March 16, 2023: The United Nations has recently uncovered appalling war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, with two cases involving Ukrainian soldiers torturing Russian prisoners of war. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin urges the country’s economic elite to prioritize patriotism over profit. This article details these events and other related developments.

Horrific war crimes unveiled by the UN investigative commission in Ukraine

The investigative commission of the UN Human Rights Council reported on the war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine. In two instances, Ukrainian soldiers were found to be responsible for torturing Russian prisoners of war. The list of crimes committed by the Russian forces is much longer, including deliberate killings, excessive force against civilians, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence, and forced displacement of children.

Russian soldiers often held arbitrarily detained individuals in overcrowded cells under appalling conditions. The report highlighted a case where ten elderly people died in a school basement due to inhumane conditions, and the other prisoners, including children, had to share the space with the corpses. Family members, including children, were forced to witness the acts of sexual violence.

Putin encourages Russian billionaires to prioritize patriotism

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the country’s economic elite to focus on patriotism rather than profit. Speaking at a forum,

Putin emphasized the importance of national unity in the face of international pressure and sanctions. He called on Russian billionaires to invest in the domestic economy and support projects aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure, technology, and social welfare.

While some Russian billionaires have expressed their support for Putin’s call to prioritize patriotism, others have been more hesitant, concerned about the potential negative impact on their businesses due to the ongoing conflict and international sanctions. The divide among the economic elite could further strain the already tense relationship between the government and the business sector.

Poland Aids Ukraine with Retired MiG-29 Fighter Jets

Poland is set to send four MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine in the coming days, according to an announcement by Polish President Andrzej Duda. This marks the first time a NATO member state has made such a decision to offer support. Duda explained that they have a dozen MiG-29s, which were acquired in the late 1990s and had previously served in the former German Democratic Republic. “They are nearing the end of their operational life, but they are still functional,” he added.

Four aircraft will be transferred in the coming days, with the remainder being sent to aid Ukraine after servicing. The Polish Air Force plans to replace the MiG-29s with South Korean FA-50s and American F-35s. (CNN)

Wagner Group Places $15 Million Bounty on Italian Defense Minister

The Russian Wagner Group has placed a $15 million bounty on the Italian Defense Minister, Guido Crosetto. On Monday, Crosetto accused the Wagner Group of being responsible for triggering the wave of migration from Africa to Italy, as reported by Euractiv.

Crosetto claims that the group is responsible for the increased wave of migration directed toward Italy. The Italian intelligence allegedly received news of the bounty 10 days ago but only made it public after Crosetto blamed the Wagner Group for the surge. Crosetto specifically targeted the Wagner Group in relation to Italian and other European immigrants who, as he put it, “cause political turmoil and fatalities.”

According to the Italian Defense Minister, the Wagner Group’s influence in several African regions is significant, and they are recruiting soldiers from these areas as well: “It can be stated that the exponential increase in migration from African shores is not an insignificant part of the hybrid warfare strategy pursued by the Wagner Group,” said Crosetto. He also called on allies, including NATO member countries, to increase their support and share the burden of emerging problems. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner, responded via Telegram, denying any involvement in the increase. Prigozhin stated, “Crosetto should focus on his own problems instead.”

Video Released by US Shows Russian Fighter Jet Colliding with American Drone

The United States European Command has released declassified footage of a Russian fighter jet encountering an American drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday. As previously reported, a Russian Su-27 fighter aircraft collided with an American MQ-9 surveillance drone in international airspace over the Black Sea.

A storyboard of the footage is also available on the command’s website. According to the Pentagon, the 30-40 minute video shows the Russian fighter jet approaching the American drone. As the Russian aircraft gets closer to the drone, it releases fuel multiple times, which interferes with the video recording. This occurs for about half an hour. Then, in the 29th minute, the Russian jet collides with the MQ-9, causing the drone’s camera to go dark for about a minute. When the image returns, it is evident that the drone has been damaged. Various video clips can be seen on Twitter.

Moldova No Longer Receives Russian Gas

Moldova’s energy minister has stated that the country no longer receives Russian gas and will not tolerate the “extortion” imposed by Gazprom due to difficulties in delivery, according to The Guardian.

Victor Parlicov explained that since December, Gazprom has only been providing shipments to Moldova’s Russian-backed separatist region, the Transnistrian Republic, while the central Moldovan authorities have not received any supplies.

Moldova has managed to secure its energy supply thanks to a reconstruction loan from the EU. “But the Transnistrian Republic has never paid Gazprom for the gas it has received,” Parlicov said, adding that this has been the case not only now but also in the past.

EU Plans to Send Two High-Value Ammunition Packages to Ukraine

The European Union is planning to send two high-value ammunition packages to Ukraine, as the country faces an increased need for ammunition amid ongoing tensions with Russia. According to an EU memo, Russia fires between 20,000 and 50,000 artillery shots daily in Southeast Ukraine, while Ukraine fires between 4,000 and 7,000.

The EU’s ammunition procurement memo states that Ukrainian armed forces are using up ammunition faster than Ukraine’s partners can produce and deliver it. As a result, EU member states plan to send approximately 250,000 units of 155 mm shells, worth around 1 billion euros, to Ukraine from existing stockpiles and pending orders. Following this, the member states will jointly acquire another package of the same value.

Ambassadors are expected to finalize the agreement on Friday. Austria, Ireland, and Malta will not participate in the plan due to their neutrality. According to plans seen by EUobserver, the ammunition will be produced by European or Norwegian companies.