Ukraine live briefing: Putin claims West is trying to dismantle Russia; China to host Kremlin ally Lukashenko

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As his invasion of Ukraine enters its second year, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed without providing evidence that the West is trying to dismantle Russia and establish control over its constituent parts, and he suggested that his actions are motivated by defensive interests. “They have one goal: to scatter the former Soviet Union and its main part, the Russian Federation,” Putin said of the West in a television interview due to be aired in full later Sunday.

China is set this week to host Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — a close ally of Putin’s — amid increasing international scrutiny of Beijing’s stance on the war in Ukraine and warnings from Washington that it could be gearing up to supply Moscow with lethal aid. While Western countries have lined up to support Ukraine, Beijing insists it is neutral in the conflict.

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

Discreetly, and at peril, Russian volunteers help Ukrainian refugees: A secret, loosely connected network of volunteers is helping Ukrainians in Russia flee to Europe. But the Kremlin’s special services are cracking down, Mary Ilyushina and Ksenia Ivanova report.

“In our country, any volunteer organization or any kind of attempt to self-organize is like a red rag for a bull,” said a Ukrainian-born volunteer in her late 50s who has lived in Russia for most of her life and has a Russian passport. She was at a stop along the snowy highway on her way to bring nine Ukrainians to the Finnish border from St. Petersburg.

Natalia Abbakumova contributed to this report.

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