RT - Daily news RT : Today en RT /static/img/logo-rss.png RT - Daily news 125 40 ‘No place’ is safe if Israel starts war – Hezbollah /news/599597-hezbollah-nasrallah-israel-cyprus/ Hezbollah has drones and missiles which can reach any target in Israel, its leader Hassan Nasrallah has said
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The Lebanese militia has also warned Cyprus against getting involved

Hezbollah is prepared for a full-scale conflict with Israel, the Shia militia’s head Hassan Nasrallah has said. He also warned Cyprus that it could be targeted if it hosts Israeli forces.

Nasrallah gave a televised speech on Wednesday, following a memorial service for Hajj Sami Taleb Abdullah, a senior Hezbollah commander who had been killed in an Israeli strike on southern Lebanon earlier this week.

“The enemy knows it must expect us on land, in the air, and at sea, and if war is imposed, the resistance will fight without constraints, rules, or limits,” he said, adding that “there will be no place safe from our missiles and drones.”

The current confrontation is the “greatest battle since 1948,” the year Israel declared independence, and “will change the face of the region and shape its future,” Nasrallah said.

The Shia militia that controls much of Lebanon has prodded Israeli troops in Galilee since October 7 last year, when West Jerusalem declared war on Hamas in Gaza. The intermittent rocket attacks on both sides of the border have driven more than 53,000 Israelis and almost 100,000 Lebanese from their homes.

Hezbollah is striking Israeli positions “within a certain and specific schedule,” Nasrallah claimed, noting that the group has a “very, very large amount of information” about Israeli fortifications, numbers and deployments, referring to Tuesday’s release of drone footage of the port of Haifa.

According to Nasrallah, Hezbollah has all the weapons it needs to strike targets inside Israel, including previously undisclosed weapons that have yet to be used on the battlefield. The group is also well-supplied with drones and rockets.

Nasrallah also threatened Cyprus for the first time, telling the government in Nicosia that the country “opening its airports and bases to the enemy to target Lebanon means it has become part of the war.” He claimed that Israel had secret plans to use airfields in Cyprus should its own airbases be disabled by Hezbollah strikes.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Tuesday that it had finalized “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon.”

Responding to US calls for restraint, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said his country was “very close to the moment when we will decide to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon.” adding that “in a total war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be hit hard.” 

Israel’s last major confrontation with Hezbollah was in 2006, when a ground offensive into southern Lebanon resulted in high casualties and no military gains.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 20:41:15 +0000 RT
Ukraine could invite Russia to next peace talks – Zelensky aide /russia/599595-yermak-ukraine-russia-peace-talks/ A representative of Russia might be invited to the next peace conference, Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff Andrey Yermak has said
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Andrey Yermak has announced the possibility after the failed conference in Switzerland

Kiev is open to Moscow’s participation in the next peace conference, Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff Andrey Yermak has said.

Yermak held a conference call with reporters late on Tuesday, to offer Kiev’s perspective on the so-called peace summit held over the weekend at a resort in Lucerne, Switzerland. He revealed that working groups are already preparing a follow-up meeting.

“All of these parts will be part of this joint plan, which will be supported by a number of countries” at the next meeting, Yermak said, according to Bloomberg. “We think it will be possible to invite [a] representative of Russia.”

While Kiev has enjoyed the support of the US and its allies in the conflict with Moscow, Zelensky has long sought to get approval from more countries for his “peace formula.” The conference in Switzerland was a failure in that respect, with some of the participants refusing to sign the final communique and others withdrawing their signatures. 

Multiple countries – most notably China – turned down invitations to attend the conference because Russia was not invited, arguing that this rendered any idea of peace talks meaningless from the start. Zelensky’s government has outlawed any talks with the current Russian leadership.

Yermak insisted that the Swiss conference had been a success and said the next meeting will be “more representative.” Ukraine is “realistic” and seeks to unite “responsible countries” in support of Zelensky’s formula, he added.

Moscow has dismissed Kiev’s proposed peace blueprint as unrealistic and even ridiculous, since it envisioned Russia giving up Crimea, paying reparations and submitting to a war crimes tribunal, among other things. On the eve of the Swiss conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented Moscow’s set of preconditions for peace talks, starting with Kiev’s recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye.

According to the Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, the Swiss conference was really intended to soothe doubts about the legitimacy of Zelensky’s government, “which has already been bankrupt for a long time, both politically and economically.” 

The Ukrainian president’s term officially ended on May 20, and the country’s constitution does not provide for a way to extend it. Meanwhile, some Ukrainian officials have complained that Yermak has been the real power in Kiev and that his purges of rival officials have eroded trust of the West. 

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 20:25:30 +0000 RT
More than half of Russia-Vietnam trade conducted using the countries’ currencies – Putin /business/599591-russia-vietnam-trade-national-currencies/ Moscow and Hanoi have been diverting bilateral trade away from “widely discredited currencies,” according to the Russian president
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The share of ruble-dong settlements in mutual trade has been steadily rising, the president says

Around 60% of transactions between Russia and Vietnam are now carried out using the countries’ respective currencies, bypassing the US dollar and euro, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s head of state made the remarks in an article for the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam ahead of his two-day visit to the Southeast Asian country. The article was published on the Kremlin website on Wednesday.

Putin said the two countries were paying serious attention to enhancing mutual trade and promoting investment, particularly in the Russian ruble and the Vietnamese dong.

“Such transactions accounted for more than 40% of bilateral trade last year, and in the first quarter of this year their share rose to almost 60%,” the Russian leader said, adding that this was in line with the global trend towards phasing out the use of “widely discredited currencies” in international trade and investment.

Putin acknowledged the importance of the Vietnam-Russia Joint Venture Bank, which was set up by the two countries in 2006 with the aim of strengthening their economic ties.

Citing official statistics, the Russian president said that bilateral trade rose by 8% in 2023 and continues to grow, adding that the energy sector remains a strategically important area of cooperation.

“Food, mineral resources, machinery and equipment are exported to Vietnam. Many Vietnamese goods, including clothing, fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products, are in demand on the Russian market,” Putin stated, lauding the role of the free economic trade agreement between the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Vietnam.

The EAEU, established in 2015, is based on the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. It was later joined by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. In 2016, Vietnam officially became the first non-regional country to become a free-trade partner of the bloc. The group also has three observer states: Cuba and two other former Soviet nations, Moldova and Uzbekistan. Iran is also expected to join the EAEU.

The union is designed to ensure the free movement of goods, services, capital, and workers between member nations.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 19:41:01 +0000 RT
Switzerland could distribute cocaine to addicts /news/599584-switzerland-addicts-cocaine-distribution/ Switzerland is considering a controlled cocaine distribution program aimed at tackling the ongoing crack epidemic
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The proposed measure is aimed at alleviating the country’s growing crack epidemic

Switzerland is considering introducing an experimental program to distribute prescription cocaine among drug users, which might help them beat their crack addiction.

While the measure has been advocated by humanitarians and experts for some time, now Switzerland’s Federal Commission for Addiction and Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases (EKSN) is considering it as well.

“People who consume crack several times a day get caught in a vicious circle of procurement and consumption,” EKSN Vice President Christian Schneider told the public broadcaster SRF on Tuesday.

“We are at least suggesting how cocaine could be given to severely addicted crack users so that they can break the vicious circle and recover.”

The commission is now considering setting up special teams to visit crack addicts and provide them with medical and psychotherapeutic aid. The controlled distribution of cocaine is also an option, the official suggested, citing the state’s efforts to beat a past heroin epidemic which involved dispensing the drug, or its substitute methadone, to addicts. However, there are no plans to begin “simply handing out cocaine in large quantities,” Schneider warns.

Some medical experts, however, are highly critical of the idea, arguing that no solid scientific research exists which would justify such a program. Moreover, it is unclear whether the authorities would be able to determine the demand for crack among addicts, addiction specialist Marc Vogel from University Psychiatric Clinics in Basel told the broadcaster.

“The main question is whether we can achieve saturation so that people are satisfied. Whether this will work with cocaine distribution is at least very questionable,” he said.

Switzerland began experiencing troubles with growing crack cocaine abuse in around 2020, with reportedly high-quality and arguably cheap merchandise flooding the streets. Geneva was hit by the crack wave first, with the problem subsequently spreading to several other major cities, including Basel, Zurich and Lausanne.

Small-time street dealers of African origin arriving in the country from France in numbers have reportedly greatly contributed to the ongoing crack epidemic. The booming drug market has also attracted addicts from other countries as well, with only a third of crack users in Geneva believed to be locals.

“One third are from Geneva, one third are from France and one third are migrants,” Camille Robert, co-director of a Geneva-based addiction study group, said in March.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 19:15:43 +0000 RT
Putin arrives in Vietnam after historic visit to North Korea /news/599594-putin-arrives-vietnam/ The Russian president will meet Vietnam’s leaders to discuss cooperation in a broad range of spheres
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The Russian president will meet with the country’s leadersship to discuss cooperation in trade, economic relations, and various other fields

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam, beginning his two-day visit to the South Asian nation. The trip is part of Putin’s Asian tour, and immediately follows his historic visit to North Korea.

The Russian leader is set to meet his Vietnamese counterpart To Lam, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, General Secretary of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong and other top officials.

The talks will encompass various aspects of the ties between the two nations, including their economic partnership, trade, scientific and technical cooperation, as well as other topics. The top officials are also expected to discuss approaches to global issues.

According to the Russian president, more than half of all transactions between Russia and Vietnam are now carried out in the respective countries’ currencies, bypassing the US dollar and euro.

Putin made the remarks in an article for the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam ahead of his visit to the Southeast Asian country. The article was published on the Kremlin website on Wednesday.

The two countries are taking serious steps to enhance bilateral trade and promoting investment, particularly in the Russian ruble and the Vietnamese dong, Putin noted.

“Such transactions accounted for more than 40% of bilateral trade last year, and in the first quarter of this year their share rose to almost 60%,” Putin said, adding this was in line with the global trend towards phasing out the use of “widely discredited currencies” in international trade and investment.

Citing official statistics, Russia’s president said that bilateral trade rose 8% in 2023 and continues to grow. The energy sector remains a strategically important area of bilateral cooperation, he added.

The Vietnam trip comes immediately after Putin’s state visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, where he was hosted by the country’s leader Kim Jong-un. The two leaders signed a comprehensive new partnership treaty between the two nations, pledging to strengthen cooperation in all areas and to defend each other from a potential foreign attack.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 18:57:48 +0000 RT
Canada honors memory of Sikh activist designated as ‘terrorist’ by India /india/599596-ottawa-honors-memory-of-sikh-activist-nijjar/ Pro-Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar was gunned down by unidentified assailants near Vancouver last year
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Ottowa has alleged that New Delhi was involved in the murder of Khalistan independence supporter, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, last year

The Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons on Tuesday honored Khalistan independence activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar with a moment of silence to mark the first anniversary of his death.

Nijjar, a prominent supporter of the movement to create a separate nation-state for the Sikh ethnoreligious group, was gunned down by unidentified assailants in a Vancouver suburb last year.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linked the murder to Indian government “agents,” triggering a major diplomatic spat with New Delhi. India has repeatedly denied Ottawa’s claims and asked the country for proof to substantiate its accusations.

Notably, last month Canada arrested three Indian citizens in connection with the assassination.

In a separate development, Sikh activists on Tuesday commemorated the first anniversary of Nijjar’s death by staging a mock murder trial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside the Indian consulate in Vancouver, Canadian state broadcaster CBC reported. An effigy of Modi dressed in prison stripes was paraded down the street in a makeshift cage, and then a mock trail was held with “evidence” of Modi’s involvement in the killing being presented by a “prosecutor.” The street was cordoned off by police, the report noted. 

Nijjar, who was working as a plumber, had been designated as a “terrorist” by the Indian government for his support for the Khalistan movement. New Delhi has repeatedly accused Canada, as well as other countries, including the US and the UK, of “providing safe harbor” for “terrorists” and proving them “political space” under the pretext of “freedom of speech.” 

Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met on the sidelines of the G-7 meet in Italy last week for the first time since the former made his allegations. On Monday, Trudeau admitted that there is an alignment between India and Canada on various “big issues,” adding that he sees an “opportunity” to work with the government on issues including economic ties and national security.

Another controversy erupted earlier this month when a float in a Canadian parade depicted the 1984 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Gandhi was killed days after she ordered a military operation at the Sikh sacred shrine, the Golden Temple, where it was believed that pro-Khalistan militants were hiding.

India’s foreign minister condemned the display, claiming “there is a larger underlying issue about the space which is given to separatists, to extremists, to people who advocate violence.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month, a Canadian committee comprising MPs and senators with top security clearances, claimed that India has become the “second biggest foreign threat” to Canadian democracy, surpassing Russia.

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Wed, 19 Jun 2024 18:14:45 +0000 RT
Russia-EU trade dips to near 25-year low – data /business/599582-russia-eu-trade-drop/ Bilateral trade between Russia and the EU has dropped to its lowest level since 2000 amid Western sanctions, according to a report
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Official statistics have revealed a dramatic drop in bilateral commerce

Trade turnover between Russia and the European Union has continued to fall amid Western sanctions against Moscow, tumbling to nearly a quarter-century low as of the end of April, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday, citing Eurostat data.

The cited statistics show that mutual trade has plunged to its lowest level since January 2000, to €5.6 billion. The figure also marked a month-on-month decrease of 6%.

Exports of Russian goods to the EU in April dropped by 17% from the previous month, to €2.7 billion, plummeting to their lowest level since June 1999.

The report said that Russia mainly sold natural gas to the EU, although supplies decreased by 5% in April, to €1.15 billion. Exports were also dominated by iron and steel, as well as petroleum products.

At the same time, supplies of EU goods to Russia, dominated by pharmaceuticals and equipment, were 6% higher in April than the previous month, rising to €2.9 billion.

Official statistics show that in 2020, the EU was Russia’s leading trade partner, accounting for 37.3% of the country’s total trade in goods. Over 36% of Russia’s imports came from the EU and 37.9% of its exports went to the 27-nation bloc.

Bilateral trade, however, started to decline dramatically as a result of the sanctions imposed on Moscow by Western countries over the Ukraine conflict.

Since February 2022, the EU has implemented multiple rounds of sanctions against Russia, including asset freezes, restrictions on the country’s financial and energy sector, trade embargoes, as well as measures targeting individuals and state companies.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 17:39:13 +0000 RT
Putin’s state visit to North Korea: Warm welcome, bilateral agreements and a new comprehensive partnership treaty /russia/599585-putin-north-korea-visit-recap/ Moscow and Pyongyang have agreed to work together to enhance cooperation in all spheres and defend each other in case of foreign aggression
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Moscow and Pyongyang have agreed to enhance cooperation in all spheres and defend each other from potential foreign aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a state visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Wednesday, where he met with the country’s leader Kim Jong-un and participated in comprehensive bilateral talks on economic, security, and global issues.

The trip marked the first time the Russian president had traveled to North Korea since first taking office in 2000, when he visited Pyongyang to meet with then-leader Kim Jong-il.

Putin’s delegation included Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Andrey Belousov, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, Transport Minister Roman Starovoyt, and several other senior officials, including Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Putin’s foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov.

Grand reception in Pyongyang

Putin touched down in the North Korean capital in the early hours of Wednesday and was greeted by Kim Jong-un at the airport. Ahead of his arrival, the streets of Pyongyang were decked out with countless Russian flags, alternating with DPRK flags. Multiple banners were also placed along the route of the presidential motorcade, featuring greetings in Russian and Korean, and portraits of the Russian head of state.

A ceremony was also held in honor of Putin’s arrival on Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang. The event featured a performance by a DPRK military orchestra, as hundreds of residents packed the square for the occasion.

Aside from formal negotiations and signing official documents, Putin exchanged gifts with Kim, attended a gala concert, laid flowers at a monument to Soviet soldiers who helped liberate Korea from Japan during World War II, and took part in a reception in honor of the Russian delegation’s visit.


Talks between Kim Jong-un and Putin, which involved the countries’ delegations, lasted for an hour and a half, and were followed by a one-on-one discussion between the two leaders.

During the meeting, both sides expressed appreciation for each other’s support. The Russian leader noted that relations between the two nations are rooted in history, and based on the principles of “equality and mutual respect of each other’s interests.”

Kim stated that North Korea sees Russia as “the most honest friend and comrade” and noted Russia’s mission and role in “upholding strategic stability and balance in the world.” He also expressed Pyongyang’s support for Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty

Following the bilateral negotiations, Putin and Kim signed a Treaty on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, designed to “lay the groundwork” for future bilateral relations in all spheres, including cultural and tourist ties, trade, economic relations and security.

The agreement also includes a pledge by Russia and the DPRK to assist each other in case of foreign aggression, as both leaders decried attempts by the US and its satellites to destabilize the situation in Southeast Asia.

Putin emphasized Pyongyang’s right to take “reasonable steps” to ensure its security and protect its sovereignty, and vowed to engage in political and diplomatic efforts to prevent a new armed conflict on the Korean peninsula.

He also denounced the “indefinite restrictions regime” imposed on Pyongyang by the UN Security Council and urged for it to be revised.

Kim described the new agreement as a “peaceful and defensive” document that “provides for maintaining peace and stability in the region.” He added that the treaty promotes the common interests of Russia and the DPRK, and expressed confidence that it would become “a driving force in accelerating the creation of a new multipolar world.”

Following his official visit, Putin formally invited Kim to make a return visit to Moscow at some point in the future, and thanked the residents of Pyongyang for the warm welcome.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 16:58:04 +0000 RT
Israel’s isolation: An anti-Semitic horror story or inevitable outcome? /news/599408-gaza-israel-isolation-opinions/ Opinions are split on the impact of the Gaza war on West Jerusalem, but the trend ss worrying
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Opinions are split on the impact of the Gaza war on West Jerusalem, but the trend is worrying

Since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas last October, Bolivia and Colombia have severed their ties with the Jewish state. Chile, Jordan, and Brazil have recalled their ambassadors, whereas Türkiye has ceased its economic cooperation with Israel, in response to its brutality in Gaza.

Almost ten months have passed since Israel launched its war on Gaza following the deadly Hamas attack of October 7, which claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people and injured over 5,000 others.

In its struggle to dismantle Hamas and ensure it no longer poses a threat, Israel has left no stone unturned in its pursuit of militants. The problem is that in the process of doing so, it has also claimed the lives of innocent people. Although the numbers are disputed, Palestinian statistics show that more than 37,000 Palestinians – mainly women and children – have lost their lives. A recent poll revealed that more than 60% of Gazans have lost relatives in the conflict.

Images of the dead, wounded and starving, coupled with Gaza’s total devastation, have rocked the world. Mass protests denouncing Israel and calling for an end to its bloody war on Gaza have become a weekly reality; rallies and encampments on university campuses have turned into an ordinary phenomenon.

Growing isolation? 

But the dissatisfaction with Israel’s policies doesn’t only stem from the masses. In recent months, the leaderships of various states have also joined the chorus of anti-Israel sentiment. Last November, one month into Israel’s Gaza offensive, Bolivia severed its relations with the Jewish state. Several months later, Colombia took a similar step; states such as Jordan, Chile, and Brazil have recalled their ambassadors, whereas President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Türkiye announced that his country would cut off economic relations with Israel.

European states have also chimed in. Norway, Spain, Ireland, and Slovenia have already recognized Palestine in response to Israel’s ongoing onslaught; and more countries promise to do the same, sending a message to Israel that it will be isolated if it doesn’t cease its current policies towards the Palestinians. Criticism is also heard from states that are generally supportive of Israel, such as the UK, France, Germany, and the US, whose leaders have already indicated that their patience is wearing thin.

Looking at the diplomatic mess his country is currently in, Dr. Alon Liel, a former Israeli diplomat and an ex-director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, pins the blame not only on the ongoing war and the “weaker standing” of Israel on the international arena, but also on Israel’s continuous occupation of the West Bank.

According to reports, 2023 set an all-time record for West Bank settlement construction and illegal outposts recognition. In 2024, Israeli authorities have approved the construction of 3,400 new units in the disputed area; a record amount of West Bank land was declared as state-owned property.

Liel believes Israel’s standing might be at risk. “It all depends on the continuation,” he says. “If this criticism continues over the course of the next few months, the situation will get very serious. It could not only damage Israel’s image and its international standing but it could also upgrade Palestine’s international status, [something that the current government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strived to avoid – ed.].”

Israel stands strong?

But not everyone agrees. Rolene Marks, spokeswoman for South Africa Zionist Federation, claims it would be “a stretch to say that Israel is perceived negatively in the world.” 

“We can’t make a sweeping statement that Israel is isolated,” she says. “The opposite is true. There is a phenomenal amount of support [towards Israel] and while many countries have been critical of the state, so far we haven’t seen any major breaks of international relations,” she added. 

One of the reasons for this, she says, is the world’s understanding of “who Israel is dealing with,” referring to Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by many international players. Another reason for this could be the realization that Israel is “a strong economic and technological powerhouse” – needed for their own success. 

“If these countries care really cared about the Palestinians, they would have been more vocal when Palestinians were protesting against Hamas or when they were gassed in the Yarmouk camp in 2013,” Marks says.  

“These countries’ comments and deeds are driven by their own political agendas. One of our allies, for example, is currently in the middle of an elections’ cycle. Others have massive Muslim communities, which they don’t want to frustrate. So public statements to the media is one thing, what’s happening behind closed doors – is another.”

Recent data released by Israel’s Bureau of Statistics shows that 2024 saw an annual increase of 4.8% in exports by medium-high technology industries. Imports of consumer goods increased by 13.9%.

Military cooperation between Israel and other states has also been given a boost. The Israeli Defense Ministry announced on Monday that its exports have doubled within five years, with over a third of all agreements signed in 2023, including for missiles, rockets, and air defense systems. In April, when Israel was attacked by hundreds of Iranian drones, a coalition of the US, UK, France, and Jordan came to its aid, allegedly backed a number of Gulf states. Earlier this week, Israel’s chief of staff, Herzi Halevi, traveled to Manama, where he discussed security cooperation with a number of generals, including from Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

The trouble is that very often generals and governments don’t represent the mood of the general public; and that public seems to have grown more hostile towards Israel since the beginning of the war.

According to a recent poll, 68% of respondents in Saudi Arabia said they rejected the notion of recognizing Israel. Similar views have been expressed in Morocco and Sudan, where the rejection stood at 78 and 81% respectively.

In Europe and the US, anti-Israel flames have also been high. In 2023, America registered a total of 7,532 Jewish hate crime incidents, as compared to 2022, when the official figure stood at less than 4,000. France has seen 1,676 anti-Semitic crimes, as opposed to 436 in 2022; in the UK, 4,103 incidents have been reported; in Germany, they stood at 3,614 – also a significant increase compared to previous years.

“Since October we have seen an insane rise in anti-Semitism. It has reached a boiling point and is now bubbling over,” says Marks. “It is time world leaders do something about it.”

For Liel, however, the solution is not in the hands of world leaders. The key, he says, is in the hands of Israeli politicians and their policies.

“All they need to do is to accept the UN Security Council plan [presupposing the return of the hostages and the cessation of hostilities – ed.], stop the expansion of settlements and [act] to prevent settlers’ attacks against the Palestinians,” he concluded.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 16:52:00 +0000 RT
Polish MP calls for landmines at Russian border /news/599579-poland-landmines-border-russia/ Former defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak has proposed deploying landmines near Kaliningrad Region
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Ex-defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak also wants to repudiate the landmine ban

Poland should withdraw from the ban on anti-personnel mines and deploy them along the border with Kaliningrad Region, former defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak has said.

Blaszczak is currently a member of parliament with the Law and Justice (PiS) party. He was the defense minister from 2018 until 2023, when PiS lost power to Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform coalition.

“As part of the program to strengthen the eastern border, the authorities must withdraw from the Ottawa Convention,” Blaszczak said at a PiS press conference on Wednesday, referring to the treaty banning the use of anti-personnel landmines.

Warsaw should then mine the length of its border with Kaliningrad Region, the Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania, Blaszczak argued.

Last month, Tusk publicly opposed mining the border with Russia and Belarus, a move originally proposed by the PiS government. According to Tusk, Warsaw does not intend to leave the Ottawa Convention, either.

The treaty that banned the use, production, stockpiling and proliferation of landmines came into effect in 1999 and has been ratified by 164 countries. The US, Russia, India and China are among the dozen nations that have declined to participate in the ban.

Blaszczak oversaw the deployment of tens of thousands of Polish troops along the border with Russia and Belarus last year, in the run-up to the general election. The new government has chosen to continue that mission, citing the alleged “hybrid war” threat from Moscow and Minsk.

Warsaw has been an outspoken supporter of Ukraine under both Tusk and the previous PiS government. Poland has also served as the logistics hub for almost all deliveries of NATO weapons, equipment, and ammunition to Ukraine since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 16:39:57 +0000 RT
AI could fuel anti-Semitism – UNESCO /news/599567-ai-risks-holocaust-un/ Artificial intelligence technology could pose risks in misrepresenting or distorting the history of the Holocaust, a UN report has warned
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Artificial intelligence technology risks promoting Holocaust denial, a new study has found

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology could cause a surge in false narratives about World War II atrocities, including Holocaust denial, the UN education and culture body UNESCO has warned. 

According to a report published in partnership with the World Jewish Congress on Tuesday, the generation of false content, such as deep fakes and misinformation, could undermine the authenticity of historical evidence and spread anti-Semitic ideologies.

The study pointed to the widespread use of AI for assistance in education, research and writing, which it said could result in an increased likelihood of unreliable data.

Deep-fake images and audio content created using Generative AI are particularly convincing for young people, who may encounter them on social-media platforms, the report cautioned.

With four in five young people between the ages of 10 and 24 now using AI several times a day for education, entertainment and other purposes, according to UN research, “action to ethically guide these new technologies must be taken quickly,” the report warns. 

The report used the Historical Figures App as an example. The interface reportedly allowed users to chat with prominent Nazis such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, and falsely claimed that individuals such as Goebbels were not intentionally involved in the Holocaust and had tried to prevent violence against Jews.

The report also said that ChatGPT and Google’s Bard have both produced content detailing Holocaust-related events that never took place.

“If we allow the horrific facts of the Holocaust to be diluted, distorted or falsified through the irresponsible use of AI, we risk the explosive spread of anti-Semitism…” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

UNESCO has called on governments to accelerate the implementation of the Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, which was unanimously adopted by its member states in 2021.

The UN agency has also urged tech companies to establish ethical rules for the development and use of AI in an effort to reduce the chances of unreliable information being generated and to prevent bad actors from spreading misinformation.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 15:34:08 +0000 RT
WATCH Ukrainian armor get blown up near key Donbass town /russia/599580-ukrainian-armor-destruction-video/ A Ukrainian armored personnel carrier was incinerated in a powerful explosion near Chasov Yar, drone video shows
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The vehicle was destroyed close to Chasov Yar while driving infantry to their positions, footage circulating online shows

Drone footage has emerged showing the destruction of a Ukrainian armored personnel carrier as it transported an infantry unit to positions near the town of Chasov Yar in Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic. 

The vehicle, likely a Ukrainian-designed Kozak-7 APC based on a commercial Ford Super Duty chassis, was captured in drone surveillance footage driving off road towards a wooded area. The APC, which is seen firing its mounted machine gun towards an unseen target, is suddenly obliterated by a powerful blast.

The carrier apparently hit an anti-tank mine, which judging by the magnitude of the explosion was either reinforced by additional explosives or featured two munitions stacked on top of each other. The vehicle ended up overturned and caught fire. Two of its crew apparently survived the blast, rushing to hide in nearby shrubbery after escaping the wreckage.

Chasov Yar, which has long served as a key logistics hub and a major stronghold for Ukrainian forces in the conflict with Russia, has seen active fighting over the past few weeks. The town, split in two uneven parts by a major canal, is located some 10km west of the city of Artyomovsk (known in Ukraine as Bakhmut), which was the scene of intense combat for months before being captured by Russian forces in May 2023.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 15:29:57 +0000 RT
McDonald’s scraps AI trial after bacon added to ice cream – media /news/599575-mcdonalds-scraps-ai-assistant-trial/ The fast food giant is ending its AI drive-through pilot project with IBM after videos of order mix-ups went viral?
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The fast food giant will remove voice ordering tech from over 100 outlets by the end of July, the company has reportedly said

McDonald’s is scrapping its AI drive-through trial after videos went viral of order mix-ups, including bacon being added to ice cream.   

The US fast food chain has been testing a voice recognition system developed by IBM to process orders since 2021. However, reliability of the AI-powered technology has been called into question after customers reported errors in their orders and shared comical mishaps on social media.

McDonald’s has instructed franchisees to remove the AI-assisted technology from the more than 100 outlets that have been using it by the end of July, as reported by trade publication Restaurant Business on Friday.

The fast food chain is abandoning the trial without any sort of expansion, the publication said, citing an email the company sent to franchisees on Thursday.

“After thoughtful review, McDonald’s has decided to end our current global partnership with IBM on AOT [Automated Order Taking] beyond this year,” the message read.

While the Chicago-based fast food giant didn’t give the exact reason for the move, it comes after customers shared videos showing drive-through AI picking up orders from the wrong cars, multiplying orders, and producing bizarre combinations of food ranging from bacon-topped ice cream to hundreds of dollars’ worth of chicken nuggets.

In one TikTok video, a woman attempts to order vanilla ice cream and a bottle of water only to end up with ketchup sachets and multiple stacks of butter. Another video shows a customer claiming that the AI drive-through assistant confused her order with someone else’s, resulting in nine portions of tea being added to her bill.

McDonald’s, which initially sought to embrace the technology to cut back on mounting labor costs, indicated that the end of the trial would not mean its experiments with AI are over. The company said that its work with IBM “has given us the confidence that a voice ordering solution for drive-thru will be part of our restaurants’ future.”

IBM also said it plans to continue working with McDonald’s.

“This technology is proven to have some of the most comprehensive capabilities in the industry, fast and accurate in some of the most demanding conditions,” the company said in a statement.

Other major US fast food giants, including Chipotle, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, have also been rolling out AI systems at their drive-throughs in a bid to replace human workers and reduce labor costs.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 14:41:11 +0000 RT
Ukraine ‘snatching’ US Patriot missiles promised to Switzerland – media /news/599576-patriot-missiles-ukraine-switzerland/ The supply of US air defense systems to Switzerland will be delayed due to Washington’s decision to prioritize the arming of Ukraine
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Washington has promised Kiev priority treatment when it comes to arms delivery

The US has delayed the scheduled delivery of long-range interceptor missiles to Switzerland in order to prioritize Ukraine’s military needs, Swiss media reported on Tuesday citing authorities.

President Joe Biden announced last week that foreign buyers of American arms will have to get behind Kiev because Ukraine needs the weapons more in order to keep fighting Russia. Switzerland is among the nations affected by the decision, the Swiss daily newspaper Blick reported.

Last fall, the European nation ordered PAC-3 missiles for the US-designed Patriot system, worth 300 million Swiss francs ($340 million). However, the promised shipments will not come on time due to the Ukraine conflict, several sources in the Swiss defense ministry told the news outlet, which claimed Kiev is “snatching” the arms. The Swiss military later confirmed to the press that the report was true.

The situation shows that “Switzerland needs an independent and robust defense industry again, and to diversify procurement among manufacturers and countries,” according to the military.

The US last year authorized Switzerland to procure up to 72 advanced MSE PAC-3 interceptor missiles for a total price of $700 million. The delivery was expected sometime in the late 2020s or early 2030s, according to Swiss media sources.

Washington reportedly claimed ‘force majeure’, which allows for the alteration of an agreement due to serious unforeseen circumstances. The Ukraine crisis constitutes a national security issue for the US, it reportedly told Swiss officials.

“This is like during the Covid-19 pandemic: when there are problems, each country looks after itself,” Swiss MP Thomas Hurter told Blick of the situation. “The US decision shows how quickly reliability can change.”

He urged the government to revisit its plan to phase out the current fleet of fighter jets, which it intends to replace with Lockheed-made F-35s. Switzerland ordered 36 of them last year for a sum of over $6.8 billion to be supplied between 2027 and 2030, so that its Air Force could retire the aging F-5 Tigers and F/A-18 Hornets.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 14:37:14 +0000 RT
Pelosi’s meeting with Dalai Lama in India irks China /india/599566-nancy-pelosis-meeting-with-dalai/ The visit to the residence of the spiritual leader comes a week after the US passed a bill to “resolve” tensions between China and Tibet
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Beijing has reacted angrily to a US delegation visiting Dharamsala in the Himalayas, to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader

A US delegation’s visit to the Indian town of Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, on Tuesday has triggered an angry response from Beijing.

The bipartisan delegation, led by former House Speaker and senior Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi, visited the town in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, in a gesture of support for Tibetan autonomy, which Beijing views as a threat to its sovereignty.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan government in exile, which is pushing for autonomy within China, has lived in India since the 1960s. Beijing considers the government-in-exile illegal and regards any support for the cause of Tibetan autonomy to be interference in its internal affairs.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian on Tuesday said Beijing has “strong concerns” over the trip and has asked the US to “see clearly the anti-China separatism nature” of the Dalai Lama and his followers. The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi also issued a message, asking the US to “fully recognize the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai group” and “honor the commitments the US has made to China on issues related to Xizang.”

Despite China’s protest, the delegation visited the Dalai Lama's residence in McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday.

Republican Michael McCaul, chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who was part of the delegation, told media outlets that US President Joe Biden would soon sign a bill that aims to pressure China to resolve the Tibet dispute, according to The Hindustan Times.

A day earlier, McCaul told media that the delegation would discuss “many things,” including the bill passed by the US Congress earlier this month calling on Beijing to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama. The bipartisan legislation called ‘The Resolve Tibet Act' aims to “enhance US support” for Tibet and “promote dialogue” between China and the Dalai Lama toward a “peaceful resolution of the long-standing dispute.”

During the meeting on Wednesday, Pelosi lashed out at Chinese leader Xi Jinping, saying “You, the president of China (Xi Jinping), you’ll be gone and no one will give you credit for anything.” She contrasted Xi’s legacy with the Dalai Lama’s, asserting that the latter’s will “live forever.”

Pelosi had also visited India in 2017 to meet the Dalai Lama, prompting a similar protest from Beijing.

The US delegation featuring Pelosi is reminiscent of another controversy she triggered in Asia, in 2022, when she visited Taiwan as the speaker of the US House of Representatives – despite warnings from both Beijing and the Biden administration against such a move. China responded by announcing military exercises and warned that the visit had “a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.”

Meanwhile, Washington has vowed to provide the island with the means to defend itself, and has supplied Taipei with defensive weaponry. Earlier this week, the US approved the $360 million sale of more than 1,000 small armed drones to Taiwan.

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Wed, 19 Jun 2024 13:29:02 +0000 RT
South African president starts new term under power-sharing deal /africa/599561-ramaphosa-second-presidential-term-inauguration/ South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has been sworn in for a second term, to lead a Government of National Unity
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Cyril Ramaphosa will head a five-party governing coalition, formed after his African National Congress lost its majority

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been sworn in for a second term after being reelected by the National Assembly on Friday following a coalition agreement with the opposition Democratic Alliance and smaller parties.

Ramaphosa’s inauguration in Pretoria on Wednesday was attended by African leaders, including Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Angola, Zimbabwe, Uganda, the Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Egypt. Chinese, Palestinian, and Cuban officials also attended. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the South African head of state on Monday to congratulate him on his victory.

Ramaphosa will lead the Government of National Unity (GNU), a five-party alliance that was forged after his African National Congress (ANC) lost its parliamentary majority in last month’s election.

“I solemnly and sincerely promise that I will always promote all that will advance the Republic and oppose all that may harm it, protect and promote the rights of all South Africans, discharge my duties with all my strength,” Ramaphosa declared while taking the oath of office administered by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The ANC, in power for the three decades since the abolition of Apartheid, received only 40% of the vote in the May general election. The party won 159 seats in the 400-member assembly, down from 230. After two weeks of intense negotiations with opposition groups, Africa’s oldest liberation movement reached an agreement with longtime rivals the Democratic Alliance (DA) to form the GNU, just hours before the National Assembly in Cape Town voted to elect the new president.

Ramaphosa achieved an overwhelming victory with the DA’s backing, beating the leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, by 283 votes to 44.

On Monday, the ANC announced that the power-sharing arrangement had been signed by the center-right DA, the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the right-wing Patriotic Alliance (PA), and the GOOD party. The DA, which draws support from the white minority, won 87 seats in the May 29 election; the IFP has 17, PA has nine, and GOOD won just one seat. The coalition, including the ANC, represents 273 or 68% of the seats in the National Assembly.

In his inauguration speech on Wednesday, President Ramaphosa urged all parties to put aside their differences and work together. He pledged to promote economic growth while addressing crime, housing, and infrastructure issues.

The president is expected to announce the composition of his new government, which will be negotiated with the parties involved in the alliance. His spokesman, Vincent Magwenya, told state broadcaster SABC that “the president does not want the country to go through a prolonged period of uncertainty.”

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 13:27:34 +0000 RT
EU state imprisons Russian academic for ‘spying’ /russia/599570-estonia-jails-russian-academic/ An Estonian court sentenced erstwhile professor Vyacheslav Morozov to six years in prison for allegedly providing intelligence to Moscow
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An Estonian court has sentenced university professor Vyacheslav Morozov to over six years in prison for allegedly providing intelligence to Moscow

Former Tartu University professor Vyacheslav Morozov has been sentenced by an Estonian court to six years and three months in prison for allegedly working for a foreign intelligence service, the news outlet ERR reported on Tuesday.

Morozov, a Russian citizen, was detained by Estonian police in January on charges of collaborating with Moscow by supposedly collecting and providing information about the Baltic state.

According to the court documents, the academic had worked at St. Petersburg State University until 2010. He later joined the faculty of the University of Tartu in Estonia, where, from 2016 to 2023, he held the position of Professor of European Union and Russian Studies. He then worked there as a professor of International Political Theory until his arrest.

“Morozov was tasked by the Russian special service to collect information from the Republic of Estonia about Estonia’s internal, defense and security policy and related people and infrastructure,” the leading state prosecutor Taavi Pern was quoted as saying in a press release by the Estonian internal security service (Kapo).

According to Pern, the professor was forwarding information about Estonia’s “political situation and elections, allied relations, and integration and social integration.” The prosecutor claimed that while most of this information was publicly available, and some had been obtained by Morozov thanks to his “position as a scientist,” it could be used to “threaten Estonia.” Pern noted that Morozov did not have any access to state secrets.

The prosecution also claimed that Morozov had been working with Moscow “for a long time” and alleged that he was recruited by Russian intelligence services when studying at a Russian university in the 1990’s.

At the same time, Kapo Director General Margo Polloson noted that in his actions, Morozov “did not damage or manipulate his own educational or research activities in any way. The science he did and guided is still relevant today.” Nevertheless, Polloson claimed that Morozov “pretended to be a professor of international relations, which gave him access to various entities, events and people, which he took advantage of.”

The head of the Tartu University Johan Skytte Institute for Political Studies, Kristiina Tonnisson, had previously stated that Morozov’s arrest in January was a “shock to us all.” She added that while the university had “no grounds for complaints regarding Morozov’s previous work,” his past activities would be critically reviewed.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 13:22:06 +0000 RT
Killers of Donbass commander sentenced in Russia /russia/599564-pavlov-murder-sentense-russia/ A Russian military tribunal has sentenced members of an SBU “terrorist cell” who killed Arsen ‘Motorola’ Pavlov
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The crime was reportedly part of an assassination campaign run by Kiev in the years before the conflict with Russia

A Russian military tribunal has ordered lengthy prison sentences for four people in the case related to the 2016 murder of Arsen Pavlov, a senior military officer in the then-breakaway Ukrainian region of Donetsk.

Pavlov, also known under his nom-de-guerre, ‘Motorola’, was killed in October 2016 by a powerful explosive device planted over an elevator cabin in his apartment block in Donetsk. His bodyguard, Vasily Churilov, also died in the attack.

In February, the New York Times reported that the assassination had been conducted by members of the CIA-trained Fifth Directorate of the SBU, the Ukrainian successor to the KGB. The newspaper said the people involved in the operation were given commemorative patches, each one stitched with the word ‘Lift’. Previous reports in the Western press described a program of political assassinations run by the Ukrainian government.

The Russian tribunal passed a life sentence to the person who planted the IED, Aleksandr Pogorelov. The case included several other charges against him and three other members of what Russian prosecutors labeled an “SBU-created terrorist cell.”

These included the attempted assassinations of another military official in Donetsk in 2016 and the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko. There was also the assassination of a military leader in the Lugansk People’s Republic in 2016. The Ukrainians also tried to kill Pavlov months prior to the successful bomb plot, Russian investigators have said.

The other accomplices were given prison terms ranging between 12 and 17 years. All four pleaded not guilty during the proceedings. Pogorelov reportedly declared during the trial: “Overall I do not disclaim my actions, but I don’t consider myself guilty, since I committed no crime on Russian territory.”

The two Donbass republics split from Ukraine in the wake of the US-backed armed coup in Kiev in 2014. After the new authorities attempted to quash their rebellion by military force, people in Donetsk and Lugansk successfully resisted and declared themselves independent from Ukraine.

Moscow backed a roadmap for reconciliation between Kiev and the ethnic Russian separatists in the form of the 2014-2015 Minsk Agreements, which would have given them broad autonomy. Ukrainian officials later admitted that they had taken the deal purely to win time and build up their military with NATO’s help. The self-proclaimed entities joined Russia in late 2022, giving it jurisdiction over the case.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 12:23:28 +0000 RT
Hungary unveils MEGA slogan for EU presidency /news/599558-hungary-mega-slogan-eu-presidency/ The official motto for the Hungarian presidency of the EU that starts on July 1 is ‘Make Europe Great Again’
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Budapest aims to ‘Make Europe Great Again’ when it takes the reins next month

Hungary has revealed that the slogan for its upcoming presidency of the European Union will be ‘Make Europe Great Again’ (MEGA).

Observers immediately noted the similarity to the ‘Make America Great Again’ (MAGA) motto deployed by Donald Trump during his successful US presidential campaign in 2016.

Hungary is set to take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1 and will remain in charge until the end of the year. During the six-month period, Hungarian diplomats will chair meetings in Brussels and shape the EU’s political agenda.

Hungary’s minister for European Union Affairs, Janos Boka, told a press conference on Tuesday that the slogan refers to a proactive presidency and aims to show that “together we are stronger than apart,” according to local media.

Boka downplayed the similarity of Hungary’s motto to Trump’s, joking that “I am not aware that Donald Trump has ever wanted to make Europe great,” according to Agence France-Presse.

Hungary is taking over the EU reins in “a very difficult environment,” he added, citing “a war in our neighborhood” in reference to the Ukraine conflict. He also cited illegal immigration as another of the most pressing issues the region must deal with.

Boka went on to say that “we should be allowed to remain who we are when we come together,” according to Politico.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has faced criticism in the EU for pursuing policies that run counter to those of Brussels.

Since the start of the Ukraine conflict in 2022, Budapest has refused to provide weapons to Kiev, calling for a diplomatic solution instead, and has maintained economic ties with Russia.

Earlier this year, Orban flew to US to meet with Republican presidential frontrunner Trump. Following the talks, the Hungarian prime minister claimed that Trump had shown himself to be “pro-peace.” That stance puts him in alignment with Hungary, unlike the current US administration and many EU members, Orban added.

Trump, in turn, described Orban as a “fantastic” leader.

Hungary has also faced criticism in the EU for following its own migration policy in an apparent contradiction with the bloc’s rules. The European Court of Justice (ICJ) imposed a €200 million ($216 million) fine on Budapest last week for restricting access to international protection procedures and illegally removing third-country nationals.

Defending his stance on the Ukraine aid and immigration Orban has argued that his policies aim to defend the interests of the Hungarian people.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 12:15:42 +0000 RT
Boeing can’t find new CEO – WSJ /business/599553-boeing-cant-find-new-ceo/ US aerospace giant Boeing is struggling to find a new CEO due to scrutiny over its safety record, The Wall Street Journal has reported
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The current chief will resign by the end of the year, following multiple revelations of questionable safety standards at the firm

Several high-profile candidates have turned down offers to run aerospace giant, Boeing, The Wall Street Journal has reported, as the plane-maker faces scrutiny over multiple safety issues with its products.

The aerospace giant announced in March that current chief executive, David Calhoun, would step down by the end of the year, as part of a management shake-up aimed at reviving Boeing’s reputation. 

The company’s airliners have encountered a litany of incidents this year, beginning with a door panel on a 737 MAX 9 operated by Alaska Airlines blowing off mid-air in January, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the plane. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched several inquiries into Boeing. Whistle-blowers have alleged that the 737 Max, the 787 Dreamliner, and the 777 had serious production issues. As part of one probe, CEO Calhoun was grilled by US senators on Tuesday over the company’s patchy safety record.

GE Aerospace CEO Larry Culp, widely considered the top candidate for the job, has declined Boeing’s request to consider taking over, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said, citing people familiar with the matter. According to the publication, Culp is known as a guru of lean manufacturing, a management philosophy focused on cutting waste while continuously improving quality. Culp has said that he intends to stay on at GE Aerospace.

Other potential candidates – the CEO of Boeing's commercial-airplanes division Stephanie Pope, and Spirit AeroSystems CEO Pat Shanahan – face various complications on their path to the top job, the WSJ wrote. David Gitlin, CEO of the home-appliances firm Carrier and a member of the Boeing board, asked to be removed from the list of potential contenders in April.

Boeing executives have said they hope to have a deal by the end of June, the WSJ noted.

The US Department of Justice said in May it was considering prosecuting Boeing over two crashes in 2018 and 2019 which killed nearly 350 people. The accidents were found to have been caused by an errant pitch control system that the company had not informed pilots about.

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Wed, 19 Jun 2024 11:40:40 +0000 RT
Islamic terrorists using Ukraine to enter EU — German spies /news/599556-gearmany-jihadists-ukrainian-refugees/ Germany’s national security agency BfV has outlined major threats that the country faces domestically and internationally
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Jihadists remain a major threat to the country, the country’s BfV security agency has warned

Jihadist pose a serious domestic security risk to Germany, the country's BfV security agency warned on Tuesday, singling out the Afghanistan-based offshoot of the once-powerful terrorist organization Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

The group, designated ISPK by the German intelligence service, “has managed to bring followers to Western Europe, possibly with the wave of refugees from Ukraine, who are now staying here in various Western European countries,” Director General Thomas Haldenwang told the media on Tuesday.

The senior official and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser presented an annual report on the BfV’s activities, including a July 2023 operation involving a series of arrests in Germany and the Netherlands.

A total of nine people from Central Asia were taken into custody at the time for allegedly founding a “domestic terrorist group” and preparing major attacks on European soil. Seven of them lived in Germany.

The group was allegedly in contact with ISPK, also known as ISIS-K, and had entered the European Union from Ukraine “almost simultaneously,” according to German security officials. The suspects were described as “black sheep” among Ukrainians when the arrests happened.

ISPK has a large number of supporters and calls for “major attacks,” Haldenwang said. He cited as an example the gun and arson massacre at a concert hall outside of Moscow in March, which the Afghanistan-based group claimed credit for.

Moscow believes that Ukrainian intelligence services had facilitated the Crocus City Hall attack, which left over 145 people killed. ISPK could have just lent its brand name to the plot, which helped the real mastermind recruit the perpetrators, Russian officials have suggested.

The BfV’s report is over 400 pages long and covers a wide spectrum of threats, from foreign espionage to domestic extremism to terrorism. The strength of jihadist terrorist organizations is estimated at 27,200 people.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 10:58:00 +0000 RT
US-supplied F-16s to be stationed inside Ukraine – White House /russia/599557-us-f16-stationed-in-ukraine/ Vladimir Zelensky and President Joe Biden have signed a bilateral security agreement on the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine
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Vladimir Zelensky and President Joe Biden had previously signed a bilateral security agreement on the fighter jets

F-16 warplanes transferred to Kiev by Washington will be stationed on Ukrainian territory, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has announced in an interview with PBS news channel.

He revealed the plan after US President Joe Biden and Vladimir Zelensky signed a ten-year bilateral security agreement last week, under which Washington has pledged to continue backing Kiev in its conflict with Moscow.

Zelensky announced after the deal was signed that the US had promised to supply Ukraine not only with weapons, including Patriot air-defense systems, but also with “squadrons” of fighter jets comprising F-16s as well as other aircraft.

The US, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, have pledged to provide Ukraine with up to 60 F-16 jets by the end of this year. Kiev has on several occasions suggested that the Western-supplied fighters could be stationed outside Ukraine, on the territories of neighboring NATO countries where they would be “safe.”

Sullivan, however, said the “plan is to put the F-16s in Ukraine,” adding that the bilateral security agreement signed by Biden and Zelensky had “reinforced this point.”

“We want to help Ukraine have this capability. It should be a capability based in Ukraine,” he said.

Meanwhile, Moscow has repeatedly warned that any Western weapons delivered to Ukraine would become legitimate targets for strikes by Russian forces and would not have any effect on the ultimate outcome of the conflict, leading only to more bloodshed.

The chair of the Russian parliament’s Defense Committee, Andrey Kartapolov, has also warned that if any of Kiev’s F-16s are stationed outside of Ukraine and are used in combat operations against Russia, then Moscow would consider those foreign bases to be “legitimate targets.”

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 10:57:27 +0000 RT
US greenlights new arms sale to Taiwan? /news/599548-us-approves-taiwan-arms-sale/ The US has approved the sale of $360 million worth of drones and missiles to Taiwan, the State Department has said ?
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The $360 million deal will provide Taipei with hundreds of armed drones and missiles, the State Department has said

The US State Department has approved a new weapons sale to Taiwan involving hundreds of armed drones and missiles worth $360 million, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has said.

Under the deal that was concluded on Tuesday, Taiwan will receive Altius-600M systems, which are unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with warheads, and related equipment at an estimated cost of $300 million, the agency said.

The US will also provide 720 Switchblade kamikaze drones known as “extended-range loitering munitions” along with accompanying fire control systems worth $60.2 million, according to the DSCA. Loitering munitions are small guided missiles that can fly around a target area until they are directed to attack.

The weapons deal with Taiwan was not unexpected and comes at a time of increased tensions between Washington and Beijing. Last week, China condemned the US for supplying Taipei with arms, urging the White House to stop a practice that “severely jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

“We firmly oppose any form of military contact between countries with diplomatic ties to China and the Taiwan region, including the sale of weapons to Taiwan,” Chen Binhua, a spokesperson for China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said last week.

The State Department said the proposed deal “serves US national, economic, and security interests” by supporting Taiwan’s “continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.” The arms sale will “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region,” the department added.

US defense contractor AeroVironment, which has been supplying Ukraine with the Switchblade suicide drones, said in April that the company had been “gratified by overwhelming user feedback and demand for additional systems.”

The Altius-600M drone can accommodate “multiple seeker and warhead options,” and can be launched from ground, air or sea, according to its manufacturer, Anduril.

Taiwan’s presidential office thanked the US for the latest weapons transfer, noting that it was Washington’s 15th arms sale to the island since 2021.

“Taiwan will continue to strengthen our self-defense and asymmetric warfare capabilities to enhance our deterrence,” presidential office spokeswoman Karen Kuo said.

China has long accused the US of fomenting tensions over Taiwan, and has denounced Washington’s arms sales to Taipei. Beijing has also protested against visits by top US officials to the island, arguing that such practices violate the ‘One-China’ principle. 

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 10:22:45 +0000 RT
Russian warships arrive in Libya (VIDEO) /africa/599549-russian-warships-arrive-libya/ A Russian frigate and guided missile cruiser have arrived at Libya’s Tobruk naval base
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The Slava-class guided missile cruiser Varyag and the Udaloy-class frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov will spend three days in Tobruk

Russian naval vessels have arrived in Tobruk, Libya, following a visit to Egypt, the press service of the General Command of the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced on Monday.  

Two Pacific Fleet ships, the Slava-class guided missile cruiser Varyag and the Udaloy-class frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov, are set to spend three days at the Libyan naval base.  

“As part of strengthening relations between the LNA command and Russia, a group of Russian warships, including the guided missile cruiser Varyag and the frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov, arrived in Tobruk after completing their visit to the Arab Republic of Egypt,” the LNA statement said. 

It added that the visit is part of steps to strengthen cooperation between the countries, including the deployment of 250 students and officers to military academies in Russia, 100 of whom will attend naval institutions. 

The General Staff of the LNA’s naval forces explained that the visit aims to confirm cooperation and coordination between the Libyan and Russian fleets in training, technical maintenance, logistical support, exchange of experience and information, and maritime security collaboration.  

The Varyag and Marshal Shaposhnikov visited the Egyptian port of Alexandria on June 10-14. Festive events were held on the ships to celebrate Russia Day, and Russian and Egyptian military forces carried out joint exercises on June 14. The drills focused on practicing joint maneuvering techniques, testing communication systems, and enhancing technical cooperation. 

Meanwhile, the West African state of Mali is seeking to rapidly enhance its military capabilities with Russia’s help, Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop has said in an interview with RIA Novosti.  

At the beginning of June, a high-ranking delegation from the Russian Defense Ministry, led by Deputy Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, visited Niger and Mali. According to Diop, the visit reflects Mali’s desire to expedite the implementation of its plan to boost military and defense potential.  

“This visit also continues the dialogue on strengthening the strategic military partnership between our two countries,” the Malian minister stated. The partnership is centered on “strengthening the combat capabilities of Mali’s defense and security forces to achieve greater autonomy, as well as a program for procuring military equipment,” he noted. 

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 09:59:55 +0000 RT
Another African state to apply for BRICS membership /africa/599546-zimbabwe-brics-membership-intention/ Zimbabwe’s defense minister says the country will apply to join BRICS to strengthen economic ties with like-minded nations
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The move will allow landlocked Zimbabwe to strengthen economic ties with like-minded nations, its defense minister says

Zimbabwe is ready to join the BRICS group of nations, the African nation’s defense minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, announced on Monday.

Speaking during the BRICS international inter-party forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok, the minister claimed that joining the group will provide a more favorable environment for free trade with other member states, according to Zimbabwe’s state-owned daily, The Herald.

“Zimbabwe, like many of the other countries represented here, has strong conviction in BRICS’ potential to counterbalance Western powers’ dominance by challenging their unilateral decision-making and promoting a more balanced global landscape,” she was quoted as saying.

Muchinguri-Kashiri’s remarks come less than two weeks after Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced his government’s intention to join BRICS in an interview with TASS, on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

President Mnangagwa said he had discussed the move with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during bilateral talks on June 7, when both leaders also agreed to intensify cooperation between Moscow and Harare.

BRICS was founded in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India, and China, with South Africa joining in 2011. The group expanded this year when Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates became full members. Despite the expansion, the group has opted to keep its original name.

Several other countries have also officially signaled their intention to join the organization. On Tuesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stated that one of the key criteria for Moscow to welcome new members is that any country seeking to join the BRICS group refrain from participating in illegal unilateral sanctions.

Zimbabwe, under US and European Union sanctions for more than two decades, has been exploring ways to diversify its economy and tackle several challenges, including food insecurity. The landlocked country declared a national state of disaster in April, with President Mnangagwa stating that severe droughts would leave more than 2.7 million people without food this year.

Zimbabwe was among six African states that received 25,000 tons of humanitarian wheat from Russia in February as part of Moscow’s commitment to assisting food-insecure countries.

On Monday, Harare’s defense minister described BRICS as a group that is founded on the principle of non-alignment, which has not only “overcome ideological limitations,” but also promotes economic growth based on mutual respect.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said the bloc was leading the world away from a unipolar era, of which both Russia and Zimbabwe are victims, and toward a multipolar future. BRICS “fully supports our joint plea for universal freedom for all nations and the cooperation of like-minded nations to advance national development agendas,” she stated.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 09:52:52 +0000 RT
Russia and North Korea agree on mutual aid against aggression – Putin /news/599552-russia-north-korea-mutual-defense/ Russia and North Korea have pledged to jointly oppose foreign aggression against either nation, President Vladimir Putin has announced
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Pyongyang has the right to defend its sovereignty against the US, the Russian leader has said

Moscow and Pyongyang have pledged to assist each other against foreign aggression, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday during a visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Putin and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-un, signed a strategic partnership which will serve as a roadmap for future cooperation in all spheres, from cultural and tourist ties, to trade, economic relations and security, the Russian leader has said, calling it “truly a breakthrough.”

“The document on comprehensive partnership that we have signed today provides, among other things, for mutual aid in case of aggression against one of the participants,” the president added.

Moscow supports Pyongyang’s intention to protect its security and sovereignty from possible Western aggression, which is its right, Putin said. The country considers the US and its allies responsible for the increasing tensions in the region, he added.

“Overused Western propaganda tropes can no longer hide their aggressive geopolitical intentions, including in Northwestern Asia,” Putin said.

Putin noted that Western nations were supplying advanced weapons to Ukraine and have given Kiev the green light to strike Russia. Under these circumstances, “Russia does not rule out the development of military cooperation with the DPRK under the document signed today.” 

The visiting head of state denounced the “indefinite restrictions regime” imposed on North Korea by the UN Security Council, which includes an arms embargo, as “orchestrated by the US” and urged for it to be revised.

The Russian president had previously warned the West over Kiev’s desire to use donated weapons to conduct attacks deep inside Russia. Should that happen, Moscow could send similar types of weapons to enemies of the West, which could use them to strike the military assets of the US and its allies, he said earlier this month.

Pyongyang has an “objective and balanced” stance on the Ukraine conflict and sees its core causes, which proves North Korea’s independence and sovereignty, Putin said. The two nations are also on the same page in supporting “a more just and democratic multipolar world” that should replace the previous Western-centric system.

”We will continue to oppose the imposition of strangling sanctions, which the West has turned into a tool of maintaining its hegemony in politics, the economy and other areas,” the president vowed.

Recalling the lengthy record of Russian cooperation with North Korea, Putin noted the role that the Soviet Union played in the fight against Imperial Japan during the Second World War and the reconstruction efforts following the Korean civil war, which split the Korean Peninsula between two rivals. Moscow was the party with which Pyongyang signed its first international agreement 75 years ago, he added.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 09:47:52 +0000 RT
Nvidia becomes world’s most valuable company /business/599544-nvidia-worlds-most-valuable-company/ US artificial intelligence chipmaker Nvidia has dethroned Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable company
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The computing infrastructure giant overtook Microsoft’s market capitalization on Tuesday

Nvidia became the largest company in the world on Tuesday, after the US artificial intelligence chipmaker’s valuation exceeded $3.33 trillion, surpassing Microsoft. Two weeks ago, Nvidia edged out Apple from the number two spot.

Nvidia's stock price rose by 3.5% in early trading on Tuesday, to reach an all-time high of $135.58 per share. The software giant Microsoft saw its shares slide 0.45% on Tuesday, to a market cap of $3.32 trillion.

Both firms are key players in the artificial intelligence boom. Nvidia is the tech industry's go-to supplier for AI chips and integrated software, while Microsoft is the largest investor in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI.

Apple shares lost 1.1% on Tuesday with iPhone-maker’s market cap slipping to $3.29 trillion.

Nvidia completed a ten-for-one stock split earlier this month, making its shares more affordable to small-time individual investors.

The US firm reached a market cap of $1 trillion one year ago, and $3 trillion on June 5 – representing the fastest growth on record – fuelled by the boom in AI. Many investors believe the company will continue to surge in value.

Founded in 1993, Nvidia originally designed graphics cards for computer gaming. It later added features to its chips designed for machine learning, increasing its market share. In recent years the surge of investment in AI tech has caused explosive growth for the company.

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

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 09:16:19 +0000 RT
Concerns grow over press freedom in Ukraine – NYT /russia/599543-ukraine-press-freedom-zelensky/ The Ukrainian government’s restrictions and pressure on the media exceed wartime security needs, local journalists have told the NYT
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Restrictions and pressure on the media are going beyond wartime security needs, local journalists told the paper

Ukrainian journalists and monitoring groups have sounded the alarm over attempts to curtail press freedom in the country under Vladimir Zelensky, the New York Times has reported.

According to media workers, restrictions and pressure on them from the government go beyond Ukraine’s security needs amid the conflict with Russia, the paper said in an article on Tuesday.

The authorities in Kiev are trying to make sure that the opposition, in particular the party of former president Petro Poroshenko, does not get positive coverage in the press, and that the government and the military are never criticized, the report read.

Late last year, management at the state-run news agency, Ukrinform, provided a list of opposition figures, activists and elected officials labeled “undesirable” for quoting in its articles, according to the NYT. Those blacklisted included the mayor of Lviv, Andrey Sadovoy, who is viewed as a possible future presidential candidate, it added.

The deputy director of Ukrinform, Marina Singaevskaya, resigned this year over what she described as political meddling by the authorities.

“If we name desirable and undesirable speakers, it is a big step back for democracy,” Yury Stryhun, a reporter with Ukrinform, told the outlet.

Stryhun said he received a notice to renew his draft registration one day after he appeared on Suspilne broadcaster to talk about the government’s guidelines for journalists. The timing of the notice was “suspicious,” he added.

Last month, Ukrainian media watchdog, Detector Media, said members of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party accounted for some 70% of political guests on the Telemarathon, a round-the-clock multi-channel broadcast set up by the Kiev government as a single source of televised information about the conflict with Russia, during the first quarter of this year.

The only broadcaster that gave airtime to representatives of Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party during the Telemarathon was Suspilne, which had since withdrawn from the project. The channel’s leadership said its decision to quit the Telemarathon was linked to pressure from the government, the report read.

The paper noted that the Ukrainian authorities also had “tense relationships” with Western media throughout the conflict as they revoked military press passes for journalists from several outlets, including the NYT, following reports criticizing the military. However, credentials were later restored, it added.

It also mentioned a story that made headlines in Ukraine in January, when it was revealed that Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) officers had spied on reporters attending a holiday party of an investigative news website, Bihus, by drilling peepholes in their hotel rooms.

“The only way people can change things for the better is through journalism. That’s why some people in the government try their best to control it,” Sevgil Musaeva, the editor in chief of Ukrainskaya Pravda national news outlet, told the NYT.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 08:35:26 +0000 RT
Details emerge of alleged contract hit ordered by ex-Zelensky mentor /russia/599542-kolomoysky-attempted-murder-case/ The case against Igor Kolomoysky concerns the attempted murder of a lawyer who worked for Victor Pinchuk, according to Ukrainian media
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The Ukrainian government has accused businessman Igor Kolomoysky of attempting to arrange the murder of a lawyer in 2003

Ukrainian media have published new details about a criminal case against businessman Igor Kolomoysky, who was charged with ordering a contract killing over two decades ago.

The mogul is believed to have played a key role in Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky’s rise to power. Prior to running for the presidency in 2019, Zelensky had a comedy show platformed by a Kolomoysky-controlled media holding.

Ukrainian authorities placed Kolomoysky in pre-trial detention last September over alleged financial crimes and have since added fresh charges, including in May.

The most recent statement on the case alleged that in 2003 “a famous businessman” hired a gang to exact revenge against a lawyer for rejecting his demand to overturn the outcome of a shareholder meeting. The gang assaulted its target but failed to kill him, the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said. It did not name Kolomoysky, although a photo of the accused clearly showed the businessman.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainsky Novini (Ukrainian News) media outlet claimed to have access to the court papers and shared more details of the allegations against Kolomoysky. According to prosecutors, he engaged the gang through a bodyguard. They initially targeted the wrong man, badly beating him, but eventually made an attempt on the lawyer’s life. They failed to kill him “due to circumstances outside of their control,” the case stated.

The victim was identified in the documents as working for businessman Victor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of then-President Leonid Kuchma. The details coincide with the circumstances of the 2003 assault against lawyer Sergey Karpenko, for which Kolomoysky was investigated in 2005.

According to reports in the Ukrainian media, Karpenko was involved in the fight for ownership of the metal plant Dneprospetsstal and opposed Kolomoysky’s attempts to seize control. Kolomoysky allegedly asked his bodyguard, a man surnamed Nikitin, to hire a group of criminals to carry out retaliation. They reportedly first attacked Karpenko’s business partner and later the lawyer himself, using metal rods, hammers, and knives in both assaults.

In 2005, Ukrainian prosecutors opened a criminal case against Kolomoysky. In a bizarre twist, a request for an arrest warrant was recalled by the prosecutor general’s office a day after it was filed. The investigation was closed several months later.

Some in Ukraine had expected the case to reemerge at the High Court in London, which in 2015 was due to hear an ownership dispute between Pinchuk, Kolomoysky, and a third Ukrainian businessman. The row was settled out of court.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 08:12:56 +0000 RT
India expanding nuclear arsenal with an eye on China – report /india/599540-india-expanding-nuclear-arsenal/ Both New Delhi and Beijing increased their number of nuclear missiles last year, according to SIPRI
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New Delhi and Beijing are both ramping up their capabilities, according to the latest report by SIPRI

India expanded its nuclear arsenal in 2023 with an emphasis on developing warheads capable of striking targets in neighboring China, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported in its annual assessment released on Monday. 

According to the think tank, India is estimated to have increased its number of nuclear missiles from 164 to 172, surpassing Pakistan, the third major nuclear power in the region, which has 170 nuclear warheads. China, at the same time, has increased its atomic arsenal significantly during the same period, from 410 warheads in January 2023 to 500 in January 2024. 

“While Pakistan remains the main focus of India’s nuclear deterrent, India appears to be placing growing emphasis on longer-range weapons, including those capable of reaching targets throughout China,” SIPRI noted. 

Last year, India conducted the first test flight of the 5,000km range nuclear-capable Agni-5 missile equipped with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology, meaning warheads can be directed from a single missile at enemy targets thousands of kilometers apart.  

‘Pralay’, a surface-to-surface short-range missile similar to Russia’s ‘Iskander’, is also being readied for deployment along disputed borders with China and Pakistan, reports suggested last year. 

Hans M Kristensen, associate senior fellow with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program, noted that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal “faster than any other country.” Moreover, the reported stated that Beijing could have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as either Russia or the US by the turn of the decade. 

Meanwhile, Russia (4,380) and the US (3,708) remain far ahead of any other country in terms of nuclear arsenals, possessing almost 90% of all such weapons, according to SIPRI.  

The Indian nuclear program’s growing focus on China comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and New Delhi, primarily over border disputes. 

The two neighbors share a vaguely defined 3,440km (2,100-mile) border called the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Himalayan region, where numerous skirmishes have occurred over the years. Tensions flared in June 2020, after troops clashed in the disputed Galwan Valley, resulting in casualties on both sides.  

Despite both countries making efforts to de-escalate and disengage, several friction points remain. The two sides have also held dozens of talks since the Galwan incident, without any indication of a clear breakthrough. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stressed in a recent interview that New Delhi and Beijing must “urgently address” border disputes and resolve the “abnormality” in their bilateral ties. 

After the new coalition government was formed earlier this month by the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) bloc, which won the recently concluded elections, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar emphasized that New Delhi’s focus is on “finding a solution for the border issues that still continue.” The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi later stated that Beijing is willing to work with New Delhi to improve relations.  

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Wed, 19 Jun 2024 07:26:47 +0000 RT
US soldier jailed for nearly four years in Russia /news/599531-us-soldier-sentenced-russia/ A Russian court had handed US soldier Gordon Black a prison term of almost four years for grand larceny and death threats
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Gordon Black pleaded guilty to theft charges, but denied assaulting a woman he was staying with in Vladivostok

A court in the Russian city of Vladivostok has sentenced US soldier Gordon Black to three years and nine months in prison, after he was found guilty of theft and making death threats against a woman with whom he was reportedly having an affair.

Black had pleaded guilty to theft charges, but denied allegations that he had assaulted and threatened to kill his girlfriend, who has been identified as Aleksandra Vashuck. The 35-year-old army staff sergeant reportedly lived with Vashuck in her Vladivostok apartment for around a month earlier this year. Following an argument, he allegedly choked her and took 10,000 rubles ($116) from her purse.

On Tuesday, a Vladivostok judge sentenced the US soldier for grand larceny and death threats. Black’s lawyer told the press that he will appeal the sentence.

At a hearing the day before, Black claimed he had wanted to return the money to Vaschuk, and had transferred funds to her via an acquaintance. His defense had asked the court to acquit him of all charges.

The prosecution had requested a sentence of four years and eight months, alongside a 40,000 ruble ($466) fine. “The victim said that the stolen funds have not been reimbursed,” the prosecution said.

According to US media reports, Black met Vashuck on Tinder while he was stationed in South Korea. They dated until she moved back to Russia, settling in Vladivostok. His mother told the New York Post that the soldier was in the middle of a divorce from his wife, with whom he has a six-year-old daughter. Black reportedly took leave in April, and instead of going back to his home base in Texas, he traveled to Russia via China without permission from his superiors.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 06:45:53 +0000 RT
Ukraine frustrated with US over F-16 pilot training /news/599527-ukraine-attacks-us-f16s/ The US is making excuses for training F-16 pilots too slowly, Ukrainian lawmaker Aleksandra Ustinova has said
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A Ukrainian lawmaker has accused Washington of deliberate delays so as not to antagonize Moscow

The US is making “excuses” for its failure to prepare sufficient numbers of Ukrainian F-16 fighter pilots to aid the war effort, the head of the arms procurement commission in Kiev's parliament, Aleksandra Ustinova, has claimed.

Kiev’s sponsors in the so-called ‘F-16 coalition’ – the US, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands – have pledged to deliver up to 60 American-made aircraft by the end of this year. Ukrainian pilots are being trained in the US and Denmark, while a separate training program in Romania is planned, but is yet to begin.

So far only eight Ukrainian pilots have received training at the Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, Ustinova told British newspaper The Times in an interview published on Monday. An additional 12 are being trained in Denmark, she added.

The delay in preparation means Ukraine is likely to only have 20 fully trained F-16 pilots by the end of this year, the lawmaker said. Ukraine earlier asked the US for at least another ten spots in the training programs, but was refused, Ustinova noted.

Last week, Politico wrote that Kiev’s efforts to get 30 more pilots into Western training facilities have been rebuffed. Ukrainian pilots have already hit language barrier issues, a senior DOD official told the news outlet. The Tucson base can only train 12 at a time, and Washington already has other countries’ pilots booked, the source added.

Ustinova questioned the US justification for the delays, suggesting it was deliberate.

“These are not arguments, they are excuses, and they keep coming up with them time and time again,” she stated. The training delays are likely motivated by Washington’s fear that a large-scale presence of US F-16s in the Ukraine conflict could be viewed by Moscow as the integration of the country into NATO, Ustinova told The Times. “This is totally political.” 

F-16s are needed to help mitigate the effect of Russian glide bombs on the battlefield, a weapon that has shown devastating effectiveness in the Ukraine conflict, Ustinova stressed. “These bombs are huge – from 500 kilos to 1,500 kilos,” and for Kiev, the only solution is to “bring them down is jet-to-jet.”

Moscow has repeatedly warned that Western arms deliveries will not change the course of the conflict, and only prolong it, causing more deaths. The Russian Parliament’s Defense Committee chair, Andrey Kartapolov, replied to Kiev’s statements about plans for some F-16s to be stationed outside Ukraine. Should the aircraft take off from foreign bases and be used to strike at Russian forces, both the jets and the facilities they are stationed at will be considered “legitimate targets,” Kartapolov warned.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 05:52:07 +0000 RT
Pyongyang welcomes Putin with spectacular ceremony (VIDEO) /russia/599530-putin-pyongyang-welcoming-ceremony/ North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin to Pyongyang with a spectacular ceremony
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North Korea’s Kim Jong-un welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin to Pyongyang with a spectacular ceremony on Wednesday, marking the Russian leader’s first official visit to the country since 2000. 

The two leaders began the official ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang at around noon on Wednesday. A military orchestra played the national anthems of the two nations, with artillery guns firing a welcoming salvo. The square, which can hold more than 100,000 people, was packed with local residents, who came to greet the Russian president. 

Ahead of President Putin’s visit, the streets of the North Korean capital were decorated with countless Russian flags, welcoming banners both in Korean and Russian, and portraits of the Russian head of state. 

Official talks between the two delegations began immediately after the ceremony, and the heads of state are expected to hold a one-on-one discussion later in the day.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 04:55:24 +0000 RT
Putin’s state visit to North Korea: As it happened /russia/599519-putin-state-visit-north-korea/ Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a state visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
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The Russian president held a lengthy discussion with Kim Jong-un after a lavish welcoming ceremony

Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a state visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and has held comprehensive talks with the country's leadership on economic and security cooperation, along with global issues.

Kim Jong-un personally greeted Putin upon his arrival at Pyongyang airport early on Wednesday, and the two leaders held face-to-face talks on “the most important, the most sensitive issues” after an official welcoming ceremony.

Russia and North Korea signed a number of bilateral documents, including a landmark Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement.

This live stream has ended.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 02:01:10 +0000 RT
Ukraine will never join NATO – Moscow /russia/599518-ukraine-never-join-nato/ Ukraine will never become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has predicted
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The US-led bloc has set unrealistic preconditions for Kiev, according to Russia’s deputy foreign minister

Ukraine will never become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said, while warning the US-led military bloc against repeating past mistakes.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated last week that “there is no membership issue to be discussed” unless Kiev defeats Moscow on the battlefield. “We need to ensure that Ukraine prevails, that’s an absolute minimum for Ukraine to become a member of the alliance,” he said.

“This means this will never happen,” Ryabkov told TASS news agency on Tuesday. “I hope Mr. Stoltenberg understands this.”

The Russian diplomat said Stoltenberg should be aware of what happened after NATO announced at its Bucharest summit in 2008 that Ukraine would eventually become a member.

“This became the trigger for much of the entire crisis that we are observing today. If NATO members are ready to fall into the same trap again and history teaches them nothing, then they will get hit again and their bruises will get worse,” he said, reiterating that Ukraine joining NATO is “ruled out.”

President Vladimir Putin has warned for nearly two decades that NATO’s policies undermine Russian national security. He signaled last week that Moscow could order a ceasefire and start negotiations as soon as Kiev completely withdraws its troops from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, and the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions. However, he stressed that a lasting peace can only be achieved if Ukraine commits to neutral status and abandons plans to join NATO.

Both Kiev and NATO dismissed the offer as an unacceptable “ultimatum,” but the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergey Naryshkin, noted that Ukraine would be better off accepting Putin’s offer now. “The next terms under which a ceasefire can be achieved and some kind of peace agreement signed will be tougher with regard to Ukraine,” he warned.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 01:29:23 +0000 RT
Sweden opens doors to possible US nukes deployment /news/599517-sweden-us-military-pact/ Lawmakers in Stockholm have approved a military pact, allowing US troops access to 17 Swedish military bases
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The opposition is worried that a new defense pact does not prohibit acceptance of American nuclear weapons

Lawmakers in Stockholm have approved a controversial defense pact with Washington, which allows American troops onto 17 Swedish military bases and training sites. Critics have blasted the agreement for not explicitly barring US nuclear weapons from being deployed in the Nordic country.

The Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) was signed between Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in December of last year, but needed parliamentary approval to take effect.

On Tuesday, lawmakers in Stockholm overwhelmingly backed the DCA, with 266 members of parliament voting in favor and 37 against, while 46 were absent. As a high-stakes vote, a three-quarters supermajority with more than half of lawmakers present was required for the bill to pass.

The agreement was opposed by the Left and Green parties, who argued that the terms should explicitly state that Sweden would not host nuclear weapons.

“We want to see legislation that bans nuclear weapons from being brought onto Swedish soil,” Green Party MP Emma Berginger said in parliament during Tuesday’s proceedings, arguing that the pact “doesn’t close the door to nuclear weapons.”

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Association, a major anti-war non-profit organization, slammed the move as one that increases tensions and security risks for Sweden, claiming it betrays voters’ expectations for a nuclear-free nation.

“Unlike in Norway and Denmark’s DCA pacts, the Swedish agreement contains no reservation against nuclear weapons,” the group’s leader, Kerstin Bergea, wrote in an op-ed after the vote. Sweden's neighbor Finland, which joined NATO in 2022, has a national law barring nuclear weapons from its territory, and their DCA pact with the US refers to it, Bergea pointed out.

Sweden, a member of the US-led military bloc since March, will allow American troops, vehicles and aircraft unimpeded passage across the country. The Pentagon will also be allowed to set up its own facilities at existing Swedish military bases. The presence of US personnel will be regulated by the US rather than local laws.

Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out that numerous waves of NATO expansion have made Europe less safe. Moscow has no territorial disputes or points of tension with the bloc’s new members Sweden or Finland, he stressed, while acknowledging that NATO military infrastructure will no doubt be hosted on their soil. Stockholm and Helsinki “understand this would lead to consequences for their own security,” he said.

Wed, 19 Jun 2024 00:40:11 +0000 RT
Moscow’s envoy to US outlines ‘thorny’ path to peace /russia/599516-russia-thorny-path-peace-ukraine/ Moscow’s clear and specific proposal is in contrast with empty words and fake conferences of the West, Anatoly Antonov has said
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Anatoly Antonov has elaborated on Russia’s proposal for ending the Ukraine conflict

Russia’s ambassador to the US has reiterated Moscow's specific and realistic proposals for ending the Ukraine conflict, contrasting them with the “advertising campaign” coming from the West.

In an interview with Newsweek published on Tuesday, Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, elaborated on President Vladimir Putin’s statements last week, in which he outlined the conditions for peace talks with Kiev. 

“There is a path to peace, even if it is thorny,” Antonov said. 

It involves “withdrawal of the Ukrainian Armed Forces from four regions of Russia; confirmation of the status of Crimea, Sevastopol, [Donetsk People’s Republic], [Lugansk People’s Republic], Kherson and Zaporozhye regions as subjects of the Russian Federation; Kiev’s refusal to join NATO; Ukraine’s status as neutral, nonaligned and nuclear-free state; its demilitarization and denazification; lifting of Western sanctions; [and] ensuring the rights, freedoms and interests of Russian-speaking citizens of the republic,” the diplomat explained.

“Talks on the above-mentioned issues should be conducted without ‘imperial’ dictates and orders from the White House,” Antonov added. “It is high time the US recognized the futility of constant pursuit to enforce its will on all countries and realized that it will no longer be possible to deter the growing shift towards multipolarity.”

Scare stories about Moscow plotting to attack NATO once Ukraine is defeated are simply “an embodiment of the US intentions to keep a tight rein on its satellites, primarily in Europe,” according to Antonov. “The aim is to finally turn the continent into the US ‘back yard’, which is not entitled to its own opinions nor its own history.”

Such policies are actually undermining US leadership, though American policymakers “prefer not to notice” that, Antonov added.

The purpose of the peace conference in Switzerland this weekend was “purely opportunistic: to create an illusion of widespread support for the ‘peace formula’ in various capitals, but in reality, to hush up any doubts about the legitimacy of the Kiev regime, which has already been bankrupt for a long time, both politically and economically,” the ambassador said.

Putin’s clear and verifiable conditions stand in stark contrast to “idle talk and failed conferences” of the West, Antonov said. The “advertising campaign” by the US and its allies intends not to stop, “but to prolong the bloody ‘project’ that the West has been implementing for more than 10 years,” since the 2014 coup in Kiev, he added.

Russia pursues dialogue and peace, and is “ready for a serious, thoughtful conversation” without any deadlines or rushed photo-ops, Antonov noted. What Moscow wants is “truly equal and indivisible security in Eurasia, based on mutual respect for one and all.”

In a new political architecture reflecting the transition to multipolarity, there would be “no place for aggressive political and economic dominance of individual nations,” or division into blocs, Antonov said. 

“If in response we continue to hear only Russophobic barking and calls to use more Western weapons and economic sanctions against us, global risks will only increase,” Antonov concluded. “I am sure this is not in the best interests of the citizens of the United States.”

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 22:32:56 +0000 RT
Israeli jets bomb Lebanon /news/599512-israel-lebanon-hezbollah-bombing/ The IDF has struck several alleged Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon as West Jerusalem finalized plans for a ground offensive
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The IDF has reportedly approved plans for a ground operation against Hezbollah

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) jets have bombed several Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, West Jerusalem announced on Tuesday evening.

Earlier in the day, Hezbollah released a video of what it says are its spy drones flying over northern Israel and filming the port of Haifa, apparently untouched by air defenses or interceptors.

The IDF announced it had “successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target in the coastal area of Gesher HaZiv,” a kibbutz near the Lebanese border.

“[Israeli Air Force] fighter jets struck a number of Hezbollah terror targets in southern Lebanon, including several terror infrastructure sites in the areas of Taybeh, Odaisseh, and Jibbain, as well as a military structure in the area of Ayta Ash Shab,” the IDF said on Telegram, alongside two videos of the airstrikes.

Since the Israeli attack on Gaza triggered by the October 7 Hamas raid, Hezbollah and the IDF have exchanged intermittent rocket fire across the Lebanese border, displacing more than 53,000 Israelis and 95,000 Lebanese.

Earlier this month, Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned that his country would soon have to do something about what he termed “terrorist aggression.”

On Tuesday, the IDF announced that it had finalized “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon,” citing Northern Command head Major-General Ori Gordin and head of the Operations Directorate, Major-General Oded Basiuk.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Israel was “very close to the moment when we will decide to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon.”

“In a total war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be hit hard,” Katz said in a statement, responding to US calls for restraint and diplomacy.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006, triggered by a cross-border raid into Galilee by the Shia militia. After weeks of inconclusive artillery exchanges, the IDF launched a ground offensive into Lebanon that “did not result in military gains and was not completed,” according to the Israeli commission that later compiled a report on the conflict.

The Winograd Commission criticized the government for “serious failures of the decision making process” and for not setting realistic objectives or an exit strategy. Though West Jerusalem claimed victory on that occasion, the conflict has since been widely understood as a triumph for Hezbollah.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 20:41:02 +0000 RT
Russia names main condition for BRICS membership /russia/599511-brics-expansion-sanctions-mechanisms/ Countries seeking to join the group must not be involved in unilateral sanctions schemes, Russia’s Deputy FM Sergey Ryabkov has said
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Countries seeking to join the group must not be involved in unilateral sanctions schemes, Russia’s deputy foreign minister has said

Any country seeking to join the BRICS group should not participate in illegal unilateral sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said, emphasizing that this is a key criteria for Moscow to welcome new members.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday, the diplomat touched upon Russia’s vision for the further enlargement of BRICS.

“For us, one of the key criteria for admission to BRICS and welcoming partner states is non-participation…in the illegal sanctions policies, illegal restrictive measures against any BRICS participant, first of all, of course, against Russia,” Ryabkov stated. 

This stance is met with “full understanding” by other BRICS members, Ryabkov noted. Moscow expects such a position to maintain its “core nature” as the group grows in the future, he said.

“The fact that BRICS will grow and find new forms both with partners and in terms of its own expansion is indisputable,” the diplomat said, adding that the current ten members of the group have already “adjusted” to each other and are now working “as a team.”

BRICS was founded in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India and China, while South Africa joined in 2011. The group expanded this year by welcoming Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates as full-fledged members. The group, now colloquially known as BRICS+, has opted to keep its original name despite the expansion.

Numerous other countries have officially declared an intention to join the organization as well. The latest expression of intent came over the weekend from Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who pledged to file the necessary paperwork shortly. 

“We have made our policy clear and we have made our decision. We will start the formal process soon. We are waiting for the final result and the feedback from the South African government,” Ibrahim stated.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 20:01:26 +0000 RT
US puts part of key Russia tax treaty on ice /business/599514-us-russia-tax-treaty/ Washington has announced the suspension, by mutual agreement, of the 1992 tax convention with Moscow
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The action follows Moscow’s earlier suspension of certain provisions of the 1992 agreement

The US Treasury Department has announced it is suspending certain provisions of the 1992 tax convention with Russia. The step follows Moscow’s scrapping of double-taxation treaties last year with those who have imposed sanctions against the country.

According to a press release published on the Treasury website on Monday, a formal notice has been provided to Moscow to confirm the suspension by mutual agreement. This is a response to Russia’s notification dated August 8, 2023, the department said.

The suspension will take effect on August 16, 2024, and will continue “until otherwise decided by the two governments.”

Double-taxation treaties are agreements between states designed to protect against the risk of the same income being taxed twice in both countries. Russia had such agreements with many nations, including EU member states, the UK, Australia, Canada, and the US, all of which have imposed sanctions on Moscow.

In 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the suspension of certain provisions of tax treaties with what Moscow terms ‘unfriendly states’.

In particular, the decree cancelled agreements between Russia and the US on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of tax evasion on income and capital. All in all, Moscow scrapped double-taxation agreements with 38 countries, including the UK, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Finland, France, Germany, Spain.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 19:52:07 +0000 RT
WATCH Putin arrive in North Korea /russia/599488-putin-plane-north-korea-video/ Russian President Vladimir Putin has landed in North Korea, where he is expected to hold talks with Kim Jong-un
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The Russian president is expected to sign a number of bilateral documents and discuss sensitive topics with Kim Jong-un

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived at Pyongyang International Airport, marking the start of his two-day visit to North Korea, during which he is expected to have a lengthy face-to-face meeting with Kim Jong-un.

The Russian president arrived in the country on Wednesday, with most of the talks and events scheduled for the next day. He was greeted at the airport by a delegation of North Korean officials, as well as plaques praising the friendship between the two nations, while the road leading from the airport was lined with Russian flags and portraits of Putin.

The Russian delegation includes numerous top officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, Defense Minister Andrey Belousov, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, and Transport Minister Roman Starovoyt, as well as Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov, and the head of Russian Railways Oleg Belozyorov.

Putin and Kim are expected to sign a number of bilateral documents, with the Russian leader having earlier authorized the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement with North Korea, which outlines “the prospects for further cooperation” between Moscow and Pyongyang.

Putin’s last visit to North Korea was in 2000, when he met with Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader. Kim traveled to Russia’s Far East last September, with the visit focusing on military and economic cooperation.

In the run-up to his visit, Putin said Russia had consistently supported North Korea in its long “struggle against the treacherous, dangerous and aggressive enemy,” referring to the Western states. The Kremlin has also praised North Korea’s vocal support for Russia in the Ukraine conflict, noting that Pyongyang “understands the true reasons and the essence” of the crisis.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 19:37:28 +0000 RT
Blinken made secret weapons promise to Israel – Netanyahu /news/599500-us-israel-weapons-supply/ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that Washington remove barriers to the flow of munitions
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The Secretary of State said the White House “is working day and night” to resume all arms shipments, according to the PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that he pressured the United States over arms supplies that his country needs in its war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The US paused delivery of weapons to Israel in early May amid calls for it to scale back its assault on the densely-populated city of Rafah in southern Gaza. The shipment reportedly included 3,500 bombs for fighter jets. The Jewish state’s offensive on Rafah has left thousands of Palestinians dead and injured, according to the local Hamas-run authorities.

In a video posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday, Netanyahu said in English that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has assured him the White House “is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks,” referring to arms supplies.

The statement confirms the latest media reports that during a meeting with Blinken last week in Jerusalem, Netanyahu had demanded the removal of barriers to the flow of munitions.

“When Secretary Blinken was recently here in Israel, we had a candid conversation. I said I deeply appreciated the support the US has given Israel from the beginning of the war,” Netanyahu stated.

“But I also said something else, I said it’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.” 

The Israeli leader stressed that an increased flow of US weapons would help bring the end to the struggle with Hamas. “During World War II, [Winston] Churchill told the United States, ‘Give us the tools, we’ll do the job.’ And I say, give us the tools and we’ll finish the job a lot faster.”

Netanyahu has reportedly told Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and other high-ranking officials to make sure that arms transfers are fully resumed during upcoming meetings with American counterparts in Washington this week.

US President Joe Biden has repeatedly warned Israel he would halt arms shipments over the situation in Rafah, but despite those warnings his administration had reportedly kept weapons and ammunition flowing. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the US proceeded with a transfer of $1 billion worth of ammunition and vehicles for Israel in May, the same month it stopped the delivery of bombs.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that the White House had successfully pressured Democrats in Congress to support a major arms sale to Israel that includes 50 F-15 fighter jets worth more than $18 billion.

Israel declared war on Hamas after militants killed around 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostage in a surprise attack on October 7. More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed in the months of fighting that have followed, according to the latest figures from Gaza’s health ministry.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 19:06:29 +0000 RT
US and India agree to prevent leakage of sensitive tech to ‘countries of concern’ /india/599513-us-india-agree-technology-leakage/ Washington and New Delhi have discussed collaboration in space, tech, and defense following the the inauguration of a new government
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White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has visited New Delhi for talks following the inauguration of the new government

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, have agreed to prevent the leakage of sensitive technologies to "countries of concern," according to a joint statement released on Monday.  

Sullivan’s visit to India is the first by a member of the Biden administration since Narendra Modi took charge for a third consecutive term.

The discussions formed part of the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET), established in 2023. The joint statement covers a wide range of topics, from joint investment in research, to space and proposed defense deals. 

It also made mention of "vital importance of adapting our technology protection toolkits" and  preventing "the leakage of sensitive and dual-use technologies to countries of concern," which comes against the backdrop of India’s robust ties with Russia. 

New Delhi’s relations with Moscow have come under increasing scrutiny from Washington and other western partners of India since the start of the Ukraine conflict. On Sunday, India disassociated itself from a communique issued at the conclusion of a Switzerland-hosted ‘peace summit’ on Ukraine, to which Moscow was not invited.

Meanwhile, New Delhi and Washington also stated they were “committed to take concrete action” to address long-standing barriers in bilateral strategic trade, technology, and industrial cooperation, including in the commercial and civil space sector. The joint factsheet notes that the two countries are working towards beginning advanced training for Indian astronauts at the NASA Johnson Space Center. 

According to Indian media, NASA will train two Indian astronauts, one of whom will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. India Space Research Organization chairman S. Somanath had said before that there would likely be four astronauts sent for training. 

Four astronauts from India selected for the country’s first manned space mission, called Gaganyaan, were previously trained at Russia’s Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center. This followed a 2019 agreement between New Delhi and Moscow on the selection, support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts. 

Sullivan also discussed potential defense deals with Indian officials. They include acquiring US-made MQ-9B drones, the co-production of land warfare systems, and manufacturing General Electric GE-414 engines in India. The projects were discussed last year during Modi’s state visit to the US, but their status remains uncertain.

The top White House advisor’s visit took place despite tensions over accusations of “targeted killings” against the Indian government. 

Last year, US prosecutors alleged an Indian agent’s involvement in a murder plot against a New York-based lawyer and Sikh activist, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a prominent leader of the Khalistan movement and designated a “terrorist” by New Delhi.

The bilateral statement made no mention of the issue; however, media reports suggest it was raised during the discussions. US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti earlier said that the alleged plot to kill Pannun was a “red line” for Washington.

Where India Meets Russia – We are now on WhatsApp! ‎Follow and share RT India in English and in Hindi 

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 18:59:19 +0000 RT
NATO country tests bomb shelters in capital /news/599510-poland-warsaw-shelter-drills/ Polish authorities have checked the power and water supply in Warsaw’s bomb shelters in case of an unspecified emergency?
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Polish officials have checked the emergency water and power supplies in Warsaw’s facilities

Warsaw has run an exercise to test the reliability of emergency water and power supplies in the city’s shelters, the mayor of the Polish capital has said.

Fresh from the LGBTQ parade over the weekend, Rafal Trzaskowski ordered a snap drill of the city’s emergency services on Monday, “just in case.”

“As part of the Warsaw Safety program, we are checking critical infrastructure; yesterday all city services held training exercises at the water supply plant so that we are ready,” Trzaskowski told reporters on Tuesday. “We are preparing water supplies, preparing warehouses in order to store additional equipment, such as generators. We must be prepared for any kind of situation.”

Trzaskowski also shared photos from the exercise on X (formerly Twitter), reassuring Warsawians that “it’s just a drill,” but that the city takes their safety very seriously.

Water and power utilities, the police, the firefighters and the military all worked together to test “action scenarios in potential crisis situations,” according to the mayor.

Warsaw has a population of around 1.8 million and the ability to accommodate three million people in the subway system, underground parking garages and other designated shelter spaces. However, it will take “some more work” to get all of them up to standard, the mayor said.

The emergency drills in Warsaw came less than two days after Polish President Andrzej Duda called for “decolonizing” Russia by breaking it up into many smaller countries. His comments came during the so-called peace conference on Ukraine in Switzerland. 

Duda has also proposed that Poland should host US nuclear weapons, drawing criticism from Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, as well as Moscow.

Last week, the US and Poland announced the establishment of the Ukraine Communications Group (UCG), an information warfare outfit designed to “amplify Ukrainian voices,” and counter alleged “deceptive narratives” from Russia. The UCG will be hosted by the Polish Foreign Ministry.

Warsaw has been an outspoken supporter of Kiev both under the previous government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and since he was replaced by Tusk last December. Poland has served as the logistics hub for almost all deliveries of NATO weapons, equipment, and ammunition to Ukraine since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 18:10:23 +0000 RT
Putin begins visit to North Korea /russia/599481-putin-begins-visit-north-korea/ Vladimir Putin has begun his visit to North Korea to discuss a wide range of topics, including security and international affairs
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The Russian president will meet with Kim Jong-un to discuss “most sensitive issues,” according to the Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun a two-day state visit to North Korea, where he will meet with the country’s leadership for talks on economic, security, and international issues.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally greeted Putin at the Pyongyang airport, for the Russian president's first visit since 2000.

The trip, which kicked off on Tuesday, will involve a “very busy agenda,” according to Putin’s foreign policy aide, Yuri Ushakov, who noted that the two sides intend to sign several agreements. The Russian president has already authorized the signing of a landmark Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement with North Korea.

Ushakov also said Putin and Kim were expected to hold lengthy face-to-face talks to discuss “the most important, the most sensitive issues.” The visit will be largely focused on the international agenda.

“The approaches of the two countries to current foreign policy problems are very close or completely coincide,” Ushakov said, noting that Moscow and Pyongyang advocate the formation of a multipolar world on the principles of equality, respect for sovereignty, and non-interference in internal affairs. He also said Moscow highly appreciates the fact that North Korea “understands the true reasons and the essence of the Ukraine crisis.”

Putin’s visit to North Korea, his first since 2000, follows Kim Jong-un’s trip to Russia’s Far East in September. At the time, Kim spent nearly a week in the neighboring country, touring the Vostochny Cosmodrome, meeting with top officials, and inspecting advanced Russian weaponry. Following the visit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said relations between Russia and North Korea had reached a “strategic level.”

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 17:46:51 +0000 RT
‘God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah’: Why the Western push to promote LGBTQ in this African country could backfire /africa/599303-west-puts-legitimization-lgbt-ghana/ Ghana’s Family Values bill seeks to balance a reliance on foreign aid with tradition, religion, and the anticolonial narrative
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Ghana’s Family Values bill seeks to balance a reliance on foreign aid with tradition, religion, and the anticolonial narrative

Ghana, a west African country with deeply ingrained cultural and religious values, is grappling with issues surrounding the criminalization of LGBTQ lifestyles. In February 2024, the country's parliament passed The Promotion of Proper Sexual Rights and Family Values bill, which seeks to promote traditional Ghanaian family values. The bill imposes penalties, including imprisonment for up to five years, for the promotion of LGBTQ activities.

Although the bill received unanimous support from both caucuses of the parliament, it still requires the assent of the president to become law. However, its progression has been halted by a lawsuit, citing concerns of discrimination against a section of the population, which has prevented the president from reviewing it until the supreme court determines its legality.

The hearing, adjourned in May 2024 due to allegations that the petitioners had used inflammatory language, resumed this month. The fate of the bill is now in limbo as the Supreme court of Ghana is expected to give its final verdict later this year. The pending verdict is particularly significant as it will determine whether the bill can be promulgated into law. This will also help determine Ghana’s ability to uphold its sovereignty amid pressure from western countries and institutions.

Ghana’s situation reflects the complex dilemma of African countries in deciding on the position of LGBTQ in their institutional framework. It is illegal in 32 countries including Nigeria, Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia where death penalty can be imposed on people engaging in gay sex. In Uganda, the office of the president has referred to homosexuals as “sick people” who need help. This sentiment has been echoed by the former president of Zambia, Edgar Lungu, who questioned why humans should be compelled to engage in activities even animals do not do. South Africa remains the only African country to have legalized homosexuality while others such as Rwanda have rejected discussions on the issue.

Legal landscape: colonial or not?

In Ghana, although there’s no specific law criminalizing LGBTQ activities, attempts to regulate them are based on a perception either of a western-imposed value system that contradicts Ghanaian norms, or from a human rights perspective.

FILE PHOTO. LGBT+ campaigners from the African Equality Foundation attend a protest opposite Westminster Abbey coordinated by the Peter Tatchell Foundation to coincide with leaders of thirty Commonwealth countries arriving for a Commonwealth 75th anniversary service on 11th March 2024 in London, UK. ?  Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images

Ghana has sought to apply section 104 of its 1960 criminal code on issues of LGBTQ. The law criminalizes “unnatural carnal knowledge of a person or animal.” For instance, in 2021 a group of LGBTQ activists were arrested by the police for what was described as unlawful assembly meant to promote LGBTQ activities, but were later acquitted after a backlash from the international community. 

Section 104 of the criminal code has since been criticized as ‘misrepresentation of the law’ and a colonial remnant that does not reflect today’s realities, given its failure to define what exactly constitutes unnatural carnal knowledge.

In Botswana, in interpreting the legality of article 164 of the Penal code of 1964 in the case of Letsweletse Mostshidiemang, the high court made reference to the Indian Penal code written by the English politician and poet, Macaulay, of 1860, which stated “unnatural offences as whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years andshall also be liable to a fine”.

The ruling established that same-sex activities had been prohibited under British colonial rule, and thus the concept of unnatural carnal knowledge had been applied across most British colonies, including Gold coast (now Ghana) by the colonial government, a move former British prime minister, Theresa May says she deeply regrets.

However, 100 years after Macauley's laws were enacted in India, the British colonial government of Botswana revised its stance on the issue, having adopted the Sexual offences act of 1967, which gave right to consensual adults to engage in homosexual activities.

Following from that, some African countries such as South Africa and Mozambique decriminalised sodomy. Certain former British colonies such as Ghana and Botswana, on the other hand, adopted the concept of ‘unnatural carnal knowledge’ after gaining independence.

How it is seen in traditional culture

Prior to colonization traditional Ghanaian society was characterized by a complex family system that emphasized procreation with distinct gender-based role definitions. Men were considered to be heads of their families and could become chiefs, while women held enviable traditional power positions such as that of queen mother, playing significant roles in the conferring of chiefs and ushering young girls into adulthood /marriage. In the Akan traditional society (an ethnic group in Ghana), when a girl experienced menarche (her first menstrual cycle), she was taken to the queen mother of the community, fed and adorned in a white garment indicating readiness to be married.

Such overt emphasis on gender roles indicates the importance pre-colonial Ghanaian society placed on distinguishing between men and women.

?  Satyrenko/Getty Images

Marriage as the foundational unit of society was largely based on the ability to conceive, with child-bearing being particularly important for inheritance purposes. In matrilineal societies such as the Akan, a man’s heirs were his sister’s children while in the patrilineal society, the man’s sons inherited his properties.

The entrenchment of gender roles and procreation in the sexual and family traditions of pre-colonial Ghanaian society highlights the recognition of men and women as genders given at birth. Consequently, the concept of LGBTQ was considered alien, hence irrelevant, in the discussions of sexual socialization, even if they secretly existed. 

By this, the National House of Chiefs argues: “Nowhere does the Ghanaian culture subscribe to LGBTQI+ which is a taboo, inhuman and alien to our society. The idea of man marrying man and woman marrying woman is an abomination to our culture and traditions as Ghanaians.”

Therefore, the concept of ‘unnatural carnal behavior / intercourse’ introduced by the British colonial government did not face resistance because it was already consistent with Ghana’s traditional values at the time. This explains its inclusion in the criminal code of Ghana after gaining independence in 1957.

In view of that, attempts by Western countries to advocate for the acceptance of homosexuality in Ghana as a right can be perceived as an attempt to impose a foreign culture and not reversal of a British colonial legacy because “Ghana has societal norms that are different from those of the United Kingdom “, as emphasized by John Evans Atta Mills, a former president of Ghana.

Religious influence

Many religions were introduced in Ghana from different regions of the world and have since become integral to Ghanaian society. Christian missionaries arrived on the Gold coast (now Ghana) in the fifteenth for example, though the imperial motives significantly influenced the spread of their teachings. The bible was interpreted in such a manner that suited the colonial agenda of the origin State.

This is evident in the notorious King Leopold’s 1883 letter to missionaries in Congo where he forbade teaching about God and acknowledged the existence of their own religion and understanding of divinity. Instead, he directed missionaries to teach a love of poverty and insist on total submission to other various institutions.

The Missionaries in Ghana built schools to enforce their policies. This historical account explains why most schools have strong affiliations to the Christian denominations. Consequently, christianity gained momentum and spread extensively across the country, becoming the largest religion in Ghana.

According to the 2021 Ghana census, 71% of the population is Christian, 18% is Muslim, and 3% adhere to indigenous or animistic religious beliefs.

Ahead of Ghana's upcoming presidential elections in December 2024 we could ask what better strategic approach could there be to securing a simple majority than appealing to a religious perspective of events?

In view of that, and whether out of religious morality or political expediency, the presidential candidates for the two main political parties (National Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress) on the LGBTQ matter has largely been based on their religious convictions. Both strongly oppose the legitimization of homosexuality, sentiments that have been echoed by the president of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, despite his earlier stated acceptance of its inevitability. 

While distinguishing between a religious and political stance on the issue is a complex task, one cannot doubt the overt disdain for the concept of LGBTQ within the various religious denominations in Ghana.

Speaking to RT, Reverend Peter Asare, a Ghanaian Christian priest of the Assemblies of God church (a Christian denomination in Ghana) stated: “For Ghanaians, customs and traditions are very important. Christianity and tradition complement each other. You can’t separate them. This is why a priest is called upon to bless traditional ceremonies like marriage, naming ceremony and other traditional events”.

When asked about the position of the religious leaders on the issue of LGBTQ, he said:”Ghanaian society tolerates everyone. We do not discriminate against anyone. However, biblically, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for this act because during creation, God saw the need to have married couple to procreate to fill the earth. That is why he created Adam and Eve, and we are obliged to fulfil the purposes of God”.

Aid, boycotts, and sponsorships

On a visit to Ghana in March 2023, US Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the issue of LGBTQ, following a question from an American journalist.

FILE PHOTO. US Vice President Kamala Harris address youth gathered on Black Star square in Accra, Ghana, on March 28, 2023. ?  Misper Apawu / POOL / AFP

“It’s an issue that we (the US government) consider, and I consider to be a human rights issue, and that will not change,” she stated.

The US vice president's comment triggered the already brewing skepticism about the role of western institutions in the country. Foh-Amoaning, executive director for Ghana National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, argued, that the question was staged and the primary purpose of the visit was to promote LGBTQ activities in the country. 

“The intelligence we gathered showed that Kamala Harris is coming to promote this (LGBT) agenda. I can tell you that the question asked by the New York Times journalist was planned”, he said.

Foh-Amoaning also referred to a comment by the US ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Palmer, that passing the bill into law will discourage foreign investors, an assertion MP Samuel Nartey George, a principal advocate of the bill, disagrees with. He believes, “the West needs Ghana, American businesses operating today in Ghana are not doing so because of LGBTQI. We must stop cheapening ourselves and making it look like we have no sense of self-worth”.

FILE PHOTO. U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E Palmer speaks on stage during Global Citizen Festival 2022: Accra on September 24, 2022 in Accra, Ghana. ?  Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen

Drawing on Ghana’s historic struggle for independence, the MP has threatened to launch a campaign against all US businesses. By this, he invoked the memories of Nii Kwabena Bonney, a prominent Ghanaian businessman during colonialism who in 1948 called for the reduction of exorbitant prices imposed by European firms from the colonial states.

Following a British colonial government refusal to pay Ghanaian army veterans who fought in World War 2, Ghanaians responded by boycotting goods from the colonial powers. The colonial government however retaliated with force by shooting three ex-service men to death, sparking a series of protests which ultimately forced the colonial power to grant independence to Ghana in 1957.

Despite the backlash, the US government remains resolute in its quest to promote LGBTQ activities in Ghana, by hoisting the rainbow flag in their embassy. Together with some allied western countries, they have labelled the bill that has the full backing of parliament as draconian, and threatened economic sanctions on Ghana similar to those imposed on Uganda, should the president sign the bill into law.

Ghana’s economy is in trouble, struggling to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government was forced to default on loan repayment and develop stringent austerity measures as part of a $3 billion IMF bailout. Consequently, the Ministry of Finance has also urged the president not to approve the bill as it will jeopardize Ghana’s access to $3.8 billion in World Bank funding for up to six years.

Nathaniel Dwamena, President of the African Institute of DeFi and Blockchain and the YAFO Institute (policy research organization in Ghana), told RT: “Regarding IMF and World Bank financial assistance, we are yet to hear from representatives of these institutions on the issue. So far, it’s the representatives of the ruling government (Reps from the Ministry of Finance) who have extensively stated that these institutions will withdraw financial support from Ghana should the country passes the Proper Family values bill that criminalizes LGBT activities. 

“Ghana needs to have a re-look at its policies as a developing country. The high unemployment rate, currently standing at 13% in Ghana is what drives many individuals into LGBT activities, which are considered as part of ‘black market’ activities including prostitution”, Nathaniel said.

He adds: “There is a perception that LGBT individuals are rich. The sources of sponsorship for LGBT individuals remain unclear, but it is evident that people get into LGBT circle as a form of financial support due to unemployment”.

Ghana’s heavy reliance on aid from the United States and institutions such as the IMF and World Bank has put its government in a delicate position regarding the family values bill. 

The issue of LGBTQ acceptance in Ghana illustrates the concept of neo-colonialism articulated by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in his book “Neo-colonialism, the last stage of Imperialism.” According to him, the imperial power sees the dependent nation as sovereign only from a theoretical point of view while it covertly influences the dependant nation’s economic and political policies from the outside.

As global society moves towards a multipolar world, Ghana is seeking to forge genuine partnerships across the globe and to make independent decisions including on issues of LGBTQ, as a sovereign country.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 16:58:53 +0000 RT
Naval vessels collide in disputed South China Sea /news/599498-china-philippines-vessels-collision/ Chinese and Philippine military vessels collided in the disputed South China Sea, an incident the two sides blamed on each other
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Beijing and Manila have traded blame over an incident that left at least one Philippine sailor severely injured

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel and a Philippine navy boat collided in the South China Sea on Monday, an incident of which the two sides provided differing accounts.

The collision occurred when the Philippine naval vessel attempted a resupply run to the BRP Sierra Madre, an old tank landing vessel grounded on the Second Thomas Shoal, a small submerged reef near the Spratly Islands. The ship, originally built for the US Navy during WWII, was deliberately run aground in the area in 1999 and has served as an outpost for the Philippine military ever since.

“A Philippine Navy personnel sustained severe injury after the CCG’s [China Coast Guard’s] intentional high-speed ramming during the rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre (LS57) on June 17,” according to a statement by the country’s military. 

The Chinese Coast Guard, however, claimed that the Philippine vessel had “dangerously approached and deliberately collided” with its ship while attempting to resupply the “illegally grounded warship.” Following the collision, the Chinese vessel took “control measures” to check the supply boat and expel it from the area.

“The handling [of the incident] was reasonable, legal, professional and standard,” the Coast Guard stated. 

Washington backed the Philippine account of the collision. The Department of State called Beijing out over what it called “escalatory and irresponsible actions.” The Chinese vessel prevented “the Philippines from lawfully delivering humanitarian supplies to service members stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre,” it said. 

The Chinese vessels’ “dangerous and deliberate use of water cannons, ramming, blocking maneuvers, and towing damaged Philippine vessels, endangered the lives of Philippine service members, is reckless, and threatens regional peace and stability,” the State Department added.

A similar incident involving Chinese and Philippine vessels occurred in the area in March. The Philippines has ramped up its activities around the BRP Sierra Madre since late last year, seeking to refurbish the old vessel and improve the living conditions of military personnel stationed at the outpost. 

The South China Sea is the subject of numerous overlapping claims by countries in the region. Apart from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, as well as the self-governing Chinese island of Taiwan, claim parts of it. The waterway sees significant volumes of commercial traffic and serves as the key conduit for the foreign trade of South Asian nations. 

Tensions in the region have been further aggravated by the activities of the US and its allies, which routinely send in so-called “freedom of navigation” missions through the area claimed by Beijing as its exclusive economic zone.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 16:39:38 +0000 RT
Russia withdraws from MH17 resolution process /russia/599504-russia-icao-mh17-probe/ Moscow says it won’t take part in a biased, Western-dominated ICAO panel seeking to scapegoat it for the Malaysian jet’s disaster
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The ICAO proceedings have been a farce of Western making, Moscow has said

Moscow is not interested in participating in a “performance” before a Western-dominated International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) panel about the 2014 downing of a Malaysian passenger jet in Donbass, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down in Ukrainian airspace. Kiev immediately blamed Donetsk People’s Republic forces and Russia for the incident.

In March 2022, the Netherlands and Australia opened an investigation against Russia at the ICAO Council. However, the council first claimed judiciary powers it did not have, then tried to admit as evidence the two investigations into the MH17 disaster that explicitly excluded Russia – by the Dutch Security Council (NSB) and the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) – while welcoming Ukraine and other adversely interested parties, according to Moscow.

“The ICAO Council is not the right place to look for the truth. It makes no sense for us to remain a part of the ‘performance’ started in it,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Russia had initially agreed to take part in the proceedings “because we believed that the ICAO platform could be used for professional dialogue about the plane crash,” the ministry said. 

Russia has proposed “a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the crash of flight MH17, as required by UN Security Council Resolution 2166 and the ICAO Dispute Resolution Rules,” but the council refused, the foreign ministry said.

“Ruled by the countries of the collective West and their satellites, the ICAO Council also refused to take into account the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of January 31, 2024,” which rejected Ukraine’s claims against Russia in the MH17 case, the ministry noted.

The council consists of 36 members, who vote according to instructions from their governments. Australia and 12 others had already publicly blamed Russia for MH17 before any investigation began, the ministry said. When Russia asked them to abstain from voting in the matter, they refused.

This pattern of behavior “runs counter to the minimum requirements for the objectivity of the proceedings,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “Under such circumstances, it is impossible to talk about an unbiased establishment of facts, much less a fair decision.” 

The “extensive and convincing evidence,” both factual and legal, that Russia was not involved in the MH17 incident has been made available to 193 ICAO members, the ministry noted. 

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 16:11:19 +0000 RT
Court rejects Trump’s gag order appeal /news/599509-us-court-rejects-trump-verdict-appeal/ Former US President and Republican candidate Donald Trump is still not allowed to speak about his New York criminal trial
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The former US president is still forbidden to talk about his New York criminal trial

Former US President Donald Trump remains banned from speaking about his criminal case in Manhattan, even after the jury’s verdict, the New York Court of Appeals said on Tuesday.

Judge Juan Merchan imposed the gag order on Trump during his trial on 34 counts of “falsifying business records,” which District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleged had somehow violated campaign finance laws and improperly influenced the 2016 election. The jury found the former president guilty on all counts at the end of May.

Trump’s lawyers have protested the gag order from the start, pointing out that it directly impacts his 2024 presidential campaign. The appeals court has ruled that “no substantial constitutional question is directly involved,” so the order can stay in place.

“The Gag Order wrongfully silences the leading candidate for President of the United States, President Trump, at the height of his campaign,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said on Tuesday, adding that the president’s attorneys will “continue to fight” against the “unconstitutional” measure.

According to the campaign, the gag order “violates the First Amendment rights of President Trump and all American voters, who have a fundamental right to hear his message.” The First Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits the government from censoring speech and the press. Trump has called his prosecution politically motivated and a “witch hunt” by Biden and his administration.

The former president’s lawyers have pointed out that President Joe Biden is making Trump’s conviction a centerpiece of his 2024 campaign and will most likely bring it up at the first presidential debate, scheduled for later this month – while his Republican rival won’t be able to respond.

Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential ticket, which will be formally announced at the national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin next month. However, Merchan has scheduled the sentencing hearing for July 11, just days before the convention is scheduled to start.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 16:06:59 +0000 RT
Russian offensive will continue if Ukraine refuses Putin proposal – Medvedev /russia/599502-medvedev-russia-ukraine-offensive-talks/ Russia will continue its offensive against Ukraine if Kiev rejects Putin’s proposal for peace talks, Dmitry Medvedev has warned
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Kiev risks making its situation “worse,” if it turns down peace talks, Dmitry Medvedev said

Ukraine is making a huge mistake by refusing to consider Russia’s offer to open peace talks because its negotiating position will only deteriorate as time goes by, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has said.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled that Moscow would immediately open peace talks with Kiev if it withdrew its troops from Russia’s Donbass, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions.

Any such deal would also include Ukraine committing to neutral status, as well as its “demilitarization” and “denazification.” Western sanctions against Moscow would also have to be lifted, the Russian leader insisted.

Vladimir Zelensky has rejected the overture as an ultimatum, with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg suggesting that the proposal had not been made in “good faith.” Kiev has consistently demanded that Russia withdraw its troops to the Ukrainian borders of 1991 as a condition for starting talks.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Medvedev, who is currently the deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said Ukraine was “taking the discussion back to square one” by rejecting peace initiatives.

“They shouldn’t have done that. It will get worse,” the former president warned.

However, Medvedev said Kiev still had time to accept the offer, but this window of opportunity will not last. If Ukraine does not agree to Putin’s terms, this will result in a scenario in which Russia’s “offensive actions will continue, and it is difficult to say where the border of the cordon sanitaire that our president spoke about will end,” he remarked, adding that the zone’s boundaries would not be drawn in favor of Kiev.

The Russian president first spoke about the possibility of establishing a ‘cordon sanitaire’ in Kiev-controlled territories to protect Russian border regions from constant artillery strikes this spring. To achieve this goal, Moscow’s forces launched a major offensive in Ukraine’s border Kharkov Region in early May, capturing about a dozen settlements.  

Against this backdrop, several Western nations, including the US, authorized Ukrainian long-range strikes deep inside Russian territory, with the supposed goal of enabling Kiev to target military deployment areas and installations. The move was condemned by Moscow as escalatory, with Putin noting that the West had essentially signed off on Kiev’s attacks on Russian civilians.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 15:50:06 +0000 RT
Ukraine to get German ‘Frankenstein’ tanks /news/599496-hybrid-tank-germany-ukraine/ Germany’s Rheinmetall could supply Kiev with air defense systems based on a Cold-war era tank chassis, a company official has said
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Rheinmetall says it is working on new weapons systems for Kiev based on a Leopard tank chassis

German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall could soon supply Ukraine with new mobile air defense systems capable of shooting down Russian drones and missiles, according to the company’s head of Land Systems, Bjorn Bernhard.

In an interview with the German tabloid Bild released on Sunday, Bernhard signaled that the systems, which the German media dubbed ‘Frankenstein tanks,’ are already in the works.

According to the report, the tanks would be a heavily armored version of Rheinmetall’s advanced Skyranger anti-aircraft system grafted onto the hulls of Cold War-era Leopard 1 tanks. They will reportedly be capable of dealing with short-range targets such as drones and artillery fire.

“There are still a lot of Leopard 1 battle tanks on whose chassis we could put the Skyranger turret with the 35 mm machine gun,” Bernhard said in the interview, which took place at a secret Rheinmetall tank repair factory in Western Ukraine that was reportedly launched in early June.

The company will present a similar vehicle, albeit placed on a Leopard 2 chassis, at the ongoing Eurosatory 2024 defense industry exhibition in Paris, according to a press-release.

“Highly mobile, modular and scalable ground-based air defense systems are becoming increasingly important as NATO forces refocus on national and alliance defense,” Rheinmetall said in a press release.

It is unclear when Ukraine may get the new hybrid tanks. According to the UK’s The Telegraph, Kiev’s army has already received roughly a hundred traditionally configured Leopard 1 tanks from Germany. However, the Ukrainian authorities have been pressuring NATO countries in recent weeks to supply more critical weaponry and have been complaining that the shortage of Western air defense systems leaves its troops and infrastructure exposed to Russian attacks.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced earlier this month that Berlin would transfer its third US-made Patriot air defense system and other additional weapons to Kiev within the next several weeks. Addressing the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin, Scholz said that Germany has already either delivered or earmarked €28 billion ($30 billion) worth of weapons for Ukraine and will continue to support Kiev’s war effort.

Russia has repeatedly criticized the Western military aid to Kiev, warning that it will only drag out the conflict without changing its outcome.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 15:36:50 +0000 RT
Confused Biden clips are ‘deepfakes’ – White House /news/599505-white-house-confused-biden-clips-fake/ Videos showing the US president freezing up on stage and wandering off are all fake, according to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
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Videos showing the US president freezing up on stage and wandering off are all “manipulated,” according to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has claimed that recent videos showing US President Joe Biden looking confused at public events have been manipulated, describing them as “cheap fakes.” 

Jean-Pierre’s comments come after several videos of Biden have gone viral on social media in recent weeks. In one clip, the president could be seen having trouble sitting down during a D-Day memorial event in France. A number of commenters suggested that the US leader was “completely lost” or having “some kind of episode.” 

Another video showed Biden standing together with G7 leaders in Italy watching a skydiving demonstration. At one point, the US president turned away and wandered off from the group, before Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took him by the hand to guide him back to the other members. 

In another clip from an LA fundraising event with former President Barack Obama and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, Biden appeared to freeze up as he was waving goodbye to the crowd. Obama could then be seen taking Biden by the hand and patting him on the back while leading him off stage. 

A clip from a White House Juneteenth concert also appeared to show the 81-year-old president awkwardly frozen as everyone around him danced to the music. 

Speaking to reporters during a White House Press event on Monday, Jean-Pierre stated that “we are seeing these deepfakes, these manipulated videos, and it is again, done in bad faith.” The press secretary claimed that reports on these incidents are “attacks” on Biden that demonstrate the “desperation” of Republicans who refuse to acknowledge the president’s achievements. 

Asked to comment specifically on the incidents with Meloni and Obama, who appeared to give Biden “stage directions,” Jean-Pierre insisted that these were “cheap fakes” and that “this did not happen, in the sense of what people were saying they were seeing or what was being falsely reported.”  

She also dismissed claims that Biden had frozen during the Juneteenth concert, suggesting the president simply didn’t want to dance. “Excuse me, I did not know that not dancing was a mental health issue. That is a weird thing to flag,” Jean-Pierre said. 

According to multiple recent polls, Biden’s mental health has been a longstanding concern among American voters, many of whom believe he is mentally and physically unfit for office. A recent Wall Street Journal report also claimed that aside from his frequent public mental gaffes, Biden has shown “signs of slipping” in closed-door meetings with US lawmakers.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 15:14:08 +0000 RT
Macron just threw a live grenade at his own feet /news/599494-france-macron-regime-change/ The French president could be on the verge of regime-changing himself, with his establishment party’s support below that of the opposition
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The French president could be on the verge of regime-changing himself, with his establishment party’s support below that of the opposition

The latest French national polls show a final face off between the anti-establishment right and left, and the total decimation of President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party. Looks like he may have fooled himself into thinking that dumping all over the political chessboard was a big-brained three-dimensional move. 

In the wake of the anti-establishment National Rally party winning the European elections by a landslide, with more than double the score of Macron’s party, the usual suspects started chewing up the scenery with riots and unrest. All the National Rally needs to do is film it to create a campaign ad for themselves heading into the French national elections that Macron called in a double-or-nothing bet with the French people. Because Macron did that. And it’s the National Rally that has long campaigned on the promise of putting an end to it. 

It finally looks like enough French voters aren’t scared into denying Le Pen’s party the opportunity. The far-right label just doesn’t act as the kind of knee-jerk deterrent that it once did. And why should it? “France is on the brink of all-out civil conflict,” headlined Britain’s Telegraph. That has happened under Macron, not Le Pen, as he rammed through his establishment agenda piece by piece with his designated prime minister invoking Article 49.3 of the French Constitution to ram through legislation without a vote at least 23 times, totally overriding the democratic process – the second most since the Fifth Republic began in 1958. Its use to move the goalposts on retirees and make them work longer when France is a global taxation champion that robs them of hard earned cash their entire working lives, under the pretext of getting it back when they retire, would explain why the majority of retirees who voted massively for Macron no longer tell pollsters that they will. His support has dropped to just 28%, according to the latest Ifop poll

According to Le Monde, Macron said of his snap election call: “I’ve been preparing this for weeks, and I’m thrilled. I threw my unpinned grenade at their legs. Now we’ll see how they manage.” Looks like they’re managing just fine, actually. Macron’s party? Not so much. Next time, try putting a little more oomph behind that grenade toss, so it doesn’t just risk rolling back and blowing up in your face. The latest Ifop poll predicts the establishment’s total elimination after the first round of voting on June 30 with a mere 19% of the vote, and the two top parties heading to the second round on July 7 being the right and left anti-establishment at 35% and 26% respectively. And if lawlessness and violence keeps plaguing the streets between now and then, voters will fully understand that it was Macron who lit the match and the left that figured dumping fuel on the fire by trying to present the defeat of their right wing opponents as the solution to calming the unrest was somehow a winning strategy. Odds are that they’ll feel blackmailed and only be more motivated to vote accordingly. Ask German Chancellor Olaf Scholz how all the protests against the anti-establishment so-called “far-right” AfD worked out for him. They came in second, making gains in the EU vote, and his party came in third with its worst ever showing. Turns out that voters don’t really like to feel that they’re somehow being manipulated. 

Macron may think that he incited panic for survival in opposing political camps – the president of the establishment right’s Les Républicains proposed an alliance with Le Pen, then briefly barricaded himself inside party headquarters so his colleagues couldn’t gather to oust him. And the smaller anti-establishment right party Reconquête, founded by Eric Zemmour, ended up kicking out four of its five elected Eurodeputies when Marion Marechal (Marine Le Pen’s niece and number one on Reconquête’s EU electoral list) joined forces with her aunt’s party instead of dividing the vote. But Macron would have barely been able to settle in with his popcorn before the sideshows ended. 

It’s just such a big mystery how it’s come to this, and how the establishment in France and in Europe totally lost the plot. 

In May 2023, Reuters reported that the EU had approved $1.61 billion to buy out Dutch farmers whose cattle were deemed overly enthusiastic with their belching, peeing, and defecating. The farmers then started a political party called the Farmer-Citizen movement, backing the anti-establishment Geert Wilders, whose party won the general elections in November 2023, then went on to a second place finish (and a six seat gain) in the EU vote. 

In Germany, as farmers and truckers gathered at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to protest the EU establishment’s crushing bureaucracy on everything from climate change to Ukraine, the misplaced priorities and inability to make ends meet resonated so loudly with the average German that 69% of them backed the protest movement – which would explain the second place finish of the anti-establishment party (the AfD) attacked by the establishment as being in cahoots with the farmers. Turns out that a whole lot of Germans were, too. 

In France, 90% of voters backed French farmer protests and were disgusted when Macron showed up at the annual Paris International Agricultural Fair with a bunch of riot squad goons who unloaded their tear gas on presumably innocent cows (although who knows, maybe they were silently setting off some planet-killing farts) while he ran from an initial confrontation with angry farmers. And well, what do you know. It turns out that 90% support for the farmers roughly translated into 93% of French communes voting for the National Rally in the EU elections.  

Surely it’s all just a big coincidence. Who knew that messing with people’s food and livelihood while focusing on costly ideological priorities that are mainly of interest to the little elite cabal in charge would ever be the recipe for regime change? But the question now is whether Macron, having bet it all and lost, would cling to power like leaders he denounces. Or whether he’d abide by his own stated democratic principles and resign, as the majority (57%) of French say they’d want him to do. 

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 15:04:13 +0000 RT
EU to challenge US and China in trade /business/599491-eu-trade-us-china/ The European Union will continue looking for ways of competing equitably with its economic partners, Margrethe Vestager has insisted
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The bloc can compete in a strategic way, according to competition chief Margrethe Vestager

The EU will try to challenge the US and China strategically, the bloc’s competition chief has suggested, however it may be no economic match for either.

Margrethe Vestager told CNBC on Tuesday that the EU had become “much better” at defending itself against unfair trade practices, and that it will continue looking for ways to compete equitably with its economic partners.

“The point is to realize we can never outspend China or the US,” Vestager said, pointing out: “We can spend strategically.” 

She cited a €100-billion fund for ten “cutting edge technologies” – including in hydrogen, electric batteries, microelectronics, cloud and health – among the EU’s “strategic” investments that she said have “common European interest.” 

“That, I think, is a strategic way of using taxpayers’ money, crowding in private capital, in order to get what the market will not otherwise deliver,” Vestager argued.

The EU’s competition chief said the bloc was not “copying” its trade partners by implementing such measures.

The remark comes as the US has been investing heavily in technology, clean energy, manufacturing and infrastructure via its $430 billion 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. China, meanwhile, has continued pouring money into its tech and green industries.

Asked whether such investment levels would enable Europe to compete in the growing tech arms race, Vestager said: “Let’s not get distracted by what they are doing in the US and China. Let’s stick to our guns and make sure that it actually works.” 

Last week, the EU announced new hefty tariffs of up to 38% on Chinese electric vehicle makers, to which Beijing responded by launching an anti-dumping investigation aimed at certain pork products from the bloc. Beijing previously warned that it would target the EU’s aviation and agriculture sectors in response to the duties.

Brussels’ move followed the US having quadrupled tariffs on Chinese EVs to over 100% earlier this month, affecting $18 billion in imported Chinese goods.

Beijing has warned that such measures violate the principles of fair competition and harm the stability of global trade. Chinese officials have repeatedly denounced US trade and tech policies as “economic bullying.”

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 14:46:30 +0000 RT
Russia’s largest private lender expanding to China – Bloomberg /business/599499-alfa-bank-china-new-offices/ Major Russian lender Alfa Bank is set to open offices in Beijing and Shanghai
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Alfa Bank has applied to the Chinese authorities to open offices in Beijing and Shanghai, according to the outlet

Russia’s largest private lender, Alfa Bank, is set to open offices in China as part of a major expansion plan, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The lender, which seeks to become the first private Russian bank to open fully-fledged branches in China, has applied to the Chinese authorities to open offices in two key cities – Beijing and Shanghai – the outlet said, citing the bank.

The announcement comes after Alfa Bank expanded its client support services for Chinese businesses. The lender said it’s already providing services to thousands of companies working with Russia and has launched a Chinese-language website and support for Chinese-speaking clients.

Alfa Bank’s board of directors first revealed plans to open offices in Beijing and Shanghai last September, saying it views expansion in the Asian powerhouse as “strategically important.” In April, the bank announced it will launch the new branches by the end of 2025, saying the move would facilitate yuan transactions for both Chinese and Russian businesses.

Last year, Alfa Bank emerged as the top lender in Chinese yuan in Russia, accounting for a third of all yuan loans in the Russian market.

The move also reflects growing economic ties between Russia and China after the two countries declared a ‘no limits’ friendship. The process has accelerated in the face of soaring tensions between Moscow and the West over the Ukraine conflict and multiple waves of economic sanctions against Russia.

Earlier this year, Alfa Bank became the first major Russian bank to receive an international rating in China after Lianhe Credit Rating assigned it with an AA- rating with a stable outlook.

The agency attributed its decision to a number of factors such as Alfa Bank’s systemic importance, efficient corporate management, high asset quality, and strong lending capacity.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 14:41:08 +0000 RT
Indians challenge Elon Musk over voting machines /india/599501-indians-challenge-elon-musk-over/ Elon Musk’s claim about electronic voting machines has triggered outrage in India, which stopped using paper ballots in 2004
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The Tesla CEO’s suggestion that devices used for casting ballots can be “hacked” has come under scrutiny in world’s largest democracy?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has triggered backlash in India over his take on electronic voting machines (EVMs). The country of 1.4 billion people recently wrapped up its general election, in which 640 million Indians voted, primarily using EVMs. 

Musk claimed on Saturday that electronic voting machines should be “eliminated.”

“The risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter). He was responding to a post by US presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who had pointed to an Associated Press report suggesting that Puerto Rico’s primary elections had experienced voting irregularities related to electronic voting machines. However, Musk’s post reignited an old debate in India.

“This is a huge sweeping generalization statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who served as minister of state at India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in the last Modi-led government. 

Chandrasekhar, who is a prominent member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), suggested that devices used in the US may be connected to the internet and would therefore be vulnerable. However, EVMs used in India are “custom-designed to do a simple job.” These devices are “isolated” from any network and “factory programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed,” claimed the former minister. 

Prominent Indian author and retired government officer Sanjay Dixit also joined in the debate, offering $1 million to Musk to prove that the country’s voting machines could be hacked. “If you hack it successfully, give you a million dollars, if you fail, you pay,” Dixit wrote on X.

Indian EVMs, which replaced paper ballots in 2004, have triggered intense debate on many occasions, particularly during general elections, when they were blamed for unfavorable results by losing parties. 

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Indian National Congress, the country’s largest opposition party, backed Musk’s statement, claiming that EVMs in India are a “black box” that nobody is allowed to scrutinize. India’s Election Commission must either ensure complete transparency in relation to the machines and processes, or abolish them, Gandhi said.

Akhilesh Yadav, the leader of the Samajwadi Party, a key ally of the Congress, also questioned the credibility of EVMs, and demanded that all future elections should be conducted using ballot papers.

Notably, when the BJP lost an election to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the past, it also attributed the loss to “EVM fraud.”

In April, India’s Supreme Court cautioned against doubting the efficiency of India’s voting system, including the reliability of EVMs. The court heard a number of petitions that suggested using paper ballots, citing examples from European countries. In response, Sanjiv Khanna, one of the justices presiding over the case, said: “We have our own system. It’s working well.”

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Tue, 18 Jun 2024 14:36:41 +0000 RT
France to downsize military presence in Africa – AFP /africa/599495-france-military-presence-africa-reduction/ France reportedly plans to reduce its military presence in Africa as part of a policy review following setbacks in several former colonies
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The move is reportedly part of a policy review following setbacks for Paris in several former colonies

France intends to reduce the number of its forces stationed in West and Central Africa to around 600 troops, in compliance with President Emmanuel Macron’s policy of limiting the country’s military presence on the continent, AFP reported on Monday, citing sources.

According to the outlet, citing two government officials and a military source, all of whom requested anonymity, Paris will maintain only about 100 troops in the Central African state of Gabon – down from the 350 currently there – and around 300 personnel in Chad – down from 1,000.

In Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Senegal, where there are contingents of 600 and 350 forces, respectively, Paris reportedly plans to downsize to around 100 troops in each of the West African nations.

President Macron announced a “noticeable reduction” in France’s military presence in Africa early last year, amid a wave of anti-French sentiment in several former colonies, particularly in the Sahel region, where its soldiers had been deployed to combat Islamist militants.

France had over 5,000 troops in the Sahel region as part of Operation Barkhane, a decade-long counter-insurgency mission that ended in late 2022 when Paris withdrew its army from Mali due to a breakdown in relations following Bamako’s May 2021 coup.

Protests against the European country have grown in recent years, sparked by alleged military shortcomings and accusations of interference in the internal affairs of former colonies.

In December 2022, Paris withdrew troops from the Central African Republic (CAR), citing an alleged closer relationship between the African country and Russia. Several other former French colonies on the continent, including Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, have canceled military partnerships with Paris and turned to Moscow for assistance in combating terrorism. The Sahel has been plagued by Islamic extremism since 2011, following a NATO intervention on behalf of insurgents in Libya.

Last August, a group of French lawmakers wrote to Macron, expressing their dissatisfaction with France’s African policy failures, which they claim have resulted in deteriorating relations with former colonies. The legislators asked the president to review his government’s strategies on the “friendly continent” in order to correct misunderstandings about Paris’ role and presence.

Jean-Marie Bockel, the French special envoy to Africa, who Macron has tasked with negotiating the new modalities of the French military presence with African partners, told the Senate last month that Paris wanted to “reduce its visible presence” on the continent. It will, however, “maintain logistical, human, and material access to these countries while reinforcing our action in response to their aspirations,” Bockel has said.

According to two sources who spoke with AFP, the French army plans to establish a Paris-based command dedicated to Africa this summer.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 14:15:42 +0000 RT
Poles want benefits slashed for Ukrainian refugees – survey /news/599497-poll-most-poles-oppose-ukrainians-benefits/ A recent survey shows that 95% of Poles are in favor of slashing benefits for Ukrainian refugees, whom many describe as ungrateful
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Some 95% of respondents said government assistance should be reduced, complaining about a “lack of gratitude” among migrants

The vast majority of Poles want government benefits for Ukrainian refugees slashed, a recent survey has shown, according to local media. The number of Polish people who believe Warsaw should not provide any additional aid to Kiev has also risen in recent months, the study indicates.   

According to data from the EU statistics agency Eurostat, as of March 2024, Poland has hosted 960,000 Ukrainian refugees. Under the Temporary Protection Bill passed in April 2022, these people receive housing, food, healthcare, access to education, and a full package of social assistance at the state’s expense. They are also entitled to a one-time payment of 300 zloty ($75), as well as regular benefits totaling 800 zloty ($200) per child. Poland also pays Ukrainian parents 1,000 zloty ($250) upon the birth of a child. 

On Tuesday, the Rzeczpospolita newspaper cited the findings of a study titled “Social perception of refugees from Ukraine, migrants and actions taken by the Polish and Ukrainian state,” which was conducted by Dr Robert Staniszewski from the University of Warsaw and the University of Economics and Humanities in Warsaw. 

The survey revealed that as many as 95% of respondents believe government assistance to Ukrainian refugees should be reduced, with free education for Ukrainian children remaining one of the few aspects viewed predominantly positively by Poles. However, most respondents insisted that young refugees should be taught the Polish curriculum, and not the one specifically adapted for Ukrainians.  

Asked about the reasons for their negative attitudes toward Ukrainian refugees, respondents cited Ukrainians’ supposed entitlement and a “lack of gratitude for help,” as well as the “Eastern mentality [and] Soviet culture,” which manifests itself in the lack of concern for the common good. Poles complained that Ukrainian refugees appear to believe that “they deserve everything,” and that “everything is due for free,” while demanding “to have the same rights as Poles.” 

Only 17% of respondents said they had no issue with Ukrainian refugees settling in Poland permanently, while 61% said they wanted them to go back to their country once hostilities there are over.  

The same study showed that the number of Poles strongly in favor of providing aid to Kiev has declined from 62% in January 2023 to 31% at present.  

Some 72% of respondents told the pollster that Poland should put its own national interests first despite the difficulties experienced by its neighbor.  

Similar trends were evident in another survey from January cited by Rzeczpospolita earlier this year. The media outlet, citing police data, also reported at the time that the influx of Ukrainian refugees had resulted in a spike in crime.


Tue, 18 Jun 2024 14:10:59 +0000 RT
NATO country drafts emergency law to stop migrants – reports /news/599493-finland-law-russia-border/ Finland’s Constitutional Law Committee has approved a proposal that would block asylum seekers from entering the country from Russia
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Finland’s Constitutional Law Committee has proposed legislation that would turn away asylum seekers coming across its eastern frontier

Finland’s Constitutional Law Committee has approved a draft emergency law that would block asylum seekers from entering the country across the border with Russia, Finnish media outlets reported on Tuesday.

Finland, which joined NATO last year, closed its eastern land border in November after more than 1,300 asylum seekers – primarily from Africa and the Middle East – reportedly crossed over from Russian territory during a four-month period.

In response to the jump in arrivals, the ruling coalition proposed a draft law that would allow border guards to turn back migrants trying to enter from Russia without processing their asylum applications. Critics of the bill argued that such a measure would be in breach of the country’s international human rights commitments.

On Tuesday, the Constitutional Law Committee ruled that the legislation can be enacted as an “exceptional law,” according to the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

The committee admitted that although the draft document conflicts with Finland’s binding human rights obligations, it is necessary due to “serious danger” to “the rule of law and national security” of the country, the newspaper wrote. The draft law was approved by a vote of 15-2, according to the outlet.

The committee’s decision was “based on classified information that cannot be shared publicly,” one of its members told the Helsingin Sanomat.

The bill would allow the border authorities to turn back asylum seekers from Russia with or without force, although it would not apply to children or disabled people.

The two committee members who voted against the draft law, Fatim Diarra of the Green Party and Anna Kontula of the Left Alliance, both Finnish MPs, argued that enacting such a law would contradict international agreements.

To take effect, the bill has to pass with a five-sixths majority in the parliament and be signed off on by the president.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 14:01:27 +0000 RT
Italy could arm Kiev with long-range weaponry – media /news/599483-italy-missiles-supply-ukraine/ Italy could donate to Kiev long-range Storm Shadow missiles capable of hitting Russian soil, Il Fatto Quotidiano has reported
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The Storm Shadow cruise missiles being considered for delivery are potentially capable of striking deep inside Russia

Italy is mulling transferring long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Kiev, the news outlet Il Fatto Quotidiano reported on Tuesday, citing sources within the Defense Ministry.

Storm Shadows, or SCALP as the French version of the same weapon is called, have a range of up to 560km and are potentially capable of hitting targets within Russia far beyond the front line.

According to the report, the missiles will be included in the country’s ninth arms package for Ukraine, which Italy’s Defense Minister Guido Crosetto will present to the parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic for approval by the end of the month. The package will also reportedly include the SAMP/T surface-based air defense system, as well as artillery and Stinger surface-to-air missiles. The package is expected to be finalized ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Washington, which kicks off on July 9.

The transfer of long-range weapons to Kiev would indicate a hawkish turn in Rome’s stance toward the Ukraine conflict. While Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has long been a staunch supporter of Kiev, her government previously balked at allowing Ukraine to use its weapons for strikes deep inside Russia. Last month, both Crosetto and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani ruled out the use of Italian-supplied weapons on Russian territory, saying that it was prohibited under the country’s constitution. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini warned earlier this month that Rome would completely stop providing Ukraine with weaponry unless it received assurances that its arms are not used for strikes within Russia.

The UK and France have already provided dozens of Storm Shadows to Ukraine, some of which have been used to strike targets deeper in Russia, Yuri Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of strategic industries, revealed last month.

The list of Italian weapons supplied to Ukraine has been classified. However, in late May, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps told The Times that Rome had been supplying Kiev with Storm Shadows alongside London and Paris, particularly for use against Crimea.

The Ukrainian leadership has been pressuring NATO countries in recent weeks to supply more critical weapons and allow them to be used against targets in Russia. Several NATO states, such as the UK, Poland and Latvia, have said they have no objections to Ukrainian strikes within Russia. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden have also said Ukraine was allowed to target Russian positions, albeit those close to the front.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Moscow would consider arming the adversaries of Western nations that give Ukraine the means to carry out strikes on Russian soil.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 13:29:34 +0000 RT
Zelensky introduces arms training for high school students /russia/599492-zelensky-school-arms-training/ A new law aims to prepare Ukrainian citizens for “national resistance,” according to an explanatory note attached to the bill
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A new law aims to prepare Ukrainian citizens for “national resistance,” according to an explanatory note attached to the bill

Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky has signed a new law that introduces mandatory combined arms training for high school students and those attending higher education institutions in the country, according to a publication on the Verkhovnaya Rada’s website.

The bill was initially introduced in March. In May, Rada MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak reported that the Ukrainian parliament had adopted it. On Monday, a notice appeared under the website of the bill that it had been returned with Zelensky’s signature.

Under the new legislation, the training will be conducted as part of a new course developed in conjunction with the Defense Ministry, aimed at preparing citizens for “national resistance,” according to the explanatory note attached to the bill.

“The law is aimed at improving the system of combined arms training, which is carried out by studying the subject ‘Defense of Ukraine,’” the note reads.

Previously, the Rada published information outlining six modules featured in the new curriculum, which includes terrain orientation, shooting training, drone control skills, and various forms and methods of information warfare.

The introduction of initial combat training for school and university students comes as the Ukrainian military struggles to replenish its ranks after suffering heavy casualties in the conflict with Russia, prompting Kiev to ramp up its mobilization efforts.

In April, Zelensky signed a law lowering the conscription age in Ukraine from 27 to 25, expanded the powers of enlistment officers, and introduced severe penalties for draft dodgers. He has also been urging citizens who have fled the country to avoid the draft to come back home.

In May, Zelensky approved legislation that provides a way for the military to draft certain prisoners, offering them parole if they enlist. According to the Washington Post, nearly 3,000 criminals, including those jailed for drugs, theft, armed assault, and murder, have already joined the army since the law was signed. Ukrainian Justice Minister Denis Maliuska told the outlet he expects at least 4,000 convicts to be drafted in the first round of recruitment.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 13:17:45 +0000 RT
EU fears French snap vote could undermine aid for Kiev – Bloomberg /news/599477-eu-france-ukraine-military-aid/ The EU fears snap elections in France could jeopardize aid for Kiev and extra joint EU military spending, Bloomberg has said
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Early legislative elections also cast uncertainty over extra EU defense spending, the outlet has said

EU governments are concerned that early elections in France could undermine military aid for Ukraine, including plans to send instructors to train its forces, Bloomberg reported on Monday citing sources familiar with discussions. 

The bloc’s members fear that a snap vote called by French President Emmanuel Macron following his party’s defeat in the European Parliament elections will weaken his role as one of Kiev’s main backers, the outlet said. The plan to send military instructors to Ukraine could also be at risk, the article noted. Concerns are also mounting over additional EU defense spending through collective financing — an idea that Macron has strongly advocated.

The National Rally (NR), associated with Marine Le Pen and currently led by Jordan Bardella, won 31% of the vote – more than double the share of the president’s Renaissance party, at 14.6%.

If the NR wins a majority in the French legislative election – to be held in two rounds on June 30 and July 7 – President Macron will have to spend the remainder of his presidency, until 2027, with a political opponent as prime minister, and will effectively lose control over domestic policy.

Macron has been a leading proponent of deeper NATO involvement in the Ukraine conflict, calling for a coalition of countries to send military trainers to Ukraine. He has also said that the bloc’s members should not rule out deploying ground troops at some point.

However, a National Rally prime minister “would have totally antagonistic positions from Emmanuel Macron on European issues, Russia, Ukraine, European defense but also climate change,” a political scientist at Sciences Po university, Gilles Ivaldi, told Bloomberg. “Given France’s role in Europe, it would be a weakening of Europe.”

The French president, an ardent advocate of aiding and arming Ukraine in the conflict with Russia, has been accused by former long-time NR leader Le Pen of “playing politics with war” and “hijacking” the hostilities to promote his electoral agenda.

Macron’s pledge to send fighter jets to Kiev will also remain in limbo, according to Bloomberg. The French leader announced that Paris would supply Mirage 2000 fighter jets and train Ukrainian pilots on them just two days before he dissolved parliament.

People familiar with the matter told the outlet that uncertainty is also looming over Macron’s promise to send €3 billion ($3.2 billion) in aid to Ukraine, and that the funding will depend on the election results.

Moscow has long condemned the West for providing military aid to Kiev, and warned against sending foreign military personnel to Ukraine, which it has said would be considered legitimate targets for attack.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 13:13:21 +0000 RT
WATCH Russian missile destroy US-made armored vehicle /russia/599487-russian-missile-us-vehicle-ukraine/ Russian troops have destroyed a Ukrainian US-made M113 armored personnel carrier, according to a video released on Tuesday
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A Ukrainian-operated M113 APC was blown up near the town of Svatovo, according to the Defense Ministry

The Russian military has published a video that it claims shows a successful attack against a US-made armored personal carrier used by Ukrainian forces.

The footage was reportedly filmed near the Donbass town of Svatovo. It includes the moment a 9K111 Fagot anti-tank missile was launched by Russian forces, followed by apparent drone confirmation of the hit on an American-made M113. The vehicle operated by Ukrainian troops was badly damaged and could not be identified by the video alone.

The Defense Ministry said that in addition to the M113, a Ukrainian fixed position was hit in the same operation.

The 9K111 Fagot is among the older and simpler weapons in the Russian arsenal, and has been in service since the 1970s. It uses wire-guided rockets fired from their tube containers mounted on a man-portable launch post, similar to the American BGM-71 TOW system.

The gunner needs to keep sight of the target until the projectile reaches it. This can become a test of resolve if the enemy spots the attack in time to fire back, a Russian military instructor explained in another video published earlier this week.

The standard Fagot missile has a range of 2,000 meters and travels about 200 meters per second, which can make the window of opportunity relatively long. An anti-tank crew usually changes position after every launch.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry showed experimental use of a heavy drone with what appeared to be a Fagot tube mounted at its top. The weapon was fired from both land and air, but apparently was not guided during the tests.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 12:40:19 +0000 RT
US state sues Pfizer over ‘misleading’ Covid-19 vaccine claims /news/599490-kansas-lawsuit-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine/ Kansas has filed a lawsuit against Pfizer over alleged “misleading claims” associated with the pharmaceutical giant’s Covid-19 vaccine
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The company hid evidence linking its shots to heart inflammation conditions, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach has claimed

The US state of Kansas has initiated legal action against Pfizer over “misleading claims” that the pharmaceutical giant allegedly made regarding its Covid-19 vaccine’s effectiveness and the risks associated with it.

Several manufacturers began developing Covid-19 vaccines in the months after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared a pandemic in March 2020. Governments across the world subsequently began mandating inoculation. According to federal data, more than 366 million doses of Pfizer’s original coronavirus vaccine were administered in the US alone.

On Monday, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach filed a lawsuit claiming that Pfizer had deliberately hidden evidence linking the vaccine to myocarditis and pregnancy complications.

“Pfizer made multiple misleading statements to deceive the public about its vaccine at a time when Americans needed the truth,” Kobach said in a statement.

In June 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning with respect to Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines about the elevated risk of myocarditis and pericarditis, both rare heart inflammation conditions.

According to the attorney general’s complaint, the US pharmaceutical company had also mendaciously claimed that its shots were effective while being aware that the protection the vaccine provided against the virus grew weaker over time and was not enough to fend off certain Covid-19 strains.

Kobach also argued that Pfizer misleadingly asserted that its vaccine prevented coronavirus transmission, even though the company later acknowledged that it had never actually studied this aspect.

Moreover, Kobach accused the pharmaceutical company of cooperating with social media to “censor speech critical” of Covid-19 vaccines. The lawsuit charged that Pfizer’s alleged misleading statements constituted a violation of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. The state is now seeking unspecified monetary damages.

The Hill quoted a company representative as saying that the lawsuit has “no merit” and insisting that the “representations made by Pfizer about its COVID-19 vaccine have been accurate and science-based.”

Last November, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a similar lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant, accusing it of “unlawfully misrepresenting the effectiveness of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine and attempting to censor public discussion of the product.”

Earlier this month, Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit released a study indicating that medical professionals and drug recipients reported “serious injuries and deaths following vaccination” according to “various official databases.” According to researchers, “suspected” adverse events associated with inoculation may have contributed to excess mortality in 47 countries between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 12:39:09 +0000 RT
NATO top job favorite agrees to make concession to Orban – media /news/599489-nato-hopeful-rutte-concession-orban/ Dutch Prime Minister and NATO top job hopeful Mark Rutte has reportedly made a deal with Hungary’s Viktor Orban in exchange for backing
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Budapest previously said it would veto Mark Rutte’s candidacy over his remarks about Hungary’s government

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who hopes to become NATO’s next secretary general, has made a deal with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban in exchange for the latter’s endorsement of his appointment, according to media reports.

On Monday, Rutte and Orban met at an EU summit in Brussels, after which the Dutch politician said he was “cautiously optimistic” that Hungary would drop opposition to his appointment, AFP reported.

The two men talked on the sidelines of an EU leaders dinner on Monday night, according to Financial Times.

Rutte’s candidacy has been backed by 29 out of 32 NATO member states. The mandate of the current secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, expires on October 1. His replacement must have the unanimous support of all the bloc’s members.

Budapest previously threatened to veto Rutte’s appointment due to comments he made regarding Hungary’s domestic policies. In 2021, Rutte denounced Orban’s anti-LGBT legislation, saying Hungary “has no business being in the European Union anymore.” He added at the time that “the long-term aim” was to “bring Hungary to its knees” on the issue.

Earlier this year, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Budapest “certainly couldn’t support the election of a person… who previously wanted to force Hungary on its knees.”

Viktor Orban reportedly said earlier this month he would drop his objections if Rutte apologized for his comments.

The Hungarian leader has also been a vocal critic of the bloc’s stance on Ukraine and of the policy of sending military aid to the country to help it fight Russia. In May, he threatened to “redefine” Hungary’s NATO membership. Last week Stoltenberg assured Orban that Hungary could opt out of the bloc’s Ukraine-related policies and that it would not be forced to participate in military action outside NATO territory.

Orban did not seek an apology, according to the AFP account of the meeting. Rutte made it clear that he had taken note of the “societal reaction” to his 2021 comments, the agency added.

Hungary’s prime minister reportedly told the NATO chief hopeful that he would back him if Rutte agreed to stick by the arrangement offered by Stoltenberg. Rutte promised that he would, Financial Times said.

“If he’s ready to support [the deal], we can go for it,” Orban said, as quoted by AFP.

Another country that had been opposed to Rutte’s candidacy, Slovakia, reportedly signaled its support on Tuesday.

Romania, whose president Klaus Iohannis has campaigned for the NATO top job, has yet to publicly back Rutte.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 11:56:35 +0000 RT
India vows to ‘root out’ terrorism /india/599486-india-vows-to-root-out/ New Delhi will implement stringent anti-terrorism measures in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of increased attacks
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The home minister has ordered ‘zero terror’ plans to be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of increased attacks

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah has instructed security agencies to take stringent actions against terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, a region disputed by New Delhi and Islamabad, following recent terrorist attacks that targeted both military personnel and civilians.

On Sunday, Shah chaired a high-level meeting with security agencies, taking stock of security arrangements in the Jammu district ahead of the annual Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage, a Hindu religious event in the region that attracts hundreds of thousands.

India’s fight against terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is in its “decisive phase” and the government “will leave no stone unturned in rooting out terrorism” from the region, Shah said.

The home minister directed security agencies to replicate ‘Area Domination Plan’ and ‘Zero Terror Plan’ used earlier in the Kashmir district to address terrorism in Jammu, according to an official statement from the ministry. India Today reported, citing sources, that Shah called for robust security for the pilgrimage and urged officials to ensure the safety of all routes and key locations.

Shah’s comments come amid a recent surge in terrorist attacks in Jammu, including an attack on a bus carrying pilgrims that killed nine people last week.

The attack was timed with recently reelected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi. After the attack, Modi asked officials to deploy the “full spectrum of counter-terror capabilities.”

While the intensity of attacks and infiltration attempts have reduced significantly in the past years, according to New Delhi, there has been a rise in terrorist activity in various districts in recent weeks.

Jammu and Kashmir has been at the center of a border dispute between India and Pakistan since their independence from the British Empire in 1947.

Kashmir was the site of several major wars between the neighboring nations and sporadic military clashes continue, despite a ceasefire along the Line of Control and International Border, agreed upon in February 2021.

After the Modi-led government in 2019 abolished Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special rights to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and the state was reorganized into two union territories, the already fragile ties between New Delhi and Islamabad worsened.

While India’s Supreme Court upheld the revocation of Article 370 last year, it also directed that statehood in Jammu and Kashmir be restored and legislative assembly elections be held by the end of September this year.

Jammu and Kashmir recorded its highest voter turnout in several decades during the recent general elections. Both the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) bloc, which won the elections, and the opposition INDIA alliance linked the higher-than-expected voter turnout to the revocation of Article 370. The territory has remained without an elected government since 2018.

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Tue, 18 Jun 2024 11:31:40 +0000 RT
Tanzania opens first hazard warning center /africa/599482-tanzania-launches-hazard-warning-center/ Tanzania has opened the first Emergency Operation and Communication Center for predicting floods and droughts
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The facility will be a significant asset in predicting disasters like floods and droughts, the prime minister’s office has said

The Emergency Operation and Communication Center (EOCC) Situation Room opened on Friday in Dodoma, Tanzania under the Africa Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Early Action System (AMHEWAS) program sponsored by the African Union.

Jim J. Yonazi, Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office for Policy, Parliament, and Coordination, said that the situation room will significantly aid Tanzania in predicting various types of disasters, including floods and droughts.

“This is very important for us to be able to plan strategies, on how we can prevent [crises], but again if it happens, how to recover, and again how to provide more information to stakeholders on how to bring life back together,” he explained.

Kamal Kishore, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said that the opening of the center “is an important milestone, the output, the synthetic outputs that will come out of this situation room will help us prepare communities on the ground to take anticipatory actions and protect lives and livelihoods.”

The event was welcomed by supporters of the EOCC Situation Room, including the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), which provided two years of technical support for its establishment. The effort was made in partnership with the International Center for Environmental Monitoring CIMA Research Foundation and funded by the Government of Italy through the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).

Last week, the UNDRR Regional Office for Africa conducted a workshop to train officials on using an open-source system for real-time natural hazard monitoring and forecasting. This system will be utilized in the situation room to issue advisories, facilitating prompt early action.

Research by UNDRR indicates that countries with advanced multi-hazard early warning systems experience disaster mortality rates six times lower than those with no or weak systems. Furthermore, an early warning of just 24 hours can potentially reduce resulting damages by 30%. According to UNDRR’s 2023 report on the Global Status of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems, only 45% of African countries report having such systems.

Between 2021 and 2022, the initial centers of the network were established: three situation rooms dedicated to forecasting, analyzing, monitoring, and responding to hydrometeorological risks, including a regional center, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Disaster Operation Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, and two continental centers, the Continental Situation Room in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the Multi-Hazard Early Warning Advisory Centre in Niamey, Niger.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe plans to launch its second satellite, ZimSat-2, in November, which will be equipped with advanced sensors and imaging devices, supporting applications such as environmental hazard monitoring, and drought management.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 11:25:12 +0000 RT
Hackers expose Ukrainian ‘drone pilots’ /russia/599485-hackers-ukrainian-drone-pilots/ A self-described pro-Russian hacker team has published what it claims to be a database of Ukrainian military drone pilots
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Purported details have been published of military personnel involved in operations against Russia

A hacker group has leaked a purported database of more than 1,000 Ukrainian military personnel, including drone pilots allegedly linked to attacks on civilian targets.

The list was revealed on Tuesday by a group calling itself ‘Russian angry hackers did it’ (RaHDit). It includes profiles of over 1,100 people who are allegedly part of Kiev’s robotic aircraft forces, described as “those who drop grenades from the sky on our guys, give targets to artillery, and strike civilians in the deep rear.”

The entries include images, phone numbers, home addresses, serial numbers of identification documents, email addresses, links to social media pages, and other kinds of personal information.

Roughly half of the doxxed individuals are allegedly members of the 383rd Remotely Controlled Aircraft Regiment. RaHDit claims it obtained an entire list of personnel from the unit. The roster is male-dominated, but women supposedly serving in the 383rd are also named, including a cook and a medic.

The unit is notable for its suspected role in attempted strikes with Soviet-era Tu-141 Strizh drones in the early phase of the Ukraine conflict. Kiev converted several of the large fixed wing reconnaissance aircraft into long-range kamikaze drones. Infamously, one of them crashed in central Zagreb, Croatia in March 2022, although the NATO nation’s leadership declined to directly blame Kiev.

The 383rd was also responsible for an attack on an airfield in Ryazan Region in December 2022, in which three Russian military personnel were killed and seven others injured, according to Russian investigators, as reported by Kommersant last year. Another episode in the same criminal case happened in October 2022 and involved a weaponized UJ-22 Airborne drone that unsuccessfully targeted an airfield in Kaluga Region.

Colonel Sergey Burdenyuk, the Ukrainian regiment’s commander, is currently wanted in Russia after a court issued an arrest warrant against him in absentia. His profile is among those published by the hacker team.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 11:14:53 +0000 RT
Sky News misreports Putin’s North Korea arrival /russia/599484-sky-news-misreports-putin-korea/ The British news outlet reported that the Russian president had already landed in Pyongyang while showing footage from the city of Yakutsk
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The British broadcaster claimed the Russian president had already landed in Pyongyang while showing footage from the city of Yakutsk

Sky News erroneously announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin has already landed in North Korea during its morning broadcast on Tuesday. The channel showed footage of the Russian leader disembarking his plane in the Russian city of Yakutsk while claiming that the pictures were from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. 

The British outlet also published a post on X claiming that Putin had already touched down in North Korea, although that message has since been deleted. The TV broadcast has also stopped claiming that Putin is already in Pyongyang.  

While Putin is indeed scheduled to travel to North Korea on Tuesday for what will be his first visit to the country since 2000, he is first holding several meetings in the Siberian city of Yakutsk. 

According to the Kremlin, Putin is expected to travel to Pyongyang later in the day, where he will stay until Wednesday. After that, the president will travel to Vietnam. 

In North Korea, the Russian leader is scheduled to meet with his counterpart Kim Jong-un and take part in talks on a wide range of issues, including the economy, security, and international affairs. 

The two sides are also set to close a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, according to the Kremlin, which stated that the signing of the deal will take place “at the highest level.” According to Putin’s foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov, the treaty will “outline the prospects for further cooperation” between Moscow and Pyongyang and will be aimed at ensuring greater stability in Northeast Asia.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 11:08:34 +0000 RT
West won’t host next Ukraine ‘peace conference’ – Switzerland /news/599476-swiss-diplomat-next-ukraine-conference-west/ Gabriel Luechinger, the Swiss diplomat behind the last weekend’s Ukraine summit, says the next meeting won’t be held in the West
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China was conspicuously absent from last weekend’s summit, with multiple Global South nations refusing to sign the final communique

The next conference on the Ukraine conflict will not take place in the West, Swiss Ambassador Gabriel Luechinger has stated. The senior diplomat, who helped organize last weekend’s gathering at Switzerland’s Burgenstock Resort, indicated that discussions with potential hosts are already underway.

In the run-up to the event, a number of nations declined to attend, with China announcing that it would not be sending representatives to Switzerland. Beijing argued that the absence of Russia at the conference would make any discussions futile – an assertion echoed by several countries.

Moscow stated in March that it would not attend even if invited, as it would likely be based on Vladimir Zelensky’s ‘peace formula’, which Russia considers to be unrealistic and an ultimatum.

In an interview with Swiss broadcaster SRF on Monday, Luechinger said: “What is clear is that the next peace summit will not be in Europe, and will not take place in the West.” The senior diplomat revealed that several nations had been approached at the conference regarding a potential role in organizing the next summit.

“It is now up to them to decide,” he added. “In the next weeks, I think, things will start moving.”

Asked whether Saudi Arabia could host a meeting, Luechinger hinted that it could be an option, without going into detail.

He also stressed that “Russia should be integrated in the peace process in some way.”

While Ukraine has touted the conference at the Burgenstock Resort as a success, around a dozen countries that took part in the talks did not sign the final communique, including India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the UAE, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, Jordan, and Iraq.

The document did not include many of the key points of Kiev’s ‘peace formula’. It called for the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant to be transferred under Ukrainian control, as well as unrestricted access to ports in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, and the release of all prisoners of war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday that Moscow “wants to get together next time at a more substantive and promising event.”

Last Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined the conditions for a ceasefire, which include the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from all territories claimed by Moscow, as well as the renunciation of Kiev’s NATO aspirations.

The Ukrainian government and its Western backers have dismissed the proposal, calling it an ultimatum.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 10:13:09 +0000 RT
‘Blood on your dress’: Instagram users trash Adele over Russian couture /pop-culture/599474-adele-russian-dress-hate-speech/ Netizens have slammed singer Adele for wearing a dress designed by a Russian fashion house at her latest concert
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The pop star wore an outfit from the Valentin Yudashkin fashion house for a performance in Las Vegas

Social media users have hit out at pop star Adele after she wore a dress designed by Russian fashion house Valentin Yudashkin at a concert in Las Vegas.

The dress, which featured a full skirt and form-fitting bodice, overlaid with black chiffon and hand-embroidered with flowers, was created under the guidance of Galina Yudashkina, daughter of the revered late Russian designer Valentin Yudashkin.

The singer posted several pictures from the concert on her Instagram page within hours of the concert, earning compliments from many fans who described her as looking “gorgeous.”

However, the tone of the reaction changed after the Russian origin of the outfit was revealed. The comments section was flooded with hate-speech and threats as Adele was accused of supporting Russia in its “bloody, illegal and genocidal war on Ukraine.”

Several users claimed the dress was “covered in blood of Ukrainian children,” attacking the singer for her “poor” choice when she could have chosen “any designer in the world.”

“So next time up are you going to wear a Russian military uniform?” one user asked, referring to the late Yudashkin’s participation in designing uniforms for the Russian armed forces. Some Instagram users compared Adele’s choice of brand to wearing outfits by German designer Hugo Boss during World War 2.

The post had received roughly 7,000 comments at the time of writing – around two-thirds of which were derisory. A similar thing happened on the singer’s Twitter account, where she also posted footage from the concert. Adele has so far not commented on the reaction.

The Valentin Yudashkin fashion house praised the singer in a Telegram post, describing her collaboration as “a special day” for the company.

Fashion icon Valentin Yudashkin died of cancer at the age of 59 in May last year. He was a prominent figure in Russia, having dressed numerous leading public figures and pop icons.

Yudashkin also designed outfits for Russian Olympic athletes as well as the national football team. He had a hand in the development of uniforms for the Russian army, but later complained that the actual outfits worn by soldiers had undergone too many changes from his original vision.

The late designer’s fashion house owns a network of boutiques, and has taken part in numerous haute couture shows worldwide. Last month, Chinese actress Elaine Zhong donned a Valentin Yudashkin dress at the Cannes Film Festival.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 10:13:02 +0000 RT
Moscow comments on reports of Indians and Sri Lankans fighting in Ukraine conflict /india/599480-moscow-comments-indians-ukraine/ Moscow is in touch with New Delhi, Colombo on the issue of their nationals reportedly involved in the military operation
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Russia’s foreign ministry has said it is in constant touch with New Delhi and Colombo?

The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday said its missions in India and Sri Lanka have been in constant contact with external affairs officials in New Delhi and Colombo over the involvement of their citizens in Russia’s military operation against Ukraine. According to the ministry, comments have been “repeatedly provided” to the diplomatic mission of the two countries in Moscow. 

“Russia’s foreign missions in New Delhi and Colombo have also regularly informed and continue to keep the Indian and Sri Lankan foreign ministries updated on all changes and noteworthy details on this issue,” the ministry said, noting that specific details of the matter are available with the Russia Ministry of Defense. 

The statement comes in the wake of New Delhi’s recent announcement that two of its nationals had been killed in the conflict zone. 

The country’s foreign ministry said it was seeking the “early release and return” of all Indian nationals who are believed to be fighting alongside the armed forces of Russia. At the same time, it also urged citizens to “exercise caution” while “seeking employment opportunities in Russia.”

Earlier this year India’s top investigative agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), uncovered a human trafficking ring that brought young Indians to Russia with the promise of lucrative employment opportunities. CBI announced in March that it had conducted raids in a number of locations across India and initiated legal proceedings against several visa consultancy firms and agents implicated in the scheme. 

A spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said at that time that action had been initiated against “agents and unscrupulous elements who recruited [people] on false pretexts and promises.”

Media reports in India previously claimed that Indians from various states had been allegedly lured to Russia on the promise of well-paid jobs. The agent responsible for recruitment reportedly charged each individual a hefty 350,000 rupees ($4,230) for facilitating their travel to Russia.

The reports, as well as the details of CBI’s crackdown on the human trafficking network, emerged after the tragic death of 30-year-old Mohammed Afsan from Hyderabad, who was allegedly misled by agents in India into traveling to Russia and signing a contract with the Russian military. 

In May, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, answering a question on reports of Indians being deployed to the zone of military operation, stated that Russian authorities have not been “recruiting” Indian citizens.

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Tue, 18 Jun 2024 09:48:30 +0000 RT
Crossing Moscow’s red line ‘permissible’ – Austria /news/599475-austria-striking-russia-permissible/ It is legal for Ukraine to attack targets in Russia with donated Western weapons, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has said
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Chancellor Karl Nehammer has dismissed a warning from his own defense minister on striking Russia

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer does not perceive the decision by NATO nations to allow Kiev to use their weapons against Russia outside of what they consider Ukrainian territory as a cause for concern.

Speaking with the NZZ media group, Neuhammer said he disagreed with Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner, who said earlier this month that the US and its allies had crossed a “red line” by granting Ukraine such permission.

The interview with Nehammer was published on Monday, after his liberal-conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP) lost convincingly to the nationalist Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) in this month’s European Parliament election.

The chancellor said the debate on use of Western arms had gone “in the wrong political direction” in a shameful way. His stance is that “under international law, such attacks on Russia are permissible.” Moscow could withdraw troops and see Western military aid to Kiev “automatically reduced,” he said.

The previous restriction on Ukraine’s use of US weapons was imposed by President Joe Biden to prevent World War III.” According to the media, Washington relaxed it and allowed limited strikes on Russia’s Belgorod Region due to Russian advances in neighboring Kharkov Region. Multiple NATO nations have made similar policy changes regarding arms that they donate to Ukraine.

The Austrian foreign minister said that while she perceived that as escalatory, “as a militarily neutral state, it is not our place to judge.” Tanner added that she was happy to hear assurances by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that members of the US-led bloc will not be required to send troops to Ukraine.

Moscow has described the Ukraine conflict as part of a proxy war on Russia, in which Ukrainians serve as “cannon fodder.” Western nations are de facto participating parties due to the level of their involvement and the influence they have on Ukrainian actions, according to Russian officials.

President Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia could send weapon systems similar to those provided to Ukraine to enemies of the US and its allies to be used against Western military assets. This path of escalation leads to an outcome that neither side will like, he warned.

He accused his opponents of spreading “Russian narratives” about Ukraine and declared that unlike centrists, “radicals have no answers and are offering pseudo-solutions,” referring to populist forces surging across the EU.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 09:41:50 +0000 RT
Schoolkids to study housekeeping in Russia /russia/599479-huisekeeping-schools-family-values-russia/ A school course in family studies is set to be introduced in Russia, as the government strives to promote traditional values
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The lessons will be part of a family studies course starting in the new academic year

A course in family studies for school children, which includes housekeeping, is set to be introduced in Russia, Kommersant newspaper has reported. A study plan will soon be distributed to schools across the country.

The proposal to include family studies in the school education program was first put forward last year by the State Duma Family Committee, in line with the government’s push to promote traditional values. In April, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova confirmed that Family Studies would be introduced as part of extracurricular classes for high-school children from September.

The study plan consists of five sections, according to Irina Uskova, a representative of the state-run Institute for Education Development Strategy, the body tasked with developing the course. She presented the plan at a round table at the Civic Chamber, a civil society institution that has consultative powers, Kommersant wrote.

The first section is titled “Man, Family and Society,” and focuses on the purpose of the family, the outlet cited Uskova as saying. The second section, “My relatives, so similar and so different,” looks at the history of the family and explores relationships within a family, such as ties between grandchildren and grandparents. Other sections detail the basics of housekeeping, good family atmosphere, and family law.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said children and family values were of the utmost importance for both society and government. In February, he called on all levels of government, civil society, and religious institutions to work together to make large families the social norm.

The government’s push to promote family values comes as the birth rate in Russia has been steadily falling since 2014, and plunged to its lowest level since the turn of the century in 2023. According to a recent study, the trend could translate into a significant decline in the population and lead to various problems for the economy.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 09:41:21 +0000 RT
Five parties to form new South African government /africa/599471-five-parties-form-south-african-unity-government/ The African National Congress party says South Africa’s Government of National Unity will have 273 seats in the National Assembly
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The coalition will have 273 seats in the National Assembly, and will be led by the African National Congress

South Africa has officially formed a Government of National Unity (GNU), made up of five parties, and talks with other political groups are ongoing, the long-ruling African National Congress (ANC) announced on Monday.

The decision to form an alliance with other political parties came after the ANC lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since coming to power in 1994, following the end of Apartheid. It received 40% of the vote in last month’s elections, securing 159 seats in the 400-member assembly, down from 230 in the previous election.

“The GNU emerged as the optimal approach to defend and advance our vision of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, and prosperous South Africa,” the ANC said in a statement.

ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa secured a second term as South African president on Friday after the party struck a late coalition agreement with long-time rival the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Two smaller parties – the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the right-wing Patriotic Alliance (PA) – have also joined the ANC-led coalition government, which former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) faction has labeled “meaningless” and an “unholy alliance.”

On Monday, the ANC announced that another smaller party, GOOD, which draws support from the colored community, as mixed-race people are known in South Africa, had also signed the “statement of intent” to participate in the GNU.

The center-right DA, which draws support from the white minority, won 87 seats in the May 29 election; the IFP has 17, PA has nine, and GOOD won just one seat. This group, including the ANC, represents 273 seats in the National Assembly, or 68%, the ruling party stated.

“The GNU will ensure representation in government and legislatures by all participating parties, making decisions by consensus, with mechanisms for conflict resolution where necessary,” according to the ANC.

“The president will exercise the prerogative to appoint the cabinet, in consultation with leaders of GNU parties, adhering to existing protocols on government decision-making and budgeting,” it added.

According to the ANC, the new government will focus on rapid, inclusive, and long-term economic growth, job creation, land reform, industrialization, and infrastructure development.

Meanwhile, Zuma’s MK party and the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have declared that they will not be part of the GNU and will instead join the “Progressive Caucus,” an alliance that holds close to 30% of the seats in the National Assembly, to coordinate opposition to the government.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 09:20:49 +0000 RT
Russian warships launch exercises in Far East (VIDEO) /russia/599472-russia-pacific-fleet-navy-drills/ Russia’s Pacific Fleet has launched naval exercises in the Far East involving 40 warships and 20 aircraft and helicopters
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Dozens of navy vessels, aircraft, and helicopters will take part in the drills, the Defense Ministry has said

Russia’s Pacific Fleet is deploying forces as part of planned exercises in the Far East. The drills will involve dozens of vessels, aircraft, and helicopters, the Defense Ministry reported on Monday.  

According to a statement, the Pacific Fleet’s Primorsky Flotilla will conduct maneuvers with the joint command of troops and forces in the northeast of Russia. Marine corps units and combat crews tasked with manning the Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems will also take part.  

Russian sailors will train in repelling attacks by UAVs and unmanned boats, as well as conducting combat training exercises, anti-submarine operations, and launching joint missile strikes against naval groups of a mock enemy, the ministry said.  

Around 40 warships, boats, and support vessels and about 20 naval aircraft and helicopters will participate in the drills, which will take place between June 18 and 28, the Defense Ministry revealed.   

The exercises will be conducted in the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, and the Sea of Okhotsk under the leadership of the commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Viktor Liina.  

Last week, a four-vessel task force from the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet sailed into Havana, Cuba, on a long-range expedition intended to “show the flag” and “ensure a naval presence in operationally important areas,” according to the Defense Ministry.

Leading the group was the missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov, along with the Yasen-class nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, two of Russia’s most modern naval assets. The Russian flotilla, which also includes the oil tanker Pashin and the salvage tug Nikolay Chiker, reached Cuba last Wednesday.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 09:16:51 +0000 RT
Russia and North Korea to sign strategic partnership treaty /russia/599478-russia-north-korea-sign-strategic-treaty/ Vladimir Putin has approved the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement with North Korea
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The Kremlin has said the agreement seeks to boost regional stability and is not directed against third countries

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the draft of a strategic partnership treaty with North Korea, which is expected to be signed during his upcoming visit to Pyongyang.

The Russian leader will begin a two-day state visit to North Korea on Tuesday, which will include a face-to-face meeting with the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, as well as talks on a wide range of issues, including security, the economy, and the international agenda.

Hours before Putin’s scheduled arrival in Pyongyang, Moscow released a presidential decree stating that it accepts “the proposal of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the signing of… Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.”

The signing of the deal will take place “at the highest level.” The decree also allows the Russian Foreign Ministry to “introduce changes to the draft agreement that are not of a fundamental nature.”

Putin’s foreign policy aide, Yury Ushakov, said on Monday that the treaty will supersede several agreements between the two countries dating back to the Soviet era and the early 2000s.

Ushakov noted that the treaty “will outline the prospects for further cooperation” and will take into account recent developments in relations between Moscow and Pyongyang.

The agreement, he added, “will not be confrontational and directed against any countries, but will be aimed at ensuring greater stability in the North-East Asia region.”

The announcement came after Putin said earlier this month that Russia intends to develop relations with North Korea “whether anyone likes it or not.” In an article for the North Korean daily Rodong Sinmun published on Monday, he also said that Moscow and Pyongyang “will develop alternative trade and mutual settlements mechanisms not controlled by the West, jointly oppose illegitimate unilateral restrictions, and shape the architecture of equal and indivisible security in Eurasia.”

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 09:08:36 +0000 RT
Türkiye warned Russia about potential Moscow terror attack – media /russia/599473-turkey-russia-warning-second-terrorist-attack/ Türkiye warned Russia of a second terrorist attack that was supposed to follow the Crocus City Hall shooting, Hurriyet reports
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ISIS-K planned to target “a crowded shopping mall” after the deadly shooting at the Crocus City Hall, Hurriyet reports

Turkish intelligence warned Russia of a second terrorist attack intended to follow the deadly massacre at the Crocus City Hall outside Moscow this spring, Hurriyet reported on Tuesday.

The attack on the venue took place in late March when a group of armed men – later identified as ethnic Tajiks – stormed the venue ahead of a rock concert, killing 145 people and injuring more than 500 others. It was the deadliest act of terrorism in the country since the early 2000s.

Russian officials said the attack was prepared, financed, and coordinated by the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) terrorist organization, but claimed that the group was used by Ukraine as a proxy. Kiev has denied any involvement.

Hurriyet noted that Türkiye has long been on the lookout for threats posed by ISIS-K. Ankara’s special services also identified and questioned numerous persons of interest in the aftermath of an attack on a Catholic church in Istanbul in late January, establishing contact with the Russian side on the matter.

The paper said two of the culprits who carried out the Crocus City Hall attack had resided in Moscow for a long time and had on numerous occasions briefly entered Türkiye to extend residence permits, adding that Russia was notified of this.

By interrogating the captured ISIS-K members, Türkiye learned that “the terrorist organization had planned a second attack after the first attack on the concert hall,” Hurriyet said, adding that Ankara told Moscow that the organization was planning to target “a crowded shopping mall.”

The head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Aleksandr Bortnikov, previously said that before the Crocus City shooting, Moscow was warned by the US about an impending terrorist attack, but the information was “general” in nature. He said Russia “had taken appropriate measures” to prevent terrorist attacks, noting that they targeted a certain group of individuals, and that “information did not check out at the time.”

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 08:05:06 +0000 RT
Russian oil depot ablaze after drone strike (VIDEOS) /russia/599470-azov-oil-tanks-fire/ Russian officials have reported a serious fire at an oil storage facility in the city of Azov following a drone attack
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The attack on the port city of Azov comes days after a massive Ukrainian raid on the region

A Ukrainian drone attack on the city of Azov in Russia’s Rostov Region caused a major fire at an oil storage facility on Tuesday morning, according to officials.

The incident was first reported by Governor Vasily Golibev, who said nobody had been injured and assured residents that the fire had been contained.

The Emergencies Ministry said around 200 firefighters had been deployed to tackle the blaze, which covered an area of about 3,200 square meters. The ministry released footage showing personnel dealing with the situation.

Unconfirmed reports said residents in Azov had heard four or five explosions early in the morning. The city of over 80,000 is located on the coast of the eponymous sea about 25km west of Rostov-on-Don, the regional capital.

The region itself is relatively close to Kiev-controlled territory and is subjected to regular kamikaze drone raids. Last week, Ukraine targeted the area with a massive wave of robotic aircraft. The Russian Defense Ministry reported shooting down 70 drones overnight.

Ukrainian military officials have claimed they have “no choice” but to target Russian energy infrastructure due to the difficulties that their forces are experiencing on the front line.

The Russian military has been targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure that it perceives as crucial for Kiev’s military capability. According to Ukrainian officials, some 80% of the country’s thermal power plant capacity has been disabled by Russian missile strikes.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 07:40:10 +0000 RT
Brussels ignoring will of voters – Orban /news/599463-brussels-ignores-peoples-will/ Hungary’s prime minister has accused centrists in the EU of ensuring a the will of a growing number of voters is sidelined
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The EU will “continue to support migration” and fund the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Hungarian prime minister has warned

The hopes of EU citizens have been flouted by moves to form a coalition in the EU parliament between the center-right majority party and the socialists and liberals, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday.

Voters across the bloc shifted significantly to the right in parliamentary elections earlier this month, with ruling coalitions in Germany and France being comprehensively trounced by right-wing parties.

Centrist parties retained a majority however, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s European People’s Party (EPP) winning 190 seats. A former German defense minister, she has vowed to keep Brussels on a “pro-Ukraine” path.

The center-right EPP has approached the left-wing Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) with an offer to divide up four major roles, Politico wrote on Monday, citing sources close to the matter. The EPP reportedly wants to secure second terms respectively for von der Leyen as European Commission President, and Roberta Metsola as European Parliament president, and has offered to share the European Council presidency with S&D.

The move prompted a reaction from Orban. “The will of the European people was ignored today in Brussels. The result of the European election is clear: right-wing parties got stronger, the Left and the liberals lost ground. The EPP, on the other hand, instead of listening to the voters, finally teamed up with the socialists and the liberals: today they made a deal and divided the top jobs of the EU among themselves,” the Hungarian PM wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday.

“They don’t care about the will of the European people. We shouldn’t be naive: they will continue to support migration and send even more money and weapons to the Russia-Ukraine war,” the Hungarian leader wrote, calling on people to resist “pro-migration and pro-war bureaucrats.”

European Council President Charles Michel told journalists there had been no agreement reached on the proposed deal, after an informal meeting of European leaders on Monday. However, one diplomat told Politico that the negotiators agreed on three names, and will continue discussions at a later date.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 06:32:25 +0000 RT
Another signatory vanishes from Zelensky’s ‘peace conference’ declaration /news/599462-rwanda-vanishes-zelensky-conference/ Rwanda’s signature has been removed from the final communique of the Swiss-hosted Ukraine ‘peace conference’
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Rwanda’s name has disappeared from the joint document following the Swiss-hosted event

The Swiss organizers of the Ukraine ‘peace conference’ have taken Rwanda’s signature off the event’s final communique, a day after Jordan and Iraq asked for their names to be removed, according to the document published on the Swiss Foreign Affairs Department website.

States that participated in the conference were added to the final communique by default, and needed to opt out not to appear on the document, Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesperson Valentin Clivaz explained.

“In such cases, each delegation participating in the event receives a communique in advance and then, if it objects to its signing, must inform the host country about this,” Clivaz told Russian news agency Sputnik on Monday. “Iraq and Jordan did not specifically state their opposition to this text and were therefore added. They asked to remove their names from the list of signatories after the publication of the final communique, which was done. It was just a coordination problem,” the spokesman said.

Despite being on the list when it was published on Sunday, Rwanda’s signature was also taken off sometime between 7am and 1pm on Monday, according to archived versions of the Swiss Foreign Ministry’s web page.

Only 77 out of the 92 state delegations represented at the event now appear as signatories on its final communique, with Kosovo listed as an independent country. Serbia and a number of other states, including Russia and China, consider Kosovo as Serbian territory.

While some members of the BRICS economic bloc attended, none signed the final document. Russia was not invited to be part of the talks, and had indicated that it would not attend if asked, due to the unacceptable nature of Vladimir Zelensky’s “peace formula.”

The communique laid out what it described as a “common vision,” shared by the signatories, with the talks and the document “based on Ukraine’s peace formula.” The listed states agreed on their commitment to peace, and called for the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant to be transferred to Ukrainian control, unrestricted access to ports in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, and the release of all prisoners of war.

Last Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was willing to order a ceasefire and start peace talks as soon as Ukraine fulfills several conditions. Crucially, Kiev must give any up claims to all five formerly Ukrainian regions which have voted to join Russia, withdraw troops from these territories, formally drop its NATO bid, and guarantee it will not build up its military forces.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 02:41:51 +0000 RT
Ukraine must defeat Russia to join NATO – US /news/599461-ukraine-defeat-russia-for-nato/ Kiev has to “win the war” with Moscow to join the US-led military bloc, the White House has said
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Washington is doing everything it can to help Kiev, the national security spokesman has said

In order to become a NATO member, Ukraine has to “win the war” with Russia first, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists at a press briefing on Monday.

US President Joe Biden believes NATO is in Ukraine’s future, but there are “a lot of things that have to be done” before it can join, Kirby said. When a journalist asked him to elaborate on the “vague conditions” and “unclear pathway” Kiev has been given, he claimed that Washington’s position is “absolutely clear.”

“First, they’ve got to win this war,” Kirby said.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure they can do that. Then when the war’s over, no matter what it looks like, they’re still going to have a long border with Russia and a legitimate security threat,” he said. Washington will assist in building up Ukraine’s military industrial base, although “corruption is still a major concern,” Kirby added.

Moscow has warned that it sees the expansion of NATO towards Russia’s borders as an existential threat. President Vladimir Putin said Kiev’s stated intention to join the US-led military bloc was one of the key causes of the ongoing conflict.

Last Friday, the Russian leader named Moscow’s conditions for a ceasefire and the beginning of peace negotiations. The talks can start as soon as Kiev withdraws its troops from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, and cedes its claims to all five former Ukrainian territories that voted to join Russia, including Crimea, he said.

Moscow will not accept a frozen conflict, which would allow the US and its allies to rearm and rebuild the Ukrainian military, Putin stated, adding that Kiev must formally abandon any plans to join NATO.

The supplies of Western weapons to aid Kiev’s war efforts makes the countries providing them a party to the conflict, Moscow has insisted. Further NATO involvement in the conflict risks a direct clash between Moscow and the US-led military bloc, and threatens to expand into a nuclear conflict, the Kremlin has stressed.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 01:26:24 +0000 RT
China should be punished – NATO chief /news/599460-nato-stoltenberg-punishing-china/ NATO’s Stoltenberg calls for imposing a “cost” on China for supplying key components to Russia during Moscow’s conflict with Ukraine
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Jens Stoltenberg has argued that Beijing must pay a price for helping Russia amid the Ukraine crisis

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said China must pay a price for allegedly propping up Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, saying Beijing is “fueling” the conflict by supplying microelectronics and other key components to Moscow.

“The reality is that China is fueling the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II,” Stoltenberg said on Monday in a speech at the Wilson Center in Washington. “At the same time, it wants to maintain good relations with the West. Well, Beijing cannot have it both ways. At some point, unless China changes course, allies need to impose a cost.”

Stoltenberg has repeatedly attacked China since the Ukraine crisis began in February 2022, arguing that Beijing was enabling Russia to fight against Kiev, a “European friend” of NATO. He has made such comments even as NATO states prolonged the conflict by providing hundreds of billions of dollars in economic and military aid to Ukraine.

Monday’s rebuke marked some of his most pointed criticism yet, suggesting that NATO may ramp up sanctions against China. He also called out North Korea and Iran for being supportive of Russia’s defense-industrial complex.

Stoltenberg reiterated an assertion that NATO – a military bloc originally formed against the Soviet Union – needs to get more involved in the Indo-Pacific to counter the “growing alignment between Russia and its authoritarian friends in Asia.” He noted that he invited the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to next month’s NATO summit in Washington to work together on upholding the “international rules-based order.”

China is providing Russia with semiconductors and other key technologies with military applications, including parts needed to make missiles and tanks, Stoltenberg said. He added that Beijing also has supplied Russia with improved satellite and imaging capabilities. “All of this enables Moscow to inflict more death and destruction on Ukraine, bolster Russia’s defense-industrial base, and evade the impact of sanctions and export controls.”

The NATO chief also spoke of his China concerns in an interview with the BBC on Monday. Asked about what the Western military bloc might do about the issue, he said there was an “ongoing conversation” about possible sanctions. “At some stage, we should consider some kind of economic cost if China doesn’t change their behavior,” he said.

Beijing has repeatedly defied demands from the US and other NATO nations to join in sanctioning and isolating Russia. Chinese leaders have pushed a peace plan to end the fighting and have pointed out that Russia’s legitimate security concerns cannot be ignored.

Earlier this year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced NATO as a “walking war machine that causes chaos wherever it goes.” Beijing has accused NATO of meddling in Asian affairs, saying the bloc is a “terrible monster” and has extended a “black hand” toward the region.

Tue, 18 Jun 2024 00:39:34 +0000 RT
Putin reveals goals of North Korea trip /russia/599459-putin-north-korea-goals/ Russia intends to build better ties with Pyongyang, free from Western pressure, Vladimir Putin has said ahead of his visit to the DPRK
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The Russian leader wants better relations free of pressure from the West

Moscow and Pyongyang will develop their own trade and security arrangements, immune from pressure from the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, ahead of his visit to North Korea on Tuesday. The Russian president outlined his goals in an article published by the leading DPRK daily, Rodong Sinmun.

To bring “more democracy and stability to international relations,” Russia and North Korea “will develop alternative trade and mutual settlements mechanisms not controlled by the West, jointly oppose illegitimate unilateral restrictions, and shape the architecture of equal and indivisible security in Eurasia,” Putin wrote.

He also pledged to increase “people-to-people interaction” between the two countries, including “academic mobility” between higher education institutions, tourism, “as well as cultural, educational, youth and sports exchanges” to promote confidence, mutual understanding and well-being.

Putin reminded Koreans that the Soviet army helped liberate them from Japanese occupation in 1945 and that Moscow was the first to recognize the DPRK and establish diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. The USSR also helped rebuild the country after the devastation of the Korean War (1950-1953) with the US-backed South.

“Russia has incessantly supported and will support the DPRK and the heroic Korean people in their struggle against the treacherous, dangerous and aggressive enemy, in their fight for independence, identity and the right to freely choose their development path,” the Russian president wrote.

Tuesday’s visit will be Putin’s first trip to North Korea since 2000, when he met with Kim Jong-Il. Last September, he hosted the current DPRK leader Kim Jong-un at the Vostochny spaceport in eastern Russia.

According to the Kremlin, the Russian delegation will also include Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, Defense Minister Andrey Belousov, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, Transport Minister Roman Starovoyt, space agency Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov, and Russian Railway head Oleg Belozyorov.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 22:45:01 +0000 RT
US scolds former foe over Putin visit – Reuters /news/599458-us-rebukes-vietnam-putin-visit/ The US government has rebuked Hanoi for hosting a state visit this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin
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Washington has reportedly rebuked Vietnam for hosting talks later this week with the Russian president

The US Embassy in Hanoi has reportedly denounced the Vietnamese government for hosting a state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, marking the latest failure by Washington to isolate Moscow over its conflict with Ukraine.

“No country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities,” an embassy spokesperson told Reuters on Monday. “If he is able to travel freely, it could normalize Russia’s blatant violations of international law.”

The statement came in reaction to media reports that Putin will make a two-day visit to Vietnam, starting on Wednesday. The Russian leader is scheduled to meet in Hanoi with his Vietnamese counterpart, To Lam, and other senior figures in the Southeast Asian nation.

Since beginning his fifth term as president last month, Putin has made a round of trips for talks with key allies. He’s already traveled to China, Belarus, and Uzbekistan. The Kremlin announced on Monday that Putin would travel to North Korea, where he will meet with leader Kim Jong-un and attend a state concert in honor of his visit, on Tuesday.

A US-led sanctions campaign has failed to cripple the Russian economy or to isolate Moscow diplomatically. Western media outlets suggested last year that Putin’s foreign travel would be severely curtailed because of International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants against him over the conflict in Ukraine.

Vietnam is not among the ICC’s 123 member nations. Although the US began normalizing diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, two decades after ending a catastrophic war, Hanoi has avoided becoming closely aligned with any of the major powers.

Putin’s visit will mark his fifth trip to Vietnam and his first since 2017. He’s expected to announce agreements with Hanoi on trade, investment, technology and education. The talks also are likely to cover Russian arms sales to Vietnam and ways to transact payments amid US sanctions against Russian banks, Reuters said.

The trip follows the Vietnamese government’s decision to skip last week’s Ukraine “peace” conference in Switzerland, to which Russia was not invited. Hanoi also has expressed interest in joining BRICS and sent a high-level diplomat to a meeting of the group in Russia last week.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 22:44:04 +0000 RT
Russia supports North Korea against ‘treacherous’ West – Putin /russia/599457-putin-north-korea-visit/ Moscow and Pyongyang are on the same side in the fight for more democracy and stability in international relations, Vladimir Putin has said
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Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Pyongyang for the first time since 2000

Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for its friendship and support and pledged to assist Pyongyang in its own struggle to assert its independence and its own identity.

Putin is scheduled to visit North Korea on Tuesday, for the first time since 2000. Ahead of his trip, the Russian president has written an article published by the leading DPRK daily, Rodong Sinmun.

“Russia has continuously supported and will support the DPRK and the heroic Korean people in their struggle against the treacherous, dangerous and aggressive enemy, in their fight for independence, identity and the right to freely choose their development path,” Putin wrote.

The Russian leader thanked North Korea for its “unwavering support” of the military operation in Ukraine, international solidarity, and “willingness to defend our common priorities and views” at the UN.

Putin also described Pyongyang as “our committed and like-minded supporter, ready to confront the ambition of the collective West to prevent the emergence of a multipolar world order based on justice, mutual respect for sovereignty and consideration of each other’s interests.”

The “rules-based order” the US has been trying to impose on the world is “nothing more than a global neo-colonial dictatorship that relies on double standards,” Putin noted.

While Kim Jong-un and the DPRK leadership have repeatedly offered to resolve differences by peaceful means, the US has refused to implement previous agreements and “keeps setting new, increasingly harsh and obviously unacceptable requirements,” Putin wrote.

The Russian president complimented North Koreans for “effectively defending their interests” even after years of “economic pressure, provocations, blackmailing and military threats” by the US.

According to the Kremlin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, Defense Minister Andrey Belousov, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, Transport Minister Roman Starovoyt, Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov, and Russian Railway head Oleg Belozyorov are scheduled to accompany Putin on his trip to North Korea on Tuesday.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 21:06:54 +0000 RT
Latvia’s national theater bans Russian language /pop-culture/599452-latvian-theater-language-ban/ Latvia’s main theater has imposed a “moratorium” on performances in Russian
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A “moratorium” has ben imposed until the Ukraine conflict ends

The Latvian National Theater has canceled a scheduled Russian-language play called ‘Diary of Madmen’ and instituted a blanket “moratorium” on any performances in Russian at the venue.

The move was announced on Monday by director Maris Vitols, who said the theater had scrapped a contract with Entracte International to host the play, which was scheduled for September. 

“The stage of the National Theater is not a suitable place for Russian-language touring performances at a time when Russia continues the war in Ukraine,” Vitols stated, adding that a moratorium on staging plays in Russian would be in place until the conflict ends.

Vitols insisted the move was not actually aimed at artists who had left Russia over the hostilities. The theater “respects” their decision to leave the country and “condemns” the Russian leadership over the military operation in Ukraine, he added.

However, the decision to cancel ‘Diary of Madmen’ is inevitably bound to affect artists who left Russia over the Ukraine conflict. The play was directed by Dmitry Krymov, who openly condemned the military operation and refused to return to Russia over it. Another play directed by Krymov and staged at the National Theater, ‘Peter Pan. Syndrome’, is running in Latvian and was apparently left unaffected by the move. 

The now-canceled play featured Chulpan Khamatova and Maksim Sukhanov. Khamatova left Russia shortly after the conflict broke out in February 2022, condemning the campaign and remaining abroad ever since. Sukhanov, who has long been critical of the Russian authorities, has provided no opinion on the conflict publicly. The actor, however, has largely vanished from the country’s mediascape amid the hostilities and apparently resides abroad as well.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 21:05:20 +0000 RT
British soldier ‘rapists’ leave behind children in Kenya – CNN /news/599455-british-troops-kenya-rapes/ Thousands of Kenyans claim they were raped by UK soldiers, in many cases leaving them with children who get no support from their fathers
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UK servicemen previously based in the East African country have reportedly abandoned the offspring of their victims

British soldiers have been accused of raping thousands of Kenyan women while training in the East African nation over decades, with the alleged rapists reportedly leaving behind dozens of children that they fathered.

Mixed-race children continue to be born in remote villages of the central Kenyan region where the British Army Training Unit (BATUK) trains its troops, about 200km (124 miles) north of Nairobi, CNN reported on Monday. At least 69 of the children were allegedly born as a result of rape allegedly committed by the UK soldiers.

Other children, which have been fathered in consensual relationships, have received no support or contact from their fathers, who returned home after finishing their training, CNN said. They also suffer ostracization by their neighbors.

“They call me ‘mzungu maskini,’ or poor white girl,” 17-year-old Marian Pannalossy told the US media outlet. “They always say, ‘Why are you here? Just look for connections so that you can go to your own people. You don’t belong here.’”

Allegations of crimes committed by UK troops in Kenya, including rape and murder, date back to the 1950s. In one infamous case, a 21-year-old woman vanished in 2012 after being seen going into a hotel with British troops. Her body was later found in a septic tank. The soldier identified as the suspected killer by other troops has never faced trial.

The UK Defense Ministry dismissed rape claims by 2,187 Kenyan women in 2007, saying there as “no reliable evidence to support any single allegation.” Royal Military Police investigators concluded that much of the Kenyan evidence appeared to have been fabricated. CNN rexported UK authorities didn’t do DNA testing on any of the mixed-race children who were born to alleged rape victims.

Some of the villagers testified in 2009 to Kenya’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission that they were preyed upon by British troops as they did their daily chores. Soldiers havre been accused of gang-raping 30 women, in many cases at knifepoint. The commission later claimed that the Nairobi government lost the case files of the alleged victims.

CNN said the UK pays the Kenyan government about $400,000 annually for permission to conduct training near the country’s Laikipia and Samburu wildlife reserves. The controversial contract was renewed in 2021.

A new provision in the deal allows for British soldiers to be sued in Kenyan courts. CNN said lawyer Kelvin Kubai is working to reintroduce the rape cases of more than 300 women. “The Kenyan legal system offers a better redress than what is available in the UK,” he told the outlet.

Under Kenyan law, there is no statute of limitations for human rights abuses, which could open the door for women who were allegedly raped decades ago to seek damages. Many of the accusers have died while waiting for their claims to be heard.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 21:03:47 +0000 RT
Israeli military knew Hamas was planning attack – media /news/599456-israel-warned-hamas-attack/ IDF agents warned that the Palestinian militants were drilling for a hostage-grab operation, but were reportedly ignored by their superiors
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IDF agents warned that the militants were drilling for a hostage-grab operation, but were reportedly ignored by their superiors

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warned in mid-September that Hamas was planning to invade the country and capture more than 200 hostages, Israel’s Kan broadcaster reported on Monday.

Three weeks before Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, the IDF’s intelligence directorate compiled a report stating that the Palestinian militants were training for a large-scale invasion of the Jewish state, Kan has claimed, citing anonymous security sources. The document allegedly warned that dozens of Hamas commandos would take part in the raid, which would be aimed at bringing between 200 and 250 hostages back to Gaza. 

Several thousand Hamas fighters carried out the actual October 7 assault, killing around 1,200 people and taking roughly 250 hostages back to Gaza.

According to Kan’s sources, Hamas members had been spotted practicing attacks on mock IDF outposts, rehearsing how to capture military and civilian hostages, and training how to handle the captives once they were detained in Gaza.

The document reportedly made its way to senior officials in the IDF’s Gaza Division, but was “completely ignored,” Kan stated.

Kan is not the first source to claim that Israel was forewarned about the October 7 attack. Within days of the assault, Egyptian intelligence officials said that they had repeatedly warned the Israeli government that Hamas was planning “something big” in the days leading up to October 7, but that these warnings were ignored in West Jerusalem.

Earlier in 2023, the IDF warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on at least four occasions that “Israel’s enemies” viewed the state as vulnerable to attack. However, the content of these warnings has never been made public, and Netanyahu claimed last month that they made no mention of any concrete plans by Hamas.

“Not only is there no warning in any of the documents about Hamas’s intentions to attack Israel from Gaza, but they instead give a completely opposite assessment,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement. 

According to an Israeli source cited by American journalist Seymour Hersh last year, Netanyahu was so unconcerned with the possibility of an attack from Gaza that he ordered two thirds of the IDF troops normally stationed at Israel’s border with the enclave to provide security at an Orthodox Jewish festival in the West Bank – against the wishes of Gaza Division commanders.

With Israel’s war on Hamas entering its eighth month, retired general Benny Gantz resigned from Netanyahu’s war cabinet last week. Former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot left the cabinet shortly afterwards, with both men accusing Netanyahu of failing to develop a strategy for defeating Hamas and ending the war. Netanayhu dissolved the cabinet on Sunday, and is expected to discuss the conflict with a smaller group of ministers – including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer – from now on.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 21:02:37 +0000 RT
WATCH Serbian fans chant ‘Vladimir Putin!’ at Euro 2024 /news/599453-serbs-putin-chant-euro/ Serbs brandishing Russian flags and chanting “Vladimir Putin!” have been filmed in Gelsenkirchen, Germany
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The Balkans country has withstood EU pressure to sanction Russia

A group of Serbian fans attending the Euro 2024 in Germany have been filmed chanting “Vladimir Putin!” and unfurling a Russian national flag, along with their own state and national symbols.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) banned the display of Russian flags at the Ukraine-Romania game on Monday, after the tricolor was spotted in the stands of the Germany-Scotland and Serbia-England games the day before.

In a video making rounds on social media on Monday, a group of fans wearing Serbian national jerseys can be seen outside a church in Gelsenkirchen, chanting the name of the Russian president.

They also waved the Russian presidential flag, featuring the golden state seal in the center of the national tricolor, as well as the national flag of Serbia and the unofficial flag of Republika Srpska, the predominantly ethnic Serb portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

While national flags are allowed at the European football championship, the organizers have pointedly asked the fans to “leave all other flags at home.” According to German media, the authorities have been on the lookout for Russian, Israeli, or Palestinian flags in particular.

The Russian national team was banned from UEFA events shortly after the start of the Ukraine conflict, in February 2022.

UEFA’s ban has not stopped Albanian fans from brandishing flags of “Greater Albania” – an entity that envisions annexing parts of Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Greece – during the game against Italy on Saturday. One fan was photographed in the full uniform of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, while others flew KLA flags as well. The ethnic Albanian separatists and NATO fought against Serbia in 1999. UEFA has opened a probe into the Albanian association for “provocative images,” as well as unauthorized pyrotechnics and a pitch invasion.

Several ethnic Albanians have also been implicated in Sunday’s brawl between England and Serbia fans in Gelsenkirchen, which resulted in half a dozen arrests and the deployment of 400 riot police.

A Czech soccer hooligan account has posted photos of Serbian ultras parading four captured English banners following the altercation. 

The Euro 2024 championship kicked off on June 14 and will conclude on July 14.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 20:42:11 +0000 RT
Ukraine to pressure foreign banks over Russia ties – media /news/599454-ukraine-foreign-banks-russia/ The National Bank of Ukraine has developed a plan to force the remaining international lenders out of the Russian market, Strana.ua reports
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A procedure to replace management at Ukrainian subsidiaries of international lenders still operating in Russia could be implemented, according to a report

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has developed a mechanism that would pressure international banks with subsidiaries in both Ukraine and Russia to abandon the latter, the outlet Strana.ua reported on Monday.

According to a letter from the NBU see by the outlet, if a foreign bank does not shut down its business in Russia, the Ukrainian regulator would be entitled to take over management of the company’s local subsidiary.

The report indicated that should the NBU find a company has a “flawed business reputation,” then the foreign shareholder would be deprived of the right to vote at meetings. This would reportedly essentially entail the dismissal of the management.

The NBU document reportedly listed nine foreign banks that have subsidiaries both in Ukraine and Russia. Those are Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), Hungary’s OTP Bank, French BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole, Sweden’s SEB, US Citi Group, Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo, Dutch lender ING, and Germany’s Deutsche Bank. The listed lenders have maintained their presence in the Russian market despite Western sanctions.

To avoid punitive measures in Ukraine, according to the report, the parent structure of a foreign bank operating in Russia would have to initiate the process of pulling out of the country. The NBU will require a detailed plan indicating the timing of withdrawal from the Russian market. The regulator has reserved the right to “take action” if a deadline is violated.

Ukraine has been putting pressure on foreign companies operating in Russia, adding them to its so-called list of “international sponsors of war.” However, the list was later abandoned following complaints from other countries.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 20:35:02 +0000 RT
Ukraine on the brink of default – Reuters /business/599441-ukraine-debt-bondholders-default/ The government needs an agreement with foreign bondholders by August on a multi-billion-dollar debt restructuring
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Kiev has failed to strike a deal with its international bondholders, according to a report

The Ukrainian government announced on Monday it had failed to reach an agreement with a group of foreign bondholders that includes financial giants BlackRock and Pimco on restructuring Ukraine’s $20 billion in Eurobonds, according to a report by Reuters.

In February 2022, bondholders granted Ukraine a two-year debt freeze in view of the conflict with Russia. But that agreement ends in August, and bondholders are anxious for Kiev to begin paying interest on its debt again. Ukraine could end up in default if new debt relief is not arranged, which would damage the country’s credit rating and complicate its ability to borrow in the future.

Formal talks between Kiev and an ad-hoc creditor committee representing a fifth of the country’s $20 billion in outstanding Eurobonds have been underway for nearly two weeks. Ukraine is urging bondholders to accept a steep writedown of the value of the debt as is tries to meet IMF demands to restructure the bonds in order to retain access to international markets.

“Although Ukraine and the Ad Hoc Creditor Committee did not come to an agreement on restructuring terms during the consultation period, [they] will continue engagement and constructive discussions through their respective advisors,” the government said in a statement, adding it would also continue talks with other investors.

The negotiations with bondholders will continue, Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergey Marchenko confirmed, adding that he expected an agreement to be reached by August 1.

According to the minister, the country’s economy is in a “fragile balance” that hinges on consistent and substantial support from its partners. “Timely debt restructuring is a critical part of this support. Strong armies must be underpinned by strong economies to win wars,” Marchenko argued.

The report highlighted that Ukraine offered to swap bondholders’ existing debt for five sovereign bonds maturing between 2034 and 2040, as well as a so-called state-contingent debt instrument (SCDI) linked to tax revenue collection. The value of that instrument would be determined in 2027 when it transforms into a bond coinciding with the expiration of the country’s current IMF program.

Investors had reportedly asked for instruments that would generate a steady cash flow from the outset and the new bonds would have paid interest at a symbolic rate of 1% for the first 18 months, rising to 3% for 2026 and 2027 and then 6%, for a total payment of $700 million over the course of the IMF program.

The offer translated into a writedown of between 25% and 60%, depending on the performance of the SCDI. Ukraine also offered investors an option including only conventional bonds.

Bondholders put forward two counter proposals, both of which would have carried a nominal haircut of 20%.

Ukraine said neither bondholder proposal met the IMF requirements.

Since the start of the conflict, the World Bank and IMF have provided more than $85 billion in state budget financing to Kiev, according to Reuters.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 19:28:21 +0000 RT
Germany dumping migrants in Poland – border guards /news/599449-poland-germany-dumping-migrants/ Warsaw has accused Berlin of “arbitrarily” violating asylum rules, after German police drove an Afghan family to Poland
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Warsaw has accused Berlin of “arbitrarily” violating asylum rules

The Polish Border Guard has demanded that its German counterpart explain why a family of migrants was dropped off on Polish soil last week. According to reports in the Polish media, thousands of migrants have been sent from Germany to Poland in similar circumstances.

A German police car dropped two adult Afghan migrants and three children near the town of Osinow Dolny near the German border last Friday, the chojna24 news site reported. Polish police failed to find the migrant family when they searched the area, news outlet Dziennik reported on Monday.

“The German Police’s bringing and leaving foreigners in Poland was in violation of the principles of cooperation between both services,” the Border Guard said in a statement. “German services cannot make such decisions arbitrarily.”

The Border Guard added that it “immediately contacted the German side to explain the circumstances of the incident,” and that the agency’s commander in chief would discuss the issue with the president of Germany’s Federal Police on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Polish journalist Aleksandra Fedorska claimed that German police had returned 3,500 migrants to Poland between January and May of this year, citing data provided by Berlin. These migrants were reportedly among around 5,600 who crossed into Germany illegally after filing asylum applications in Poland.

Under the EU’s Dublin Regulation, a migrant’s asylum claim must be processed in the country where they first apply for asylum. This agreement provides a legal basis for states to return asylum seekers who move across the bloc’s largely open borders.

A German police spokesman told Polish newspaper Fakt that the family dropped off on Friday had entered Germany illegally after being granted refugee status in Poland. German officers apprehended the family and attempted to contact the Polish Border Guard, but said they received no answer.

“Since there was no reaction from the Polish side for several hours, the officers decided to take the family to the Polish-German border…in order to release them to Poland,” the spokesman said.

Germany and Poland have clashed on the issue of migration before, with Germany summoning Polish ambassador Dariusz Pawlos last year over reports in the Polish media suggesting that officials in Warsaw were selling visas to African and Asian migrants who then left Poland for Germany and other EU countries.

Berlin responded by stepping up police patrols along Germany’s Polish and Czech borders. “Things cannot remain as they are now,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at the time, revealing that “more than 70 percent of all refugees” arriving in Germany had been registered in other EU countries, but disposed of their documents upon reaching German soil.  

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 19:04:41 +0000 RT
US soldier pleads guilty in Russia /news/599451-us-army-soldier-pleads-guilty-to-russian-theft-charge/ US Army soldier Gordon Black has entered a guilty plea on a theft charge in Russia, where he faces up to five years in prison
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Army Staff Sergeant Gordon Black has reportedly admitted to theft but denied assaulting a Vladivostok woman he came to visit

A US Army soldier who traveled to Vladivostok earlier this year to visit a woman whom he met while serving at an American base in South Korea has reportedly admitted that he stole money from her.

Staff Sergeant Gordon Black pleaded guilty to theft charges at a hearing in Primorsky Court, Russian media outlets reported on Monday. He denied allegations that he also assaulted and threatened to kill the woman, who has been identified as Aleksandra Vashuck.

According to US media reports, the married soldier took leave in April when he was supposed to be returning to his home base in Texas, and instead traveled through China to visit Vashuck at her apartment in Vladivostok. He failed to notify the Army of his trip to Russia and did not get the required permission for international travel.

The 35-year-old Black stayed with Vashuck, who was described as his girlfriend, for about a month. He allegedly assaulted her during a quarrel and took 10,000 rubles ($113) from her wallet. Russian authorities apprehended Black in a local hotel room, which he allegedly paid for with the stolen money.

At Monday’s court hearing, Black said he wanted to return the cash before leaving Russia, so he transferred the money to Vashuck through an acquaintance. Media reports last month indicated that the sergeant was cooperating with local authorities and had admitted to taking the money. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Vashuck has urged Russian authorities to provide Black with psychological counseling, rather than sending him to prison. “I do not want him to be severely punished,” she reportedly told the court. “He is ill. The man needs help.” She added that the US Army was well aware of Black’s condition, including a propensity for angry outbursts and drunkenness, but failed to provide him with treatment.

The US State Department has advised Americans not to travel to Russia, alleging that they could be targeted for incarceration. At least a dozen US citizens are reportedly being detained in the country. Russian officials have denied making any unjustified arrests. Just last month, an American man was sentenced to ten days in jail for “petty hooliganism” after he passed out from drunkenness while partially naked in a Moscow children’s library.

The next hearing in Black’s case is scheduled for Wednesday.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 18:57:31 +0000 RT
Malaysia moving to join BRICS – PM /news/599446-malaysia-brics-anwar-ibrahim/ Kuala Lumpur has made its decision about its place in the multipolar world, Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim has revealed
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Kuala Lumpur has made its decision, Anwar Ibrahim has said

Malaysia has decided to apply for BRICS membership and will start filing the official paperwork soon, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has said.

The 77-year-old leader of the Southeast Asian nation mentioned the decision in an interview with the Chinese outlet Guancha published on Sunday.

“We have made our policy clear and we have made our decision. We will start the formal process soon,” Anwar said. “We are waiting for the final result and the feedback from the South African government.”

Anwar also mentioned bringing up the subject in a recent meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The organization was founded in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India and China, with South Africa joining in 2011. In January, BRICS officially admitted Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but decided to keep the current name.

Kuala Lumpur’s potential membership in the organization would be of strategic significance, as one of the world’s most important shipping lanes – the Malacca Strait, connecting the Pacific and the Indian Ocean – is located between Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

According to Anwar, Malaysia is “relieved” that the world is no longer unipolar, and that the rise of BRICS and China in particular has offered “a glimmer of hope that there are checks and balances in the world.”

The West wants to “control the discourse” in the world, but “we can no longer accept it because they are no longer a colonial power and independent countries should be free to express themselves,” the Malaysian prime minister told Guancha.

Earlier this month, Russian Ambassador to China Igor Morgulov said that about 30 countries have voiced a desire to join BRICS. In Malaysia’s neighborhood, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam have already made overtures to the group. 

The 2024 BRICS summit is scheduled for October in Kazan, Russia. Moscow has presided over the organization since January.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 18:49:00 +0000 RT
Zelensky’s ‘peace conference’ will go down in history, but not in the way you might think /russia/599447-historic-zelenskys-peace-summit/ The gathering in Switzerland could become a rare thing which is forgotten about now but remembered as significant decades later
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The gathering in Switzerland could become a rare thing which is forgotten about now but remembered as significant decades later

There was nothing memorable about it. It didn’t even produce a notable meme. Despite the hype, Vladimir Zelensky’s ‘peace summit’ in Switzerland was rather uneventful and is likely to be forgotten in a couple of weeks or even days.

One could certainly mock the summit’s agenda (some say the most important event was the banquet) or the participants (which included the International Boxing Association, the minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme of Australia, and the minister of Correctional Services from New Zealand), and the possible belief of some that Russian President Vladimir Putin was the main speaker (he proposed his own peace plan the day before); we could also note that some countries refused to sign the final communiqué while others withdrew their signatures, and so on.

However, it may turn out that the summit in Switzerland could still go down in history, and in the future, historians will call the failure of Kiev’s diplomacy a turning point that marked the beginning of major changes in the world.

Classic and contemporary diplomacy

Let’s talk theory for a moment. There are two kinds of peace negotiations. First, there is the classic kind that developed over the centuries: Two countries engage in war, one of the parties gains the upper hand, and imposes its will on the other. The war ends when one or both sides realize that the price of continuing hostilities is greater than that of concluding peace. At this point, diplomats step in – their task is to determine the most favorable conditions for both sides. There have been many examples in history when a country that lost a war managed to conclude peace with minimal bloodshed, after incurring minor or even symbolic losses.

However, after World War II and with the advent of the UN era, the concept of ‘war’ was replaced in international law by that of ‘armed conflict’. While in the past, countries often resorted to war to solve their problems, after the catastrophe of World War II, a ‘global policeman’ emerged whose task was to stop armed conflicts (by force if necessary), pull the participants apart, and resolve the contradictions at the negotiating table.

Classic peace treaties became a thing of the past, and gave way to endless ‘peace processes’ under the auspices of the UN and other international organizations. Such has been the case in Palestine, Korea, Cyprus, Kashmir, West Africa, the Balkans, and republics of the former USSR. 

In some cases, this strategy worked and helped end the hot phase of a conflict and establish peace, while in others, it led to decades of bloodshed. However, we must note that following 1945, the chain of causation was broken, and there was no longer a direct link between the result of combat and the result of peace negotiations.

However, while things changed on paper, post-war reality was still determined by the balance of power. Such was the case in Korea (both sides were exhausted and neither won), Palestine (nobody could expel Israel from occupied territories which it was not willing to leave), and Vietnam (the US de facto lost the war and their ally was left at the mercy of the winning side).

After the end of the Cold War, the US became the world’s sole policeman, and decided that it could do anything it wanted. In Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, Washington acted on the same principle: America is right and everyone else is wrong.

How it started...

For this reason, several generations of politicians came to believe that if they enlisted the support of Washington, they could use any peace process to turn the course of a given conflict in their favor, no matter what happened on the battlefield. For the past ten years, Ukraine’s diplomacy has been based on this ‘postmodern’ concept.

Let’s briefly recall the chronology of the conflict in that country. The 2014-15 war in Donbass de facto ended with Kiev’s defeat and the signing of the Minsk agreements. However, backed by the US, Ukraine did not comply with the terms, and it became another hopeless peace process that, instead of solving contradictions, only swept them under the rug.  

As a guarantor of the deal, Russia tried to force Ukraine to comply with the terms in February 2022. At the same time, it wanted to press the West to stop supporting Ukraine. The result was the proposed Istanbul peace treaty – a compromise which would have been beneficial to everyone. Had it been implemented, Ukraine’s statehood could have been preserved and even strengthened, Russia would have been provided with the buffer zone that it required, wider Europe would have been guaranteed peace, and the US could have retained its authority and prolonged the existence of Pax Americana.

However, such assumptions were quite naive. Apparently, the Kremlin still hoped that a peace process may resolve the contradictions. This didn’t work, and the format of the special military operation did not allow Moscow to impose its will, since it lacked sufficient forces to achieve its goals.

In autumn 2022, Ukraine carried out several successful offensives near Kharkov and Kherson. At that point, a wise leader would have proposed peace on the terms that corresponded to the real situation at the front, called it a success, and ended the conflict, which was a great burden for his country.

...and how it’s going

However, Zelensky did the exact opposite: He legally prohibited himself from holding negotiations with Putin and drew up a ‘peace formula’ consisting of ten points, which basically required Moscow to surrender. This stipulated the complete withdrawal of troops to the 1991 borders (i.e. not only from the new territories, but also from Crimea), the payment of reparations, a war crimes tribunal, and so on.

Did Zelensky get dizzy from relative success and put his complete trust in the power of the US? Or was his proposal just a starting point that could have been adjusted later on? This could have been the case if the diplomatic process had continued. However, as soon as it appeared, Zelensky’s peace plan formed a bubble of distorted reality around itself.

At first, following the Ukrainian army’s success in 2022, the West sympathized with Zelensky’s idea – the US, UK, France, NATO, and many Western countries expressed support for his plan.

However, words are just words, and any putative deal is just a piece of paper unless it leads to a real peace process. Eventually, this was launched. Zelensky’s goal was to obtain the written support of as many countries as possible and then present this document to Moscow as an ultimatum. 

In the past year, a number of meetings have been held – in Copenhagen (June 2023), Jeddah (August 2023), Malta (October 2023), and Kiev (December 2023). There were others as well, which were less notable – nine in total.

The tenth and most grandiose was supposed to be the Switzerland summit, where Zelensky’s ‘peace formula’ was to be signed by the world majority.

In the meantime, the situation on the battlefield changed considerably, and not in Ukraine’s favor. Kiev’s counteroffensive failed, and the West could not defeat Russia in the trade war. Nor could it provide enough weapons and meet Kiev’s demands on the battlefield.

From the start it was an arrogant – but at least noteworthy – declaration, but now Zelensky’s proposal has turned into idle chatter which no one believes in.

Have your cake and eat it too

The organizers of the summit in Switzerland resorted to their usual tricks – they organized an event that appeared to be global in scale but was actually pro-Western. The plan was simple – order everyone to show up, unfurl banners, and have them clap at the right moment. No one really cared what the participants themselves thought.

However, things did not go as planned. Many of those at the gathering dared to disobey the West. The resistance was not very strong (there’s no reason to make a scandal right now), but for the first time in decades, the West had to make a choice: Either stand its ground (and meet with even greater resistance) or seek compromise.

The compromise didn’t really work either. For the sake of appearances and obtaining the support of as many participants as possible, the agenda was reduced to three meaningless points – but even in this form, the most important countries of the world majority (i.e. those that are not allied with the West) either didn’t go to Switzerland or didn’t sign anything.

And it’s not just because Iraq, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Jordan, or China all greatly support Russia – no, for the most part, they don’t care about it that much. Simply, with each year and even each month, fewer countries are ready to be at the beck and call of the West.

While a full-fledged row did not break out at the summit in Burgenstock, some leaders made provocative speeches – for example, the president of Kenya spoke about the illegality of appropriating Russian assets, the prime minister of East Timor mentioned the hypocrisy of the West and its so-called ‘rules-based order’, and so on.

Moreover, all non-Western participants stressed the fact that negotiations are not worthwhile without the equal participation of both sides of the conflict. At the conclusion of the summit, even the minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine, Dmitry Kuleba, was forced to admit this. While for Zelensky this signifies the collapse of his entire policy, for the rest of the world it may mean a return to the classic principles of diplomacy based on the balance of power – which means there is still a chance that something may change for the better.     

By the way, we must note the behavior of US President Joe Biden – as a smart politician, he knew everything in advance and did not go to the summit. Had he attended, it could have been a more energized event, but without him it was simply meaningless.

The elephant in the room

Putin, of course, proposed his own peace plan – just as delegates prepared to travel to Switzerland. Of course, it was immediately rejected by the West and Kiev – but nevertheless, in the new reality, Russia’s position will have to be taken into account. His words made it clear that the outcome of the conflict – and following it, the future world order – will be determined not by the demarcation line, but by the regime that will run Kiev after the ceasefire.

If it accepts Putin’s conditions (refusal of NATO membership, disarmament, and the prohibition of nationalist Ukrainian ideology), this will lead to the reestablishment of the Ukrainian state on the basis of friendly relations with Russia (otherwise, things will go badly for Kiev). This new state may be built by the current Ukrainian elites – so it’s no wonder that Putin hinted that they should overthrow Zelensky, break ties with the West, and start with a clean slate.

If Moscow fails to achieve this, Kiev will remain under Western control. In this case, Ukraine (even with less territory) will remain the West’s battering ram against Russia, and after a short hiatus, the conflict might resume.

The third option, which unfortunately is quite likely at the moment, is that the fighting will drag on until Ukraine falls apart, is left in ruins, and the former Ukrainian lands – and the remaining population – are gradually absorbed by neighboring countries.

There is also a fourth scenario – a major escalation of the conflict, direct hostilities with NATO, and unpredictable nuclear consequences.

The only thing that’s off the table now is the fifth option – a Ukrainian military victory. The big difference is that Putin still has a chance to implement his ‘peace formula’, while Zelensky’s plan has completely failed.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 18:44:38 +0000 RT
WATCH Russian heavy flamethrower strike Ukrainian positions /russia/599443-heavy-flamethrower-strike-ukraine/ The Russian military has shared fresh footage of a TOS-family multiple rocket launcher striking Ukrainian positions in Donbass
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The Defense Ministry has shared new battlefield footage featuring the TOS multiple rocket launcher

The Russian Defense Ministry on Monday shared footage of a TOS-1A multiple rocket launcher striking Ukrainian positions. 

The battlefield video was taken near Soledar, a Donetsk People’s Republic town located to the northeast of the city Artyomovsk (known in Ukraine as Bakhmut). The system, widely known by the nickname ‘Solntsepyok’ – ‘Scorching Sunlight’, is seen firing multiple projectiles at night.

The strike was observed by a surveillance UAV fitted with an infrared camera. The massive 220-mm thermobaric weapon is seen leaving large glowing spots on the ground after hits, footage shows. While the system is effectively a short-range multiple rocket launcher mounted on a tank chassis, TOS-1As are classified in Russia as “heavy flamethrowers.”

In its most recent daily briefing, the Defense Ministry claimed that Ukraine lost an estimated 1,800 soldiers lost over the past 24 hours. It also reported the destruction of various pieces of hardware used by Kiev’s forces, including multiple artillery pieces, both Western-supplied and older Soviet-era systems.

The most intense combat continued near Artyomovsk, as well as in Ukraine’s Kharkov Region, with an estimated 535 and 300 casualties inflicted on Ukrainian troops in the two areas, respectively, according to the briefing. Russian forces recently crossed the border at multiple locations into Kharkov Region.  

The offensive comes as part of the effort to push Ukrainian forces further away from Russian territory and thus stop the indiscriminate artillery and drone strikes on border settlements, including the city of Belgorod. The Ukrainian strikes, which the Russian Defense Ministry says primarily target civilian infrastructure and residential areas, have inflicted considerable material damage and resulted in dozens of civilian deaths.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 18:08:07 +0000 RT
Germany reports record drug bust /news/599448-germany-announces-record-cocaine-bust/ German authorities have broken up a cocaine-smuggling operation, making a record drug seizure and arresting seven suspects
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Investigators have reported the seizure of $2.8 billion worth of cocaine on container ships in three different ports

German law enforcement authorities have announced a record drug seizure, saying they intercepted €2.6 billion ($2.8 billion) worth of cocaine and arrested seven people who were allegedly involved in the smuggling operation.

Investigators seized a combined 35.5 metric tons of cocaine from container ships in Hamburg, Rotterdam, and Colombia, prosecutors in Dusseldorf said on Monday in a statement. The largest capture occurred in Hamburg, where police found 25 tons of the drug hidden in shipments of fruit and vegetables.

The cocaine cargoes were found last year after German police were tipped off by Colombian authorities. The drug bust was previously unreported. The seven smuggling suspects – including citizens of Ukraine, Germany, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Morocco and Turkey – were arrested in recent weeks.

“Specifically, the suspects are accused of organizing the transport of 10 sea containers with large quantities of cocaine from Latin America to Europe in the period from April to September 2023 with other as-yet-unknown accomplices,” prosecutors said. Those alleged accomplices reside in Turkey.

The smuggling operation involved front companies that were allegedly set up to help make the shipments appear to be legitimate. A man in western Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state created 100 “letterbox” companies for the purpose, according to authorities.

The suspects, who range in age from 30 to 54, were not identified by name. They were arrested in seven different German states. “This is a blow to international organized criminality,” North Rhine-Westphalia Justice Minister Benjamin Limbach told reporters in Duesseldorf. “It’s a precise punch in the jaw that hurts the drug lords.”

The drug seizures were nearly three times the size of a €1 billion cocaine intercept at the port of Hamburg in 2019, then a record bust for Germany.

“The flood of cocaine into Europe is destroying people – and generating billions in profits for the cartels,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Friday.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 18:02:38 +0000 RT
The US chose this country to become its proxy in Africa. Will it be better off? /africa/599437-kenya-ruto-nato-biden/ Joe Biden has pledged to grant Nairobi the status of Major Non-NATO Ally
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Kenya’s president is taking a risk by siding up to NATO

President William Ruto was elected Kenya’s head of state in August 2022 and since then he has maintained his country’s relations with the West, especially Britain and the US. He has visited these countries two and four times respectively since his inauguration, and hosted Britain’s King Charles on the monarch’s first official visit abroad after his coronation. Ruto has also visited Israel, the foremost Western ally, and has publicly expressed support for the Jewish state, a stance at odds with the African Union (AU), which has condemned West Jerusalem over the war in Gaza. In contrast, Ruto has visited China, Kenya’s largest trading partner, just once within the same period. Initially, Ruto appeared to espouse Pan-Africanism, earning praise from admirers across the continent. He had decried Africa’s humiliation by the West, condemning the international financial architecture and other neocolonial tendencies that have contributed to Africa’s poverty, instability, and underdevelopment.

In due course, however, rhetoric has prevailed over commitment. In President Ruto, the West, specifically the US, has found a dependable ally in Africa. Ruto’s state visit to the US last month, the first in 16 years by an African head of state, was significant in this regard. Symbolically, it underscored Kenya’s longstanding relations with Washington, skewed as they are. The most prominent outcome of this visit was the US designation of Kenya as a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA). The US bestows this status to a country which, although not part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bloc, has a deep strategic relationship with the US. Kenya will thus join Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, the three other African countries designated as such. In “Sub-Saharan Africa” (a problematic characterization because of its divisive and racist connotations), Kenya is the first country to be accorded this status, which raises its profile in US security, intelligence, and counterterrorism operations. In the run-up to the MNNA designation, American security and intelligence personnel had frequented Nairobi.

Diplomatically, the current US ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, carries the moniker “Kenya’s President” owing to her preeminence in government functions. She boldly affirmed Ruto’s victory and dismissed claims by the opposition that Kenya’s transitional elections in 2022 were rigged. Like her predecessors, she is a ubiquitous public figure and freely comments on Kenya’s internal affairs. Her views are sought by Kenya’s political elite and local media. Whitman often attends and speaks at government functions and entertains the political elite at her residence on occasions such as American public holidays. Whitman gets along with Ruto as well as with the opposition. It would be ahistorical, therefore, to regard Ruto’s proximity to the West as odd. Kenya has consistently aligned itself with the West since the Cold War, which accounts for an instinctive Western imprint on the psyche of its political elite. In a word, Ruto is not an aberration but representative of the Kenyan elite.

The MNNA designation does not oblige the US and Kenya to come to each other’s aid in the event of an attack, but allows Kenya access to US loans for the purchase of sophisticated American weaponry such as depleted uranium ammunition. From a realist standpoint, this seems beneficial to the Kenyan state because it could modernize its defense, intelligence, and security capabilities. However, for a country beset by poverty, joblessness and inequalities that manifest through poor healthcare, a wobbly education sector, food insecurity and poor infrastructure, spending on military hardware is imprudent and a misplaced priority. The MNNA designation is weighted in favor of the US. It serves its military industrial complex and at the same time sinks Kenya further into debt given that the advanced loans accrue interest. It is imperative that the Kenyan government appreciates that the outmoded state-centric approach to security needs to give way to investment in people. Security, for Kenya, a developing country, is about responsiveness, not ensnaring itself in military adventurism and grandiose security acquisitions for rent extraction given the opacity of such deals. Kenya faces no imminent attack other than internal risks related to bad governance and neglect of the poor. 

Of concern is that, courtesy of the MNNA status, the US is free to place its war reserve stockpiles on Kenyan territory. Besides its military base in Kenya’s coastal town of Lamu, the US will have more access to Kenyan territory, especially in the northeastern region bordering Somalia, for military operations. It could turn Kenya into something of a US satellite state which would puncture Ruto’s Pan-Africanism ideals and further desecrate Kenya’s sovereignty. Such an unflattering status does not secure Kenya, especially when viewed through the “war on terror” lens. It is curious that in Kenya, the US has a springboard for its military escapades in Africa and the Middle East at a time when countries in the Sahel have disengaged militarily from the West and have asked Western powers, including the US, to close their military bases and exit.

It is noteworthy that this MNNA designation comes on the cusp of the imminent deployment of about 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti to combat runaway gangsterism. Although Kenya’s contingent will be part of a UN mission, it is sponsored and spearheaded by the US. The deployment became certain after Kenya acceded to the US request to lead the mission. This shows that the MNNA designation has tightened Kenya’s involvement in US global security and intelligence strategy as a proxy. Specifically, it deepens US-Kenyan relations in counterterrorism in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. Hence in the wake of the MNNA designation, Kenya joined the US in its fight against the Houthis, who are accused of attacking ships in the Red Sea in retaliation against Israeli atrocities in Gaza. Furthermore, Kenya agreed to host Houthi captives. Nairobi also pledged to continue supporting the US in its antiterrorism efforts in Somalia. As such, Kenya is a willing partner in US military adventurism, security, and intelligence operations, oblivious of the consequences. There is likely to be a backlash from militant groups targeted by the US.

Ruto’s immediate predecessors engaged China and in return received loans for infrastructure. In as much as Sino-Kenyan relations heightened in the past 20 years, it did not denote an ideological shift on Kenya’s part. At the time, Kenya’s relations with the West dimmed and hardly any mega bilateral agreements were signed. Ruto has portrayed himself as a pragmatist who is neither facing West nor East but forward looking. He seems unkeen on enhancing Sino-Kenya relations despite this seemingly pragmatic approach. Although Ruto has visited China, the foremost emerging power, the US shadow over government policy is undeniably conspicuous. Ruto has enlisted US tech companies in advancing Kenya’s digital industry and engaged the US in apparel, agriculture, climate change and infrastructure. Moreover, the World Bank and IMF have engaged him on several occasions in the wake of which retrogressive measures such disinvestment in education, agriculture, and healthcare, coupled with punitive taxes have been witnessed. These neoliberal policies have eviscerated Africa’s economies over the years and spawned poverty. Besides, Ruto openly advocates the export of Kenya’s labor force to the Middle East, Europe, and North America in exchange for remittances. How could such a policy on human resource spur Kenya’s prosperity?

Kenya’s international relations should be guided by its national interests and not the geopolitical anxieties of the US, a hegemon, or any other country. Although the concept of national interest sounds nebulous and is often interpreted from a self-serving perspective by the political elite, it substantively means that the wellbeing of citizens must be central to Kenya’s foreign policy.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 17:51:15 +0000 RT
Spain opposes NATO troops in Ukraine – defense minister /news/599442-robles-spain-ukraine-troops/ Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to send NATO instructors to Kiev would only provoke Moscow, Margarita Robles has said
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France is wrong about deploying instructors to Kiev, Margarita Robles has said

Sending NATO troops to Ukraine would represent an unacceptable escalation of the conflict with Russia, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles has warned.

Robles spoke on Monday at an event for female diplomats, organized by the German ambassador to Madrid. She addressed Spain’s recent security pact with Ukraine and aid to Kiev.

“We are living in the most dangerous situation since the Second World War,” Robles told the gathering, pointing out that ballistic missiles “know no borders.” 

Commenting on recent remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron – backed by some European NATO members – about possibly sending troops to Ukraine, Robles said Spain is “totally” against it. While Madrid respects the position of Paris, “we must be very careful not to give excuses” to Russia for escalating the conflict, she explained.

While insisting France is “not at war with Russia,” Macron said earlier this month that he was building a coalition with several other countries to send instructors to Ukraine, insisting this was not an escalation.

It has been NATO’s “obsession” from the start of the hostilities to “not escalate” the conflict, while supporting Ukraine, Robles said on Monday.

The US and its allies have sent Ukraine almost $120 billion worth of weapons, equipment, and ammunition over the past two years, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany, while maintaining that it does not make them a party to the conflict.

The weapons Spain has sent to Ukraine have been entirely defensive in nature, Robles said. Madrid is currently finalizing repairs on a new batch of Leopard main battle tanks, which will be sent to Kiev soon, she said. Spain is also training about 6,000 Ukrainian soldiers. 

“We are already [training them] in hand-to-hand combat,” Robles said, adding that “one of the things we teach them is how to make a tourniquet.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez signed a security pact with Vladimir Zelensky last month, promising Ukraine over €1 billion ($1.08 billion) worth of military aid, plus another €5 billion over the next three years. According to Spanish media, as part of the pact Madrid has pledged to deliver more Patriot air defense missiles, Leopard 2A4 tanks, and ammunition.

Russia has warned the West that its material support for Ukraine risks making them a party to the conflict, while not changing its ultimate outcome.

Mon, 17 Jun 2024 16:56:50 +0000 RT