Putin has no plans to congratulate Zelenskiy on inauguration – Kremlin
Robie de Guzman • May 20, 2019 • 1727
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked if Vladimir Putin will congratulate incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on his inauguration, said the Russian president had no such plans.
He said on Monday (May 20) that Putin would congratulate his newly-elected counterpart if Zelenskiy makes progress in settling the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and mending relations with Russia.
“I repeat, President (Vladimir) Putin will congratulate President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy on his first accomplishments in resolving the domestic conflict in Ukraine’s south-east and also on the first achievements in the normalisation of Russian-Ukrainian relations,” he said.
“Regarding where Crimea belongs to, as we have said multiple times, all in all there is no such question. And there cannot be one. It is a region within the Russian Federation. As to the south-east, Donbass, this is an interior problem in Ukraine that can be resolved and must be resolved by the president of Ukraine according to the strict plan of the Minsk agreements,” Peskov said
Zelenskiy, a comedian with no prior political experience, won the presidency by a landslide last month but his new party has no representation in parliament, making it expedient for him to call a snap poll while his popularity remains high.
As he took the oath in the Parliament on Monday (May 20), Zelenskiy said his first task was to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where a five-year-old conflict with Russian-backed separatists has killed 13,000 people.
He added that dialogue with Russia could only happen after the return of Ukrainian territory and prisoners of war. (REUTERS)
A huge forest fire in Ukraine that has been raging for more than a week is now just one kilometer from the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant and poses a radiation risk, Greenpeace Russia warned on Monday (April 13), citing satellite images.
Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service said it was still fighting the fires, but that the situation was under control.
Aerial images of the 30 km (19 mile) exclusion zone around the plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, showed scorched, blackened earth and the charred stumps of still smouldering trees.
The Emergency Situations Service said radiation levels in the exclusion zone had not changed and those in nearby Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, “did not exceed natural background levels.”
Greenpeace Russia said the situation is much worse than Ukrainian authorities believe, and that the fires cover an area one thousand times bigger than they claim.
On April 4 Ukrainian authorities said the blaze covered an area of 20 hectares, but Greenpeace cited satellite images showing it was around 12,000 hectares in size at that time.
“According to satellite images taken on Monday, the area of the largest fire has reached 34,400 hectares,” it said, adding that a second fire, stretching across 12,600 hectares, was just one kilometre away from the defunct plant.
Ukrainian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those claims.
Rashid Alimov, head of energy projects at Greenpeace Russia, said the fires, fanned by the wind, could disperse radionuclides, atoms that emit radiation.
“A fire approaching a nuclear or hazardous radiation facility is always a risk,” Alimov said. “In this case we’re hoping for rain tomorrow.”
Chernobyl tour operator Yaroslav Yemelianenko, writing on Facebook, described the situation as critical.
He said the fire was rapidly expanding and had reached the abandoned city of Pripyat, two kilometres from where “the most highly active radiation waste of the whole Chernobyl zone is located.” He called on officials to warn people of the danger.
Satellite images taken by NASA Worldview and seen by Reuters showed the two fires had extended far into the exclusion zone.
The fires, which follow unusually dry weather, began on April 3 in the western part of the exclusion zone and spread to nearby forests.
Police say they have identified a 27-year old local resident who they accuse of deliberately starting the blaze.
It remains unclear if the person, who has reportedly confessed to starting a number of fires “for fun,” is partly or fully responsible. (Reuters)
A doctor who gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a tour of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital last week said on Tuesday (March 31) he had himself been diagnosed with the virus.
Putin visited the Kommunarka hospital last Tuesday where he chatted with the doctor, Denis Protsenko. Neither man was wearing protective equipment during their conversation, TV footage from the visit showed.
Protsenko, writing on Facebook said: “Yes, I have tested positive for coronavirus, but I feel pretty good. I’ve isolated myself in my office. I think the immunity I’ve developed this month is doing its job.”
The Kremlin said that Putin was being regularly tested for coronavirus and that “everything is okay,” the RIA news agency reported.
It has previously said that Putin is being protected from viruses and other illnesses “around the clock.”
Putin donned a hazmat suit and a respirator during his visit to the hospital last week when dropping in on patients. But he did not have his protective gear on during a meeting with Protsenko, with whom he was photographed shaking hands.
The Kremlin reported a coronavirus case in Putin’s administration on Friday, but said the person in question had not come into contact with the president and that all measures were being taken to prevent the virus from spreading further.
Russian lawmakers on Tuesday granted the government powers to declare a national emergency over the coronavirus, and approved penalties for violations of lockdown rules including, in extreme cases, jail terms of up to seven years. (Reuters)
Ukraine is dusting off Soviet-era ventilator designs that lay forgotten in a mothballed military factory for years in a bid to ramp up domestic production of equipment that could help in the fight against the coronavirus.
In response to an urgent appeal by hospitals to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for ventilators, some of the country’s wealthiest men chipped in to buy machines from abroad.
But representatives of state defense conglomerate Ukroboronprom, which runs the state-run Burevisnyk plant in Kiev, are leading an initiative for Ukraine to boost domestic output based on technology developed there long ago.
Deputy Director General of Ukroboronprom, Mustafa Nayyem, told Reuters that a computer with the relevant technical information had disappeared and the engineers that designed the ventilators were retired or dead.
Eventually, officials tracked down a man who knew where printouts for the designs were kept in the factory on yellowing paper. He was working in a local supermarket.
The plant is in no fit state to restart production, so Ukroboronprom will share the technology with interested private companies and has offered to help certify a new product quickly and provide production facilities, Nayyem said.
“We will give everyone access to this documentation because we understand that the crisis is now,” Nayyem said.
Some 20 years ago around 6,000 people worked at the Burevisnyk factory, producing hardware including radar systems for submarines. It also had a sideline making ventilators once used to treat Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan.
Falling demand since the end of the Soviet Union and a lack of state funding has pushed the plant into bankruptcy.
A handful of employees remain, including its acting director and security guards. The power and heating were cut off five years ago. The plaster on the walls is cracked and old machinery lies covered in dust.
Its last big government order for ventilators came in 2008, the plant’s Acting Director Vitaly Khodzitsky told Reuters. The plant used a bank loan to produce them, but the government money did not arrive and the plant never recouped its costs.
For a population of about 40 million people, Deputy Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said there were about 1,117 ventilators ready for coronavirus patients.
Governments around the world are scrambling to procure more of the breathing devices that can blow air and oxygen into the lungs. They are crucial for the care of people with lung failure, which can be one of the complications suffered by patients with severe COVID-19, the disease coronavirus causes.
The number of coronavirus cases has reached 480 in Ukraine, with eleven deaths. The country is one of Europe’s poorest and health spending per capita is a fraction of its western peers. (Reuters)
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