Instagram No Longer Accessible In Russia: Report

Instagram No Longer Accessible In Russia: Report

Instagram’s app was not refreshing without a VPN connection on Monday, AFP journalists said.
Moscow, Russia: Instagram was no longer accessible in Russia on Monday after its parent company Meta was accused by Moscow of allowing calls for violence against Russians on its platforms.
Instagram’s app was not refreshing without a VPN connection on Monday, AFP journalists said. The social network also appeared on a list of online resources with “restricted access” published by Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor.

-Russian Pilot Tells Passengers War In Ukraine “Is A Crime”, Video Goes Viral

Russia-Ukraine war: Russia’s invasion has sent more than 2.5 million people fleeing across Ukraine’s borders and trapped thousands in besieged cities.
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A Russian pilot is being hailed for denouncing his country’s attack on Ukraine during a flight. The pilot made the remarks while addressing the passengers before the plane took off. The announcement was made both in English and Russian, amid applause from passengers.
The video has gone viral on social media, and many, including Ukrainian diplomat Olexander Scherba, saluted the bravery shown by the pilot.
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He posted the transcript of what the pilot is saying in his address to the passengers: “Ladies and gentlemen, here is your captain speaking. Welcome to Antalya. Thank you for flying with “Pobeda”. Also, from me personally: the war with Ukraine is a crime…”. This brave pilot makes a statement.”
The pilot works for Pobeda, a subsidiary of Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot, according to Mr Scherba.

“Russia needs more brave people like this pilot,” a Twitter user commented. Other used popular hashtags like #StandWithUkraine while admiring the courage shown by the pilot.

Some Twitter users were, however, concerned about the safety of the pilot. “Even if he was fleeing without intending to go back, still a brave thing to do (as I’m sure he has family back home),” a user tweeted.
“Whatever your thoughts are on this situation, this pilot and others like him are putting themselves at real risk for torture and death. Russia is jailing ppl who speak out, and they are known to starve people to death. Putin himself has said dissidents ought to be starved,” said another.

Many Ukrainians have posted videos criticising Putin for launching the attack and asking fellow citizens to be brave during the time of crisis.
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The war in Ukraine has been going on for nearly three weeks and with each passing day, it is intensifying. Russia, which has numerically superior forces, is concentrating its efforts in capturing capital Kyiv. But according to news reports, Russian forces are facing stiff resistance from Ukrainian soldiers.

Russia’s invasion has sent more than 2.5 million people fleeing across Ukraine’s borders and trapped hundreds of thousands in besieged cities.

Thousands of people have died since Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what he called a special military operation to rid Ukraine of dangerous nationalists and Nazis.

-Russia Asks China For Weapons For Ukraine, Creating New Row: Report

Sending weapons would risk severe economic penalties on Chinese companies and a big escalation in trade tensions with the U.S. at an extremely delicate time.
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U.S. officials say Russia has asked China for military assistance for its war in Ukraine, an unusual request that suggests Vladimir Putin has faced more setbacks than he imagined in his invasion.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss delicate matters, did not specify what kind of equipment Moscow had requested from its most powerful diplomatic partner. The official declined to say how the administration knows these details. Another U.S. official said the request is not new, and was made just after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. White House spokespeople declined to comment.

This latest twist comes as the U.S. and China plan to hold their first high-level, in-person talks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The White House said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan will meet in Rome on Monday with China’s top diplomat, Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi.

It’s part of the Biden administration’s ongoing pressure on Beijing to exert its influence on Putin to end the crisis and was arranged before news of Russia’s outreach to China spilled into the public sphere. The Russian Embassy in Washington didn’t respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

As the conflict extends into its third week, Putin’s campaign has run into difficulties. The question is whether it’s in President Xi Jinping’s interest to engage with any Russian weapons request and set off China’s biggest foreign policy shift since Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972.

Xi has tried to thread a needle in neither condemning nor supporting Putin’s actions. But while Russia sells far more arms to China than it buys, Beijing’s rapid military modernization has seen it produce more advanced weapons in recent years.

Sending weapons would risk severe economic penalties on Chinese companies and a big escalation in trade tensions with the U.S. at an extremely delicate time.

As the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, Xi is consolidating power and has made stability a priority ahead of a once-in-five-year party congress later this year at which he’s expected to secure a third term in office. China has said it wants a quick resolution to the war, and there’s no indication it wants to help prolong a conflict that is severely hurting financial and energy markets.

China’s Response

Liu Pengyu, the Chinese embassy spokesperson in Washington, said he was unaware of any suggestions that China might be willing to help Russia: “China is deeply concerned and grieved on the Ukraine situation. We sincerely hope that the situation will ease and peace will return at an early date.”
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The Biden administration believes China was aware before the invasion that Putin was planning something, Sullivan told CNN on Sunday, a claim Beijing has denied.
The U.S. is now watching whether China provides material support or economic support to Russia. “It is a concern of ours,” Sullivan said. “I’m not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats, but what I will tell you is that we are communicating directly, privately to Beijing.”

Beijing stopped short of condemning Russia for its actions in Ukraine but also called repeatedly for negotiations toward a cease-fire and a resolution of the conflict. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, China officially stayed neutral.

While China has continued to provide diplomatic support to Russia after the invasion, including amplifying a conspiracy theory about U.S.-operated biolabs in Ukraine, Beijing officials have also expressed concern about civilian casualties, vouched for Ukraine’s sovereignty and stepped up diplomacy with European nations while calling for peace talks.

Last Encounter

President Joe Biden’s top advisers want China to enforce sanctions on Russia’s economy imposed by the U.S. and its allies and officials see no evidence that Beijing has tried to circumvent them.
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The last time Sullivan and Yang met, in Switzerland in October, they discussed areas of mutual interest such as climate change, as well as areas of friction — including human rights concerns in Hong Kong and disputes over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Now the stakes are significantly higher. Just weeks before the invasion, Putin and Xi declared in a lengthy joint statement that the two nations’ friendship had “no limits.” What China knew of Putin’s intentions will be an important backdrop to the Rome conversation.

“We believe that China, in fact, was aware before the invasion took place that Vladimir Putin was planning something,” Sullivan said on CNN. “They may not have understood the full extent of it because it’s very possible Putin lied to them the way he lied to Europeans and others.”
With assistance from Daniel Ten Kate.

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