Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine denies involvement in death of Putin ally’s daughter; don’t allow Moscow to sow fear, says Zelenskiy – live

Ukraine has denied involvement in the death of Darya Dugina amid fears the car bombing raises the stakes in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s top adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said in a televised statement that Ukraine had no involvement in the death of Dugina, the daughter of Putin confidant Alexander Dugin.

Podolyak told Ukrainian TV: “I confirm that Ukraine, of course, had nothing to do with this because we are not a criminal state, like the Russian Federation, and moreover we are not a terrorist state.”

He appeared to blame internal power struggles between “various political factions” in Russia for the killing, and suggested the incident was the “Karmic” payback for supporters of Russia’s actions in Ukraine like Dugina and her father.

British PM Boris Johnson and the leaders of the US, France and Germany on Sunday stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of nuclear sites in Ukraine in a call, Johnson’s office said.

“On a joint call, Johnson, US president Joe Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Olaf Scholz underlined their steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“They stressed the importance of ensuring the safety and security of nuclear installations and welcomed recent discussions on enabling an IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia facility.”

Albania investigates military factory intruders from Russia and Ukraine

Albania said on Sunday it was investigating why two Russians and a Ukrainian had tried to enter a military factory.

The defence ministry said on Saturday that two of its soldiers had been slightly injured while detaining a 24-year-old man from Russia who had entered the grounds of the Gramsh military factory and was trying to take photos. He resisted arrest and used spray against the soldiers.

Two others, a 33-year-old Russian woman and a Ukrainian man aged 25, were arrested nearby.

Defence Minister Niko Peleshi said on Sunday it was too early to be sure about the motive but referred to geopolitics – apparently indicating a possible link to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has been criticised by the Albanian government.

“In view of the broad regional context and the geopolitical context, this cannot be dismissed as just as an ordinary, civilian incident, but we cannot rush to conclusions,” he said after visiting the injured soldiers in hospital.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Saturday the three individuals were “suspected of espionage”, without giving any further details.

Tirana-based media said the three suspects were bloggers who often visited abandoned military bases and other big plants in different countries.

Peleshi said the investigation would show if they were bloggers and what their motives were.

When Albania was under communist rule, the Gramsh plant produced Russian-designed AK 47 rifles.

The ministry’s website says the plant now provides manufacturing services for the defence industry. In the past, it was also used to dismantle small arms and ammunition.

Albania, a member of Nato since 2009, has joined the US and other western countries to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and has introduced sanctions against Moscow.

Czech nationals have been sending exactly 1,968 crowns ($80) to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia and to commemorate the 1968 invasion of then Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led troops, the Ukrainian embassy said on Sunday.

The Czechs were using a special payment code to donate 1,968 crowns ($80) to an already existing account set up by Ukraine’s embassy in the Czech Republic to collect funds.

“Even at the weekend, dozens and dozens of payments in the value of 1,968 crowns are arriving to our account, thank you so much, Czech friends!” the embassy said on Twitter.

On 21 August 1968, armies of the Soviet Union and its allies crossed borders into Czechoslovakia, a fellow member of the eastern bloc, to crush a reform movement started earlier that year known as the ‘Prague Spring’.

The troops killed dozens of civilians and the subsequent occupation pushed tens of thousands into exile. The troops eventually left after the fall of Communist rule in 1989.

Who is Alexander Dugin?

My colleague Pjotr Sauer has written a profile of Alexander Dugin, the Putin ally, father of car bombing victim Darya Dugina, and the apparent intended target of the explosion.

Pjotr writes:

“He came to national attention in the 1990s as a writer for the far-right newspaper Den. In a 1991 manifesto published in Den, Dugin first laid out his anti-liberal and ultranationalist vision of Russia, a country he said was destined to face off against an individualistic, materialistic west …

In the book, Dugin laid out his vision to divide the world, calling for Russia to rebuild its influence through annexations and alliances while proclaiming his opposition to Ukraine as a sovereign state.

“Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness,” he wrote.

“Its certain territorial ambitions represent an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics.”

You can read the full profile here:

Kharkiv confirms Independence Day curfew

As worries intensify about Russian aggression on and around Ukraine’s Independence Day on 24 August, Ukraine’s Kharkiv region will introduce a 36-hour curfew from 7pm on 23 August – spanning the Independence Day of Ukraine, which commemorates the day in 1991 when the nation’s Declaration of Independence was issued. The railway service is also now advising passengers to reschedule any trips to Ukraine’s second city.

The Economist’s foreign correspondent Oliver Carroll tweeted this:

Government workers in Kyiv being told to work from home over 22-26 over fears that the centre will be targeted with Russian missiles. https://t.co/070FLKc0um

— Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) August 21, 2022

For those just catching up, a suspected car bomb attack has killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of the ultranationalist Russian political commentator Alexander Dugin.

The Associated Press reports that Dugin is a prominent proponent of the ‘Russian world’ concept, a spiritual and political ideology that emphasises traditional values, restoration of Russia’s power and the unity of all ethnic Russians throughout the world.

He is also a vehement supporter of Russia’s sending of troops into Ukraine.

Our reporter Pjotr Sauer has more information in this profile of Dugin.

Here is some video footage showing the aftermath of a suspected car bomb attack which killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of the ultranationalist Russian political commentator Alexander Dugin.

Dugina died when the Toyota Land Cruiser she was travelling in was ripped apart by an explosion about 12 miles (20km) west of the Russian capital on Saturday evening.

It is coming up to 4pm in Kyiv. Here is a summary of where we are today so far:

  • The daughter of an ultranationalist Russian ideologue and ally of Vladimir Putin has been killed in a car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow. Darya Dugina, whose father is the Russian political commentator Alexander Dugin, died when the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving was ripped apart by a powerful explosion about 12 miles (20km) west of the capital near the village of Bolshiye Vyazemy at about 9.30pm local time (1930 BST), according to investigators.

  • Ukraine has denied involvement in the death of Darya Dugina amid fears the car bombing raises the stakes in the Russia-Ukraine war. Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s top adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, told Ukrainian TV: “I confirm that Ukraine, of course, had nothing to do with this because we are not a criminal state, like the Russian Federation, and moreover we are not a terrorist state.”

  • Russia’s defence ministry said it has destroyed an ammunition depot containing missiles for US-made rocket systems and other Western-made anti-aircraft systems in Ukraine’s Odesa region, according to a report by Reuters.

  • Zelenskiy has warned Ukrainians to be vigilant in the coming week as they prepare to celebrate their independence day on Wednesday. In his nightly video address on Saturday, Zelenskiy said Ukrainians must not allow Moscow to “spread despondency and fear” as they mark the 31st anniversary of independence from Soviet rule. “We must all be aware that this week Russia could try to do something particularly ugly, something particularly vicious,” Zelenskiy said.

  • The curfew in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, will be extended for the entire day on Wednesday, regional governor Oleh Synehub said on Saturday. The north-eastern city is regularly hit by Russian shelling and normally has a curfew from 10pm to 6am but extra precautions were required on independence day.

  • Ukraine launched a fresh strike on Russia’s Black Sea fleet headquarters at Sevastopol earlier on Saturday. Officials in the annexed Crimean peninsula said that at least one drone had been shot down and that the city’s air defence system had been called into action again on Saturday night.

  • Video shared on Twitter appeared to show Russian air defences attempting to destroy the UAV and dark plumes of smoke rising from the city.

  • Three people with Russian and Ukrainian passports have been arrested for suspected spying after trying to break into a military base and arms factory in central Albania, the Albanian defense ministry said on Saturday. Two Albanian soldiers were injured in the incident at the Gramsh base, the ministry said, adding the conditions of the soldiers was stable. Albania’s prime minister Edi Rama said the three individuals are “suspected of espionage”.

Even if Vladimir Putin does eventually falter, Russia’s power structure means another Putin will follow, and then another, writes Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin.

In 2014, shortly after the annexation of Crimea, I wrote, with increasing urgency, that “in the 21st century there is no such thing as a distant, localised war any more. Every war is now a European war. And this European war has already begun.”

I warned that Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea would “create a wave of patriotism. Sooner or later, this wave will break, and then Putin will need a fresh wind.” I wrote of how years of chronic instability in the Balkans would create cripplingly high levels of migration to European countries, with an “inconceivably greater wave of refugees from Ukraine”.

Back then, there was still a chance to stop the aggressor. Yet European politicians closed their eyes to reality in an effort to curry favour with voters. Voters wanted peace then, too; jobs, no price rises and nice holidays. Corrupt Russian experts insisted that we should understand Putin’s point of view and make concessions.

Ukraine has denied involvement in the death of Darya Dugina amid fears the car bombing raises the stakes in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s top adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said in a televised statement that Ukraine had no involvement in the death of Dugina, the daughter of Putin confidant Alexander Dugin.

Podolyak told Ukrainian TV: “I confirm that Ukraine, of course, had nothing to do with this because we are not a criminal state, like the Russian Federation, and moreover we are not a terrorist state.”

He appeared to blame internal power struggles between “various political factions” in Russia for the killing, and suggested the incident was the “Karmic” payback for supporters of Russia’s actions in Ukraine like Dugina and her father.

More details are emerging about the suspected car bomb attack which killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of an ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue who advocates Russia absorbing Ukraine.

The head of Russia’s Investigative Committee has ordered the institution’s central branch to take over the investigation.

“An explosive device was placed on the underside of the car on the driver’s side,” the committee said in a statement. “Darya Dugina, who was behind the wheel, died at the scene.

“The investigation believes that the crime was planned in advance and was of a contractual nature,” it added.

Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, said that if the investigation’s trail led to Ukraine, then it would point to a policy of “state terrorism” being pursued by Kyiv.

For the second time in less than a month, Russia’s naval base at Sevastopol has come under a drone attack. Plumes of smoke were seen rising after the incident on Saturday morning, which the Russian-appointed governor of the city, Mikhail Razvozhaev, said came after a drone flew over the sensitive military site.

In narrow military terms the attack is not significant. Razvozhaev said it involved a single drone. Footage from a local Telegram channel appears to back that up. But a key question is how a drone was able to evade Russian electronic warfare defences and fly right over the naval base.

What sounds like small arms fire, not air defence systems, can be heard on some of the videos and the drone may have been shot down before delivering a payload. Razvozhaev said initially the drone had not been hit, before saying it was. At the very least, though, it is embarrassing for Russia, which is struggling to show it can defend what it considers its own back yard.

Russia’s defence ministry said it has destroyed an ammunition depot containing missiles for US-made rocket systems and other Western-made anti-aircraft systems in Ukraine’s Odesa region, according to a report by Reuters.

The ministry also said it had destroyed two M777 Howitzers in combat positions in the Kherson region, and a fuel depot in the Zaporizhzhia region that it said was storing more than 100 tonnes of diesel fuel.

A spokesman for Odesa’s regional administration said two missiles had been shot down over the sea, but that three had struck agricultural targets.

There were no casualties, the spokesman, Serhiy Bratchuk, said. An explosives expert and investigators were working at the granary, he said.

Reuters was not able to immediately verify the battlefield reports.