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Russia is failing in Ukraine, top U.S. official says

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(Last Updated On: April 22, 2022)

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Thursday that Russia was not achieving its goals in its invasion of Ukraine and that Western sanctions were partly the reason for that.

“What we are aiming for here is a strategic failure for (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. And I believe that is already happening, that no matter what happens … Ukraine is going to survive,” Sherman told a Friends of Europe think-tank event in Brussels.

Sherman, who spoke after talks with the European Union’s foreign service secretary general Stefano Sannino, did not offer any specific evidence for her comments.

But she cited the economic sanctions and export controls that have been imposed by the United States, the European Union, Britain, Japan, and other allies since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow has said its “special military operation” is essential to ensure Russian security and rejects Western accusations of atrocities and the indiscriminate shelling of cities.

“Putin is facing a strategic failure because of the sanctions that have been put on because of the long term impact this will have,” Sherman said.

The Western sanctions have already pushed Russia into its deepest economic crisis since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

Sherman said there would be a “long tail” to sanctions and export controls on Russia. She also hoped China would take note of Western unity.

“We have hundreds of U.S. companies, literally, who have left Russia, and they’re not returning. So, the tail here is very long. There will be strategic failure. Putin has become a pariah in the world,” she said.

Sherman also said if European Union decided to impose oil and gas sanctions on Russia, the United States would aim to avoid anyprice increases that would help Russia’s finances.

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Mexico records deadliest year yet for journalists, with 18 murders so far

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(Last Updated On: August 19, 2022)

This year will be the deadliest on record for journalists in Mexico, with 18 killed so far, human rights organization Article 19 said in a report Thursday, Reuters reported.

Of the 18 deaths, Article 19 had identified a potential link to their work in nine cases so far, the organization’s regional director Leopoldo Maldonado told Reuters.

“2022 could be the worst year in a century for the press,” Maldonado said.

In a little over eight months, the death toll for 2022 has already outpaced the 13 murders recorded last year and the 14 recorded in 2020. Article 19 found the deaths were linked to the victims’ profession in about half of the cases in 2021 and 2020, it said.

Meanwhile, the organization has documented a total of 331 attacks against journalists in the first half of the year, most of which involve intimidation and harassment. Some also received threats, while a handful of cases involved the alleged abuse use of public power.

That marks a 51.83% increase compared to the first half of 2018, when former President Enrique Pena Nieto was in power, it said.

According to Reuters in addition, Article 19 said four journalists had been forcibly displaced within the country while two went into exile in the first half of the year.

“The role that the authorities have in the violence against the press clearly reflects a breach of the state’s obligations to guarantee the rights and integrity of journalists and the media,” the report added.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said repeatedly that his government does not attack the press and that recent murders were by criminal groups, read the report.

Article 19 alleged the state was behind most attacks on the press, with 128 cases recorded in the first half. This is “a trend that has been consistent since 2007,” the group said.

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Israel and Turkey to restore full diplomatic relations

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(Last Updated On: August 18, 2022)

Israel and Turkey have decided to restore full diplomatic ties and will return ambassadors to each other’s countries, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said on Wednesday.

“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” the statement said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the move saying, “Appointment of ambassadors was one of the steps for the normalization of ties. Such a positive step came from Israel as a result of these efforts, and as Turkey, we also decided to appoint an ambassador to Israel, to Tel Aviv.”

In 2018, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel after deadly protests on the Gaza border and then-US President Donald Trump moved Washington’s embassy to Jerusalem. Israel also pulled its ambassador to Turkey, Deutsche Welle reported.

Cavusoglu said on Wednesday, “we are not giving up on the Palestinian cause.”

“It is important for our messages to be conveyed directly through the ambassador,” he added.

In recent months, however, both Turkey and Israel have made moves to improve relations.

In March, the countries announced a new era in relations when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Ankara, DW reported.

On Wednesday, Lapid described the diplomatic breakthrough as an “important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel.”

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Turkish airstrikes on Syrian border posts kill 17

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(Last Updated On: August 17, 2022)

Turkish airstrikes on Syria border posts run by regime forces killed 17 fighters on Tuesday, according to a war monitor, prompting the Damascus government to threaten retaliation.

“Seventeen fighters were killed in Turkish airstrikes that hit several Syrian regime outposts… near the Turkish border,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It did not specify if the victims were affiliated with the government or Kurdish forces.

At least three Syrian soldiers were among the dead and six were wounded in the Turkish raids, said the official SANA news agency, citing a military source.

“Any attack on a military outpost run by our armed forces will be met with a direct and immediate response on all fronts,” read the report.

The strikes took place near the Kurdish-held town of Kobane, the site of overnight clashes between Turkish forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Kurdish forces also struck inside Turkish territory overnight, killing one soldier, Turkey’s defense ministry said.

“Thirteen terrorists were neutralised” in retaliatory attacks by Ankara inside Syria, the ministry said, adding that operations in the region were ongoing.

Turkey has stepped up its attacks in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to green-light a fresh offensive against Kurdish fighters viewed by Ankara as terrorists.

Turkey has fervently opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backing rebels calling for his removal and opening its doors to refugees.

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