Russia says iron curtain is ‘already descending’; Biden pledges to stick with Ukraine for


Top U.S. military officer speaks with Ukrainian counterpart

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2022. 

Win McNamee | Reuters

America’s highest military officer spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart on the heels of the NATO leader summit in Madrid.

The call between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Gen. Valery Zaluzhny is the second known discussion this week.

“They discussed the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and exchanged perspectives and assessments,” wrote Joint Staff spokesperson U.S. Army Col. Dave Butler in a readout of the call.

“The Chairman once again reaffirmed unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Butler added.

— Amanda Macias

Vast majority of debris cleared from shopping mall hit by Russian missile

A woman mourns in front of a memorial made of flowers offered to the civilian victims nearby a shopping mall targeted by a missile strike in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, June 30th, 2022.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s emergency services said on the Telegram messaging platform that approximately 88% of the debris from a Russian rocket attack on a shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk has been cleared.

The service said that 19 people were killed in the strike on Amstor shopping mall, 64 people were injured and 26 people were hospitalized.

Charred goods in a grocery store of the destroyed Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, on June 28, 2022, one day after it was hit by a Russian missile strike, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram that more than 1,000 people were inside at the time of the Russian rocket attack, according to an NBC News report.

“This is not an off-target missile strike, this is a calculated Russian strike — exactly at this shopping mall,” Zelenskyy said during his Monday evening address.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine foreign minister says Kyiv filed claim with world court over Russia’s war

A war crimes prosecutor (C) and a rescuer (R) and a civil, look at a destroyed building after being hit by a missile strike in the Ukrainian town of Serhiivka, near Odessa, killing at least 18 people and injuring 30, on July 1, 2022.

Oleksandr Gimanov | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Kyiv submitted a filing to the International Court of Justice related to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

“Ukraine submitted a major filing at the ICJ. We prove that Russia violated the Genocide Convention by justifying its aggression with a false pretext of a ‘genocide’ that never was,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

“A critical step to hold Russia accountable and make Russia pay for the harm it has inflicted,” he added.

The UN’s 1948 Genocide Convention, to which Russia is a signatory, aims to prevent genocide and other atrocities committed during the Second World War.

 — Amanda Macias

More than 8.4 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s war began

A man holds his child as families, who fled Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, wait to enter a refugee camp in the Moldovan capital Chisinau on March 3, 2022.

Nikolay Doychinov | Afp | Getty Images

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, more than 8.4 million people have fled across the country’s borders.

More than 5.4 million people have registered for temporary refugee protection or similar safeguards in Europe, according to the latest data complied by the United Nations.

“Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighboring countries and many more have been forced to move inside the country,” UN researchers wrote in a report.

Here’s a look at where Ukrainian refugees have fled:

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe

NATO members are increasing investment to the alliance

A naval exercise led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and executed by the NATO Naval Striking and Support Forces, in the Baltic Sea on June 6, 2022. Russia’s onslaught in Ukraine is almost certain to eclipse other security concerns at NATO’s Madrid summit this week.

Jonathan Nackstrand | Afp | Getty Images

NATO members are increasing their investment in the military alliance following Russia’s late-February invasion of Ukraine.

In July 2018, only five NATO allies met the 2% GDP spending goal set at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales.

Today, nine allies meet those terms.

The alliance’s newest members, Sweden and Finland, are currently not included in the latest defense expenditure data compiled by NATO.

 — Amanda Macias

Schools in Kyiv will reopen for classes in September, city officials say

Schools in the capital city of Kyiv will reopen for students on September 1, the city’s authorities said, the first return to in-person teaching since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24. Classes since then had switched to being online and then stopped for the summer break.

The most important priority is “the safety of students and teachers,” said Olena Fidanyan, the head of Kyiv’s education and science department, quoted by AFP.

A soldier inspects a damaged classroom on May 8, 2022, in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine. Most of the region remains Russian occupied.

John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Areas around the schools will be inspected for bombs, and school bomb shelters will be restocked with basic provisions like water and medicine, she said. Schools will also carry out training for both students and teachers on air-raid alert procedures. Students who fled Kyiv and are unable to return can still attend classes remotely, education officials said.

— Natasha Turak

Russian farmers create giant “Z” symbol in a field in support of Russian military

Farmers operating combines create symbols “Z” and “V” in a field in support of the Russian armed forces involved in a military conflict in Ukraine, during the start of wheat harvesting in the Rostov region.

Farmers operating combines create symbols “Z” and “V” in a field in support of the Russian armed forces involved in a military conflict in Ukraine, during the start of wheat harvesting in the Rostov region, Russia July 1, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. 

Sergey Pivovarov | Reuters

A farmer operating a combine creates symbols “Z” and “V” in a field in support of the Russian armed forces involved in a military conflict in Ukraine, during the start of wheat harvesting in the Rostov region, Russia July 1, 2022. The sign on the combine reads: “We don’t abandon our people”.

Sergey Pivovarov | Reuters

Farmers stand next to a combine as they create symbols “Z” and “V” in a field in support of the Russian armed forces involved in a military conflict in Ukraine, during the start of wheat harvesting in the Rostov region, Russia July 1, 2022. The sign on the combine reads: “Strength is in truth”.

Sergey Pivovarov | Reuters

Ukraine’s grain exports have fallen 43% year-on-year, agriculture ministry says

A photograph shows anti-tank obstacles on a wheat field at a farm in southern Ukraines Mykolaiv region, on June 11, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Genya Savilov | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s grain exports have fallen by almost half, the country’s agricultural ministry said, having crashed since its Black Sea ports were blocked due to Russia’s invasion.

Just 1.41 million tons of grain were exported from the country in June, a 43% decrease from the prior year, dealing a blow to the major agricultural exporter as well as to the many countries that buy its produce, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, which are now facing potential food crises.

Kyiv has said that Ukraine’s grain and oilseeds harvest, which amounted to 106 million tons in 2021, would likely only reach up to 65 million tons this year, due to land lost to Russian forces and lower crop yields.

Moscow blames Ukraine for the lack of exports, saying it’s caused by Ukrainian forces mining their waters against Russian ships. Kyiv and its allies maintain that Russia’s invasion and the Russian navy’s control over crucial Black Sea shipping lanes is to blame.

— Natasha Turak

Boris Johnson pledges to increase U.K. defense spending to 2.5% GDP by end of decade

Prime Minister Of The United Kingdom Boris Johnson during the press conference on the final day of the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022.

Jakub Porzycki | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The U.K. will spend 2.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense by 2030, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“We need to invest for the long term in vital capabilities like future combat air, whilst simultaneously adapting to a more dangerous and more competitive world,” Johnson said at a news conference.

“The logical conclusion of the investments on which we propose to embark, these decisions, is that we’ll reach 2.5% of GDP on defense by the end of the decade.”

NATO member states are supposed to spend at least 2% of their annual GDP on defense, though not all states have followed this rule. Johnson has previously said he sees that 2% as a “floor” rather than a “ceiling.”

Britain’s defense spending is expected to reach 2.3% of GDP for 2022 because of its military support for Ukraine.

— Natasha Turak

Putin says pressure from West is pushing Russia and Belarus to integrate faster

Russian and Belarusian armed forces conduct joint military drills on Feb. 12, 2022. Despite such military exercises ahead of the invasion, military analysts have said the first phase of the war showed a lack of planning, preparedness and tactical skill among Russia’s military command and soldiers, many of whom are conscripts.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia and its ally Belarus are furthering their economic and political integration as a result of Western sanctions and isolation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said via video message at a forum for the two countries.

“Russia and Belarus continue to grow in their cooperation in the political, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres,” Putin said. “The unprecedented political and social pressure from the so-called collective West is pushing us to speed up the unification process.”

“Together it is easier to minimize the damage from the illegal sanctions, it is easier to set up the production of demanded products, develop new competencies and expand cooperation with friendly countries,” he said.

Russian troops have used Belarus as a staging ground for incursions into Ukraine, although Belarus says it has not sent any of its own troops into Ukraine. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, while supported by Moscow and a close ally of Putin, has previously said he is against the war and that he did not expect it to “drag on” for so long.

— Natasha Turak

EU flag is hoisted in…


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