US authorities moved Monday to seize a $350 million Boeing jet believed to be one of the world’s most expensive private airplanes from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
A federal magistrate judge signed a warrant authorizing the seizure of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that authorities said was worth less than $100 million before a lavish customization. The warrant also authorized seizure of a $60 million Gulfstream jet.
An FBI agent wrote in an affidavit that the plans are subject to seizure because they had been moved between March 4 and March 15 without licenses being obtained, in violation of sanctions placed against Russia. According to the affidavit, Abramovich controlled the Gulfstream through a series of shell companies. The plane is believed to have been in Moscow since March 15.
The Boeing is believed to be in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, following a roundtrip March 4 flight from Dubai to Moscow, the affidavit said.
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►Mass burials and lack of access to drinking water have led to a “critical” risk of cholera in Russian-occupied Mariupol, Deputy Health Minister Ihor Kuzin said.
►Russia’s ambassador in Rome was summoned to the Italian foreign ministry after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov derided Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio’s peace plan. The plan calls for incremental cease-fires and humanitarian corridors; Lavrov also insinuated that Di Maio was out for self-promotion to gain votes.
►Russia’s foreign ministry has called US news media to a meeting to warn that their accreditations and visas could be withdrawn if the US does not rescind measures limiting Russian journalists in America.
Zelenskyy: ‘Fatigue is growing’ in West
Some Western politicians and the media are pushing Ukraine to end the war with a result not beneficial for Ukraine, but his nation won’t be swayed, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday.
“I do not have any negotiations on any plans,” he said of peace talks. “Such negotiations are currently at zero.”
Still, Zelenskyy said he believes Ukraine should work “with all European countries, world powers” to end the conflict on positive terms. But he remained defiant as Russian troops blew up bridges and shelled apartments in Sievierodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk, the last two major cities of the Luhansk province still held by Ukraine. If captured, Russian would take control of the contested area.
“Fatigue is growing, people want a result for themselves,” he said in a speech to his countrymen. “You and I need a result for us.”
Zelenskyy visits front lines in Donbas
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the front lines Sunday in the hotly contested Donbas, getting an up-close look at his military operation, awarding medals for heroic efforts and leading a moment of silence to honor fallen troops.
“I want to thank you for your great work, for your service, for protecting all of us, our state,” Zelenskyy said at one gathering. “I am grateful to everyone. I want to wish you and your families good health. Take care of yourselves.”
Zelenskyy’s tour included Luhansk, where Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Monday that fierce fighting was continuing in the crucial city of Sievierodonetsk.
“Our defenders managed to conduct counteroffensive and free nearly half of the city, but the situation has worsened again now,” Haidai said. “Our guys are defending the positions in the industrial zone on the outskirts of the city.”
Russian foreign minister can’t visit Serbia after neighbors close airspace
Serbia and Russia confirmed Monday that a planned visit by Russia’s foreign minister will not take place after Serbia’s neighbors – Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro – refused to allow Sergey Lavrov’s plane to fly through their airspace en route to Serbia. While formally seeking European Union membership, Serbia has maintained friendly ties with Russia and has refused Western sanctions against Moscow.
“The unthinkable has happened,” Lavrov said. “What has happened is basically a deprivation of a sovereign state’s right to conduct foreign policy.
US general marks D-Day with strong words for Ukraine
Army Gen. Mark Milley, marking the 78th anniversary of D-Day at the American Cemetery in France overlooking Omaha Beach, said that Ukrainians are experiencing the same horrors as the French citizens experienced in World War II. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said large countries can’t use their superior military might to invade smaller ones without consequences.
“The fight in Ukraine is about honoring these veterans of World War II,” he said. “It’s about maintaining the so-called global rules-based international order that was established by the dead who are buried here at this cemetery.”
UK joins US in providing multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine
The United Kingdom will provide Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems capable of striking targets 50 miles away with “pinpoint accuracy” to Ukraine, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced. Ukraine troops will be trained to use the system in Britain. The move has been closely coordinated with the US decision to provide a variant of the system.
The decision comes in response to requests from Ukrainian forces for longer range precision weapons in order to defend themselves from Russian heavy artillery, which has been used to devastating effect in the eastern Donbas region.
“As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine,” Wallace said in a statement. “These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which (Russian leader Vladimir) Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.”
In battle for crucial Donbas city, ‘Russians are constantly attacking’
A Ukraine commander leading the effort to wrest the crucial city of Sievierodonetsk from the Russian military says fierce street battles are underway and the city is being battered. Petro Kuzyk told Radio Svoboda that his forces must constantly maneuver to avoid being crushed. Each side gains and loses territory multiple times in a day, he said.
“The enemy prevails to a certain degree in cannon artillery, quantity of tanks, maybe, in personnel, and is actively using this advantage,” he said. “They are constantly attacking, shelling, ruining houses and our fortifications.”
Graduates perform goodbye waltz in front of school’s ruins
Graduating students waltzed in front of the ruins of their high school in Kharkiv, reviving a tradition that has been put on hold because of the war. In Ukrainian schools, the graduating class traditionally dances a waltz in front of the entire school as students hear the bell being rung for the last time, Pravda Ukraine reports.
Olena Mosolova, a geography teacher whose daughter is also graduating this year, said that the last waltz was an opportunity to at least somehow recreate the atmosphere of the “last bell” for the students.
“We had imagined a different ‘last bell’ for our kids, but it is what it is, and we want to have a celebration for the kids,” she said.
The school was the site of heavy fighting in February between Russian forces and the Ukrainian military. Pravda reported that at one point 30 Russian soldiers occupied the school until they were driven out by Ukraine forces.
Russia: We will take more of Ukraine if West provides long-range missiles
Russia has been concentrating its military might on the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at an online press conference Monday that Russia will push deeper into Ukraine so longer-range missiles provided by the West can’t reach its cities. Ukraine has sought those missile because Russia has severely damaged several cities by firing long-range missiles from a distance Ukraine weapons can’t reach.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin has already commented on the situation that will emerge with the arrival of new armaments,” Lavrov said. “I can only add that the longer the range of armaments that you will supply, the further away we will move from our territory.”
Ukrainian official pushes back on Macron
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on Sunday pushed back on French President Emmanuel Macron’s warning against humiliating Russia despite its “historic” mistake of invading Ukraine. “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means,” Macron said, according to French media. “I am convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.”
Sunday on Twitter, Podolyak said, “While someone asks not to humiliate, the Kremlin resorts to new insidious attacks. Today’s missile strikes at Kyiv have only 1 goal – kill as many as possible.”
He then called for more weapons to fight Russia, as well as additional sanctions.
Contributing: The Associated Press