Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan meets with Lithuanian officials to discuss Ukraine and NATO

U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan met with Lithuanian officials to discuss the war in Ukraine.

Sullivan met with Asta Skaisgiryte, Lithuania’s chief foreign policy advisor and his counterpart Kestutis Budrys, Lithuania’s chief national security advisor.

“They discussed their shared commitment to continuing to provide Ukraine with security assistance to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and to maintain sanctions pressure to hold Russia accountable,” the White House said in a readout.

Sullivan also reiterated U.S. commitment to NATO’s collective defense and discussed plans for the 2023 NATO Summit, which Lithuania will host.

— Amanda Macias

Kherson plan is for ‘deportation,’ not ‘evacuation,’ Ukrainian official says

Calls by a Russian-installed official for residents to flee the Russian-occupied Kherson region of southern Ukraine and go to Russia amount to “deportation,” a Ukrainian regional official said.

Vladimir Saldo, who was appointed head of the region by Moscow after Russian forces seized it early in the war in Ukraine, publicly asked for government help on Thursday in moving civilians out.

Saldo made his appeal following advances by Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine.

“We understand that there can be no evacuation, this is nothing more than deportation that Saldo calls for,” Serhiy Khlan, a member of Kherson’s regional council, told a briefing.

“This ‘evacuation’ announced by Saldo is an evacuation for collaborators and traitors in the region… they want to take these collaborators to Russia,” Khlan said.

Most of the Kherson region was seized in the first days of Russia’s invasion as it sent in troops from adjoining Crimea.

— Reuters

Putin says clash between NATO troops and Russia would mean ‘global catastrophe’; says he does not regret actions in Ukraine

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on the sidelines of the 6th summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), in Astana, Kazakhstan October 13, 2022. Sputnik/Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Vyacheslav Prokofyev | Sputnik | Reuters

A direct clash between Russia and NATO troops would result in a “global catastrophe,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said from a conference in Astana, Kazakhstan, warning against such an eventuality.

“I hope that those who are saying this are smart enough not to take such steps,” Putin said, according to Reuters.

Asked during a news conference at the same event whether he regretted any of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the Russian president said “no,” adding that Russia’s aim was not to destroy Ukraine.

Russian troops have been fighting in their neighboring country since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24. Since then, Russia’s military has killed thousands of people, sent more than 11 million people out of Ukraine as refugees, internally displaced many more, destroyed billions of dollars worth of civilian, military, and critical infrastructure, and has been accused of committing numerous war crimes.

Moscow denies it has targeted civilians or civilian infrastructure.

— Natasha Turak

Putin threatens to close humanitarian corridors, says there is ‘no need’ to talk with Biden

Russian President Vladimir Putin will close humanitarian corridors used for Ukrainian grain transportation if they are used for “acts of terror,” he said while speaking at a press conference in Kazakhstan.

He added that he had not yet decided if he would attend the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia in November, but said that there was “no need” for talks with American President Joe Biden.

— Natasha Turak

U.S., Germany to delivery anti-aircraft weaponry to Ukraine this month, Kyiv says

Anti-aircraft gunners of a special air defense unit of the National Guard of Ukraine are seen on a combat mission, Ukraine. August 24, 2022.

Vyacheslav Madiyevskyi/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Germany and the U.S. will send advanced anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine this month to help it defend itself against drone and missile attacks from Russia, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said.

“There is a U.S. decision to supply us with a very well-known NASAMS system, the first few batches. Our specialists are already being trained. And they will be delivered this month,” Reznikov said on Ukrainian television.

NASAMS are ground-based, short to medium-range air defense systems built by U.S. arms giant Raytheon and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. They are designed to take out unmanned and fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and cruise missiles among other things.

Reznikov said Germany would send Ukraine its IRIS-II air defense system this month.

— Natasha Turak

WHO records at least 620 attacks on vital health services in Ukraine, since the start of Russia’s invasion

A medical worker takes care a patient who was injured during a Russian cruise missiles strike on Thursday at a hospital in Vinnytsia, Ukraine July 15, 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, there have been at least 620 attacks on vital health services in the country, the World Health Organization’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care estimates.

The organization reports that healthcare facilities were damaged 538 times, ambulances were targeted in 82 cases and at least 154 attacks affected crucial medical supplies. The group also estimated that attacks on health services led to at least 100 deaths and 129 injuries.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it targets civilian infrastructure like hospitals, schools and apartment buildings.

— Amanda Macias

Turkey, Russia to act on Putin’s gas hub offer

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey and Russia have instructed their respective energy authorities to immediately begin technical work on a Russian proposal that would turn Turkey into a gas hub for Europe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has floated the idea of exporting more gas through the TurkStream gas pipeline running beneath the Black Sea to Turkey after gas deliveries to Germany through the Baltic Sea’s Nord Stream pipeline were halted.

Erdogan said Russian and Turkish energy authorities would work together to designate the best location for a gas distribution center, adding that Turkey’s Thrace region, bordering Greece and Bulgaria, appeared to be the best spot.

“Together with Mr. Putin, we have instructed our Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the relevant institution on the Russian side to work together,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. “They will conduct this study. Wherever the most appropriate place is, we will hopefully establish this distribution center there.”

“There will be no waiting,” Erdogan said in his first statement on the Russian proposal.

The Turkish leader made the comments on Thursday on his return from a regional summit in Kazakhstan where he met with Putin. His words were reported by Hurriyet newspaper and other media.

— Associated Press

Zelenskyy promises victory as Ukraine marks ‘Defenders Day’

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, during marking the Defender of Ukraine Day in Kyiv, Ukraine October 14, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked Ukraine’s Defenders Day holiday by promising victory over Russia and freedom for Ukraine.

In a video address delivered on hills outside the capital Kyiv, Zelenskyy thanked Ukraine’s armed forces for defending their country. He said everything that had been taken away from Ukraine would be returned, and no soldier left in captivity.

A young woman cries as she walks between portraits of dead servicemen during the opening of an open-air exhibition “Azov Regiment – Angels of Mariupol” in the centre of Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s Defenders Day on October 14, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

“By defeating this enemy, we will respond to all enemies who encroached on Ukraine – on those who lived, who live and who will live on our land. This will be a victory for all our people. This will be a victory for the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.

“The world sees that Ukrainians do not lose their humanity under any circumstances. The enemy can strike at our cities, but never at our dignity,” Zelenskyy added, marking the Oct. 14 public holiday.

People visit the graves of fallen Ukrainian soldiers at Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, to mark Ukraine’s Defenders Day on October 14, 2022.

Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images

A young man hugs a woman as she cries at the portraits of two dead servicemen during the opening of an open-air exhibition “Azov Regiment – Angels of Mariupol” in the centre of Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s Defenders Day on October 14, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

A young woman, relative of a dead serviceman, cries at his portrait during the opening of an open-air exhibition “Azov Regiment – Angels of Mariupol” in the centre of Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s Defenders Day on October 14, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

Visitors and relinives of dead servicemen look at their portraits during the opening of an open-air exhibition “Azov Regiment – Angels of Mariupol” in the centre of Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s Defenders Day on October 14, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

A woman, relative of a dead serviceman, reacts at his portrait during the opening of an open-air exhibition “Azov Regiment – Angels of Mariupol” in the centre of Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s Defenders Day on October 14, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

Relitives of dead servicemen react after lightning candles during the opening of an open-air exhibition “Azov Regiment – Angels of Mariupol” in the centre of Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s Defenders Day on October 14, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

— Text by Reuters and photos by Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Six vessels to leave Ukraine carrying more than 150,000 metric tons of agricultural products

ISTANBUL, TURKIYE – AUGUST 09: An aerial view of “Glory” named empty grain ship as Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Turkiye and the United Nations (UN) of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) conduct inspection on vessel in Istanbul, Turkiye on August 09, 2022. The UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports — Odessa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny — for grain that has been stuck for months because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month. (Photo by Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of grain from Ukraine said it has approved six vessels to leave the besieged country.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal among Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, said the vessels are carrying 153,505 metric tons of grain and other crops.

Two ships are destined for Turkey and are carrying wheat and corn. One ship will depart from Ukraine’s Yuzhny-Pivdennyi port for Iraq and is carrying 33,000 metric tons of sunflower oil. Another ship will leave from Chornomorsk to China and is carrying 62,860 metric tons of sunflower meal.

The fifth vessel will sail to Germany and is carrying 30,817 metric tons of rapeseed. One ship will leave for Lebanon carrying 7,000 metric tons of corn.

Read more about the Black Sea Grain Initiative here.

— Amanda Macias

Russia to begin evacuating civilians from Kherson

A view of the grad rocket firing as counterattacks against Russian forces continue in the Kherson region, on October 07, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia is set to begin evacuating civilians from Ukraine’s embattled Kherson, in the latest sign that Ukrainian forces are successfully breaching more of the Russian-occupied territory.

“We suggested that all residents of the Kherson region, if they wish, to protect themselves from the consequences of missile strikes… go to other regions,” Vladimir Saldo, Russian-installed administration chief in Kherson, said in a video message, stressing that people should “leave with their children.”

Evacuees from Kherson, in Ukraine’s south, are planned to start arriving in Russia on Friday, Reuters reported. That’s despite Russia announcing the annexation of the territory in early October, along with three other Ukrainian regions, after holding a sham referendum that claimed that a majority of people in Kherson wanted to join the Russian Federation.

The annexations were condemned by 143 countries in a U.N. vote on Thursday.

— Natasha Turak

Elon Musk confirms that SpaceX will no longer fund Starlink terminals in Ukraine

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Elon Musk appears to have confirmed that his company SpaceX will no longer fund donated Starlink internet terminals in Ukraine.

He said Friday that SpaceX cannot continue fund Starlink terminals in Ukraine “indefinitely.”

It follows a CNN report that SpaceX was pulling funding for the terminals, citing documents obtained from the Pentagon. SpaceX is asking the U.S. government pay for the terminals instead, according to the report.

Musk himself appeared to confirm this in a tweet Friday, replying to a Twitter post that referenced the Ukrainian ambassador telling Musk earlier this month to to “f— off.”

“We’re just following his recommendation,” Musk replied.

The CNN report said that documents it had obtained “show that last month Musk’s SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon saying it can no longer continue to fund the Starlink service as it has.”

“The letter also requested that the Pentagon take over funding for Ukraine’s government and military use of Starlink, which SpaceX claims would cost more than $120m for the rest of the year and could cost close to $400m for the next 12 months,” it added.

According to the report, SpaceX’s director of government sales told the Pentagon in a letter in September: “We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time.”

Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, is one of the richest men on earth.

— Natasha Turak

More than 320 ships carrying 7.2 million metric tons of grain and agricultural products have left Ukraine so far

An aerial view shows ships at the anchorage area of the Bosphorus southern entrance in Istanbul, on October 12, 2022.

Yasin Akgul | AFP | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of grain from Ukraine said that since August more than 320 vessels have left the besieged country.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal among Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, said the voyages have exported more than 7.2 million metric tons of grain and other crops.

Read more about the Black Sea Grain Initiative here.

— Amanda Macias

Treasury to host meeting on continued efforts to impose sanctions on Russia

The St. Basil Cathedral and a Kremlin tower are visible on the Red Square in Moscow.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury will host a meeting on Friday of countries imposing economic restrictions on Russia for its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo, along with Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves and Deputy Director of National Intelligence Morgan Muir will convene top officials from finance ministries and other government agencies that are imposing sanctions and export controls against Russia.

“Economic restrictions placed on the Russian military-industrial complex have had a direct effect on the battlefield,” Treasury wrote in a statement.

“Together, these collective actions have rendered the Russian defense industry unable to produce and maintain critical equipment for operations in Ukraine, including unmanned aerial vehicles, tanks, and missiles,” the statement said, adding that Russia’s defense industry is “hobbling.”

— Amanda Macias

Russia accuses Ukraine of blowing up an ammunition depot inside of Russia

The Russian governor of Belgorod says that Ukrainian armed forces blew up an ammunition depot, according to an update on the Telegram messaging app.

“In a village in the Belgorod district, as a result of the shelling of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, an ammunition depot was blown up. The detonation occurred,” wrote Vyacheslav Gladkov, Belgorod’s governor.

He said that there were no victims or injuries. It was not immediately clear if Ukraine claimed responsibility for the shelling near the ammunition depot.

— Amanda Macias

‘Putin has never been more isolated,’ Blinken says

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2022.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.N. General Assembly’s vote to condemn Moscow for its attempt to annex more areas of Ukraine shows that “the world has never been more united in its repudiation of Russia’s war.”

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has never been more isolated,” Blinken said at the State Department.

“The U.N. resolution is also a resounding affirmation of global support for everything that President Putin is actually trying to destroy. It’s about affirming the right of every nation, big and small, to have its sovereignty, its independence, its territorial integrity,” Blinken added.

— Amanda Macias

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