Russia puts Ukrainian President Zelenskyy on wanted list | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

Russia’s interior ministry says it has put Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a wanted list.

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who held the post for five years from 2014, and the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Pavliuk, were also added to the list.

Russian officials on Saturday cited violations against Russia’s criminal code, but did not give details.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry responded on the same day by referring to the arrest warrant that the International Criminal Court issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin for suspected war crimes.

The statement says reports about Zelenskyy being put on the wanted list “demonstrate the desperation of the Russian state machine and propaganda, which are at a loss for what else to invent to garner attention.”

A US think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, said on Saturday that the Kremlin’s decision is likely part of an information operation and wider efforts “to discredit the current and previous pro-Western Ukrainian governments” as well as “to isolate Ukraine diplomatically.”

Putin’s fifth term as Russian president will begin on Tuesday. The country will mark the anniversary of the end of World War Two on Thursday with Victory Day. Observers view Moscow’s move as a fresh attempt to justify the invasion of Ukraine before the start of Putin’s next term and the anniversary.

On Sunday, the Ukrainian military announced that there had been 95 battles with Russian forces in the past 24 hours. Russia has been stepping up its offensive in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk and other areas.

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