Author Archives : wVisti

Home  >>  Author : wVisti

Jailing of Georgian Media Owner Sends ‘Bad Message’

On May 19, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

The jailing of a politician turned media owner sends a “bad message” from Georgia about the country’s commitment to press freedom and Western ideals, international bodies and rights groups say.

Nika Gvaramia, director of the opposition station Mtavari TV, appeared in court in the capital, Tbilisi, on Monday accused of harming the financial interests of a media outlet that he previously ran.

The court convicted Gvaramia of abuse of power related to his time as general manager and director of the independent TV station Rustavi 2. He was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

His lawyer, Dimitri Sadzaglishvili, told local media they plan to appeal.

Gvaramia left Rustavi in 2019 after the European Court of Human Rights upheld a ruling by Georgia’s Supreme Court that the station should be returned to one of its former owners.

In response to the takeover, Gvaramia accused the government of using the judiciary system to give ownership to Kibar Khalvashi, a businessman seen as loyal to the ruling Georgian Dream party.

Both Gvaramia and other figures in Georgia’s opposition media have said they believe the ruling party is attempting to silence critical media.

In response to VOA’s request for comment, a spokesperson in Georgia’s Embassy in Washington said that the embassy “will refrain from commenting” on the case.

As well as working in media, Gvaramia was previously involved in politics, holding the posts of Minister of Justice and Minister of Education and Science under former President Mikheil Saakashvili in 2007 and 2008.

He is also one of the lawyers representing Saakashvili, who was imprisoned in October 2021 upon returning to Georgia after eight years in exile. A court convicted the former leader in absentia of misuse of power.

International reaction

The arrest of a prominent media figure sparked international condemnation, with analysts and rights groups calling the case politically motivated.

David Kramer, managing director for global policy at the George W. Bush Institute, told VOA’s Georgian Service he believes the sentencing “is the latest evidence of the government abusing the judicial system to go after the political opponents.”

“It is not the first time; I fear it won’t be the last time,” said Kramer, who under President George W. Bush was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

The U.S embassy in Georgia said the case brings into question Georgia’s commitment to Western orientation.

“From its inception, this case has raised questions, including about the timing and the charges,” the U.S embassy statement read. It added that the ruling “calls into question Georgia’s commitment to rule of law, and further demonstrates the fundamental importance of having an independent, impartial judiciary.”

European Parliament member Rasa Jukneviciene noted that the arrest comes as Georgia pushes for membership to the EU.

“It’s one more bad message from Georgia, in terms of the Georgian people’s attempt to join the European Union one day,” Jukneviciene, a politician from Lithuania, told VOA. “This message comes as the European Commission will very soon be making a proposal to the EU Council on countries like Ukraine and Georgia for their candidacy status.”

Georgia applied for EU membership in early March, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Georgia says it wants EU integration. But Kramer said he believes that the Georgian Dream party is using government institutions for its own interests.

“I think the way to handle this is through a tough love approach, if you will, which is to continue to support Georgia, the country, the people, while going after the people who are responsible for taking Georgia in a wrong direction politically,” he said.

The nongovernmental organization Transparency International-Georgia said the case appeared to be politically motivated and aimed at “punish[ing] Nika Gvaramia and disrupt[ing] the activities of a critical media outlet.”

“The use of the justice system for media censorship and intimidation sends a clear message to other critical media outlets as well,” Transparency International-Georgia said in a statement.

Keti Khutsishvili, executive director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation, said the case showed “no signs of criminal liability, and therefore it should be discussed as an entrepreneurial affair.”

Linking income, liability

The investigation into Gvaramia started in 2019.

According to the public defender, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia was trying to prove that Gvaramia “could have brought more income to the company but he did not do so, and that this is a crime.”

The office of Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, however, told the Tbilisi court via a letter that Gvaramia’s actions were not criminal.

“An entrepreneurial decision may not lead even to corporate liability, not to mention criminal liability. The decision made by the director might be to make less profit, but it might serve the best interests of the corporation and aim to insure against short-term or long-term risks,” the letter read.

Deputy Public Defender Giorgi Burjanadze believes the court ruling sets a dangerous precedent for media and media managers.

“This action has a very big impact on the media,” he told VOA.

“We are talking about actions inside media, and a director gets punished because government tells him that he had to bring more income,” Burjanadzde said. “If theoretically we agree that this is right and the government can punish someone for this, in future this will have chilling effect for others, because every manager will think that if they did not get profit, they automatically are guilty.”

Such an approach could impact Georgia’s standing on press freedom rankings and be a “step back,” he added.

Currently, Georgia ranks 89 out of 180 countries, where 1 is freest, according to the annual index by Reporters Without Borders. The media watchdog warns that “official interference undermines efforts undertaken to improve press freedom.”

This article originated in VOA’s Georgian Service.

your ad here

Russian Soldier Pleads Guilty to Killing Ukrainian Civilian

On May 18, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

A 21-year-old Russian soldier pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian in the first war crimes case Kyiv has brought since the Russian invasion three months ago.

Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin could be sentenced to life in prison for shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window four days after Russia launched the invasion in late February. 

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova previously has said her office is preparing war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offenses that included bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape and looting. It is not clear how many of the Russians are in Ukrainian custody or how many might be tried in absentia.

In Shishimarin’s case heard in a Kyiv court, Venediktova alleged that he was among a group of Russian soldiers that fled Ukrainian forces on February 28, driving to Chupakhivka, a village about 320 kilometers east of the capital, Kyiv.

The prosecutor-general said that on the way the Russian soldiers saw a man riding his bicycle and talking on his phone. Shishimarin, according to Venediktova, was ordered to kill the man so he wouldn’t be able to report them to Ukrainian military authorities but did not say who gave the order.

Shishimarin fired his Kalashnikov rifle through the open window and hit the victim in the head, Venediktova wrote in a Facebook account.

“The man died on the spot just a few dozen meters from his house,” she said.

In a brief video account of the incident produced by the Ukrainian Security Service, Shishimarin said, “I was ordered to shoot. I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going.” 

Venediktova’s office has said it is investigating more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials. International authorities are also investigating possible Russian war crimes, while Moscow is believed to be working on crimes cases against Ukrainian troops.

Russia has denied targeting civilians and accused Ukraine of staging atrocities. Ukraine says thousands of its civilians have been killed.

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press.

your ad here

Families Scattered as Mariupol Falls to Russian Forces

On May 18, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

After months of siege, Russia is taking control of Ukraine’s strategic port city, Mariupol, and aid workers say they do not know how many civilians remain. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine, that many risked everything to get out but even now, they still live in fear.

your ad here

Pope Remarks on Needing Tequila Go Viral 

On May 18, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Pope Francis recently joked with seminarians about needing some alcohol to deal with severe pain in his knee. He recently cancelled a foreign trip because of the ailment, sparking speculation about his declining health.

Pope Francis has been suffering from pain in his right knee due to strained ligaments in recent weeks which has also forced him to use a wheelchair on more than one occasion. Doctors have also prescribed physical therapy to help him with his ailment.

But following his general audience this week, he seemed to think there was something else that could help him with his pain.

He was riding on his popemobile at the end of the audience when some Mexican seminarians shouted out to him asking him how he was doing with his knee. The exchange between the pope and the seminarians went viral when Francis said he could use some tequila to deal with his knee pain.

The seminarians asked him in his native Spanish how his knee was doing, and Francis responded it was “capricious.”

The pope said: “Do you know what I need for my knee? A little tequila.” The Mexicans laughed heartily and promised to bring Pope Francis a bottle of the potent liquor — considered Mexico’s national drink — the next time they pay a visit to the Santa Marta house in the Vatican where Francis lives.

The faithful saw the pope limping badly when he was presiding at ceremonies recently for the Easter festivities. He uses a cane to walk.

There have been concerns that at 85-years of age the pope’s health is not what it used to be when he was elected more than nine years ago. But close advisers have rejected any speculation that the pope is generally unwell.

Argentine Bishop Victor Manuel Fernandez from La Plata met with the pope on May 14 and later tweeted: “He’s in very good health and the same lucid reflection as always.”

Pope Francis has a busy travel schedule for the remainder of this year with confirmed trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan in early July and a separate trip to Canada later the same month.

Still, doubts have persisted after he recently cancelled a planned two-day trip to Lebanon in June due to his knee problem.

your ad here

German Ex-Leader Schroeder Loses Privileges Over Russia Ties 

On May 18, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Germany’s three governing parties plan to strip former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of his office and staff after he maintained and defended his long-standing ties with Russia despite the war in Ukraine.

Schroeder’s own Social Democratic Party said Wednesday that lawmakers on the parliamentary budget committee had agreed to link some of the former German leader’s privileges to actual duties, rather than his status as former chancellor.

They planned to submit a proposal to lawmakers on Thursday.

Schroeder has become increasingly isolated in recent months due to his work for Russian state-controlled energy companies.

The 78-year-old is chairman of the supervisory board of Russian state energy company Rosneft and also has been involved with the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline projects.

Earlier this year his office staff quit and Schroeder faced a fresh wave of outrage from former political allies after the New York Times quoted him saying that the massacre of civilians in Bucha “has to be investigated” but he didn’t think the orders would have come from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a longtime friend.

your ad here

Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 18

On May 18, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

4:10 a.m.: Reuters reported that Israel has delivered 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests for emergency and civilian organizations in Ukraine.  

3:00 a.m.: Russian gas producer Gazprom GAZP.MM said it continues to supply gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point, with volumes on Wednesday seen at 51.6 million cubic meters (mcm), up from 49.3 mcm on Tuesday, Reuters reported. 

Gazprom said an application to supply gas via the main Sokhranovka entry point, the Reuters report added, was rejected by Ukraine. 

2:17 a.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the decision of Finland and Sweden to apply for membership in the alliance is “a good day at a critical moment for our security.” Speaking alongside the ambassadors of both nations at NATO headquarters in Brussels. the secretary-general said:

“You have both made your own choice after thorough democratic processes, and I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” Stoltenberg said to them.

“All allies agree on the importance of NATO enlargement,” said Stoltenberg. “We all agree that we must stand together. And we all agree that this is an historic moment which we must seize.”

2:00 a.m.: In its latest battleground intelligence report Wednesday, the British defense ministry said “staunch Ukrainian resistance delayed Russia’s ability to gain full control over” Mariupol despite encircling the city for over ten weeks. “This frustrated its [Russia’s] early attempts to capture a key city and inflicted costly personnel losses amongst Russian forces,” the ministry said.

 

1:20 a.m.: A Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing on Friday in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia’s February 24 invasion, after charging a captured Russian soldier with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said the defendant was a 21-year-old tank commander in the Kantemirovskaya tank division from the Moscow region. The prosecutor general had published a photograph of him ahead of the hearing. The defendant identified himself as Vadim Shishimarin, and confirmed that he was a Russian serviceman.

Prosecutors said Shishimarin and four other soldiers stole a car after their convoy came under attack. As they were travelling near the village of Shupakhivka in the Sumy region, they encountered the man on a bicycle.

“One of the soldiers ordered the accused to kill the civilian so that he would not denounce them,” the prosecutor’s office said.

In a video released earlier this month by authorities announcing his arrest, Shishimarin said he had come to fight in Ukraine to “support his mother financially.”

The court will reconvene on May 18, the judge said.

1:15 a.m.: Lawmakers in Finland voted overwhelmingly Wednesday in favor of the country joining NATO by a vote of 188-8, marking a dramatic reversal of Finland’s military non-alignment policy dating back more than 75 years. Agence France-Presse has the video:

 

12:30 a.m.: The fall of the Ukrainian port of Mariupol to Russia appeared imminent Tuesday as Ukraine moved to abandon the city’s sprawling steel plant, and hundreds of Kyiv fighters who had been holed up there turned themselves over to Russian forces in a deal reached by the warring parties.

The capture of Mariupol, a prewar city of 430,000 people along the north coast of the Sea of Azov, would be Moscow’s biggest success in its nearly three-month offensive against Ukraine. But Russia is struggling to capture more territory in eastern Ukraine and has failed to topple the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or take the capital, Kyiv. VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin reports.

 

Under constant Russian shelling, which Ukraine estimates has killed 20,000 civilians in Mariupol, much of the city has been reduced to rubble. What’s left of it is situated between the Russian mainland and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

More than 260 Ukrainian fighters — some of them seriously wounded and lying on stretchers — left the ruins of the Azovstal steel plant on Monday and turned themselves over to Russian forces. Ukrainian authorities said they were working to remove its remaining soldiers from the steel mill, but it was not clear how many remained.

Russia called the operation a mass surrender. The Ukrainians, in contrast, said its garrison had completed its mission.

12:01 a.m.: In an interview with VOA’s Ukranian Service Tuesday, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko spoke of the courage of Ukrainian forces who defended the once-thriving Southeastern seaport besieged by Russian artillery for 82 days.

“There is still a Ukrainian flag over Mariupol. And they were doing it against the powers that were [a] dozen times stronger. They were working professionally, almost without food or water. Without [much] weapons,” Boychenko said.

He praised Denys Prokopenko, commander of Azov special regiment, who was in charge of the defense and others who supported Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

“They were not only holding Mariupol, but they’ve held back an immense power of 20-30 professional Russian military, said Boychenko. “It has allowed the other [Ukrainian] military groups, other cities to better prepare for this war.”

Some information in this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

your ad here

Russia on Verge of Controlling Mariupol

On May 18, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

The fall of the Ukrainian port of Mariupol to Russia appeared imminent Tuesday as Ukraine moved to abandon the city’s sprawling steel plant, and hundreds of Kyiv fighters who had been holed up there turned themselves over to Russian forces in a deal reached by the warring parties.

The capture of Mariupol, a prewar city of 430,000 people along the north coast of the Sea of Azov, would be Moscow’s biggest success in its nearly three-month offensive against Ukraine.

But Russia is struggling to capture more territory in eastern Ukraine and has failed to topple the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or take the capital, Kyiv.

Under constant Russian shelling, which Ukraine estimates has killed 20,000 civilians in Mariupol, much of the city has been reduced to rubble. What’s left of it is situated between the Russian mainland and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

More than 260 Ukrainian fighters — some of them seriously wounded and lying on stretchers — left the ruins of the Azovstal steel plant on Monday and turned themselves over to Russian forces. Ukrainian authorities said they were working to remove its remaining soldiers from the steel mill, but it was not clear how many remained.

Russia called the operation a mass surrender. The Ukrainians, in contrast, said its garrison had completed its mission.

“The goal was that our guys, who heroically defend the city and restrain the enemy directly in Mariupol, did not allow them to pass through Mariupol,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko told VOA’s Ukrainian Service. “That is, they saved the nation, they allowed the Armed Forces of Ukraine to prepare and other cities to be more prepared for this terrible war that has already taken place in Ukraine.”

It was not clear what would happen to the Ukrainian fighters. A Russian official cast doubt on a full-scale prisoner exchange.

Fifty-three seriously injured fighters were taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said. Novoazovsk is under the control of Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists.

Another 211 fighters were taken to the town of Olenivka, an area also controlled by Russian-backed separatists, Malyar said, adding that the evacuees would be subject to a potential prisoner exchange with Russia.

During his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskyy discussed the evacuation of soldiers from Mariupol.

“The operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol was started by our military and intelligence officers. To bring the boys home, the work continues, and this work needs delicacy. And time.”

 

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters it is “difficult to know” what the end of combat operations in Mariupol means.

“We have long talked about the significance of Mariupol as a major economic port on the Sea of Azov and also geographically relevant to the fighting in the east,” Kirby said.

He added that Russia has a clear intent “to encircle and to occupy the Donbas and the eastern part of the country,” but that “they have not succeeded in that.”

NATO expansion

Sweden and Finland presented their applications to join the NATO military alliance Wednesday in Brussels, with ambassadors from both countries meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“This is a good day at a critical moment for our security,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “Thank you so much for handing over the applications for Finland’s and Sweden’s membership in NATO. Every nation has the right to choose its own path. You have both made your own choice after thorough democratic processes, and I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.”

The moves come in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and represent major shifts for both Sweden and Finland which have long stayed out of such alliances.

Their applications must be approved by all 30 of the existing NATO members. Turkey has expressed its opposition, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Sweden and Finland of giving safe haven to “terrorists” and imposing sanctions on Turkey.

Discussion of Turkey’s position will continue Wednesday as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosts Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in New York.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Tuesday that after talks with NATO allies there is “strong consensus” for admitting Sweden and Finland, and that “we are confident we’ll be able to preserve that consensus.”

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

your ad here

Nestlé Ships Baby Formula From Switzerland, Netherlands Amid US Shortages

On May 18, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Swiss food giant Nestlé is to fly baby formula from Switzerland and the Netherlands to the United States amid shortages there, a group spokeswoman said Tuesday. 

The Swiss group will specifically import two brands of hypoallergenic milk, as the shortage has become an additional source of stress for parents of babies intolerant of cow’s milk protein. 

“We prioritized these products because they serve a critical medical purpose,” the spokeswoman told AFP, confirming a press report.  

The two brands are already imported: Gerber Good Start Extensive HA milk from the Netherlands, and Alfamino milk from Switzerland.  

Faced with the shortage, Nestlé decided to airlift the milk “to help fill immediate needs,” said the group, which also has two factories in the United States producing infant formula.  

Initially caused by supply chain problems and a shortage of workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the formula shortage worsened in February when an Abbott factory in Michigan closed after a recall of products suspected of causing the deaths of two babies. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the milk but issued a “483” form alleging irregularities at the plant, Abbott said Friday, adding that it “immediately” began implementing corrective measures.  

On Monday, Abbott reached an agreement with U.S. authorities to restart production at the plant.  

The White House is in constant contact with the four major manufacturers — Nestlé, Reckitt, Abbott and Perrigo — to identify transportation, logistics and supplier barriers to increasing production. 

your ad here

Fall of Ukraine’s Port of Mariupol to Russians Appears Imminent

On May 17, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

The fall of the Ukrainian port of Mariupol to Russia appeared imminent Tuesday as Ukraine moved to abandon the city’s sprawling steel plant, and hundreds of Kyiv fighters who had been holed up there turned themselves over to Russian forces in a deal reached by the warring parties.

The capture of Mariupol, a prewar city of 430,000 people along the north coast of the Sea of Azov, would be Moscow’s biggest success in its nearly three-month offensive against Ukraine.

But Russia is struggling to capture more territory in eastern Ukraine and has failed to topple the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or take the capital, Kyiv.

Under constant Russian shelling, which Ukraine estimates has killed 20,000 civilians in Mariupol, much of the city has been reduced to rubble. What’s left of it is situated between the Russian mainland and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

More than 260 Ukrainian fighters — some of them seriously wounded and lying on stretchers — left the ruins of the Azovstal steel plant on Monday and turned themselves over to Russian forces. Ukrainian authorities said they were working to remove its remaining soldiers from the steel mill, but it was not clear how many remained.

Russia called the operation a mass surrender. The Ukrainians, in contrast, said its garrison had completed its mission.

“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to be alive. It’s our principle,” Zelenskyy said in announcing that troops had begun leaving the mill, with its Cold War-era tunnels and bunkers.

It was not clear what would happen to the Ukrainian fighters. A Russian official cast doubt on a full-scale prisoner exchange.

Fifty-three seriously injured fighters were taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said. Novoazovsk is under the control of Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists.

Another 211 fighters were taken to the town of Olenivka, an area also controlled by Russian-backed separatists, Malyar said, adding that the evacuees would be subject to a potential prisoner exchange with Russia.

During his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskyy discussed the evacuation of soldiers from Mariupol.

“The operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol was started by our military and intelligence officers. To bring the boys home, the work continues, and this work needs delicacy. And time.”

Malyar said efforts were being made to rescue the remaining fighters inside the plant, the last stronghold of resistance in Mariupol.

“Thanks to the defenders of Mariupol, Ukraine gained critically important time,” she said. “And they fulfilled all their tasks. But it is impossible to unblock Azovstal by military means.”

Also Monday, Ukraine said its forces had pushed back Russian troops in the Kharkiv region in a counteroffensive that allowed the Ukrainians to reach the Russian border.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry posted a video showing what it said were its troops at the border, with one soldier telling Zelenskyy, “We are here.”

A senior U.S. defense official said the Ukrainian troops were within 3 or 4 kilometers of the Russian border.

Western countries allied with Ukraine are continuing to send more weaponry to Kyiv’s forces, with 10 deliveries via airlift from seven nations in the past 24 hours, the U.S. defense official told reporters during a background call on Monday.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

your ad here

US Launches Program to Capture, Analyze Evidence of Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

On May 17, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday announced the launch of a new program to capture and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities perpetuated by Russia in Ukraine, as Washington seeks to ensure Moscow is held accountable for its actions.

The State Department in a statement said the so-called Conflict Observatory will encompass the documentation, verification and dissemination of open-source evidence of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Reports and analyzes will be made available through the Conflict Observatory’s website.

U.S. President Joe Biden has hammered Russia over what he calls “major war crimes” committed in Ukraine, and has underscored his resolve to hold Moscow accountable for launching the largest land war in Europe since World War Two.

The Kyiv government has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia denies targeting civilians and says, without evidence, that signs of atrocities were staged.

The U.S. State Department said the new program, which is being established with an initial $6 million investment, will analyze and preserve information, including satellite imagery and information shared on social media, so it can be used in ongoing and future accountability mechanisms.

“This new Conflict Observatory program is part of a range of U.S. government efforts at both national and international levels designed to ensure future accountability for Russia’s horrific actions,” the statement said.

A Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing on Friday in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, after charging a captured Russian soldier with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian. 

Russia has bombed cities to rubble and hundreds of civilian bodies have been found in towns where its forces withdrew since starting what it calls a special operation to demilitarize Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies say it is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war.

your ad here

Entrepreneurs From Ukraine’s Kharkiv Relocate, Become Volunteers in Lviv

On May 17, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, millions of people have left their hometowns to move to safety — either to western Ukraine or to neighboring countries like Poland. Many took just a few belongings, but some others brought their businesses and are putting their know-how and connections to use to help those displaced by the war. Anna Kosstutschenko has the story. Camera – Yuriy Dankevych.

your ad here

War Crimes Watch: Targeting Schools, Russia Bombs the Future

On May 17, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

By JASON DEAREN, JULIET LINDERMAN and OLEKSANDR STASHEVSKYI

 As she lay buried under the rubble, her legs broken and eyes blinded by blood and thick clouds of dust, all Inna Levchenko could hear was screams. It was 12:15 p.m. on March 3, and moments earlier a blast had pulverized the school where she’d taught for 30 years.

Amid relentless bombing, she’d opened School 21 in Chernihiv as a shelter to frightened families. They painted the word “children” in big, bold letters on the windows, hoping that Russian forces would see it and spare them. The bombs fell anyway.

Though she didn’t know it yet, 70 children she’d ordered to shelter in the basement would survive the blast. But at least nine people, including one of her students — a 13-year-old boy — would not.

“Why schools? I cannot comprehend their motivation,” she said. “It is painful to realize how many friends of mine died … and how many children who remained alone without parents, got traumatized. They will remember it all their life and will pass their stories to the next generation.”

Schools bombed

The Ukrainian government says Russia has shelled more than 1,000 schools, destroying 95. On May 8, a bomb flattened a school in Zaporizhzhia which, like School No. 21 in Chernihiv, was being used a shelter. As many as 60 people were feared dead.

Intentionally attacking schools and other civilian infrastructure is a war crime. Experts say wide-scale wreckage can be used as evidence of Russian intent, and to refute claims that schools were simply collateral damage.

But the destruction of hundreds of schools is about more than toppling buildings and maiming bodies, according to experts, to teachers and to others who have survived conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, in Syria and beyond. It hinders a nation’s ability to rebound after the fighting stops, injuring entire generations and dashing a country’s hope for the future.

In the nearly three months since Russia invaded Ukraine, The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” have independently verified 57 schools that were destroyed or damaged in a manner that indicates a possible war crime. The accounting likely represents just a fraction of potential war crimes committed during the conflict and the list is updated daily.

In Chernihiv alone, the city council said only seven of the city’s 35 schools were unscathed. Three were reduced to rubble.

8000 reports, 500 suspects

The International Criminal Court, prosecutors from across the globe and Ukraine’s prosecutor general are investigating more than 8,000 reports of potential war crimes in Ukraine involving 500 suspects. Many are accused of aiming deliberately at civilian structures like hospitals, shelters and residential neighborhoods.

Targeting schools — spaces designed as havens for children to grow, learn and make friends — is particularly harmful, transforming the architecture of childhood into something violent and dangerous: a place that inspires fear.

A geography teacher, Elena Kudrik, lay dead on the floor of School 50 in the eastern Ukrainian town of Gorlovka. Amid the wreckage surrounding her were books and papers, smeared in blood. In the corner, another lifeless body — Elena Ivanova, the assistant headmaster— slumped over in an office chair, a gaping wound torn into her side.

“It’s a tragedy for us … It’s a tragedy for the children,” said school director Sergey But, standing outside the brick building shortly after the attack. Shards of broken glass and rubble were sprayed across the concrete, where smiling children once flew kites and posed for photos with friends.

A few kilometers away, at the Sonechko pre-school in the city of Okhtyrka, a cluster bomb destroyed a kindergarten, killing a child. Outside the entrance, two more bodies lay in pools of blood.

Valentina Grusha teaches in Kyiv province, where she has worked for 35 years, most recently as a district administrator and foreign literature instructor. Russian troops invaded her village of Ivankiv just as school officials had begun preparations for war. On Feb. 24, Russian forces driving toward Kyiv fatally shot a child and his father there, she said.

“There was no more schooling,” she said. “We called all the leaders and stopped instruction because the war started. And then there were 36 days of occupation.”

They also shelled and destroyed schools in many nearby villages, she said. Kindergarten buildings were shattered by shrapnel and machine-gun fire.

Proving intent difficult

Despite the widespread damage and destruction to educational infrastructure, war crimes experts say proving an attacking military’s intent to target individual schools is difficult. Russian officials deny targeting civilian structures, and local media reports in Russian-held Gorlovka alleged Ukrainian forces trying to recapture the area were to blame for the blast that killed the two teachers there.

But the effects of the destruction are indisputable.

“When I start talking to the directors of destroyed and robbed institutions, they are very worried, crying, telling with pain and regret,” Grusha said. “It’s part of their lives. And now the school is a ruin that stands in the center of the village and reminds of those terrible air raids and bombings.”

UNICEF communications director Toby Fricker, who is currently in Ukraine, agreed. “School is often the heart of the community in many places, and that is so central to everyday life.”

Teachers and students who have lived through other conflicts say the destruction of schools in their countries damaged an entire generation.

Syrian teacher Abdulkafi Alhambdo still thinks about the children’s drawings soaked in blood, littered across the floor of a schoolhouse in Aleppo. It had been attacked during the Civil War there in 2014. The teachers and children had been preparing for an art exhibit featuring student work depicting life during wartime.

The blast killed 19 people, including at least 10 children, the AP reported at the time. But it’s the survivors who linger in Alhambdo’s memory.

“I understood in (their) eyes that they wouldn’t go to school anymore,” he said. “It doesn’t only affect the kids who were running away, with shock and trauma. It affects all kids who heard about the massacre. How can they go back to school? You are not only targeting a school, you’re targeting a generation.”

Jasminko Halilovic was only 6 years old when Sarajevo, in present-day Bosnia-Herzegovina, was besieged. Now, 30 years after the Bosnian war ended, he and his peers are the ones still picking up the pieces.

Halilovic went to school in a cellar, as many Ukrainian children have done. Desperately chasing safety, the teachers and students moved from basement to basement, leaning chalkboards on chairs instead of hanging them walls.

Halilovic, now 34, founded the War Childhood Museum, which catalogs the stories and objects of children in conflict around the world. He was working in Ukraine with children displaced by Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Donbas region when the current war began. He had to evacuate his staff and leave the country.

“Once the fighting ends, the new fight will start. To rebuild cities. To rebuild schools and infrastructure, and to rebuild society. And to heal. And to heal is the most difficult,” he said.

Alhambdo said he saw firsthand how the trauma of war influenced the development of children growing up in Aleppo. Instilling fear, anger and a sense of hopelessness is part of the enemy strategy, he said. Some became withdrawn, he said, and others violent.

“When they see their school destroyed, do you know how many dreams have been destroyed? Do you think anybody would believe in peace and love and beauty when the place that taught them about these things has been destroyed?” he said.

Alhambdo stayed in Aleppo and taught children in basements, apartments, anywhere he could, for nearly 10 years. Continuing to teach in spite of war, he said, is an act of defiance.

“I’m not fighting on the front lines,” he said. “I’m fighting with my kids.”

After the attack on School 50 in Gorlovka, shattered glass from blown-out windows littered the classrooms and hallways and the street outside. The floors were covered in dust and debris: cracked ceiling beams, slabs of drywall, a television that crashed down from the wall. A cell phone sat on the desk next to where one of the teachers was killed.

In Ukraine, some schools still standing have become makeshift shelters for people whose homes were destroyed by shelling and mortar fire.

What often complicates war crimes prosecutions for attacks on civilian buildings is that large facilities like schools are sometimes repurposed for military use during war. If a civilian building is being used militarily, it is a legitimate wartime target, said David Bosco, a professor of international relations at Indiana University whose research focuses on war crimes and the International Criminal Court.

The key for prosecutors, then, will be to show that there was a pattern by the Russians of targeting schools and other civilian buildings nationwide as a concerted military strategy, Bosco said.

“The more you can show a pattern, then the stronger the case becomes that this was really a policy of not discriminating between military and civilian facilities,” Bosco said. “(Schools are) a place where children are supposed to feel safe, a second home. Obviously shattering that and in essence attacking the next generation. That’s very real. It has a huge impact.”

As the war grinds on, more than half of Ukraine’s children have been displaced.

In Kharkiv, which has undergone relentless shelling, children’s drawings are taped to the walls of an underground subway station that has become not only a family shelter but also a makeshift school. Primary school-age children gather around a table for history and art lessons.

“It helps to support them mentally,” said teacher Valeriy Leiko. In part thanks to the lessons, he said, “They feel that someone loves them.”

Millions of kids are continuing to go to school online. The international aid group Save the Children said it is working with the government to establish remote learning programs for students at 50 schools. UNICEF is also trying to help with online instruction.

“Educating every child is essential to preventing grave violations of their rights,” the group said in a statement to the AP.

On April 2, Grusha’s community outside Kyiv began a slow reemergence. They are still raking and sweeping debris from schools and kindergartens that were damaged but not destroyed, she said, and taking stock of what’s left. They started distance learning classes, and planned to relocate children whose schools were destroyed to others close by.

Even with war still raging, there is a return to normal life including schooling, she said.

But Levchenko, who was in Kyiv in early May to undergo surgery for her injuries, said the emotional damage done to so many children who have experienced and witnessed such immense suffering may never be fully repaired.

“It will take so much time for people and kids to recover from what they have lived,” she said. The kids, she said, are “staying underground without sun, shivering from siren sounds and anxiety.”

“It has a tremendously negative impact. Kids will remember this all their life.

This story is part of an ongoing investigation from The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” that includes the War Crimes Watch Ukraine interactive experience and an upcoming documentary

Stashevskyi reported from Kyiv, Dearen from New York and Linderman from Washington. Associated Press reporters Erika Kinetz in Chernihiv and Michael Biesecker in Washington contributed to this report.

your ad here

Ukraine Works to Evacuate Last Mariupol Troops

On May 17, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Ukraine’s military worked Tuesday to evacuate its remaining fighters from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol where three months of Russian bombing has left the besieged port city in ruins.

Ukrainian officials said more than 260 fighters were evacuated Monday.

Fifty-three seriously injured fighters were taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol, Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said. Novoazovsk is under the control of Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists.

Another 211 fighters were taken to the town of Olenivka, an area also controlled by Russian-backed separatists, Malyar said, adding that the evacuees would be subject to a potential prisoner exchange with Russia.

During his nightly video address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy discussed the evacuation of soldiers from Mariupol.

“I want to emphasize — Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle,” Zelenskyy said. “I think that every adequate person will understand these words. The operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol was started by our military and intelligence officers. To bring the boys home, the work continues, and this work needs delicacy. And time.”

 

Malyar said efforts are being taken to rescue the remaining fighters inside the plant, the last stronghold of resistance in the ruined southern port city of Mariupol.

“Thanks to the defenders of Mariupol, Ukraine gained critically important time,” she said. “And they fulfilled all their tasks. But it is impossible to unblock Azovstal by military means.”

Also Monday, Ukraine said its forces had pushed back Russian troops in the Kharkiv region in a counter-offensive that allowed the Ukrainians to reach the Russian border.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry posted a video showing what it said were its troops at the border, with one soldier telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, “We are here.”

A senior U.S. Defense official said the Ukrainian troops were within 3 or 4 kilometers of the Russian border.

After repelling Russian advances on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Ukrainian forces have regained territory in the region and sought to push Russia from its staging area in Izyum as it focuses on the southeastern Donbas region.

“Kremlin dreamed of capturing Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa, then at least the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted Monday. “Now, Russian troops are concentrated on the Luhansk region due to lack of forces. We continue the treatment of imperial megalomania and make Moscow face reality.”

Donetsk and Luhansk are in the Donbas region.

In Washington, the senior U.S. defense official reported heavy artillery fighting Monday in Donetsk, but said Russian gains were “uneven, slow, incremental, short and small.”

“We do know that the Russians continue to take casualties,” the official said. “They continue to lose equipment and systems every day.”

Western countries allied with Ukraine are continuing to send more weaponry to Kyiv’s forces, with 10 deliveries via airlift from seven nations in the past 24 hours, the U.S. defense official told reporters during a background call Monday.

NATO expansion

Sweden on Tuesday signed a formal request to join the NATO military alliance, a move opposed by Russia and which must first be approved by the 30 existing members.

 

Sweden’s candidacy, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ends two centuries of military non-alignment and comes after the country’s governing party dropped its opposition.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told lawmakers Monday that Sweden “needs formal security guarantees that come with membership in NATO.”

Leaders in Finland have indicated support for their own NATO membership, with lawmakers expected to give their approval Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Monday that Russia would respond if NATO bolstered its military presence in Finland and Sweden.

Putin told leaders of a Russian-dominated military alliance of former Soviet states that there was no direct threat from NATO by adding the two countries to its alliance but said, “The expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response.”

“What that [response] will be — we will see what threats are created for us,” Putin said at the Grand Kremlin Palace. “Problems are being created for no reason at all. We shall react accordingly.”

National security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report. Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

your ad here

Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 17

On May 17, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

1:50 a.m.: Retired Russian Col. Mikhail Khodaryonok said on state television Monday thatthe Ukrainian armed forces “is able to arm a million people,” and that Ukrainians “intend to fight until the last man,” according to a translation provided by the BBC’s Francis Scarr.

“Let’s look at the situation as a whole from the overall strategic position,” Khodaryonok says. “Don’t engage in sabre-rattling with missiles in Finland’s direction. It actually looks quite amusing. After all, the main deficiency of our military-political position is that, in a way, we are in full geopolitical isolation, and that, however much we would hate to admit this, virtually the entire world is against us. And it’s that situation that we need to get out of.”

 

 

1:30 a.m.: In its Intelligence Update, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense predicts Russia is “likely to continue to rely heavily on massed artillery strikes as it attempts to regain momentum in its advance in the Donbas.”

 

 

12:30 a.m.: After weeks of fighting, Ukraine appears to have surrendered the Mariupol steel complex, according to The New York Times.

your ad here

EU Fails to Clinch Russian Oil Embargo  

On May 17, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

The European Union again failed to agree to an oil embargo against Russia Monday as part of a sixth package of sanctions over the war in Ukraine. Hungary remains a key holdout, demanding a high price for greenlighting the package. 

Signs of exasperation against Hungary emerged at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels — including from Ukraine’s top envoy Dmytro Kuleba, who was invited to the talks. An oil embargo against Russia, he said, was essential.  

“It’s clear who’s holding up the issue,” Keleba said. “But time is running out because every day, Russia keeps making money and investing this money into the war.” 

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also expressed frustration.  

“Now, unfortunately, we are — the whole union is being held hostage by one member state which cannot help us find a consensus.”  

The EU needs unanimous agreement from its 27 members to push through each set of sanctions. Until now, that’s happened. An oil embargo would be the toughest sanction so far—hurting Moscow’s ability to finance the war. 

It would also hit some European countries highly dependent on Russian energy. But Hungary — already considered an EU maverick on other issues — is especially putting on the brakes. Reports say Budapest wants hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, and possibly more, to transition from Russian oil imports. 

EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell said the conversations with Hungary were largely technical. He offered no timeline for coming to an agreement. Still, some EU members are hopeful that a breakthrough is only days or weeks away.  

“One thing is clear — I think it’s clear for everyone in the council: We have to get rid of the energy dependency of the European Union with respect to oil, gas and coal coming from Russia,” Borrell said. 

Borrell said the war in Ukraine has tested the bloc in key ways, not just the conflict itself. But it is also testing Europe’s energy resiliency as it unwinds its dependency on Russian supplies — and its very legitimacy.  

 

your ad here

Biden Praises Greece for Leadership After Russia Invasion

On May 17, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

President Joe Biden on Monday thanked Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for his country’s “moral leadership” in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the two held talks at the White House about the ongoing conflict. 

The visit by Mitsotakis comes as he was in Washington to mark a COVID-delayed commemoration of the bicentennial of the start of the Greek War of Independence, a more than eight-year-long struggle that led to the ouster of the Ottoman Empire. The president and first lady Jill Biden hosted Mitsotakis and his wife, Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis, later Monday at a White House reception to mark the bicentennial. 

But the celebratory moment was overshadowed by the most significant fighting on the continent since World War II, and as Biden seeks to keep the West unified as it pressures Russia to end the war. 

“We are now facing united the challenge of Russian aggression,” Mitsotakis said at the start of his meeting with Biden. The prime minister added that the U.S.-Greek relationship was at an “all-time high.” 

As Europe looks to wean itself off Russian energy, Mitsotakis has pushed the idea of Greece becoming an energy hub that can bring gas from southwest Asia and the Middle East to Eastern Europe. 

A new Greece-to-Bulgaria pipeline — built during the COVID-19 pandemic, tested and due to start commercial operation in June — is slated to bring large volumes of gas between the two countries in both directions to generate electricity, fuel industry and heat homes. 

The new pipeline connection, called the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, will give Bulgaria access to ports in neighboring Greece that are importing liquefied natural gas, or LNG, and also will bring gas from Azerbaijan through a new pipeline system that ends in Italy. Russia announced last month it was cutting off natural gas exports to Bulgaria and Poland over the countries’ refusal to pay in rubles. 

The Oval Office meeting with Biden also comes after Greece, a fellow NATO nation, last week formally extended its bilateral military agreement with the United States for five years, replacing an annual review of the deal that grants the U.S. military access to three bases in mainland Greece as well as the American naval presence on the island of Crete. 

Mitsotakis has expressed support for Finland and Sweden seeking membership in the NATO defense alliance, a development welcomed by much of the 30-nation group with the notable exception of Tukey, which remains locked in a decades-old dispute with Greece on sea boundaries and mineral rights in the eastern Mediterranean. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday again voiced some objections to accepting Finland and Sweden, accusing the two countries of supporting Kurdish militants and others whom Turkey considers to be terrorists. 

“Neither country has an open, clear stance against terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said at a joint news conference with the visiting Algerian president. “We cannot say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey, on joining NATO, which is a security organization.” 

Mitsotakis, in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, expressed optimism that Turkey, in the end, won’t hold up Finland and Sweden’s bid to join NATO and addressed speculation that Erdogan might use the moment to win concessions from the Biden administration on weapons sales or other matters. 

“This is not really the right time to use a NATO membership (application) by these two countries to bargain” for other issues,” he said. 

In addition to his address to Congress, Mitsotakis is scheduled Tuesday to be honored at a luncheon hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and will meet with members of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

 

your ad here

When Not Tending to War Wounded, Ukraine Rock Star Jams With Bono, Sheeran

On May 16, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Taras Topolya is a Ukrainian rock singer. From the first day of the war in Ukraine, he has been working as a paramedic with the country’s Territorial Defense. But when he has a break, he plays with big names in the Western music industry. Lesia Bakalets has the story, narrated by Anna Rice. VOA footage by Yuriy Zakrevskiy.

your ad here

EU Cuts Eurozone Growth Forecast As Ukraine War Bites

On May 16, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

The European Commission on Monday sharply cut its eurozone growth forecast for 2022 to 2.7 percent, blaming skyrocketing energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The war also spurred the EU’s executive to revisit its eurozone inflation prediction for 2022, with consumer prices forecast to jump by 6.1 percent year-on-year, much higher than the earlier forecast of 3.5 percent.

“There is no doubt that the EU economy is going through a challenging period due to Russia’s war against Ukraine, and we have downgraded our forecast accordingly,” EU executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“The overwhelming negative factor is the surge in energy prices, driving inflation to record highs and putting a strain on European businesses and households,” he added.

The EU warned that the course of the war was highly uncertain and that the risk of stagflation -– punishing inflation with little or no growth — remained a real risk going forward.

If Russia, the EU’s main energy supplier, should cut off its oil and gas supply to Europe completely, the commission warned that the forecast would worsen considerably.

“Our forecast is subjected to very high uncertainty and risks,” EU commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told reporters.

“Other scenarios are possible under which growth may be lower and inflation higher than we are projecting today. In any case, our economy is still far from a normal situation,” he said.

For the EU as a whole, including the eight countries that do not use the euro as their currency, the commission had also forecast growth of four percent in February, but has now cut this to 2.7 percent, the same level as for the eurozone.

The sharp reduction in expectations is in line with the forecast made in mid-April by the International Monetary Fund, which predicted 2.8 percent growth for the eurozone this year.

The EU’s warning for the months ahead lands as the European Central Bank is increasingly expected to increase interest rates in July to tackle soaring inflation.

Critics warn that this could put a brake on economic activity just when the economy faced the headwinds from the war in Ukraine.

your ad here

Greek Leader Set for Talks With Biden Over Turkey, Energy 

On May 16, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis flies to Washington for talks with President Joe Biden on Monday, their first since the U.S. leader entered office. Mitsotakis is expected to discuss Turkey and efforts to ease brewing tensions between the two countries and NATO allies. But as the conflict in Ukraine rages, talks will also focus on efforts to turn Greece into an EU energy gateway, easing reliance on Russian gas and oil.

The timing of Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to Washington is crucial, Greek officials say.

Relations between Turkey and Greece are strained, and Mitsotakis will lose no time, his aides say, in citing what they call “repeated provocations” that Turkey has been waging in recent weeks… ordering warplanes to conduct a record number of dangerous overflights through Greek airspace – violations that could spark conflict between the two sides and greater instability to Europe’s already troubled landscape.

But rather than just complain, Greek administration officials, like Kostis Hadzidakis, say Mitsotakis has some offerings of interest to the U.S.

“We don’t want to go there whining, complaining and begging for action in our favor,” he says. “We want to showcase Greece as a credible and reliable ally,” he said.

On the defense front, Mitsotakis plans to pitch Greek assistance in building F-35 warplanes — a project that its rival neighbor, Turkey, was once part of. However, in 2019, Ankara was ousted after agreeing to purchase from Moscow a Russian surface-to-air missile system — a serious breach of NATO rules.

With Tukey also raising objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, that incentive, say experts in Athens, could prove appealing for U.S. interests.

It remains unclear, though, whether it will move forward.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will be in Washington a day after Mitsotakis, and as the Greek leader will be addressing Congress for the first time, the Turkish official will be meeting with his U.S. counterpart to work out details of Ankara’s bid to purchase 40 new F-16 aircraft.

On Sunday, the eve of Mitsotakis’ White House meeting, the Biden administration asked Congress to approve the sale of weapons and equipment upgrades to Turkey’s fleet of American-made F-16 fighter jets, a sign of thawing relations between the NATO allies as the Russian war in Ukraine drags on.

The development leaves Greece to play the energy card, experts here say, appealing to U.S. interests in a climate of what diplomats like George Koumoutsakos call rapidly changing geopolitics as the conflict in Ukraine continues.

“Everything is changing in our region,” Koumoutsakos said. “A new balance of powers will clearly emerge with the end of the conflict in Ukraine. And the question is where Greece wants to be: on the side of the powerful and with an upgraded in the greater region?”

In a lucrative project, Greece plans to finish building a pipeline to Bulgaria that will end Russia’s gas monopoly there and for the rest of southeast Europe.

The importance of the so-called Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, or the IGB, is that it could soon become a key conduit supplanting Russian gas throughout the Balkans, with liquefied natural gas, known as LNG, from the U.S., Qatar, Egypt and elsewhere.

Floating storage facilities for LNG are also being built in the northern Greek region of Alexandroupolis, potentially giving Greece the opportunity to turn the country into a key gateway of LNG to southeast Europe and beyond.

Once complete, the energy project could reduce reliance on Russian energy and designs by Russian President Vladimir Putin – to use energy in what analysts call a “risky geopolitical game.”

your ad here

Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 16

On May 16, 2022, Posted by , in Новини, Світ, With No Comments

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

4:20 a.m.: Ukraine said Monday its forces had pushed back Russian troops in the Kharkiv region in a counter-offensive that allowed the Ukrainians to reach the Russian border. 

The Ukrainian defense ministry posted a video showing what it said were its troops at the border, with one soldier telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, “We are here.” 

There was no immediate confirmation of the development. 

3:45 a.m.: Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said the European Union will impose a sixth sanctions package on Russia as he arrived in Brussels for a meeting Monday, Reuters reported.

“There really is no excuse not to get the package done,” Asselborn said, speaking to reporters.

3:30 a.m.: Russian forces focused their latest attacks in Ukraine on the Donetsk region in the east, targeting civilian and military sites in multiple towns, the Ukrainian military said Monday, The Associated Press reported.

3:00 a.m.: The European Union’s foreign ministers cannot be sure of reaching an agreement on an oil embargo on Russia on Monday, in response to its invasion of Ukraine, the EU’s top diplomat said according to Reuters. There were some “strong positions from some member states,” he said.

2:00 a.m.: The U.K. ministry of defense said Monday “Belarusian territory was used as a staging post for Russia’s initial advance on Kyiv and Chernihiv” in its daily battleground intelligence update.

“Russia has also launched air sorties and missile strikes from Belarus,” the ministry said.

 

1:42 a.m.: Reuters reported that Sweden and Finland joining NATO would increase the security of the Baltic region, Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said.

“When we see that in our neighborhood also other democratic countries belong to NATO, it would mean that we could have broader joint exercises and also … more defense cooperation,” Liimets told Reuters in Berlin where she joined a meeting with other NATO counterparts on Saturday.

Liimets said she hoped Sweden, Finland and Turkey would overcome differences on the Nordic states joining the alliance, adding that the Berlin meeting atmosphere was very supportive. “We have seen some differences, but we have also seen a willingness of those countries to overcome the differences,” she said.

Estonia appreciates NATO enforcing its presence in the Baltic region but would like the allies to move from enhancing their presence to enhancing their defense. “It would mean that we would have more robust presence of land forces, but also air and maritime defense,” she added.

1:00 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, issued a map showing Russian advances around Izium, Konstiantynivka and Donbas regions.

Russian troops have “likely abandoned the objective of completing a large-scale encirclement of Ukrainian units from Donetsk City to Izyum in favor of completing the seizure of Luhansk Oblast,” the institute said in a Twitter post Sunday.

 

 

12:45 a.m.: CNN reports that, in areas of Ukraine that Russia has occupied, educators are being intimidated and threatened into changing their curriculum “to align with pro-Russian rhetoric.”

12:01 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the United States supports Finland and Sweden applying for NATO membership. This follows statements from those countries’ leaders in the wake of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Leaders say the war has them rethinking their own security. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi has more.

(A warning: some viewers may find images in this report disturbing.)

 

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

your ad here