Dhaka June 20 2022 :
Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on June 20 2022.
Blockade of Russian region by EU state is breach of international law – Moscow
Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev says Lithuania violated the rules of the World Trade Organization
Lithuania broke international law by implementing an economic “blockade” of Russia’s Kaliningrad Region, Senator Konstantin Kosachev said. The EU country’s state-owned rail operator previously said it had stopped the transit of sanctioned goods between the region and the rest of Russia.
“Lithuania is a flagship of the destruction of international law,” Kosachev wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday.
Kosachev, who is the deputy speaker of the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said that Lithuania’s actions violate various international norms, including the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Kaliningrad Region is a small Russian enclave that borders Lithuania from the north and east, and Poland from the south.
Lithuanian Railways spokesman Mantas Dubauskas told LRT radio on Saturday that the operator partially stopped the transit of Russian goods through Lithuania in order to enforce EU sanctions.
Kaliningrad Governor Anton Alikhanov said on Friday that the decision will affect up to 50% of all cargo flow between the region and the rest of Russia. He said the move was made in “flagrant violation” of international law and is tantamount to “an attempt to place the region in an economic chokehold.”
Alikhanov later added that the authorities are working to deliver goods by ship through the Baltic Sea.
Many countries, including EU member states, imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in response to the military campaign in Ukraine launched by Moscow in late February. The European bloc closed its airspace for Russian aircraft on February 27, and Moscow responded in kind, banning many European airlines.
New Russian Missile System Tor to Receive Double Ammunition – Manufacturer
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The new modification of Russia’s Tor anti-aircraft missile system will get twice as much ammunition, while its hull will become lighter, which will allow for transporting the combat vehicle on the external suspension of helicopters, Vyacheslav Kartashov, the assistant general director at the Kupol plant producing Tors, said.
“Today, we have begun to develop a new module, in which new technical solutions drilled in the Arctic will already be implemented. We will use double ammunition. We will use software that we tested when shooting at a low-flying target. A new, lightweight hull will be created, and this will be the only air defence system today that can be transported by helicopters on the external suspension,” Kartashov told Russian TV channel Zvezda.
The Izhevsk-based Kupol plant has been supplying the Russian armed forces with the latest modification of the air defence system, Tor-M2, since 2016.
Its most well-known feature is the ability to strike in motion. Its potential targets include drones, guided missiles, cruise missiles, aircraft, helicopters and high-precision weapons flying at very low to medium altitudes.
US weapons supplies to Kiev won’t force Russia to comply with Washington rules – Lavrov
MOSCOW, June 19. /TASS/. By supplying arms to Ukraine, the United States will not be able to deprive Russia of the right to its own voice in international affairs and force it to comply with the rules invented by Washington, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel on Sunday.
When asked about what the United States is trying to achieve by sending additional shipments of weapons to Ukraine, the minister pointed out that Washington had declared these goals for a long time.
“They are achieving what they announced a long time ago, that Russia must know its place, Russia does not have the right to its own voice in international affairs, Russia must comply with the rules that were invented by the United States. That’s all. I think they understand very well that they won’t succeed,” Lavrov stressed.
Earlier, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said that pumping up the Kiev government with US-made weapons is a road to direct military confrontation between the two biggest nuclear superpowers, fraught with “unpredictable consequences.”.
Moldovan President Signs Law Banning Russian News – Media Authority
CHISINAU (Sputnik) – Moldovan President Maia Sandu has signed a law banning broadcast of news programs made in Russia, which will go into effect next week, the chairwoman of Moldova’s Audiovisual Council, Liliana Vitu, said on Sunday.
“The president signed the law. It will likely be published in the Official Gazette next Friday and go into effect. It codifies the concept of disinformation, which entails much tougher sanctions. If a company is proven implicated, it will lose licence for seven years,” Vitu said on air of the Rlive broadcaster.
The Ukraine crisis was what prompted the Moldovan authorities to seek more information security, but most of disinformation happens in Moldova during election periods, she said.
On 2 June, the Moldovan parliament approved in the final reading a law on information security. A similar legislation was adopted in 2017 to fight “foreign propaganda,” but this time the law specifically bans Russian-made news shows and analytical programs, as well as military movies. The media propaganda law was repealed in December 2020 at the initiative of socialist lawmakers.
Moldova’s Commission for Emergency Situations has also banned political and military news from countries which have not ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, including Russia.
Ukrainian parliament bans Russian music
Exceptions will be made for musicians on a ‘white list’ compiled by the National Security Council
Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on Sunday outlawed Russian music from the country’s media and public space, an announcement on its website stated.
According to Rada member Yaroslav Zheleznyak, 303 deputies supported the measure.
“Parliament also banned the import and distribution of books and other publishing products from the Russian Federation, the territories temporarily occupied by it, and from Belarus,” Zheleznyak wrote, adding that this move was supported by 306 out of the 450 members of the parliament.
The approved legislation amends several existing laws, including ‘On Culture,’ ‘On Cinematography,’ ‘On Television and Radio Broadcasting,’ ‘On Touring Events in Ukraine’ and several others.
According to the explanatory note to the bill, the law completely and indefinitely bans “public performance, public display, public demonstration, public use of phonograms, videos and music videos of singers who after 1991 were citizens of the aggressor state.”
The restrictions will not be applied to those Russian musicians who publicly renounced Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine and thus could be added to a so-called ‘white list’ of performers. This list will be compiled and regularly updated by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.
“An application for inclusion in the List shall be submitted to the Security Service of Ukraine by such person, or the person’s legal representative, tour organizer or right holder…” the bill reads.
The Rada’s vote came two days after the City Council Executive Committee of Nikolaev, a city in southern Ukraine, decided to ban the use of the Russian language in schools.Earlier, street musicians in the western Ukrainian city of Ternopol were banned from singing in Russian.
Although restrictions on the Russian language have recently been picking up pace, the process far predates the launch of Moscow’s offensive. In March 2019, the Ukrainian government prohibited some 40 works of art due to their mention of Russian businesses, artists, social networks, internet portals, the USSR or Soviet political figures.
In 2019, a wide-ranging piece of legislation called “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language,” championed by then-President Petro Poroshenko, was passed. It officially made Ukrainian the only state language and decreed that it must be the primary language in many fields, including public administration, media, and education. Despite Russian being a common mother tongue in much of Ukraine and predominant in many cities in both the east and south of the country, it was not granted an exception in the law, although many of the provisions have been implemented gradually.
Moscow has been voicing concern for many years over the clampdown on the Russian language in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s parliament approves withdrawal from range of CIS agreements
KIEV, June 19. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, or national parliament, has approved the country’s withdrawal from a range of agreements within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Ukrainian government’s representative to the national legislature, Taras Melnichuk, said on Sunday.
“A bill on the withdrawal from the CIS Agreement on Cooperation in the Development and Use of Mobile Cellular Communications Systems, a bill on the withdrawal from the CIS Agreement on and Interstate Reserve of Bio Preparations and Other Means of Animal Protection, a bill on the withdrawal from the CIS Agreement on the Support and Development of Small Businesses have been approved in general,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.
Apart from that, the lawmakers also approved a bill on the withdrawal from the protocol on amendments to the Agreement on Interstate Courier Communication.
According to Melnichuk, these agreements were either useless or obsolete, whereas the implementation of the agreement on courier communication, in particular, mailing official documents via Moscow, threatens Ukraine’s national interests.
40-Truck US Convoy Loaded With Stolen Wheat Smuggled Out of Syria: Report
Syrian media regularly report on the movements of US military convoys into and out of the country, saying Washington brings supplies and military equipment in, and carries foodstuffs and crude oil out.
US forces and Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces militia units snuck a 40-truck convoy of vehicles loaded with Syrian wheat supplies out of the country via the al-Waleed border crossing point between Syria and Iraq northeast of al-Hasakah city, the Syrian Arab News Agency has reported, citing local sources.
The sources further indicated that US forces had separately taken a convoy containing 36 defective military vehicles from the town of Tel Hamees in northeastern al-Hasakah province to Iraq using the same crossing.
The wheat supplies were said to have been pilfered from Syrian Jazira, part of the Fertile Crescent.
SANA’s sources did not specify what kinds of trucks were involved, or whether the 40-truck figure included armed escorts, which typically accompany haulers during oil and food smuggling operations. In the United States, a single tractor trailer-worth of wheat can be used to make 42,000 loaves of bread worth over $100,000.
Syria has repeatedly accused the US of waging an economic war against it through control of the country’s strategic northeastern territories, where up to 90 percent of the country’s oil and its best agricultural lands are situated. Deprived of these territories, and facing crushing US and European sanctions on everything from banking to medicine, Damascus has been forced to rely on Russian and Iranian assistance for ensuring its food and energy security while rebuilding from the brutal foreign-backed war that began in 2012.
Last year, Syrian Minister of Petroleum Bassam Tomeh estimated that US oil smuggling activities had caused some $92 billion in damages to Syria’s oil sector – a big chunk of the $200-400 billion President Bashar Assad has said would be necessary for reconstruction. Before the war, the Middle Eastern nation enjoyed self-sufficiency in both energy and food.
The US is estimated to maintain an occupation force of about 900 troops in Syria, with these forces reportedly guarding oil and gas fields, military bases and major strategic infrastructure. Their presence is meant to serve as a kind of ‘insurance policy’ for its SDF allies, and a warning to the Syrian government and Turkish-backed militias that any attacks will be met with a devastating response.
Syrian authorities have nonetheless expressed confidence that all of the territories outside Damascus’s control will eventually be liberated, and have urged the Kurds, who have established de-facto self-governing status in the government’s absence, to realize that America will eventually abandon them. Publicly, the Biden administration has expressed no intention of withdrawing from Syria, and the country is rarely mentioned by US officials and media.
Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian blasted Washington for behaving like a “pirate” in Syria and “flagrantly plunder[ing]” the nation’s resources, saying US actions were “plunging” the country “into an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.”
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia had conducted a “series” of “provocative” operations against US forces in Syria this month, including an air raid on the al-Tanf garrison near the border with Iraq and Jordan targeting CIA-trained jihadists. The Russian foreign and defence ministries have not commented on the report.
SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE
Over 50 Ukrainian generals and officers killed in missile strike – Russia
The Russian Defense Ministry said Kalibr missiles were also used to destroy Western-supplied M777 howitzers and armored vehicles
Warships have destroyed a command center with Kalibr cruise missiles, killing dozens of Ukrainian officers, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
“More than 50 generals and officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were killed,” the statement said.
The strike took place near the village of Shirokaya Dacha in Dnepropetrovsk Region. The strike hit the compound where commanders of several Ukrainian units had gathered for a meeting, Moscow said.
The ministry added that Kalibr missiles were also used to destroy 10 M777 howitzers and up to 20 armored vehicles that were recently delivered from the West, and had been stored inside a factory building in the southern city of Nikolayev.
Meanwhile, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported on Sunday that the country’s artillery destroyed several Russian multiple rocket launchers.
Russia attacked Ukraine state in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.
Ukrainian Militants Holed Up at Azot Plant Signal Readiness to Negotiate, LPR Envoy Says
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Ukrainian militants entrenched at the Azot chemical plant in the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) are signalling their readiness to resume negotiations, LPR ambassador to Russia Rodion Miroshnik said on Sunday, adding that this will in no way impact the conditions of surrender offered to them.
“The militants trapped at Azot are signalling that they are ready to continue negotiations. They will continue, but the conditions of laying down arms for the militants will clearly not improve. While they tempted the fate by disrupting ceasefire agreements, the military background for them has only worsened,” Miroshnik said on Telegram.
The Azot chemical plant is located in the LPR city of Severodonetsk and is now under the control of armed Ukrainian units, who were pushed and encircled there when the city went under the control of the Russian and allied LPR forces. According to preliminary estimates, about 2,500 Ukrainian and foreign militants might be sheltering at the plant and holding up over 1,000 civilians hostage.
Earlier this week, the Russian military offered safe exit to militants at Azov who agree to lay down arms. It also called on them to let civilians leave the plant and evacuate via a humanitarian corridor to a non-combat area in the LPR.
On Saturday, a spokesman for the LPR militia said that several Ukrainian militants exited the plant and surrendered, but did not specify their number or affiliation.
Azov battalion commanders surrendered in Mariupol taken to detention center in Moscow
MOSCOW, June 19. /TASS/. Several commanders of Ukraine’s Azov nationalist battalion, who surrendered in Mariupol, have been taken to Moscow’s Lefortovo detention center, a source in law enforcement agencies told TASS on Sunday.
“Currently, several Azov commanders, who were taken prisoner during the battles for Mariupol, have been taken to Lefortovo,” the source said but did not disclose their names.
According to earlier reports, Svyatoslav Palamar (call sign Kalina), a deputy commander of the Azov battalion, and Sergei Volynsky (call sign Volyna), the commander of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Ukrainian armed forces, who surrendered in Mariupol, were transferred to Russia for investigative purposes.
More than 1,000 Ukrainian troops, who surrendered in Mariupol, have been transferred to Russia for investigative activities. A source in law enforcement agencies told TASS that more than 100 troops taken prisoner in Mariupol’s Azovstal works, including foreign mercenaries, might be kept in Moscow.
According to the Russian defense ministry, as many as 2,439 Ukrainian troops and Azov battalion members surrendered arms on May 16 after being blocked at the Azovstal works for about a month. On May 20, Russian forces liberated the plant’s entire territory.
Nuclear Ukraine: Arming Kiev with the world’s most dangerous weapons would be a disaster
Talk about injecting atomic weapons into the Russia-Ukraine conflict is irresponsible
Former Polish foreign minister and current European Parliament member Radoslaw Sikorski has suggested that the West should provide Ukraine with nuclear weapons in order to “defend its independence.”
Sikorski’s reasoning was grounded in a fundamentally flawed understanding of the 1994 Budapest memorandum (which sealed Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) – Ukraine did not lose security when it gave up its Soviet-era stockpile of nuclear weapons. Had Kiev opted to retain these weapons, it would have been treated by the international community as a pariah state whose viability would have been fatally undercut through missing out on the economic opportunity afforded by its agreeing to be rid of its inherited nuclear arsenal.
Ukraine’s security was enhanced by surrendering these nuclear weapons, since in doing so the door was opened for better relations with the West. Of course, Ukraine’s unfortunate history shows that this opportunity was squandered, given that Russia’s ongoing military operation which triggered Sikorski’s words was prompted not by some perceived Ukrainian weakness derived from its nuclear-free status, but rather the irresponsible policies of successive governments since the 2014 Maidan coup – that toppled former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych – which pursued the violent oppression of ethnic Russians in Donbass for eight years.
Incidentally, Sikorski himself was one of the prime movers in destabilising Ukraine. Along with the equally US friendly former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, he helped formulate the EU’s Eastern partnership programme. This disastrous plan forced Kiev to choose between Brussels and Moscow. A situation which was clearly going to ignite the country’s delicate ethnic divides.
Sikorski’s fact-challenged narrative was matched by Vyacheslav Volodin, the Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. While justifiably angered by Sikorski’s dangerous remarks, Volodin said they amounted to “instigating a nuclear conflict in the center of Europe,” declaring that “[Sikorski] does not think about the future of either Ukraine or Poland. If his proposals materialize, these countries will disappear, together with the whole of Europe.”
Left unsaid (and likely unconsidered) by Volodin is the fact that Russia and the rest of the world would likely cease to exist as well, given the harsh truth that there is no such thing as a limited nuclear conflict and, once the nuclear Genie has been released from its bottle, it won’t rest until all of humanity is destroyed. There was a reason, in January 2022, Russia pushed the five nuclear-armed permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to jointly publish a statementwhich, among other things, declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
That remains the truth, whatever Volodin says. Russian President Vladmir Putin understands that, having famously quipped during an October 2018 session of the Valdai Club that “Any [nuclear] aggressor should know that retribution will be inevitable, and he will be destroyed. And since we will be the victims of his aggression, we will be going to heaven as martyrs. They will simply drop dead, won’t even have time to repent.” Which is why such an outcome should not be postulated, even if issuing what amounts to little more than an idle threat.
The Sikorski-Volodin exchange isn’t the first time officials from opposite ends of the spectrum raised the specter of nuclear weapons in the context of Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine. Following a visit to Ukraine in April 2022, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared that “Nations from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s imperial aggression,” adding “Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here.”
Austin went on to articulate as official US policy a hope that the Ukraine conflict would produce a “weakened” Russia incapable of carrying out similar attacks on in the future.
The policy of the US and NATO, to arm Ukraine with advanced heavy weapons whose sole purpose is to help kill Russian soldiers, elicited a warning from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about the threat of nuclear conflict amid the war in Ukraine.
“The danger,” Lavrov told Russian media, “is serious. It is real. It should not be underestimated.”
Lavrov’s comments prompted a rejoinder from Austin, who labeled the Russian diplomat’s words “very dangerous and unhelpful. Nobody,” Austin declared, “wants to see a nuclear war–nobody can win it.”
Austin’s announcement must have come as a surprise to those in the US defense establishment whose job it is to prepare for a nuclear conflict. In early 2020 the US deployed a new nuclear weapon, the W76-2 “low yield” nuclear warhead, which was by design intended to demonstrate to potential adversaries that the United States was prepared to respond to the kind of “limited nuclear engagement” envisioned by Sikorski and Volodin. Estimated to have a yield of five kilotons–one third that of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War, the W76-2 was, according to Mark Esper, Lloyd Austin’s predecessor as Secretary of Defense, intended to give the president “options [that will] allow us to deter conflict” and “if necessary…fight and win.”
Fight and win a nuclear war.
There is only one nation in the world that not only maintains a nuclear posture which postulates the possibility of fighting and winning a nuclear war but has developed and deployed nuclear weapons designed to accomplish just that.
That nation is the United States.
December 8, 2022 will mark the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and the former Soviet Union. Prior to the INF Treaty coming into force, the US and the USSR had deployed thousands of intermediate-range nuclear-armed missiles which faced off against each other in Europe. One mistake, one miscalculation, one piece of false information, and these missiles would be launched, virtually guaranteeing a cycle of escalation which would result in the nuclear annihilation of humanity on earth.
Despite the harsh rhetoric of the Cold War, where President Ronald Reagan spoke of an “Evil Empire” in the Soviet Union and the United States was known as “Enemy Number One” in Moscow, the political and military leaders of both nations were able to demonstrate the necessary courage and vision to craft an arms control agreement which helped pull their respective nations back from the nuclear abyss.
In 2019 then-President Donald Trump precipitously withdrew from the INF Treaty, setting in motion a new arms race which threatens in short order to see Europe once again playing host to a new generation of even more lethal missiles.
Today, with relations between the US and Russia at an all-time low, it is high time for the political and military leaders of these two nations to once again push past the trivial and focus on that which is essential for the sustainment of life as we know it: A new INF Treaty which, if implemented, will buy Europe and the rest of the world some breathing space so that the threat of a nuclear conflict recedes.
The US and Russia claim to have a shared belief that a nuclear war can never be won, and as such should never be fought. Through action and word, however, it appears that neither side has fully embraced the pledge they made, together with France, Great Britain, and China, earlier this year.
The world once again finds itself on the cusp of the unthinkable–a nuclear war in Europe that would end up enveloping the entire planet. Our respective leadership must respect the intent of that pledge, and begin the long, hard process of disarmament needed to turn theory into reality.
We did it once before, and I have faith and trust that we can do it again.
Bangladesh Beyond is an online version of Fortnightly Apon Bichitra
(Reg no: DA 1825)