NATO Summit Invites Sweden & Finland to be members; Will Aid Ukraine

Captured from Wikipedia

NATO summit was held in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday. NATO invited Sweden and Finland members to join but Turkey opposed the two countries’ membership. Since Russia has attacked Ukraine, NATO declared Russia the “most significant and direct threat”  to its members.

According to NPR, The U.S. said it would boost its military presence in Europe, including a permanent army headquarters in Poland for the U.S. 5th Army Corps. President Biden supports another $450 million in aid to Ukraine including more naval destroyers stationed in Spain, and two F-35 fighter jet squadrons positioned in the United Kingdom. At the G-7 summit, President Biden emphasized how important the defense of Ukraine for NATO against Russia is.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, U.S. troops in Europe increased from 80,000 servicemembers to more than 100,000. Ukraine President, Zelensky addressed NATO leaders that he needs more weapons and aid to defeat Russia.

The members will elevate their military powers and build them up whenever needed to be. The members announced their military measures are:

  • Poland: permanent station for the 5th Army Corps Headquarters Forward Command Post, an Army garrison headquarters, and a field support battalion, to allow the U.S. to more easily deploy combat troops along NATO’s eastern flank
  • Romania: position a rotational brigade combat team
  • The Baltic region: increase rotational deployments of armored, aviation, air defense, and special operations forces
  • Spain: increase the number of destroyers stationed at Rota from four to six
  • United Kingdom: station two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets.
  • Germany: forward-station an air defense artillery brigade headquarters, a short-range air defense battalion, a combat sustainment support battalion headquarters, and an engineer brigade headquarters
  • Italy: forward-station a short-range air defense battery

Turkey seems not to take the two countries (Sweden and Finland) joining NATO seriously.

From 4 a.m. on 24 February 2022, when the Russian Federation’s armed attack against Ukraine started, to 24:00 midnight on 26 June 2022 (local time), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 10,631 civilian casualties in the country: 4,731 killed and 5,900 injured. This included:

  • a total of 4,731 killed (1,812 men, 1,225 women, 134 girls, and 155 boys, as well as 41 children and 1,364 adults whose sex is yet unknown)
  • a total of 5,900 injured (1,196 men, 829 women, 131 girls, and 174 boys, as well as 184 children and 3,386 adults whose sex is yet unknown)
    • In Donetsk and Luhansk regions: 6,029 casualties (2,773 killed and 3,256 injured)
      • On Government-controlled territory: 5,061 casualties (2,582 killed and 2,479 injured)
      • On territory controlled by Russian-affiliated armed groups: 968 casualties (191 killed and 777 injured)
    • In other regions of Ukraine (the city of Kyiv, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Sumy, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava, Rivne, Vinnytsia, Ternopil and Zhytomyr regions), which were under Government control when casualties occurred: 4,602 casualties (1,958 killed and 2,644 injured)

Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons within a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes. More than 500 Ukraine civilian abductions by Russian troops are not included in the official number count.

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Boris Johnson and Partygate

It is no secret that Boris Johnson, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, broke rules regarding Covid-19 shutdown, when he held a party. He was fined 50 pounds, which is about $100 or so.

In the meantime, a pub landlord in North Devon held a party on the same date (December 18, 2020) as the prime minister, was fined 4,000 pounds. This hypocritical application of the regulations has people fuming across the pond.

At the time, Devon was under Tier 2 restriction, which meant only friends and family could meet if they were living together or otherwise part of a support bubble. The police performed a raid and found there were several different groups of people sitting together.

The landlord justified the meeting as being limited to a Christmas party among colleagues and coworkers, as they’d been working together throughout the pandemic. The group was around 12-20 people.

The landlord is a Conservative voter and wants Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to resign after they – along with Johnson’s wife Carrie and 40-odd other people – were fined for attending a birthday party on June 19 2020.

Johnson and Sunak had previously said in Parliament that they didn’t attend the party and followed the rules. This story is still in development; some say that Johnson was the first to break toast.

The Wayfarer Inn offered free meals to NHS and care staff during the Covid-19 lockdowns, as well as providing free school meals and giving up rooms at no charge for those self-isolating.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating 12 potential gatherings, meaning the Prime Minister and Sunak could be fined again if found to have participated. Many in Britain are now calling for resignation.

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Quiet Truth Rings out from Russia: Novaya Gazeta

Amidst Putin’s strict censorship laws, one man and his newspaper is seeking to keep the truth alive.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov is the editor of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta convened an emergency staff meeting almost immediately after Putin invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Muratov has never hidden his sadness over the invasion of Ukraine. His newspaper immediately published with a new headline: “Russia Is Bombing Ukraine.” He also voiced that Russians and Ukrainians are not the enemies. Today, such headline is considered illegal, despite being true. He remains the sole protector of independent media and voice in Russia, against all of the Russian machine.

Muratov has kept the independent paper operating, even when some of its newspaper reporters were murdered. After struggling between the choice of risking the shutting down of the paper or keeping it alive, he has chosen latter, remaining in Moscow and continuing to publish. He can’t call the war on Ukraine as a war; rather, he must call it a “special military operation.”

That being said, Novaya Gazeta remains only technically complying, while using various literary tools and tactics to convey what is being omitted and implied through the censorship to deliver the truth to its readers.

Muratov remains firm that he would remain to continue to fight the information battle. He will not go against the government, but he will choose to remain for his readers and employees for as long as possible.

While the Russian Constitution bans censorship, it has not successfully been maintained, as seen by Putin’s ability to censor usage of certain words during this war.

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Ukraine rejects Russian Ultimatum; strike on Kyiv mall kills 8, and the World grows angrier at Putin

Russian ultimatum has been rejected by Pres. Zelensky, who said he would never agree to an ultimatum from Russia or surrender Ukraine’s cities. Moscow is seeking some sort of strategic victory in Ukraine, and it issued a warning to the leaders remaining in Mariupol: feel or face further attacks. The leaders of Mariupol have also refused to leave, and the city’s fate is uncertain; however, Ukraine is certain it does not wish to give any of its territory away to Russia.

At the same time Kyiv and main cities continue to face heavy attack, as an attack on a mall late Sunday ended up killing at least 8 people. Kyiv remains one of Russia’s major targets, and Kremlin could turn to deadlier attacks to compensate for battlefield progress in the three-week war.

At the same time, many are becoming angrier at Putin’s reckless attacks on Ukraine as the brutality continues to be broadcasted. How this will continue to impact Russia’s economy and world standing is not yet known.

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Ukrainian President Zelensky addresses Congress

Volodymyr Zelensky the president of Ukraine on TV. Volodymyr Zelenskyy speech to people on TV

[Royalty Free image of Pres. Volodomyr Zelensky from Dreamtime.com]

On Wednesday, March 16, President Zelensky spoke to members of Congress seeking support, specifically to block Russia from Ukrainian airspace, a no-fly zone. Pres. Zelensky explained that  Ukraine has been struggling in the past 8 years, and that this could be crucial to the survival of Ukraine against the onslaught of Russian invasion.

President Zelensky also referenced Pearl Harbor, events of 9-11, and other events which had left Americans feeling vulnerable in the past, in asking Congress to take action against Russia in support of Ukraine. President Zelensky suggested that if the US was unwilling to assist Ukraine in creating a no-fly zone, that Ukraine was amenable to an alternative option, which would be to provide Ukraine with aircrafts so that it could defend itself against Russia.

Pres. Zelensky also thanked Congress and Pres. Biden for swift action in establishing the warmongering members of Russia as war criminals, of setting up major financial sanctions so far, and encouraged that more and more severe sanctions be put in place until Russia left Ukraine, including blacklisting members of the Russian Dumas.

He emphasized the importance of prioritizing peace over financial interest and to stop the war. He also suggested the creation of a new union that could protect countries from war, natural disasters, and other crises.

He then asked Congress to watch the video of pre-Russian invaded Ukraine and Ukraine since, completely waitron and destroyed due to Russian bombardment.

After using a translator, Pres. Zelensky spoke directly in English:

Today the Ukrainian people are defending not only Ukraine, we are fighting for the values of Europe and the world, [inaudible] in the name of the future. That’s why today the American people are helping not just Ukraine, but Europe and the world, to keep the planet alive, to keep justice in history. Now I’m almost 45 years old. Today my age stopped when the heart of more than 100 children stopped beating.

I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths. And this is my main issue as the leader of my people, great Ukrainians, and as the leader of my nation, I am addressing the President Biden, you are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.

Thank you.

Glory to Ukraine.

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Support Ukraine by Not Buying from These Companies

While 400+ companies have seized business activities in Russia in light of the recent invasion, there are apparently still businesses operating in Russia. This is the list:

  1. Koch Industries
  2. Brawny paper towels
  3. Dixie cups
  4. Quilted Northern toilet paper
  5. Vanity Fair napkins
  6. Georgia-Pacific lumber
  7. Reebok
  8. Authentic Brands Group (owns Aeropostale, Eddie Bauer, Brooks Brothers and Nine West)
  9. Cinnabon (or Carvel ice cream, Schlotzsky’s sandwich or Auntie Anne’s pretzel)
  10. Subway
  11. Truvia
  12. Diamond Crystal salt (Cargill)
  13. Avon cosmetics (Natura)
  14. LG appliances
  15. ASUS laptops
  16. Mission tortillas (Gruma)
  17. Pirelli tires
  18. Halliburton
  19. Baker Hughes
  20. Schlumberger
  21. Advertising firms BBDO, DDB and Omnicom
  22. Accountant Baker Tilly
  23. Industrial companies Air Liquide, Air Products, Greif, IPG Photonics, Linde, Mettler Toledo, Nalco and Rockwool
  24. French hotelier Accor and retailers Auchan, Decathlon and Leroy Merlin
  25. German wholesaler Metro
  26. Cloud service Cloudflare; International Paper; and Sweden’s Oriflame Cosmetics.

There are also companies that have only partially pulled back from the Russian market:

  1. Dunkin Donuts
  2. General Mills
  3. Mondelez (Oreos and other Nabisco products),
  4. Candymaker Mars
  5. Procter & Gamble
  6. Yum Brands (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)
  7. Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott

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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole, or part without the express written permission.

Ukraine and Russia Talks on Hold

Russia recently attacked a military facility 15 miles from the border of Poland, a NATO member. Since then, talks between Ukraine and Russia has been on hold until tomorrow.

Sending aid to battle-worn Ukraine has been difficult, including cities like Mariupol and Kyiv has been difficult, especially since there are reports of Russian attacks even during peace talks and setting up of designated cease-fire zones.

Ukrainian officials have confirmed that residential building in Kyiv’s Obolon district was struck by Russian shelling, causing massive damage and civilian casualties. Ukrainian officials have been accusing Russians of repeatedly violating the cease-fire agreement.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will deliver a virtual joint address to Congress.

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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole, or part without the express written permission.

Russia Bans Dollar Purchase

The Russian ruble’s value has been in a free fall lately, as western world continues to enforce some of the hardest sanctions on the Russian economy. Russia’s central bank announced that it is prohibiting citizens from using rubles to buy dollars and other hard currencies for the next six months. The order will expire on September 9.

Anyone wishing to withdraw hard currency will be limited to $10,000 USD, and any more will have to be withdrawn in rubles.

There are two major different opinions: one believes that this measure will be helpful for inflations, unless the individual is a millionaire, while the other is that this announcement confirmed the outflow of foreign currency as being severe and is now sure to guarantee run on the bank.

Russia has yet to leave Ukraine.

Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2022, All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole, or part without the express written permission.

Russia boycotts UN Court hearing on Ukraine Invasion

On Monday, Russia refused to show up at UN’s top court where Ukraine asked for immediate halt to Russia’s invasion. The head of the International Court of Justice criticized Russia’s boycott.

Kyiv filed the case shortly after the February 24 invasion, accusing Russia of having illegally justify its war by falsely alleging genocide in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine. Ukraine wants the Court to take measures to immediately stop Russia from military operations while pending a full judgment which can take years.

Russia’s ambassador Alexander Shulgin wrote to the court and indicated the refusal to participate in the court hearing, according to President Joan Donoghue of the ICJ.

Court cancelled the second day of hearings and plans to begin deliberations.

Interim rulings often come within weeks.

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Ukraine’s EU Membership Application Registered at Brussels

As Russian military closes on Kyiv, Ukrainian president Zelenskiy addressed his nation on Sunday, that Ukraine is officially seeking fast track membership with the European Union. He announced that he has signed the membership application and sent it off to Brussels. As of March 1 local time, Brussels has confirmed receipt.

“Our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal. I’m sure that’s fair. I am sure we deserve it,” he said in a video speech shared on social media.

Many European countries have been open and welcoming of the influx of Ukrainian refugees as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

Coree ILBO copyright (c) 2013-2022, All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in whole, or part without the express written permission.