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Ukraine-Russia war live: Germany and Moscow spar over leaked recording as ‘British military secrets exposed’

Germany has been accused of leaking British military secrets to Russia from an unencrypted video call which involved details of British troops on the ground in Ukraine.

Russian media last week published an audio recording of what they said was a meeting of senior German military officials discussing weapons for Ukraine and a potential strike by Kyiv on a bridge in Crimea, as well as British operations.

The alleged leak has raised concerns with the former UK chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, MP Tobias Ellwood, saying the situation is “worrying on a number of levels”.

The Kremlin said on Monday that the purported recording showed the direct involvement of the West in the Ukraine conflict.

However, the German government vehemently rejected allegations that it was an indication that Berlin was preparing for war against Russia.

Government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner said the leak was part of Russia‘s “information war” against the West, and that the aim was to create discord within Germany.

Key Points

  • Russia and Germany spar over a leaked audio on missiles for Ukraine

  • Germany recording shows direct involvement on West in Ukraine conflict - Kremlin

  • Alleged leak by Germany military to Russia detailing British troops in Ukraine ‘worrying’

  • Blast rocks railway bridge over Russia’s Volga river

  • Putin suffers ‘significant’ aircraft losses, war think tank reports

UK says to treat Kremlin comments “with caution”

18:30 , Sian Elvin

The prime minister’s official spokesman spoke of Western unity when asked about the alleged leak.

Reporters were told “it is clearly in the Kremlin’s interest to propagate misinformation” and “we should not fall into that trap”.

“We do have to treat anything coming out of the Kremlin with caution. As we know, Russia has a tendency to spread misinformation and disinformation and clearly it is in their interests to sow disunity amongst allies who are seeking to support the armed forces of Ukraine,” he added.

It is likely conversations between Germany and the UK will take place behind the scenes.

The spokesman would not be drawn on UK operations in Ukraine, but said there was a “small number of troops” providing training.

Leaked recording is wake-up call that we're Putin targets, German minister says

17:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The leaked intercepted recording of Germany’s military discussions are a wake-up call, the country’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner told the daily Handelsblatt on Monday.

“It is a wake-up call that we are being targeted by (Russian President) Putin,” he said, referring to the leak as a hybrid attack by Russia.

“From what we know so far, no confidential information has been made public as a result of this Russian espionage attempt,” Lindner said, adding that no critical information was exchanged.

17:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia‘s Security Council and an ally of President Vladimir Putin, described Ukraine on Monday as part of Russia and said what he called historical parts of Russia needed to “come home.”

In a bellicose presentation that suggested Russia‘s military goals in Ukraine are far-reaching, Medvedev, who was Russia‘s president from 2008-2012, praised the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union and said Moscow would prosecute its “special military operation” until the Ukrainian leadership capitulated.

“One of Ukraine‘s former leaders said at some point that Ukraine is not Russia,” Medvedev, a hawk who diplomats say gives a flavour of the thinking inside the Kremlin, told a youth forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

“That concept needs to disappear forever. Ukraine is definitely Russia,” he said to applause. “Historic parts of the country need to come home.”

There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Medvedev and other top Russian officials of waging an illegal war of conquest and said Ukraine and its people are distinct from Russia and Russians.

As Sweden joins NATO, it bids farewell to more than two centuries of neutrality

16:35 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Sweden‘s last war ended in 1814, and when the rifles and cannons it aimed at Norway fell silent, the once-warring power would not take up arms again.

For the next two centuries, Sweden embraced a policy of neutrality, refusing to take sides in wars or join any military alliance. It was a stance that kept peace at home and contributed to the country becoming a prosperous welfare state and humanitarian superpower.

As Sweden joins NATO, it bids farewell to more than two centuries of neutrality

Ukraine has a game-changing plan to fight off Russia, its arms industry chief says – but it needs the West’s help

16:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The country’s minister of strategic industries, Oleksander Kamyshin, says the nation stands ready to ramp up production of drones and other weapons by orders of magnitude but it will need more funding from Western allies. Bel Trew reports from Kyiv:

Ukraine’s pioneering drone technology and its growing domestic weapons industry are a “game-changer” that could help win the war, a Ukrainian minister has said – urging Western allies to do all they can to support Kyiv as its forces struggle to hold the front line at the beginning of the third year of Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine has a ‘game-changing’ plan to fight off Russia – but it needs the West’s help

Cameron pledges to do ‘everything he can’ to bring home jailed Russian-British Kremlin critic

15:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The foreign secretary has assured the family of jailed British-Russian Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza that they will “do everything it can to bring him home” in a landmark meeting.

Lord David Cameron met with Evgenia Kara-Murza, 43, in Whitehall for crunch talks on Friday afternoon about a possible prisoner swap for her husband.

The meeting, which The Independent revealed on Wednesday was going ahead, is the first time a British foreign secretary has met with Mrs Kara-Murza since her husband was arrested in April 2022 and later sentenced to 25 years in a Siberian penal colony.

Cameron pledges to do ‘everything he can’ to bring home jailed British Kremlin critic

The UN atomic watchdog's director says he's heading to Moscow for talks on nuclear safety in Ukraine

15:36 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The U.N. atomic watchdog agency’s director said that he’s due to depart for a trip to Moscow on Tuesday for high-level talks with Russian officials to discuss the issue of nuclear safety in Ukraine.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi made the announcement on Monday, the first day of a regular meeting of the agency’s 35-nation board of governors in Vienna.

There was no immediate confirmation of the trip from the Kremlin.“The situation continues to be very fragile,” Grossi told reporters, referring to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant located in southeastern Ukraine.

The safety of the nuclear plant, which is Europe’s largest, is “of tremendous importance in terms of international peace and security,” he said.

Grossi said that it was “the intention” that he will meet personally with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his upcoming trip, but added that he would expect Moscow as the host of the talks to officially confirm it.

 (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Germany leak of UK military tactics in Ukraine is a security breach worrying on many levels, says MP

15:12 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The leak of a conversation revealing Britain’s activities on the ground in Ukraine is a security breach that is “worrying on a number of levels,” a prominent Conservative MP has said.

British soldiers are “on the ground” in Ukraine helping Kyiv’s forces fire long-range Storm Shadow missiles, according to the leak in Russian media of a top-secret call involving German air force officers, authenticated by Berlin.

During the conversation, Lt Gen Ingo Gerhartz, the head of the German air force, describes how the UK and Ukraine work to deploy Storm Shadow missiles against targets behind Russian lines.

Germany leak of UK tactics in Ukraine a security breach “worrying on many levels”

Germany and Russia spar over a leaked audio on missiles for Ukraine

14:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The German government on Monday vehemently rejected allegations that Russia‘s leak of a conversation by high-ranking German military officers was an indication that Berlin was preparing for war against Russia.

At the same time, the government sought to contain the domestic fallout from the leak and promised a quick investigation into how it was possible that a conversation by top German military personnel could be intercepted and published.

“It is absolutely clear that such claims that this conversation would prove, that Germany is preparing a war against Russia, that this is absurdly infamous Russian propaganda,” a spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters in Berlin.

Government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner said the leak was part of Russia‘s “information war” against the West, and that the aim was to create discord within Germany.

The 38-minute recording features military officers discussing in German how Taurus long-range cruise missiles could be used by Kyiv against invading Russian forces.

While German authorities haven’t questioned the authenticity of the recording, Scholz said a week ago that delivering these weapons to Ukraine isn’t an option — and that he doesn’t want Germany to be drawn into the war directly.

Russia masses forces around next key city in Ukraine ahead of push in east

14:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia has set its sights on another city in Eastern Ukraine as it seeks to make a breakthrough in the Donetsk region.

Putin’s forces are gathering around Chasiv Yar.

Illia Yevlash, spokesperson for the operational group overseeing the eastern front line, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that Russian forces were concentrating efforts to make a powerful push on the key strategic city to the west of Bakhmut, which fell to Moscow last May, hoping to advance toward Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Russia masses forces around next key city in Ukraine ahead of push in east

EU leads call for probe into Navalny's death at UN human rights body

14:25 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A group of more than 40 countries on Monday reiterated calls for Russia to allow an independent international investigation into the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison.

The call was made by European Union ambassador Lotte Knudsen at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on behalf of all 27 EU states and 16 other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Ukraine.

“We are outraged by the death of the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, for which the ultimate responsibility lies with President (Vladimir) Putin and the Russian authorities,” Knudsen said.

“Russia must allow an independent and transparent international investigation into the circumstances of his sudden death.”

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic inside Russia, died at the age of 47 in an Arctic penal colony on Feb. 16., sparking accusations from his supporters that he had been murdered.

The Kremlin has denied any state involvement in the death of the opposition leader, who was laid to rest in Moscow on Friday.

Russia‘s Investigative Committee says it has launched a procedural investigation into the death, and the Kremlin has said it does not bow to EU demands.

Blast rocks railway bridge over Russia’s Volga river

14:10 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A railway bridge over the Volga river near Russia’s Samara city was damaged by a blast on Monday, the RIA news agency reported, citing emergency services.

While no casualty has been reported, authorities have suspended railway traffic from going over the bridge. Located in Russia’s southwest, the Samara region is one of the country’s heavy industry hubs.

The incident, described by the Russian Railways as “illegal interference” was caused by an explosive device, reported Tass.

Blast rocks railway bridge over Russia’s Volga river

Russian court upholds decision barring anti-Ukraine war hopeful from election

13:53 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s Supreme Court has upheld a ruling barring liberal politician Boris Nadezhdin from running in the upcoming presidential election.

Mr Nadezhdin, a city council member in the town of Dolgoprudny near Moscow, was nominated by the Civic Initiative party to run in an election President Vladimir Putin is all but set to win.

He has been vocal against the war in Ukraine, gaining support among opposition-minded Russians.

In a statement on social media, Mr Nadezhdin said he would continue to appeal over his case.

“We’re now writing a complaint to the presidium of the Supreme Court. From there we’re only one step away from the Constitutional Court,” he wrote.

“For now, we are guided by Russian law.”

Mr Nadezhdin’s backer, the Civic Initiative party, does not have representatives in the parliament.

 (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

13:35 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Downing Street would not comment on whether UK troops were actively engaged in targeting and firing Storm Shadow missiles in Ukraine.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’ve previously acknowledged a small number of British troops in Ukraine providing security to our diplomatic presence and supporting the armed forces of Ukraine, including through medical training. I can’t comment any further.”

He also declined to comment on whether the UK was running out of missiles to send to Ukraine.

The leak of a conversation between German officials regarding British operations in Ukraine is “a matter for Germany”, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “That’s obviously a matter for Germany to investigate and you’ve got the Chancellor Scholz’s words on this.

“I think he said that it’s clearly a very serious matter and that’s why it’s now being investigated very carefully.

“On our part, the UK was the first country to provide long-range precision strike missiles to Ukraine and we would encourage our allies to do the same. We have been clear from the outset that the UK would provide Ukraine with the necessary aid, including lethal support to defend itself and reclaim its sovereign territory.”

Newly enlarged NATO starts drill in Finland, Norway and Sweden in defense of its Nordic turf

13:20 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

NATO will kick off Monday an exercise to defend its newly expanded Nordic territory when more than 20,000 soldiers from 13 nations take part in drills lasting for nearly two weeks in the northern regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

With over 4,000 Finnish soldiers taking part, the Norway-led Nordic Response 2024 represents the NATO newcomer’s largest ever participation in a foreign exercise, according to Finland’s military.

“For the first time, Finland will participate as a NATO member nation in exercising collective defense of the alliance’s regions,” the Finnish Defense Forces said in a statement.

Newly enlarged NATO starts drill in Finland, Norway and Sweden in defense of its Nordic turf

IAEA chief Grossi plans to visit Russia

13:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi plans to visit Russia on March 5, the RIA news agency reported, citing the IAEA head.

Iran Nuclear (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Iran Nuclear (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira is expected to plead guilty in federal court

12:47 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Jack Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guard member accused of leaking highly classified military documents about Russia’s war in Ukraine and other national security secrets, is expected to plead guilty on Monday in federal court.

The 22-year-old is due to appear in Boston‘s federal courthouse for a change of plea hearing nearly a year after he was arrested in the case stemming from the most consequential national security leak in years.

Teixeira, of North Dighton, Massachusetts, has been behind bars since his April arrest in the case that raised alarm over America’s ability to protect its most closely guarded secrets and forced the Biden administration to scramble to try to contain diplomatic and military fallout.

Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira is expected to plead guilty in federal court

Ukraine starts planning for post-war tourism: ‘We welcome our guests if they don’t come with guns’

12:33 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine will this week launch a campaign for international tourists – telling the world that it has the infrastructure, hotels and service to support visitors.

On the eve of the world’s biggest travel event, ITB in Berlin, the chair of Ukraine’s State Agency for Tourism Development has told The Independent that tourism will be an essential part of post-war recovery.

Mariana Oleskiv said: “We welcome our guests if they don’t come with guns.”

Ukraine starts planning for post-war tourism

Germany's Scholz rules out Taurus missile deliveries if German soldiers involved

12:16 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday ruled out arming Ukraine with long-range Taurus missiles if German soldiers needed to be involved to help operate them.

“... you cannot deliver a weapons system that has a very wide reach and then not think about how control over the weapons system can take place,” he said at a school function.

“And if you want to have control and it’s only possible if German soldiers are involved, that’s out of the question for me.”

Germany has so far resisted sending Taurus missiles to Ukraine, wary of being sucked into a direct confrontation with Russia. The issue escalated after Russian media on Friday published a 38-minute recording of a call in which German officers were heard discussing weapons for Ukraine and a potential strike by Kyiv on a bridge in Crimea.

 (AP)
(AP)

Russia's Medvedev on German military phone intercept: we'll show restraint but won't forget

12:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A senior ally of President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow would show restraint in response to a purported intercept of the German military discussing a strike on Russia, but would not forget about it.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia‘s Security Council, made the comments at a youth forum in southern Russia, the RIA news agency reported.

RIA also cited Medvedev as saying that peace talks with the current Ukrainian leadership were impossible and that any new Ukrainian government would first have to recognise the “new reality” on the ground for talks to take place.

 (AP)
(AP)

Did Moscow order the death of the oligarchs’ London lawyer?

11:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The death of Stephen Curtis, a Mayfair lawyer trapped in a power struggle between Putin and Russia’s wealthiest tycoon, leaves many unanswered questions.

Mark Hollingsworth, author of ‘Londongrad’, follows a dark trail that takes him to MI6 and GCHQ, as he pieces together a story of a high-stakes life straight out of a Le Carre novel...

Did Moscow order the death of the oligarchs’ London lawyer?

Moscow summons German ambassador following leaked tape

11:26 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Moscow summoned Germany’s ambassador to the Russian foreign ministry on Monday, local media reported, days after the release of an audio recording purporting to show German officers discussing support for Ukraine.

The state RIA Novosti outlet broadcast footage of German Ambassador Alexander entering the Foreign Ministry building in Moscow, surrounded by a crowd of journalists.

Margarita Simonyan, the chief editor of the Russian state-funded TV channel RT, posted the audio on social media on Friday, the same day that late opposition politician Alexei Navalny was laid to rest after his still-unexplained death two weeks ago in an Arctic penal colony.

The 38-minute recording featured military officers discussing in German how Taurus long-range cruise missiles could be used by Kyiv against invading Russian forces.

German authorities have not questioned the authenticity of the recording.

 (AP)
(AP)

Leak of call about British operations in Ukraine ‘worrying on number of levels’

10:51 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia’s leak of a conversation by German military officers involving details of British operations on the ground in Ukraine is “worrying on a number of levels”, MP Tobias Ellwood, former chairman of the Commons Defence Committee said.

German military officers discussed support for Ukraine, including the potential use of Taurus missiles, in the recording which was leaked by Russian state media on Friday.

It comes as a debate has been taking place in Germany about whether it should supply the missiles.

Leak of call about British operations in Ukraine ‘worrying on number of levels’

Families of Ukrainians taken prisoner by Russia desperate for news: ‘Please do not forget them’

10:28 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The loved ones of some of the thousands of people held incommunicado in Russian-occupied territory or Russia itself, speak to Bel Trew in Kyiv about their fears as the invasion enters its third year:

Every week Karina checks the latest lists of dead Ukrainian servicemen to see if her brother, a prisoner of war, is included in it.

Her family last spoke to Sasha, a soldier, 31, two years ago when he was stationed at Azovstal steel plant, the site of the final Ukrainian stand against the Kremlin’s ferocious bombardment of Mariupol, which is now occupied by Russia. The frantic phone call occurred in the desperate closing of the battle. His mother Svetlana, 56 , in tears, says: “He essentially told us I love you and goodbye”.

Families of Ukrainians taken prisoner by Russia desperate for news

Kremlin says German army discussing strikes on Russia, asks if Scholz is in control

10:07 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kremlin said on Monday a purported recording of German military discussions showed Germany’s armed forces were discussing plans to launch strikes on Russian territory, and questioned whether Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in control of the situation

“The recording itself says that within the Bundeswehr, plans to launch strikes on Russian territory are being discussed substantively and concretely. This does not require any legal interpretation. Everything here is more than obvious,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Germany says it is investigating the recording. Russia has summoned Germany’s ambassador to demand an explanation.

“Here we have to find out whether the Bundeswehr is doing this on its own initiative. Then the question is: how controllable is the Bundeswehr and how much does Scholz control the situation? Or is it part of German government policy?” Peskov said.

“Both (scenarios) are very bad. Both once again emphasise the direct involvement of the countries of the collective West in the conflict around Ukraine.”

Germany is among the NATO countries that have supplied weaponry to Ukraine including tanks. Russia accuses what it calls the “collective West” of using Ukraine to wage a proxy war against it; NATO says it is helping Kyiv to defend itself against a war of aggression.

Newly enlarged NATO starts drill in Finland, Norway and Sweden in defense of its Nordic turf

09:33 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

NATO will kick off Monday an exercise to defend its newly expanded Nordic territory when more than 20,000 soldiers from 13 nations take part in drills lasting for nearly two weeks in the northern regions of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

With over 4,000 Finnish soldiers taking part, the Norway-led Nordic Response 2024 represents the NATO newcomer’s largest ever participation in a foreign exercise, according to Finland’s military.

“For the first time, Finland will participate as a NATO member nation in exercising collective defense of the alliance’s regions,” the Finnish Defense Forces said in a statement.

Newly enlarged NATO starts drill in Finland, Norway and Sweden in defense of its Nordic turf

Russia: German military recording shows "involvement of the West"

09:12 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kremlin said on Monday that a purported recording of German military discussions showed the direct involvement of the West in the Ukraine conflict.

Russian media last week published an audio recording of what they said was a meeting of senior German military officials discussing weapons for Ukraine and a potential strike by Kyiv on a bridge in Crimea, prompting Russian officials to demand an explanation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was not clear whether the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, were acting on their own initiative or it was part of state policy.

 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Alleged leak by Germany military to Russia detailing British troops in Ukraine ‘worrying’ - part two

08:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Mr Ellwood added when discussing the security of UK information that it is “a collective effort”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “You can see the tensions that are playing out in capital cities as to what we should do next in Ukraine because the tide does seem to be turning unless they receive greater support. They’ve not received the F-16s, they’re not receiving artillery shells that they need and they’re not receiving the long range weapon systems.”

He said that Germany “did respond well” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but now “we’re seeing other factors coming into play”.

Mr Ellwood added: “Unlike here, where the longer term strategic dangers to our economy and our security of Putin winning are constantly spelled out by the Prime Minister by the UK Government, and that helps retain public support for the scale of military systems, in Germany, in contrast, it’s still seen by the German public as a war in Ukraine, not part of a wider confrontation that Putin is seeking to have with the West as Putin moves his economy to a war footing and actually becomes arguably more powerful than Stalin.”

Mr Ellwood added that “given the intensity of Russia‘s spying on Germany and others, they probably have not learned anything that they didn’t already guess already”. But that “does not prevent some serious conversations taking place in the diplomatic corridors between Germany and Britain and indeed Nato, as well as to why this happened in the first place”.

Alleged leak by Germany military to Russia detailing British troops in Ukraine ‘worrying’

08:38 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

MP Tobias Ellwood, former chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the leak made public by Russia of details of British operations on the ground in Ukraine, from an unencrypted video call involving the German military, is “worrying on a number of levels”.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme what the most troubling aspect was, he said: “There’s many aspects of this, at the recent Munich Security Conference attended by the Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and indeed President Zelensky who was begging for weapon systems, the very public frustration about Germany not matching Britain in sending long range air launch missiles was second only to the frustration in delays over the Americans not sending their 60 billion package of support that’s got caught up in Congress.

“So this interception and the leak of military planning discussion is worrying on a number of decibel levels.”

He added one aspect is “why wasn’t basic concept protocols followed” and another is “how this plays out in Germany”.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Putin suffers ‘significant’ aircraft losses, war think tank reports

08:35 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Institute for the Study of War reported a “significant decrease” in Russian aviation activity in eastern Ukraine due to recent high military aircraft losses.

The think tank cited Ukrainian officials who have reported that Russian forces have lost 15 aircraft since 17 February.

Ukrainian Air Force commander lieutenant general Mykola Oleshchuk stated on 2 March that Russian aviation activity completely stopped in eastern Ukraine around 7pm local time following the Ukrainian downing of two Russian Su-34 aircraft, and the decrease in Russian aviation activity continued over the weekend.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Blast rocks railway bridge over Russia’s Volga river

08:27 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A railway bridge over the Volga river near Russia’s Samara city was damaged by a blast on Monday, the RIA news agency reported, citing emergency services.

While no casualty has been reported, authorities have suspended railway traffic from going over the bridge. Located in Russia’s southwest, the Samara region is one of the country’s heavy industry hubs.

The incident, described by the Russian Railways as “illegal interference” was caused by an explosive device, reported Tass.

Blast rocks railway bridge over Russia’s Volga river

Watch: Mourners chant Navalny’s name at Putin critic’s funeral in Moscow

Friday 1 March 2024 20:43 , Barney Davis

Supporters of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny chanted his name as his coffin was carried out of a black hearse on arrival at a Moscow church on Friday (1 March).

People formed long queues at the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God for Navalny’s funeral and could be heard chanting “Navalny” repeatedly.

The leading critic of President Vladimir Putin, who died in a Russian prison last month, will today be buried at the Borisovskoye cemetery nearby.

Alexei Navalny’s mother Lyudmila Navalnaya attended the service and was seen being comforted by supporters.

Watch: Mourners chant Navalny’s name at Putin critic’s funeral in Moscow

Netherlands to help fund purchase of artillery to hold Russian forces back

Friday 1 March 2024 18:42 , Barney Davis

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte signed a security deal with Ukraine in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Friday and said the Netherlands would help fund the supply of 800,000 artillery shells to hold back Russian forces.

Rutte met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on a surprise visit to Kharkiv, just 40 km (26 miles) from the Russian border, and became the seventh Western leader to sign a 10-year security agreement with Ukraine in the last two months.

“The Netherlands will contribute to the Czech Republic’s initiative to purchase 800,000 artillery shells, he told a news conference, saying they would arrive within weeks.

Ukraine is critically short of artillery rounds as its troops try to hold back Russian forces who are again on the offensive in the east, two years after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion.

The Czech Republic said last month it had sourced 500,000 rounds of 155 mm shells and 300,000 122 mm rounds from third countries, which could be delivered to Ukraine in weeks if funding was secured.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Alexei Navalny’s wife shares touching tribute to husband on day of Putin critic’s funeral

Friday 1 March 2024 17:42 , Barney Davis

The wife of Alexei Navalny has shared a touching tribute to her husband on the day of the Putin critic’s funeral.

Yulia Navalnaya shared a video montage of special moments with her husband on Instagram on Friday (1 March). The clips include footage of him enjoying a family meal, partying at a concert, and playing computer games with his son.

Ms Navalnaya said in her caption: “I don’t know how to live without you, but I’ll try to make you up there happy and proud of me. I don’t know if I can do it or not, but I’ll try.”

Ms Navalnaya did not attend the funeral service in Russia over safety concerns.

Alexei Navalny’s wife shares touching tribute to husband on day of his funeral

Friday 1 March 2024 16:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Watch live as hundreds gather near cemetery where Alexei Navalny buried

Navalny’s death leaves Russia fragmented

Friday 1 March 2024 16:35 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Public demonstrations in Russia are risky and rare, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine that the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”. More than 20,000 people have been detained in the past two years.

Despite Friday’s high turnout and flashes of defiance, Navalny’s death leaves Russia‘s fragmented opposition in an even more precarious position as Putin prepares to extend his 24-year rule by another six years in an election this month. All of the president’s leading critics are behind bars or have fled the country.

Even from prison, Navalny had cheered his supporters with displays of resilience and humour in his frequent legal hearings and social media posts. His death leaves many feeling bereft.

“I want to do what Navalny told us to and not give up but I don’t know what to do right now,” said one young man in the crowd.

On a memorial website, more than 140,000 people lit “virtual candles” for Navalny. It was unclear how many of those were inside Russia.

 (EPA)
(EPA)
 (AP)
(AP)

Nuclear war, Nato and no mention of Navalny: Putin steps up threats against West in rambling speech

Friday 1 March 2024 16:20 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Vladimir Putin has spoken for more than two hours in a rambling state of the nation speech, during which he issued a series of nuclear threats against the West ahead of presidential elections in two weeks. But there was one name he would not say, Alexei Navalny, his most prominent critic.

Navalny died in an Arctic prison earlier this month. The opposition leader’s family and supporters say he was killed by Putin. Western leaders have also lined up to lay the blame at Putin’s door.

Navalny will be buried in Moscow on Friday. He was serving a decades-long prison sentence on charges that were seen as trumped up to silence him, having been seen as a threat to Putin for his ability to pull together dissent against the Kremlin.

Nuclear war, Nato and no mention of Navalny: Putin steps up threats against West

‘Thank you for your son,’ mourners say to Navalny’s parents

Friday 1 March 2024 15:57 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Inside the church, Alexei Navalny’s body laid in an open coffin dressed in a suit and tie and draped with bouquets of flowers.

“A picture that should never have existed,” Navalny’s political ally Leonid Volkov said on a live YouTube stream following the funeral.

Navalny was a Christian who condemned Putin’s decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine as a crazy enterprise built on lies.

In the run-up to his funeral, his allies accused the authorities of blocking their plans to hold a bigger civil memorial service.

The Kremlin has said it has nothing to do with Navalny’s funeral arrangements.

As Navalny’s body was transferred from the church to the cemetery in a black van with tinted windows, mourners hugged his mother and father and said: “Thank you for your son.”

Thousands followed the hearse across the bridge to the cemetery, where Navalny was buried in a grave decorated with green pine branches to Frank Sinatra’s song My Way and music from Terminator 2, one of his favourite films.

Pondering Russia‘s future without Navalny, the most determined challenger to Putin’s rule, some supporters who attended the day’s events said they held onto hope, and others that his death had erased it.

“I don’t see anything good happening,” said one man queueing outside the funeral, asked what he thought would come next. The abyss,” he answered.

Kirill, a 25-year-old mourner, said he worried for Russia but hoped Navalny’s struggle would continue.

“We won’t give up. We will believe in something better,” he said.

‘We came here to honour the memory of a man who wasn’t afraid of anything'

Friday 1 March 2024 15:27 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Among the mourners were foreign dignitaries including U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracy, who stood solemnly in black outside the church before the funeral carrying red roses.

No mourners would give reporters their full names.

But all expressed their admiration for Navalny’s fearlessness in the face of a government he believed would kill him one day, and said he had been a rare hope for change in a country whose veteran leader Putin is set to rule into at least the next decade.

“We came here to honour the memory of a man who also wasn’t afraid, who wasn’t afraid of anything,” said one young woman standing outside the church, giving her name only as Kamila.

Another young woman said the police presence made her nervous, but that turning up for the funeral was a way to remember Navalny.

“Navalny was a great man, he fought for the rights of us, Russians, so that we could live in a better world.”

“They wanted us to be afraid so they rounded up all these cars, all these police ... He wasn’t afraid. Well, maybe he was afraid, but he fought,” the woman said.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Russians wait patiently to pay their respects to Navalny at Moscow funeral

Friday 1 March 2024 14:58 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Standing under grey skies holding red and white bouquets, Russians lined up patiently along pavements leading towards opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s funeral on Friday, two weeks after his death in a Siberian penal colony.

By the time the coffin was being driven to a cemetery on the opposite bank of the Moskva River, thousands had gathered, chanting Navalny’s name. Some called President Vladimir Putin, who Navalny’s allies accuse of ordering his death, a murderer.

The Kremlin, which cast Navalny and his supporters as U.S.-backed extremists out to foment revolution, denies any state involvement in his death.

The protest went little further. The Kremlin said any unsanctioned gatherings in support of Navalny would violate the law, and police had deployed hours before the funeral, erecting metal barriers.

Mourners were forced to mill around a short distance from the site of the funeral, the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in the Moscow district of Maryino where Navalny used to live, and from the Borisovskoye cemetery where he was later taken and buried.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Putin ‘couldn’t tolerate prisoner swap’ Navalny allies claim

Friday 1 March 2024 14:35 , Barney Davis

Navalny’s allies have accused Putin of having him murdered because the Russian leader could allegedly not tolerate the thought of Navalny being freed in a potential prisoner swap.

They have not published proof to back up that accusation, but have promised to set out how he was murdered and by whom.

The Kremlin has denied state involvement in his death and has said it is unaware of any agreement to free Navalny. His death certificate - according to allies - said he died of natural causes.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

‘We believe in something better’ Mourners turn up in thousands for Navalny funeral in Moscow

Friday 1 March 2024 14:21 , Barney Davis

“I came here to say goodbye to Navalny. What does that mean for me? I don’t even know how to explain it,” said a 25-year-old man who gave his name as Kirill.

“It’s very sad for the future of Russia...We won’t give up, we will believe in something better.”

A young woman, Kamila, said: “There are more than 10,000 people here, and no one is afraid...We came here in order to honour the memory of a man who also wasn’t afraid, who wasn’t afraid of anything.”

Navalny’s top aides, all based outside Russia, struggled to contain their emotions as they broadcast live video of the farewell to their leader.

“This is a photograph that is very hard to look at,” said one of them, Ruslan Shaveddinov.

Navalny buried to Frank Sinatra and Terminator 2 soundtrack

Friday 1 March 2024 13:56 , Barney Davis

The body of the Russian opposition leader has now been lowered into the ground of the Moscow cemetery, live pictures show.

Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way” was played as the casket was lowered, followed by music from the movie “Terminator 2.”

Navalny’s spokesperson said he considered it “the best film on earth.”

 (AP)
(AP)

Yulia Navalnaya thanks late husband for '26 years of absolute happiness’

Friday 1 March 2024 13:52 , Barney Davis

In an emotional tribute Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya thanked her late husband for 26 years of absolute happiness as he is laid to rest in Moscow.

She wrote: “Yes, even over the last three years of happiness. For love, for always supporting me, for making me laugh even from prison, for the fact that you always thought about me.

“I don’t know how to live without you, but I will try to make you up there happy for me and proud of me. I don’t know if I can handle it or not, but I will try.

“We will definitely meet one day. I have so many untold stories for you, and I have so many songs saved for you on my phone, stupid and funny, in general, to be honest, terrible songs, but they are about us, and I really wanted to let you listen to them. And I really wanted to watch you listen to them, laugh, and then hug me. Love you forever. Rest in peace.”

Friday 1 March 2024 13:34 , Barney Davis

Under a heavy police presence, thousands of people bade farewell Friday to Alexei Navalny at his funeral in Moscow after his still-unexplained death two weeks ago in an Arctic penal colony.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged those gathering in Moscow and other places not to break the law, saying any “unauthorized (mass) gatherings” are violations.

“Those people who follow what is happening, it is of course obvious to them that this man is a hero of our country, whom we will not forget,” said Nadezhda Ivanova, a Kaliningrad resident who was outside the church with other supporters.

“What was done to him is incredibly difficult to accept and get through it.”

After the short funeral, a crowd of thousands marched from the church to the nearby Borisovskoye Cemetery, where the police were also out in force for the burial.

With the casket open, Navalny’s parents and others stroked and kissed his body.

Meanwhile, a large crowd of supporters gathered at the gates of the cemetery, chanting: “Let us in to say goodbye!”The coffin was then lowered into the ground, allies said.

 (AP)
(AP)

Crowds chant ‘You weren’t afraid, neither are we!’ and ‘No to war!’ at Navalny burial

Friday 1 March 2024 13:25 , Barney Davis

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was buried at Moscow’s Borisovskoye cemetery on Friday, his ally Ivan Zhdanov said on X.

As his coffin was removed from the hearse and taken inside the church, the crowd waiting outside broke into respectful applause and then chanted: “Navalny! Navalny!” Some also shouted, “You weren’t afraid, neither are we!” and later “No to war!”

Western diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Lynn Tracy, were among those who attended, along with presidential hopefuls Boris Nadezhdin and Yekaterina Duntsova. Both wanted to run against Putin in the upcoming presidential elections and opposed his war in Ukraine; neither was allowed on the ballot.

In pictures: Mourners break barriers to follow hearse carrying coffin of Navalny

Friday 1 March 2024 13:10 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Friday 1 March 2024 12:52 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Alexei Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, spent eight days trying to get authorities to release the body following his February 16 death at Penal Colony No 3 in the town of Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenets region about 1,900 kilometres (1,200 miles) north-east of Moscow.

Authorities originally said they could not turn over the body because they needed to conduct post-mortem tests. Ms Navalnaya, 69, made a video appeal to President Vladimir Putin to release the body so she could bury her son with dignity.

Once it was released, at least one funeral director said he had been “forbidden” to work with Navalny’s supporters, the spokeswoman for Navalny’s team, Kira Yarmysh, said on social media. They also were unable to find a hearse for the funeral.

“Unknown people are calling up people and threatening them not to take Alexei’s body anywhere,” Ms Yarmysh said on Thursday.

Russian authorities still have not announced the cause of death for Navalny, 47, who crusaded against official corruption and organised large protests as Mr Putin’s fiercest political foe. Many Western leaders blamed the death on the Russian leader, which the Kremlin angrily rejected.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Friday 1 March 2024 12:42 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Navalny's family and supporters are laying the opposition leader to rest after his death in prison

Friday 1 March 2024 12:17 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Western diplomats were spotted in the long line, along with presidential hopefuls Boris Nadezhdin and Yekaterina Duntsova. Both wanted to run against Putin in the upcoming presidential elections and opposed his war in Ukraine; neither was allowed on the ballot.

After the hearse arrived at the church, the coffin was taken out of the vehicle, as the crowd applauded and chanted: “Navalny! Navalny!”

Some also shouted: “You weren’t afraid, neither are we!”A photo from inside the church showed an open casket with Navalny’s body covered with red and white flowers, and his mother sitting beside it holding a candle.

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (REUTERS)
Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (REUTERS)
US Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy (AFP via Getty Images)
US Ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy (AFP via Getty Images)

Crowds chant as family heads for burial

Friday 1 March 2024 12:04 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Photo shows mourners holding candles as Navalny’s service begins

Friday 1 March 2024 11:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Navalny’s parents attend funeral

Friday 1 March 2024 11:39 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Alexei Navalny’s parents were pictured attending the funeral of their son, as his mother appeared to be weeping in the photo.

 (AP)
(AP)

Navalny’s coffin carried into church

Friday 1 March 2024 11:21 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Alexei Navalny’s coffin has been carried into the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows in Moscow and hundreds of mourners gathered in support of the Russian opposition politician.

 (AP)
(AP)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)