Russia’s territorial goals in Ukraine are no longer limited to the eastern Donbas region, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Instead the Kremlin’s objectives in Ukraine are likely to extend into the country’s south toward the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions, and “a number of other territories,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian state media RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
In a direct threat, Lavrov said Moscow was more likely to expand the war if the West continues to supply Ukraine with more long-range weaponry.
The evolving military ambitions has also influenced Russia’s likelihood to accept a deal with Ukraine to end the hostilities. “Our readiness to accept the Ukrainian proposal was based on the geography of March 2022.” Russia would now have to push Ukrainian forces further from the front line to ensure its own security, he declared.
“The geography is different now. It is not only about the DNR and LNR,” Lavrov added, referring to the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR), Russian-backed entities in Ukraine’s east. “But also the Kherson region, the Zaporizhia region and a number of other territories,” he said. “This process is continuing, consistently and persistently.”
The foreign minister’s comments came soon after the US announced it would provide Ukraine with more long-range weapons. It will receive another four Himars advanced rocket systems, bringing the total up to 16, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba responded to Lavrov by stating: “By confessing dreams to grab more Ukrainian land, (the) Russian foreign minister proves that Russia rejects diplomacy and focuses on war and terror. Russians want blood, not talks.”
Nord Stream 1 Reopens But The Battle For Gas Is Not Over
Nord Stream 1
Nord Stream 1 reopens Thursday morning after being closed for 10 days due to scheduled maintenance. However, the gas will flow at around 530 gigawatts hour per day following the pipeline’s maintenance period. This is only "30%" of its capacity, noted on Twitter earlier this morning the president of the German Network Agency, Klaus Müller. “It’s better than nothing but of course not what is contractually agreed,” he added in an interview.
Last month, Gazprom cut the pipeline’s capacity to 40%, blaming Canadian sanctions. Russian president Vladimir Putin said yesterday during a press briefing in Tehran that the pipeline’s capacity could be limited further due to slow progress in equipment servicing.
The continued reduction in gas supply through Nord Stream 1 is likely to make it more difficult for countries to restock before winter. On Wednesday, the European Union announced plans to ration gas until next spring, amid fears Russia could drastically cut the flow of natural gas to the continent. The "Save Gas for a Safe Winter" plan sets a target for the 27 member states to reduce their gas demand by 15% between August and March next year. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that a total shut off of Russian gas was a "likely scenario."
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany abruptly halted plans to open the new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, which would have doubled the supply of Russian gas to Germany.
What Draghi’s Resignation Could Mean For European Unity Against Putin
Mario Draghi during his visit to Ukraine with Volodymyr Zelensky
It’s the second major resignation of the month of a strong supporter of the Ukraine war effort. Following Boris Johnson’s ouster in the UK, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government has collapsed.
Like he did with Johnson, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky thanked Draghi for the “unwavering” military and humanitarian aid that Italy has provided since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
Though Zelensky says that he expects Italian support for Kyiv to continue, it is not as sure as it is with British support (expected to be maintained by the incoming Conservative Party replacement of Johnson).
With snap elections expected in September in Italy, there are a growing number of Italian politicians questioning Europe’s policy of continuing to back Ukraine, especially in the face of the economic and energy crisis that it is producing around the world.After Draghi’s resignation, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said: “It’s no coincidence that the government was brought down by two political parties that have been winking at Vladimir Putin.”
El País Front Page (Spain)
During an attack in Kharkiv on Wednesday morning, a 13-year-old boy was among three victims of a Russian attack. A photographer captured the moment his father found the body.
China Ambassador To U.S. Calls For “Immediate Truce” In Ukraine
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang in Colorado
China is reiterating its call for a ceasefire in Ukraine, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang said Wednesday at a speaking event in Colorado. “What China is calling for is an immediate truce, the resumption of peace talks. All interested parties should participate in them, including between Russia and the United States and their allies,” Qin was quoted by Russian news agency TASS as saying at the Aspen Institute’s annual security forum.
Back in March, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Beijing intends to take an independent position on the crisis in Ukraine, though more of the blame in recent weeks has been directed at the U.S. and the West.
Director Of CIA Says No Sign That Putin Has Health Issues
Vladimir Putin on a fishing trip in 2021
Director of the CIA William Burns says U.S. intelligence has seen no evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin is suffering any serious illness, despite several months of uncorroborated reports about his health.
“There are a lot of rumours about President Putin's health, and as far as we can tell, he's obviously very healthy," Burns said.
At Wednesday’s Security Forum in Aspen, Burns, a former American ambassador to Russia, also described Putin as "a very combustible mixture of resentment, ambition and insecurity."
This said, Burns said the Russian president is wrong to think he can win a bloody war of attrition against Ukraine, as he was previously proven wrong that his troops could capture Kyiv within the first days of the invasion.
A Ukrainian Writer Tries To Make Sense Of Her Second Job In The South Of France
Parasols on the beach in southern France
Worldcrunch’s Anna Akage has another job to help pay the bills: at a luxury hotel in southern France. It brings the stark contrast of her life right now, and the risks facing her native country, into desperately sharp relief.
“For four months now, in addition to contributing to this chronicling, and writing and translating articles from my native country, I have also been working as a part-time receptionist in a hotel. It’s a five-star hotel in the south of France, the place I’ve called home for the past three years.
This other job requires that I solve problems guests may have with their bookings for Mediterranean cruises or appliances that don’t work in their rooms, I reserve restaurants and order diet food for vacationing dogs. The job requires that I do my work with a smile — I smile all the time at my other job.” Read the full story here.
Ukraine’s First Lady Asks U.S. Congress For More Weapons
Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska addressed the U.S. Congress on Wednesday asking for more weapons including air defense systems. Zelenska began her speech to the lawmakers saying “I want to address you not as a first lady but as a daughter and a mother.”
She showed photographs of children whose lives had been destroyed by the war, saying that Ukrainians need vital military aid to “have the right to wake up alive” and to defend against Russian airstrikes that “kill babies in strollers.” "I am asking for weapons. Weapons that will not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land but to protect one’s home." Ms. Zelenska’s speech came a day after she met her American counterpart, Jill Biden, at the White House.Earlier Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US will send four more high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine in the next package of security assistance, which will be officially announced later this week.
U.S. Finds Fabergé Egg On Seized Yacht
Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov' yacht
A Fabergé egg has been found aboard a Russian oligarch’s yacht. Seized by U.S. authorities, the $300 million yacht owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov had been transported from Fiji to the San Diego Bay late last month, where it remains docked.
U.S. deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco told the Aspen Security Forum that the jeweled egg, which, if authentic, would make it one of the few remaining in the world and worth millions of dollars. This marks one of the more "interesting" discoveries federal law enforcement officials have made aboard the seized yachts. These precious eggs were created by the House of Fabergé in Saint Petersburg between the late 19th century and the early 20th century.
As a part of the U.S. justice department’s “KleptoCapture” initiative and a multinational task force called Repo (Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs) the U.S. and its allies have seized billions of dollars’ worth of sanctioned Russian assets since March, according to the treasury department. The Justice Department has asked Congress for the authority to give Ukraine the proceeds from the seized goods.