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In The News

U.K. Demands Release Of Two British Men Sentenced To Death

UK has called the trial in Russian-occupied Donetsk a "sham" after the death sentences of two UK citizens and a Moroccan who were fighting in the Ukrainian army. Other breaking stories include Putin's Peter The Great comparison and a new post-McDonald's logo in Moscow.

U.K. Demands Release Of Two British Men Sentenced To Death

A family attends an exposition of destroyed Russian war vehicles in an Old Town of Kyiv

Shaun Lavelle, Cameron Manley, Anne Sophie Goninet and Emma Albright

The U.K. has demanded the release of two British men who have been sentenced to death in Russia-occupied Donetsk. Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinnerreceived the sentence from a Russian-proxy court, along with a Moroccan man, Saaudun Brahim, for fighting on the side of the Ukrainian military. Aslin and Pinner had been living in Ukraine at the time of the invasion. They surrendered in Mariupol in mid-April.

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British Foreign Secretary Liz Trusscondemned the ruling: “This is a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy.” She promised to “do everything we can” to support the pair’s families, who have said the men need urgent legal and medical aid. Ukraine and Britain both declared that the “show trial” is in violation of the Geneva Convention.

The Ukrainian ambassador to the U.K. has promised that the two men will be given priority in a prisoner swap.

Daily Telegraph (UK)

The Independent (UK)

Financial Times (UK)

Putin Uses 18th Century War To Justify Ukraine Invasion

Visiting the exhibition "Peter I. The birth of an empire"


It was another “history lesson” from a Vladimir Putin very much focused on the present. Speaking at an exhibition Thursday devoted to Peter the Great, Putin claimed that the emperor’s Great Northern War against Sweden in 1700-1721 had been a “return” of historic Russian land, not a conquest of territory, Moscow daily Kommersant reports.

“Apparently it is our fate too to return (territory) and strengthen ourselves,” he said in an apparent reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Kremlin’s proxies in Ukraine said earlier that the Russian-occupied parts of the Donbas and Zaporizhzhia Oblast, as well as Kherson Oblast, may be annexed by Russia. This comes several months after the Kremlin made clear that it’s intentions were not to take territory but to ‘liberate’ it from ‘neo-Nazis’ and the ‘oppressive’ Kyiv regime.

‘Peter I waged the Great Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, they say he rejected something ... He didn’t reject anything! He returned! Yes, that’s how it was! Where St. Petersburg was founded, when he founded the new capital, none of the European countries recognized this territory as Russia, everyone recognized it as Sweden.”

From Those Left Behind In Mariupol

Mass graves in a cemetery near Mariupol

Cover Images/Zuma

The independent Russian media Meduza has published a series of stories of those who’ve remained in the destroyed city of Mariupol, where much of the focus is on burying neighbours in the pits left in the ground by weeks of Russian shelling.

Yaroslav Dema, who buried eight people in March in the yard of a neighborhood house, says that Mariupol became a “huge cemetery” during the siege: neighbors everywhere buried the dead civilians themselves, in the street, without any rituals. For "Meduza," journalist Kirill Rukov learned the story of five - out of thousands - buried in the yards, and tracked down those who buried them with their own hands.

Also, according to the latest U.K. Defense Ministry intelligence update, there has been an outbreak of cholera in the southern port city now controlled by Russia, as medical service are “already near collapse.”

At Draft Board, Young Russian Conscript Blasts War In Ukraine And Now Faces Penalty

Young Army cadets take part in an annual parade held by the Moscow cadet movement

Sergei Karpukhin/TASS/Zuma

A young man from Stavropol, Russia used his required appearance before the national draft board to call the war in Ukraine "a disgusting and criminal phenomenon, which deprives people of the most precious thing - life.”

Moscow daily Kommersant reports that the man in the southern Caucus city is now facing disciplinary action and a fine for “public desecration of the Russian army.”

Russia holds an annual conscription of young men each spring to replenish the national military reserves, though the Kremlin has insisted that those drafted will not be sent to Ukraine.

European Commission To Recommend EU Candidate Status For Ukraine

Ruslan Kaniuka/Ukrinform/Zuma

Ukraine looks set to inch forward on the long road to full European Union membership. The E.U.’s executive arm, the European Commission,is expected to recommend the country’s candidate status next week. The recommendation would still need to be adopted, and is likely to be tied to conditions connected to the rule of law and anti-corruption legislation.

On Friday, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said the EU’s legislative body was firmly behind Ukraine’s bid to join.

Kyiv applied for fast-track E.U. membership shortly after the Russian invasion. Ukrainereceived support from Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, but the special membership process was rejected by Western European leaders.

This time around, the candidate status would need approval by member states. E.U. leaders will discuss the move in a summit later in June. Several countries have already said they are against the move because they believe it is unfair to give Ukraine preference over existing applicants.

Senegal President Macky Sall Told Putin To Lift Grain Blockade

Macky Sall President of the Republic of Senegal

Andreas Arnold/dpa/Zuma

Senegal President Macky Sall, the most recent head of state to meet with Vladimir Putin, says he demanded that Russia lift the blockade of the port of Odessa, in light of the growing food crisis in Africa.

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, Sall recounted his meeting last week with Putin Moscow, along with Moussa Faki, chairperson of the African Union Commission. The pair was received by Putin for about three hours, and discussed the war in Ukraine and in particular, the risks of a global food crisis weighing on the African continent.

Senegal’s President asked the Russian leader to lift the blockade in Odessa to allow Ukrainian wheat exports to resume, which he said Putin was in favor of. He also argued the sanctions implemented by the European Union had aggravated the issue and warned that Africa could face famine if nothing is done. “I told [ Putin] that we wanted this war to end because Africa is a victim of this war,” Sall told the French daily.

McRussiald’s? New Logo Unveiled For Russian Chain Replacing McDonald’s

New Russian fast food chain logo


A new Russian fast food chain, formerly McDonald’s, has revealed its new logo before reopening its doors Saturday. The new branding shows a circle and two lines with a , representing a burger and fries.

The new name of the chain has not yet been decided, reported Russia’s state-owned news agency, TASS, as 15 restaurants are set to open their doors this weekend. Sistema PBO, now managing the business, explained that, “the green background of the logo symbolizes the quality of products and service that our guests are accustomed to.”

Due to the war in Ukraine, McDonald’s decided last month to leave the country permanently, announcing that Alexander Govor, who currently operates 25 McDonald's restaurants in Siberia, will take on the firm's restaurants and staff, operating them under a new brand.

Under the agreement, McDonald's said it would retain its trademark in Russia and has the option of buying back its restaurants within 15 years.

McDonald’s has been operating in Russia for 30 years, having first opened its doors in Moscow soon after the Cold War ended.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Frozen In Time: A Rare Look At Life In Mariupol Under Russian Occupation

Russian occupation authorities promised to rebuild housing in Mariupol by winter, but in reality, thousands of people face the cold in largely destroyed houses and apartments. Mariupol residents told Vazhnyye Istorii about how they are surviving as winter falls.

Photo of an apartment building in Mariupol damaged by war

An apartment building damaged by shelling in Mariupol

Important Stories

Russian troops shelled Mariupol for more than two months straight, and fully occupied it by May. The Kremlin needed the city to provide a land link to annexed Crimea. It is still unknown how many people have died in the city of approximately half a million people in peacetime.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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In May, Ukraine reported at least 25,000 dead but the number could be much higher. Many are buried under rubble or in mass graves, and countless others reported missing.

Up to 90% of high-rise buildings and 60% of private homes have been damaged or destroyed. Nevertheless, there are still about 100,000 people in the occupied city. Many of them have no electricity, heat, water, or sewage. People live without utilities, with tape covering broken windows, and are freezing in their homes in the absence of promised aid that Russia has failed to deliver.

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