaries, that defensive positions could not be held for long. "The importance of our mission of staying in Bakhmut lies in distracting a significant enemy force," said Taras Deiak, a commander of a special unit of a volunteer battalion. "We are paying a high price for this." The northern and southern flanks regained by Ukraine are located near two highways that lead to Chasiv Yar, a town 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Bakhmut that serves as a key logistics supply route, one dubbed the "road of life." Ukrainian forces passing this road often came under fire from Russians positioned along nearby strategic heights. Armored vehicles and pickup trucks driving toward the city to replenish Ukrainian troops were frequently destroyed. With the high plains now under Ukrainian control, its forces have more breathing room. "This will help us design new logistic chains to deliver ammunition in and evacuate the injured or killed boys," said Deiak, speaking from inside the city on Thursday, two days before Russia claimed it controlled the city. "Now it is easier to deliver supplies, rotate troops, (carry out) evacuations."
Victory Day, Russia’s most important secular holiday, lauds two tenets that are central to the country’s identity: military might and moral rectitude. But the war in Ukraine undermines both this year. The holiday falling on Tuesday marks the 78th anniversary of Germany's capitulation in World War II after a relentless Red Army offensive pushed German forces from Stalingrad, deep inside Russia, all the way to Berlin, about 2,200 kilometers (1,300 miles). The Soviet Union lost at least 20 million people in the war; the suffering and valor that went into the German defeat have been touchstones ever since. However, many regions have canceled their May 9 observances because of concerns the events could be targets for Ukrainian attacks. Moscow’s famed Red Square military parade will go ahead following Russia's claim of an attempted Ukrainian drone attack on the Kremlin, whose spires loom next to the parade venue. For all the fearsome armaments that will growl through the square, Russia’s failure to make gains in Ukraine spoils the image of its army’s indomitability. Also Read: Russia will defend its interests and work together for a peaceful future: Ambassador says on country’s Victory Day After seizing sizable parts of the neighboring country in the opening weeks of the invasion, the Russian campaign saw an abandoned attempt to enter Kyiv, retreats in northern and southern Ukraine, and an inability to take Bakhmut, a small city of questionable value, despite months of exceptionally gruesome fighting. President Vladimir Putin, in his speech during the parade, is sure to praise the Red Army’s determination to wipe out Nazism and to repeat his assertion that Russia is taking the moral high ground by fighting an alleged Nazi regime in Ukraine, a country with a Jewish president. But the missiles that rain down on Ukrainian civilian targets have drawn worldwide condemnation of Russia, while the Western countries that made common cause with Moscow to defeat Nazi Germany send billions of dollars' worth of weapons to Ukraine. Analysts are divided on whether the May 3 drone incident at the Kremlin was a genuine attack or a “false flag” concocted to justify increasing the ferocity of Russia's missile barrages in Ukraine. Either explanation risks undermining the sense of security among Russians already rattled by attacks, likely committed by Ukraine or by domestic opponents, that have risen sharply in recent weeks. Two freight trains derailed this week in bomb explosions in the Bryansk region that borders Ukraine. Notably, the region’s authorities did not blame Ukraine, which could be an attempt to whitewash the Ukrainian capability to carry out sabotage. But Bryansk authorities claimed in March that two people were shot and killed when alleged Ukrainian saboteurs penetrated the region. The region also has come under sporadic cross-border shelling, including last month, when four people were killed. Three prominent supporters of the war in Ukraine also were killed or injured on their home turf elsewhere in Russia. A car-bombing last week in the Nizhny Novgorod region that officials blamed on Ukraine and the United States severely injured nationalist novelist Zakhar Prilepin and killed his driver. Last year, Darya Dugina, a commentator with a nationalist TV channel, died in a car bombing outside Moscow, and authorities alleged Ukrainian intelligence was behind the April death in St. Petersburg of prominent pro-war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, who was killed when a bomb inside a statuette he was handed at a restaurant party exploded. Amid the heightened security worries, authorities also canceled one of Victory Day's most notable observances, the “Immortal Regiment” processions in which throngs of citizens take to the streets holding portraits of relatives who died or served in World War II. The processions carry an air of genuine emotion, in sharp contrast to the obedient stone-faced soldiers who march across Red Square during the tightly regimented military parades that change little from year to year. Although the processions are moving and impressively large, authorities “thought that the risks were becoming prohibitive,” said Russian analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, now at the Free University in Riga, Latvia. “If some kind of drones fly there, penetrate through the impenetrable border ... then why can’t they drop something on this column?”
China's foreign minister on Friday said the country would not sell weapons to parties involved in the conflict in Ukraine and would regulate the export of items with dual civilian and military use. Qin Gang was responding to concerns from the U.S. and others that China was considering providing military assistance to Russia, which Beijing has backed politically and rhetorically in the conflict while formally saying it remains neutral. Qin reiterated China’s willingness to help facilitate negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict and said all parties should remain “objective and calm.” Speaking at a news conference with his visiting German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, Qin also blamed Taiwan’s government for heightened regional tensions after Beijing held large-scale military drills in an attempt to intimidate the island it claims as its own territory. On both Ukraine and Taiwan, Qin articulated well-worn defenses of Chinese policies that underscore Beijing's rejection of criticisms from the West, particularly the U.S. Under ardently nationalist leader Xi Jinping, China has been sharpening its rhetoric, particularly on the issue of Taiwan, which split from mainland China amid civil war in 1949. “Regarding the export of military items, China adopts a prudent and responsible attitude," Qin said. "China will not provide weapons to relevant parties of the conflict, and manage and control the exports of dual-use items in accordance with laws and regulations,” he added. In her remarks, Baerbock said that as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China bore a special responsibility for helping end the conflict. She also referred to tensions in the Taiwan Strait, through which much of the world's international trade passes, and said a conflict in the area would be a global disaster. China’s ruling Communist Party sent warships and fighter planes near Taiwan last weekend in retaliation for a meeting between U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen. China insists that self-governing Taiwan submit to its rule, either peacefully or by force, and Qin said the pursuit of independence by Taiwan's government and its foreign supporters — a veiled reference to chief ally the United States — were the reason for the tensions. Apparently rejecting Baerbock's concerns, Qin said Taiwan was “China's internal affair and bore no outside interference." “Taiwan independence and peace can not co-exist,” he said. While Germany has strongly backed Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, Beijing has blamed the U.S. and NATO for provoking the conflict, refused to criticize Moscow's actions and criticized economic sanctions against President Vladimir Putin's regime. “Territory is indivisible, and security is equally indivisible," Qin said. “Without recognition of the security interests of a particular party, crises and conflicts are inevitable.” "China is willing to continue to work for peace, and hopes that all parties involved in the crisis will remain objective and calm, and make constructive efforts to resolve the crisis through negotiations,” he added.