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Lavrov And Blinken Confirm Prisoner Swap Possibility, Following Griner Sentence

Still, both foreign ministers had tough words for the other country....

Lavrov And Blinken Confirm Prisoner Swap Possibility, Following Griner Sentence

U.S. Olympic basketball champion Brittney Griner

Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

Following a Moscow court’s sentencing of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia was ready to discuss an exchange of prisoners with the United States, but warned that Washington should not “resort to public diplomacy” over the case.

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"There is a special channel, which is agreed upon by the presidents, and no matter what anyone says publicly, this channel remains relevant,” Lavrov said, referring to a framework on prisoner exchanges agreed by the heads of state in Geneva last July. “If the Americans decide to resort to public diplomacy again and make loud announcements, statements that they are now going to take such and such steps, this is their business, their problem."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reacted to Lavrov’s comments: “We put forward, as you know, a substantial proposal that Russia should engage with us on,” Blinken said on the sidelines of of the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in Cambodia. “And what Foreign Minister Lavrov said this morning and said publicly is that they are prepared to engage through channels we've established to do just that. And we'll be pursuing that.”

Of Thursday’s court ruling near Moscow, Blinken said it “further compounds the injustice that's being done to her and her wrongful detention.”

Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of attempting the smuggling of drugs. In June, another U.S. citizen, Paul Whelan, was also sentenced to 16 years of strict regime in penal colonies for espionage. The White House believes that both are being held wrongfully. Washington is offering Moscow to exchange them for Viktor Bout, a Russian convicted arms dealer.

Meanwhile U.S. President Joe Biden also shared his reaction to the sentence in a statement on Thursday: “It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”

Kyiv Slams Amnesty International Report That Criticized Ukraine Military

Oksana Pokalchuk, head of Amnesty International, Ukraine, said that the Ukrainian team had not been involved in the preparation of Amnesty’s report that accused Ukraine’s military of endangering civilians.

Pakalchuk said that Amnesty dismissed all arguments by the Ukrainian team regarding the incompleteness of the report, and the authors didn’t wait for a response from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also responded saying "Today we saw an Amnesty International report that attempts to amnesty a terrorist state and shift responsibility from the aggressor to its victim."

The report,published on Thursday, said that the Ukrainian army was endangering the life of civilians by basing in residential areas, using schools and hospitals as bases firing near houses and sometimes even living in residential flats. The report concluded that this meant in some instances Russian forces would respond to an attack or target residential areas. This put civilians at risk and damaged civilian infrastructure.

Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard responded to complaints regarding the report saying that “Ukrainian and Russian social media mobs and trolls: they are all at it today attacking Amnesty investigations. This is called war propaganda, disinformation, misinformation."

Russia To Launch Satellite For Iran, But Will Use For Military Purposes In Ukraine

Russia is set to launch the “Khayyam” satellite on behalf of Iran to be able to spy on sensitive facilities in the Middle East. However, The Washington Post cites Russian officials who say that Moscow is expected to also use the satellite for its own military interests in Ukraine to strengthen the surveillance potential.

Turkey Says More Grain Exports Leave Ukrainian Ports

The Panama-flagged Navistar dry cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain departs from the port of Odessa

Turkish Defense Ministry/TASS/zuma

Turkish authorities have confirmed that three ships carrying 58,000 tons of corn have successfully left Ukrainian ports in Odessa and Chernomorsk, Russian daily Kommersant reports. The ships received permission to depart from theJoint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, created as part of a UN brokered deal on the export of Ukrainian grain on July 22. The three ships are sailing to the UK, Ireland and Turkey.

Zelensky Accuses EU Of Delaying Funding, “Hostage To Bureaucracy”

European Union headquarters


The European Union is artificially delaying the provision of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine in the amount of 8 billion euros, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said.

“Every day and in different ways, I remind some EU leaders that Ukrainian pensioners, our IDPs, our teachers and other people who depend on budget payments should not be held hostage to their indecision or bureaucracy,” Zelensky said in his evening address, published in his Telegram channel. "Eight billion euros for Ukraine is now suspended. And such an artificial delay in macro-financial assistance for our state is either a crime or a mistake."

On Thursday, Reuters reported that the European Union, to which Ukraine has been granted official candidate status, intends to form a new financial assistance package for Ukraine in the amount of €8 billion by September. Part of the funds will be provided to Kyiv in the form of grants, and the rest in the form of loans.

How Baden-Baden Became A Ghost Town

A Russian Orthodox Easter service held at Christ the Redeemer Parish in Baden-Baden.

Uli Deck/dpa/ZUMA

The Black Forest spa town of Baden-Baden has long been the destination of choice for Russian tourists, with oligarchs shopping in the luxury boutiques and buying up swathes of property.

But Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has changed all that and the town's once-bustling streets are empty, writes Hannelore Crolly for German daily Die Welt.

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Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

Photo of people standing next to a cracked road in Joshimath, India

Cracked road in Joshimath

@IndianCongressO via Twitter
Rohan Banerjee*

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Upis a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

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