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In The News

Was Ukrainian Grain Tycoon Assassinated?

Russia's use of international food supplies as a weapon of war may be far from over.

Was Ukrainian Grain Tycoon Assassinated?

Oleksiy Vadatursky

Meike Eijsberg, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Ukrainian grain tycoon Oleksiy Vadatursky was afraid for his life when French daily Le Monde met up with him a few weeks ago in his hometown of Mykolaiv. On Sunday, he and his wife Raisa, were killed in the southern city during an intense shelling attack.

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The deaths, which Ukraine officials say were targeted attacks, stand in sharp contrast to the other top news Monday that a ship carrying grain exports had left from the port of Odessa for the first time since the war began. Russian President Vladimir Putin again appears to be playing a double game when it comes to allowing food supplies to travel freely in the face of global hunger risks.

Vadatursky, 74, was the founder of Nibulon, one of Ukraine's largest grain producing and export companies that had for years exported tons of wheat and grain throughout the world from Mykolaiv, one of the principal Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. Like other export companies, Nibulon’s activities had largely been halted by Russia’s blocking of exports from Ukraine, which threatened the world's food supply.

When Le Monde reporters reached Vadatursky last month, he’d asked not to reveal his location for fear that Moscow was trying to target him. The tycoon, who had accused Russian authorities of stealing grain from his warehouses in Russian-occupied Kherson, said he was not only scared for his safety but also for his employees.

When asked about the recent grain deals made in Istanbul on July 22, between Russia and Ukraine, his response was categorical: “The only possible outcome of this war is total victory. Any other way out is unthinkable. We cannot trust the Russians in any shape or form,” he told reporters.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the deaths during the pre-dawn hours Sunday were clearly the result of a targeted attack, noting that Vadatursky and his wife were killed when a missile struck the bedroom they were sleeping in; and that out of the 40 missiles that hit the city that night, seven hit their home.

Meanwhile, international officials were busy Monday hailing the first grain shipment to leave Odessa since the start of the war, the result of a UN-brokered deal signed last month in Istanbul.

But as with the contrast of Monday’s news, the day after the deal was signed, Russian missiles hit infrastructure facilities in the port of Odessa. It’s hard to predict the next move, but Russia has shown again that the war on grain is not over.

Putin Announces Arrival Of New “Invincible” Zircon Hypersonic Missile

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the naval parade

Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS/Zuma

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the arrival of a new “invincible” missile that is to be added to the Russian Navy fleet. The announcement was made during a naval parade in St. Petersburg on Russia’s national holiday this Sunday.

In a speech given after inspecting the Navy, Putin promised that Russia would have the military clout to defeat any potential aggressors thanks to the soon-to-be released Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles, “which know no obstacles,” Putin said.

Their delivery will begin in the coming months, and the frigate Admiral Gorshkov will be the first Russian ship to be equipped with the missiles.This is not the first mention of the Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles. In May, Russia said that it successfully tested the Zircon missile over a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

Drone Blast Strikes Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Command In Sevastopol

Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev is seen outside the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters

Guliya Levanenkova/TASS/Zuma

A drone-borne explosive device has detonated at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the city of Sevastopol. The attack was carried out ahead of the planned Navy Day celebrations, some of which were called off.

Sevastopol mayor Mikhail Razvozhaev said six people were injured in the blast.

There was no immediate information on where the drone began its flight; Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea, is about 170 kilometers (100 miles) south of the Ukrainian mainland and Russian forces control much of the mainland area along the Black Sea.

Zelensky Calls For Evacuation Of Donetsk Residents

In a video address to the residents of the Donetsk, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked everyone still in the eastern region of Ukraine, especially families with children, to leave immediately.

Zelensky also appealed to all Ukrainians. urging them to help the displaced, alongside the state which also guarantees assistance

"A lot of people are reluctant to leave, but it is really necessary to do so,” he said. “And the decision will have to be taken all the same. All the same. Believe me. And the sooner it is done, the more people leave the Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will be able to kill," he said.

Despite the fact that hostilities across the entire region of Donbas began back in 2014, some 200,000 people still remain in the non-controlled territories.

Russia Invites U.N And Red Cross To Investigate Prison Attack

Prison attacked in Olenivka

Dmitry Marmyshev/TASS/zuma

Russia’s defense ministry said it has invited the United Nations and the Red Cross to probe the deaths of Ukrainian prisoners killed in a missile attack on a jail held by Moscow-backed separatists.

Thursday’s attack killed 53, with Russia accusing Kyiv of intentionally hitting the prison with rockets. Ukraine blamed Russian artillery, saying Moscow targeted the prison to hide the mistreatment of those held there.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not yet received permission to visit the site of the attack in Olevnik.

How Russian Oligarchs Adjusted To Sanctions (Hint: They’re Doing Just Fine)

Russian Oligarch Jets (@RUOligarchJets) / Twitter


After the start of the Feb. 24 invasion, Russia’s billionaires and elite political class were a prime target. Swift international sanctions were imposed, travel was restricted, yachts and villas in Europe were impounded. The Kremlin oligarchs, it seemed, were bound to suffer.

But these are resourceful people with means at their disposal, and they figure out how to react to the new reality. They found what and how to fly, where to spend their money, how to preserve their summer holidays.

Ukrainian Pravda gathered information about the current state of Russian oligarchs, thanks in part to flight-tracking research.

Roman Abramovich, former owner of Chelsea football club, travels with the help of rented charters. He’s hid his own planes in the Arab Emirates and Switzerland.

Gennady Timchenko does not leave Russia, occasionally visiting Belarus on his own plane. This financier and confidante of Vladimir Putin, with a net worth north of $10 billion, seems to have no problem renouncing his globetrotting, unlike Abramovich.

Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov lives in three countries at once: Russia, Chechnya, and Turkey. His personal plane has flown to Istanbul several times since the beginning of the war.

Former President and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also moves freely within Russia, Turkey, and the Arab Emirates. His personal plane makes regular tourist flights to these countries.

The situation with the oligarchs' yachts is harder to track: the geolocation system is switched off on all non-seized vessels, and it is impossible to locate them.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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