Russia Attacks Ukraine - 23 Feb 2022 **Media Thread** NO DISCUSSION #4

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Turkey blasts Swedish, Finnish support for rebels at NATO meeting​

Turkey’s foreign minister has described as “unacceptable and outrageous” the support that prospective new NATO members Sweden and Finland give to the PKK, a Kurdish rebel group designated a “terrorist” organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.

The PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) has waged a rebellion against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, and Ankara’s criticism of Sweden and Finland has potentially complicated plans for NATO’s enlargement.

“The problem is that these two countries are openly supporting and engaging with PKK and YPG [People’s Protection Units],” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday as he arrived in Berlin for a meeting with his NATO counterparts.

(...)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said earlier on Saturday that Turkey had not shut the door to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, but negotiations are needed with the Nordic countries and a clampdown on what Ankara views as terrorist activities.

Turkey considers YPG, the US-backed Kurdish fighters based in Syria, a “terrorist” organisation. Ankara views YPG as a PKK affiliate.

“We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey,” Kalin, who is also the president’s top foreign policy adviser, told Reuters in an interview in Istanbul.

Kalin said the PKK was fundraising and recruiting in Europe and its presence was “strong and open and acknowledged” in Sweden, in particular.

(...)

Asked whether Turkey risked being too transactional at a time of war, and when Finnish and Swedish public opinion favours NATO membership, Kalin said, “If they [Finland and Sweden] have a public concerned about their own national security, we have a public that is equally concerned about our own security,” he said.

Kalin said Russia’s sharp criticism of Finland and Sweden for their plans to join NATO was not a factor in Turkey’s position.

(...)

www.aljazeera.com

Turkey blasts Swedish, Finnish support for rebels at NATO meeting

Turkey’s foreign minister described Swedish and Finnish support for Kurdish rebels as ‘unacceptable and outrageous’.
www.aljazeera.com
www.aljazeera.com
 

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3h ago07.08

Interim summary​

It’s past 2pm in Ukraine. Time to take stock of developments so far today:
  • President Biden signed the Ukraine funding bill. The United States will provide nearly $40bn, or £32bn, in aid for Ukraine.
  • Canada has imposed sanctions on the Russian-born billionaire and newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev. The former KGB agent is the owner of UK newspapers the Evening Standard and the Independent.
  • The United States and several countries walked out of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russia’s military said it destroyed a major western arms consignment, west of Kyiv. Sea-launched Kalibr missiles were used, reported the Interfax news agency.
  • Russia’s Gazprom on Saturday halted gas exports to neighbouring Finland. They have demanded that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Finland refuses to do so.
  • Russia has declared victory in its months-long operation to capture Mariupol after Ukraine ordered the last of its troops holed up in the city’s Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms.
  • Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has disclosed that the UK has begun discussions with its international allies about sending modern weaponry to Moldova to protect it from Russia.
 

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The world's happiest countries for 2022

''For the fifth year in a row, Finland is the world's happiest country, according to World Happiness Report rankings based largely on life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll.

The Nordic country and its neighbors Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland all score very well
on the measures the report uses to explain its findings: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support in times of trouble, low corruption and high social trust, generosity in a community where people look after each other and freedom to make key life decisions.

Denmark comes in at No. 2 in this year's rankings, followed by Iceland at No. 3. Sweden and Norway are seventh and eighth, respectively.

Switzerland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg take places 4 through 6, with Israel coming in at No. 9 and New Zealand rounding out the top 10.

Canada (No. 15), the United States (No. 16) and the United Kingdom (No. 17) all made it into the top 20.''
 

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Turkey’s unstated goals in blocking Sweden and Finland

With its opposition to NATO bids, Ankara could be vying to also get the US to unblock a major fighter jet purchase, while scoring political points at home.
www.politico.eu
www.politico.eu

Another critical element is lingering tensions between Turkey and the U.S. over fighter jet purchases.

For years, Ankara was a reliable customer for U.S. defense companies, buying up scores of F-16 fighter jets. Turkey later turned to the more advanced F-35s as those began to roll out.

But the relationship ruptured in 2019 when Turkey purchased the Russian-made S-400 missile system — a move the U.S. said would put NATO aircraft flying over Turkey at risk. In response, the U.S. kicked Ankara out of the F-35 program and slapped sanctions on the Turkish defense industry.

After that spat, Turkey began toying with the idea of buying Russian fighter jets and even developing its own program. However, it is also seeking to both upgrade its F-16 fleet and purchase new F-16 planes. The request has been pending for months with the Biden administration and U.S. Congress.

“That price might well be that the Americans lift their block on F-16s,” De Hoop Scheffer said.

The U.S. seems inclined to pay that price. The U.S. State Department has tentatively supported Turkey’s request, which is now being considered by the White House and Congress.

The matter was one of the open questions surrounding a meeting in New York on Wednesday between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Çavuşoğlu hinted that NATO members could be part of the solution to the impasse. Speaking alongside Blinken, Çavuşoğlu stressed that he understood Finland and Sweden’s security concerns, “but Turkey’s security concerns should be also met. And this is also one of — one issue that we should continue discussing with friends and allies, including United States.”

That issue may include the F-16s. In separate comments published in Turkish media that day, the Turkish foreign minister underscored that talks about the potential sale are “going on positively.”

In Helsinki, there is also a sense that Turkey’s hold may be linked to its current tussle with the U.S.

“Finland has a good relationship with Turkey and we share the objective to fight against terrorism,” said one senior Finnish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I don’t think our bilateral relations are any problem. This is possibly about Turkey’s issues with the U.S.”

But it’s still about Kurdish groups

Some analysts insist, however, that the Finnish and Swedish approach to the PKK remains key for Turkey’s government.

“We can’t solve this problem” by simply smoothing out the Washington-Ankara relationship, said Sinan Ülgen, a former Turkish diplomat who is now a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Europe think tank.

It might help speed the process, he added, but “there’s no way to escape” addressing Sweden and Finland’s policies on Kurdish groups.

The negotiation with Sweden is expected to be tougher than with Finland, according to Ülgen.

“There are bigger expectations from Sweden,” he said, referring to what he described as Stockholm’s “more lenient approach to the activities of what Turkey considers to be a terrorist organization, the PKK, and its offshoots.”

The Swedish government “will have to demonstrate that it has changed its outlook on this,” he said.

Swedish and Finnish officials have said that they are open to dialogue with Turkey. And senior figures from across the alliance have insisted a consensus on Helsinki and Stockholm’s accession will be found.
 

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Sanctions ‘have broken all logistics’ in Russia - follow live

''Worldwide sanctions in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine have caused serious logistical problems in Russia, transport minister Vitaly Savelyev has said.

Russia’s supply chains are at risk of collapse, the former Aeroflot CEO has suggested, as a result of harsh economic sanctions imposed by many countries in the West.''

''Russia preparing to resume attacks around Izium - official says​

Russian troops are preparing to resume attacks in the area around Izium, the administrative head of the Kharkiv region said.
The last battle in Izium lasted four weeks until 1 April, when the Ukrainian military confirmed Izium was under Russian control. Local authorities reported that 80 per cent of buildings had been destroyed.
Today – Oleg Sinegubov said on Telegram: “In the Izium region, the Russian occupiers are preparing to resume the offensive and are shelling the areas of the villages of Virnopillia, Dibrivne, and Dovgenke.
“But our Armed Forces of Ukraine are holding their positions and are not allowing the aggressors to advance.''

canoe.com

Russia says 963 Americans banned from entering, adds 26 new Canadians

Russia said it had so far banned 963 Americans from entering the country, and added 26 new names to a list of Canadians it has barred.
canoe.com
canoe.com
''LONDON — Russia said on Saturday it had so far banned 963 Americans from entering the country – including previously announced moves against President Joe Biden and other top officials – and would continue to retaliate against what it called hostile U.S. actions.''

''Separately, the Foreign Ministry said it had added 26 new names to a list of Canadians it has barred from travelling to Russia, including defence chiefs, defence industry executives and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.''

In response to sanctions, Russia had already banned Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and hundreds of other Canadians from entering the country.''
 

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''RUSSIAN commanders are said to be slaughtering their own wounded soldiers rather than getting them off the battlefield for treatment. One lieutenant-colonel was accused by captured Russian soldiers of personally shooting dead several of his men as they lay injured. The commander asked one soldier if he could walk and when the man replied he could not, the officer killed him. The chilling account comes from army intelligence troops captured by the Ukrainians.''


''VLADIMIR Putin has appeared to retch and splutter throughout his meeting as he met with a close ally and defence aide. The Russian president's face appeared bloated as he gripped the table in front of him during talks with Sergey Chemezov, head of state-owned defence giant Rostec. Putin, 69, sat opposite Chemezov, whom he has known since they were both in the KGB in the 1980s, staring ahead with dull eyes. He seemed to retch several times and struggle to speak throughout the clip released by Russian state TV. It is the latest appearance by Putin to spark speculation about his health since the start of the war in Ukraine. ''
 

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www.ctvnews.ca

Starbucks is leaving Russia for good

Starbucks is leaving Russia for good. The coffee company paused its operations and stopped shipments of its products to Russia in March. Now, it 'has made the decision to exit and no longer have a brand presence in the market,' Starbucks said in a brief statement Monday.
www.ctvnews.ca
www.ctvnews.ca
 

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“Putin has become both a war criminal and a dictator,” Boris Bondarev, 41, who was involved in disarmarment work at the mission, said in a phone interview Monday. “I can’t work with colleagues who seriously talk about launching nuclear strikes on the suburbs of Washington to scare the Americans into surrendering. These conversations have become more and more frequent.”


www.bloomberg.com

Russian Diplomat Quits in Rare Public Protest Over War in Ukraine

A diplomat at Russia’s United Nations mission in Geneva has resigned in protest at President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, becoming the first envoy to publicly criticize the war.
www.bloomberg.com
www.bloomberg.com
 

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www.google.com

Putin survived assassination attempt two months ago, Ukraine official says

Russian President Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt two months ago, just after he announced the invasion of Ukraine, the country's chief spy has claimed.

Ukraine's Chief of Defence Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov claimed Putin, 69, was attacked in an "unsuccessful attempt" to kill him around two months ago when he was in the Caucasus—an area comprised of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and parts of Southern Russia—only days into the Ukraine invasion.
 

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MAY 24, 2022
Denys Prokopenko, commander of the Azov battalion, was able to briefly call his wife, Kateryna, who said she had also been told that the prisoners had not been subjected to violence. It was not immediately clear if Prokopenko had been able to speak freely during the conversation.


5h ago17.03
The governor of Ukraine’s eastern Lugansk region said the situation there “is only getting worse” as Russian troops advance.

“The situation is very difficult and unfortunately it is only getting worse. It is getting worse with every day and even with every hour,” said governor Sergiy Gaidai. “Shelling is increasing more and more.” He added that the Russians are focused on the key city of Severodonetsk.

“The city is being bombed by aviation, shelled by multiple launch rocket systems, artillery, mortars, tanks,” he said. “They are simply eliminating Severodonetsk from the earth.”

3h ago18.29
Ukraine gathers bodies of dead Russians for prisoner exchange


Ukraine is gathering the bodies of dead Russian soldiers strewn among the rubble of formerly occupied towns and using everything from DNA to tattoos to verify their identities in the hope of exchanging them for prisoners of war, Reuters is reporting.

[...]

Bodies are sometimes used as part of prisoner exchanges and other times in exchanges for Ukrainian bodies, according to Anton Ivannikov, captain of the Ukrainian armed forces military-civil cooperation branch, which is coordinating the effort.

[...]

The bodies will travel on the train to Kyiv where the team negotiating exchanges is based, he added.
 
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