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Zelensky Orders Major Counteroffensive To Retake South

Deploying up to one million troops to try to regain territory would be a significant political and morale boost. But there are also key economic reasons to preserve access to the Black Sea.

Zelensky Orders Major Counteroffensive To Retake South

Ukrainian troops

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

The Ukrainian Defense Minister said that the army high command was ordered by President Volodymyr Zelensky to de-occupy the south of the country, to reclaim the regions on the Black Sea coast that are of vital importance to the economy of the country.

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“We understand that politically it is necessary for our country," says Reznikov.


Speaking to the British newspaper The Times, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, said up to one million soldiers would be deployed for the operation, which will be bolstered by Western arms increasingly coming into the country.

The recapturing of territory, particularly around the southern city of Kherson, would be a major boost in terms of both strategy and morale as Russia has been steadily gaining ground in the eastern stretches of the Donbas. However, the political importance here is overshadowed by the economic stakes.

First, it makes no sense to reclaim those recently lost territories in the Luhansk region, and other parts of Donbas, at the cost of huge losses among the Ukrainian military because almost nothing is left in these territories. Instead, the situation in the south is the opposite: Ukraine vitally needs access to the Black Sea both for military and economic purposes — and the population is also waiting to be rescued from the invading Russia forces.

Reznikov recounted next steps, which include gathering the forces of up of 700,000 soldiers, with the another 300,000 made up of national guard, police and border force.“The president has given the order to the supreme military chief to draw up plans. After that the general staff are doing their homework and say to achieve this goal we need XYZ,” Reznikov said.

“This is my job. I’m writing letters to counterparts in partner countries, the generals talk about why we need this kind of weaponry and then we get the political decisions.”

More Russian Shelling, Death Toll Rises From Apartment Building Attack

Destruction in Kharkiv on Saturday

Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform/Zuma


Russian shelling hit the northeast Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Monday resulting in 3 dead and 22 wounded, reported the regional governor.

Meanwhile the death toll has risen to 19 from a Russian rocket attack that hit an apartment block in the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk on Saturday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said the attack was “another terrorist attack”. As of now, the rescuers are still in contact with two people stuck under the ruble.

Wagner Group Recruiting Russian Inmates To Fight In Ukraine

Russian citizen Artyom Shirobokov who has joined the Ukrainian far-right group Right Sector and the Azov Battalion to fight in Donbass

Tass/Zuma


After almost five months of war, Russia is facing a shortage in manpower and is in need of military reinforcements. The controversial Wagner Group mercenary outfit is trying to find new recruits by plucking from Russia’s prison population.

The Wagner Group is recruiting Russian inmates in the St Petersburg region to join the war efforts in Ukraine, with those volunteering to fight getting payment and granted amnesty. If they return alive after a six-months deployment. French radio network FranceInfo reports it’s “total amnesty.”

Kremlin Shuts Down Journalist Association

Russian newsstand

Vladimir Gerdo/TASS/Zuma


Vladimir Putin continues to tighten his grip on information in Russia. And this time it's no longer an individual journalist, activist, or publication that's in trouble; now the Moscow prosecutor's office is demanding the liquidation of the Interregional Union of Journalists and Media Workers "for discrediting the Russian army.”

Novaya Gazeta.Europe reports on the shuttering of the "Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers," which was first created after the March 9, 2016 attack on a bus carrying journalists and human rights activists on the border of Chechnya and Ingushetia. Russia also sought to control information about the Chechen war as much as possible and persecuted journalists, including Novaya Gazeta, for investigating the war.

Russia Blocks German Daily Die Welt

Die Welt

www.flickr.com


Russian authorities have blocked leading German daily Die Welt, which has been publishing a selection of stories in Russian language during the war.

The Berlin-based daily, which chose to publish in Russian after Moscow had shuttered virtually all independent media inside the country. Die Welt also has published several pieces by Russian journalist Maria Ovsiannikova (which Worldcrunch has translated into English)

Lithuania’s New Trade Bans On Kaliningrad, Moscow Responds With Ultimatum

Kaliningrad Commercial Sea Port

Vitaly Nevar/TASS/Zuma


Lithuania has expanded the list of sanctioned goods that cannot be brought into the strategic Baltic Sea Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Lithuania says it is responding to new European Union sanction requirements, which now ban not only metals, construction materials, but also timber, alcohol, and alcohol-based industrial chemicals cannot.

All this has strongly affected the economy of the Russian territory, tucked between Lithuania and Poland. And Moscow has issued an ultimatum in response: either "in the nearest future" Lithuania will restore "cargo transit between Kaliningrad region and the rest of the territory of the Russian Federation...in full," or Russia does not guarantee itself.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.Europe quoted Anton Alikhanov, Governor of the Kaliningrad region, in response to the new restrictions. He proposed a "complete ban on the movement of goods, including those in transit from third countries," between the three Baltic states and Russia, "with an exception for the Kaliningrad region."

Gerhard Schröder Won’t Break Off Putin Friendship

Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder

Kremlin.ru


In an interview with daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said he would “not give up my opportunities to talk with President Putin.”

Schröder added he did not believe in a military solution to the war. After visiting Putin in March, the former German chancellor said it was his understanding that the Kremlin was interested in a diplomatic solution — instead blaming Ukraine for the failure of peace talks so far.

Schröder’s closeness with Russia caused scrutiny over the years: In 2005, just weeks after losing the German chancellery to Angela Merkel, Schröder was named chairman of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that connects Russia to Germany. In 2017, he was nominated as independent director of the board of its Kremlin-linked Rosneft, although he did reject a nomination to a supervisory role on the board of Gazprom earlier this year.

Pressure has mounted on Schröder to distance himself from the Russian president since the start of the invasion of Ukraine: In April, he was asked by the co-leader of the SPD to quit the party, after he refused to step down from Russian companies. German news channel n-tv also has reported that European lawmakers planned on hitting Schröder with economic sanctions.

Bill Richardson Expected To Travel To Russia To Try To Free Griner, Whelan

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal/Zuma

Former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson is expected to travel to Russia in the coming weeks to try win the release of basketball star Brittney Griner and ex U.S. marine Paul Whelan.

The former New Mexico governor, who now works on behalf of families of hostages and prisoners, said he’s planned a trip to Moscow. This comes as more and more pressure is put on the U.S. government to bring back the two detainees home quickly.

Both Whelan and Griner are considered wrongfully detained by the US government, and both of their families have been working with the nonprofit Richardson Center.

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Geopolitics

Why Iran Is Pushing So Hard For A Russian Victory

The Supreme Leader's advisers in Tehran argue the Islamic Republic must back Russia in Ukraine because Russia is fighting a common enemy: the Western alliance.

Russia President Vladimir Putin meeting with Iran's leader Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran

-Analysis-

When he welcomed visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reassured his guest that Moscow rightfully defended itself when invading Ukraine. Speaking in Tehran, Khamenei declared: "Westerners are entirely opposed to a strong and independent Russia," and termed the NATO alliance "a dangerous creature."

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His rambling speech continued, filled with baseless claims about NATO, saying the Western military alliance "knows no limits" and "would have provoked this same war, with Crimea as its excuse," if Putin hadn't acted first.

Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the conservative Tehran paper Kayhan, which reputedly reflects the Supreme Leader's thinking, wrote in an editorial a week after Putin's visit and evoked a "celestial perspective" that could see the realities behind "the curtain" of the war. Khamenei, the editor wrote, knows that if America were to win this war, Iran would become its next target, which is why he considers the Russian "resistance" in Ukraine as tied to the Iranian regime's own security.

Thus, he concluded of Khamenei: "logically and naturally, he backs it."

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