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    Russia-Ukraine war news: New video of Paul Whelan; Poland urges Belarus to expel Wagner

    Polish servicemen patrol the area around the Polish and Belarusian border in Gobiaty, Poland, on Aug. 12. (Michal Dyjuk/AP)

    Poland and the three Baltic countries called on Belarus to expel the Wagner Group due to border security concerns exacerbated by the Russian paramilitary organization’s presence. Fighters from the mercenary group — led by Yevgeniy Prigozhin until his death in a plane crash last week — relocated to Belarus following a short-lived rebellion against Russian military leaders in June. Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski made the demand at a news conference attended by his Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian counterparts.

    New footage of Paul Whelan, the Marine turned security executive serving a 16-year prison term in Russia for espionage charges he and the United States deny, was published by a Russian state-controlled news outlet. His brother, David Whelan, told a news outlet in Detroit that the video was his first glimpse of Paul since 2020, and that he looked determined and strong.

    Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

    Poland and the Baltic nations threatened to close their border crossings with Belarus over security and immigration concerns. “If there is a critical incident, regardless of whether it is at the Polish or Lithuanian border, we will retaliate immediately. All border crossings that have been opened so far will be closed,” Kaminski said at the news conference Monday, according to a Reuters translation. The interior ministers accused Belarus of having “triggered and artificially sustained” migration that the nations — all of whom are members of NATO and the European Union — deemed illegal.

    The video of Whelan, published by Russia Today, appeared to show him eating lunch and completing various tasks around a penal colony while wearing a black uniform. Whelan was arrested in Moscow in late 2018 on charges of espionage. He was sentenced in June 2020, and the Biden administration has said it is working to negotiate his release.

    Russia’s Federal Security Service said Monday that it plans to interrogate two U.S. diplomats, after charging a former consulate staffer with “cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state,” The Washington Post reported. The diplomats were accused of directing the former employee, Robert Shonov — a Russian citizen who worked at the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok — to gather information about the war in Ukraine.

    Ukraine plans to order a mandatory evacuation of all children from the Vasylivskyi and Pologivskyi districts in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukrainian state media reported. More than 1,400 people, including 343 children, have also been evacuated from danger zones in the Kupyansk district since Aug. 9, the Kharkiv regional governor said in Telegram post Monday.

    Ukrainian forces took control of the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region, according to the country’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar. She said Ukrainian troops were also advancing southeast of Robotyne, which would bring them closer to a Russian-held transportation hub on the way to the besieged city of Melitopol, a key target in Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi next month, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported, citing a readout from a call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    Russia said it spotted two U.S. drones over the Black Sea, near Crimea, on Monday. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram that the two unmanned aerial vehicles belonged to the U.S. Air Force and that it deployed two fighter jets before the drones ultimately changed direction. Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency earlier said that a U.S. drone was detected flying over the Black Sea on Sunday. The Post could not independently verify the reports.

    Putin, stained by Prigozhin’s death, faces calls for military funeral: The Kremlin on Monday said a decision on funerals for Prigozhin and other Wagner Group members who died in a plane crash last week rested largely with their families, and that it is unclear whether the Russian president would attend a ceremony. The questions over how the plane crash victims will be honored underscore continuing divisions within Russia’s elite over the war and the risks posed by hard-line pro-war “turbo-patriots” who have demanded a harsher approach against Ukraine, Robyn Dixon reports.

    As the Kremlin weighed the dangers of potential unrest if Putin does not give Prigozhin and Wagner their due as war “heroes,” Kremlin propagandists fanned competing theories about the cause of the crash, apparently designed to tamp down suspicions in Russian society that Prigozhin was assassinated. Western intelligence agencies have so far assessed that the plane went down after an onboard explosion.



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