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In The News

G20 Begins In Bali, Lavrov And Blinken In Same Room

Both the U.S. Secretary of State and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock confirmed they would not have bilateral meetings with their Russian counterpart.

G20 Begins In Bali, Lavrov And Blinken In Same Room

Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bali

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS/Zuma
Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

G20 foreign ministers are meeting today and tomorrow in Bali, Indonesia, for a summit sure to be dominated by the Ukraine war, and the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov among his Western counterparts.

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

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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia must not be allowed to use the G20 meeting as a platform given the situation in Ukraine.

This is the first time the G20 foreign ministers will see Lavrov since Russia launched its invasion in Ukraine. According to the Russian news agency TASS, Lavrov was planning to meet some of his counterparts one-on-on on the sidelines of the summit but several ministers, such as Baerbock or the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have ruled out the possibility.

The leaders attending the summit include Western countries that have implemented sanctions on Ukraine and accused Moscow of war crimes but also others, like China, Indonesia, India and South Africa who have not taken such firm stances on the war.

Boris Johnson Resigns, Moscow Gloats

Boris Johnson

Tejas Sandhu/SOPA/Zuma

Today’s announcement of the end of the reign of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been among the most virulent anti-Russian voices in the West, brought satisfaction from Moscow.

"He doesn't like us, we don't like him either," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said matter-of-factly.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was more brazen: "The moral of the story is: do not seek to destroy Russia. Russia cannot be destroyed. You can break your teeth on it - and then choke on them."

In policy terms, it is highly unlikely that any of Johnson’s possible successors in the Conservative Party, including Foregin Secretary Liz Truss, would take a different line on the war in Ukraine.

U.S. Basketball Player Pleads Guilty In Russia To Drug Charges

US Olympic champion basketball player BRITTNEY GRINER

Sergei Savostyanov/TASS/Zuma

U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner has pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian court, in a case that has become entangled with the diplomacy surrounding the war in Ukraine.

Griner, a two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist, faces 10 years in prison for the charge of drug smuggling after Russian officials say they found cannabis oil at Moscow airport. The 31-year-old made no statement after leaving the courtroom near the capital.

A star in the WNBA, Griner was playing in the Russian league during the off-season. The U.S. State Department has classified Griner as wrongfully detained, as her family and supporters fear she is being used as amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Shelling Continues, Evacuation Urged In Donetsk 

Local residents are seen at a bus stop in the city of Mariupol.

Yegor Aleyev/TASS/Zuma

As Russian forces consolidate their hold on the eastern Luhansk region, fighting is ongoing in several areas of southern Ukraine. Russian targets in recent days have included several towns and villages around the Dnipro river. Fighting also continues in the southern Kherson region, where Ukrainian forces are trying to protect recent gains.

The fighting has set off fires in multiple areas, some of which have burned through fields of crops that were ready for harvest. On Wednesday the Pervomaisk region, grain fields were set on fire and residential buildings were damaged, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Russian forces, meanwhile, continue to shell settlements around the northeast city of Kharkiv. Ukrainian officials are urging the remaining residents in the Donetsk region to evacuate to safer areas as Russian forces get closer. “Russia has turned the entire Donetsk region into a hot spot where it is dangerous to remain for civilians,” the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko said as he called on everyone to evacuate the area.

Ukraine still controls 45% of Donetsk, but after taking over Lysychansk in the neighboring Luhansk region, Russian forces are now pushing toward Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Russia Doubles Energy Sales To China, Boosts By 5X To India

The Sino-Russian natural gas pipelines


With energy prices climbing across the West due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russia sold nearly $19 billion worth of oil, gas and coal to China by the end of May, doubling last year's figure.

India shelled out some $5 billion for the same period, five times more compared to a year ago. According to analyst Lauri Myllyvirta, China is buying “essentially everything that Russia can export via pipelines and Pacific ports."

Former Zelensky Ally Charged With High Treason

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General's Office said it had charged Oleksiy Kovalyov, a former lawmaker from President Volodymyr Zelensky's Servant of the People party, with high treason. According to the investigation, Kovalyov has publicly supported Russian troops and agreed to serve in the Kherson Oblast's Russian occupation government. Kovalyov was expelled from Zelensky's party in May.

Ukraine To Harvest 50 Million Tons Of Grain, Better Than Expected

Grain silos are pictured in Odesa Region

Nina Liashonok/Ukrinform/Zuma

Ukraine expects to harvest at least 50 million tons of grain in 2022. Last year it produced 85 million tons but this number is still above expectations according to Taras Vysotskyi, the first deputy minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine. The results will be reevaluated in October.

“Taking into consideration all circumstances and difficulties of the sowing campaign and the logistics during the wartime, we expect the harvest to be not that bad — higher than the average for the last five years,” Vysotskyi said. He also added that Ukraine would have to export more than half of that grain.

Ukraine Raises Flag On Snake Island

As Russia fired more missiles at Snake Island, Ukraine raised its flag to definitively signal its recapture in Kyiv’s hands.

Starbucks To Reopen In Russia Under New Business, New Name

Closed Starbucks in Moscow

Vlad Karkov/SOPA/Zuma

Russian businessman Anton Pinsky, founder of Pinksy&Co, has bought the Russian outlets of the U.S.-based coffee chain Starbucks in order to continue business in the country. According to Russian daily Vedomosti, the transaction will include the rental rights to all areas of Starbucks coffee shops. The new owner of the network will also have to rename it, just like McDonald's (changed to “Tasty and that’s it!").

In early March, due to the invasion of Ukraine, Starbucks suspended business activity in Russia. The company stopped supplying its products and closed coffee shops. On May 23, it announced that it would permanently leave the Russian market.

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How WeChat Is Helping Bhutan's Disappearing Languages Find A New Voice

Phd candidate Tashi Dema, from the University of New England, discusses how social media apps, particularly WeChat, are helping to preserve local Bhutanese languages without a written alphabet. Dema argues that preservation of these languages has far-reaching benefits for the small Himalayan country's rich culture and tradition.

A monk in red performing while a sillouhet of a monk is being illuminated by their phone.

Monk performing while a sillouheted monk is on their phone

Source: Caterina Sanders/Unsplash
Tashi Dema

THIMPHU — Dechen, 40, grew up in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Her native language was Mangdip, also known as Nyenkha, as her parents are originally from central Bhutan. She went to schools in the city, where the curriculum was predominantly taught in Dzongkha, the national language, and English.

In Dechen’s house, everyone spoke Dzongkha. She only spoke her mother tongue when she had guests from her village, who could not understand Dzongkha and during her occasional visits to her village nestled in the mountains. Her mother tongue knowledge was limited.

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However, things have now changed.

With 90% of Bhutanese people using social media and social media penetrating all remotes areas in Bhutan, Dechen’s relatives in remote villages are connected on WeChat.

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