Daily: 01/08/2022

At UN, Review of Nuclear Controls in Tense World Underway

The U.N. secretary-general warned Monday at the start of a nuclear non-proliferation conference that the risks of more nuclear weapons is growing as guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening.

“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” Antonio Guterres told the opening of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference.

He warned that there are crises with nuclear undertones from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula, as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said there are nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled around the world.

“States are seeking false security in stockpiling and spending hundreds of billions of dollars on doomsday weapons that have no place on our planet,” he said. Noting that people are in danger of forgetting the lessons of World War II.

Guterres said he would travel to Japan to attend commemorations on August 6 at Hiroshima, where the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb 77 years ago in an effort to end that war.

Since it entered into force in 1970, the NPT has been a cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Under it, parties are called on to prevent the spread of nuclear arms, promote disarmament as well as international cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear power.

Guterres also urged nations to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear technology to advance development, such clean energy and medical breakthroughs.

“When used for peaceful purposes, this technology can be a great benefit to humanity,” he said.

Russian nuclear saber rattling

Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in its war against Ukraine was condemned at the meeting by leaders, as well as several regional groups, including those from the Pacific region and Nordic countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that in January the five nuclear powers – Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S.—all affirmed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

“The very next month, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” Blinken said. “And it has engaged in reckless, dangerous nuclear saber rattling, with its president [Putin] warning that those supporting Ukraine’s self-defense “risk consequences such as you have never seen in your entire history.”

Blinken pointed to Russia’s seizure of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, saying they are now using it as a military base because they know the Ukrainians cannot fire back at their positions because they could hit a nuclear reactor.

“There is no place in our world—no place in our world—for nuclear deterrence based on coercion, intimidation or blackmail,” Blinken said. “We have to stand together in rejecting this.”

Japan’s prime minister echoed international concerns about Russia’s actions.

“The recent attacks on nuclear facilities by Russia must not be tolerated,” said Fumio Kishida.

“In attacking a country that gave up nuclear weapons, Russia is brutally violating the assurances it gave in the Budapest Memorandum,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, referring to the 1994 agreement in which Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons left on its territory after the USSR’s collapse in exchange for security guarantees.

The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said at the start of Russia’s invasion, he laid out seven pillars of nuclear safety that must not be violated during the conflict, including on the safety and security of facilities and the personnel that work at them.

“All these seven principles have been trampled upon or violated since this tragic episode started,” Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the meeting.

Russia is expected to speak later in the debate.

Trouble spots

Parties to the agreement—there are 191, including the five recognized nuclear weapon states (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States)—are attending the conference, which runs until August 26 and will review implementation and ways to strengthen it.

Ahead of the conference, President Joe Biden said in a statement that the United States is committed to the NPT, its obligations as a nuclear state, and working towards a nuclear-free world. He said his administration is ready to negotiate a new arms control framework with Moscow to replace New START when it expires in 2026.

“But negotiation requires a willing partner operating in good faith,” Biden said. “And Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and constitutes an attack on fundamental tenets of international order.” He said Moscow should demonstrate that it is ready to resume work on nuclear arms control with the U.S.

At the conference, Secretary Blinken said the United States keeps its nuclear arsenal—which has shrunk 90% since the end of the Cold War—as a deterrence and would use it only in “extreme circumstances” to defend its own vital interests or those of its allies and partners.

More than 133 governments and nuclear organizations will speak at the debate that started Monday and continues through Thursday.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Reza Najafi is also due to speak this week. World powers have been trying to get Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA.

Britain and France, which are a part of the agreement, along with the United States, which withdrew under former U.S. President Donald Trump but is seeking a mutual return with Iran, said in a statement that Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon.

“We regret that, despite intense diplomatic efforts, Iran has yet to seize the opportunity to restore full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” they said urging Iran to return to the deal.

There was also concern about advances in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Secretary Blinken said Pyongyang is planning its seventh illicit nuclear test.

IAEA chief Rossi said he hopes his agency’s inspectors can return to North Korea after being expelled in 2009. “Without that, there will be no trust and there will be no confidence,” Rossie said.

Absentees at the review conference include Israel, India and Pakistan. All are believed to have nuclear weapons but are not NPT signatories.

Some countries also expressed unease about China’s growing nuclear arsenal.

“China’s arsenal is growing,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on behalf of Nordic countries. “We call on China to actively engage in processes on arms control as a responsible nuclear weapons state.”

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Зеленський: не може бути ілюзії, що Росія просто утримається від спроб зірвати український експорт

«Росія послідовно провокувала голод в країнах Африки та Азії, які традиційно імпортували значні обсяги українського продовольства»

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Kenyan Ministers Say Government Not Banning Facebook

Kenyan ministers said the government has no intention of banning Facebook despite a watchdog last week accusing the social media platform of failing to stop hate speech ahead of Aug. 9 elections.

Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) last week gave Facebook one week to comply with regulations against ethnic hate speech or risk suspension.

The threat came after a report by rights group Global Witness said Facebook approved hate speech advertisements that promoted ethnic violence ahead of the election.

But Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi accused the NCIC of making what he termed a careless decision on the matter.

He assured the public that the platform would not be shut down.

Kenya’s Minister of Information and Technology Joe Mucheru echoed that vow to VOA in a telephone interview Monday.

He said while the issues raised were valid, they did not warrant blocking Facebook.

“That is not within our legal mandate, and we have been working with Facebook and many other platforms,” Muchera said. “Facebook for example has in this electioneering period has deleted over 37,000 inflammatory comments.”

In a statement last week, Facebook admitted having missed hate speech messages in Kenya, where national data shows an estimated 13 million users of the platform.

A spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, blamed human and machine error for missing some inflammatory content and said they had taken steps to prevent such content.

Kenya’s cohesion commission said this year’s election had seen less in-person hate speech as it migrated from political rallies to social media.

It said the main perpetrators were followers of Kenya’s two leading presidential candidates — former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto.

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У Білому домі оголосили про нову військову допомогу Україні на 55 млн доларів

Зокрема, Україні поставлять боєприпаси для HIMARS

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Erdogan Seeks to Tighten Grip on Social Media Ahead of Polls

Social media users in Turkey could face up to three years in jail for postings that authorities consider to be disinformation under proposed legislation. The move has prompted protests, with critics accusing the government of seeking to silence the last platforms that Turkish citizens have for venting their grievances. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.

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У Болгарії сталася пожежа на складі боєприпасів підприємця Гебрева. Він каже, що це «не людська помилка»

Гебрев, коментуючи подію, сказав, що «не йдеться ні про яку людську помилку, її бути не може». За його словами, на складі зберігалися боєприпаси, які були замовлені, але залишилися неоплаченими

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«Укрпошта» зупинила роботу на окупованих територіях – Смілянський

«Від сьогодні, вперше з 24 лютого, «Укрпошта» працює лише на території, підконтрольній Україні»

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Spanish Government’s Body Positivity Campaign Goes Awry

The Spanish government maybe had a good idea, but the execution of the body positivity campaign has gone horribly wrong. 

The idea was to encourage women to come out and enjoy the beaches – without any worries about how they looked in their swimsuits.

But three of the five women whose photographs were used in the campaign said they had not given permission for the images to be used. 

Arte Mapache the campaign’s creator, has apologized for failing to obtain permission to use the images.  

“Given the – justified – controversy over the image rights in the illustration, I have decided that the best way to make amends for the damages that may have resulted from my actions is to share out the money I received for the work and give equal parts to the people in the poster,” the artist said.

Two of the women in the campaign’s artwork are professional models.  One has a prosthetic leg that was airbrushed out of the campaign artwork. 

Sian Green-Lord told The Guardian, “It’s one thing using my image without my permission, but it’s another thing editing my body, my body with my prosthetic leg … I don’t even know what to say but it’s beyond wrong.”

Juliet FitzPatrick, a cancer survivor, told the BBC that the face of a woman who had a mastectomy may be based on a photograph of her.  However, while the woman in the Spanish government photo has had a single mastectomy, FitzPatrick had a double mastectomy. 

She told the BBC that using her likeness without her permission “seems to be totally against” the theme of the campaign.  “For me it is about how my body has been used and represented without my permission.”

British photographer Ami Barwell who had taken photos of Fitzpatrick told the BBC that she believes Fitzpatrick’s photo was a composite of photos that she had taken of Fitzpatrick and another woman.  

Barwell told the BBC, “I think that the person who created the art has gone through my gallery and pieced them together.” 

Another model, Nyome Nicholas-Williams, who wears a gold bikini in the photo, said her image was taken from her Instagram account without her permission. 

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В ОП повідомили про намір організувати розмову Зеленського і Байдена найближчим часом

Про те, коли саме може відбутися така розмова, у повідомленні не сказано

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«Два – це початкова цифра». Пристайко про передачу Британією протимінних кораблів Україні

Україні зараз потрібні протимінні кораблі

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Ukrainian Grain Shipments Resume from Odesa

Grain shipments from Ukraine’s port of Odesa resumed Monday. 

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni as the first to leave port, carrying corn bound for Lebanon. In a statement, Turkey’s defense ministry said other unspecified ships would also depart Ukraine. 

Turkey and the United Nations brokered an agreement with Russia and Ukraine in late July to get grain exports going again amid a global food crisis that the U.N. says has been worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The deal calls for safe passage of cargo ships traveling from ports in southern Ukraine through waters in the Black Sea that Russia has controlled since starting the war in late February. 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the resumption of exports from Odesa. 

“The day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as the first Ukrainian grain leaves Odesa after months of Russian blockade,” Kuleba tweeted. “Ukraine has always been a reliable partner and will remain one should Russia respect its part of the deal.” 

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said ensuring grain can reach global markets “is a humanitarian imperative.” 

“The Secretary-General hopes that this will be the first of many commercial ships moving in accordance with the Initiative signed, and that this will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts,” Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. 

Dujarric added that the World Food Program plans to purchase 30,000 metric tons of wheat to load and ship out of Ukraine on a U.N.-chartered vessel. 

Also Monday, Britain’s defense ministry said Russian forces had made only slow progress during the previous four days as they tried tactical assaults in the area northeast of Donetsk. 

The British ministry said Russia is also likely shifting “a significant number of its forces” from the northern part of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine to southern Ukraine. 

For several months, Russia has focused its efforts on the Donbas, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, after facing resistance on its approach to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. A reallocation of resources to the east helped Russia claim control of Luhansk in early July. 

In southern Ukraine, a small explosive device carried by a makeshift drone hit the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet on the Crimean Peninsula on Sunday, wounding six people, local authorities said, while Ukraine said a Russian missile attack killed one of its richest people, a grain merchant.     

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the drone attack in the port city of Sevastopol, which forced cancellation of ceremonies for Russia’s Navy Day holiday. But the seemingly improvised, small-scale nature of the attack raised the possibility it was the work of Ukrainian insurgents in the territory seized by Russia in 2014, The Associated Press reported.     

The drone appeared to be homemade and the explosive device low powered, the Black Sea Fleet’s press service said. Sevastopol is about 170 kilometers from the Ukrainian mainland, but it is unclear where the drone began its flight.  

Elsewhere in Ukraine, the mayor of the major port city of Mykolaiv, Vitaliy Kim, said a Russian attack killed one of Ukraine’s wealthiest men, Oleksiy Vadatursky, and his wife, Raisa. Vadatursky headed a grain production and export business.  

 An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Vadatursky was specifically targeted.  

It “was not an accident, but a well-thought-out and organized premeditated murder,” Podolyak said. “Vadatursky was one of the largest farmers in the country, a key person in the region and a major employer. That the exact hit of a rocket was not just in a house, but in a specific wing, the bedroom, leaves no doubt about aiming and adjusting the strike.”  

Vadatursky’s agribusiness, Nibulon, includes a fleet of ships for sending grain abroad. 

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

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Уряд Косово відклав нові правила подорожей, які викликали напруженість на кордоні з Сербією. У ЄС привітали це рішення

Чиновники заявили, що дію нових правил відтермінують на 30 днів після того, як будуть усунені барикади

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Kosovo Delays License Plate Plan After Border Tensions

The Kosovo government postponed implementation of a decision that would oblige Serbs in the north of the country to apply for car license plates issued by Pristina institutions after tensions rose between police and local communities that set roadblocks.

Late on Sunday the protesters parked trucks filled with gravel and other heavy machinery on the roads leading to the two border crossings, Jarinje and Bernjak, in a territory where Serbs form a majority. Kosovo police said they had to close the border crossings.

“The overall security situation in the Northern municipalities of Kosovo is tense,” NATO-led mission to Kosovo KFOR said in a statement.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blamed the heightened tension on what she called “groundless discriminatory rules” imposed by Kosovo authorities

Fourteen years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, some 50,000 Serbs living in the north use license plates and documents issued by Serbian authorities, refusing to recognize institutions under the capital, Pristina. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by more than 100 countries but not by Serbia or Russia.

The government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti said it would give Serbs a transitional period of 60 days to get Kosovo license plates, a year after giving up trying to impose them because of similar protests.

The government also decided that as of August 1, all citizens from Serbia visiting Kosovo would have to get an extra document at the border to grant them permission to enter.

A similar rule is applied by Belgrade authorities to Kosovars who visit Serbia.

But following tensions on Sunday evening and consultations with EU and U.S. ambassadors, the government said it would delay its plan for one month and start the implementation on September 1.

Earlier on Sunday, police said there were shots fired “in the direction of police units but fortunately no one was wounded.”

It also said angry protesters beat up several Albanians passing on the roads that had been blocked and that some cars had been attacked.

Air raid sirens were heard for more than three hours in the small town of North Mitrovica inhabited mainly by Serbs.

A year ago, after local Serbs blocked the same roads over license plates, Kosovo’s government deployed special police forces and Belgrade flew fighter jets close to the border.

Tensions between the two countries remain high, and Kosovo’s fragile peace is maintained by a NATO mission that has 3,770 troops on the ground. Italian peacekeepers were visible in and around Mitrovica on Sunday.

The two countries committed in 2013 to a dialog sponsored by the European Union to try to resolve outstanding issues but little progress has been made.

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У Росії оперативно відреагували на загострення на кордоні між Косовом та Сербією

До прикладу, у ЄС, на вступ до якого претендують обидві країни, ще не відреагували на ситуацію

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Блокування дороги та сирени – на кордоні між Косовом та Сербією знову неспокійно

Блокування відбувається за день до того, як набудуть чинності два рішення уряду Косова щодо сербських номерних знаків і документів.

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