Daily: 02/06/2022

US Announces More Sanctions on Russian Elites

The U.S. government said Thursday that it was trying to shut down sanction evasion measures used by Russia’s elites, including President Vladimir Putin, “to attempt to hide and move money and anonymously make use of luxury assets around the globe.”

The targets include a yacht brokerage, aircraft, Russian officials and others close to Putin.

Targeted yachts include the Russia-flagged Graceful and the Cayman Islands-flagged Olympia, as well as two other yachts, the Shellest and the Nega, both owned by Russian companies.

The White House said the new sanctions were imposed “to crack down on evasion and tighten our sanctions to enhance enforcement and increase pressure on Putin and his enablers.”

In a statement announcing the sanctions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “The United States will continue to support the people of Ukraine while promoting accountability for President Putin and those enabling Russian aggression.”

The U.S. government said Putin had “taken numerous trips” on the now-sanctioned yachts as recently as last year.

“Russia’s elites, up to and including President Putin, rely on complex support networks to hide, move and maintain their wealth and luxury assets,” said Brian Nelson, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

“Today’s action demonstrates that Treasury can and will go after those responsible for shielding and maintaining these ill-gotten interests,” he said. “We will continue to enforce our sanctions and expose the corrupt systems by which President Putin and his elites enrich themselves.”

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Сполучені Штати запровадили санкції проти Захарової та друга Путіна

Міністерство фінансів США додало 17 росіян до санкційного переліку

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Дальність пострілів HIMARS залежить від українських військових – посол США

За словами Брінк, Сполучені Штати готові підтримувати Україну в протистоянні російській агресії стільки, скільки це буде потрібно

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Explainer: What Is Bitcoin Mining? 

For many, grasping the concept behind cryptocurrencies is difficult enough. But let’s try to take a closer look into how they work. Matt Dibble explains.

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Big Data and Farmers Create Instant Wetlands to Help Migrating Birds

Guided by data from a bird-watching app, conservationists and farmers are creating instant wetlands for birds travelling thousands of miles. Matt Dibble has the story

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Greece Urges Global Action to Free Iran-Held Tankers

The Greek government and shipping industry on Thursday called for a global mobilization to free the crews of two oil tankers held by Iran in an ongoing dispute with Athens.

“We call on all nations to act in order to end this unacceptable incident, and to ensure it does not happen again,” Merchant Marine Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis told reporters.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Friday seized the two Greek-flagged tankers in the Gulf, days after Athens said it would deliver to Washington Iranian oil it had seized from a Russian tanker in April.

Plakiotakis said last week’s incident posed a “threat” to shipping safety and trade and has “cast a shadow” over Greece’s top shipping fair Posidonia, which opens Monday with over 1,900 companies from nearly 90 nations participating.

Speaking at the Posidonia inaugural press conference on Thursday, Union of Greek Shipowners president Melina Travlos said some of the sailors held by Iran were youths on their first shipping assignment.

“The global shipping community must mobilize, nations, everyone. This situation needs to end,” she said.

Greece’s coastguard on Thursday said both ships are moored at the Iranian port of Bandar.

The coastguard has identified nine Greeks and a Cypriot on board, but has given no information about other crew nationalities.

Iran has said the crews of two tankers were in “good health” and not under arrest.

The Revolutionary Guards — the ideological arm of Iran’s military — had said it seized the tankers “due to violations”, without elaborating further.

Greece has condemned Tehran’s detention of the two ships as “tantamount to acts of piracy” and warned its citizens not to travel to Iran.

The German and French foreign ministries, in separate statements, condemned the seizure as a violation of international law, and called on Iran to immediately release the ships and their crews.

The United States has also strongly condemned Iran’s seizure of the two tankers, and demanded their immediate release.

Iran has called the statements “one-sided” and “inappropriate interference.”

Tehran noted that France and Germany “are protesting against the legal measures taken in Iran” while “remaining silent” on Greece’s own seizure of the tanker, which it said was Iranian.

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Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Kicks Off with Pomp

Four days of celebrations honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne get underway with a display of British military traditions stretching from the days of horse and cannon to the jet age, The Associated Press reports.

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Росія: інтернет-користувачі повідомили про проблеми із підключенням до VPN

VPN, або віртуальна приватна мережа, часто використовується для обходу блокувань, щоб отримати доступ до того чи іншого заблокованого у певній країні сайту чи сервісу

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Легенда футболу Пеле закликав Путіна зупинити війну в Україні

«Цей конфлікт жахливий, невиправданий і не приносить нічого, крім болю, страху і ненависті»

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Меркель вперше публічно засудила військове вторгнення Росії та підтримала Україну

Колишній канцлер Німеччини Ангела Меркель у першому публічному виступі за пів року засудила російське військове вторгнення та підтримала право України на оборону, передає видання Zeit Online.

«Я солідарна з Україною, атакованою Росією, та підтримую її право на самооборону», – заявила Меркель і додала, що підтримує всі заходи, які вживає Німеччина та інші країни ЄС, а також США, НАТО, G7 та ООН.

Меркель заявила про «варварську війну», якій треба якнайшвидше покласти край, і зазначила, що війна в Україні «стала занадто кричущим порушенням міжнародного права в історії Європи після закінчення Другої світової війни».

Меркель нагадала про жертви серед мирного населення: «Приклад цього жаху – Буча».

Політику щодо Росії, яку Меркель проводила на посаді канцлера, вона не коментувала.

Наприкінці 2021 року Ангела Меркель пішла з посади канцлера Німеччини, яку займала 16 років.

У квітні президент України Володимир Зеленський запросив ексканцлера Німеччини Ангелу Меркель та колишнього президента Франції Ніколя Саркозі у Бучу. Українське МЗС заявило, що ухвалене у 2008 році рішення Німеччини та Франції про відмову Україні у вступі до НАТО було «стратегічною помилкою». Речник Меркель сказав, що вона так не вважає.

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Latest Developments in Ukraine: June 2

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

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

3:45 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia’s National Settlement Depository will service the country’s Eurobonds after Citibank stopped acting as a fiscal, transfer and payment agent, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

The finance ministry also said that a delay in payments on its Russia-2022 Eurobond that were due on April 4 was caused by “unlawful actions” of foreign financial intermediaries.

3:00 a.m.: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC+, said it is working on compensating for a drop in Russian oil output, two OPEC+ sources told Reuters on Thursday, as Russia’s production has fallen by around 1 million barrels per day in recent months as a result of Western sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine.

One OPEC+ source familiar with the Russian position told Reuters that Moscow could agree to other producers compensating for its lower output, but it may not happen at a Thursday meeting and might not be in full. A Gulf OPEC+ source also said a decision on the matter was “highly possible” at a meeting on Thursday, Reuters added.

2:30 a.m.: The Slovak Defense Ministry said Thursday that the country will deliver eight self-propelled Zuzana 2 howitzers to Ukraine under a commercial contract which a state-controlled producer signed.

The Zuzana 2 howitzer, a modernized version of an older model, uses 155-mm rounds and has an effective range of 40 km (25 miles) to more than 50 km (30 miles) depending on the ammunition type.


2:15 a.m.: The British defense ministry cautioned Thursday that Russian troops might turn their focus to the Donetsk region now that they have made significant gains to capture the key Luhansk city of Sievierodonetsk.

“Russia has taken control of most of Sievierodonetsk. The main road into the Sievierodonetsk pocket likely remains under Ukrainian control but Russia continues to make steady local gains, enabled by a heavy concentration of artillery,” the ministry said in its daily report. But the ministry said Russian gains weren’t “without cost, and Russian forces have sustained losses in the process.”


1:30 a.m.: During an interview with Newsmax, the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, praised his boss for his devotion to his country.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is “brave, he’s intelligent, and he’s smart,” Yermak said. “Many people recognize him as a leader not just of Ukraine, but of all of the free world.”

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Zelenskyy has inspired his citizens by staying in Kyiv to lead the fight against Russia’s aggression, captivating much of the world with impassioned speeches. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine looks at how he has evolved into a wartime president.

12:04 a.m.: Russian forces continue their siege of Sievierodonetsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, The New York Times reported. “A local official said on Wednesday that Russian forces controlled about 70 percent of the city, where only about 12,000 residents remain out of a prewar population of 100,000 after weeks of intense shelling.” the Times report said. “Ukrainian soldiers there are at risk of being surrounded. With bridges over the Seversky Donets River destroyed or under fire, resupply has become tenuous. Ukrainian officials have been candid about the army’s travails while arguing more rapid deliveries of Western weaponry will resolve them. Every day in the current heavy fighting, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview with Newsmax this week, 60 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are killed and another about 500 soldiers are wounded in combat.”

12:01 a.m.: When she helped launch The Kyiv Independent in November, chief editor Olga Rudenko had no idea that six months later she would be on the cover of Time magazine. But her team’s reporting on Russia’s war in Ukraine propelled their English-language site into the spotlight, with Time describing The Kyiv Independent as the “world’s primary source for reliable English-language journalism on that war.”


Rudenko says she feels she has a great responsibility to her audience, “to be the world’s window into Ukraine.” In this interview with VOA, she shares her commitment to fact-based reporting and how that has been essential in a war where disinformation is high, and journalists find themselves reporting on atrocities happening so close to home.

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

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Queen Elizabeth II to Salute Jubilee From Palace Balcony

Queen Elizabeth II will make two appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony on Thursday, kicking off four days of public events to mark her historic Platinum Jubilee.

The extent of the 96-year-old monarch’s involvement in the celebrations for her record-breaking 70 years on the throne has been a source of speculation for months.

She has cut back drastically on her public appearances since last year because of difficulties standing and walking — and a bout of COVID-19.

But royal officials confirmed that she would take the salute of mounted troops from the balcony after a military parade called Trooping the Colour.

The centuries-old ceremony to officially mark the sovereign’s birthday has previously seen the queen take the salute on horseback herself.

Her 73-year-old son and heir, Prince Charles, will step in this year, supported by his sister, Princess Anne, 71, and his eldest son, Prince William, 39.

Joining senior royals watching the display of military precision will be Charles’ younger son, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan, on a rare visit from California, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

But the queen’s disgraced second son, Prince Andrew, 62, is not expected to join them.

She will return to the balcony later to watch a flyby of military aircraft, including iconic models from World War II, the palace said.

At nightfall, the queen will be at Windsor Castle, west of London, to take part in a ceremony to light more than 3,000 beacons across the country and the Commonwealth of 54 nations that she heads.

Parties, parades, concerts


Elizabeth was a 25-year-old princess when she succeeded her father, King George VI in 1952, bringing a rare touch of glamour to a battered nation still enduring food rations after World War II.

Seventy years on, she is now the only monarch most Britons have ever known, becoming an enduring figurehead through often troubled times.

Britain’s first and very likely only Platinum Jubilee will see street parties, pop concerts and parades until Sunday in potentially the last major public celebration of the queen’s long reign.

It has not yet been confirmed if she will attend a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, while her planned attendance at horse racing showcase The Derby on Saturday is off.

She could yet put in a final appearance — again from the palace balcony — on Sunday, at the climax of a huge public pageant involving 6,000 performers.

In a message, the queen thanked everyone involved in organizing the community events in Britain and around the world.

“I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions,” she said.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”

Attention turning to succession

The jubilee, held against a backdrop of rising inflation that has left many Britons struggling, is being seen not just as respite for the public after two years scarred by the pandemic but also for the royals.

Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, caused shockwaves in early 2020 by moving to North America, from where they have publicly criticized royal life.

In April last year, she lost her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, and was forced to sit alone at his funeral because of coronavirus restrictions.

Since then, she has struggled with her health and also the fallout from Andrew’s links to the convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Andrew, who in February settled a U.S. civil claim for sexual assault, has effectively been fired from his royal duties.

Attention is increasingly turning to the succession, and the monarchy’s future at home and in the 14 other Commonwealth countries where the queen is also head of state.

Her approval rating among Britons remains high at 75%, according to a poll by YouGov published Wednesday, but Charles is only at 50%.

A total of 62% still want a monarchy, although younger people are split, with 33% in favor, and 31% wanting a republic.

Only 39% said they thought there would still be a monarch in 100 years’ time.

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РФ має відвести сили в морській акваторії та надати безпекові гарантії про ненапад на порти і комерційні конвої – МЗС

Дії Росії можуть призвести до світової продовольчої кризи, а в деяких регіонах – навіть до голоду, наголошують в МЗС України

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Угорщина вимагає виключити з пакету санкцій проти РФ патріарха Кирила

Глава РПЦ Кирил активно висловлюється на підтримку політики президента Росії Володимира Путіна, в тому числі, у питанні війни в Україні

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Blinken: Ukraine Pledges Medium-Range Rockets Will Not Strike Russian Territory

President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will send advanced rocket systems to Ukraine to help Kyiv resist Russian forces in the eastern part of the country. As VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Ukraine has assured the U.S. it will not use the systems to hit targets on Russian territory.

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Erdogan Continues to Block NATO Bids of Sweden, Finland

The effort to bring Sweden and Finland into NATO remains stalled, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists that his country will exercise its authority to veto an expansion of the alliance.

In public remarks on the issue, Erdogan has claimed that by allowing some Kurdish dissident groups that oppose his government to operate in Sweden, the Swedish government is damaging Turkey’s national security. Erdogan has also expressed frustration with arms embargoes levied against his government by European countries after he sent troops into Syria in 2019.

The two Scandinavian countries, which have maintained their neutrality for many years, officially applied to join NATO in May, nearly three months after Russia invaded Ukraine. While Sweden does not share a border with Russia, Finland, its neighbor to the east, does. The Finland-Russia border is nearly 1,300 kilometers long.

Issue for Biden

The dispute over expanding NATO could become a political liability for the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who encouraged Sweden and Finland to apply, hosted their leaders in Washington and publicly expressed his expectation that their application would be accepted promptly.

The administration has since tried to distance itself from the discussion.

On Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, “We will continue to have consultations with our NATO counterparts, with our allies, with our ally Turkey, with our partners, Finland and Sweden, who will, we think, soon be considered allies, as well. So, we will continue to engage in that dialogue, but ultimately this is not an issue between the United States and Turkey. This is an issue between those three countries.”

However, experts said that practically speaking, there are no discussions about the composition of NATO that do not involve the United States, by far its largest member state.


Kurdish groups

Turkey has been involved in decadeslong conflicts with a number of Kurdish groups seeking independence or an autonomous region within Turkey.

One of these organizations, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, is formally recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and others. However, there are multiple other groups that advocate for sovereignty for the Kurds — the largest ethnic group in the world without its own state.

Some of those groups have allied with the United States in the battle against Islamic State in northern Syria. The People’s Protection Units, or YPG, have been particularly effective in that fight, but are deeply mistrusted by Erdogan because of their connections to PKK separatists in Turkey. Another group, the PYD, is the political arm of the YPG and has established relationships with some Western governments, including Sweden.

In Turkey’s view, connections to the PKK make groups like the PYD de facto terrorist organizations.

Erdogan makes his case

In an article published by The Economist this week, Erdogan described his country as a staunch supporter of NATO, noting the many actions it has taken in support of the alliance over the years.

In the NATO reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkey’s contribution to the effort has been among the most significant. In addition to providing vital military equipment and diplomatic support, Erdogan’s government has also blocked Russian warships from passing between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

“As all NATO allies accept Turkey’s critical importance to the alliance, it is unfortunate that some members fail fully to appreciate certain threats to our country,” he wrote. “Turkey maintains that the admission of Sweden and Finland entails risks for its own security and the organization’s future. We have every right to expect those countries, which will expect NATO’s second-largest army to come to their defense under Article 5, to prevent the recruitment, fundraising and propaganda activities of the PKK, which the European Union and America consider a terrorist entity.”


Calls for extradition

Erdogan went on to call for the extradition from Sweden of “members of terrorist organizations,” which it deems necessary for Turkey to lift its veto on NATO membership.

In addition, he said that arms embargoes against his country must be lifted.

“Turkey stresses that all forms of arms embargoes — such as the one Sweden has imposed on my country — are incompatible with the spirit of military partnership under the NATO umbrella,” he said. “Such restrictions not only undermine our national security but also damage NATO’s own identity.”

Arms embargoes

While the embargo imposed by Sweden and other European countries after Turkey’s incursion into Syria is the only one directly mentioned by Erdogan in his article, it may not be the only one on his mind.

After Turkey purchased Russian air defense systems in 2019, the United States blocked the country from purchasing the F-35, America’s most advanced fighter jet. Later, when Turkey asked to purchase more F-16 fighters from the U.S., members of Congress took action to block the sale.

While Turkey appears to have accepted that the F-35 is off the table, an easing of the blockade on the F-16 might make Erdogan more amenable to accepting Sweden’s and Finland’s applications.

‘Transactional player’

Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, chair of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center and former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, told VOA that Turkey is a “transactional foreign policy player.”

Erdogan, he said, wants a tangible benefit from allowing the two Scandinavian countries to join NATO — especially because his country feels that its contributions to the alliance are frequently overlooked.

“Turkey’s assessment, and they’re absolutely right … is that it is seen as, at best, a half-member, tolerated but not liked by the rest of NATO, and certainly not by the Washington foreign policy community,” Jeffrey said.

He added, “I mean, it is ridiculous to have an arms embargo on a fellow NATO country when you’re then demanding that NATO country take action for you.”

Domestic politics

Some experts say it is impossible to separate Erdogan’s position on Sweden and Finland from Turkish domestic politics. Spiraling inflation has severely damaged the Turkish economy and hurt Erdogan’s standing in public opinion polls.

“This is almost 90% about domestic politics,” Kemal Kirisci, a nonresident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, told VOA. “Erdogan is fully exploiting any opportunity that arises to boost his standing in the eyes of the public,” and the Swedish and Finnish applications come “at a perfect time.”

Kirisci said that while Turkey may have some legitimate grievances, particularly about Sweden’s treatment of Kurdish dissident groups, Erdogan is unlikely to win major concessions on those issues. For that reason, he agrees that the Turkish president’s real goal in holding up the Swedish and Finnish applications is to have arms embargoes against Turkey lifted.

This would allow Erdogan to demonstrate that he is “able to stand up to the West,” Kirisci said, while simultaneously strengthening Turkey’s military.

New Syria offensive

In a possible complicating factor, Erdogan confirmed Wednesday that he is planning to send more Turkish troops into Syria to expand a 30-kilometer-deep “safe zone” on the Syrian side of the border.

“Let’s see who supports these legitimate steps by Turkey and who hinders them,” he said in remarks to members of his political party.

Past incursions have led to conflict between Turkish troops and members of Kurdish organizations that have been supported by the U.S. There are currently 900 U.S. troops in northern Syria supporting efforts against the Islamic State group.

However, Jeffrey said that Erdogan’s announcement that the new offensive would target Syria’s Tal Rifaat and Manbij areas should reduce concerns.

“They’re both to the west of the Euphrates,” he said. “They’re not areas that the U.S. has much concern about,” because American troops are not working with the Kurdish forces in that region.

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У Пентагоні опублікували перелік зброї, яку передадуть Україні

Джо Байден сьогодні оголосив про новий пакет озброєнь для України, що включатиме високомобільні артилерійські ракетні системи HIMARS

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«Важливий сигнал» Путіну. У Данії підтримали приєднання до спільної політики оборони ЄС

Президент Європейської комісії Урсула фон дер Ляєн і президент Європейської ради Шарль Мішель привітали «історичний вибір Данії».

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Кулеба: проти Росії неодмінно буде газове ембарго, але потрібно «трохи часу»

Міністр не очікує, що воно може бути в наступному пакеті санкцій ЄС проти РФ, але газове ембарго неодмінно буде.

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