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Russia Could Shut Down Huge Chunk of US Power Grid in One Move, Report Warns

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Tuesday, June 14, 2022
  • 170 Impressed

Russia Could Shut Down Huge Chunk of US Power Grid in One Move, Report Warns

 

 

Dhaka June 14 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on June 14 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Russia reports less than 3,000 new daily COVID-19 cases for first time since April 2020

MOSCOW, June 13. /TASS/. Russia’s COVID-19 case tally rose by 2,996 over the past day to 18,379,583, the country’s anti-coronavirus crisis center reported on Monday.

The country reported less than 3,000 new daily cases for the first time since April 14, 2020.

In relative terms, the growth reached 0.02%.

As many as 724 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Russia over the past day, or 11.6% lower than the day before. The number of hospitalized patients declined in 39 regions, while in 31 other regions the figure increased.

Moscow’s COVID-19 cases rose by 180 over the past day against 217 a day earlier, reaching 2,773,720, according to the anti-coronavirus crisis center. St. Petersburg’s COVID-19 cases increased by 203 over the past day against 206 a day earlier, reaching 1,532,666.

COVID-19 recoveries

Russia’s COVID-19 recoveries rose by 3,684 over the past day, reaching 17,798,245, the anti-coronavirus crisis center told reporters.

A day earlier 3,480 patients recovered.

COVID-19 death toll

Russia’s COVID-19 death toll increased by 56 over the past day to 380,076, the crisis center announced. This is the lowest since September 7, 2020.

The average mortality rate remained at 2.07%, the center said.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

After Touting Military Resolution of Ukrainian Crisis, EU’s Borrell Now Wants Dialogue With Moscow

 

“This war will be won on the battlefield,” European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said in April while announcing an additional 500 million euros in EU military assistance to Kiev. In May, the diplomat complained that the bloc had run out of hardware to provide Ukraine and urged the EU to boost its defence capabilities.

Russia and the EU are bound by the confines of geography and must coexist and talk to one another, the EU’s foreign affairs chief has indicated.

“Russia will continue to exist after peace negotiations, and it is necessary to define clearly how we intend to coexist with the country. It will be very difficult after what Russia has done in Ukraine…but we still have to try to coexist with the Russians on this continent,” Borrell said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche.

The diplomat assured that the channels of communication with Russia “were never closed,” pointing to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s recent visit to Moscow, African Union Chairman Macky Sall’s trip to Sochi, and the visits of United Nations envoys to Russia to discuss Ukraine’s grains exports. “We must continue to talk with Russia,” Borrell emphasized.

Asked about the fate of EU weapons aid to Ukraine, and whether they were achieving the results on the ground that Brussels was hoping for, Borrell characterized the arms deliveries as “war, not a picnic on the grass,” and that Russia was bombing the convoys. He admitted that over the past 100 days, the EU “used a lot of our capabilities in service of Ukraine and it is imperative that our stocks be renewed.”

Asked whether Brussels should help Ukraine directly militarily, Borrell stressed that he doesn’t “engage in theology,” and reiterating the need for EU aid to reach Ukrainian forces as quickly as possible, “because they are not waging a conflict with banknotes but with guns.”

“Having said that, all conflicts end with a ceasefire and negotiations, and it is necessary for Ukraine to be able to approach this phase from a position of strength,” the diplomat said.

The EU high representative for foreign affairs’ comments mark a stark contrast with sentiments he expressed in April about to need to “win” the conflict in Ukraine “on the battlefield,” and to tailor weapons deliveries to Kiev’s needs. “We need to continue to increase our pressure on Russia. We have imposed massive sanctions already but more needs to be done on the energy sector, including oil…Ukraine will prevail and rise back even stronger. And the EU will continue to stand by you, ever step of the way,” he promised at the time.

A month later, Borrell complained that the EU had run out of weapons to send, blaming “past budget cuts and underinvestment.”

The EU has committed to send over 2 billion euros in aid for the Ukrainian military, on top of roughly 4.1 billion euros to support Kiev’s economy. Last month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed providing Ukraine with an additional 9 billion euros in fiscal support, to be paid back at the end of the year.

Since the onset of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, Washington and Brussels have provided Ukraine with tens of billions of euros’ worth of military assistance and economic loans. But assistance has come with conditions, including requirements that the country open its markets, and carry out painful reforms aimed at liberalizing its economy. Aid has also occasionally been tied to political preconditions, with then-former vice president Joe Biden boasting in a 2018 panel meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations on how he threatened to withhold a $1 billion loan to Kiev unless Ukraine’s president fired a prosecutor investigating the activities of a gas company working with his son Hunter.

 

Russian star praised for gesture to injured Ukrainian rival

Russian tennis star Daria Kasatkina has been praised after she rushed to attend to injured Ukrainian opponent Anhelina Kalinina during their grass court match in Berlin.

Meeting on Monday in the first round at the WTA’s German Open – also known as the Grass Court Championships Berlin or bett1open – Kalinina appeared to sprain her ankle after stumbling at the start of the second set.

Rather than taking advantage of the pause in play to grab a breather, Kasatkina instead rushed to the aid of her rival by bringing her a pack of ice.

“This is really nice to see from Kasatkina, one of the most well-liked players on tour,” said a member of the commentary team.

The gesture was also praised online as some hit out at the notion that Russian players should be slapped with a blanket ban from the WTA and ATP tours due to the military campaign in Ukraine.

“And some people think that Russians have no business being on a tennis court…,” read one comment from a popular Twitter account which follows the sport. 

Ukrainian world number 37 Kalinina took the opening set 7-5 against Kasatkina before the sixth-seeded Russian battled back to claim the next two sets 6-3 6-1 against her ailing opponent.

Ranked number 12 in the world, Kasatkina has entered the grass court season on the back of a strong showing on clay at the French Open, where she reached the semifinals before falling to eventual winner Iga Swiatek.

However, Kasatkina and her compatriots will not be permitted to appear at the next Grand Slam of the season at Wimbledon when the showpiece gets underway in London later this month.

Organizers at the All England Club have barred all Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament due to the conflict in Ukraine, with the WTA and ATP responding by stripping this year’s event of its rankings points.

Speaking last month, Kasatkina said she appreciated the support from the WTA for its opposition to the Wimbledon ban.

“It’s nice that they stood up for us. The situation is not easy, even discussing this topic now is very difficult,” the 25-year-old told Russian outlet Sport-Express. 

“We don’t want to be deprived of work, that’s obvious. And we’re glad that our employer [the WTA] supports us.

“These are difficult times for everyone, for Ukrainians and Ukraine in general to an incredible extent, that goes without saying,” added Kasatkina.

 

Russian ace Medvedev recaptures world number one spot

Daniil Medvedev has officially reclaimed his place as world number one in the updated ATP ratings, marking the second time the Russian star will lead the men’s tennis rankings ahead of the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Medvedev moved top of the pile on Monday with 7,950 points. The 26-year-old replaces Djokovic, who slipped to third spot overall with 6,770 points, while Germany’s Alexander Zverev climbed to second with 7,075.

Spanish great Rafael Nadal – who has enjoyed a remarkable start to 2022 by claiming both Grand Slam titles on offer – sits fourth with 6,525 points.

Due to the ATP rankings system, 2021 US Open winner Medvedev is enjoying the fruits of his efforts across the preceding 52-week timeframe.

Medvedev had spent a three-week stint as world number one earlier this year when he overtook Djokovic back in February, making the Russian the first man outside of Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to achieve the ranking since 2004.

The current rankings mark the first time since 2003 that none of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have occupied at least one of the top two places in the ratings.

Medvedev has made a mixed start to the current season, suffering defeat to Nadal in an epic Australian Open final but mostly laboring at subsequent tournaments before announcing a break for a hernia operation at the start of April.

The Russian was back in time for the French Open but only made it as far as the fourth round on his least favored surface.

Returning to grass in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands last week, Medvedev reached the final at the Libema Open before being shocked by Dutch wildcard Tim van Rijthoven on Sunday.

The Russian took the defeat with good grace, congratulating Van Rijthoven by saying: “Amazing week. [You] destroyed the No. 2 in the world in straight sets in the final, so I think it must be a good feeling!”

“An amazing match today. Keep it going. I remember you from juniors, you have the talent so now you need to make more matches like this and more tournaments like this. Congrats to you and your team.”

With the grass court swing underway, Medvedev and his fellow Russian stars will banned from playing at the biggest event on the surface after Wimbledon organizers ruled that Russian and Belarusian players would not be invited due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The ATP and women’s counterpart the WTA have responded by stripping the event of rankings points.

In rankings terms, that is a blow to the likes of Djokovic, who will lose the 2,000 points he secured by lifting the Wimbledon title last year, although the Serb has strongly criticized the London Grand Slam for its ban on Russian and Belarusian stars.

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi recently signaled the organization would be willing to reverse its stance if Wimbledon backed down, while Medvedev has also suggested he would still be eager to play if given the chance.

However, a change of heart from Wimbledon organizers the All England Club seems unlikely given the SW19 showpiece gets underway on June 27.

Elsewhere in the ATP rankings, Russia’s Andrey Rublev retained his place inside the top 10 and currently resides in eighth spot on 4,125 points.

 

UK poised to send first asylum seekers to Africa

Courts are hearing last-minute appeals against 30 deportations, with the first flight to Rwanda slated for Tuesday

The High Court of Justice and The Court of Appeal in London are hearing last-minute legal challenges to a new British government policy, under which asylum seekers are to be deported to Rwanda while their applications are being processed.

The first flight to the Central African country is expected to leave on Tuesday while refugee charity, Asylum Aid, is presenting arguments before the High Court on Monday.

The group insists that the government’s scheme, which gives asylum seekers a week to obtain legal counsel and to present their case to avoid deportation, is unjust.

Objections to the policy are also being mounted in the Court of Appeal by two more human rights groups and a trade union. The last-ditch attempts come shortly after a judge refused activists’ requests for an injunction to block the first deportation flight. The High Court sided with the government, arguing that there was a “material public interest” to allow the scheme to go ahead.

While the British government has not released the details of the first 30 asylum seekers it wants to send to Rwanda, charities claim that Syrian and Afghan nationals are among them.

In mid-April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a deal, under which Rwanda would house migrants seeking asylum in Britain in exchange for a down payment of £120 million ($148 million).

London will also pick up the tab for the migrants’ accommodation and integration, as clarified by the Home Office.

“Our new Migration and Economic Development Partnership will mean that anyone entering the UK illegally – as well as those who have arrived illegally since January 1st – may now be relocated to Rwanda,” the British PM announced at the time.

Johnson argued that the scheme would deal a severe blow to people-smugglers, while taking the heat off Britain’s social services.

Despite Johnson insisting that Rwanda was “one of the safest countries in the world,” critics were left unconvinced, with the Refugee Council group branding the scheme as “cruel and nasty.” The Labour party was also quick to pick holes in the plan, which it said was “extortionate as well as unworkable & unethical.”

According to the UK’s Times newspaper, it is not only the opposition and rights groups, that are highly critical of the scheme, but also Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne.

The royal reportedly described the government’s plan as “appalling” over the weekend.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Prince Charles did not deny he had voiced personal opinions about the policy, noting, however, that the royal remained “politically neutral,” in keeping with Britain’s unwritten constitution.

 

Russia Could Shut Down Huge Chunk of US Power Grid in One Move, Report Warns

By Ilya Tsukanov

The stark warning follows a report last week which pointed out that China controls nearly 90 percent of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals, and could starve the US military-industrial complex of its ability to produce new weapons by stopping the resources’ exports.

A Russian decision to halt the supply of enriched uranium to US power companies would take many of America’s nuclear reactors offline within a year, leading to a spike in electricity prices beyond the current price inflation, and potentially leaving some areas of the country unable to meet demand, an analysis in The Hill of “Russia’s nuclear power dominance” has warned.

The report, penned by former Department of Energy Under Secretary Paul Dabbar and Columbia University energy researcher Matt Bowen, pointed out that nuclear power accounts for more than 20 percent of US electricity generation capacity. Nearly half of the uranium used by the country’s 56 operational nuclear power plants is imported from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

Dabbar and Bowen noted that although Russia only mines six percent of the world’s uranium, it controls some 40 percent of the global uranium conversion market, and 46 percent of total uranium enrichment capacity.

Other countries are even more dependent on Russia for their nuclear power generation needs, the authors wrote, with Finland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Finland, and Turkey reliant on Russian state nuclear giant Rosatom for everything from uranium mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication to the construction and servicing of state-of-the-art reactors.

Dabbar and Bowen urged Western leaders to “immediately consider their exposure to Russian nuclear exports and to take steps to reduce it or face another energy shock at the hands of Putin”, and urged the US federal government to provide assistance and incentives for US-based uranium conversion and enrichment facilities to rebuild the country’s dilapidated nuclear fuel supply chain.

But…Why?

The report’s authors did not specify why “Putin” or Russia would move to deprive the US or Europe of their nuclear energy-related resource needs. In recent months, notwithstanding the Ukraine crisis, the Russian state and major companies, including Rosatom, Gazprom, and Rosneft, have so far committed to continue delivering on contracts with their commercial partners, with the caveat that gas purchased by countries which have sanctioned Russia be paid in rubles.

In March, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow was considering a ban on uranium exports to the US in response to Washington’s sanctions, but no final decision on the matter has been made.

Putin and other officials have looked on with bewilderment at decisions made by Western countries to cut down reliance on Russian energy deliveries. Last month, the Russian president lamented the European Union’s decision to commit “economic suicide” by reducing purchases of Russia’s gas, saying it would not only result in high prices for consumers, but undermine the competitiveness of European industry globally. “Such an economic auto-da-fe…is of course the internal affair of European countries. We must proceed pragmatically and primarily from our own economic interests”, Putin said.

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order in March banning the import of Russian energy, but left uranium off Washington’s list of banned items, reportedly following heavy lobbying from the National Energy Institute, a trade group of large US nuclear power generation companies.

Russian oil accounted for just one percent of US consumption, but its loss has had a noticeable impact on US energy prices, with gasoline prices reaching an unprecedented high of over $5 a gallon last week. Biden has blamed Putin, US oil companies, the coronavirus, and even US aid to Ukraine for the crisis, but not his own administration’s policies.

The US has been dependent on Russian uranium imports since the early 1990s. In 1993, then-Vice President Al Gore and Russian premier Viktor Chernomyrdin signed a 20-year, $11.9 billion deal for the delivery of more than 550 metric tonnes of highly enriched uranium extracted from scrapped Soviet nuclear warheads. These deliveries wound up supplying about 10 percent of all electricity generated in the United States over the next 15 years, and pumping out over seven billion megawatt hours of energy.

 

Police bigwig gets huge payout after Nazi scandal

Former assistant police chief Derek Kammerzell is getting the axe for flaunting Nazi symbols, plus a golden parachute

By RT

A former American assistant police chief – Derek Kammerzell of Kent, Washington – is being let go from his department for posting Nazi insignia on his office door – but he’s also set to receive a $1.52 million golden parachute, city leaders confirmed on Friday.

While acknowledging the former cop was receiving “a substantial sum,” city officials defended the payment, arguing it allowed them to move on by ridding the city of a distracting employee who might otherwise draw them into a legal quagmire that could cost taxpayers a good deal more.

City officials said it was “clear that the Assistant Chief would have significant difficulty being an effective leader in the Department” in a statement released on Friday. Explaining that had they attempted to fire Kammerzell during the initial disciplinary process – which ultimately led to him getting a slap on the wrist in the form of a two-week suspension with “training” – they argued he would have been returned to work by an independent arbitrator and handed back wages, given his spotless disciplinary record. Kammerzell’s 27-year history with the force lacked any complaints of excessive force or other issues, and this would have been taken into account by the arbitrator, the statement pointed out.

However, complaints about the mild discipline meted out to Kammerzell saw him placed on paid leave in December, with the city attempting to convince him to resign – even while acknowledging his removal would cost taxpayers. Under federal law, the assistant chief could not be tried for the same offense twice – a clause called ‘double jeopardy’ – meaning he would essentially have to be paid to leave. Given that the initial demand made by Kammerzell to walk away from the department was $3.11 million, the city considered the ultimate “compromise” of $1.52 million a successful “decision,” with city council members agreeing, according to the statement.

Regarding the oak leaves and diamond insignia he posted on his door back in September 2020, Kammerzell claimed through his city-appointed lawyer that while he knew the insignia was German, he didn’t know it was specifically Nazi-related, having seen it on the alternate-history TV series ‘Man in the High Castle’, which is based on a Philip K. Dick novel in which the Germans and Japanese win World War II and occupy the US. Kammerzell insisted he was not “expressing any positive sentiments about either Nazis or fascist governments.”

He argued he had taped up the insignia because a colleague had nicknamed him the “German general” because of his last name years before.

However, an internal investigation found he was well aware of the insignia’s meaning, reflecting the status of an SS obergruppenfuhrer (a senior official in the elite Nazi paramilitary group), and had been heard making a joke about his grandfather “dying in the Holocaust” – by getting drunk and falling out of a guard tower. Kammerzell acknowledged he shaved his facial hair into a “Hitler mustache” at one point and investigators found a photo of the officer in lederhosen at an Oktoberfest celebration appearing to be giving a fascist salute – though he insisted the photographer had merely caught him mid-wave.

Kammerzell’s union lawyer nevertheless argued he was being offered up as a “sacrificial lamb” to city politics. Mayor Dana Ralph led the charge in calling for his resignation after the initial punishment of two weeks off without pay failed to pacify Kent’s Jewish community.

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Number of injured in June 13 shelling up to 33, five people killed, DPR mission says

DONETSK, June 14. /TASS/. The number of injured in Ukrainian forces’ shelling at the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on Monday has risen to 33, while the number of fatalities has grown to five, the republic’s mission to the Joint Center for Ceasefire Coordination and Control (JCCC) said in a statement.

“The total number of victims among civilians in the attacks by the Ukrainian armed units on June 13 is 37 people (four dead and 33 injured),” the statement said.

Later the DPR’s mission added that “another civilian, a man born in 1990, died in the Kiev district of Donetsk.”

Earlier reports said four people died and 22 were injured.

Earlier on Monday, the DPR’s mission to the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the Ceasefire Regime reported massive shelling of cities and settlements in the republic from MLRS and artillery of various calibers.

 

Three killed in Ukrainian shelling of Donetsk market – DPR

Ukrainian troops shelled the Mayski market in Donetsk on Monday, killing three people and injuring four, Donetsk People’s Republic officials have said.

Yan Gagin, an adviser to the Donetsk government, told reporters that a woman and a child are among those killed.

City officials also reported that a hospital and a gas pipeline were damaged.

Local media said that 10 rockets were launched at Donetsk from a Ukrainian-controlled area.

Mayor Alexey Kulemzin posted to his Telegram channel that 13 people were injured in the district of Donetsk where the market is located on Monday.

Russia, along with Donbass forces, and Ukraine have repeatedly accused each other of shelling residential areas and killing civilians. Moscow insists that it only strikes military sites.

On Sunday, Sergey Gayday, a senior Ukrainian-appointed official, said that Russian forces shelled the city of Lisichansk, also in Donbass, killing three people, including a six-year-old boy.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’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.

 

UN Says Reports of Ukrainian Attack on Donetsk Maternity Hospital ‘Extremely Troubling’

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) – The United Nations is aware of reports of a Ukrainian strike hitting a maternity ward within the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement to Sputnik.

“We’ve seen the media reports about a maternity hospital in Donetsk. This is extremely troubling. Any attack on civilian infrastructure, especially health facilities, is a clear violation of international law,” Dujarric said on Monday.

On Monday, a Sputnik correspondent reported that a Ukrainian shell hit the roof of a maternity hospital in Donetsk, and women in labor were evacuated to the building’s basement. Thanks to the prompt actions of the staff, casualties were avoided.

The UN on Monday also urged all parties to the conflict in Ukraine to respect international humanitarian law amid increased shelling of Donetsk by Ukrainian forces, including a strike on a city market that killed three and injured 18 others.

Meanwhile, as another civilian in Donetsk was killed as a result shelling by Ukrainian troops earlier on Monday, the total number of victims among Donetsk residents since the day began was five people, the representative office of the DPR in the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the Ceasefire (JCCC) said in the evening.

The day overall saw Donetsk subjected to the most intensive shelling of the city since 2015. The Ukrainian military fired at almost every district, with Proletarsky, Kuibyshevsky, Petrovsky and Kievsky districts suffering the brunt of the attacks.

 

Ukraine has ‘crossed all lines’ – DPR

DPR has requested additional forces from Russia following heavy shelling of Donetsk’s residential areas by Ukrainian troops

The Donetsk Peoples’ Republic (DPR) is requesting additional “allied forces” to help in its fight against Ukrainian forces, its head, Denis Pushilin, outlined on Monday in a video address. The move comes amid reported heavy artillery shelling by Kiev of residential areas in Donetsk and other locations across the republic.

“The enemy has literally crossed all lines. Prohibited methods of warfare are being used. The residential areas and the central districts of the city of Donetsk are under artillery shelling, other cities and towns of the DPR are also under fire,” Pushilin stated.

Therefore, the republic is requesting Russia to deploy additional forces to help in the ongoing conflict, the official stated. “An understanding was reached that all the necessary additional forces of the allied troops, primarily of Russia, will be deployed,” he said.

Donetsk, as well as other locations across the DPR, have been subjected to heavy rocket and artillery attacks by the Ukrainian military over the past few days. The shelling became particularly strong on Monday, with dozens of incidents registered by local authorities across the city.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’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.

 

Zelensky vows to retake Donbass and Crimea

The Ukrainian president was speaking after his military bombarded civilian areas in Donetsk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to “liberate” the Russian territory of Crimea and the independent republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR). He was speaking just hours after reports of the Ukrainian military shelling residential buildings, a marketplace and a maternity hospital in the center of Donetsk.

“We will come to all our cities, to all our villages, which do not yet have our flag,” Zelensky boasted in a video address on Monday night, claiming that his army will defeat its Russian opponents in eastern Ukraine and recapture the cities of Mariupol, Kherson and Melitopol from Russian and DPR and LPR forces.

“And I ask everyone who has such an opportunity to communicate with people in the occupied south…say that there will be liberation,” he continued. “Say it to Gorlovka, Donetsk, Lugansk. Tell them that the Ukrainian army will definitely come.”

“Of course, we will liberate our Crimea as well. Let every Russian official who has seized precious land in Crimea remember: this is not the land where they will have peace,” he threatened.

Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence from Ukraine two days before the outbreak of conflict in February, and Crimea voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia in 2014.

Hours before Zelensky spoke, Ukrainian shells hit a maternity hospital, a marketplace and residential areas. Dozens of injuries have been reported and a mother and her 11-year-old son are among the dead, according to DPR officials.

Reports claim that as many as 300 rockets and artillery shells hit the city in a single two-hour period on Monday, and that NATO-supplied 155mm shells were used in the attack.

While Zelensky has promised to fly the Ukrainian flag once more over Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea, there remain major doubts as to his military’s remaining capabilities. Mikhail Podoliak, an aide to the Ukrainian leader, told the BBC last week that Kiev is losing between 100 and 200 troops daily – not counting those wounded – as Russia advances in the Donbass region.

And while Ukrainian troops expend shells and rockets on Donetsk, Podoliak pleaded with the West on Monday for 1,000 more 155mm howitzers – nearly ten times the amount sent by the US so far – and 300 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). Assuming that Podoliak is referring to the M270 MLRS systems already donated to Ukraine by the US and UK, he is asking for just under a quarter of these systems in existence worldwide.

“It only takes enough weapons to make it happen,” Zelensky said on Monday night. “The partners have it. In sufficient quantities. And we work every day for the political will to make these weapons appear.”

Zelensky has made several overtures to peace since February, only to call days later for the conquest of Crimea and Donbass. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last month that such “statements that contradict each other” make it “impossible to fully understand [Kiev’s] intentions and whether it is ready to take a sober approach and acknowledge the real state of affairs.”

 

Greek Community Reveals Details of Atrocities of Azov Militants in Mariupol, Report Says

ATHENS (Sputnik) – Members of the Greek community in Mariupol have shared their first-person accounts of the atrocities committed by the neo-Nazi Azov battalion in the city, including the killings of civilians, threats and robbery, the Estia newspaper reported on Sunday.

The newspaper cites the testimony of Natalia Papakitsa, the chairman of the Greek society of the village of Sartana near Mariupol, who was held hostage for 33 days along with dozens of other civilians in the basement of one of the houses.

“When we were starving, they would break into apartments at our home and rob us, taking everything that was valuable, from food to clothes,” Papakitsa told the newspaper, adding that the Greeks of Mariupol “want the world to learn the truth.”

According to Papakitsa, 38 people were trapped in the basement without light, water or fresh air, “like other thousands of Greeks of the diaspora and Mariupol residents,” the report said.

As for the future of Donbass, Papakitsa believes that it will be with Russia, since “no one wants to return under the control of Kiev,” the newspaper added.

Greek mainstream media did not publish reports about crimes of the nationalist Azov battalion. In April, two militants of the Azov battalion of Greek origin spoke to the Greek parliament alongside Volodymyr Zelensky via videoconference, causing a political scandal, with many lawmakers boycotting the meeting.

Mariupol, the second largest city in the Donetsk People’s Republic, at the time of the proclamation of its independence in 2014, has been under control of the Ukrainian forces. The city came under the Russian control on 21 April, with the remaining Azov-affiliated Ukrainian militants sheltering at the Azovstal steel plant. Russia offered safe exit to all those who agreed to surrender and lay down arms.

The mass surrender of the remaining Azov battalion from Azovstal ended on 20 May, when a total of 2,400 Ukrainian militants were transported to the DPR to await trial and the plant came under the control of the Russian forces.

 

Ukrainian mayor changes sides

Vladimir Bandura has appeared in a video, claiming Ukrainian forces had killed monks and set fire to an Orthodox monastery

The former mayor of the previously Ukrainian-occupied town of Svyatogorsk, Vladimir Bandura, has crossed over to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Last Tuesday, the official appeared in a video, accusing the Ukrainian military of murdering Orthodox monks and setting a monastery ablaze in early June.

In his Telegram post on Monday, the president of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, revealed that he had “long been in touch” with Bandura, adding that the mayor “was waiting, just like many Svyatogorsk residents, for the liberation, and supports the special military operation.”

The DPR president accompanied his post with a photo, depicting him and Bandura, sitting at a table.

Pushilin explained that “for obvious reasons” the mayor “had to keep his stance secret,” so as to “save the people.”

The DPR leader went on to announce that he had decided to reinstate Bandura as the mayor of Svyatogorsk, which, according to him, has been taken over by the DPR and Russian forces.

After Ukrainian troops retreated from Svyatogorsk earlier this month, several of the country’s media outlets initially reported that the town’s mayor had been captured by Russian forces.

On June 7, a video with Bandura was released and subsequently cited by the Russian media, in which the official leveled some damning accusations at the Ukrainian armed forces. The mayor claimed, among other things, that there was “information, confirmed information, that the Nazis are killing priests and monks and concealing these facts.” On top of that, Bandura alleged that Ukrainian troops had set fire to an Orthodox monastery in Svyatogorsk.

Soon thereafter, Ukrainian authorities launched an investigation into the mayor, saying the official was “discrediting the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the state,” and spreading a “Russian fake.”

The blaze, which Bandura referred to in his video, engulfed the Skete of All Saints on June 4. The area was still under Ukrainian control at the time, though heavy fighting had been taking place there for several days already, according to media reports.

Moscow and Kiev were quick to point the finger at each other. A Ukrainian officer with the 95th Airborne Assault Brigade, Yuri Kochevenko, described the fire as a “crime” at the hands of “Russian barbarians.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used the occasion to once again demand that Russia be expelled from UNESCO.

The Russian military, in turn, accused Ukrainian units of deliberately firing incendiary rounds at the skete before retreating. Moscow claimed there were eyewitnesses, whose accounts corroborated this version of events.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’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 Minsk Protocol was 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.

 

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