Russian scientists face treason accusations


Ukraine dismissed claims Wednesday that a U.S.-built Patriot missile defense system had been destroyed by Russian missiles during a barrage effectively fended off near Kyiv, and American officials verified the Ukrainian version.

Moscow claimed it used a hypersonic Kinzhal missile − named after the Russian word for “dagger” − to destroy the system during an overnight strike earlier this week. U.S. inspectors determined the damage to the Patriot system was minimal and it remains operational, CNN reported.

“Do not worry about the fate of the Patriot,” Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said. “From a technical point of view, Patriot is a complex, a battery, a division, a system. To destroy the system with some kind of ‘dagger’ – well, it’s impossible.

“Everything that (the Russians) say there, let it remain in their propaganda archive.”

Ukraine said it intercepted all 18 missiles fired on Kyiv overnight Monday into Tuesday morning. The Patriot system, sent to Ukraine last month, has become a key part of the city’s defense.

The British Defense Ministry said Ukraine first shot down a Kinzhal − which NATO refers to as a Killjoy − on May 3, and that Russia has probably lost several of the missiles since then challenging the improved Ukrainian air defenses.

“The apparent vulnerability of KILLJOY is likely a surprise and an embarrassment for Russia,” the ministry’s assessment said. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has touted the system as undefeatable.”


∙ Russian forces shelled a hospital and a high-rise building in Beryslav, the Kherson region’s prosecutor’s office reported. No casualty numbers were immediately available.

∙ A Moscow court ordered the arrest of prominent film producer Alexander Rodnyansky and theater director Ivan Vyrypaev for speaking out against the war. Both are living outside of Russia.

∙ The Chinese government has asked foreign embassies in Beijing to avoid displaying “propaganda” in an apparent response to shows of support for Ukraine. China calls itself neutral in the war but has repeated Russian justifications and criticized Western sanctions.

∙ The European Union’s latest sanctions package probably will not include a plan to permanently shut natural gas pipelines the Kremlin turned off after its invasion of Ukraine, Politico reported, citing diplomats it did not identify.

Ukraine remains firm in its position that it won’t negotiate a peace deal that would require it to relinquish any of its territories, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday after minister Dmytro Kuleba concluded his two-day talks with Chinese envoy Li Hui.

China, which has tried to present itself as a neutral mediator in the conflict despite its close ties to Russia, said it would send Li to discuss a diplomatic solution after its leader, Xi Jinping, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke by phone last month.

The ministry’s statement said Kuleba told a peace agreement would have to be based on respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and he “emphasized that Ukraine does not accept any proposals that would involve the loss of its territories or the freezing of the conflict.”

The Kremlin wants Kyiv to acknowledge Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, which most nations have denounced as illegal.

Russian authorities have made “very serious accusations” of treason against three Russian scientists who have worked on hypersonic missile technology, prompting some of their colleagues to write a letter defending them, Reuters reported.

Monday’s letter raised concerns about the chilling effect on scientific work the arrest of Anatoly Maslov, Alexander Shiplyuk, and Valery Zvegintsev could have, and it proclaimed their innocence, saying, “We know each of them as a patriot and a decent person who is not capable of doing what the investigating authorities suspect them of.”

The three hypersonic experts appeared at academic conferences and collaborated on a 2016 book chapter entitled “Hypersonic Short-Duration Facilities for Aerodynamic Research at ITAM, Russia,” but their colleagues’ letter said the information they made public did not include restricted material.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the letter: “We have indeed seen this appeal, but Russian special services are working on this. They are doing their job. These are very serious accusations.”

Ukraine and Russia agreed to extend by two months a pact that enables Ukraine to export millions of tons of grain through Black Sea ports and help ease a global food crisis despite the war with Russia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the extension designed to boost global food security after the war drove up prices.

“The continuation is good news for the world,” United Nations head Antonio Guterres told reporters Wednesday.

The agreement had been extended twice already, and Russia had threatened to pull out of the arrangement when it expired Thursday unless a list of its demands were met, including lifting some restrictions on its agricultural exports. The details of the deal were not immediately made public.

The arrangement allows Ukraine to safely use its Black Sea ports to ship cargo. It was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey last year. Ukraine is a major supplier of wheat, barley, vegetable oil and other food products to Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia.

− Kim Hjelmgaard

A Russian military plane was seen operating in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone on Monday but remained in international airspace and did not enter American or Canadian sovereign airspace, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said Wednesday. The flight occurred as several planned large-scale military training exercises are taking place around Alaska, NORAD said in a statement. The zone begins where sovereign airspace ends and is an area that requires the ready identification, location and control of all aircraft “in the interest of national security,” the statement said.

“This Russian activity in the Alaska ADIZ occurs regularly and is not seen as a threat,” NORAD said.

More than 40 countries in the Council of Europe agreed on a system to estimate the damage in Ukraine from Russia’s invasion, part of a plan to compel Moscow to help rebuild the nation after the war. Ukraine was the dominant topic during the meeting in Reykjavík, Iceland, where France, Germany and the United Kingdom were among the countries that agreed to form a new office where victims of the war can report the harm they have suffered. The United States, Japan and Canada have observer status in the council.

“Our support for Ukraine remains as strong and resolute as ever,” Finland President Sauli Niinistö said. “With the establishment of a Register of Damages, the Council of Europe has taken an important step toward ensuring Russia’s accountability.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz acknowledged no plan for forcing Moscow to pay was in place, adding that efforts to use Russian assets frozen under sanctions probably would not be legal under international law.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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