Daily Archives: June 7, 2022

‘Nuclear war is coming’ Putin’s mouthpiece warns west of ‘World War 3’ in latest threat – Irish Mirror

Posted: June 7, 2022 at 1:55 am

Vladimir Putin's close ally has issued a warning to the west that 'World War 3' is coming.

Russian political scientist Sergey Mikheyev appeared on state-controlled TV to send a nuclear threat to the west.

Speaking on Russia's Channel 1, he said the west sending weapons to help Ukraine would escalate into WW3.

READ MORE:Vladimir Putin had cancer treatment in April and end is near, classified US report says

"The nuclear war is coming", he added after warning, "[the West] don't understand what happens next", reports Express.

Speaking live on Russian state TV, Mr Mikheyev said: "[The West] talk about how many more weapons are being sent and how frightening these weapons are.

"They don't understand what happens next.

"They all say 'terrible weapons are arriving over there, they keep coming and coming'.

"They promised not to use them a certain way.

"But most likely, they will do it anyway. And that will lead to WW3.

"Then we're being told 'calm down, comrades, everything will be alright'.

"Those guys will send weapons, and so will others.

"They will most likely try to use them. A common man asks, 'What happens next?'. Next comes WW3. The nuclear war is coming, that's all.

"There will be a nuclear war."

Referring to Mr Mikheyev's words, Channel 1 host also added: "I'm sick of them [the west].

"Reading about whatever they come up with next, like their new lists of sanctions.

"If you want war with us, then declare war. We will strike the decision-making centres, and those are not in Kyiv.

"We knew that our adversary is NATO, and all our weapons were developed not merely for Ukraine but for a confrontation with the NATO bloc.

"We could spit on whatever they send to Ukraine".

The claims came as US President Joe Biden announced that new weapons and aid package would be sent to Ukraine in the coming days.

In a statement, he said the US would send "more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable [Ukrainian soldiers] to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine".

Long-range missiles are also believed to be part of the package that will reach Ukraine in the next few days.

The US had previously been unwilling to send these weapons out of fear that they could be used against targets in Russian territory, given their ability to launch missiles at a distance of over 45 miles away.

Ukraine, however, has assured the US and confirmed it would not use the long-range missiles for those purposes.

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Posted: at 1:54 am

LVIV, Ukraine As Finlands leaders dealt him a blow by announcing their support for joining NATO, Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed his determination to maintain Moscows sway over eastern Ukraine as Russian missiles pounded the area.

Putin, in a message released by the Kremlin on Thursday, offered his support to Leonid Pasechnik, the head of pro-Russia separatists in the self-proclaimed Luhansk Peoples Republic, part of Ukraines eastern Donbas region.

I am sure that through our joint efforts we will defend the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Luhansk republic, Putin said, as his war on Ukraine began its 12th week.

The Russian leaders message was backed by a torrent of Russian airstrikes and artillery barrages along the 300-mile-long eastern battlefront, including on a steel mill where the last pocket of Ukrainian military resistance remains in the strategic southeastern port city of Mariupol.

The fighting came amid the dramatic announcement by Finlands president and prime minister of their support for joining NATO, paving the way for an expansion of the U.S.-led military alliance that Putin partially blamed for his decision to invade Ukraine.

Finland, a historically neutral country that shares an 830-mile land border with Russia, is expected to be joined soon by Sweden in seeking membership in the 30-member security pact.

NATO membership would strengthen Finlands security, President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement Thursday. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.

Kremlin officials warned that they saw Finlands move to join NATO as a threat. Another expansion of NATO does not make our continent more stable and secure, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to the Interfax news agency.

The addition of the two Nordic states to NATO would underscore how badly Putin has miscalculated the worlds response to his invasion of Ukraine, which has failed to achieve its initial military objectives, prompted Europe to begin weaning itself off Russias most valuable export fossil fuels and compelled nonaligned states to pick sides.

This is monumental, said Aglaya Snetkov, a Russia expert and lecturer in international politics at University College London. This reverses decades of foreign policy.

Putins initial plan of drawing a line in the sand between Russia and NATO and reversing the latters expansion has spectacularly backfired, she added. This is precisely what Russia did not want: NATO expansion.

The Kremlin responded by saying that Putin had already set in motion a strengthening of Russian defenses along its western flank. But Snetkov said Moscow would likely struggle to mount a significant response if Finland and Sweden joined NATO, given the vast deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.

It is bogged down in Ukraine, has pulled its troops from its other borders, Snetkov said. Realistically, what can it do? If it doesnt respond, which I think is likely, this shows yet again the weakness of Russia and that its full of empty threats.

More than a dozen Russian armored vehicles were destroyed crossing the Siversky Donets River near the village of Bilohorivka in Luhansk, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, which posted pictures on Facebook of charred tanks and the remnants of two pontoon bridges. The photos could not be independently verified.

The village was the target of a Russian strike over the weekend that hit a school-turned-shelter, killing about 60 civilians, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Ukrainian military said Thursday morning that it had repulsed nine Russian attacks over the last 24 hours in Luhansk and Donetsk, while admitting that Russian advances in the region had achieved partial success.

Russian airstrikes continued to rain down on the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, where the citys last defenders have been holed up for weeks. The dire situation prompted Kyiv to offer the release of Russian prisoners of war in exchange for the safe evacuation of injured soldiers trapped inside the mill.

Negotiations were ongoing Thursday, said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, but none of the options discussed so far was ideal.

The defenders, members of the Azov regiment, have refused to surrender despite heavy bombardment and quickly depleting sources of food, water and medicine.

Only a fraction of Mariupols 400,000 residents are believed to remain in the shattered city, which Mayor Vadym Boychenko said was reduced to a medieval ghetto. Many of the citys evacuees have fled about 120 miles northwest to the town of Zaporizhzhia, which was hit by Russian shells and grenades, the Ukrainian military said Thursday.

More than 8 million people are now displaced within Ukraine, with nearly half fleeing homes in the countrys east, according to the International Organization for Migration. Meanwhile, more than 6 million have fled Ukraine since Russian invaded 11 weeks ago, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Ukraines human rights chief alleged that about 3,000 Mariupol residents were being held in prisons controlled by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Lyudmyla Denysova alleged on social media that some of the detainees were being interrogated under coercion and enduring terrible living conditions. The claims could not be independently verified.

Three people were killed and 12 injured in airstrikes overnight in the northern Chernihiv region, according to The Associated Press, citing local media.

The United Nations top human rights representative Thursday blamed the Russian military and its proxies for most of the wars civilian deaths.

According to our information, while such incidents can be attributed to both parties to the conflict, most of these casualties appear attributable to the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told a special session of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council.

She said the vast majority of the casualties were caused by explosive weapons, including heavy artillery and missiles.

The council is expected to vote on a resolution repeating its demand for the immediate cessation of military hostilities against Ukraine. The U.N. General Assembly suspended Russia from the body last month amid allegations of atrocities by Russian forces in the suburbs of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where bodies of civilians bearing signs of torture and summary execution have been uncovered.

Russias determination to continue its war against Ukraine has spooked other neighboring countries, including Finland, a country of 5.5 million people, which had up to now refrained from joining NATO so as to not provoke Moscow. Putin has long viewed NATOs expansion, particularly its addition of former Eastern Bloc nations such as Poland, Lithuania and Romania after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, as an existential threat to Russia.

Attitudes in Finland toward NATO changed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, which sparked the largest conflict in Europe since World War II. Polls show that 76% of the population now supports joining the defense pact, a dramatic swing from late 2017 during the countrys centennial, when only 19% favored membership.

The Finnish population looked at Ukraine and said, Russia could do this to Finland, said Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a security expert at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. At the same time, theres the realization that Russia talks about using nuclear weapons in a way Finland cannot address. Finland has no deterrence for nuclear weapons. The only way to do that is to become a NATO (member).

Germany, too, has changed its security calculus, pledging a $100 billion boost in military spending to reach targets set by NATO that it had failed to meet for years.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, buoyed by Germanys shifting position, called on German companies to pull out of the country and relocate to Ukraine.

As Russia keeps committing heinous atrocities in Ukraine, revenues of foreign companies still doing business in Russia are stained with Ukrainian blood, Kuleba posted on Twitter. I urge German businesses to pull out of Russia and relocate to Ukraine. This will be a sincere contribution to peace in Europe.

But European officials will need more than just U.S. support to bring Moscow to heel, which is one reason European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was in Tokyo on Thursday meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Her visit followed one by the Finnish prime minister, Marin, on Wednesday.

Von der Leyen and Kishida called on China which has steadfastly refused to criticize Russia over Ukraine to do more to exert influence on the Kremlin to bring an end to the war.

Russias invasion of Ukraine is not just a matter for Europe, but it shakes the core of the international order, including Asia. This must not be tolerated, said Kishida, whose government has joined Western sanctions against Russia.

(King reported from Lviv and Pierson from Singapore. Times staff writer Jenny Jarvie contributed from Atlanta.)

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Op-ed: We must stop Putin in Ukraine before the rule-of-law is replaced by the rule-of-the-jungle – CNBC

Posted: at 1:54 am

Ukraine must win. Russia must lose. It's really that simple.

So, Let's first stipulate that you agree with that end goal, as has everyone from U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

To embrace anything less would be immoral, set a historical precedent with catastrophic costs, and unravel what remains of our fraying international order of rules and institutions.

President Biden laid out the argument clearly in his New York Times op-ed this week. His words should be read closely by all members of his administration and NATO allies who are still acting too tentatively in providing Ukraine the weaponry, and the freedom of action in using it, to ensure Ukraine's victory.

"Standing by Ukraine in its hour of need is not just the right thing to do," wrote President Biden. "It is in our vital national interests to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make clear that might does not make right. If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions, it will send a message to other would-be aggressors that they too can seize territory and subjugate countries And it would mark the end of the rules-based international order and open the door to aggression elsewhere, with catastrophic consequences the world over."

In short, we must stop Russian President Vladimir Putin now to ensure the rule-of-the-jungle doesn't replace the rule-of-law.

Why write all this now, as Putin's war in Ukraine passes its hundredth day?Most simply, it's because Putin is showing grinding gains after shifting tactics in response to Ukraine's unexpected victories and resilience, and Russian troops' heavy losses and abysmal performance in the war's early stages.

Putin's brutal new approach is to pulverize Ukrainian population centers in eastern and southern Ukraine with stand-off weapons, thus emptying them of their people through death or flight, with less risk to his own troops, replicating the brutal tactics he deployed in Syria. Once these cities and towns are drained of their humanity, his troops can then "liberate" the rubble, seize the territory, and position Russia for the most advantageous peace deal possible, or a further offensive.

At the same time, Putin has been striking at Ukraine economically by blockading its grain exports and either destroying or stealing its available supplies. Though Putin continues to choke on tough sanctions against him, he is willing to risk starvation elsewhere while wagering that he can outlast Western support for Kyiv through upcoming election cycles and other democratic distractions, such as the recent U.S. school gun shootings and Supreme Court battles.

There is a way, however, to counter Putin's new tactics. It will require the newly united West and its Asian partners to grow even more determined, creative, and proactive through a combined military, economic and public relations offensive that would again put Putin on his back feet.

The aim should not be to ensure a stalemate, which has allowed Putin to take 20% of Ukrainian territory, nor pressure Ukraine into a self-defeating peace agreement, but rather to give Ukraine the means to retake territory through a counteroffensive perhaps most importantly at the strategic southern Ukrainian city of Kherson which would ensure access to Odessa and to the Black Sea now and in any eventual peace agreement.

Most important is for Ukraine's potentially fatigued supporters, and even for those countries still sitting on the fence, not to lose sight of the barbarity of Putin's atrocities and thus the moral responsibility to oppose them.

"It's extremely important that we don't forget the brutality," Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's secretary general, told the Atlantic's Tom McTague in the most emotional of terms. "Of course, it is emotional. This is about people being killed; it's about atrocities; it's about children, women being raped, children being killed."

With that in mind, it's flat wrong for the U.S. or any arms supplier to limit Ukrainian fire to hitting only Russian targets on Ukrainian soil. In his otherwise excellent op-ed, Biden wrote, "We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia."

Think about that for a moment.If someone is killing your family members by shooting across a fence from your neighbor's yard, what good is a weapon that can only shoot as far as your side of the fence? If you don't take out the shooter, the killing continues. It's this kind of self-defeating restraint that makes Putin so confident he can win through attrition.

At the same time, the collective West, working closely with Turkey, needs to open Ukraine's Black Sea ports, particularly at Odessa, to address a Putin-generated global food crisis and enable Ukraine to sell the 28 million tons of grain it has in storage.

For justification, one can call upon the Montreux Convention of 1936 which regulates traffic through the Black Sea and guarantees "complete freedom" of passage for civilian vessels.

Said David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, "Failure to open those ports in Odessa region will be a declaration of war on global food security."

Historians point to the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in 1939-1940 to demonstrate that a smaller but more determined country with less military strength can outlast Moscow and retain its sovereignty.

What's true is that Moscow then, despite overwhelming strength in tanks and aircraft, suffered severe losses and made few gains initially following their invasion in November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II.

Finland held off Soviet forces for more than two months, inflicting substantial losses before the Soviet Union adopted different tactics, and overcame Finnish defenses in February. Finland reached a peace deal in March 1940 that ceded 9% of its territory to the Soviet Union. Though Moscow's reputation suffered, and it was removed from the League of Nations, it came away with more territory than it had initially demanded.

On the negative side, Putin is every bit as determined as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and shares Stalin's utter indifference to casualties and human suffering.

On the positive side, Ukraine is receiving dramatically more outside support than Finland did at the time.

Yet without even more Western resolve, Putin can still win, and Ukraine can still lose. Ukraine and the West need to show Putin a dead end and not an off-ramp.

Frederick Kempeis the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic Council.

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Is Vladimir Putin sick? | The Interpreter – The Interpreter

Posted: at 1:54 am

Smoke hangs low over Europes skies. Most rises from pulverised Ukrainian cities, ruined by Russian artillery. Some, however, emanates from the ceaseless swirl of rumours about Vladimir Putins health. If there is smoke, does fire necessarily follow? What is gained by speculating about the dictators health? What might his wellbeing say about his decision to invade Ukraine and subsequent conduct of war? And what might it reveal about our own beliefs?

Todays whispers have two sources. The first is Putins dramatically changed appearance. As recently as five years ago, his face was lean and ruddy: past its best, but still passable for the staging of photos that depicted his impeccable machismo. Photos from this year tell a different story: Putins face is now grotesquely bloated. The second is a meeting between the Russian leader and his Defence Minister, Sergey Shoigu, on 21 April. The footage, which has been analysed as though it were a lost Zapruder tape, appears to show Putin gripping the table in an apparent attempt to remain upright.

Some believe Putins physical transformation is the result of an overzealous commitment to fillers or botox, perhaps inspired by his friend Silvio Berlusconi. Others contend that it is simply the normal ageing process of a man now nudging 70. But undoubtedly the loudest voices belong to those who believe Putin is seriously ill.

According to an exclusive report in Newsweek, American intelligence has concluded that Putin was treated for advanced cancer in April. His health is apparently the subject of active discussion inside the Biden administration. Students of the Shoigu meeting are convinced Putin has Parkinsons Disease. An anonymous FSB officer has claimed that Putin has been diagnosed with an aggressive liver cancer and has just three years to live. Ukraines Defence Intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov, meanwhile, has trumped them all, asserting that Putin in fact has several serious illnesses. So loud have the whispers become that Shoigu himself recently denied them.

Many claim that Putins decision to invade was itself a sign of illness. Barely 100 days old, the war has come at such a catastrophic price in blood, treasure and prestige that surely it could only have been the product of an ailing mind, or one which no longer cares about the future? Perhaps. But the Kremlins strategic blunders are much better explained by the fact that Putin has built a regime where frank and fearless advice is a career-limiting move, and toadies get ahead.

To put it plainly, lots of people want Vladimir Putin dead.

In truth, it is impossible to make a firm judgement about Putins health because reliableintelligence about the Kremlin is in short supply. Remember that the vast majority of credentialled analysts greatly overestimated Russias military strength prior to its invasion of Ukraine. Earlier than that, key details about Putins private life and regime were kept under tight wraps. Journalists and dissidents who attempt to shed light on the regimes inner workings are murdered with impunity. Whatever credible intelligence remained has largely evaporated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russias diplomatic isolation since 24 February invasion.

But serious analysts, regardless of their proximity to power, should still be preparing for a scenario where Putin is ill. Why? Because even if illness is a poor explanation for the errors Putin has committed to date, it may inform the future.

In the near term, Kyiv and its allies cannot dismiss the possibility that an ailing Putin will continue to make irrational decisions. Perhaps he will become even more indifferent to the loss of Russian and Ukrainian life. Or, knowing he will not be alive in the world that follows, he may ignore the usual principles governing the use of nuclear weapons. It is difficult to deal with a madman or a sick man with nothing to lose.

Looking further ahead, provisionally accepting the hypothesis that Putin is indeed ill will help the West prepare for the political reverberations his death will cause in Russia. Whether Putin dies in six months, three years, or clings to life and power for another decade will have major implications for the sort of country Russia will be in a generation. The sooner he dies, the higher the variance of military outcomes in Ukraine and political outcomes at home. The longer he remains, the more likely the consolidation of his despotic political order, Russias continued isolation from the west, and its search for insalubrious allies.

To put it plainly, lots of people want Vladimir Putin dead. Partly, this stems from an understandable desire for revenge. But such a wish reflects our lack of understanding or influence over how the war he started will end.

Putins health is an important factor in how the war plays out. Whether it is delivered by an assassins pistol or by his Maker, his death will cause rejoicing and chaos in near-equal measure. In the meantime, just as we must guard against misinformation regardless of its source, we should also be alert to wishful thinking and motivated reasoning. Beware of anyone who has pivoted smoothly from amateur epidemiology, to geopolitics, to faraway oncology.

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Putin orders $81500 payment to families of National Guards who die in Ukraine – Reuters.com

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Destroyed Russian tanks and military vehicles are seen dumped in Bucha amid Russia's invasion in Ukraine, May 16, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

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LONDON, June 6 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday ordering the payment of 5 million roubles ($81,500) to the families of members of Russia's National Guard who died in Ukraine and Syria.

The decree amounted to official recognition that members of the guard, known as Rosgvardia, are among the casualties of the war in Ukraine that Russia describes as a special military operation.

The force, which answers directly to Putin, was created in 2016 to fight terrorism and organised crime, and has been used domestically to crack down on peaceful anti-government protests.

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Western analysts have interpreted its deployment from the early stages of the war in Ukraine as a sign of misplaced confidence that Russia would quickly seize major cities, including the capital Kyiv, where Rosgvardia could then be used to maintain order.

In fact, Russian forces were beaten back from both Kyiv and Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, and are now focused on heavy fighting in the eastern Donbas region.

Putin had already announced compensation schemes for the families of dead and wounded soldiers. Russia has not updated its casualty figures since March 25, when it said 1,351 servicemen had been killed and 3,825 wounded. Ukraine and Western governments say its toll by now is many times higher.($1 = 61.35 roubles)

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Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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Putin’s Chechen Ally Threatens ‘Special Operation’ In Ukraine Within Days – Newsweek

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A staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened that Ukraine will soon see "a real special operation."

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has backed Putin since Russia launched its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in late February.

Kadyrov has regularly posted videos calling on Ukrainian forces to surrender and claimed to be in Ukraine in some of them.

"One of these days, you will see a real special operation," he said in a video message posted online on Sunday, using Moscow's terminology to describe the assault on Ukraine.

He went on to describe Ukrainians as "shaitans," a term meaning devils or evil spirits in Islamic theology.

"It will be seen how these devils flee not only from these cities, but also from Ukraine," he said. "So we are preparing, and we will please the real patriots of Russia."

Russian forces will use "new tactics" in Ukraine in the coming days, Kadyrov added in a caption to the video, according to a Google translation of the Russian.

"More effective and faster results will be achieved in conducting a special operation," he added.

"As confirmation of my statements, I will upload video evidence of the destruction of the Nazis, devils and Ukrainian occupation equipment."

Kadyrov, who has faced multiple allegations of human rights abuses during his time as leader of the Chechen Republic, also issued a warning to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"I warn Zelensky for the last time!" he wrote. "Raise your hands and go out to the square with the words 'Don't shoot, folks, I surrender!' Otherwise, you are DEAD!"

Last week, Kadyrov said he was ready to attack Poland, saying the country "better take back" the weapons it had supplied to Ukraine to help fend off Russian forces.

"After Ukraine, if we're given the command, in six seconds we'll show you what we're capable of," he said.

Kadyrov's latest comments come after a report indicated that the power of Russian forces is in decline a hundred days into the invasion.

Meanwhile, British intelligence said Putin had achieved none of his strategic objectives after three months of war and its successes had been achieved at "significant" cost.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. will send Ukraine more advanced rocket systems and munitions to "defend their territory from Russian advances."

Biden added: "We will continue to lead the world in providing historic assistance to support Ukraine's fight for freedom."

In an interview on Sunday, Putin said his military will attack new targets if Ukraine is sent the long-range missiles.

"If it now comes to rockets and they are supplied, we will draw conclusions from that, and employ our weapons that we have in sufficient quantities to strike those facilities that we are not attacking so far," he said in an interview with Rossiya-1.

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Amb. Michael McFaul: Putin will end the war when his forces on the battlefield can no longer advance – MSNBC

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Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and retired Four Star General Barry McCaffrey join Andrea Mitchell to break down the latest in Ukraine, amid calls for Presidents Putin and Zelenskyy to meet for diplomatic negotiations to end the war. There's just one problem was saying there should be negotiations: Vladimir Putin doesn't agree, says McFaul. He will end the war when his forces on the battlefield can no longer advance.June 6, 2022

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Amb. Michael McFaul: Putin will end the war when his forces on the battlefield can no longer advance - MSNBC

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We need something real: the Russian climate activist taking on Putins war – The Guardian

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Arshak Makichyan made a name for himself as Russias lone climate activist, protesting for change in a country where oil and gas exports have propped up the countrys economy for decades.

Every Friday, for nearly two years, Makichyan protested alone in Moscows Pushkin Square, hoping to draw Russian attention to the danger posed by climate change. Born in Armenia, but given Russian citizenship when he was 10, Makichyan graduated from a prestigious music conservatory and turned to activism after reading about climate change and Greta Thunbergs weekly strikes. I was representing Russia as a violinist on competitions, and I was organising Friday for Futures, so I had a feeling that I am a future of Russia, he said.

Now the Russian government wants to punish him by taking away his passport.

In a court hearing this week, Russia will seek to revoke Makichyans citizenship, in a move that he and his lawyers call unprecedented, and a threat to millions of foreign-born Russians willing to speak out against the war.

Even though I was born in Armenia, I am part of Russian culture, I love Russia, I was fighting for Russia for years, I was risking my freedom for years, said the activist in an interview over the phone on his 28th birthday last week. And now I dont know what to do.

In his first interview about the case, Makichyan, who left Russia with his wife, Polina, in late March, and is currently living in Germany, told the Guardian he felt that the Russian claim was revenge for his anti-war and climate activism. Most recently, he has lobbied European politicians for a fossil fuel ban that could deprive Vladimir Putins regime of its key source of revenues.

Russia has regularly expelled foreign activists from the country. But stripping a Russian citizen of his nationality would be a rare move as the country sinks deeper into isolation and totalitarianism since launching its war in Ukraine. If Russia succeeds, Makichyan told the Guardian he would be left stateless.

I was inspired by [Alexei] Navalny because he returned to Russia although it was very dangerous, said Makichyan. I was planning to go back to Russia with my wife to continue to fight against this war. But now most likely we cannot go back to Russia any more.

The impact of climate change is being felt more and more strongly in Russia, which has been hit by growing forest fires in Siberia and melting permafrost and growing desertification in Russias south. But it remains a niche concern for most of the country.

Before the war, Russias tiny handful of eco-activists used to believe they could lobby the government for real policy change, even as the Kremlin failed to meet its obligations under the Paris agreement on greenhouse gas emissions and continued to profit from exports of fossil fuels.

But the war has changed everything. According to Makichyan it has shown that it is impossible to negotiate with Putin. He adds that he could not pretend like its normal and continue talking about 2050 when millions of people are suffering now.

I was connecting the dots between the human rights crisis and climate crisis, he said. Of course this war was a red line for a lot of people. Thats why I am calling Putin a war criminal and a killer. Because before the war I was thinking that maybe its better not to be that harsh on him. But now I think its a moral obligation to tell things as they are.

The climate activist was arrested in Moscow in late February for speaking out against the war, and his wife had been arrested several times for staging protests. I didnt want to leave the country but my wife was saying that she wants to breathe free air and it was actually unbearable for us, he said. Because we were expecting searches almost every day. Likely we would have been arrested if we had stayed in Russia one or two more days.

At one point, he and his wife even swapped clothing for a Pussy Riot-style escape from a police stakeout at her parents flat. Polina dressed up as Makichyan, a floppy-haired, rail-thin activist who would still fit in on most college campuses. She walked straight past police before a friend drove her out of the neighbourhood.

They decided to marry this winter so that if they were arrested, they would have the right to see each other in prison. Their wedding day, 24 February, turned out to be the same day that Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine. Makichyan wore a white shirt bearing the words Fuck the war in blood-red lettering.

For years, he said, Russia has been using the topic of climate change to promote its own interests, like its nuclear energy programme, while marginalising and ignoring activists in Russia like Makichyan who were calling for significant cuts in emissions.

It was different for us to be climate activists because we were trying to fight for everything, he said. Climate is everything and there is no climate education in Russia so we were trying to build it up from the ground.

Now outside Russia, he said they were shocked by the indifference that many Europeans were showing toward the war.

I think the west can do much better than they are doing now, he said, saying that he had been in Germany for two months and politicians had declined to meet him.

They dont understand how it is crucial now to act, he said. We need something real. Of course if we have embargo on Russian fossil fuels it will influence life in Europe, there will be some economical consequences.

But this war is something bigger, its not about economy, its about survival. If we wont change Putins regime then I dont know how we can have new climate negotiations.

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We need something real: the Russian climate activist taking on Putins war - The Guardian

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Putin humiliated as MILLIONS of Russians make a mockery of internet crackdown measures – Express

Posted: at 1:54 am

The Russian President has taken drastic measures to control access to information, including banning several social media platforms from operating in the country. The Russian government has blocked Facebook, Twitter and Instagram since its army invaded Ukraine on February 24. Additionally, lawmakers passed a bill that makes it a criminal offence to spread "fake" news about the Russian military.

Offenders can face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of the crime, or face substantial fines.

The latest media crackdown has forced ordinary Russians to think up of new and creative ways to gain access to uncensored news.

Digital rights experts say Putin may have inadvertently sparked a massive, permanent shift in digital literacy in Russia that will work against the regime for years.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russians have been flocking to virtual private networks (VPNs) and encrypted messaging apps - tools that can be used to access blocked websites such as Facebook.

Now new data compiled for The Times shows that 24 million (or one in six) Russians used a VPN in May.

This represents an increase of 1.6 million users on April, a clear sign that Russians are becoming more competent in evading their government's draconian informational controls.

Gregory Asmolov, an expert at King's College London, believes the Kremlin is not interested in strictly enforcing its own censorship.

He said: The state is not entirely interested in a complete block.

They understand that lots of Russians use pages like Instagram and Facebook not as a means of finding out whats really going on but to connect with friends and for entertainment.

"They dont want to cause too much frustration.

However, there are signs that Russian officials are trying to close down the VPN loopholes.

READ MORE:Putin warns of hitting new targets if Ukraine supplied with missiles

Russias censorship agency confirmed recently that it is working to block VPN services that allegedly violate Russian law", according to the independent Russian media outlet Meduza.

Technology experts say that ways still exist to get around these new restrictions.

Oliver Linow, who describes himself as an internet freedom specialist for the German media site Deutsche Welle, tweeted: "Russia started to block VPNs. But there are still ways to get around the Russian firewall.

"Despite Tor is blocked - With bridges or snowflakes you can still connect to the network and get access to media that is not controlled by the Russian government."

The Russian government has blocked over 1,500 websites as part of its crackdown, including BBC News.

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It comes as fierce fighting continues in Ukraine's eastern territories, particularly around the city of Severodonetsk.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that the city's defenders were still holding out despite being heavily outnumbered by Russian troops.

He claimed that Ukrainian forces had "every chance" of fighting back and were currently engaged in street-by-street battles with their enemy.

Mr Zelensky said that the intensity of the fighting in Severodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk had made them both "dead cities".

If both cities are captured, then Russia would control the entire Luhansk province - one half of the Donbas region.

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Putin humiliated as MILLIONS of Russians make a mockery of internet crackdown measures - Express

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Putin issues new threats over weapons U.S. is sending to Ukraine – MSNBC

Posted: at 1:54 am

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Putin issues new threats over weapons U.S. is sending to Ukraine - MSNBC

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