US decides to seize $350 million plane from oligarch

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Biden to send longer-range rockets to Ukraine to fight Russian forces

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation in “Donbass remains extremely difficult” as Russian forces continue to attack Ukraine.

Cody Godwin, USA TODAY

US authorities on Monday decided to seize a $350 million Boeing plane believed to be one of the world’s most expensive private jets from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

A federal magistrate has signed a warrant authorizing the seizure of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that authorities say was worth less than $100 million before a lavish customization. The warrant also authorized the seizure of a $60 million Gulfstream jet.

An FBI agent wrote in an affidavit that the planes are subject to seizure because they were moved between March 4 and March 15 without obtaining licenses, in violation of sanctions imposed on Russia. According to the affidavit, Abramovich controlled the Gulfstream through a series of front companies. The plane has been in Moscow since March 15.

The Boeing is believed to be in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after a March 4 return flight from Dubai to Moscow, according to the affidavit.

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Latest developments:

►Mass burials and lack of access to clean water have led to a “critical” risk of cholera in Russian-occupied Mariupol, Deputy Health Minister Ihor Kuzin said.

►Russia’s ambassador to Rome has been summoned to the Italian Foreign Ministry after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov derided his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio’s peace plan. The plan calls for phased ceasefires and humanitarian corridors; Lavrov also hinted that Di Maio was looking to promote himself to win votes.

►The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned American media to a meeting to warn that their accreditations and visas could be withdrawn if the United States does not reverse measures limiting Russian journalists in America.

Ukraine has added another general to the list of high-ranking Russian officers it has killed during the war.

Russian state media and the Ukrainian military confirmed on Monday the death of Major General Roman Kutuzov during fighting in the Donbass region, the BBC reported. The Russian Defense Ministry did not comment.

Journalist Alexander Sladkov of the state-owned company Rossiya 1 said on the social media app Telegram that Kutuzov commanded troops of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. “The general had led soldiers on the attack, as if there were not enough colonels,” Sladkov wrote.

Ukraine has targeted senior Russian brass and claims to have killed 12, although some of these claims have been disputed. Western intelligence officials have confirmed the deaths of at least seven senior commanders, the BBC said.

While the fate of Ukrainian prisoners taken from the Azovstal steel plant to Mariupol remains uncertain, some information is emerging about fighters killed defending the sprawling plant that has become a symbol of resistance against Russian invasion.

Dozens of dead people extracted from the ruins of the bombed-out mill have been moved to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, where DNA tests are being carried out to identify the remains, according to both a military leader and a spokeswoman for the Azov regiment.

Ukraine said over the weekend that the warring parties had exchanged the bodies of 320 dead servicemen – 160 each – and Azov regiment spokeswoman Anna Holovko said all Ukrainian remains came from the ruins of Azovstal. It is not known how many bodies remain at the factory.

Some Western politicians and the media are pushing Ukraine to end the war with an outcome that is not good for Ukraine, but its nation will not be swayed, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday.

“I have no negotiations on any plan,” he said of the peace talks. “These negotiations are currently at zero. »

Still, Zelenskyy said he believes Ukraine should work “with all European countries, world powers” to end the conflict on positive terms. But he remained defiant as Russian troops blew up bridges and bombed apartments in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, the last two major towns in Lugansk province still held by Ukraine. If captured, the Russian would take control of the contested area.

“The fatigue is growing, people want a result for themselves,” he said in a speech to his compatriots. “You and I need a result for us. »

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the front lines in the hotly contested Donbass on Sunday, taking a close look at his military operation, awarding medals for his heroic efforts and leading moments of silence in honor of fallen troops .

“I want to thank you for your great work, for your service, for protecting all of us, our state,” Zelenskyy said at a rally. “I am grateful to everyone. I want to wish you and your families good health. Take care of yourself. »

Zelenskyy’s tour included Luhansk, where Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Monday heavy fighting continued in the crucial city of Sievierodonetsk.

“Our defenders managed to mount a counter-offensive and liberate almost half of the city, but the situation has gotten even worse now,” Haidai said. “Our guys are defending the positions in the industrial area on the outskirts of the city. »

US decides to seize 350 million plane from oligarch

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Zelenskyy travels outside Kyiv region to meet with first responders

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has traveled to areas partially controlled by Russia to meet with soldiers, police and other military officials.

Ariana Triggs, USA TODAY

Serbia and Russia confirmed on Monday that a planned visit by the Russian foreign minister will not take place after Serbia’s neighbors – Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro – refused to allow the visit. Sergei Lavrov’s plane to cross their airspace en route to Serbia. While officially seeking membership in the European Union, Serbia maintained friendly ties with Russia and refused Western sanctions against Moscow.

“The unthinkable happened,” Lavrov said. “What happened is essentially a deprivation of the right of a sovereign state to conduct foreign policy. »

Army General Mark Milley, marking the 78th anniversary of D-Day at the American Cemetery in France overlooking Omaha Beach, said Ukrainians are experiencing the same horrors French citizens experienced during World War II. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said large nations cannot use their superior military power to invade smaller ones without consequences.

“The fight in Ukraine is about honoring these World War II veterans,” he said. “It is about maintaining the so-called global rules-based international order that was established by the dead who are buried here in this cemetery. »

The UK will supply Ukraine with multiple launch rocket systems capable of hitting targets 50 miles away with “extreme precision”, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has announced. Ukrainian troops will be trained to use the system in Britain. This decision was closely coordinated with the US decision to provide a variant of the system.

The move follows Ukrainian forces’ requests for longer-range precision weapons to defend against Russian heavy artillery, which has been used to devastating effect in the eastern Donbass region.

“As Russia’s tactics change, our support for Ukraine must also change,” Wallace said in a statement. “These high-performance multiple-launch rocket systems will better protect our Ukrainian friends against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which (Russian leader Vladimir) Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to raze cities . »

A Ukrainian commander leading efforts to wrest the crucial city of Sievierodonetsk from the Russian military said fierce street battles were underway and the city was being beaten. Petro Kuzyk told Radio Svoboda that his forces must constantly maneuver to avoid being crushed. Each side gains and loses territory several times a day, he said.

“The enemy to a certain extent outweighs cannon artillery, the amount of tanks, perhaps, personnel, and actively uses this advantage,” he said. “They are constantly attacking, bombarding, destroying houses and our fortifications. »

Graduate students waltzed past the ruins of their high school in Kharkiv, reviving a tradition put on hold by the war. In Ukrainian schools, the graduating class traditionally dances a waltz in front of the whole school as students hear the bell ringing for the last time, reports Pravda Ukraine.

Olena Mosolova, a geography teacher whose daughter also graduated this year, said the Last Waltz was an opportunity to at least somehow recreate the atmosphere of the “last bell” for students .

“We had come up with a different ‘last bell’ for our kids, but that’s what it is, and we want to throw a party for the kids,” she said.

The school was the scene of heavy fighting in February between Russian forces and the Ukrainian army. Pravda reported that at one point 30 Russian soldiers occupied the school until they were driven out by Ukrainian forces.

Russia has concentrated its military power on the eastern region of Donbass in Ukraine. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told an online news conference on Monday that Russia would drive deeper into Ukraine so that longer-range missiles supplied by the West could not reach its cities. Ukraine sought these missiles because Russia severely damaged several cities by firing long-range missiles at a distance that Ukrainian weapons cannot reach.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has already commented on the situation that will emerge with the arrival of new armaments,” Lavrov said. “I can only add that the longer the range of armaments you provide, the further we will get from our territory. »

Contribute: The Associated Press

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