Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Mine-clearing in Ukraine could take at least a decade, UK says

A member of the de-mining department of the Ukrainian Emergency Services prepares to survey an area of farmland and electric power lines for land mines and other unexploded ordnance for electricians to access power towers damaged by Russian strikes in order to repair them, in Korovii Yar, in the Eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine, on March 20, 2023.

Violeta Santos Moura | Reuters

Mine-clearing in Ukraine, an activity that is taking place in regions previously occupied by Russian forces in the northeast and south of Ukraine, could take at least a decade, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday.

“Mine-related civilian casualties continue to be reported daily in Ukraine. The most affected areas are Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts [regions]: areas Russia has previously occupied,” the ministry said in an intelligence update on Twitter.

With the arrival of spring, and more people involved in agricultural work, the risk of civilian mine incidents will increase, the ministry warned.

“Over 750 mine related casualties among civilians have been reported since the start of the invasion – one in eight has involved a child. It will likely take at least a decade to clear Ukraine of mines,” the ministry said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s Putin meets Chinese defense minister, deepening military ties further

Russian President Vladimir Putin does the sign of the cross during the Easter Orthodox service at the Christ The Savior Cathedral, on April 16, 2023, in Moscow, Russia.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu on Sunday, marking the latest high-profile meeting between Russian and Chinese officials in recent months.

Footage of the meeting showed Putin shaking hands with Li and then sitting down at a table at which Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was also seen.

“We are working actively through our military departments, regularly exchange useful information, work together in the field of military-technical cooperation, and hold joint exercises,” Putin said, Reuters reported.

Recent joint drills, he said, strengthened “the extremely trusting, strategic nature of our relations.”

Russia’s defense ministry said Friday that Li would make his first foreign trip to Russia on April 16-18 since his appointment to the post. The ministry said negotiations between Li and Shoigu would take place during the visit, which concludes Tuesday, and that the officials would discuss cooperation in the defense sphere and issues of global and regional security.

Putin’s latest meeting with a senior Chinese official comes almost a month after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow in March in which the leaders reaffirmed their strategic cooperation. Putin also met one of China’s top diplomats, Wang Yi, in February.

China’s State Council released a statement Sunday saying Beijing is willing to work with Russia to deepen “strategic communication between the two militaries, strengthen multilateral coordination and cooperation, and make new contributions to the maintenance of world and regional security and stability.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Dozens of POWs freed as Ukraine marks Orthodox Easter

Ukrainian prisoners of war pose for a picture after a swap, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, at an unknown location, Ukraine. 

Ukrainian Armed Forces | Via Reuters

More than 100 Ukrainian prisoners of war have been released as part of a major Easter exchange with Russia, a top official said Sunday, as Orthodox Ukrainians marked the holiday for a second time since Moscow unleashed its full-scale war more than a year ago.

While celebrations were subdued because of security risks, with a curfew barring the faithful from customary all-night services, Ukrainian authorities and ordinary people shared messages of hope, linking the story of Jesus’ resurrection to their longing for peace and a Ukrainian victory.

Dozens of families had special reasons to rejoice, as presidential adviser Andriy Yermak announced that 130 soldiers, sailors, border guards and others captured by Moscow were on their way back home following a “big Easter prisoner exchange.”

Yermak said in a Telegram post on Sunday that those released included troops who fought near Bakhmut, the eastern mining city which has for months been the focus of Russia’s grinding offensive.

“The lives of our people are the highest value for us,” Yermak said, adding that Kyiv’s goal was to bring back all remaining POWs.

— The Associated Press


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