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Putin Blames U.S. For "Dragging Out" Conflict

Photo of spectators watching the address by Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security

Watching Putin's address at the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security

Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
Anna Akage and Emma Albright

While delivering the welcome address at the Moscow Conference on International Security on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin accused Washington of “dragging out” the conflict in Ukraine. The Russian president also mentioned the visit by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan earlier this month, calling it a “thoroughly planned provocation”. The conference, which runs from Aug. 15 to 17, is hosted by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and will include several panels on global security issues.

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Putin added that Western countries were trying to extend a “NATO-like system” into the Asia Pacific region. For Putin, NATO’s expansion in Europe was one of the main causes for his invasion of Ukraine. Putin had previously accused NATO of launching an active military build-up on territories surrounding Russia during a speech to mark Russia’s Victory Day in May.

Earlier in the week, Putin addressed an arms show outside of Moscow, where he insisted Russian weaponry was years ahead of the competition. He also said that Russia was ready to sell advanced weapons to allies around the world and participate in developing military technology. This comes nearly six months into the war in Ukraine, during which the Russian army has been hit harder than expected, resulting in the Kremlin’s forces being pushed out of Ukraine’s two biggest cities.

During his address, Putin emphasized his strong ties with Latin America, Asia and Africa by promising that he was ready to supply his allies with a full range of weapons, “almost all of which have been used more than once in real combat operations.”

War Spreads To Crimea As It Is Rocked By Latest Blast

The Ukraine war has gradually spread to Russian-annexed Crimea. Early this morning, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that there was a fire at a temporary ammunition storage site near the village of Mayskiy, in the north of Crimea. Local authorities are evacuating nearby villages.

This is the second such detonation of ammunition in Crimea. Last week, an explosion at a military airfield reportedly destroyed at least eight Russian military aircraft. Ukraine has refrained from commenting. However, since no strikes were recorded from the sky, experts have put the attack down to either long-range missiles or Ukrainian guerrillas operating in Crimea.

Russian Military Leadership Leaves Kherson

Russian soldier in Kherson

Sergei Bobylev/TASS

The Ukrainian army continues active military operations to recapture the Kherson region in the south of Ukraine. The Antonovsky bridge, a key crossing point for the Russians, was critically damaged, making it impossible for Russian troops to bring equipment across. This proved troubling for the Russian occupying administration in the region: The head of the Kherson regional council, Yuri Sobolevsky, stated that most representatives of the Russian military command had left Kherson.

Losing Kherson would be a big blow to Putin, as the region provides water to Russian-occupied Crimea and is a key foothold to taking the city of Odessa.

Russia’s “Second Army”: HQ Of Wagner Paramilitary Attacked

Russian Telegram channels reported an attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the headquarters of the Wagner Group, a Russian private paramilitary organization, in Popasna, a Russian-occupied city in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian special services initially believed the news to be fake, but Wagner later confirmed the strike. Ukraine has not yet commented on the attack.

Many Russian channels have reported that the Wagner Group is no longer a private military unit but has essentially become Russia's second army. Its unconfirmed owner, Alexei Prigozhin — an oligarch and friend of Putin's — has been recruiting soldiers directly from Russian prisons, regardless of the severity of the crime.

First Aid Ship Bound For Africa Leaves Ukrainian Port

Ship Brave Commander on its way to Africa


Brave Commander, a ship carrying the first cargo of humanitarian food for Africa since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has left the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi.

It is loaded with more than 23,000 tons of wheat and should reach Ethiopia in two weeks’ time. Kyiv's Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted on Tuesday: “I’m thankful to the United Nations and World Food Programme for your support and all the hard work you have done.” The UN has repeatedly warned that the war in Ukraine threatens some African nations with a food crisis.

Russia had been blockading ports along the Black Sea. However, a deal was struck in Istanbul last month to allow Ukrainian grain exports to resume. Since then, 17 ships carrying tons of agricultural exports have left the ports.

Ukraine Premier League Set To Begin Again

A view of the Donbass Arena football stadium in 2021

Valentin Sprinchak/TASS/Zuma

Six months after Russia’s invasion, Ukraine is preparing to resume its home soccer competitions, in spite of the war still raging on.

"Restarting football is a big step for the country," says Andriy Pavelko, head of the Ukrainian Football Association. "It's a sign to the world that Ukraine can and will win. It's also a sign to society that we are confident."

Pavelko added that discussions are continuing with the Ministry of Defense over how best to hold matches this season. For the moment, spectators will not be able to attend and stadiums will be equipped with air-raid sirens and bomb shelters.

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Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen


HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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