Welcome to Friday, where the Washington-based Study of War institute says Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive has begun even as the Kherson region continues to reel from the destruction of a major dam, former U.S. President Donald Trump is indicted over a classified documents case and the world’s largest ruby breaks a record. Meanwhile, we feature on-the-ground reporting from Ukrainska Pravda on the evacuations underway after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam.
[*Barev - Armenian]
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• Ukraine's counteroffensive has begun: The Institute for the Study of War says that Ukraine's anticipated counteroffensive is underway, while heavy fighting takes place in Bakhmut, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia. Experts have predicted that Zaporizhzhia would be the center of an Ukrainian offensive, aiming for the Sea of Azov and splitting Russian occupied territory in two. In Kherson, the Dnipro river continues to swell as Ukraine claims two pieces of evidence show Russia was behind the Nova Kakhovka dam attack. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has announced it is sending aid to the flood-zone as fears of cholera rise.
• Donald Trump indicted again: Former U.S. President Donald Trump has been indicted on seven federal counts, including conspiracy, after he allegedly withheld classified documents. This comes months after he was indicted on state charges in a hush money scandal. Trump says he has been summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, and continues to deny all wrongdoing. This is the first time a former president has faced federal charges.
• Dozens of Palestinians wounded in Israeli raid: At least 35 people have been injured after Israeli forces entered the city of Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian government in the West Bank. Their aim was to destroy the home of Palestinian Islam Faroukh, accused of a double-bombing in Jerusalem last year.
• U.S. and UK unveil “Atlantic declaration”: During Rishi Sunak’s first official visit to the White House, the UK Prime Minister and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed on a new economic partnership. The so-called “Atlantic declaration” includes a closer defense collaboration as well as deals on nuclear and green energy, innovation and investment to counteract economic instability, Russia and China.
• Siberian heat record as El Niño returns: The El Niño climate phenomenon is back after three years, says the U.S climate agency NOAA, heralding extreme temperatures around the world. Worsened by climate change, El Niño is caused by unusually warm waters off the coast of South America. This affects wind patterns, increasing the risk of heavy rainfall and droughts globally. Meanwhile, Siberia is facing its worst heat wave on record, breaking temperature records across the region in a way that would be “almost impossible” without climate change.
• “Sudden geological disaster” and flooding in China: More than 3,800 residents were evacuated from high-rise apartment buildings in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, after large fissures appeared on nearby streets, probably caused by underground cavities deep underground. Meanwhile, in southwest China, heavy rains flooded cities and roads.
• Old (and very old) shipwrecks found in Mediterranean: An underwater archaeological expedition has discovered three historical shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. Two of the wrecks were from around 1900, with a third being a vessel from the 1st or 2nd century BC. The perilous Strait of Sicily is home to many archeological sites, interesting researchers as its trade route was a point of contact between multiple cultures. The international team also gathered information on three previously known Roman wrecks, which they unveiled at a UNESCO press conference in Paris.
French daily Libération dedicates its front page to the knife attack in the Alpine town of Annecy yesterday. The lakeside city is "under shock" after four toddlers and two pensioners were stabbed in a park. The attacker, a Syrian national carrying Swedish identity documents, was arrested and taken into custody. Two children and an adult are still in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
“Estrela de Fura,” a 55.22-carat ruby went under the hammer at Sotheby’s “Magnificent Jewels” auction for $34.8 million, making it “the largest and most valuable gem of its kind ever to sell at an auction.” In an industry commanded by diamonds, this gem has the previously most expensive ruby beat by over $4 million. Discovered by miners in Mozambique in July at 101 carats, Estrela de Fura was cut down to almost half of its size in order to be sold.
Kherson, where war survivors must now escape the flood
The evacuation of residents from flood-affected localities continues after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam. Evacuees report that they have been bombarded by Russian missiles and fear the presence of mines in the water, write Yevhen Buderatsky, Yevhen Rudenko and Yana Osadcha in Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.
🛥️ The major breach of the dam flooded the settlements near the Dnipro river, forcing thousands to evacuate. The floodwaters have even submerged the low-lying districts of Kherson, the major city in the area, where levels have been known in the past to rise to the second or third floors of apartment buildings. But now, the flooding is bound to be both more severe, and more widespread. In certain areas, the only means of transport is by boat.
🐕 Marina Volodymyrivna Gavrilova, one of the evacuees from the hard-hit district of Kherson, refused to leave at first, shouting from her balcony on the fourth floor that she had ten cats and a dog and that she could not leave them behind. "Once they promised me they would come back with cat carriers, I agreed to leave," Gavrilova says. According to the police, hundreds of animals have been evacuated, and the events along the Dnipro are compared to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.
🔙 Despite losing her home to the flood, Inna Moroz is not planning on leaving Kherson. "I'm not going anywhere. I have already spent 9 months in Poland, my children are there now, but I am here. Because who will rebuild Ostriv if not us?," she says, referring to the flooded Kherson district she was evacuated from. "Who will clean up the dirt when the water recedes?"
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