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Putin to visit Tehran next week, Kremlin says

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Wednesday, July 13, 2022
  • 118 Impressed

Putin to visit Tehran next week, Kremlin says

 

Dhaka July 13 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on July 13 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Putin to visit Tehran next week, Kremlin says

MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will next week visit Tehran where he will meet with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, Ebrahim Raisi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, respectively, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

“Yes, we can confirm that. Arrangements are underway for the president’s visit to Tehran. A meeting of the leaders of the states that serve guarantors for the Astana peace process will take place there,’ Peskov said, specifying that the trip will take place on July 19.

Apart from the trilateral meeting, bilateral ones will also be held in Tehran, Peskov added.

“Yesterday, we announced highest-level contacts between Putin and Erdogan. Well, such a meeting will also take place there,” Peskov said.

The political settlement in Syria was initiated by Russia, Turkey and Iran, the three countries that also acted as guarantors for the Syrian peace process, with government officials from Damascus and Syrian opposition members involved. The first negotiations were held in Astana, the then capital of Kazakhstan, in January 2017. Astana was renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019, yet the peace talks are still known as the Astana format talks.

 

US and UK have ‘conned’ EU – Medvedev

Washington and London have drawn “useful European idiots” into an economic war against Russia, Dmitry Medvedev claimed

Washington in tandem with London conned EU members “like a couple of shell-game tricksters” by drawing them into the economic war against Moscow, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev claimed, commenting on the weakening of the euro.

On Tuesday, for the first time in 20 years, the US dollar and euro exchange rates reached parity on the Moscow Exchange. This turn of events, according to Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, means that “predictions about the onset of a systemic crisis in the eurozone are beginning to come true.” In his opinion, the fall of the euro demonstrates “who pays in hard currency for the bloody crisis” in Ukraine.

“Washington in tandem with London conned the Europeans like a couple of shell-game tricksters,” the former president wrote on Telegram.

Prior to imposing “crazy restrictions” against Russia, European countries should have calculated “their own monetary and economic problems,” Medvedev claimed, adding that the White House normally weighs its risks much better.

“But the ‘useful European idiots’ suffered much more at the mercy of the Americans,” the deputy chair of the Security Council stressed.

However, Medvedev does not feel sorry for them since, in his opinion, “the Russophobes from the EU” unleashed “a hybrid war” against Russia and opened “a wide economic front” against it.

The former head of the state said that the transition to new trade payment methods, including the use of national currencies – the Russian ruble, Chinese yuan, Indian rupee and others – would be the best protection against “a rotting euro.”  He didn’t rule out the possibility that, in the future, the BRICS countries might come up with a new reserve currency.

“The modern world clearly needs more than the dollar, euro, and pound sterling. For now, $1 = €1. Keep savings in rubles!” Medvedev wrote.

Commenting in mid-June on the economic sanctions against Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin called them “insane and thoughtless.”

Previously, he alleged that European leaders were committing economic “suicide” under pressure from the US.

The EU, however, insists that its members were aware of the grave consequences of anti-Russia sanctions for their own economies.

“But this is the price to pay to protect democracies and international law, and we are taking the necessary steps to address these issues in full solidarity,” the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said earlier this month.

 

Russia records first monkeypox case on its territory

MOSCOW. July 12 (Interfax) – The first monkeypox case has been recorded in Russia; the patient had been on a trip to Europe, the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) said in a statement.

“The first monkeypox case has been recorded in Russia. A young man, who had been on a trip to Europe and came to a healthcare establishment with characteristic rush, has been diagnosed with the disease,” Rospotrebnadzor said.

The patient’s biomaterial was promptly sent to a Rospotrebnadzor laboratory, which confirmed monkeypox.

“The patient is in isolation in an infectious disease hospital. This is a mild case, and the patient’s condition is not life-threatening. He has had limited contacts in Russia and lives alone,” Rospotrebnadzor said.

All contacts were quickly identified and placed under medical surveillance, it said.

“Should they be diagnosed with the infection, they will receive proper medical attendance. The spread of the infection has been contained by the timely epidemiological analysis. Rospotrebnadzor is closely monitoring the case,” the statement said.

 

Russia may expand ruble-for-gas payments to LNG

The Russian Finance Ministry has supported the idea of expanding the ruble-for-gas payments scheme to foreign sales of liquefied natural gas (LNG), as proposed earlier by deputy department head at Gazprom Kirill Polous.

The ministry “strongly supports” the proposal, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov was quoted as saying by Russian business daily Vedomosti.

The Gazprom senior official proposed the move last week, speaking at a round table meeting with the State Duma Energy Committee.

According to Polous, the ruble-for-gas scheme, which is applied to exports of Russian natural gas to unfriendly nations, doesn’t currently include the sale of LNG, and is creating unwanted competition.

In March, Moscow demanded that the nations, which had imposed sanctions on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, pay for natural gas in rubles. The scheme requires importers to open accounts in Gazprombank. They can then deposit funds in their currency of choice, which the bank converts to rubles and transfers to the supplier.

A number of European energy companies have complied with the new payment requirement. In May, Brussels issued updated guidance on how EU businesses can pay for Russian gas in rubles without breaching sanctions.

Those rejecting the gas-for-rubles scheme, including Finland, Poland, Bulgaria, Denmark’s Orsted, Dutch company GasTerra, and energy giant Shell, were cut off from Russian gas supplies.

Russia reportedly accounts for around 8% of global LNG supply, with 40 billion cubic metres coming mainly from Sakhalin-2 and Novatek’s Yamal LNG, Russia’s largest LNG plant. Last year, the country earned $7.3 billion from exporting the fuel, state tax service data shows, compared to $55.5 billion from piped gas exports.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

 

Poland nervous about leak of plans of dismembering Ukraine — Russian intelligence chief

MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. Poland is seeking to conceal its expansion to Western Ukraine and is taking nervously the leak of its plans of dismembering Ukraine, director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin said on Tuesday.

“Information coming to the Service indicates a nervous reaction of Poland’s leadership to the fact that its plans of dismembering Ukraine have come in the public eye,” the Service’s press bureau quoted him as saying.

In his words, Warsaw obviously hoped that amid the tough geopolitical standoff neither Kiev nor Washington no Moscow would notice its preparations for seizing Ukrainian territories. “Poland hoped that when the conflict in Ukraine reaches a phase of diplomatic settlement, the sides will have to recognize ‘Poland’s expansion’ as an accomplished fact. Now, following the leak of sensible information the Polish leadership has to quiet concerns of its NATO and EU ‘friends,’” Naryshkin said.

Now, Warsaw hopes to correct the situation by means of wide propaganda. Think tanks and the mass media controlled by the government have been instructed to stage a media campaign to disguise Poland’s actions toward strengthening its positions in Ukraine and refute “rumors.” According to the information of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, it is planned to focus on creating an image of “collective participation” of all Ukraine’s neighbors in Kiev’s affairs. For these ends, Warsaw plans to cooperate more closely on the Ukrainian problem with Hungary and Romania to hide behind them in order to implement its plans.

“Warsaw seems not to see that its “secret” ambitions and complexes have been a source of taunting and irritation for its ‘patrons’ for years. By the way, the unclassified documents of the Foreign Intelligence Service have an articulate characteristic given by British Foreign Secretary John Simon back in 1935, who said that the Polish government’s childish policy of prestige was hindering peacebuilding in Europe and suited neither its political, nor financial, nor military position,” the press bureau added.

 

Russian ISS crew to stop using European ERA manipulator arm – Roscosmos CEO

MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. Russia’s crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) will stop using the European ERA manipulator arm in response to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) refusal from cooperation on the ExoMars project, CEO of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday.

“In my turn, I instruct our ISS crew to stop using the European Robotic Arm (ERA). Let [ESA Director General Josef] Aschbacher along with his boss [EU foreign policy chief Josep] Borrell fly to space and do at least something useful in their entire lives,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher wrote on his Twitter account earlier on Tuesday that the ESA Council had decided to suspend cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars program.

“And did this chief of the European Space Agency think that his decision thwarted the labor of thousands of scientists and engineers in Europe and Russia? Is he ready to take responsibility for sabotaging the joint Mars mission? No, not before irresponsible bureaucrats in the European Commission like him. Is he ready to take responsibility before humankind?” Rogozin wrote.

He also stressed that Roscosmos will do its best to return Russia’s Kazachok Mars landing module for the ExoMars mission from Italy.

ExoMars is a joint program of the European Space Agency and Roscosmos consisting of two projects – the ExoMars TGO orbiter and the Rosalind Franklin rover. The first stage of the ExoMars project was launched in March 2016. The mission was comprised of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator module, which landed on Mars in October 2016.

The ExoMars 2nd stage envisaged sending the Russian landing platform Kazachok and a European rover to the Red Planet. The mission’s 2nd stage was supposed to focus on drilling and analyzing Martian soil in search for potential traces of organic life. The second stage was initially scheduled to be launched in 2018, but was postponed to 2020 and later to 2022. ESA planned to launch the mission from September 20 to October 1 from the Baikonur spaceport with the use of a Proton-M carrier rocket with a Briz-M booster.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

BRICS Could Create Its Own Reserve Currency, Russia’s Medvedev Says

Since its creation in the mid-2000s, the BRICS group of major emerging economies has promoted extensive cooperation between members, and recently, has begun pushing for a global realignment of geopolitical power to better match members’ economic, geographic and demographic potential with their position in the international order.

The BRICS group of nations could create a new world reserve currency to better serve their economic interests, former president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, has indicated.

“The best protection against the rotting euro will be the transition to new payment methods in trade with our reliable partners, including through the use of national currencies – the Russian ruble, the Chinese yuan, the Indian rupee, etc. In the future, the creation of a new reserve currency of BRICS countries is also possible. The dollar, euro and pound sterling are clearly not enough for the modern world,” Medvedev wrote on his Telegram page on Tuesday, commenting on the parity reached between the euro and dollar exchange rate.

The crisis in the euro zone has been a long time coming, and is the result of the self-inflicted crisis Brussels has voluntarily pushed itself into, the former prime minister said.

“First, EU members shot themselves in the head with a sanctions pistol. Now, they are reaping the bitter fruits of a decline in production, postcritical inflation in food prices, the loss of competitiveness of their goods and expectations of a winter in freezing ice houses without our gas. In global terms, this serves as a confirmation of the extremely ill-conceived nature of the sanctions slapped on Russia. Sanctions don’t work. Sanctions are harmful to the Europeans themselves. So the euro is weakened,” Medvedev wrote.

The Security Council deputy chairman accused Washington and London of “breeding” the EU’s politicians like “shell game con artists,” and treating them as “useful European idiots” by pushing them into ill-thought out restrictions against Russia which the White House, comparably speaking at least, has proven better at avoiding.

“But one finds no any sympathy for them, since it was the Russophobes from the EU who unleashed the hybrid war with Russia and opened the wide economic front against us,” Medvedev wrote.

In any event, he suggested, “the solvency of Europe worries us little.”

“We need to deal with the adaptation of our economy to the new, very difficult conditions. To solve problems in industry, including securing technological sovereignty. There is still much to be done here,” the politician stressed.

Medvedev’s latest comments continue to break with the image he set for himself in the 2000s and much of the 2010s as a hamburger- and iPhone-loving proponent of integrating with the West as much as possible and adopting Western standards in education, the judiciary, business, etc. Last month, the former president took to Telegram to lash out at Russia-hating “bastards and degenerates” after his son’s US visa was revoked.

The BRICS group of nations held their 14th summit in Beijing, China in late June, where they agreed to take joint measures to strengthen and reform global governance, and safeguard international peace and security. Also last month, Iran announced its intention to join BRICS, pointing to the the Islamic Republic’s “unique geographical position and its capabilities in the fields of energy, transit, and trade” and capacity to become a “golden route to connect” east and west.

 

Kiev blocking visit of IAEA inspectors to Zaporozhye NPP — regional official

MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. Kiev is using any pretexts not to let a mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visit the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in Energodar, which is controlled by the Zaporozhye region military-civilian administration, an official of this administration said on Tuesday after Ukraine’s strike at Energodar.

“Kiev is looking for and creating any pretexts to prevent a visit of IAEA inspectors to the Zaporozhye NPP,” Vladimir Rogov, a member of the council of the region’s military-civilian administration, wrote on his Telegram channel.

According to Rogov, Ukrainian authorities are afraid of “an IAEA official investigation of the facts of making dirty bombs for Ukrainian militants.”.

 

Zelensky to consider honoring gay porn star

A petition calls on the Ukrainian leader to replace a statue of Catherine the Great in Odessa with a monument to Billy Herrington

A petition calling on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to commemorate American pornographic actor Billy Herrington with a monument in Odessa has passed 25,000 votes and must now be considered. Activists want Herrington’s likeness to replace that of Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

Launched in May, the petition passed the threshold of 25,000 votes this week. Describing Catherine II as a “controversial historical figure whose actions caused great damage to Ukrainian statehood and culture,” it calls on Zelensky to ensure that her statue is torn down and replaced with one of Herrington sitting “at the bar with a bottle of beer.”

The petition’s author wrote that this would make the statement that “Odessa is not a part of Russian culture but has its own culture and sense of humor,” and would send “a clear signal that Ukraine supports the LGBT community.” Furthermore, he wrote that a monument to Herrington would be “fun and funny” and would be worth it for “memes.”

Herrington filmed adult movies, most of them with other men, between 1990 and his death in a car accident in 2018. Famous in Japanese ‘Gachimuchi’ memes, Herrington’s name has already been put before Ukrainian politicians, when a similar petition in March called on local authorities in the city of Zaporozhye to rename Mayakovsky Square ‘Billy Herrington Square’.

The activist behind the petition – likely the same culprit responsible for the Odessa campaign – claimed that “generations of not only Americans, but also Ukrainians and Europeans grew up on his films,” and that the square would become “a powerful tourist magnet.”

The monument of Catherine II in Odessa caused controversy long before petitions called for its replacement with the likeness of an adult film star. Depicting the empress and four of her companions, the ‘Monument to the founders of Odessa’ was erected in 1900 by Yuri Meletevich Dmitrenko, but removed in 1920 by order of the Bolsheviks. Ukrainian authorities restored the statue in 2007, a move that was opposed by Ukrainian nationalists, among them then-president Viktor Yuschenko.

A fishing village during centuries of Ottoman rule, Odessa was founded as a city by decree of Catherine II in 1794, and during the 19th century was the fourth-largest city in the Russian Empire. Odessans today predominantly speak Russian.

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Russia reacts to deadly shelling in southern Ukraine

Moscow says the strikes on Novaya Kakhovka were made possible by the delivery of US-made weapons to Kiev

The deadly shelling of the Russian-held city of Novaya Kakhovka in southern Ukraine was made possible by the delivery of US-made heavy weapons to Kiev, a senior Russian diplomat has said.

“Such strikes on civilian sites can only draw resolute condemnation. It is a direct consequence of the delivery of weapons by the [United] States to Kiev,” Dmitry Polyansky, the deputy head of Russia’s mission to the UN, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

Ukrainian troops shelled Novaya Kakhovka, a city in the country’s southern Kherson Region, which is controlled by Russian forces, on Monday, local Moscow-appointed officials said.

Vladimir Leontyev, the city’s administration chief, said on Tuesday that seven people were killed and up to 70 were injured. He earlier said that a fertilizer storage detonated from the shelling, and multiple houses were damaged, as well as other civilian sites, including a market and a hospital.

Natalya Zarya, who coordinates the delivery of humanitarian aid to the city, said that a storage facility with 35 tons of aid, including food, has also been destroyed.

The Ukrainian military said on Tuesday that it destroyed an ammunition depot in Novaya Kakhovka.

Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly accused each other of shelling residential areas and killing civilians.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

Ukraine missile attack ‘reminiscent of Hiroshima’ – official

The strike on Novaya Kakhovka was carried out with American weapons, the local administration says

Huge explosions causing massive damage to civilian buildings were reported on Monday in Novaya Kakhovka, a city in Kherson Region controlled by Russian forces.

Vladimir Leontyev, the head of the city’s military-civilian administration, blamed the attack on Ukrainian forces, adding that the strike had been carried out with American weapons. It is a “crime against the civilian population,” he told RIA Novosti on Tuesday night. According to Leontyev, dozens of people were injured and hundreds were left homeless.

“Tonight reminds me of the terrible analogies of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which the United States carried out in August 1945. Almost the same thing happened to us today. There are already casualties among the civilian population, there are wounded, hundreds of people were left homeless, dozens of houses were destroyed. Hospitals continue to receive people. Many dozens of people are injured. We are shocked by this bombardment,” he said.

The deputy head of the regional administration, Kirill Stremousov, told RIA Novosti that Ukrainian troops launched a missile attack on Novaya Kakhovka with high-precision American HIMARS rocket launchers.

TASS and RIA Novosti sources say that warehouses with saltpeter were attacked, stating separately that the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant was not damaged, but the nearby market, hospital, and residential buildings were.

“The information has already been unequivocally confirmed that a large humanitarian hub was located… a few meters from the missile hit, and a boy with a disability remained on duty there for the night. This is not some kind of heartbreaking story, it’s actually true. This boy died for sure. But the psychological effect that they want to achieve (in Kiev) as a result of these bombings will not be achieved. This is a crime against the civilian population, first of all,” Leontyev said, adding that he considers Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a criminal.

“When you give an order to bomb the center of a peaceful city, this is a crime, an obvious crime that has no statute of limitations. This is a real tragedy,” he added.

The Ukrainian authorities reported that a Russian ammunition depot exploded in the city.

“People’s windows are flying out, but they are still happy… Because this means that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are close,” a Ukrainian military servicemember and adviser to the head of Kherson Region, Sergey Khlan, said.

Novaya Kakhovka, a regional center, came under Russian control on February 24, the first day of the Russian military operation in Ukraine. Previously, there had not been any information in open sources that there were warehouses with saltpeter in the city.

 

Nearly 200 in need of medical help after Ukrainian attack

The area hit by Kiev’s strike is still enduring explosions hours after the attack, local authorities say

Nearly 200 people have requested medical assistance after sustaining injuries in a strike targeting the Ukrainian city of Novaya Kakhovka, the local administration’s head, Vladimir Leontyev, has claimed.

He added that local authorities did not count “minor scratches,” referring to light wounds that were treated on the spot. At least seven people died in the attack, carried out by Kiev, the media reported.

“Today, 187 people injured [in the strike] sought [medical assistance],” Leontyev told TASS, adding that the authorities managed to provide the necessary aid to only 90 of them.

Plumes of smoke are still rising over the area hit by the Ukrainian missile strike in the early hours of Tuesday, a local administration head in the Kherson region told TASS on Tuesday, adding that the area is still being rocked by explosions. The attack hit a cluster of warehouses in the town of Novaya Kakhovka, the local authorities said.

The storage facilities housed, among other things, saltpeter – a similar substance caused a massive blast in Beirut in 2020, which leveled a large part of the city and killed hundreds. In Novaya Kakhovka, in addition to those killed, the explosion damaged a local hospital and church and left over 270 people homeless, according to Leontyev.

The Ukrainian authorities reported that a Russian ammunition depot had exploded in the city after being targeted by Kiev’s forces.

Local emergency teams and military personnel are still clearing the rubble and demining the area, Leontyev said, adding that the number of casualties could rise. Many people remain trapped under rubble, he told TASS. According to Russian media, the Ukrainian strike also destroyed a warehouse where 35 tons of humanitarian aid, including food for inhabitants of the city, were stored.

According to the local authorities, hundreds of houses, several kindergartens, two schools, and two markets were damaged in the attack. At least two apartment blocks are now beyond repair and will have to be taken down, the city administration said, adding that many private houses were “totally destroyed.” A local factory producing equipment for hydroelectric plants was “destroyed” as well, Leontyev said.

The local administration head blasted the attack as a “terrorist act against the civilian population,” adding that it is a “crime that will make its way into the history books.”

The US-made HIMARS multiple-launch rocket systems were used in the Ukrainian strike, the local authorities claimed.

According to the Pentagon, the US has provided Kiev with eight HIMARS systems since the beginning of the conflict in February. Last week, however, Russian authorities claimed they destroyed two of these rocket systems in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

Just a day before the strike on Novaya Kakhovka, authorities in the DPR accused Ukrainian forces of using the US-made systems in a attack that killed three civilians involved in a humanitarian mission.

Novaya Kakhovka, a regional center, came under Russian control on February 24, the first day of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Previously, there had not been any information in open sources that there were warehouses containing saltpeter in the city.

 

Formation of volunteer unit to take part in special operation inspires respect — Kremlin

MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. The Kremlin respects the formation of a volunteer unit in Russia’s Far Eastern Maritime Territory for the participation in the special military operation in Ukraine, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

“Naturally, we are respectful and very positive,” he said in reply to journalists’ questions.

“This initiative deserves the highest esteem,” he said, adding that it is “exclusively a voluntary initiative.”

Touching on the region governor Oleg Kozhemyako’s participation in training volunteers, Peskov said he hopes that he won’t neglect his region. “The region is very big and very important,” he noted.

The press service of the Maritime government said earlier that a Tiger volunteer unit was being formed on the basis of a naval infantry brigade to take part in the special operation in Ukraine. On Saturday, the region’s governor, Oleg Kozhemyako, visited the Gornostai firing range, where volunteers drilled shooting skills, and joined them in the drills.

 

Russia identifies by name British and American ‘mercenaries’ en route to Ukraine

Moscow warned the five UK and US citizens to turn back instead of joining Ukrainian forces

The Russian military has published the names of five people who it identified as British and American citizens on their way to join the Ukrainian forces. It warned that they could be captured and tried as mercenaries or even end up dead if they follow through on their plans.

The five individuals were named as Colin Scot and Adrian Davis from the UK, and Michael Vujkovic, Andrew Fox, and Oliver Short from the US. The Russian military claimed that all five arrived last Wednesday at a certain location in the city of Zamosc in eastern Poland, around 100km northwest of Lviv, Ukraine.

The Defense Ministry called the place a “staging ground for foreign mercenaries” on their way to Ukraine, and published the address of where it allegedly operates.

“We recommend those citizens to reevaluate their plans and go home with their lives,” the spokesman for the ministry, Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, said during a daily update. He added that if the foreigners are captured alive fighting for Ukraine, “the best outcome they can expect is a trial and a maximum-length jail term.”

The ministry claimed that over the past three weeks, 391 foreign fighters have been killed in Ukraine, and 240 others left the country. Meanwhile, 151 new recruits have entered over the same period of time, it said. The report added that combatants from Poland, Georgia, Britain, Romania, and Canada made up the greatest numbers among those killed.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

Ukraine frees warlord sentenced for torture – media

The leader of the notorious Tornado volunteer battalion has reportedly been released

Ruslan Onishchenko, former commander of the notorious Ukrainian Tornado battalion, whose fighters were convicted of torturing people in Donbass, has reportedly been released from jail and may join the fight against Russia.

Ukraine began selectively releasing inmates who want to serve on the frontline shortly after Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February.

The now-disbanded Tornado unit was formed in 2014 to fight for Kiev during the conflict in Donbass. Despite the unit’s designation as a volunteer police battalion, former felons were allowed to become members. Onishchenko had three prior convictions before joining the unit.

In 2017, a Kiev court sentenced Onishchenko to 11 years in prison for kidnapping and torture. Several of his fellow fighters also received jail sentences for kidnapping, torture, rape, and looting.

On Monday, Roksolana Khmara, the wife of former MP Stepan Khmara, wrote on Facebook that Onishchenko was released under the guarantees of her and her husband.

Khmara posted a photo of Onishchenko in a Kiev courtroom, while claiming his sentence had been politically motivated.

Newspaper ‘KP v Ukraine’ said that Onishchenko had asked to be allowed to join the fight against Russia.

According to the paper, Onishchenko’s original sentence had been commuted in accordance with a 2015 law that says one day spent in pre-trial detention counts as two days in jail. However, the former commander remained behind bars while awaiting trial for a 2018 prison riot.

“Nearly all of the battalion’s members are now back on the frontline, fighting in various units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” Viktor Pandzhakidze, the ex-spokesman for Tornado, told the paper.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

INSIGHTS

Ivan Zuenko: The US is using the Ukraine crisis to unite the West behind its real goal, a face-off with China

By Ivan Zuenko, Senior Researcher at the Institute of International Studies and Associate Professor of the Department of Oriental Studies, MGIMO, Moscow.

If there had not been an active rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing over the past decades, and if Russia did not have an Asian alternative to European markets for oil and gas, it would not have been able to attack Ukraine.

Does this mean China is the main beneficiary of the European crisis and that the situation is developing according to Beijing’s plans?

There are various ways to assess the nature and consequences of the events that began in February. But what is clear is that they cannot be considered in isolation from the historical context, which should include at least the last eight years, starting with the Western-backed overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych’s government in Ukraine.

Or better yet, the whole period of the post-bipolar world order since the USSR came to an end in 1991.

Nor should it be reduced to the relationship between Moscow and Kiev. The situation in Ukraine is a consequence of the fact that since the end of the Cold War, the countries of the Euro-Atlantic bloc have not been willing to create a comprehensive security system in Europe that includes Russia. The current conflict and its economic aspects involve most of the world. Moreover, in a situation where the tactics of ‘total cancelation’ and the severance of economic and humanitarian ties constitute the main leverage against Russia, the Chinese factor has proved to be key.

If China had not adopted a benevolent neutrality towards the Russian military operation, had not continued to buy Russian goods and thereby provided a reliable strategic rear, the continuation of the offensive would have been objectively impossible.

But is China the main beneficiary of the European crisis, as asked at the outset? For me, the answer clearly is no.

The current course of events has not been to Beijing’s liking or in its interests. China itself is convinced that the US is practically the only party that stands to gain right now – it regards Washington as the ‘warmonger’.

The coalescing of ‘the collective West’ – based on the imaginary dichotomy of ‘democracy vs. authoritarianism’, a ‘battle between Good and Evil’ – harms China’s interests by cutting off the possibility of normalizing relations with the US, which, for purely economic reasons, would be beneficial for Beijing. It also reduces China’s room to maneuver in Western Europe, which is a key market for its goods, notwithstanding the sharp increase in energy and food prices, which are essential to the stable development of the Chinese economy.

Overall, the situation for China is complicated. The country has been preparing for the fact that sooner or later, its natural ambitions for the role of a world leader (the concept of ‘the Chinese Dream’) will have to be backed up with muscle. Economic pressure, the imposition of sanctions on China, and the aggressive rhetoric of Western leaders over the past five years have left Beijing with no choice but to prepare for a future war – regardless of whether it is ‘hybrid’ or ‘trench’. However, events have unfolded too quickly, and at present, the leadership does not yet feel it is ready to proceed with the kind of decisive action that Moscow has taken.

Moreover, China thinks that time is on its side, and Beijing’s task now is to maintain a neutral stance for as long as possible, building up its forces while hoping to weaken its competitors.

The Euro-Atlantic capitals also realize this and they are forcing geopolitical pressure on China. The ‘indivisibility of security in the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific’ thesis has already emerged in rhetoric, effectively suggesting the creation of a ‘global NATO’.

Thus, we are moving from a European security crisis to one that is truly global.

In practice, a global NATO is already in the making, and the US-led military bloc’s Madrid summit in late June is the best proof of this. For the first time in NATO’s history, the Pacific states – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea – were invited; actions were intensified to form ‘quasi-alliances’ such as the QUAD (the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the US, Australia, Japan and India), AUKUS (the trilateral pact between the US, Britain, and Australia), and the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP: AUKUS plus Japan and New Zealand). In contrast to the ‘classical NATO’, which has long been perceived in China as a vestige of the Cold War and intra-Western conflicts, these alliances have an unambiguous anti-Chinese orientation.

Eventually, the Ukraine crisis may be remembered as a sideshow before the main event.

This article was originally published in Russian on ru.valdaiclub.com

 

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