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‘Stop playing’ with Russia, end war: Zelenskiy tells West

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(Last Updated On: May 27, 2022)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the West to stop playing around with Russia and impose tougher sanctions on Moscow to end its “senseless war” in Ukraine, adding his country would remain independent, the only question was at what price.

Zelenskiy’s criticism of the West has mounted in recent days as the European Union moves slowly towards a possible Russian oil embargo and as thousands of Russian forces try to encircle two key eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Three months into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has abandoned its assault on the capital Kyiv and is trying to consolidate control of the industrial eastern Donbas region, where it has backed a separatist revolt since 2014.

Western military analysts see the battle for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk as a potential turning point in the war after a shift in momentum towards Russia following the surrender of Ukraine’s garrison in Mariupol last week.

“Ukraine will always be an independent state and it won’t be broken. The only question is what price our people will have to pay for their freedom, and what price Russia will pay for this senseless war against us,” said Zelenskiy in a late-night address on Thursday.

“The catastrophic unfolding events could be still stopped if the world treated the situation in Ukraine as if it were facing the same situation, if the powers that be did not play around with Russia but really pressed to end the war.”

Zelenskiy complained about disagreements within the EU on more sanctions against Russia and asked why some nations were being allowed to block the plan.

The EU is discussing a sixth round of punitive measures,including an embargo on Russian oil imports. Such a moverequires unanimity but Hungary opposes the idea for now on thegrounds its economy would suffer too much.

“How many more weeks will the European Union try to agree ona sixth package?” Zelenskiy asked, noting Russia was receiving one billion euros a day from the 27-nation bloc for energy supplies.

“Pressure on Russia is literally a matter of saving lives.Every day of procrastination, weakness, various disputes orproposals to ‘pacify’ the aggressor at the expense of the victimmerely means more Ukrainians being killed.”

Zelenskiy’s comments mark the second day in a row that hehas sharpened his criticism of the world’s approach to the war.

On Wednesday, he savaged suggestions that Kyiv makeconcessions to bring peace, saying the idea smacked of attemptsto appease Nazi Germany in 1938.

ADVANCING RUSSIAN TROOPS

Russian forces attacked from three sides to try to encircle Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk on Thursday, said Ukraine’s military. If the two cities straddling the Siverskiy Donets river fall, nearly all of the Donbas province of Luhansk would be under Russian control.

Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said around 50 Russian soldiers had reached the highway and “managed to gain a foothold”, even setting up a checkpoint.

“The checkpoint was broken, they were thrown back … the Russian army does not control the route now, but they are shelling it,” he said. It was possible Ukrainian troops would leave “one settlement, maybe two. We need to win the war, not the battle,” he said.

“It is clear that our boys are slowly retreating to more fortified positions – we need to hold back this horde.”

Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Vadym Denisenko told a briefing 25 Russian battalions were attempting to surround the Ukrainian forces.

Reuters journalists in Russian-held territory further south saw proof of Moscow’s advance in Svitlodarsk, where Ukrainian forces withdrew earlier this week.

The town is now firmly under control of pro-Russian fighters, who have occupied the local government building and hung a Soviet hammer and sickle flag at the door.

Reuters drone footage of the nearby abandoned battlefield showed craters pockmarking a green field surrounded by wrecked buildings. Pro-Russian fighters were milling about in trenches.

The Donbas advance has been backed by massive artillery bombardment. Ukraine’s military said 50 towns in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces came under shelling on Thursday.

The head of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhny, called on Telegram for more Western arms, particularly “weapons that will allow us to hit the enemy at a big distance”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later warned that any supplies of weapons that could reach Russian territory would be a “a serious step towards unacceptable escalation”.

DANGER OF ESCALATION

Western countries led by the United States have provided Ukraine with long-range weaponry, including M777 howitzers from Washington and Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark.

Washington is even considering providing Kyiv with a rocket system that can have a range of hundreds of kilometres, and has held discussions with Kyiv about the danger of escalation if it strikes deep inside Russia, U.S. and diplomatic officials told Reuters.

“We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their hands too much with the stuff we’re giving them,” said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow expects Ukraine to accept its demands at any future peace talks. It wants Kyiv to recognise Russian sovereignty over the Crimea peninsula Moscow seized in 2014, and the independence of separatist-claimed territory.

‘Stop playing’ with Russia, end war: Zelenskiy tells West

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the West to stop playing around with Russia and impose tougher sanctions on Moscow to end its “senseless war” in Ukraine, adding his country would remain independent, the only question was at what price.

Zelenskiy’s criticism of the West has mounted in recent days as the European Union moves slowly towards a possible Russian oil embargo and as thousands of Russian forces try to encircle two key eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.

Three months into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has abandoned its assault on the capital Kyiv and is trying to consolidate control of the industrial eastern Donbas region, where it has backed a separatist revolt since 2014.

Western military analysts see the battle for Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk as a potential turning point in the war after a shift in momentum towards Russia following the surrender of Ukraine’s garrison in Mariupol last week.

“Ukraine will always be an independent state and it won’t be broken. The only question is what price our people will have to pay for their freedom, and what price Russia will pay for this senseless war against us,” said Zelenskiy in a late-night address on Thursday.

“The catastrophic unfolding events could be still stopped if the world treated the situation in Ukraine as if it were facing the same situation, if the powers that be did not play around with Russia but really pressed to end the war.”

Zelenskiy complained about disagreements within the EU on more sanctions against Russia and asked why some nations were being allowed to block the plan.

The EU is discussing a sixth round of punitive measures,including an embargo on Russian oil imports. Such a moverequires unanimity but Hungary opposes the idea for now on thegrounds its economy would suffer too much.

“How many more weeks will the European Union try to agree ona sixth package?” Zelenskiy asked, noting Russia was receiving one billion euros a day from the 27-nation bloc for energy supplies.

“Pressure on Russia is literally a matter of saving lives.Every day of procrastination, weakness, various disputes orproposals to ‘pacify’ the aggressor at the expense of the victimmerely means more Ukrainians being killed.”

Zelenskiy’s comments mark the second day in a row that hehas sharpened his criticism of the world’s approach to the war.

On Wednesday, he savaged suggestions that Kyiv makeconcessions to bring peace, saying the idea smacked of attemptsto appease Nazi Germany in 1938.

ADVANCING RUSSIAN TROOPS

Russian forces attacked from three sides to try to encircle Ukrainian forces in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk on Thursday, said Ukraine’s military. If the two cities straddling the Siverskiy Donets river fall, nearly all of the Donbas province of Luhansk would be under Russian control.

Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said around 50 Russian soldiers had reached the highway and “managed to gain a foothold”, even setting up a checkpoint.

“The checkpoint was broken, they were thrown back … the Russian army does not control the route now, but they are shelling it,” he said. It was possible Ukrainian troops would leave “one settlement, maybe two. We need to win the war, not the battle,” he said.

“It is clear that our boys are slowly retreating to more fortified positions – we need to hold back this horde.”

Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Vadym Denisenko told a briefing 25 Russian battalions were attempting to surround the Ukrainian forces.

Reuters journalists in Russian-held territory further south saw proof of Moscow’s advance in Svitlodarsk, where Ukrainian forces withdrew earlier this week.

The town is now firmly under control of pro-Russian fighters, who have occupied the local government building and hung a Soviet hammer and sickle flag at the door.

Reuters drone footage of the nearby abandoned battlefield showed craters pockmarking a green field surrounded by wrecked buildings. Pro-Russian fighters were milling about in trenches.

The Donbas advance has been backed by massive artillery bombardment. Ukraine’s military said 50 towns in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces came under shelling on Thursday.

The head of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhny, called on Telegram for more Western arms, particularly “weapons that will allow us to hit the enemy at a big distance”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later warned that any supplies of weapons that could reach Russian territory would be a “a serious step towards unacceptable escalation”.

DANGER OF ESCALATION

Western countries led by the United States have provided Ukraine with long-range weaponry, including M777 howitzers from Washington and Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark.

Washington is even considering providing Kyiv with a rocket system that can have a range of hundreds of kilometres, and has held discussions with Kyiv about the danger of escalation if it strikes deep inside Russia, U.S. and diplomatic officials told Reuters.

“We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their hands too much with the stuff we’re giving them,” said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow expects Ukraine to accept its demands at any future peace talks. It wants Kyiv to recognise Russian sovereignty over the Crimea peninsula Moscow seized in 2014, and the independence of separatist-claimed territory.

World

Dozens of migrants die in truck in Texas

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(Last Updated On: June 28, 2022)

More than 40 migrants were found dead inside a tractor-trailer in Texas State of the United States on Monday, reports said.

Sixteen other people found inside the trailer were taken to hospital for heat stroke and exhaustion, including four minors, Reuters reported citing the fire department of the San Antonio city where the truck was found.

Officials also said three people were arrested following the incident.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the “tragedy in Texas” on Twitter and said the local consulate was en route to the scene, though the nationalities of the victims had not been confirmed.

There have been a record number of migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, which has sparked criticism of the immigration policies of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 250 km from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 39.4 degrees Celsius on Monday with high humidity.

In July 2017, ten migrants died after being transported in a tractor-trailer that was discovered by San Antonio police in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The driver was sentenced the following year to life in prison for his role in the smuggling operation.

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G-7 leaders set to commit to long haul in backing Ukraine

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

Leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers are set to commit themselves to the long haul in supporting Ukraine as they meet in the German Alps and confer by video link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The G-7 leaders will begin Monday’s session of their three-day summit with a focus on Ukraine. Later, they will be joined by the leaders of five democratic emerging economies — India, Indonesia, South Africa, Senegal and Argentina — for a discussion on climate change, energy and other issues, AP reported.

The war in Ukraine was already at the forefront of the G-7 leaders’ minds as they opened their summit at the secluded Schloss Elmau luxury hotel on Sunday — just as Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for the first time in weeks.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has been counting on, from the beginning, that somehow NATO and the G-7 would splinter, but we haven’t and we’re not going to.” Britain’s Boris Johnson warned the leaders not to give in to “fatigue.”

On Monday, they have the opportunity to demonstrate that unity to Zelenskyy and reaffirm their commitment to supporting Kyiv financially and otherwise, AP reported.

Biden hopes to use his trip to Europe to proclaim the unity of the coalition pressing to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as much as he is urging allies to do even more — seeking to counter doubts about its endurance as the war grinds into its fifth month.

The summit’s host, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said last week that he wants to discuss the outlines of a “Marshall plan for Ukraine” with his G-7 counterparts, referring to the U.S.-sponsored plan that helped revive European economies after World War II.

With the war still in progress and destruction mounting by the day, it’s unlikely to be a detailed plan at this stage. Scholz has said that “rebuilding Ukraine will be a task for generations.”

The G-7 already is committed to help finance Ukraine’s immediate needs. Finance ministers from the group last month agreed to provide $19.8 billion in economic aid to help Kyiv keep basic services functioning and prevent tight finances from hindering its defense against Russian forces, AP reported.

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World

G7 nations announce Russia gold ban as summit starts under shadow of war

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

Members of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Sunday announced a ban on imports of Russian gold as the G7 summit in the Bavarian Alps kicked off under the shadow of the war in Ukraine and consequences ranging from energy shortages to a food crisis.

The move by Britain, the United States, Japan and Canada is part of efforts to tighten the sanctions squeeze on Moscow and cut off its means of financing the invasion of Ukraine more than four months into a conflict Russian President Vladimir Putin calls a special military operation, Reuters reported.

“The measures we have announced today will directly hit Russian oligarchs and strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“We need to starve the Putin regime of its funding. The UK and our allies are doing just that.”

A senior U.S. administration representative said the G7 would make an official announcement on the gold import ban on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

“This is a key export, a key source of revenue for Russia in terms of their ability to transact with the global financial system,” the U.S. official said.

Russian gold exports were worth $15.45 billion last year and wealthy Russians have been buying bullion to reduce the financial impact of Western sanctions, the British government said.

As well as the gold import ban, G7 leaders were also having “really constructive” talks on a possible price cap on Russian oil imports, a German government source said.

The three-day summit takes place against an even darker backdrop than last year, when British, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Japanese and U.S. leaders met for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Soaring global energy and food prices are hitting economic growth in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, with the United Nations warning of an “unprecedented global hunger crisis”.

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