Daily: 28/04/2022

Частина військ РФ відходить від Маріуполя і рухається в бік Запоріжжя – Пентагон

При цьому російська армія продовжує обстрілювати Маріуполь

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Scholz Says Germany Seeks Closer Ties With Indo-Pacific

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Tokyo on Thursday that his country wanted to strengthen ties with countries in the Indo-Pacific region that have the same values, and to work together to end Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. 

“My trip is a clear political signal that Germany and the European Union will continue and intensify their engagement with the Indo-Pacific region,” Scholz said after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. 

Kishida said he and Scholz agreed that as members of the Group of Seven industrialized nations they share a responsibility to work together to end Russian aggression and restore peace, stability and international order as quickly as possible. 

“The Ukraine crisis shakes the foundation of the international order not only in Europe but also in Asia. Any attempts to change the status quo must be avoided, especially in East Asia,” Kishida said at a joint news conference. 

“If we do not clearly show [to Russia] that this kind of unilateral change to the status quo by force and recklessness has a high cost, it will give the wrong message to Asia,” he said. 

On his first trip to Tokyo as chancellor, Scholz said both Germany and Japan are defenders of the “rules-based international order,” the principles of the U.N. Charter and the defense of universal human rights. Scholz said he also wanted to come to Japan because Tokyo will take over as chair of the G-7 after Germany. 

Japanese sanctions

Japan has imposed sanctions against Russia in line with other G-7 countries and has provided support for Ukraine out of concern that Russia’s invasion could embolden China and intensify tensions in East Asia. China has long sought to take control of independently governed Taiwan, and it has threatened to do so by force if necessary. 

Japan has also provided Ukraine with nonlethal defense equipment in an exception to its policy against exporting military materials to nations in conflict. 

Germany had initially refused to send any offensive weapons to Ukraine and later balked at sending heavy equipment such as armored vehicles. 

Scholz’s government, under pressure domestically and from allies, recently reversed that policy and agreed to send offensive weapons and allow Ukraine to purchase German armaments, and to support weapons swaps with allies who in turn are sending heavy equipment to Ukraine. 

Japan hopes to work closely with Germany as strategic partners on “various challenges that the international community faces, including responses to China,” Kishida said. 

Scholz said Germany and Japan also agreed to work together to strengthen economic cooperation in areas such as 5G technologies and economic security. 

He said ensuring that supply chains become less dependent on individual countries is “a task that is more relevant than ever,” in a reference to China.

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Greece Blocks Turkey From NATO Air Drill 

It was billed as a promising breakthrough — Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting last month and agreeing to try to resolve their countries’ age-old differences, keeping, at least, a lid on tensions as the conflict in Ukraine rages.

But on Thursday, as armed Turkish jets streamed into Greek airspace, conducting more than 125 unauthorized flights within 24 hours, Athens retaliated.

Greece revoked Turkey’s planned participation in a May 9, Greece-hosted NATO air drill known as “Tiger Meet,” saying Turkey was “neither an ally, nor a friend.” Greece also suspended confidence-building negotiations due to begin between Greek and Turkish diplomats next month.

The snub came as the Greek Foreign Ministry summoned Ankara’s top envoy late Wednesday to protest the record number of violations over the Aegean Sea. He was called in again on Thursday as Turkish warplanes buzzed over a rash of popular holiday islands, including Rhodes and Samos, staging dangerous aerial dogfights.

Near-daily patrols

Greece and Turkey, both members of NATO, have long been at odds over air and sea rights in the oil- and minerals-rich Aegean.

The disagreement has resulted in near-daily air force patrols and interception missions, mostly in disputed airspace around Greek islands that Turkey has repeatedly claimed as its own, denying any sort of violation.

Pundits, politicians and military officials here are now troubled by the sudden increase in dangerous overflights, especially after last month’s promising meeting between Mitsotakis and Erdogan.

Andreas Loverdos, a lawmaker and member of the Greek Foreign Affairs Committee, said nothing in reality had changed vis-a-vis Turkey’s stance toward Greece. He said Turkey had eased off what he called its provocative stance because it was trying to mend relations with Washington and play a constructive role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

As that has not panned out, Loverdos said, Turkey is reverting to past patterns of behavior.

Turkey’s ties with the U.S. government have been strained since punitive sanctions were imposed on Ankara during the Trump administration for Turkey’s purchase of a missile system from Russia, a breach of NATO rules.

Ankara is now seeking to purchase combat F-16 aircraft from the United States — a bid that Democratic U.S. Representative Frank Pallone and more than 50 other lawmakers have urged the Biden administration to reject, citing what they say is Erdogan’s lack of commitment to NATO and his “vast human rights abuses.”

Whether the purchase will go through remains unclear.

More war games expected

Until then, and as long as Turkey’s relations remain troubled with the West, military experts here warn that Greece should be on high alert for more war games in contested areas in the Aegean.

Retired Greek Air Force Commander Evangelos Georgousis said the Turkish flights weren’t new but hadn’t previously been seen in such large numbers. The fear, he said, is that anything can go wrong. The only thing missing in these midair chases, Georgousis said, is the act of pressing the button to unlock missiles against the enemy target. Everything else is as real and warlike as can be, he said, and it’s dangerous.

Contesting claims to the Aegean brought Greece and Turkey to a dangerous standoff more than two decades ago, forcing the United States to intervene to pull back both sides from the brink of war.

Greece has urged Ankara to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, but Turkey has repeatedly refused.

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Столтенберґ заявив, що НАТО готовий підтримати Україну, навіть якщо війна триватиме роки

Сполучені Штати, найбільший член НАТО, вже надали Україні зброї на 3 мільярди доларів з початку широкомасштабного вторгнення РФ

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Байден попросить у Конгресу додатково 30 млрд дол для підтримки української «боротьби за свободу»

Зараз в Україні на кожен російський танк припадає 10 протитанкових комплексів, каже президент США Джо Байден

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США в ОБСЄ: доведено існування влаштованих військами РФ фільтраційних таборів на півдні та сході України

«Росія викрадає, катує та (або) вбиває обраних на місцевому рівні лідерів, журналістів та активістів громадянського суспільства, а також релігійних діячів», каже Карпентер

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У результаті чергового обміну полоненими звільнено 45 українців – Верещук

Скільки натомість було повернуто російських військових, вона не уточнила

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EU Proposes Law to Curb Lawsuits Meant to Silence Journalists, Rights Advocates

The European Union executive proposed on Wednesday laws to curb excessive litigation aimed at silencing critical journalists and rights advocates by governments and businesses—a form of harassment it said was on the rise from Croatia to Poland.

In its latest health check of the state of democracy in the 27-nation bloc, the Brussels-based European Commission said that last year such so-called SLAPPs – or strategic lawsuits against public participation – were “a serious concern.”

“Manifestly unfounded or abusive court proceedings against public participation are a recent but increasingly prevalent phenomenon in the European Union,” the Commission said Wednesday in proposing new legal remedies for the bloc.

Such disproportionate lawsuits, often based on defamation clauses, strive to intimidate the targets, exhaust their resources and tie them in multiple legal proceedings, often in several jurisdictions, said the Commission.

It is typically pursued by claimants with more political power or money, and has a chilling effect on the targets, a group that also may include academics, LGBT and environmental campaigners or labor unionists, it said.

In Malta, the anti-corruption investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was involved in some 40 defamation cases at the time of her murder in 2017, it added.

“In a democracy, wealth and power cannot give anyone an advantage over truth,” said the Commission’s deputy head for values and transparency, Vera Jourova. “We are helping to protect those who take risks and speak up when the public interest is at stake.”

The Commission said no EU country currently has specific safeguards against SLAPPs and only four were considering them.

The new rules, which Brussels would now take to member states and the European Parliament for their input and approval before they can take effect, would allow for early dismissal of such cases and put all the legal costs on the claimant.

They would apply to cases with cross-border consequences of broad social interest – like pursuing cases of money laundering or climate matters – and would encompass training and assistance for SLAPP targets.

The EU parliament’s green faction welcomed the proposal but said it did not go far enough partly because it did not oblige member states to ensure the same anti-SLAPP safeguards for domestic cases and consider them under civil rather than criminal law.

In their own report on the matter last year, EU lawmakers also expressed concern about SLAPPs being funded from state budgets.

Under the Commission’s proposal on Wednesday, SLAPP targets could seek damages and courts would be authorized to order penalties against the claimants to discourage them from such tactics.

It would also allow EU countries to ignore cases against its residents brought in third countries, including Britain, the jurisdiction of choice for many Russian oligarchs, among others.

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Female Soldiers Fight for Ukraine, Equality With Male Peers

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, female soldiers and officers make up about 15% of Ukrainian army combat forces. Since 2014, more than 30,000 Ukrainian women have become combat veterans. Those numbers have shot up since the Russian invasion. Mariia Prus has the story.

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Арештовану 93-метрову яхту Медведчука планують продати – АРМА

Отримані кошти спрямують в український бюджет

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France’s Election Offers Lessons to US Ahead of Midterms  

This week’s French presidential contest boiled down to a debate between nationalism and globalism — and globalism prevailed in the victory of President Emmanuel Macron, an ally of President Joe Biden. What can the U.S. learn from this as Biden’s party faces elections? VOA’s Anita Powell reports.

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Бойко відреагував на ініціативу депутатів усунути ексчленів ОПЗЖ від роботи у Раді

Низка народних депутатів хочуть заборонити колишнім членам ОПЗЖ брати участь у пленарних засіданнях Верховної Ради та всіх робочих органах українського парламенту

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Ukraine Hosts UN Chief Guterres, Urges Russian Oil Embargo

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is hosting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for talks Thursday, while Ukraine calls for an embargo on Russian energy supplies and U.S. President Joe Biden prepares a proposal for military, economic and humanitarian aid.

Guterres arrived in Ukraine intent on working to “expand humanitarian support and secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones,” topics that were part of his talks earlier this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“The sooner this war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the world,” Guterres tweeted.

The United Nations said Wednesday it has teams in Moscow and Kyiv that are following up on the agreement “in principle” that Guterres reached with Putin to allow the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate civilians trapped in the Azovstol steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

“What we have still is an agreement in principle. What we are trying to do is translate that into an agreement in detail and an agreement on the ground,” Guterres spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. “Ultimately, what we want is to make sure that a cease-fire would be respected that would allow us to move people safely.”

“We don’t have those conditions as of this moment,” the spokesman said.

Russian energy

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Thursday “it’s a matter of time” before an embargo is imposed on Russia’s key energy industry.

While European nations have taken steps to reduce or eliminate their reliance on Russian oil and gas, replacing those supplies and potential economic hits at home have made some leaders express caution about how quickly to proceed down that path as Ukrainian officials called for an embargo.

Podolyak tweeted that avoiding Russian energy supplies is both a moral issue and a matter of Russia ceasing “to be a reliable and predictable partner in the eyes of the world.”

“Switching to alternative supply channels quickly will be expensive, but not as expensive as not doing so,” Podolyak tweeted. “In the medium term, Moscow will face total economic and political isolation. As a result, poverty, the scale of which Russia has not seen yet.”

His comments came a day after Russia’s Gazprom halted natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Gazprom said Wednesday that Poland and Bulgaria had not met Russia’s demand to pay for natural gas in rubles. The company said four unnamed natural gas buyers have paid Russia in rubles, and 10 European companies have created ruble accounts to make payments in the Russian currency, Bloomberg News reported.

The White House said Wednesday this move by Russia was anticipated.

“That is why we, of course, had been in touch with Europe, including with these countries … over the last 24 hours, with leaders in Poland and Bulgaria,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. “We have been working for some time now, for months with partners around the world to diversify natural gas supply to Europe in anticipation of, and to also address, near-term needs and replace volumes that would otherwise come from Russia.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda said the Russian gas cutoff violated “basic legal principles,” while Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov said gas was being used as a “political and economic weapon.”

U.S. aid

The White House said Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks Thursday “on support for Ukrainians defending their country and their freedom against Russia’s brutal war.”

Press secretary Psaki told reporters Wednesday that Biden would be sending to Congress this week a proposed package similar in focus to those already carried out to help Ukraine, with security, humanitarian and economic assistance to “help address a range of the needs the Ukrainians have.”

The U.S. Congress could also send “lend-lease” legislation further freeing up the flow of weapons to Biden’s desk for a signature as early as the end of this week.

The U.S. Department of Defense said Wednesday more than half of the 90 U.S. howitzers have reached Ukraine, and a first round of training on the long-range weapons has already wrapped up.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby cited the ongoing flow of weapons and aid in the success Ukraine has maintained in the battle against Putin’s unprovoked invasion.

“He’s concentrating all his firing forces in the east and in the south of Ukraine. So, he has achieved none of his strategic objectives,” Kirby said. “I think that’s proof right there that the kinds of systems that are being provided to Ukraine have had an effect … on their self-defense needs.”

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

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Влада рекомендує фермерам Херсонщини взяти паузу до звільнення області – голова ОВА

25 квітня у Херсоні російські військові захопили міську раду. Будівлю Херсонської облдержадміністрації вони зайняли ще 1 березня

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У Канаді зробили перший крок до визнання дій РФ в Україні геноцидом

У заяві канадських депутатів уточнюється, що систематичні випадки умисного вбивства цивільних, осквернення трупів, катування та примусова депортація українських дітей є воєнними злочинами, вчиненими військами РФ

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At UN, Calls for Accountability for Atrocities in Ukraine

Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister said Wednesday that the list of war crimes committed by Russian troops in her country grows daily and accountability is critical.

“The city of Mariupol has turned into dust,” Emine Dzhaparova told an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council. “Thousands of civilians live in blockade without water, electricity, communications and basic things that all people need.”

She said that new mass graves and buried bodies are found daily in Ukrainian cities and that Russian soldiers carry out crimes on civilians, including torture, rape and murder.

“Russia must be [held] accountable for its crimes as a state,” she said, adding that the individuals who carried out the crimes must be prosecuted, too.

“The one who raped a girl, kicking out her teeth; who killed a man riding a bicycle; who fusilladed a queue of people waiting for bread; who shot humanitarian convoys, maternity hospitals, ambulances, cars,” Dzhaparova said. “These people have names and faces, and they are to be brought to criminal liability.”

8,000 investigations

Ukraine Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said from Kyiv that her office has opened 8,000 cases to probe allegations of violations and the list continues to grow.

Several governments have offered Ukraine assistance in carrying out investigations and documenting abuses.

In an unprecedented move, more than 40 states have referred the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan has made two trips to Ukraine and has an investigative team on the ground that includes experts, lawyers and anthropologists.

He said he sent three communications to Russia but had not received a reply. He urged Moscow to cooperate with his office, saying if it wants to expose accusations against it as fake, the best way to do so is to hold them up to scrutiny.

“My office and myself have no political agenda other than to get to the truth,” he assured member states.

But Russia’s representative dismissed the ICC as an institution susceptible to political pressure and financial leverage exerted by such countries as the United States and Britain.

“ICC is merely a political instrument and has nothing in common with justice,” Russian legal adviser Sergey Leonidchenko said. He said Russia would have its own meeting on accountability with its own briefers on May 6.

In terms of new crimes, the U.S. representative said Washington now had credible information that a Russian military unit operating near the eastern city of Donetsk had executed Ukrainians who were attempting to surrender, rather than take them into custody.

‘Deeply disturbing pattern’

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack said that, if true, this would violate a core principle of war prohibiting the summary execution of civilians who surrender.

“These images and reports suggest that these atrocities are not the act of rogue units or individuals; rather, they reveal a deeply disturbing pattern of systematic abuse across all areas where Russia’s forces are engaged,” she said.

Russia has a record of abuses, including in Syria, where its troops have backed President Bashar al-Assad’s forces since 2015.

“The pattern of abuse we are seeing in Ukraine is consistent with well-documented grave crimes by Russian forces in other places such as Syria,” Human Rights Watch’s Ida Sawyer said from Kyiv. “The lack of accountability for those violations has regrettably opened the door for what is occurring today.”

Human rights lawyer and activist Amal Clooney said the horrific scenes from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha reminded her of the 2012 massacre of 108 civilians, many of them children, in the northwestern Syrian town of Houla.

“This Security Council met in an emergency session to decry the killings, and people thought it would be a turning point for accountability. It wasn’t,” Clooney said. “And now the same Russian general known as “the butcher,” who mounted a brutal attack on civilians in Aleppo, is massacring innocent families in Mariupol.”

She urged the diplomats not to grow numb to the violence as the war grinds on and merely call for justice that is never delivered.

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Dramatic Prisoner Swap Despite Strained US-Russia Relations

The United States and Russia have exchanged high-profile prisoners, even amid strained relations over Moscow’s two-month-old invasion of Ukraine. As VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports, Russia is holding other wrongfully detained Americans.

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Всесвітня туристична організація ООН зупинила членство Росії

У МЗС Росії заявили, що це «політично вмотивоване рішення» і назвали його «нелегітимним» і спричиненим «антиросійською пропагандою» та «шантажем»

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Microsoft оприлюднила звіт про кібератаки Росії проти України

У звіті компанії міститься хронологія російських кібероперацій, яка свідчить про те, що пов’язані з Росією виконавці почали підготовку до масштабного вторгнення ще в березні 2021 року

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