Putin Orders Stronger Russian Border Security

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link in Moscow, Russia May 26, 2023. (Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link in Moscow, Russia May 26, 2023. (Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters)
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Putin Orders Stronger Russian Border Security

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link in Moscow, Russia May 26, 2023. (Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link in Moscow, Russia May 26, 2023. (Sputnik/Kremlin via Reuters)

President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ordered stronger border security to ensure "fast" Russian military and civilian movement into Ukrainian regions now under Moscow control.

 

Speaking in a congratulatory message to the border service, a branch of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), on their Border Guard Day holiday, Putin said their task was to "reliably cover" the lines in the vicinity of the combat zone.

 

Attacks inside Russia have been growing in intensity in recent weeks, chiefly with drone strikes on regions along the border but increasingly also deep into the country, including on an oil pipeline northwest of Moscow on Saturday.

 

"It is necessary to ensure the fast movement of both military and civilian vehicles and cargo, including food, humanitarian aid building materials sent to the new subjects of the (Russian) Federation," Putin said in a message posted on the Kremlin's Telegram messaging channel.

 

Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk are the four regions in Ukraine that Putin proclaimed annexed last September following what Kyiv said were sham referendums. Russian forces only partly control the four regions.

 

On Saturday, officials said three people were injured in Ukrainian shelling in Belgorod, a region that was the target of pro-Ukrainian fighters this week that sparked doubts about Russia's defense and military capabilities.

 

The Kursk and Belgorod Russian regions bordering Ukraine have been the most frequent target of attacks that have damaged power, rail and military infrastructure, with local officials blaming Ukraine.

 

Kyiv almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia and on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine, but said that destroying infrastructure is preparation for its planned ground assault.

 

Ukraine indicated on Saturday that it was ready to launch a long-promised counteroffensive to recapture territory taken by Russia in the 15-month long war, a conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands and turned Ukrainian cities into rubble.



Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden holed up at his beach house Thursday, battling both a bout of COVID and calls by senior allies for him to abandon his 2024 reelection bid.

While rival Donald Trump prepared for his star turn at the Republican National Convention, the 81-year-old US president found himself in both personal and political isolation.

The top Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both reportedly met with Biden in recent days to warn that his candidacy threatens his party's prospects in November's election.

Influential former House speaker Nancy Pelosi added to his woes by privately telling Biden he cannot win and could harm Democrats' chances of recapturing the lower chamber, CNN reported.

Several party figures were meanwhile quoted anonymously by the Axios news outlet as saying that they believed the pressure would persuade Biden to drop out as soon as this weekend.

Biden has insisted he is not backing down, adamant that he is the candidate who beat Trump before and will do it again this year. Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, his deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday: “He is not wavering on anything.”

"He's staying in the race," Fulks told a press conference on the sidelines of the Republican convention in Milwaukee.

"Our campaign is not working through any scenarios where President Biden is not the top of the ticket -- he is and will be the Democratic nominee."

California Senator Alex Padilla said Biden was "not skipping a beat."

"I know having spoken to him personally he's committed to the campaign," he added.

Using mountains of data showing Biden’s standing could wipe out the ranks of Democrats in Congress, frank conversations in public and private, and now, the president’s own time off the campaign trail after testing positive for COVID-19, many Democrats see an opportunity to encourage a reassessment.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he was "doing well."

His COVID diagnosis however came at the worst possible time for his campaign, forcing him to cut short a trip to Las Vegas and isolate at his holiday home in Rehoboth, Delaware.

The split-screen with Trump could not have been more stark, with Trump set to formally accept the Republican nomination in Milwaukee.

US networks showed images of frail looking Biden gingerly descending the steps of Air Force One in Delaware, in a week when Trump is lauded by supporters each night at a packed party convention.

Former president Trump, who at 78 is just three years younger than Biden, is riding a wave of support from his party after surviving an assassination attempt on Saturday that left him with a bandaged ear.

The United States could now be approaching the climax of an extraordinary three weeks in politics, which started when Biden gave a disastrous performance during a televised debate with Trump.

Biden blamed jet lag and a cold, but the fact that America's commander-in-chief has now fallen ill for a second time just as fears grow about his fitness for the job has merely intensified the panic in Democratic ranks.