Ukraine Latest: Kremlin Grants Citizenship to Edward Snowden

  • In Business
  • 2022-09-26 20:20:38Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- The Kremlin granted citizenship to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed a top-secret spying program and has been living in Russia since fleeing the US nine years ago.

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The US said that may mean Snowden could be conscripted. "The only thing that has changed is that as a result of his Russian citizenship, apparently now, he may well be conscripted to fight," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Russians to flee or surrender to avoid the Kremlin's mobilization effort, saying it would help sooner end what he called the "criminal war."

Seven months into the conflict, President Vladimir Putin's order to add another 300,000 troops has triggered sporadic protests throughout the country, amid fears that the government will soon close the border for draft-aged men.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

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On the Ground

With partial mobilization underway, Russia's military attacked the southern Odesa region with drones overnight, damaging military infrastructure, Ukraine's southern operational command said on Facebook. Russian missiles also hit Zaporizhzhia, local authorities said. Ukraine's General Staff said in its morning update that more than 40 settlements, from Kupyansk and Kramatorsk in the east to Mykolaiv and Odesa in the south, were shelled over the past day.

(All Times CET)

Ukraine and Russia Both Focusing on Donetsk, Zelenskiy Says (10:15 p.m.)

The eastern region of Donetsk is Ukraine's "number one target," Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation on Monday. The same goes for Russia, he said.

"An especially tense situation is seen in the Donetsk region," Zelenskiy said. "We are doing our best to stem the enemy's actions."

Putin Raises Stakes on Ukraine's Bid for More Powerful Weapons (8:46 p.m.)

Ukraine's military is on the offensive against Russian forces and asking for more powerful weapons to press its advantage, but so far there is no sign that allies will step up their commitments.

Instead, Putin dramatically raised the stakes in a Sept. 21 speech, threatening nuclear war and launching sham votes aimed at expanding Russia's borders into occupied Ukraine.

While supporters have piled arms into Ukraine since Russia invaded in late February, they have shied away from sending the longest-range missile systems, combat aircraft and NATO standard tanks.

Russia Expels Japanese Diplomat in Vladivostok on Spying Charges (8:42 p.m.)

Russia expelled a Japanese consul in Vladivostok, accusing the diplomat of paying for sensitive information.

Motoki Tatsunori was given 48 hours to leave the country, the Foreign Ministry said, according to Tass. Earlier, the Federal Security Service said the envoy in the Far Eastern city had been caught collecting "restricted information" about Russia's ties with an unspecified country in the region, as well as on the impact of sanctions on the local economy.

There was no immediate reaction from the consulate after business hours.

Putin Gives Edward Snowden Russian Citizenship (6:30 p.m.)

Russia's president gave citizenship to the former US National Agency Contractor, according to a presidential decree.

Snowden has been in Russia since 2013, when he was granted temporary asylum while facing American charges for disclosing top-secret US spying program. In 2020, Snowden said he applied for dual US-Russian citizenship.

Kremlin Says 'No Decisions' Made on Closing Borders (12:43 p.m.)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "no decisions have been made" about possibly closing the borders to stem the outflow of Russians subject to mobilization.

"I'm not aware of anything," he said when asked about media reports that the authorities plan to restrict travel outside the country by those who might be called up. He also said no decisions had been made on imposing martial law in parts of the country.

Thousands of Russians have flooded to the borders in the days since the Sep. 21 mobilization order, seeking to avoid being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Hungary Lays Down Russian Sanctions Red Line (12:31 p.m.)

Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said his country won't support any European Union sanctions that could interrupt nuclear energy supplies. Russia's state-controlled nuclear giant Rosatom has contracted to build a new reactor in Hungary that's expected to begin generating by 2030.

"We never supported and will never support any sanctions that will endanger our nuclear investment, be it in a direct or indirect way," he said Monday at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Hungary would oppose sanctions against Russia that would impact the engineering, construction or information technologies that the reactor near the city of Paks will need, he said.

The EU is "already moving toward a recession" after sanctions disrupted east-west energy supply chains, he said. The new reactor, whose construction is expected to start next year, is needed to "protect our sovereignty," according to Szijjarto.

Russia's Drone Attacks May Harm Grain Deal, Ukrainian Official Says (11:58 a.m.)

At least five "suicide" drones sent by Russian forces hit Odesa over the past days, including buildings in the area near the city sea port, Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the head of the Odesa regional military administration, said during a video briefing.

Russia is trying to spare its missiles and use self-exploding Iran-made drones instead, according to Bratchuk. Ukrainian authorities are worried this may affect functioning of the "grain corridor" and hope that all sides, including Turkey, will make sure their security guarantees will remain in effect, Bratchuk said.

Zelenskiy and his key security and defense officials discussed ways to counter Russia's use of new types of weapons in the war during a meeting on Monday, his press service said.

Putin Ally Says He Founded Wagner Mercenary Group (10:32 a.m.)

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who for years denied any connection to the Wagner private military contractor, confirmed that he founded the mercenary group in a statement his company posted on social media.

Prigozhin, an ally of Putin, said he formed the group in May 2014 to send fighters to Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, adding that "I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could help me."

He acknowledged the Russian group has been active in Syria and other Arab states, as well as in Africa and Latin America, calling it "one of the pillars of our homeland." The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any connection to Wagner.

Moldova Mulls Curbing Citizenship for Draftees in Russian Army (9:54 a.m.)

The government of Moldova is considering withdrawing the citizenship of people who enlist in the Russian army, President Maia Sandu said, adding that she sees increased risks of mobilization in the country's east where the Russian-controlled breakaway region of Transnistria is located.

Because many Moldovan citizens also have Russian citizenship and live and work there, Sandu said she asked Moscow to exclude Moldovans from the mobilization. The government is also boosting efforts to help those who want to return to Moldova as the number of such requests is rising, she said.

Growth in Russian Entries to Finland Eases (9:49 a.m.)

A total of 8,314 Russian citizens crossed the land border into Finland on Sunday

, with most coming via crossings near St. Petersburg, according to figures published by the border guard authority.

While the traffic is still "busy," the numbers are low compared to pre-pandemic times and growth began to level off over the weekend, officials said.

Gunman Shoots Military Draft Officer in Russian Region (8:54 a.m.)

A gunman shot a military draft officer at a recruitment center in Ust-Ilimsk in Russia's Irkutsk region in Siberia, state-run Tass news service reported.

The military commissar, Alexander Eliseev, is in extremely serious condition in intensive care, Tass reported, citing the regional governor. The gunman was detained at the scene.

(Corrects item on air defenses to indicate decision has been made but hardware not yet sent.)

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