Chris Lange, FISM News
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has filed an appeal against a ruling by a Russian court to extend his pretrial detention by three months. Reuters broke the story on Friday, citing court data.
Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, was initially remanded in custody until May 29. In a closed hearing on Tuesday, the court extended his detention until Aug. 30.
Gershkovich, who has press credentials in Russia, was detained in March in the city of Yekaterinburg on espionage charges. Russia’s FSB security service claimed that he had attempted to steal military secrets at the behest of the U.S. government, an accusation vehemently denied by the Biden administration and the Wall Street Journal, both of which have called for Gershkovich’s immediate release.
The U.S. State Department in April designated Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” a designation also given to former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was sentenced on espionage charges in 2016.
TWO KILLED, NEARLY TWO DOZEN INJURED IN RUSSIAN STRIKE ON CLINIC
At least two people were killed and 23 others were injured when a Russian missile struck a clinic in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Friday, CNN reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack a crime against humanity.
“Another (Russian) missile attack, another crime against humanity,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter, saying that the building housed a psychological clinic and a veterinary clinic in Dnipro.
“Only an evil state can fight against clinics. There can be no military purpose in this. It is pure Russian terror.”
Rescue workers could be seen observing a destroyed building that was spewing smoke. What appeared to be a three-story building had a large portion of the upper floor that had been severely damaged. Nearby, a covered corpse was lying on the road.
RUSSIA REPORTS ANOTHER UKRAINIAN DRONE ATTACK
Drone strikes were reported in the city of Krasnodar in southern Russia overnight, damaging buildings. Videos circulated on social media showing the blasts.
There was an explosion in the city center in Krasnodar. There were no casualties.
It is not yet known what caused the explosion. pic.twitter.com/wnYtuGamw2
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 26, 2023
Krasnodar’s regional governor, Veniamin Kondratiev said that there were no casualties and that the attack is being investigated in a post on his Telegram channel, per Newsweek.
Reuters reported that local officials said that a residential and office building was damaged in a blast, though they did not name the cause. Russian media reported that the explosions were caused by a Ukrainian drone attack.
“All emergency services are working at the scene. The cause of the incident is being investigated. Residents are asked to stay calm,” Krasnodar mayor Yevgeny Naumov wrote on Telegram, Reuters reported.
The local governor of the neighboring Rostov region claimed that a Ukrainian missile had been shot down by air defenses on Thursday near Morozovsk — the site of a Russian air base.
“In the area of Morozovsk, an air defense system went off, shooting down a Ukrainian missile,” Rostov Governor Vasily Golubev said. “The military is doing its job. Stay calm.”
There has been a significant uptick in attacks inside Russia in recent weeks, the most notable of which reportedly targeted the Kremlin on May 3. Ukraine has denied responsibility for the attacks.
The growing frequency of strikes on Russian territory has undoubtedly rattled the Kremlin as it braces for a major Ukrainian counteroffensive aimed at recapturing occupied territories. Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, said this week that the counteroffensive had already begun and “has been going on for several days.”
Newsweek reported that Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, said Tuesday that Kyiv’s forces at that time had the means to launch its counterattack.
ALLIES TO TRAIN UKRAINIANS ON US-MADE FIGHTER JETS
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Thursday that Denmark and the Netherlands will lead the training of Ukrainians on F-16s within the next few weeks. The remarks were made at a news briefing following a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
President Biden agreed last week to allow allied countries to transfer their stocks of the U.S.-made fighter jets to Ukraine.
Austin said countries such as Belgium, Norway, and Poland have already offered to assist with training, though he did not reveal which country or countries would supply the F-16s.
“There are no magic weapons,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley warned. Speaking alongside Austin, Milley said that it is “going to take a considerable length of time to build up an air force that’s the size and scope and scale that’ll be necessary.”
“The Russians have a thousand fourth and fifth-generation fighters, so if you’re going to contest Russia in the air, you’re going to need a substantial amount of fourth and fifth-generation fighters,” he added. Milley further noted that “10 F-16s are a billion dollars with sustainment costs of another billion.”
RUSSIA FORCED TO INCREASINGLY RELY ON PARAMILITARY GROUPS
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said that the Russian leader of occupied Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, has been augmenting his forces with paramilitary groups. The Ministry noted in its latest assessment of the war in Ukraine that Russia has “experienced a proliferation of paramilitary groups out of its regular armed forces” over the past two decades, which it said “has dramatically accelerated since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
According to the report, Aksyonov has already assembled multiple “local units,” the bulk of which the Ministry said “have been given some semi-official status as reserve units of the regular army.”
The assessment stated that this reflects growing concern “about the regular army’s ability to defend the peninsula” annexed by Russia in 2014 which Ukraine has made clear that it intends to reclaim.
“The main element of the Russian garrison, 22nd Army Corps, is currently mostly deployed outside the peninsula and has taken heavy casualties,” the Ministry said.