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Meta spokesman on Moscow's wanted list

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-11-28 09:22
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The logo of Meta Platforms' business group is seen in Brussels, Belgium Dec 6, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Russia vows retaliation over Moldova's 'hostile' decision to join EU sanctions

Russia has added the spokesman of US technology company Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to a wanted list, the state-run TASS news agency reported on Sunday.

TASS said Meta communications director Andy Stone was included on the list on Sunday, weeks after Russian authorities in October classified Meta as a "terrorist and extremist" organization, opening the way for possible criminal proceedings against Russian residents using its platforms, Agence France-Presse reported.

Meta's main social platforms were both banned in Russia shortly after Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine in February last year.

In March 2022, the Russian investigative committee said it has opened a criminal investigation against the "illegal actions of Meta's employees" and mentioned Stone, saying he had "lifted a ban on calls for violence against the Russian military on its platforms" and was thus inciting extremist activity.

Meta didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Warning issued

In a separate development, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow views Moldova's decision to join European Union sanctions against it as a hostile step aimed at destroying ties with Moscow and will retaliate.

The Russian denunciation was issued in response to a vote in Moldova's parliament to alter its legislation as required for its bid to join the EU.

The 62 deputies of Moldovan President Maia Sandu's Party of Action and Solidarity backed the legislation, ensuring its passage in the assembly in Chisinau.

Among its provisions are regulations concerning action to be taken against individuals and institutions subject to sanctions imposed on Russia.

"We regard this as yet another hostile step by the Moldovan leadership, which is fully integrated into the anti-Russian campaign of the 'collective West'," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The European Commission this month recommended starting membership talks with Moldova and Ukraine, subject to endorsement from an EU summit in December.

Attack thwarted

On the frontline, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday they thwarted a Ukrainian attack on Russian regions involving at least 24 drones.

It also said Russian air defenses shot down two Ukrainian S-200 surface-to-air missiles that were meant to hit land targets. The missiles were shot down over the Sea of Azov, it said.

The Kommersant newspaper said that flights were delayed or canceled at Moscow's main airports because of the drone attack.

The Ukrainian air force said their military destroyed eight of nine attack drones launched overnight by Russia on Sunday.

The attack, which the air force said was launched from the southeast, came a day after what Ukrainian officials said had been Russia's largest drone attack in the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that the country needs more air defenses to protect its grain export routes as well as regions bordering Russia.

Addressing an international summit on food security in Kyiv, Zelensky said Ukraine would be supplied with vessels by its foreign partners to accompany convoys of cargo ships from Ukraine's ports to guarantee their security.

"Air defense is in short supply," Zelensky said. "But what's important is that we have agreements, we have a positive signal and the corridor is operational."

In the United States, Mike Turner, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee of the US Congress and a Republican, considers approval of an aid package to Ukraine unlikely before the end of the year.

Bloomberg said earlier citing lawmakers that Ukraine might not receive new US aid until the middle of December and maybe longer.

However, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged support in a letter to Zelensky that she shared on social media, saying the commission would make available 50 million euros ($54.8 million) for "quick repairs and upgrades of infrastructure in Ukraine's ports".

Agencies contributed to this story.

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