Day 470 of the Invasion of Ukraine: US claims Russia is Responsible for Blowing Up the Kakhovka Dam

World » UKRAINE | June 8, 2023, Thursday // 11:34
Bulgaria: Day 470 of the Invasion of Ukraine: US claims Russia is Responsible for Blowing Up the Kakhovka Dam

Day 470 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • The White House: Russia is responsible for blowing up the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant
  • Bloomberg: The Russian elite is losing faith that Putin will win the war
  • The army of Belarus took control of the border with Ukraine
  • Several NATO countries are already considering sending troops to Ukraine
  • Bulgaria’s President condemned the attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam
  • After the collapse of Kakhovka: Floating mines raise alarm as residents flee
  • Zelensky: I am shocked by the lack of reaction of the UN and the Red Cross
  • Putin on the explosion at the "Nova Kakhovka" HPP: A barbaric act; The Tolyatti - Odesa ammonia pipeline was blown up
  • Germany's NTV: Bulgaria is the secret savior of the Ukrainian counter-offensive
  • Putin has promised to accept the peace mission from African leaders
  • Russian dissidents: The West can topple Putin by splitting the elite

The White House: Russia is responsible for blowing up the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant

The White House holds Russia responsible for the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, which was under the control of Russian forces, a White House spokeswoman said.

She noted that the US is still gathering information about what happened, but the responsibility, in any case, rests with Russia, whose troops are generally not supposed to be on Ukrainian territory.

"This dam was under the control of Russia and it is responsible for the destruction caused by this war. And we will do everything we can to support the people of Ukraine at this difficult time," spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.

The Washington Institute for the Study of War noted today that before the Kakhovka Dam was blown up, Russian propagandists were concerned that the Ukrainian military might force the Dnieper River, on which the hydroelectric facility is located

The institute points out that there is currently no direct evidence that the Russians deliberately blew up the dam. At the same time, however, they have a very strong motive for this - to prevent the landing of Ukrainian forces on the left, i.e. eastern, bank of the Dnieper, which is still under Russian control.

The day before the destruction of the dam, and even before that, Russian propagandists claimed that fighting was taking place between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the Dacha region on the eastern bank of the Dnieper and on the islands near Kherson, the institute recalls. At the same time, it is claimed that on the eve of the explosion of the dam, the number of Ukrainian boats in this area increased significantly, he points out. Russian military correspondents suggested that the armed forces of Ukraine might try to seize the Kakhovka HPP itself and use it as a bridgehead on the left bank.

Bloomberg: The Russian elite is losing faith that Putin will win the war

A deepening gloom grips the Russian elite regarding the prospects of President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, Bloomberg reports today. Even the biggest optimists see the "frozen" conflict as the best possible way out for the Kremlin for now, the agency notes.

Many in the political and business elite are tired of the war and want it to stop, though they doubt Putin will stop the fighting, according to Bloomberg sources, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. While no one wants to rebel against the president over the invasion, absolute confidence in his leadership has been shaken, four of the sources said.

The most favorable prospect would be talks later this year that would turn the war into a "frozen" conflict and allow Putin to declare a Pyrrhic victory for the Russians by holding on to some of the seized Ukrainian territory, two of the sources said.

"There's an elite impasse: They're afraid they could become scapegoats for a senseless war," Kirill Rogov, a former Russian government adviser who left Russia after the invasion and now heads Re:Russia, a Vienna-based think tank, told Bloomberg. "It's really surprising how widespread the idea has become among the Russian elite that Putin is not going to win this war."

The growing despondency is likely to fuel accusations of responsibility for the failure of the invasion, which has already sparked a sharp public spat between hard-line nationalists and the Russian defense ministry. With the Kremlin facing a Ukrainian counter-offensive backed by billions in arms from the US and Europe, expectations are low among Russian officials of any major breakthroughs following the failure of the winter offensive.

Attacks inside Russia add to the sense of insecurity. The fighting spread to the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, calling into question Putin's image as the guarantor of the security of the Russian Federation.

Even those who support the invasion and want to step up fighting against Ukraine have become "quiet" about Russia's prospects in a war that was supposed to be over in days and is now in its 16th month. The nationalists, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner mercenary group, fiercely attacked Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov for military failures and demanded full mobilization and martial law to prevent catastrophic defeat.

"There were too many big mistakes," Sergei Markov, a political consultant close to the Kremlin, told Bloomberg. "There were expectations a long time ago that Russia would take control of most of Ukraine, but those expectations have not been met."

Putin and his top officials insist Russia will win, although it is no longer very clear what would constitute victory after its army failed to capture Kyiv early in the war. There is no sign of any challenge to his leadership from his circle.

According to four people familiar with the situation, the majority of the elite are keeping their heads down and minding their own business, convinced that they cannot influence events. Putin has shown no signs of wanting to end the war, five of the sources said.

The Kremlin has instituted the harshest crackdown in decades and is punishing the slightest dissent with the invasion with prison terms. Russia's middle class, which has been the backbone of support for the opposition to Putin's rule for the past decade, has been forced into silence or fled the country as part of the biggest wave of emigration since the 1990s.

Polls so far show that most ordinary Russians continue to support Putin, who has mixed Soviet-era nostalgia with Russia's imperial past to assure he is protecting the country's interests and reclaiming historic lands by annexing areas of eastern and southern Ukraine.

Still, anxiety may be rising again after its peak last fall, when Putin announced the mobilization of 300,000 reservists. A May 19-21 poll of 1,500 Russians by polling firm FOM showed 53 percent thought their family and friends were in an anxious mood, an 11 percentage point jump from April.

Prigozhin toured Russian cities last week, warning of a "difficult" war that could last years, while advocating martial law and full mobilization. He said in an interview last month that Russia risks a 1917-style revolution because of the divide between the Kremlin elite and ordinary Russians, whose children are "coming back in zinc coffins" from Ukraine.

The ruling United Russia party launched an investigation after senior State Duma lawmaker Konstantin Zatulin told a forum that the invasion had achieved none of its stated goals.

"Let's get out of this somehow," Zatulin said.

Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian Orthodox nationalist who supports Putin, wants Russia to continue fighting because "the Ukrainian state must cease to exist." He rejects any talk of a ceasefire, although he says many in the ruling elite, including a "huge number" of businessmen, would support China's recent peace initiative that calls for a truce.

"They say they support the 'special military operation,' but in reality they are against it," said Malofeev, a multimillionaire who also sponsors volunteer forces fighting in Ukraine. "In six months we will have a clear superiority in the production of ammunition and projectiles and we will be ready to go on the offensive."

Of course, Russia still possesses vast resources to fight. Its troops are entrenched on the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine, and Ukrainian air defenses have been busy as Russian missiles and drones have rained down on the country for the past month.

Ukraine rules out a resolution to the conflict that would allow Russia to occupy any of its territory. Kyiv has been preparing a counteroffensive for months.

"It's time to take back what is ours," Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said in a May 27 Telegram post.

With no end in sight to the fighting, Russian officials and billionaires know they face potential years of international isolation and deepening dependence on the Kremlin as Putin pushes businesses to support the war effort and bans those around him from leaving their posts.

They and their families have been hit by asset freezes and travel bans under US and European sanctions, which have also made Russia's economy one of the most sanctioned in the world.

"Officials have adapted to the situation, but no one sees light at the end of the tunnel -- they are pessimistic about the future," Alexandra Prokopenko, a former Russian journalist and central bank adviser who is now at Carnegie's Russia-Eurasia Center, told Bloomberg in Berlin. "The best they hope for is for Russia to lose without humiliation."

The army of Belarus took control of the border with Ukraine

The Ministry of Defense of Belarus announced that the military has taken control of all particularly important sites along the border with Ukraine. This was reported by the Russian Interfax agency, referring to the military television channel VoenTV.

"Paratroopers, gunners, motorized riflemen, crews of unmanned aerial systems. Belarusian servicemen continue to perform tasks to strengthen the protection of the state border. They have mastered particularly important objects - transport arteries, bridges and crossings. Positions are equipped for shooting with small arms and military equipment", reports the TV channel of the Belarusian Ministry of Defense.

"The tasks are carried out in cooperation with employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the units of the border service," VoenTV adds.

"Interfax" quoted the announcement, according to which "combat training is conducted daily."

"The paratroopers use drones, thermal imaging devices, night sights and are ready for various scenarios," the announcement said.

Earlier, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus announced the strengthening of the border with Ukraine by servicemen of the special operations forces.

Several NATO countries are already considering sending troops to Ukraine

A group of NATO countries may wish to send troops to the territory of Ukraine if member states, including the United States, do not provide concrete security guarantees to Kyiv at the upcoming summit of the allies in Vilnius, believes the bloc's former secretary general Anders Rasmussen, quoted by the “Guardian” newspaper.

Rasmussen, who is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's official adviser on Ukraine's place in the future European security architecture, has been touring Europe and Washington to gauge the changing mood before the critical summit begins on July 11.

He has warned that even if a group of countries provide Ukraine with security guarantees, others will not allow the issue of Ukraine's future NATO membership to remain off the agenda in Vilnius.

Anders Rasmussen made his speech on the occasion of the words of the current head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, that the issue of security guarantees will be on the agenda in Vilnius, but that NATO, according to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, can provide full guarantees for security of full members only.

Rasmussen noted that if NATO does not find a common way forward for Ukraine, there is a clear possibility that individual countries will take action, BNR reports.

Such countries, according to him, like Poland, which is very involved in providing concrete aid to Ukraine.

Poland may be followed by the Baltic states.

"I think the Poles would seriously consider forming a coalition of those willing to send troops to Ukraine if Kyiv gets nothing from Vilnius," said Anders Rasmussen.

Bulgaria’s President condemned the attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev condemned the attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam, which Russia and Ukraine blame each other for.

On Twitter, the head of state wrote that the attack endangers many civilians, poses a serious risk to the environment and to the security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Rumen Radev emphasized that those responsible for this disgraceful act must bear responsibility.

Nearly 6,000 people were evacuated after the wall of the huge dam collapsed.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, called for the immediate intervention of international humanitarian organizations to deal with the consequences of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and called the lack of reaction from the United Nations and the Red Cross a failure.

"If international organizations do not come to the disaster zone, it means that they do not exist at all or that they are incapable," Zelensky said.

The World Bank will support Ukraine by making a rapid assessment of the damage and the needs of the people in the affected area. A senior official pointed out that the destruction has very serious consequences for the provision of basic services and for the environment.

Ukrainian authorities said more than 5,900 people had been evacuated from flooded areas. 30 settlements were affected, of which 10 are under the control of Russian forces.

According to the Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, a purposeful disinformation campaign is being conducted in the American media about what happened at the Kakhovka HPP, with the aim of shifting Ukraine's responsibility to Russia. Antonov accused the authorities there of carrying out a terrorist attack that led to large-scale flooding and an ecological disaster, and noted that "the Washington patrons of Kyiv never criticize it, but encourage all the blows that Russians suffer."

After the collapse of Kakhovka: Floating mines raise alarm as residents flee

A breach in a large dam in southern Ukraine will have a catastrophic effect on locating anti-personnel mines, the Red Cross has warned, as quoted by the BBC.

Thousands of people have already been evacuated from parts of Kherson region.

Three flood-related deaths were reported in the Russian-held town of Oleshki.

Evgeny Rishchuk, the exiled Ukrainian mayor of the city, told Suspilne public television that he believed there would be more victims.

The BBC notes that it has not been able to verify the claims of Ukrainian and Russian officials.

Erik Tollefsen, head of the weapons contamination unit at the Red Cross, warned that the mines had caused great concern not only for the residents of Kherson but also for those who came to help.

"We knew where the dangers were," he told AFP. "We don't know now. All we know is that they're somewhere downstream," Tollefsen added.

Natalia Khumenyuk, spokeswoman for Ukraine's Southern Military Command, commented on Ukrainian television: "Many anti-personnel mines (in Russian-occupied areas) were displaced, turning into floating mines."

"They pose a great danger," she noted, explaining that they are likely to explode if they collide or hit debris. Part of a dam wall in Russian-controlled Nova Kakhovka was breached in the early hours of Tuesday, prompting mass evacuations as water levels downstream rose rapidly. Authorities say 30 towns and villages along the Dnieper River have been flooded and nearly 2,000 homes have been submerged in the city of Kherson, the regional capital.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said the Ukrainians are developing a plan to help people on both sides of the Dnieper River.

"We are rescuing everyone on the right (Ukrainian-controlled) bank and developing a plan to help people on the (Russian-controlled) left bank."

Of the 30 flooded towns and villages, 20 are controlled by Ukraine and 10 are temporarily occupied by Russia, he pointed out.

Klymenko accused the Russians of leaving "people to fend for themselves".

The head of Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, said 1,700 people had been evacuated so far, while Kremlin-appointed officials across the river said 1,200 people had been taken to safety.

According to officials, more than 40,000 people - 17,000 in the Ukrainian-controlled territory west of the Dnieper and 25,000 in the Russian-occupied eastern part - must leave.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier on Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of people in Kherson region were without drinking water.

Zelensky: I am shocked by the lack of reaction of the UN and the Red Cross

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said today that he was shocked by what he said was the failure of the United Nations and the Red Cross to provide aid to the affected areas after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, Reuters reported, citing BTA.

Although the accident happened yesterday, "they are not here", Zelensky told the newspapers "Bild", "Welt" and "Politico".

"We have no reaction. I am shocked," added the Ukrainian president.

He also said that Russian soldiers were firing from a distance while rescue operations were underway.

"While our rescuers are trying to help people, they are shelling us," Zelensky said.

World Bank: We will support Ukraine

The World Bank will support Ukraine by conducting a rapid assessment of damage and needs following the destruction of the Kakhovka dam wall on the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces, Reuters reported, citing BTA.

Anna Bjerde, who is the World Bank's managing director of operations, said in a tweet that the destruction had very serious consequences for the provision of essential services and for the environment.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Twitter that he had spoken with Bjerde about the consequences of the dam collapse, and she had assured him that the World Bank would quickly assess the damage and needs.

Ukrainian authorities said more than 5,900 people had been evacuated from flooded areas after the wall collapsed, which Ukraine and Russia have blamed on each other, AFP reported. Ukraine's Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said 30 settlements were flooded, 10 of which were under the control of Russian forces.

The Russian-appointed local administration announced that it had evacuated more than 4,000 people, AFP reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said international humanitarian organizations must take immediate action to deal with the consequences of the dam's collapse, Reuters reported.

"It is necessary for international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, to immediately intervene in the rescue operation and help the people in the occupied part of the Kherson region," Zelensky said in his regular video address. "If international organizations do not come to the disaster zone, it will mean that they do not exist at all or that they are incapable," Zelensky said.

According to him, residents of areas in southern Ukraine occupied by Russian forces are without water, food and medical aid, and it is impossible to estimate the risk of how many people may die.

Macron: We will help Ukraine meet its urgent needs

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that he will send "aid to meet the urgent needs" of Ukraine after the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP, reported AFP.

"France condemns this horrific act that puts the population at risk," the French president said on Twitter after a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. "I was able to express to President Zelensky my solidarity with his people after the attack on the Kakhovka dam," Macron added.

The Elysée Palace said the French foreign ministry's crisis center would quickly send the first convoy of around 10 tons of goods requested by Ukrainians related to health, hygiene and water purification, including a portable tanker.

The Ukrainian president said earlier on Twitter that he mentioned to Macron the "environmental and humanitarian consequences of the Russian terrorist act" and stressed "Ukraine's urgent needs to deal with the catastrophe" in the Kherson region.

Zelensky said he also agreed with Macron to "continue cooperation in the field of defense," in particular on the air defense of Ukrainian cities.

"We hope that the training of Ukrainian pilots will start as soon as possible," he added, and France promised to provide "basic" training without predetermining the type of aircraft that could be delivered and used by Kyiv.

The Ukrainian president also thanked his French counterpart for his "support" in the UN Security Council and discussed "forms of security guarantees for Ukraine" ahead of the NATO summit in Vilnius, scheduled for July.

In this regard, Paris reaffirmed that the aim is to achieve "decisive progress not only on the ground", in relation to the expected counter-offensive of Kyiv, "but also to consolidate the chances of a lasting peace".

Putin on the explosion at the "Nova Kakhovka" HPP: A barbaric act; The Tolyatti - Odesa ammonia pipeline was blown up

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the destruction of the hydroelectric plant in Nova Kakhovka a "barbaric act" and blamed Ukraine and the West for what happened. Meanwhile, the evacuation of people from Russian-controlled flooded areas continues, pro-Russian occupation local authorities said. So far, 1,300 local residents have been evacuated. Seven people are reported missing.

In a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Erdogan, Vladimir Putin said that Kyiv and the West "are betting on a dangerous escalation of hostilities, committing war crimes, openly using terrorist methods and organizing sabotage on Russian territory."

Earlier, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said responsibility for the destruction of the hydroelectric power plant in Nova Kakhovka lies with the United States, Great Britain and their NATO allies. In his words, this is "another planned terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime". The spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, said the same at her regular weekly briefing.

"Deliberate and targeted destruction of civilian infrastructure with the aim of harming the civilian population - this is, of course, an act of terrorism."

Zakharova also announced that on June 5, Ukrainian saboteurs blew up the Tolyatti-Odesa pipeline, which transports ammonia for the production of fertilizers. “I will remind you that the resumption of the work of the pipeline is one of Russia's conditions for the continuation of the so-called grain deal”.

Meanwhile, the governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported that the Ukrainian army continued to shell the city of Shebekino with Grad rocket launchers. No people were injured. More than 40 shells hit the industrial area where fires broke out.

Germany's NTV: Bulgaria is the secret savior of the Ukrainian counter-offensive

The list of weapons with which Ukraine wants to regain the territories occupied by Russia is long. Apart from fighters and tanks, however, the military needs one thing above all: ammunition. But Kyiv will not gain much from its allies' donations of heavy weapons if one country does not cooperate: Bulgaria.

Thus begins a commentary by the German news channel NTV about the role of Bulgaria in the Ukrainian counter-offensive at the moment and the related obstacles that Russia has placed before the formation of a pro-Western government.

"Ukraine is ready," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview when asked what he could say about the long-announced counteroffensive. He also said that the country would like to have more weapons, but cannot wait more months for their delivery.

For weeks, the president has been traveling the world to lobby for more support. The focus is often on Western countries that have given Kyiv long-awaited promises such as F-16 jets or long-range Storm Shadow missiles.

However, Kyiv depends above all on a country that almost no one talks about when it comes to arms supplies: Bulgaria, the report said.

For a long time, Bulgaria was the only NATO country, apart from Hungary, that did not supply arms to Ukraine. At least not officially. But last spring, when the Ukrainian army ran out of the fuel and Soviet-caliber ammunition it needed to fight the Russians, salvation came from an unexpected source: Bulgaria.

It later emerged that during his visit to Kyiv on April 28, 2022, then-Prime Minister Kirill Petkov not only pledged his support for Zelensky verbally, as officially announced - but secretly followed through with action.

Due to the complex internal politics of Bulgaria and the pro-Russian orientation of other parties in the parliament, the public was not allowed to know about it at the time. However, Petkov's liberal party "We Continue the Change", as well as their like-minded colleagues from "Democratic Bulgaria", took a clear position in favor of Ukraine from the beginning of the invasion.

Initially, a decision was made in the parliament to supply Ukraine with ammunition, says Norbert Beckmann, head of the foreign office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Bulgaria. However, after the country delivered what was agreed upon, President Rumen Radev officially announced that Bulgaria had fulfilled its obligations and did not wish to deliver any more.

Two coalitions represented in the current parliament - “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” and GERB-SDS - disagreed on internal politics and at the same time promised to continue to do everything possible to ensure that ammunition will continue to be supplied to Ukraine.

"And we can assume that these deliveries have continued despite the political dispute in Bulgaria," Beckmann told

Last year, Bulgaria supplied Kyiv with weapons worth one billion US dollars. Primarily ammunition and grenades were supplied, most of them clandestinely or through third countries such as Romania and Poland.

Bulgaria is so useful to Ukraine because, as a former Eastern Bloc country, it has Soviet munitions at its disposal. Because despite arms supplies from the West, Ukraine still operates mainly with Soviet equipment.

Ammunition for it is scarce - Poland also supplies from old stocks, but does not have enough to meet the needs of the Ukrainian army. Bulgaria, on the other hand, still has 300,000 shells that can be delivered to Ukraine immediately.

"The second reason is that Bulgaria is still actively producing," says Beckmann. However, what exactly is produced and supplied is not published - the fear is too great that from this Russia can deduce which weapons are used for the most combat operations and what ammunition and equipment Ukraine has. "Therefore, the information is classified."

Bulgaria also plays an important role in the upcoming counter-offensive. Without the supply of large quantities of Soviet munitions, it would almost certainly fail, military experts say. This is mainly due to the fact that Ukrainian soldiers have to fight their way through minefields when retaking the occupied territories.

They are first detonated by shells before the infantry is dispatched. This costs time and ammo. Because of this, the soldiers advance slowly but suffer fewer losses.

Arms supplies to Ukraine, however, have become a political issue in Bulgaria because of its old ties with Russia. The politically unstable country elected a new parliament on April 2 for the fifth time in just one year.

The winner was the center-right alliance GERB-SDS of the former head of government Boyko Borissov, followed by the liberal-conservative WCC-DB coalition of ex-prime minister Kiril Petkov and Hristo Ivanov.

"Both coalitions are leaving no stone unturned to support Ukraine in the war against Russia," says Beckmann.

Forming a government at this point is crucial for Kyiv and the EU. According to the representative of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, there is also sufficient evidence that Russia is trying to influence the formation of the government.

"The longer there is no government, the more difficult it is, of course, to act politically," says Beckmann. Russia may try to change Bulgaria's political orientation in the long term, he says. It also actively tries to influence public debates and the media.

"The Russian ambassador continues to interfere in domestic political debates in violation of all diplomatic customs," he adds.

Nevertheless, Bulgarian sociological institutes see no danger of the pro-Russian, nationalist party getting a large majority. Most citizens stand behind Ukraine. Despite this, Russia is still liked by a considerable number of citizens.

"During the communist phase, Bulgaria was very closely connected with Moscow".

In addition, says Beckman, there are also many traditions that still bind the two countries. About 20 to 25 percent of Bulgarians still support Russia. The remaining 75 percent, however, are decidedly democratic and pro-European, Beckmann says.

Therefore, the formation of a government in Bulgaria is decisive for the support for Ukraine. It is important that EU partners and NATO countries also consider Bulgaria, Beckmann said.

"Simply due to the geographical position of Bulgaria, with the ports on the Black Sea and the Danube, it represents a very important transport corridor, for example for grain supplies from Ukraine."

Therefore, both in Ukraine and in the West, it is necessary to wait and see whether Bulgaria will be able to overcome the permanent political crisis and be a capable foreign policy partner.

Putin has promised to accept the peace mission from African leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed he would host the African peacekeeping mission during a phone call with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Ramaphosa called Moscow to inform Putin about the upcoming peace mission of African leaders to Russia and Ukraine, the South African presidency said.

"President Putin welcomed the initiative of the African heads of state and expressed his willingness to accept the peace mission," the presidency said in a statement.

A delegation of African heads of state is expected to visit Ukraine and Russia in June in the hope of persuading them to end hostilities, Ramaphosa's spokesman said last month, adding that the dates had not yet been set.

The two leaders also discussed the Russia-Africa summit, which is to be held at the end of July in St. Petersburg, the announcement added.

Nothing is said about Vladimir Putin's possible participation in the BRICS summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and the Republic of South Africa) in August in South Africa. His presence is in question after the international court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president for war crimes related to the abduction of children from Ukraine.

Last week, there was an envoy of Pope Francis in Moscow with a similar task, but he was not received by President Putin.

China and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also presented their plans for restoring peace in Ukraine. Moscow has said that it does not see conditions for starting peace talks with Ukraine.

Russian dissidents: The West can topple Putin by splitting the elite

Vladimir Putin's regime can be weakened and overthrown by splintering the Russian elite from the outside.

Russian dissidents Dmitry Gudkov and Lev Ponomaryov expressed this opinion to Bulgarian media "Club Z". The two participated in the biggest ever conference of the Russian opposition. It was held in the European Parliament in Brussels.

However, the two indicated different ways to achieve the goal.

"The West should declare these Russian representatives as war criminals, with whom it no longer intends to negotiate or have contact at all", Dmitry Gudkov believes.

"These are the people who directly participated in the organization, financing and preparation of the war in Ukraine. There are dozens of them and sooner or later they must be tried," said the oppositionist, who spends part of his time in Bulgaria and whose parents have an apartment in the "Golden Sands" resort.

"The rest - those who did not directly participate in the war, should be approached as in the case of Slobodan Milosevic. They should be given the opportunity to cross over to the other side if they extradite or surrender the war criminals", added Gudkov.

"Broadly speaking, Europe must show that in the event of Putin's removal, it is ready to talk to certain people, if they fulfill certain conditions - withdraw the troops, stop the war, liberate all occupied territories, pay compensations, start reforms," the dissident believes.

Gudkov is adamant that there are two groups of people. One is criminals who made the decisions. And the other - those who were either silent or spoke little against the war. This group includes businessmen and representatives of the regional elites. Dmitry Gudkov pointed out that he knows quite a few such people.

And with such measures, according to him, a palace coup can be reached. Because for now, he does not see any other possible scenario for replacing Putin.

Lev Ponomaryov has developed a plan according to which the West will force Russia to democracy. This would happen with the hardening of sanctions, which would lead to a split in the elite.

"There should be stricter personal sanctions and they should affect state representatives above a certain level. They should not be issued visas. And the visas issued so far must be canceled. The measures should also apply to family members. The wife of a sanctioned deputy minister of defense cannot go to Courchevel to rest," explained Ponomaryov.

He lives in France and is among the veteran dissidents. He worked with academician Andrei Sakharov back in the day. He was also a close associate of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was killed in 2015.

According to Ponomaryov, sanctions should be imposed against all Russian judges, deputies from both houses of parliament, ministers, deputy ministers, and also against all military commanders.

Lev Ponomaryov handed over his plan to Lithuanian MEP Andrius Kubilius from the European People's Party (EPP) - one of the organizers of the conference of the Russian opposition.

Novinite is still the only Bulgarian media that publishes a summary of events and highlights related to the conflict, every single day. Our coverage began on day one - 24.02.2022 and will not stop until the war has concluded. Despite the pressure, our independent media will continue to provide its readers with accurate and up-to-date information. Thank you for your support! #stayinformed

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