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In The News

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


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


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


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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Israel's Jails Are Filling Up With Palestinians — Is This The Bargaining Chip For Gaza Hostages?

The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israel's jails has doubled since the Hamas attack of Oct. 7. Some ask if the roundups of Palestinians is a tactic to win the release in an exchange with Hamas for the 200 hostages held in Gaza.

Photograph of an undercover Israeli police man arresting a young Palestinian boy.

Oct. 24, 2014 - Jerusalem, Israel - An undercover police man arrest a young Palestinian

Marco Botelli/ZUMA
Francesca Mannocchi

Updated Nov. 1, 2023 at 4:10 p.m.

TULKAREM — Abdullah Allariya was released from Megiddo prison last week. The city of Tulkarem learned about it through the sound of gunfire. This is how the release of a prisoner is celebrated here.

Armed groups take to the streets, joined by the neighborhood. Children learn the taste of freedom and the smell of gunpowder. Fathers take M16 rifles off their shoulders and put them in the hands of their children, grandchildren, and younger siblings. An exhibition of violence that becomes a declaration of a right regained – this is what it means to be free after months of administrative detention.

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Allariya was arrested at the end of December last year, along with six other young people from the Tulkarem refugee camp. He spent 10 months locked in a cell with eight other individuals.

Then, on October 7, things took a turn for the worse.

That Saturday morning, prison official entered the cells and said: What happens out there should have nothing to do with what will happen in here. Translated, it meant: Do not react. And the prisoners didn't.

But from that Saturday, everything changed in Megiddo prison, as in other Israeli prisons. The prison guards took away the detainees' blankets, cut off water and electricity, and eliminated one of the daily meals. Four days ago, Allariya received news of his release at 5 in the morning, and he was able to leave Megiddo 10 hours later. During the time between the news of his release and the opening of the gate, he was beaten twice.

The day Allariya walked free, there were 3,000 people in Megiddo. A year ago, there were 1,000.

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