Friday’s Coverage: Zelenskiy on Russia’s Missile Strikes — “Our State and People Will Not Be in Chains”

Map: Institute for the Study of War


The Russian proxy “Donetsk People’s Republic” has condemned three prisoners of war to lengthy prison sentences.

Among them is journalist and human rights defender Maksym Butkevych, accused of “attempted murder” with the claim that he shelled a residential building. He has been sentenced to 13 years in a penal colony.

Captured in June, Butkevych has been denied access to an independent lawyer. His defenders say he was not in the Donetsk region at the time of his supposed offense.

Russian investigators claimed video “confessions” from all defendants.


Russian shelling killed three civilians, including an elderly woman, in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine on Saturday.

Another civilian was killed and at least three injured in Kostyantynivka in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces then fired on emergency services.


Iran’s mission to the UN says Tehran has agreed the purchase of advanced Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.

“The Sukhoi-35 fighter planes are technically acceptable to Iran and Iran has finalised a contract”, said the mission.

It said Iran has also inquired about buying military aircraft from several other countries.

See also US Sanctions “Shadow Banking Network” Assisting Iran Regime


The latest Russian attacks across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine have killed two civilians and injured 14 civilians.

Two civilians were killed and five wounded in Russian shelling of Nikopol, across the Dnipro River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine.


UK military intelligence assesses that Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group holds the eastern part of the city of Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, after months of “human wave” attacks.

However, Ukrainian forces continue to control the western part and have blown up bridges over the Bakhmuta River, which runs through open ground in the center of the city. That has made the area a “killing zone” if Wagner attempts a further advance.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War assessed Thursday that Wagner has likely paused operations, possibly awaiting reinforcement by Russian conventional forces. Prigozhin said on Friday that Wagner has opened recruitment centers in 42 Russian cities to replenish its ranks.

However, the UK military points to the vulnerability of the Ukrainian defenders if the invaders can outflank them to the north and south of Bakhmut.

The Ukrainian military said on Friday that the battle is becoming more difficult as Russia tries to “break through the defenses of our troops”. It recorded 57 attacks in the sector over 24 hours.


Russia’s Justice Ministry has labelled prominent economist Sergey Guriev; former State Duma deputy Gennady Gudkov; journalist Daniil Gubarev; and the former head of Yandex News, Lev Gershenzon, as “foreign agents”.

The World Wildlife Fund has also been designated. The Ministry claimed that under “the guise of protecting nature and the environment”, the WWF “tried to influence the decisions of the executive and legislative branches of the Russian Federation, and to hinder the completion of industrial and infrastructural projects”.

Gershenzon created the news aggregator The True Story, which has been blocked by Russian authorities.

The Ministry claimed Guriev, who lives outside Russia, and Gudkov “participated in the creation and distribution of materials of foreign agents to an unlimited circle of people”.

The men are also accused of speaking out against the invasion of Ukraine, criticizing the Russian military, and calling for arms to be sent to Kyiv.


Canada has barred the import of aluminum, iron, and steel products from Russia.

In 2021, Canada imported $45 million of aluminum and $213 million of metal products from Russia.

“We continue to do everything we can to cut off or limit the revenues used to finance Putin’s illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine….And now we guarantee that Putin will not be able to finance the war by selling aluminum and steel in Canada,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.


The US intelligence community assesses that individuals with ties to Russian intelligence are trying to manufacture a pretext for a coup in Moldova, which lies to the west of Ukraine.

“White House officials” says the Russian agents are planning to stage protests to create an insurrection installing a pro-Kremlin government.

Moldova’s government, led by President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Dorin Recean, have firmly supported Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Chisinau is seeking closer ties with the European Union.

In recent weeks, Russian and Russian proxy officials have stepped up disinformation which could be a pretext for a coup. They have claimed that Moldovan operatives are carrying out sabotage operations in Transnistria, occupied by Russian forces since 1992.

Last month the Russian Defense Ministry asserted, with no evidence, that Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Government was planning an invasion of Transnistria. On Thursday, Transnistria’s “state security ministry” claimed that it thwarted an attempt to assassinate proxy “President” Vadim Krasnoselsky and other officials with a car bomb.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Washington has indications that Russian-linked operatives could provide training to anti-government demonstrators in Moldova. This could convert protests, largely organized by Moldova’s pro-Kremlin Shor Party, into a coup attempt.

Moldovan President Sandu said last month that Moscow is planning “a series of actions involving saboteurs who have undergone military training and are disguised as civilians to carry out violent actions, attacks on government buildings, and hostage-taking.”

US officials said they are declassifying intelligence now to deter Russia from proceeding with its schemes.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia’s officials and employees of state-owned companies are are being ordered to surrender their passports, ensuring that they cannot flee the country.

A joint investigation by Current Time and Radio Liberty has found that requirements vary from position to position. Some state employees have been told to hand in their foreign passports to the state security service FSB or special department at their workplace. Others are just ordered not to travel abroad on vacation.

Officials who fail to hand over passports are threatened with revocation of the documents. Employees at state-owned companies are usually given the opportunity to resign.

For those who are allowed abroad, restrictions permit travel only to one of Russia’s dwindling number of allies or to members of the Eurasian Economic Union. For a “good reason”, permission may be obtained to fly to the UAE, but a written report must be submitted upon return to Russia.

Kremlin employees are banned from any travel outside the country.

In February, responding to a question from journalists, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declared that there is no ban for Russian officials.