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Ukraine war latest: Europe's parliamentary assembly declares Russia dictatorship, Putin's rule illegitimate after 2024

by The Kyiv Independent news desk October 13, 2023 8:45 PM 8 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on a screen set at Red Square as he addresses a rally and a concert marking the proclaimed annexation of four regions of Ukraine Russian troops partly occupy – Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – in central Moscow on Sept. 30, 2022. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key developments on Oct. 13:

  • PACE declares Russia dictatorship, Putin’s rule illegitimate after 2024
  • Minister: UK explores using frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine's defense
  • Ukrenergo: Germany to provide $80-million grant to protect critical infrastructure
  • PM Shmyhal: Switzerland contributes one-fifth of $530 million demining aid donation
  • Ukrainian resistance in occupied Melitopol blow up train carrying Russian ammunition, fuel, military reports
  • Media: Marine drone struck Russian ships near Crimea

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on Oct. 13 declaring Russia a dictatorship and calling on the international community to recognize Vladimir Putin's presidency as illegitimate after his current term ends in 2024.

PACE also urged its member states to cease all contact with Putin "except for humanitarian contact and in the pursuit of peace," according to the assembly's press service.

"The overwhelming power of the president resulting from the extremely long term in office combined with the lack of any checks and balances such as a strong parliament, an independent judiciary, free media, and a vibrant civil society has turned the Russian Federation into a de facto dictatorship," the parliamentarians said.

Putin has held power in Russia as president or prime minister since 2000. Amendments to the Russian Constitution made in July 2020 allowed Putin to remain president until 2036 potentially.

In the resolution, PACE called Russia's war against Ukraine evidence that dictatorships "constitute a threat to the international peace and security and the territorial integrity and political independence of their neighbors."

The assembly also reiterated its support for creating an international criminal tribunal "to hold to account the Russian leadership, including Putin," for their crimes in Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the resolution in a post on X (formerly Twitter). "Over 20 years of unconstitutional one-man rule leads to crimes inside and outside the country."

On Oct. 12, PACE recognized the Holodomor famine of 1932-33 as a genocide of the Ukrainian people and called on all member states to follow suit.

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Minister: UK explores using frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine's defense

The U.K. government had asked the country's central bank to explore options for using frozen Russian sovereign assets to fund Ukraine's defense, the BBC reported on Oct. 13, citing U.K. Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt.

The official said that finance ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) members had also discussed "whether Russian sovereign assets could be used to fund Ukraine's defense."

"We need to do everything we can to make sure that Russia cannot continue to fund (the war)," Hunt told the BBC at an annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Marrakech.

"Anything to make sure that Putin knows in the end he won't be able to afford this kind of aggression."

Earlier during the Marrakech conference, the G7 countries pledged that around $280 billion of Russian funds held in their jurisdictions will remain frozen until Moscow pays war reparations to Ukraine.

Hunt's statement comes amid ongoing discussions in the U.S. and the European Union on developing legal procedures to send frozen Russian assets to Ukraine to help fund the country's recovery.

On Oct. 12, the Estonian government approved a draft law that, if passed by parliament, would allow immobilized Russian assets to be transferred to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Belgium has created a 1.7 billion euro ($1.8 billion) fund for Ukraine financed by tax revenue from interest on such assets.

Ukrenergo: Germany to provide $80-million grant to protect critical infrastructure

The German development bank KfW will provide the Ukrainian state-run energy operator Ukrenergo with a 76-million euro ($80 million) grant to strengthen and protect Ukraine's energy capabilities, Ukrenergo announced on Oct. 13.

The funds will be used to modernize existing energy infrastructure, install new high-voltage equipment, and construct protections for substations, Ukrenergo said.

The planned works aim "to increase the reliability of power supply to customers," especially in anticipation of Russia's expected campaign against Ukraine's critical infrastructure this winter.

The grant is designed to go hand-in-hand with the additional air defense package Germany announced it will provide to Ukraine on Oct. 10.

The package includes an additional Patriot air defense system, which Germany pledged on Oct. 5 it would provide to Kyiv. IRIS-T and Gepard systems are also included.

In total, Ukrenergo procured more than 220 million euros in grants and loans from KfW. A number of other German companies also provided Ukrenergo with parts and other equipment needed to repair energy infrastructure.

On Oct. 8, the Ukrainian Air Force warned that Russia would likely launch a record number of drones against Ukraine as it seeks to destroy the country's energy infrastructure.

Moscow attempted such a strategy during the fall and winter of 2022-2023, which led to frequent blackouts and a lack of heating across the country.

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PM Shmyhal: Switzerland contributes one-fifth of $530 million demining aid donation

Switzerland will contribute 100 million euros ($105 million) to Ukraine as part of a recently pledged international donation for demining assistance of almost 500 million euros ($530 million), Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Oct. 13.

The assistance package was presented at the International Donor Conference on Humanitarian Demining in Ukraine in Zagreb on Oct. 11-12 with the participation of 35 countries and several international organizations.

Croatia and Ukraine co-chaired the event, the latter of which was represented by Shmyhal via video conference.

According to the prime minister, further individual contributions were pledged by Norway ($21 million), Sweden ($13 million), Croatia ($5 million), Austria ($2 million), and $1.6 million each by Slovenia and Spain.

Ukraine's head of government noted that these figures also consider some of the previously announced donations.

"Ukraine thanks you for every contribution; this is our joint work for the safety of future generations," Shmyhal told the donors.

"The funds will be used to purchase survey and demining equipment. In addition, further assistance will come in the form of equipment and expert support."

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on March 1 that nearly one-third of Ukraine's territory had been mined since the start of the full-scale invasion.

According to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, 250 people have been killed by mines in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale war, and over 500 have been injured or maimed.

The State Emergency Service earlier reported that after the end of the war, Ukraine would need at least 10 years to demine its territory.

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Ukrainian resistance in occupied Melitopol blow up train carrying Russian ammunition, fuel

A unit of the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces' "Resistance Movement" sabotaged a train in Russian-occupied Melitopol that was carrying ammunition and fuel for the Russian military, the Special Operations Forces reported on Oct. 13.

Earlier on Oct. 13, the National Resistance Center reported that at around 7:40 a.m., Ukrainian partisans blew up a train that carried fuel and ammunition from Crimea to the Russian-occupied cities of Melitopol and Dniprorudne daily.

The report said the sabotaged train also carried damaged equipment and looted goods such as iron ore and grain in the opposite direction.

According to the National Resistance Center, 150 meters of railway and a locomotive were damaged due to the explosion.

Russian occupying authorities are reportedly trying to cover up the incident. At the same time, the saboteurs who carried out the operation are safe and "promise even more such explosions in the near future," the Center said.

The report noted that this was allegedly the 10th successful railway sabotage in occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast carried out by Ukrainian resistance since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Ukraine's Special Operations Forces began preparing fighters of the Resistance Movement in 2021, months before the start of the full-scale war.

Having an official status as special forces soldiers, the Movement's members are tasked to stay behind enemy lines in occupied territories, conduct sabotage operations, and train the civilian population to resist the occupiers.

Melitopol, a city with a population of about 150,000 people, has been occupied since March 2022. The city serves as a railway center for Russian forces in southern Ukraine to move military equipment. It is part of the land bridge that links Russia to the occupied Crimean peninsula.

Several cases of explosions at the city's railway infrastructure have been reported since the start of the occupation.

Media: Marine drone struck Russian ships near Crimea

Sea Baby marine drones were used in recent attacks on Russia's Black Sea Fleet patrol ship Pavel Derzhavin and cruise missile carrier Buyan, an unnamed source told the Ukrainian media outlet Hromadske on Oct. 13.

The  source told Hromadske that Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) worked with the navy to pull off the attacks.

Ukrainian navy spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk told the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Oct. 12 that Pavel Derzhavin was damaged in an explosion, although he did not provide further details.

This is not the first time Sea Baby drones have been used to strike Russian military targets.

In July, the SBU used Sea Baby drones to strike the Kerch bridge.

In combination with sea drones, Ukrainian forces have used aerial drones, missiles, sabotage, and other methods to inflict significant damage on the fleet and Russian forces in occupied Crimea.

On Aug. 3, U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said that Ukrainian attacks on Russia's Black Sea Fleet have led to the "functional defeat" of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea.

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