Daily: 22/01/2023

Зеленський відреагував на скандали в міністерствах та пообіцяв справедливі рішення

«Цей тиждень буде часом відповідних рішень. Вже підготовлених. Не хочу зараз анонсувати, але все це буде справедливо»

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Швидкість перемоги у війні залежить від декількох речей – Зеленський

Перемогу Україна може здобути вже у 2023 році, проте для цього українцям потрібно зберігати єдність і міцність, зазначив президент

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Greek Police Search Ryanair Passenger Plane Over Bomb Threat 

Police on Sunday were searching a Ryanair RYA.I passenger plane that landed at Athens International Airport for any suspicious items after receiving an alert for a bomb threat, police officials said.

The pilot of the Boeing 737 aircraft, with about 190 passengers and crew on board, had earlier alerted authorities over a possible explosive device on board, one of the officials said.

The plane, which was flying from Katowice in Poland to Greece arrived in Athens escorted by two fighter jets at 5:35 p.m. (1535 GMT). Firefighting engines were on standby as it landed.

Police were later searching passengers as they were disembarking and their luggage was lined up outside the aircraft.

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Україна має отримати всі необхідні інструменти для перемоги – Джонсон

Чим швидше Путін зазнає поразки, тим краще для України та для всього світу, наголосив колишній прем’єр Британії

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UK: Russia Will ‘Likely Struggle’ to Staff, Equip Planned Force Expansion

The British Defense Ministry said Sunday that Russia “highly likely assesses that an enhanced conventional military threat will endure for many years beyond the current Ukraine war.” In the intelligence update posted on Twitter Sunday, the ministry said, Russia would “highly likely struggle to staff and equip the planned expansion.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced last week that it intends to increase its armed forces staffing to 1.5 million people.

Russia also announced plans to reestablish Moscow and Leningrad military districts. The U.K. Defense Ministry said that move represents “a partial return to the Soviet era organization of forces in Western Russia.”

Russia also has plans to install a new army corps in Karelia, near the Finnish border.

Twitter lit up Saturday with European officials decrying Germany’s indecision about sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics called on Germany to “provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine now.”

“This is needed to stop Russian aggression, help Ukraine and restore peace in Europe quickly. Germany as the leading European power has special responsibility in this regard,” he asserted, speaking for himself and Lithuanian and Estonian foreign ministers.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas called for “many more” weapons to be sent to Ukraine and faster. Regarding Russia’s war on Ukraine she said, “We’re in it for the long haul.”

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Ray urged “action now.”

“Ukrainian blood is shed for real,” he wrote. “This is the price of hesitation over Leopard deliveries.”

Tank training

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on Saturday expressed his frustration with the pace of the military support the country’s allies are providing.

“You’ll help Ukraine with the necessary weapons anyway and realize that there is no other option to end the war except the defeat of Russia,” Podolyak posted on Twitter. “But today’s indecision is killing more of our people. Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians. Think faster.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops will start training to use Leopard 2 battle tanks on Polish soil, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told VOA’s Ukrainian Service on Friday. Reznikov described the development as a breakthrough.

“Countries that already have Leopard tanks can begin training missions for our tank crews. We will start with that, and we will go from there. I hope Germany will follow their process, conduct their internal consultations, and will arrive at the decision to transfer tanks. I am optimistic regarding this because the first step has been made. We will start training programs for our tank crews on Leopards 2,” Reznikov said.

“All the previously announced [military aid] packages have been confirmed. In addition, some new packages were discussed behind closed doors, but I am not at liberty to announce them just yet. This is inspiring. I am very satisfied,” he added.

In contrast, however, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a warning about the possible consequences of the weapons packages that countries have pledged to supply to Ukraine.

Vyacheslave Volodin, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, posted on the messaging app Telegram: “If Washington and NATO countries supply weapons that will be used to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten, this will lead to retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons.”

“Arguments that the nuclear powers have not previously used weapons of mass destruction in local conflicts are untenable,” Volodin said.  “Because these states did not face a situation where there was a threat to the security of their citizens and the territorial integrity of the country.”

Return of bodies

Earlier Saturday, the Wagner Group, the private Russian paramilitary group, announced through its RIA FAN website that it plans to send the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers killed during fighting in the captured town of Soledar to Ukraine-held territory.

Wagner said on Jan. 11 it had captured Soledar, and Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region said earlier this week they were in control of the salt-mining town, where intense fighting had taken place.

The RIA FAN website, part of Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s media holdings, quoted a Wagner commander as saying the mercenary company would send the bodies from Soledar to Ukrainian-held territory in four or five convoys totaling about 20 trucks.

Saturday’s report did not say how many bodies would be returned to Ukrainian authorities but claimed Ukraine’s forces had suffered heavy losses in Soledar.

It said Prigozhin had made clear that soldiers’ bodies should be returned to Ukraine in a “dignified” way but did not provide further details.

In a separate letter addressed to White House national security spokesperson John Kirby, Prigozhin’s press service read: “Dear Mr. Kirby, could you please clarify what crime was committed by PMC Wagner?”

The question was in response to Washington’s decision to impose new sanctions on the military group.

Kirby called Wagner “a criminal organization that is committing widespread atrocities and human rights abuses.”

Last month, the White House said Wagner had taken delivery of an arms shipment from North Korea to help bolster Russian forces in Ukraine.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry called the report groundless and Prigozhin at the time denied taking such a delivery, calling the report “gossip and speculation.”

The European Union imposed its own sanctions in December 2021 on Wagner, which has been active in Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mozambique and Mali, as well as Ukraine.

VOA’s Ruslan Petrychka contributed to this story.

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

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Данілов: РФ готується до наступу, перша ознака – активні інформаційні заходи

На переконання Данілова, керівництво Росії не відмовилося від максималістських цілей – знищити Україну

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Зеленський зустрівся з експрем’єром Британії Джонсоном у Києві

«Вітаю в Києві справжнього друга України», – написав голова держави в телеграмі

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Swedish Prime Minister Condemns Quran Burning

Sweden’s prime minister has condemned as “deeply disrespectful” the weekend burning of a Quran in Stockholm, which has raised tensions with Turkey as the Nordic country courts Ankara over its NATO bid.

Far-right politician Rasmus Paludan set fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book on Saturday in front of Turkey’s embassy in the Swedish capital.

Furious that Paludan had been permitted by Swedish police to carry out the protest, Ankara canceled a visit by Sweden’s defense minister and summoned Stockholm’s ambassador.

Late on Saturday, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson tweeted: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act.” 

“I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today.”

Paludan’s demonstration has further damaged relations as Stockholm tries to convince NATO member Turkey to approve Sweden and Finland joining the military alliance.

Sweden’s bid has been stalled amid Ankara’s demands that Stockholm hand over Kurdish activists and prevent rallies attacking Turkey’s leadership.

Many Muslim countries said they were outraged by the burning of the Quran on Saturday.

Morocco said it was “astonished” the authorities had allowed it to take place “in front of the Swedish forces of order.”

Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also condemned it, as did the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Jakarta said, “the act of blasphemy against the holy book has hurt and tarnished religious tolerance,” adding that “freedom of expression must be exercised in a responsible manner.”

Dozens of protesters gathered late Saturday in front of the Swedish consulate in Istanbul, where they burned a Swedish flag and called on Turkey to sever diplomatic ties with Stockholm.

Paludan, a Swedish-Danish activist who has already been convicted for racist abuse, provoked rioting in Sweden last year when he went on a tour of the country and publicly burned copies of the Quran. 

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У розвідці Британії прокоментували плани Росії зі збільшення армії

«Росія, швидше за все, матиме труднощі з персоналом і екіпіруванням для запланованого розширення»

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Буданов: «знаю всіх людей, які стратили» співробітника ГУР Кірєєва

Водночас Кирило Буданов відмовився повідомляти про те, де ці люди зараз і чи працюють вони досі в СБУ

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Голова Держдуми Росії пригрозив країнам Заходу «знищенням»

«Якщо Вашингтон і країни НАТО поставлять озброєння, яке буде використано для завдання ударів по мирних містах і спроб захоплення наших територій, як вони погрожують, – це призведе до заходів у відповідь із використанням потужнішої зброї»

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Are Women More Empathetic Than Men?

“I’ve always been able to understand how people feel and to see their perspective,” said Luisa Piette, who lives in Cool, California. “I feel their pain, whether it’s people going through a difficult divorce or an acquaintance who couldn’t pay their rent. I’ve been there to lend an ear and to empathize with them.”

Piette has a daughter and a granddaughter.

“I think women better understand what it feels like to put themselves in other people’s situations,” she told VOA.

Piette could be a textbook case on what studies on empathy have shown and what many people already suspect — women tend to be more empathetic than men.

A study released last month by researchers at the University of Cambridge surveyed tens of thousands of people worldwide. Like other studies, it indicated that women are much better than men at empathizing with others, regardless of any familial or cultural influences.

“Our findings provide some of the first evidence of the well-known phenomenon that women are, on average, more empathetic than men,” said David Greenberg, the study’s lead scientist.

Cognitive empathy

The scientists sought to measure cognitive empathy, which is when someone intellectually understands what another person may be thinking or feeling and then predicts how they will react.

For example, a friend tells you they are upset because they had an unpleasant disagreement with someone. If you have cognitive empathy, you will understand how your friend feels by putting yourself in their shoes.

The Cambridge study was the largest to date on the topic. Participants totaled about 306,000 men and women from 57 countries, including Egypt, India, Croatia and Saudi Arabia. On average, women showed much higher cognitive empathy in 36 countries and a similar amount to men in 21 others. In no country did men show greater empathy.

“This study clearly shows broadly consistent gender differences across countries, languages and age groups,” said Carrie Allison, director of research strategy at Cambridge University.

The authors of the report point out the results are just averages, with some men being better at empathizing than some women.

Sandra Murphy, a social scientist in Takoma Park, Maryland, said she doesn’t fit the stereotypical image.

“I’m more analytical, and my husband, who is a lawyer, is more empathetic,” she said.

Jack Murphy agreed.

“I tend to be more sensitive to people’s emotions and feelings,” he said.

Researchers found that empathetic capacities typically rise during adolescence and decrease during adulthood.

Olivia Mickelson, a high school student from Fairfax, Virginia, said, “I think my girlfriends are a lot more understanding and empathetic than my guy friends.”

Eyes test

To measure participants’ cognitive empathy, researchers used what they call the Eyes Test to measure a person’s ability to recognize someone else’s mental or emotional state.

Study participants examined photos of people’s various facial expressions and focused on what they thought a person may be thinking or feeling by looking at the area around their eyes. Participants were then given a limited list of words to describe what they saw.

“The results of the study prove what I’ve seen in my practice about women being more empathetic,” said therapist Cynthia Catchings, executive director of the Women’s Emotional Wellness Center in Alexandria, Virginia. “I think a lot of it has to be with upbringing, with women experiencing more socialization and many having close friends who are women.”

Sara Hodges, an associate professor in the psychology department at the University of Oregon, agrees.

“The reason why people think their mother or best friend is empathetic is because they seem to know what they are thinking and feeling and would act with their interests at heart,” said Hodges, who is also director of the University of Oregon’s Social Cognition Lab where research includes empathy.

Hodges said the lab’s research, as well as other studies, appear to indicate gender differences in cognitive empathy may stem from social as well as biological factors.

“Women are better at decoding nonverbal, emotional communication,” she said.

At the same time, she thinks Eyes Test studies have their limitations in measuring empathy, a complex psychological phenomenon.

“They may not necessarily reflect that people are seeing empathy,” Hodges said, adding that empathy can be used for altruistic reasons or to influence others.

“Some people may be better at reading people’s facial expressions and are not necessarily doing that for compassionate reasons. They may be trying to get someone to do something they may not want to do,” she said.

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«Сильна, бо єдина». Зеленський привітав українців із Днем Соборності

«Все це ми захищаємо. Разом. І переможемо. Разом. І звуки перемоги почує вся Україна»

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Ex-SEAL Dies in Ukraine; 6th Known American Killed in War

A former U.S. Navy SEAL who went AWOL in 2019 was killed this week in Ukraine, American officials said Friday. They said he was not fighting in an official capacity.

Daniel W. Swift, who was a 1st class petty officer, was injured in Dnipro and died of his wounds, said one of the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel issues.

No other details were available, including whether Swift’s body has been taken out of Ukraine.

The Navy said he deserted his post in San Diego, California, in March 2019. “We cannot speculate as to why the former Sailor was in Ukraine,” the Navy said.

At least five other Americans are known to have died fighting in Ukraine, according to U.S. State Department statements and reports from individual families.

Swift joined the Navy in 2005 and was assigned to a SEAL unit in 2007. He voluntarily left the service in January 2014, but rejoined in 2015, and was assigned to a SEAL unit a year later. After he deserted, Naval Special Warfare Command stripped him of his SEAL qualification — essentially revoking the trident worn by SEALs.

Swift also worked briefly — just over three months in 2015 — as a police officer in Medford, Oregon. Medford Police Department Deputy Chief Trevor Arnold had no further information Friday.

He wrote a book in 2020 called The Fall of a Man. Its Amazon page says he became a father at age 20 and “by the time he was thirty he had deployed as a Navy SEAL five times to include Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.” It adds that he had four children.

The U.S. government has discouraged Americans from going to fight for Ukraine, citing concerns that they may be captured by Russian forces and held hostage. At least 6,000 people contacted the Ukrainian embassy in Washington during the opening weeks of the war seeking information about how to volunteer on behalf of Ukraine.

Half the potential volunteers were quickly rejected for lacking military experience, having a criminal record, or otherwise not being fit to serve, Ukraine’s military attache said last year.

An unknown number of Americans have joined units of foreign fighters supporting Kyiv, including former military members. Others are volunteering with aid groups and human-rights organizations. The Biden administration has made it clear that no current U.S. service members are in combat in Ukraine, although there are some assigned to the embassy in Kyiv, including for security and with the defense attache’s office.

The State Department declined to address Swift’s death specifically but said in a statement that it could confirm the recent death of a U.S. citizen in Ukraine.

“We are in touch with his family and providing all possible consular assistance,” the department said.

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Inspections of Ukrainian Grain Ships Halved Since October

Inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian grain and other food exports have slowed to half their peak rate under a wartime agreement brokered by the United Nations, creating backlogs in vessels meant to carry supplies to developing nations where people are going hungry, United Nations and Ukrainian officials say.

Some officials from the United States and Ukraine accuse Russia of deliberately slowing inspections, which a Russian official denied.

As the grain initiative got rolling in August, 4.1 inspections of ships — both heading to and leaving Ukraine — took place each day on average, according to data the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul provided to The Associated Press. Inspection teams from Russia, Ukraine, the U.N. and Turkey ensure ships carry only food and other agricultural products and no weapons.

In September, inspections jumped to 10.4 per day, then a peak rate of 10.6 in October. Since then, it’s been downhill: 7.3 in November, 6.5 in December and 5.3 so far in January.

“The hope had been that going into 2023, you would see every month the daily rate of inspection going up, not that you would see it halved,” USAID Administrator Samantha Power said in an interview Thursday at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The slowdown in inspections “has a material effect … in terms of the number of ships that can get out,” said the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. “That, in turn, inevitably has a knock-on effect on global supply.”

More than 100 vessels waiting

More than 100 vessels are waiting in the waters off Turkey either for inspection or for their applications to participate to clear, with the waiting time of vessels between application and inspection averaging 21 days in the last two weeks, according to the U.N.

Despite fewer average daily inspections, U.N. figures showed that more grain got through last month, up 3.7 million metric tons from 2.6 million in November. The coordination center said that was because of the use of larger vessels in December.

The U.N.’s deputy spokesman in New York linked the slowdown in inspections to the backlogs in ships, saying the rate needs to pick up but did not pin blame on Russia.

“We, as the U.N., are urging all the parties to work to remove obstacles for the reduction of the backlog and improve our efficiencies,” Farhan Haq told journalists Wednesday.

The number of inspections of ships to and from Ukraine is a crucial measure of the throughput of Ukrainian grain to world markets, but not the only one: Other factors include port activity, harvest and agricultural supply, silo stockpiles, weather, ship availability and the capacity of vessels.

The initiative

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was designed to free up Ukrainian wheat, barley and other food critical to nations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where shortages of affordable supplies sent food prices surging and helped throw more people into poverty.

Proponents hoped a November extension of the deal would spur an acceleration of inspections — and thus help ship millions of tons of food out of three Ukrainian ports disrupted by Russia’s invasion 11 months ago.

But Power of USAID said the U.S. was “very concerned” that Moscow might be deliberately dragging its heels on inspections.

“Costs of actually exporting and shipping are now up 20% because you have these crews that are just idling for the extra time it takes because the Russian Federation has cut down on the number of inspections it will participate in,” she said.

Asked whether Russia was deliberately slowing the inspections, Alexander Pchelyakov, a spokesman for the Russian diplomatic mission to U.N. institutions in Geneva, said: “That’s simply not true.”

“The Russian side adheres to the number of daily inspections in accordance to the reached agreements,” he said by text message.

In a Facebook post Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure said ship backlogs began in November.

“The average waiting time is from 2 to 5 weeks, which also leads to millions of losses for cargo owners,” the ministry wrote, adding that Russia had “artificially reduced the number of inspection teams from 5 to 3 without any explanation.”

The time needed for inspections was “artificially increased by checking the performance of vessels,” it added, saying there were cases “when Russians refuse to work for fictitious reasons.”

Turkey’s Defense Ministry didn’t immediately response to emails seeking comment about the inspection slowdowns.

Russia says sanctions create obstacles

The grain initiative, brokered by the U.N. and Turkey, came with a separate arrangement to help Russia export its food and fertilizer as farmers worldwide face soaring prices for the nutrients needed for their crops.

Russia has complained that Western sanctions have created obstacles to its agricultural exports. While sanctions don’t target Russian food or fertilizer, many shipping and insurance companies have been reluctant to deal with Moscow, either refusing to do so or greatly increasing the price.

Overall under the deal, 17.8 million tons of Ukrainian agricultural products have been exported to 43 countries since August 1, the U.N. said. China — a key ally of Russia — has been a top recipient, followed by Spain and Turkey.

Low and lower-middle income countries received 44% of the wheat exported under the deal, with nearly two-thirds of that going to developing economies, the world body said. The U.N.’s World Food Program purchased 8% of the total.

The organization says nearly 350 million people worldwide are on the brink of starvation because of conflict, climate change and COVID-19, an increase in 200 million from before the pandemic.

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Пропагандистський телеканал RT France заявив про своє закриття

Закриття російського пропагандистського телеканалу сталось після блокування рахунків

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Світ має зупинити державу, яка блокує море і постачання продовольства – Зеленський

Президент заначив, що Україна докладатиме зусиль, щоб на родючих ґрунтах зростала пшениця, а не вирви від вибухів

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Thousands Join Rightist Rally Against Spanish Government

Thousands of people packed into central Madrid Saturday to protest the Socialist government and accuse it of undermining the constitution, in a rally backed by rightist parties.

Protesters massed in the Plaza de Cibeles in front of City Hall, waved Spanish flags, called on Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to resign and shouted out “traitor.”

More than 100 groups – including the conservative opposition Popular Party, center-right Ciudadanos and the far-right Vox – called the rally under the slogan “For Spain, for democracy and the constitution.”

Speakers attacked the government for a string of policies and decisions, ranging from the release of Catalan independence campaigners to its pacts with regional separatist parties. Around 30,000 people took part, according to local government estimates.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal, the only party leader to attend, told the crowd the government had “trampled the constitution by locking up Spaniards,” in reference to COVID lockdowns.

Around 200km (120 miles) away in the northwestern city of Valladolid, Sanchez told a Socialist rally that the protesters in Madrid were defending a “uniform” and therefore “discriminatory” Spain.

In June 2021, Sanchez’s government pardoned the nine jailed leaders of Catalonia’s failed 2017 independence bid “in the spirit of dialog.” Its recent decision to replace the crime of sedition with a lesser crime was opposed by the right. 

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