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Ukraine war latest: Russian recruits offered £530 for every kilometre they advance

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 26/03/2023 Jessica Abrahams
People take part in a military training for civilians in Lviv Region, - Getty © Getty People take part in a military training for civilians in Lviv Region, - Getty

Russian recruits are being offered a bonus of $650 (£530) for every kilometre they advance as part of a spring recruitment drive that the Kremlin hopes will help it avoid another round of mobilisation.

Ads offering recruits an array of benefits have appeared on government websites and on the social media accounts of state institutions and organisations, including libraries and high schools.

One of them, posted by a municipal administration in the western Yaroslavl region, promised a one-time bonus of about $3,800 (£3,100) to sign up. If the recruits were sent to Ukraine, the ad promised a monthly salary of up to $2,500, plus about $100 a day for “involvement in active offensive operations,” and $650 “for each kilometre of advancement within assault teams.”

The Kremlin badly needs new recruits but it wants to avoid another unpopular round of mobilisation. Instead, the government is enticing men to volunteer, with recruiters reportedly making cold calls to eligible men, advertisements promising attractive benefits, and enlistment offices are working with universities and social service agencies to lure students and the unemployed.

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04:40 PM

EU warns Belarus of sanctions if it hosts Russian nuclear weapons

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Sunday urged Belarus not to host Russian nuclear weapons, saying it could face further sanctions if it did.

"Belarus hosting Russian nuclear weapons would mean an irresponsible escalation and threat to European security. Belarus can still stop it, it is their choice. The EU stands ready to respond with further sanctions," Borrell wrote in a tweet.

04:34 PM

Russia accuses Ukraine of drone strike

Russia has accused Ukraine of causing an explosion on its territory.

The blast in the centre of Kireyevsk was caused by a Ukrainian Tupolev Tu-141 Strizh drone that was packed with explosives, according to a law enforcement source quoted by Russian news agency TASS.

The explosion reportedly injured three people and left a crater in the centre of the town.

There has been no immediate response from Kyiv but it has previously denied Russian allegations that Ukrainian drones have flown into its territory and caused damage to civilian infrastructure.

04:29 PM

In pictures: The latest from Bakhmut

These are some of the latest image to emerge from the front-line town of Bakhmut, which has been at the centre of a fierce battle for weeks:

A Ukrainian T-72 tank fires at Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut - SERGEY SHESTAK/AFP

A Ukrainian T-72 tank fires at Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut - SERGEY SHESTAK/AFP

03:57 PM

Blast in Russian town 'caused by drone'

A drone caused an explosion in the centre of a Russian town on Sunday, hurting two people and damaging three residential buildings, according to Russian news agency TASS.

The explosion left a crater in the centre of Kireyevsk, located 140 miles south of Moscow.

"The cause of the explosion in the Tula region was a tactical reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle," or drone, TASS quoted a law enforcement agency source as saying.

Pictures on social media showed a muddy crater near a building with its roof and walls heavily damaged, although the images have not yet been verified.

Russia has claimed in the past that Ukrainian drones have flown into its territory and caused damage to civilian infrastructure, an assertion that Kyiv denies.

03:44 PM

Nato rejects Putin's nuclear comparisons

Nato has rejected comparisons between its nuclear sharing and Russia's decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was "nothing unusual" about the decision, announced on Saturday, because "the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries".

But in a statement on Sunday, a Nato spokesperson roundly rejected that comparison.

"Russia's reference to Nato's nuclear sharing is totally misleading," the spokesperson said. "Nato allies act with full respect of their international commitments. Russia has consistently broken its arms control commitments, most recently suspending its participation in the New START Treaty."

New START caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the US and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.

03:20 PM

Kyiv calls for UN Security Council session over Putin's nuclear plans

Ukraine on Sunday called for an emergency UN Security Council session to address Vladimir Putin's plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

In a statement, Kyiv's foreign ministry described it as "another provocative step" by Moscow that undermines "the international security system as a whole".

"Russia once again confirms its chronic inability to be a responsible steward of nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence and prevention of war, not as a tool of threats and intimidation," the ministry said.

It demanded a Security Council session and also called on the G7 and the European Union to warn Belarus of "far-reaching consequences" if it decides to accept the Russian weapons.

02:58 PM

Exiled journalist Marina Ovsyannikova says Russian TV has become 'gigantic brainwashing machine'

Exiled Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who made headlines a year ago when she held up an anti-war protest sign during a live broadcast on state TV, has told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg that she was pushed to act when she "realised that the Russian TV became a gigantic brainwashing machine".

"A lot of factors came together. Over a long time I realised that the Russian TV became like a gigantic brainwashing machine," she add, adding that the fact she is half Ukrainian also contributed to her decision to speak out. 

She also claimed the majority of journalists working for mainstream Russian media channels don't believe in the propaganda they distribute. "They don’t really believe it. They have similar views to me," she said.

02:22 PM

Putin accused of holding Belarus as 'nuclear hostage'

Russia has taken Belarus as a "nuclear hostage", Kyiv said on Sunday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would be stationing tactical nuclear weapons there.

"The Kremlin took Belarus as a nuclear hostage," Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, said, adding that it was "a step towards the internal destabilisation of the country".

Strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power in Belarus for almost 30 years, is a key Putin ally.

On Saturday, Putin said he and Lukashenko "agreed" Russia would station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. The US played down concerns about the announcement and the potential for Moscow to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

"We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture nor any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon," a senior official said.

02:04 PM

Russia's nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible, NATO says

Nato on Sunday criticised Russia for its "dangerous and irresponsible" nuclear rhetoric, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

"Nato is vigilant, and we are closely monitoring the situation. We have not seen any changes in Russia's nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own," a Nato spokesperson said.

01:41 PM

Orlando Bloom visits Ukraine

Orlando Bloom arrived in Ukraine on Saturday as an ambassador for Unicef.

The actor posted photos from a children's centre, which he said was "built deep down in the metro to ensure their safety" and offered a "safe, warm and nurturing space for children to play, learn and receive psychosocial support."

01:23 PM

Three Polish volunteer fighters killed in Ukraine

Three Polish volunteers have died fighting for the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the past week, according to Polish MP Michał Dworczyk.

"In the morning, a seriously injured Polish volunteer died in a hospital in Dnipro," he wrote on Twitter on Saturday. 

He added: "It's a tragic week - a total of 3 of our compatriots fighting on the side [of Ukraine] died.

"Another seriously injured volunteer went to Kyiv" but his condition has improved, he wrote.

12:59 PM

Ukraine 'holding ground in east'

Ukrainian forces are holding their ground in the east of Ukraine, according to the spokesman for the Ukrainian Army’s Eastern Grouping, Serhiy Cherevatyi.

"We did not allow the enemy to break through our defence system anywhere, we did not allow them to achieve significant gains in their strategic offensive operation," Mr Cherevatyi said, concurring with recent assessments that Russia’s offensive on the town of Bakhmut has stalled.

12:35 PM

Russian sea mine explodes near coast

A Russian sea mine exploded in the Black Sea off the coast of Odesa, the Odesa Regional Military Administration reported.

The explosion damaged a house but caused no casualties.

A public safety warning was earlier issued for the Odesa region amid fears that storms could bring naval mines closer to the coastline, Ukrinform, the national news agency of Ukraine, reported.

11:53 AM

New Russian campaign tries to entice men to fight in Ukraine

A new campaign is underway this spring across Russia, seeking recruits to replenish its troops for the war in Ukraine.

The Kremlin’s war machine badly needs new recruits but denies that another round of mobilisation is in store. Instead, the government is enticing men to volunteer, with makeshift recruitment centres popping up in various regions, or enlistment officials making cold calls to eligible men.

Meanwhile, advertisements promise cash bonuses and enticing benefits and enlistment offices are working with universities and social service agencies to lure students and the unemployed.

11:20 AM

In pictures: The latest from Ukraine

A Ukrainian serviceman surrounded by shells at their artillery position in Zaporizhzhia - Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency

A Ukrainian serviceman surrounded by shells at their artillery position in Zaporizhzhia - Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency
© Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency

10:54 AM

Ukraine will stop 'dangerous' money printing to fund war

The Ukrainian National Bank has resolved its "open conflict" with the government over how to fund the war and will no longer resort to the "very dangerous" practice of printing new money, according to its governor Andriy Pishniy.

Mr Pishniy told the Financial Times that the loose monetary policy had "created huge risks for macro-financial stability" and the Ukrainian national currency.

"It was a quick remedy, but very dangerous," he told the newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

An end to monetary financing is built into a $15.6 billion loan agreed between the International Monetary Fund and Kyiv last week, which still needs approval from the fund’s executive board.

10:38 AM

Putin denies building a military alliance with China

Russia and China are not creating a military alliance, according to a new statement from President Vladimir Putin - although he did acknowledge "military-technical cooperation" between the two countries.

"We are not creating any military alliance with China," Interfax quoted Putin as saying in a state TV broadcast on Sunday. "Yes, we have cooperation in the sphere of military-technical interaction. We are not hiding this.

"Everything is transparent, there is nothing secret," he said.

Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping professed friendship and pledged closer ties at a summit in Moscow early this week, as Russia struggles to make gains in Ukraine.

Putin also said Western powers were trying to form more global alliances, accusing the US and Nato of starting to build a new "axis", resembling Germany, Italy and Japan's Second World War alliance.

10:19 AM

Russia-Belarus nuclear plan intended to 'intimidate Nato'

"There is no military utility" to Moscow's plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarusian territory, and the goal is simply to "intimidate Nato," according to a nuclear weapons expert.

“This is part of Putin’s game to try to intimidate Nato … because there is no military utility from doing this in Belarus as Russia has so many of these weapons and forces inside Russia,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists.

Belarus borders three Nato members - Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Other experts have described it as a "very significant move" and warned of the risks of miscalculation and misinterpretation when it comes to nuclear threats.

Meanwhile, a senior advisor to the Ukrainian president said it revealed Moscow's weak military position.

"Making a statement about tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, [Putin] admits that he is afraid of losing & all he can do is scare with tactics," Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.

10:03 AM

Russia renews drone strikes

Russia has launched at least 71 Iranian-made kamikaze drones this month, after a two-week pause, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

The development suggests that "Russia has likely started receiving regular resupplies of small numbers" of the Shahed drones, the ministry said.

It added that the drones are likely being launched from two axes - Russia’s Krasnodar Krai in the east and Bryansk Oblast in the north-east - with the goal of decreasing flying time to targets in the north of Ukraine and further stretching Ukrainian air defences.


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