In a pre-election State of the Nation address delivered today, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened “disastrous “ consequences should the West send troops to Ukraine. Adds: “We did not start the war in Donbas…We will do everything to protect our citizens …and to root out Naziism.” (And yet Russia has been relentlessly bombing cities in Ukraine with predominantly Russian-speaking populations). He pledged the introduction of new weapons in the battlefield and showed no sign of backing down - even though Russia has been suffering humiliating losses in Ukraine

A thin sliver of land sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova asked Russia on Wednesday to provide it with protection, repeating in miniature the highly flammable scenario played out by regions of eastern Ukraine now occupied by Moscow. The call for Russian protection by Transnistria, a self-declared but internationally unrecognized microstate on the eastern bank of the Dniester River, escalated tensions that date to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The territory, largely Russian-speaking, broke away from Moldova and, after a brief war in 1992, set up its own national government. The appeal to Moscow was made at a special session of Transnistria’s Congress of Deputies, a Soviet-style assembly that rarely meets. At its last session, in 2006, the assembly asked to be annexed by Russia, though Moscow did not act on that request. The latest appeal to Russia came a day before a state of the nation address in Moscow by President Vladimir V. Putin - NYT

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Ukrainian Importation of Chinese Cars Rises by 75% From Same Period Last Year
Other Topics of Interest

Ukrainian Importation of Chinese Cars Rises by 75% From Same Period Last Year

Imports records for the first quarter of 2024 of new and used cars from China, include both Chinese and foreign brands manufactured there, the majority being electric vehicles.

Sri Lanka has told hundreds of thousands of Russians and some Ukrainians staying in the country to escape the war that they must leave in the next two weeks, immigration officers said. The immigration controller issued a notice to the tourism ministry asking Russian and Ukrainian people staying on extended tourist visas to leave Sri Lanka within two weeks from 23 February. Just over 288,000 Russians and nearly 20,000 Ukrainians have traveled to Sri Lanka in the last two years since the war began, according to official data. Commissioner-General of Immigration said the “government is not granting further visa extensions” as the “flight situation has now normalised”. However, the office of president Ranil Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation of the notice to the tourism ministry in an apparent bid to prevent diplomatic tensions - The Independent

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Poland, once considered Ukraine’s best NATO neighbour, is considering temporarily shutting its border for trade if Warsaw can’t strike a satisfactory deal with Kyiv aimed at curbing imports of food products. Even though Poland has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian asylum seekers, it has refused to crack down on radical farmers who’ve instituted an almost complete blockade of the Ukrainian border

An unspecified number of Ukrainian special forces soldiers were killed during an operation in the occupied part of Ukraine's southern region of Kherson, the Special Operations Forces of the Ukrainian military said in a statement on February 29. Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne reported that a group of Ukrainian troops died during an attempt to gain a foothold on the Tendriv spit in the northern part of the Black Sea, near the coast of occupied Kherson. Occupation officials quoted by Russian news agencies said Russian forces "destroyed a group of Ukrainian saboteurs while trying to land on the Tendriv spit." - RFE/RL

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The United States is launching an investigation into the national security risks of “connected vehicles,” focusing in particular on China-made technology, the US government said Thursday, as worries over data security grow. The latest probe concerns vehicles that constantly connect with personal devices, other cars, US infrastructure and their manufacturers — including electric and self-driving cars. And it comes as vehicles increasingly use advanced tech for navigational tools and driver assist features - HKFP

As the war in Ukraine stretches into its third year, China’s efforts as a mediator, offering its services to help bring about a cessation to the fighting, have yet to win much success. But now there could be a turning point. Recent developments, including Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive, could present a window of opportunity for Beijing to again play a “leading role” to broker peace, analysts have said. Zhang Xin, an associate professor of international relations at East China Normal University, said China’s approach towards the war included pushing for peaceful negotiations, banning the supply of weapons to Russia and providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine. For Cheng Chen, professor of political science at the University of Albany, China is the only major power that could exert “substantive pressure” on Russia, given that it is Moscow’s “most important strategic, although not formal, ally”. But according to Chen, China has been reluctant to prod Russia to make concessions to end the war as it valued Russia’s strategic partnership within the broader context of heightened tensions with the US. “The West and Ukraine would certainly want China to do more. But from China’s point of view, it will only do so when it feels like it is in China’s interest,” she said - SCMP.

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This review is reprinted with the author’s permission from his World Briefing blog.

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