Ukraine war live updates: Putin to be sworn in for the fifth time ahead of government reshuffle; West boycotts inauguration

A U.S. soldier who was detained in Russia on charges of criminal misconduct was arrested by a Vladivostok court on theft charges, Russia’s RIA state news agency reported on Tuesday.

Citing the court’s press office, RIA said that the soldier, whom the court identified as Gordon Black, is to be detained until July 2.

“The Pervomaisky District Court in Vladivostok arrested the American soldier Gordon Black … under the ‘Theft’ article (of Russia’s criminal code),” RIA cited the court’s spokeswoman as saying.

The U.S. Army, which said on Monday it had been informed about the detention, has not officially named the soldier. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the soldier had been based in South Korea. Another U.S. official said the soldier was accused of stealing from a woman.

The Russian daily Izvestia, quoting an unnamed source, said the South Korea-based Army sergeant met a woman from Russia’s far eastern port of Vladivostok on the Internet.

Izvestia said the couple lived together for a time and that he stole 200,000 roubles ($2,196) from her. Reuters could not independently verify the Izvestia report.

— Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his election campaign confidants at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 20, 2024. 

Evgenia Novozhenina | Reuters

Western nations are boycotting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration ceremony Tuesday in light of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, with the U.S., Canada and the U.K. among those refusing to send officials to the ceremony.

Putin is set to serve another six years in office following his March election win with around 87% of the vote, but Western countries described the vote as neither free nor fair. The inauguration comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues into its 27th month.

“We will not have a representative at his inauguration,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters Monday.

“We certainly did not consider those elections as free and fair, but he is the president of Russia and he is going to continue in that capacity,” Miller said.

Most EU nations are also not expected to send officials to the ceremony, although France, Slovakia and Hungary are expecting to send representatives, Reuters reported. The news agency cited an unnamed EU spokesperson as saying the bloc’s ambassador to Russia would not attend the ceremony.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Moscow does not conduct elections or inaugurations “in order to be appreciated, loved or hated by the West.”

— Holly Ellyatt

President-elect Vladimir Putin ahead of being sworn-in as President of Russia at St Andrew’s Hall of the Moscow Kremlin.

Mikhail Metzel | TASS via Getty Images

Vladimir Putin is set to be sworn in as Russia’s president for the fifth time in his political career.

Putin’s allies have heaped praise on the “strongman” leader ahead of the inauguration ceremony in the Kremlin on Tuesday, saying society is consolidated around the president, who first took office 24 years ago.

State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin was among the Russian officials heaping praise on the president ahead of the inauguration ceremony at noon Moscow time (10 a.m. London time), saying “Putin saved the country.”

“He revived it, restored state capacity, and ensured social and economic development. Putin is Russia’s advantage. The consolidation of society around our President will continue to lead the country to new victories,” he said on Telegram.

The Russian government led by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will resign on Tuesday and a government reshuffle is expected to take place in the coming days and weeks.

Close followers of Russian politics will be looking to see which allies — several of whom have been in ministerial posts for many years — Putin keeps close and who is promoted or demoted.

— Holly Ellyatt

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