New US sanctions target yachts with links to Putin; Russia takes majority control of Ukraine’s key city

UN humanitarian chief to meet with Russian officials amid pressure to restart agricultural exports

The UN humanitarian chief was due to meet with Russian officials as part of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ efforts to allow Ukrainian and Russian agricultural exports across the Black Sea in the midst of a global food crisis.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths met with officials on Wednesday and would continue their meetings on Thursday.

Guterres said there had been no resolution since Wednesday, but the UN is engaged in a serious dialogue with all relevant parties “in order to find a joint pact”.

Dujarric noted that Griffiths’ visit to Moscow was followed on Monday in the Russian capital by Rebeca Grynspan, the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development known as UNCTAD. Grynspan is focusing on bringing big Russians to global markets. He later went to Washington.

“We’ve seen a lot of positive statements from various capitals,” Dujarric said. “We are also very grateful for the role that Turkey is playing in all this. If we have something concrete to announce, we will do it.”

– Associated press

Russia limits exports of noble gases, a key ingredient in making chips

Russia, affected by the sanctions, has limited exports of noble gases such as neon, a key ingredient in making chips, until the end of 2022 to strengthen its market position, its trade ministry said.

– Reuters

Stoltenberg calls Turkey “important ally” ahead of key meeting on NATO bids from Sweden, Finland

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media outside the West Wing after a meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 2, 2022 .

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tried to underline Turkey’s appreciation of the alliance as an “important ally”.

He offered conciliatory remarks in Ankara ahead of a planned meeting of senior officials from Sweden, Finland and Turkey in Brussels next week to discuss Turkey’s opposition to the Nordic countries’ accession to the defense alliance. .

Stoltenberg made comments to reporters after meeting with President Joe Biden and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House for what he presented as preparatory talks for the summit. of the NATO in Madrid to be held this month.

Stoltenberg said he spoke of Sweden and Finland’s request to join NATO with Biden and Sullivan and expressed confidence that the alliance would find a way to address Ankara’s concerns. But Stoltenberg also seemed to do his best to notice Turkey’s value to the alliance.

“I think we also need to recognize that Turkey is an important ally. Turkey contributes to our security in many different ways,” said Stoltenberg, who highlighted the country’s efforts to counter Islamic State militants.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted that Finland and Sweden must show more respect for Turkish sensitivities about terrorism since the countries submitted their requests to NATO. He refuses to give in to what he says is his alleged support for Kurdish militants.

– Associated press

The U.S. Treasury is targeting Putin-linked yacht management companies

The U.S. Treasury Department has announced a litany of sanctions against yachts and yacht management companies linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian oligarchs for Moscow’s continued assault on Ukraine.

The Foreign Assets Control Office said its latest actions are also aimed at Putin’s money manager Sergei Roldugin.

Specifically, the Treasury blocked the use of two ships: the Russian-flagged Graceful and the Cayman Islands-flagged Olympia, saying Putin had used them to travel in the past.

Imperial Yachts, a ship management company that serves oligarchs whose wealth increases and decreases based on Putin’s decisions, is also subject to departmental sanctions.

“Thomas Franck.”

Russia now occupies 20% of the territory of Ukraine: Zelenskyy

Russia currently occupies about 20% of Ukraine’s territory, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video address to the Luxembourg parliament.

“We have to defend ourselves from almost the entire Russian army. All Russian military formations ready for combat are involved in this aggression,” he said.

The front lines of the fighting stretched for more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of land, Zelenskyy added.

Russian forces have made steady gains in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called an “unconditional priority” for Moscow. Ukrainian officials describe the territory as almost completely destroyed by Russian bombing and bombing.

– Natasha Turak

Turkish manufacturer donates drone to Ukraine after Lithuanian crowdfunding campaign

Lithuanian Deputy Defense Minister Vilius Semeska poses with Selcuk Bayraktar, chief technology officer of Turkish technology company Baykar, and Haluk Bayraktar, chief executive of Baykar, alongside an advanced Bayraktar TB2 combat drone in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 June 2022.

Baykar | Reuters

Lithuanian Deputy Defense Minister Vilius Semeska poses next to an advanced TB2 combat drone in Istanbul with Selcuk Bayraktar and Haluk Bayraktar, the chief technology officer and CEO of the Turkish company Baykar, respectively. .

Baykar and the Turkish Defense Industry Agency will donate one of the combat drones for Lithuania to transfer to Ukraine after the Lithuanians financed about 6 million euros to buy it.

– Reuters

Sweden will send more weapons to Ukraine, including anti-missile and anti-tank missiles

The Swedish government has announced a new batch of weapons and financial assistance to be delivered to Ukraine, including anti-tank weapons, anti-tank missiles and rifles.

“The proposals being put forward (in parliament) mean that the funds allocated for the central government budget will increase by SEK 1 billion ($ 101 million) by 2022,” the Swedish Ministry of Finance said in a statement. he added that he “sees a continuing need.” to support Ukraine.

Sweden said in February that it was sending body armor, helmets and 5,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, and a month later it said it would send an additional 5,000 anti-tank weapons.

– Natasha Turak

Putin to meet with African Union leader to discuss release of blocked grain supplies from Ukraine

Senegalese President Macky Sall speaks to the media at an EU-Africa summit on February 17, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse / Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet on Friday with African Union leader and Senegalese President Macky Sall to discuss unlocking grain and wheat stocks that have been frozen by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The meeting, which will be held in the southern Russian city of Sochi, aims to “release stocks of cereals and fertilizers, the blockade of which especially affects African countries,” as well as alleviate the conflict in Ukraine, according to a statement. statement from Sall. said the office.

Putin has been accused of using food and hunger, as his forces have been blocking vital ports for months and attacking agricultural logistics centers in Ukraine, a major exporter of much of the world’s grain. Together, Russia and Ukraine provide more than a quarter of the world’s cereals, as well as other important staple foods such as sunflower oil.

The disruption of agricultural exports has led to rising food prices, especially in African and Middle Eastern countries that are heavily dependent on imports from Russia and Ukraine.

– Natasha Turak

Angela Merkel describes Russia’s war as “barbaric” in first speech since leaving office

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has strongly condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine in her first public speech since leaving office in December last year.

Merkel described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “barbaric war of aggression” that was a “powerful turning point” and the “most egregious breach of international law” in Europe since the Second World War. World War.

“My solidarity goes to Ukraine, which has been attacked and assaulted by Russia,” the former leader said at a German trade union rally in Berlin on Wednesday night, adding that Ukraine’s right to self-defense it was indisputable.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) arrive at the plenary session of the G20 summit on July 7, 2017.

Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

Merkel, who has ruled Germany for 16 years, has come under heavy scrutiny in recent months for her history of friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and her history of expanding economic ties between Russia and Germany.

Many criticize it for making Germany more dependent on Russian energy imports, especially with the establishment of the first Nord Stream gas pipeline between the two countries. It also spurred the development of the now-defunct Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which its predecessor Olaf Scholz suspended just before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Read the whole story.

– Natasha Turak

The Biden administration plans to sell lethal drones in Ukraine: Reuters

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone, developed by General Atomics, is on display at the Seoul International Defense and Aerospace Exhibition (ADEX) at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, South Korea, on Monday October 18, 2021.

Seong Joon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Biden administration aims to sell drones in Ukraine in the “next few days” that could be fatally disarmed, Reuters reported, citing three sources. The sale would be four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, produced by General Atomics, which can be equipped with Hellfire missiles.

The Gray Eagle is the U.S. Army iteration of the powerful Predator drone, and can fly more than 30 hours, gather large amounts of intelligence, and carry up to eight Hellfire missiles. Ukraine has been using armed drones with substantial success in the months since the invasion of Russia began, but the Gray Eagle would represent a major step forward in capabilities.

Congress may halt the sale, which has been reviewed by the Pentagon in recent …

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