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Football Restarts In Kyiv Under Threat Of New Russian Attacks

Photo of an Olympic stadium destroyed by a missile attack in Donetsk Oblast

Olympic stadium destroyed by a missile attack in Donetsk Oblast

Bertrand Hauger, Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

The Ukrainian football season is restarting in Kyiv on Tuesday after a long break due to the war. The first game is taking place at 1 PM (local time) between Donetsk's Shaktar team and the FC Metalist 1925 Kharkiv. The two clubs hail from cities in east Ukraine, a region which is currently fighting against the Russian invasion. The game will be played under special conditions: No spectators will be allowed in the capital’s stadium, which boasts 65,000 seats, and if air raid alerts go off, the players will have to immediately find refuge in bomb shelters.

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Taras Stepanenko, the captain of Shaktar, told Al Jazeera: “When I play football, I don’t think about the war. We should play for our country. It’s our obligation.” When the war began, some Ukrainian players and coaches joined the military or the Territorial Defense Forces. A number of clubs started humanitarian work by organizing fundraisers to support the war effort, and Shakhtar even helped transform a stadium in the western city of Lviv into a refugee shelter.


While some clubs relocated to safer areas in the west of the country, other teams left in the early days of war to play elsewhere in Europe. Most foreign players were allowed to leave their clubs under a FIFA ruling that allowed them to suspend their contracts.

Meanwhile, the threat of possible air raids is looming, with officials warning that Russia could intensify its attacks on Ukraine this week, as the war enters its six-month mark. Wednesday will also mark the country’s Independence Day. The U.S. government, too, has urged Americans in Ukraine to leave the country as soon as possible, as it fears Russia will launch attacks on civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days.

Russia And Ukraine’s Blame Game On Darya Dugina Murder

Photo of a tribute to late journalist Darya Dugina in Moscow

Tribute to late journalist Darya Dugina in Moscow

Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS


As Russia mourns the death of Darya Dugina, the daughter of ultra-nationalist Putin ally Alexander Dugin, the Russian President signed a decree on Monday awarding her a posthumous order of courage. Putin also gave his condolences to her family.

Alexander Dugin spoke at a memorial service in Moscow on Tuesday, saying his daughter died for her country: “She died for our victory, our Russian victory, for the sake of the orthodoxy of our country, our state.”

Russia immediately blamed the Ukrainian Security Service for her murder, but Kyiv denied any involvement in Saturday’s fatal car attack. Russia's FSB security service said the attack was carried out by a Ukrainian woman from Mariupol, whose picture and information were diffused across Russian websites.

The FSB also accused the woman of being a member of the Azov battalion, a unit of Ukraine's army that Russia has designated a terrorist group. Members of the unit responded by saying the woman — now said to be hiding in Estonia and Moscow and seeking her extradition — had never been part of the battalion and accused Russia of lying.

Bombardments Continue In Zaporizhzhia While Russia Calls For Meeting with UN

Photo showing destruction In Nikopol, in the Zaporizhzhia region

Destruction In Nikopol, Zaporizhzhia region

Vincenzo Circosta/ZUMA


Russia continues bombardments in the Zaporizhzhia region, according to the Ukrainian army's military update. The attacks come on the eve of the Ukrainian Independence Day, which commemorates the 1991 declaration of independence. The fear of potential attacks, has led the government to ban public celebrations, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warning that Moscow might try “something particularly heinous and cruel.”

Meanwhile, Russia is calling for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. In recent weeks, the area around the facility has come under heavy artillery fire, with Kyiv and Moscow blaming each other for the attacks.

Last week, news agency TASS reported that Russia wrote to the Security Council warning of planned "provocations" by Ukraine at the plant. The nuclear plant was taken over by Russian troops back in March and still has Ukrainian technicians operating it. Since it is the largest nuclear plant in Europe, world leaders and nuclear experts have voiced their concerns as to the danger of nuclear disaster and have called for an end to the fighting in the area.

Japan Stands By Russian Sanctions And Ukraine Aid

Photo of Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

ZUMA


The Japanese government announced that it will continue to work with the G7 to impose sanctions against Russia. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazy Mastuno said that the conflict "shakes the very foundations of the international order," and vowed to keep providing aid to Ukraine while ensuring its own security and stable energy supplies.

Front Page: The Specter Of A War Of Attrition


French daily Le Monde warns about the looming “specter of a war of attrition” in Ukraine, as this week marks six months since the conflict began.

Polish President Arrives In Kyiv To Discuss Aid For Ukraine


Polish President Andrzej Duda has arrived in Kyiv for talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. The two leaders will discuss the situation in Ukraine, including "support in the military, economic and humanitarian dimension, and bilateral cooperation”, the head of Duda’s office Pawel Szrot posted on Twitter.

Poland has been one of Ukraine’s biggest supporters since the war began on Feb. 24, sending weapons to the country's military and welcoming millions of Ukrainian refugees that crossed the border.

More Than 700,000 Tonnes Of Grain Shipped Under Ukraine Export Deal

Photo of two bulk carriers with Ukrainian grain leave Chornomorsk sea port

Two bulk carriers with Ukrainian grain leave Chornomorsk sea port

Nina Lyashonok/Ukrinform/Zuma


Since July 22, 33 cargo ships containing around 720,000 tonnes of grain and foodstuffs have reportedly left Ukraine, under the deal Moscow and Kyiv, which was brokered by Turkey, has allowed shipments to reach Africa and South Asia, the main regions impacted by food shortages since the beginning of the conflict.

The Agriculture Ministry announced that 18 more cargo ships were waiting for permission to leave Ukrainian ports, and grain export could reach four million tonnes this month. During his visit to Turkey over the weekend, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for massive support from wealthier countries and said the deal offered "hope" for the world.

Deployment Of Bomb Shelters Across Ukraine


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed last night a new law for bomb shelters to be installed in every new building in Ukraine. The law was adopted by the parliament of Ukraine back in July.

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Geopolitics

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023

Before heading to South Sudan to continue his highly anticipated trip to Africa, the pontiff was in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he delivered a powerful speech, in a country where 40 million Catholics live.

Minerals And Violence: A Papal Condemnation Of African Exploitation, Circa 2023
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — You may know the famous Joseph Stalin quote: “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?” Pope Francis still has no military divisions to his name, but he uses his voice, and he does so wisely — sometimes speaking up when no one else would dare.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (the former Belgian Congo, a region plundered and martyred, before and after its independence in 1960), Francis has chosen to speak loudly. Congo is a country with 110 million inhabitants, immensely rich in minerals, but populated by poor people and victims of brutal wars.

That land is essential to the planetary ecosystem, and yet for too long, the world has not seen it for its true value.

The words of this 86-year-old pope, who now moves around in a wheelchair, deserve our attention. He undoubtedly said what a billion Africans are thinking: "Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: It is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered!"

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