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Putin says the West is to blame for mob storming Russian airport; U.S. calls the accusation ‘absurd’

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the Israel-Hamas conflict with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Miqdad Tuesday, the ministry of foreign affairs said, according to a Google translation of the ministry’s statement.

“The government officials paid special attention to the dramatic development of the situation in the Israel-Hamas conflict zone,” a press statement said, following a telephone conversation between the pair.

Lavrov and Miqdad agreed that “an immediate end to the bloodshed in Gaza, a solution to all humanitarian problems arising as a result of the fighting, and a transition to discussing a long-term settlement through political and diplomatic methods” was needed.

The impacts of the Israel-Hamas war on neighboring countries, such as Syria, is being closely watched as the violence continues in the Gaza Strip.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

LVIV REGION, UKRAINE – AUGUST 3: Russian POWs are seen waiting in line to call home to Russia in a prisoner of war detention camp on August 3, 2023 in the Lviv region, Ukraine. Hundreds of captured Russian POWs including conscripts, mercenaries, Wagner militia and Storm-Z Russian prisoners are being held in up to 50 sites around Ukraine. Storm-Z is a series of penal military units established by Russia since April 2023. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images

Paula Bronstein | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian forces composed of former prisoners, known as “Storm-Z” units, are suffering heavy losses, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

Analysts at the think tank said Russia continues to use “Storm-Z” assault units, predominantly made up of prisoner recruits, “in highly attritional infantry-led frontal assaults.” 

It noted that Ukrainian army spokesperson for the Tavria region, Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun, said Monday that Russian forces were preparing to conduct so-called “meat assaults” (colloquial jargon for infantry-led frontal assaults) near Avdiivka, a fighting hotspot in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, and were training “Storm-Z” assault units for future assaults without equipment.

The ISW noted that a Russian milblogger reportedly serving in the Avdiivka area claimed that “meat assaults” are when Russian infantry forces attack without artillery support to suppress Ukrainian firing positions. 

Another Russian milblogger claimed that “Storm-Z” assault detachments in the Avdiivka direction and on Bakhmut’s southern flank “are often destroyed after a few days of active operations and on average lose between 40-70 percent of their personnel,” the ISW said.

Russian milbloggers have criticized the poor training given to “Storm-Z” units, making them both vulnerable and ineffective.

“Both milbloggers noted the lack of proper artillery support for Russian attacks and counterattacks, the ISW said, with one noting that “these factors contribute to “Storm-Z” units being turned into “trash” before achieving any significant results.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Emergency workers search for victims of a Russian rocket attack in the village of Hroza near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Oct. 5, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

The United Nations human rights office has found “reasonable grounds” to conclude a missile strike that killed 59 people in a cafe in the Ukrainian village of Hroza was launched by Russia’s armed forces, the office said on Tuesday.

“Today, we are publishing a report into the events of Oct. 5 that concludes there are reasonable grounds to believe that the missile was launched by Russian armed forces,” Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.

In an aerial view, gravediggers make new graves for the victims of a recent Russian missile strike at Hroza cemetery on October 09, 2023 in Hroza, Ukraine.

Diego Fedele | Getty Images

She added that “there was no indication of military personnel or any other legitimate military targets at or adjacent to the cafe at the time of the attack.”

Ukraine said a Russian missile hit a cafe in the village in the Kharkiv region this month as people gathered to mourn a fallen Ukrainian soldier. Moscow denies targeting civilians in its invasion, a position it repeated in relation to the strike on Hroza.

— Reuters

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting of Russian President and Armenian Prime Minister at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 25, 2023. 

Ilya Pitalev | AFP | Getty Images

An antisemitic mob incident at an airport in Russia’s republic of Dagestan will be analyzed to deter similar incidents in the future, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

“The relevant authorities will take investigative actions. And after that, of course, the situation will be analyzed,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in Google-translated comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass. “What is necessary to minimize or completely eliminate such illegal manifestations in the future.”

Kremlin officials held a special closed meeting following the unrest in Dagestan, where an anti-Israel group stormed an airport on Sunday, reportedly looking for passengers that had come on a flight from Tel Aviv. Russian President Vladimir Putin levelled accusations at the U.S., claiming it had orchestrated the incident in Dagestan — which Washington denies.

Demonstrations either against Israel or supporting Palestinian people have been on the rise since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict and Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip enclosure.

Ruxandra Iordache

Russian tycoon Alexey Kuzmichev has been detained for questioning in France in connection with alleged tax evasion and money laundering and for violating international sanctions.

Sergei Karpukhin | Reuters

Russia will be able to defend the rights of Russian businessman Alexey Kuzmichev, who has been detained in France, once Paris provides detailed information about his case and if he wants help, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Kuzmichev is being questioned in France in connection with alleged tax evasion, money laundering and breaches of international sanctions, the French financial prosecutors’ office said. Kuzmichev used to be one of the main shareholders of Russia’s Alfa Bank.

A cyclist rides past the 24-meter long “La Petite Ourse” yacht, belonging to Russian oligarch Alexei Kuzmichev, and which would have a value of four million euros, according to a source close to the case and which was frozen on March 16, 2022, docked in the harbour of Antibes, south of France, on March 24, 2022. – Two new yachts belonging to Kuzmitchev, among the most influential in Russia, have been “frozen” on the French Riviera, as part of the sanctions taken by the European Union after the invasion of Ukraine, government sources said on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Valery Hache | Afp | Getty Images

“As far as I understand, he is a citizen of the Russian Federation so we should receive information about the detention through our diplomatic mission,” Peskov told reporters.

“Once we receive the information, and if the detainee so wishes, we will of course assist in protecting his rights as a Russian citizen.”

Reuters

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin and top government and security officials discussed bolstering measures to counter external “interference” after a riot at an airport in Dagestan on Sunday.

Putin met senior officials on Monday evening to discuss the incident, which involved several hundred protesters storming the Makhachkala airport, targeting passengers who arrived on a flight from Israel.

During the televised meeting, Putin blamed the West and Ukraine for inciting unrest and division in Russia and for stirring up tensions that led to conflict in the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Feb. 8, 2023.

Grigory Sysoev | Sputnik | via Reuters

Ukraine and the U.S. both rejected the allegations, with the White House calling them “absurd.”

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that top Russian officials had discussed “strengthening measures to counteract that same outside interference, including external information manipulations that can provoke the situation in our country, exploiting the theme of the same events in the Middle East,” according to comments reported by RIA Novosti.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian investigators in part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow said late on Monday that they had detained two soldiers on suspicion of killing a family of nine people, including two children.

The statement said the soldiers were from a region in Russia’s far east and that the reason for the murders appeared to be some kind of personal conflict.

LUBERTSY, RUSSIA – SEPTEMBER 2 (RUSSIA OUT) A veteran of Russian military invasion of Ukraine looks at a road sign reading “Volnovakha” stolen in Ukraine, September 2, 2023, in Moscow, Russia. An event promoting assistance to the Russian army fighting in Ukraine was held in festival in the suburbs of Moscow. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The killings took place in Volnovakha, an industrial town between Donetsk and Melitopol.

Russian media reported that the murderers had used machine guns with silencers to kill the family at night.

Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office said in a statement that it had also begun investigating the crime.

— Reuters

Russian servicemen in the Kherson region on May 19, 2022.

Olga Maltseva | AFP | Getty Images

A recent Russian military reshuffle in occupied parts of Kherson likely reflects pressures in defending occupied areas, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

Russian media reported recently that the deputy commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, was taking over command of Russia’s Dnipro grouping of forces in Kherson, a region partially occupied by Russia. Teplinsky replaced Colonel General Oleg Makarevich.

The force is responsible for the occupied areas of Kherson region, including the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, and a location where fighting has intensified in this area in recent weeks as Ukrainian forces have contested Russian control of the river’s eastern bank, the U.K. noted.

Remarking on the reshuffle, the ministry said “Teplinsky is likely held in high regard by the Russian General Staff and has experience commanding operations in the area: he was the officer on the ground in charge of Russia’s relatively successful withdrawal from west of the Dnipro in November 2022.”

“It is almost certain that repelling Ukrainian attacks across the Dnipro and holding territory in occupied Kherson Oblast remains a high priority objective for Russian forces in Ukraine,” the U.K. said in an intelligence update on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Teplinsky’s appointment is likely an indication of increased pressure on Russian forces defending the area,” it added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Moscow is coming under increasing pressure to protect the country’s Jewish community after the latest episode of antisemitism highlighted growing interethnic tensions in Russia.

An angry anti-Israel mob stormed an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan on Sunday, reportedly looking for passengers that arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv. Russian media reported that at least several hundred pro-Palestinian “protesters” stormed the airport terminal and runway in the Muslim-majority republic because of their opposition to the war between Israel and Hamas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on January 30, 2020.

Maxim Shemetov | Afp | Getty Images

Some of the group shouted antisemitic slogans, reports and social media footage suggested, while others waved Palestinian flags and shouted “Allahu Akbar,” (“God is the greatest” in Arabic). A plane from Tel Aviv was surrounded, with passengers forced to hand over their passports for their nationality to be checked.

The incident has put divisions in Russia’s ethnically and religiously diverse population in the spotlight, with tensions rising between Russia’s rapidly declining Jewish community (both in terms of practicing and ethnically Jewish people) and its Muslim populace, with Islam being the second-largest religion in Russia, after Orthodox Christianity.

Read more on the story here: Rampage by antisemitic mob puts pressure on Moscow to confront rising ethnic tensions in Russia

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The U.S. rejected accusations by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the West and Ukraine had orchestrated an anti-Israel riot in an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan over the weekend, calling the allegations “absurd.”

In a televised meeting, Putin said the West and Ukraine had organized the “deadly chaos,” saying it is “the current ruling elites of the U.S. and their satellites who are the main beneficiaries of world instability.”

John Kirby, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, told reporters at a White House briefing on Monday that the claims were “classic Russian rhetoric.”

“When something goes bad in your country, you blame somebody else, blame it on outside influences” he said, adding that “the West had nothing to do with this. This is just hate, bigotry and intimidation, pure and simple.”

Kirby said a good leader “would call it out for what it is.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of Security Council, Russian government and law enforcement agencies in Moscow on Oct. 30, 2023.

Gavriil Grigorov | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West and Ukraine of orchestrating an anti-Israel riot in an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan over the weekend, claiming they stood to benefit from a divided Russia.

In a televised meeting with senior officials, Putin said the West and Ukraine organized the “deadly chaos” at the Makhachkala airport, saying it is “the current ruling elites of the U.S. and their satellites who are the main beneficiaries of world instability.”

“Who is organizing the deadly chaos, and who benefits from it. Today, in my opinion, this has already become obvious and clear to everyone,” he said, according to comments published on the Kremlin website.

Putin also told members of the Security Council, Russian government and law enforcement agencies present at the meeting — which focused on the situation in Dagestan — that attempts were being made to use conflict in the Middle East “against Russia.”

“I have already spoken about attempts to use the dramatic situation in the Middle East, other regional conflicts against our country, against Russia. To destabilize and split our multinational and multi-religious society. To do this, they use a variety of means, as we see, the best provocations and sophisticated psychological technologies and information aggression.” Putin did not provide evidence for his claims.

The White House rejected the allegations with John Kirby, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, describing them as “classic Russian rhetoric” and saying “the West had nothing to do with this. This is just hate, bigotry and intimidation, pure and simple.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak denied Russian accusations Monday that Ukraine had a role in anti-Israel unrest in the Russian republic Dagestan at the weekend.

 “The storm is certainly already raging,” Podolyak commented on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that the “preconditions” for the riot in Dagestan in which a mob of pro-Palestinian protestors stormed an airport, some chanting antisemitic slogans and reportedly seeking Jewish passengers off a flight from Tel Aviv had been “formed by decades of wrong.”

“‘Pseudo-assimilative’ policies, toleration of the lawless behavior of aggressive regimes that violate global rules, and obvious flirting with Russian plans to ‘change the world order,’ have led to today’s sad consequences and tragedies,” he said.

Law enforcement officers patrol an area outside the airport in Makhachkala on October 30, 2023. Russian police on October 30, 2023 said they had arrested 60 people suspected of storming an airport in the Muslim-majority Caucasus republic of Dagestan, seeking to attack Jewish passengers coming from Israel. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

“We are reaping increasingly bitter fruits: the rooting of hatred towards various ethnic groups with subsequent attempts to destroy them; residual destruction of world institutions; media bravado with outright atrocities against the civilian population and escalation of war with a genocidal component,” he added.

Podolyak’s comments come after Russia accused the West, and Ukraine, of orchestrating the unrest in Dagestan and of trying to divide Russian society, without presenting any evidence to back up its claims. Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet senior officials Monday evening to discuss the incident in Dagestan.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia has significantly bulked up its forces around the devastated city of Bakhmut in the east and has switched its troops from a defensive posture to taking “active actions”, a Ukrainian military commander said on Monday.

Russia captured Bakhmut, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the 20-month war, in May. Ukraine has been on the counteroffensive since June to try to retake occupied land in the south and east, including the town.

An aerial view of the city of Bakhmut totally destroyed from heavy battles on September 27, 2023 in Bakhmut, Ukraine. 

Libkos | Getty Images

“In the Bakhmut area, the enemy has significantly strengthened its grouping and switched from defence to active actions,” General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the ground forces, wrote on Telegram messenger.

He described the situation in the east as difficult with Russian forces particularly active near the northeastern Ukrainian-held town of Kupiansk, where he said Moscow’s troops were trying to advance simultaneously in several directions.

Russian troops have suffered heavy losses, he said. Reuters could not independently verify that assertion or the battlefield account.

In its daily report on the fighting, the Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces continued in their attempts to regain control over Andriivka to the south of Bakhmut, which Kyiv’s forces said they had retaken in September.

It said that Ukraine’s troops continued to conduct their own assault operations south of Bakhmut and were inflicting losses in manpower and equipment. Russia has also been pushing in recent weeks to encircle and capture the eastern town of Avdiivka.

— Reuters

A day after an angry anti-Israel mob stormed a Russian airport, President Vladimir Putin is to hold a meeting with senior officials in which he’ll discuss what the Kremlin described as Western attempts to “split Russian society.”

The Kremlin said Monday that the meeting comes after an angry mob stormed an airport in Russian republic Dagestan, reportedly looking for passengers arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv.

People shouting antisemitic slogans at an airfield of the airport in Makhachkala, Russia, on Oct. 30, 2023.

AP

The Kremlin appeared to blame the West for the incident, claiming it had used the escalating tensions in the Middle East to sow discord in Russia itself, without providing evidence to back the claim.

“Putin plans to hold a large representative meeting today at approximately 19:00 Moscow time and discuss the West’s attempts to use events in the Middle East to split Russian society. A detailed conversation will take place,” the Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, in comments published by Russian news agency Tass.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his press conference at the Third Belt and Road Forum on Oct. 18, 2023, in Beijing.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Putin will speak and the meeting will be held behind closed doors. Russia’s defense minister and the heads of the intelligence services will attend the meeting.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s foreign ministry claimed Ukraine had a “direct and key role” in a riot in Dagestan in which anti-Israel rioters stormed an airport reportedly looking for passengers who had arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed Monday that the riot in Dagestan on Sunday was “the result of an external provocation planned and carried out with an aim to undermine the harmonious development and ethnic … unity of the people of the Russian Federation.”

“In the implementation of their next destructive action, a direct and key role was assigned to the criminal Kyiv regime, which in turn acted through the hands of notorious Russophobes who settled there,” she said. Zakharova did not present evidence for her claims.

A New Year decoration stylized as the “Kremlin Star,” a tactical insignia of Russian troops in Ukraine, in Moscow, on Jan. 2, 2023.

Natalia Kolesnikova | Afp | Getty Images

Earlier, the Kremlin appeared to blame the West for the incident, saying it was trying to “split Russian society.”

Ukraine has not yet responded directly to Russia’s comments but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, described video footage of the mob at the Makhachkala airport as “appalling” and said it was “not an isolated incident … but rather part of Russia’s widespread culture of hatred toward other nations, which is propagated by state television, pundits, and authorities.”

“For Russian propaganda talking heads on official television, hate rhetoric is routine. Even the most recent Middle East escalation prompted antisemitic statements from Russian ideologists,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

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