LFrance has decided to expel six Russian spies who, according to it, operated under the cover of their embassy in Paris and “whose activities proved to be contrary to [ses] national interests,” the Foreign Ministry said on Monday. “Following a lengthy investigation, the General Directorate of Homeland Security [DGSI] revealed on Sunday April 10 a clandestine operation carried out by the Russian intelligence services on our territory. Six Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover […] have been declared persona non grata,” the ministry said in a statement. “In the absence of the Russian ambassador, the number two was summoned to the Quai d’Orsay this evening to be informed of this decision. »
Nehammer received by Putin, a first for a European leader
It was “difficult”. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer was in Moscow on Monday April 11 to meet Vladimir Putin, an unprecedented trip for a European leader since the start of the war in Ukraine. “The discussion with President Putin was frank, open and difficult”, declared Karl Nehammer after this meeting which lasted a little more than an hour and did not give rise to a handshake, according to the Austrian press. . The Austrian Chancellor said he was “rather pessimistic”: “We must have no illusions […]. President Putin has massively entered into a logic of war and he is acting accordingly. »
“I spoke about the serious war crimes in Boutcha and other places, saying that all those responsible must be brought to justice,” he added. Boutcha is a locality near kyiv that has become a symbol of atrocities, where Karl Nehammer went this weekend like other Western officials. Moscow has firmly rejected any involvement.
“I made it clear to the Russian President the urgency of setting up humanitarian corridors to transport water and food and to evacuate women, children and the wounded from besieged cities”, underlined the Chancellor, insisting that it was “not a friendly visit”. No image has filtered from the meeting and no joint press conference is planned. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, this closed-door format was chosen at the initiative of the Austrian side.
Karl Nehammer says he now wants to meet with his European counterparts to inform them of this meeting and discuss the next steps, while the European Union (EU) is currently preparing new sanctions.
“A personal initiative”
The Austrian chancellor had “no European mandate”. His trip to Moscow was “a personal initiative” decided after talks in kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and after discussions with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as the heads of European institutions Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, said the head of Austrian diplomacy.
“Ultimate battle” in Mariupol?
If the diplomatic way always seems privileged, the Russian forces, they continue to redouble their intensity in the fighting. The Ukrainian army said on Monday it was preparing for “a final battle” in the devastated port of Mariupol, in the south-east of the country, besieged by the Russian army for more than 40 days. “Today will probably be the last battle, as our ammunition is running out. […] It will be death for some of us and captivity for others,” the 36th National Marine Brigade, part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, wrote on Facebook. “We are slowly disappearing,” the statement added.
For their part, pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk said on Monday that their forces had completely conquered the port area of Mariupol. “Regarding the port of Mariupol, it is already under our control,” said Denis Pushilin, quoted by Russian news agencies. The representative of the separatist army, Edouard Bassourin, said that the last Ukrainian defenders were now concentrated in the huge Azovstal and Azovmach factories.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday he believed “tens of thousands” of people had been killed in Mariupol. He accused Russia of wanting to make Mariupol “an example”, calling on South Korea to help his country fight the Russian invasion by providing it with military equipment, “from planes to tanks”.
Consult our file: War in Ukraine