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Former Officer Sentenced in George Floyd’s Death 

A federal judge Thursday sentenced former police officer Thomas Lane to 2½ years in prison for his role in the May 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson handed down the sentence, which follows Lane’s conviction in February for violating Floyd’s civil rights. Authorities said Lane did not provide medical care to Floyd as another officer, Derek Chauvin, used a knee to pin a handcuffed Floyd to the ground for more than nine minutes. Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. 

This case sparked national interest as the death of Floyd, a Black man, led to protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as throughout the country and the world against racial injustice and police treatment of minorities. 

Chauvin was convicted of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in a state trial in April 2021. He is serving 22½ years in prison on those charges.  

Lane, who was a rookie officer, held Floyd’s legs as Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground. The two other officers involved in the situation, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, were also convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights and will be sentenced at a later date. 

In May, Lane pleaded guilty to state charges of aiding and abetting manslaughter charges and accepted a three-year prison sentence. The other two officers will appear for their state trial in January.  

Federal prosecutors for this case were seeking a sentence of up to 6½ years. Lane’s attorney argued for just more than two years, saying Lane was the least responsible of the four officers involved in Floyd’s death. The attorney said Lane had twice asked whether Floyd should be turned on his side.

Some information for this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.

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Why Aren’t More Americans Getting COVID-19 Booster Shots?

New cases of COVID-19 have been sweeping across the United States in recent weeks. On Thursday, President Joe Biden tested positive. His symptoms of tiredness, a runny nose and dry cough are considered mild.

The highly infectious and transmittable BA.5 subvariant of the coronavirus’s omicron variant is making up nearly 80% of new cases, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker.

Although the initial vaccinations are effective at preventing hospitalization and death, their immunity weakens over time.

“So, more people, even those who might have protection from past infection or vaccination, have gotten COVID-19,” according to the CDC.

That’s why the CDC is recommending that immunized adults and children 5 years and older follow up with a vaccination booster in five months, and those 50 and older get a second booster shot for renewed protection. But so far, the CDC reports that only about half of adults have gotten a booster and just 28% of those age 50 and older have received a second dose, which provides even further protection from the illness.

This leaves millions of people more vulnerable to the most recent variants of omicron.

“It’s very concerning that many individuals who are eligible for boosters are choosing not to get them,” David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, told VOA. “There’s really strong research suggesting the protective effects of these boosters against COVID.”

The White House issued a warning this week about the spike in BA.5 subvariant cases and urged Americans over the age of 50 to get the booster shots.

“It could save your life,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the administration’s COVID response coordinator.

Many health advocates are alarmed that public momentum over COVID-19 has waned.

Some people “don’t feel a sense of urgency to get booster shots even though they are available in most parts of the country,” Grabowski said.

Part of the reason may be a lack of communication by public health officials that is confusing to the public, said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“Public health officials have not communicated clearly when you should get a booster and that it is an important step,” Grabowski told VOA.

Dr. David Aronoff, chair of the Department of Medicine at Indiana University’s School of Medicine, explained that in some instances, “people may have had a booster shot and not have realized they were eligible for another in several months.”

There is also the idea that since the symptoms from BA.5 are usually mild for people who are vaccinated, then why bother getting a booster, said Tina Runyan, a professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. With a highly contagious strain going around, some people think they will get COVID anyway, so getting a booster won’t protect them that much, she said.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that’s not true.

“If you are not vaccinated to the fullest, namely, you have not gotten boosters according to what the recommendations are, then you’re putting yourself at an increased risk that you could mitigate against by getting vaccinated,” he said during a July 12 press briefing with the White House COVID-19 response team and public health officials.

Despite that warning, health experts say COVID-19 fatigue is causing a lack of response.

“People are ready to put COVID behind them and they just want to return to a more normal way of life,” explained Schaffner.

Going back to normal may be fleeting as new subvariants continue to pop up.

“We have to start thinking about the booster as something we might do annually to protect ourselves and others,” said Keri Althoff, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland.

Meanwhile, new vaccines are in the works to target omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

“Getting vaccinated now will not preclude you from getting a variant-specific vaccine later this fall or winter,” said Jha, the White House COVID response coordinator.

“We’re hoping we get new vaccines in the future that will target particular variants as they come up,” Aronoff said, but the currently available vaccines, which include boosters, “are keeping people out of hospitals and from dying from COVID.”

Posted by Ukrap on

Російські війська зруйнували школу в Краматорську, одна людина загинула – ОВА

Російські війська завдали удару по Краматорську близько третьої ночі 21 липня, повідомив Павло Кириленко

Posted by Ukrap on

Голова британської розвідки вважає, що Росії може стати важко забезпечувати своїх військових

Оперативна пауза дасть українським силам можливість завдати удару у відповідь «дедалі більшою кількістю хорошої зброї», вважає він

Posted by Ukrap on

Україна «має істотний потенціал» для просування на фронті – Зеленський

Про це президент повідомив за підсумками зустрічі Ставки верховного головнокомандувача

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Turkey’s Erdogan: Deal to Resume Ukraine’s Grain Exports Set for Signing Friday

Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will sign a deal Friday to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Thursday.

Russia and Ukraine are both major global wheat suppliers, but Moscow’s February 24 invasion of its neighbor has sent food prices soaring and stoked an international food crisis. The war has stalled Kyiv’s exports, leaving dozens of ships stranded and some 20 million tons of grain stuck in silos at Odesa port.

Ankara said a general agreement was reached on a U.N.-led plan during talks in Istanbul last week and that it would now be put in writing by the parties. Details of the agreement were not immediately known. It is due to be signed Friday at the Dolmabahce Palace offices at 1330 GMT, Erdogan’s office said.

Before last week’s talks, diplomats said details of the plan included Ukrainian vessels guiding grain ships in and out through mined port waters; Russia agreeing to a truce while shipments move; and Turkey – supported by the United Nations – inspecting ships to allay Russian fears of weapons smuggling.

The United Nations and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what Guterres called a “package” deal – to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports and facilitate Russian grain and fertilizer shipments.

Ukraine could potentially quickly restart exports, Ukraine’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskiy said earlier Thursday.

“The majority of the infrastructure of ports of wider Odesa – there are three of them – remains, so it is a question of several weeks in the event there are proper security guarantees,” he told Ukrainian television.

Moscow has denied responsibility for worsening the food crisis, blaming instead a chilling effect from Western sanctions for slowing its own food and fertilizer exports and Ukraine for mining its Black Sea ports.

A day after the Istanbul talks last week, the United States sought to facilitate Russian food and fertilizer exports by reassuring banks, shipping and insurance companies that such transactions would not breach Washington’s sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

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Ukraine: Russian Shelling Kills 2 in Kharkiv

Ukraine reported Russian shelling Thursday on the city of Kharkiv killed at least two people and wounded 19 others.

Regional governor Oleg Synegubov said the dead included one child, and that four people were in serious condition.

Britain’s defense ministry said Thursday that Russian forces were continuing small-scale assaults along the front line in the Donbas region, the part of eastern Ukraine that has been a focus of its war.

The ministry said in its daily assessment that Russia was likely closing in on the Vuhlehirska power plant, northeast of Donetsk, and that Russian forces were prioritizing capturing critical infrastructure sites.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow wants to capture territory in southern Ukraine beyond the Donbas region.

Russia failed in early stages of its five-month offensive to topple the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or capture the capital, Kyiv, in northern Ukraine.

But Lavrov said in an interview Wednesday with state media that Russia no longer feels constrained to fighting in the Donbas where Russian separatists have been battling Kyiv’s forces since 2014, when Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

“Now, the geography has changed. It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk. It’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and several other territories. This process is continuing, consistently and persistently,” Lavrov told the state news RT television and RIA Novosti news agency.

Lavrov, Russia’s top diplomat, said Moscow’s territorial objectives would expand still further if Western countries delivered more long-range missiles to Kyiv.

The U.S. announced Wednesday plans to send four more such rocket systems to Ukraine, along with more artillery rounds.

“Ukrainian forces are now using long-range rocket systems to great effect, including HIMARS provided by the United States, and other systems from our allies and partners,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday at the Pentagon. “Ukraine’s defenders are pushing hard to hold Russia’s advances in the Donbas.”

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Ukrainians have been using U.S.-supplied multiple rocket launchers to hit Russian command centers and supply lines, including a strategically important bridge across the Dnieper River in the Kherson region.

Russian officials said the bridge has sustained damage but is still open to some traffic. The Russian military would be hard-pressed to keep supplying its forces in the region if the bridge were destroyed.

“The Ukrainians are making the Russians pay for every inch of territory that they gain,” Milley said, and the Donbas is “not lost yet. The Ukrainians intend to continue the fight.”

The future, Milley said, will depend on the number of long-range rockets and ammunition the Ukrainians have.

“We have a very serious grinding war of attrition going on in the Donbas. And unless there’s a breakthrough on either side — which right now the analysts don’t think is particularly likely in the near term — it will probably continue as a grinding war of attrition for a period of time until both sides see an alternative way out of this, perhaps through negotiation or something like that.”

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Tuesday that U.S. intelligence indicated Russia is “laying the groundwork to annex Ukrainian territory that it controls in direct violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

Kirby said the areas involved in plans that Russia is reviewing include Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and all of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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Europe’s Central Bank Backs Larger-than-expected Rate Hike

The European Central Bank raised interest rates Thursday for the first time in 11 years by a larger-than-expected amount, joining steps already taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other major central banks to target stubbornly high inflation. 

The move raises new questions about whether the rush to make credit more expensive will plunge major economies into recession at the cost of easing prices for people spending more on food, fuel and everything in between. 

The ECB’s surprise hike of half a percentage point for the 19 countries using the euro currency is expected to be followed by another increase in September, possibly of another half-point. Bank President Christine Lagarde had indicated a quarter-point hike last month, when inflation hit a record 8.6%. 

She said the bigger hike was unanimous as “inflation continues to be undesirably high and is expected to remain above our target for some time.” As the bank leaves an era of negative interest rates, Lagarde said economic forecasts don’t point to a recession this year or next but she acknowledged the uncertainty ahead. 

“Economic activity is slowing. Russia’s unjustified aggression towards Ukraine is an ongoing drag on growth,” the ECB chief said at a news conference. Higher inflation, supply constraints and uncertainty “are significantly clouding the outlook for the second half of 2022 and beyond.” 

The ECB is coming late to its rate liftoff — a token of inflation that turned out to be higher and more stubborn than first expected and of the shakier state of an economy heavily exposed to the war in Ukraine and a dependence on Russian oil and natural gas. Recession predictions have increased for later this year and next year as soaring bills for electricity, fuel and gas deal a blow to businesses and people’s spending power. 

The ECB made the bigger-than-expected increase to underline its determination to get inflation under control after its late start, said Carsten Brzeski, chief eurozone economist at ING bank. The move aims “to restore the ECB’s damaged reputation and credibility as an inflation fighter.” 

“Today’s decision shows that the ECB is more concerned about this credibility than about being predictable,” Brzeski said. 

Recession concerns have helped push the euro to a 20-year low against the dollar, which adds to the ECB’s task by worsening energy prices that are driving inflation. That is because oil is priced in dollars. 

Raising rates is seen as the standard cure for excessive inflation. The ECB’s benchmarks affect how much it costs banks to borrow — and so help determine what they charge to lend. 

But by making credit harder to get, rate increases can slow economic growth, a major conundrum for the ECB as well as for the Federal Reserve. The Fed raised rates by an outsized three-quarters of a point in June and could do so again at its next meeting. The Bank of England started the march higher in December, and even Switzerland’s central bank surprised with its first increase in nearly 15 years last month. 

The goal for all central banks is to get inflation back down to acceptable levels — for the ECB, it’s 2% annually — without tipping the economy into recession. It’s difficult to get right as central banks reverse what has been a decade of very low rates and inflation. 

“The most precious good that we can deliver and that we have to deliver is price stability. So we have to bring inflation down to 2% in the medium term. That is the imperative,” Lagarde said. “And it’s time to deliver.” 

Yet the European economy has the added worry of a potential cutoff of Russian natural gas, which is used to generate electricity, heat homes and fuel energy-intensive industries such as steel, glassmaking and agriculture. Even without a total cutoff, Russia has steadily dialed back gas flows, with EU leaders accusing the Kremlin of using gas to pressure countries over sanctions and support for Ukraine. 

Rising interest rates follow the end of the bank’s 1.7 trillion-euro (dollar) stimulus program that helped keep longer-term borrowing costs low for governments and companies as they weathered the pandemic recession. 

Those bond-market borrowing rates are now rising again, especially for more indebted eurozone countries such as Italy, where Premier Mario Draghi’s resignation has brought back bad memories of Europe’s debt crisis a decade ago. Markets fear the exit of the former ECB president, who has pushed policies meant to keep debt manageable and boost growth in Europe’s third-largest economy, could raise the risk of another eurozone crisis. 

The bank approved a new financial backstop that is part of its arsenal to prevent that from happening again. The ECB would step into markets to buy the bonds of countries facing excessive and unjustified borrowing rates. But it wouldn’t offer protection if the ECB determines higher borrowing costs resulted from poor government decisions. 

Buying bonds drives their price up and their yield down, because price and yield move in opposite directions, thus capping interest costs. Spiraling bond-market rates threatened to break up the euro in 2010-2012 and led Greece and countries to turn to other members and the International Monetary Fund for bailouts. 

This problem is unique to the ECB because it oversees 19 countries that are in different financial shape. The backstop aims to “safeguard the smooth transmission of our monetary policy stance throughout the euro area,” Lagarde said. 

The ECB’s lowest rate, the deposit rate on money left overnight by banks, was raised from minus 0.5% to zero. 

 

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У Генштабі ЗСУ розповіли про невдалу спробу штурму армії РФ у напрямку Лисичанського НПЗ

Posted by Ukrap on

«Енергоатом»: війська РФ розмістили техніку і вибухівку у машинному залі енергоблоку №1 Запорізької АЕС

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Карім Гуламов. У Києві попрощалися з українським телеведучим, військовим, який загинув у бою (фоторепортаж)

У Михайлівському Золотоверхому Соборі попрощалися з українським телеведучим та військовим Карімом Гуламовим. Карім загинув у бою з російськими окупантами.

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Biden Tests Positive for COVID-19

President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 and is “experiencing very mild symptoms,” the White House announced Thursday.

In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the fully vaccinated and twice boosted Biden, 79, has begun taking the anti-viral drug Paxlovid.

“Consistent with CDC guidelines, he will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time,” she said.

“He has been in contact with members of the White House staff by phone this morning, and will participate in his planned meetings at the White House this morning via phone and Zoom from the residence,” Jean-Pierre added.

The statement said Biden will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative.  

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Americans Filing Jobless Claims at Highest Level in 8 Months

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week rose to the highest level in more than eight months in what may be a sign that the labor market may be weakening.

Applications for jobless aid for the week ending July 16 rose by 7,000 to 251,000, up from the previous week’s 244,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That’s the most since Nov. 13, 2021 when 265,000 Americans applied for benefits.

Analysts surveyed by the data firm FactSet expected the number to come in at 242,000.

First-time applications generally reflect layoffs.

The four-week average for claims, which smooths out some of the week-to-week volatility, rose by 4,500 from the previous week, to 240,500.

The total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits for the week ending July 9 rose by 51,000 from the previous week, to 1,384,000. That figure has been near 50-year lows for months.

Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that employers added 372,000 jobs in June, a surprisingly robust gain and similar to the pace of the previous two months. Economists had expected job growth to slow sharply last month given the broader signs of economic weakness.

The unemployment rate remained 3.6% for a fourth straight month, matching a near-50-year low that was reached before the pandemic struck in early 2020.

The government also reported earlier in July that U.S. employers advertised fewer jobs in May amid signs that the economy is weakening, though the overall demand for workers remained strong. There are nearly two job openings for every unemployed person.

Consumer prices are still soaring, up 9.1% in June compared with a year earlier, the biggest yearly increase since 1981, the government reported last week.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week hit its highest level in nearly 8 months, but the total number of those collecting benefits fell. The Labor Department also reported last week that inflation at the wholesale level climbed 11.3% in June from a year earlier.

All of those figures paint a divergent picture of the post-pandemic economy: Inflation is hammering household budgets, forcing consumers to pull back on spending, and growth is weakening, heightening fears the economy could fall into recession.

In an effort to combat the worst inflation in more than four decades, the Federal Reserve raised rates by a half-point in May and another rare three-quarter point increase last month. Most economists expect the Federal Reserve to jack up its borrowing rate another half-to-three-quarters of a point when it meets later this month.

Though the labor market is still strong, there have been some high-profile layoffs announced recently by Tesla, Netflix, Carvana, Redfin and Coinbase.

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US Congress Moves Toward $52 Billion in Subsidies for Semiconductor Firms

The Senate this week took a key step toward passing a bill meant to provide $52 billion in subsidies to the semiconductor industry in the United States, part of an effort that lawmakers have characterized as protecting the country from supply shortages such as those that struck during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill, called the CHIPS for America Act, also seeks to make the U.S. more competitive with China.

Semiconductors, commonly known as chips, are essential elements of modern manufacturing. They are used in computers, cellphones and automobiles as well as in various other capacities. During the pandemic, chip shortages slowed manufacturing in multiple industries to a crawl.

The legislation would create incentives for semiconductor manufacturers to build chip fabrication plants in the U.S. to bring back domestic production levels, which have fallen from more than one-third of total global capacity three decades ago to less than 12% now.

Discussing the legislation on the Senate floor, Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, said, “It is a plan to make America more competitive with China, and a plan to bring good jobs back to America.”

In a 64-34 procedural vote Tuesday, with more than a dozen Republicans voting with the overwhelming majority of Democrats, the Senate cleared the way for the legislation to come to a vote as soon as this week. The House of Representatives would need to pass the bill — which is still not in its final form — before President Joe Biden could sign it into law.

Making the case

Before the vote Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told his colleagues that the bill “will fight inflation, boost American manufacturing, ease our supply chains and protect American security interests.”

He added: “America will fall behind in so many areas if we don’t pass this bill, and we could very well lose our ranking as the No. 1 economy and innovator in the world if we can’t pass this.”

Senator John Cornyn, the most senior Republican to vote in favor of advancing the bill, used Twitter to make his case ahead of the vote.

“If the US lost access to advanced semiconductors (none made in US) in the first year, GDP could shrink by 3.2 percent and we could lose 2.4 million jobs,” he tweeted. “The GDP loss would 3X larger ($718 B) than the estimated $240 B of US GDP lost in 2021 due to the ongoing chip shortage.”

The money in the bill comes with significant strings attached. Companies accepting the subsidies must agree not to use the funds for to buy back stock, pay shareholder dividends, or expand manufacturing in certain countries identified in the bill. Provisions allow the government to “claw back” the funds if a recipient violates any of the bill’s conditions.

Second try

If the bill advances to the House, it would mark the second time a bipartisan group of senators tried to secure money for the semiconductor industry. Last year, the Senate passed a $250 billion package that included broader research and development funding.

When the House received the bill, it waited nearly a year to pass its own version and made a number of additions that Senate Republicans would not agree to. The bill never advanced.

Now, however, things might be different. In a letter circulated to members of the House Democratic caucus on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in favor of the bill.

“With this package, the United States returns to its status as a world leader in the manufacturing of semiconductor chips,” Pelosi wrote, noting that the bill would create an estimated 100,000 well-paid government contracting jobs in the industry.

“Doing so is an economic necessity to lower costs for consumers and to win in the 21st Century Economy, as well as a national security imperative as we seek to reduce our dependence on foreign manufacturers,” Pelosi wrote.

Industry reacts

In an email exchange with VOA, Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of Semi, a global industry trade group, said, “We are pleased to see action to reverse the decline in the U.S. share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity, which has fallen by 50 percent in the last 20 years and is forecast to shrink further.”

“The availability of robust incentives in other countries and the lack of a federal U.S. incentive have been key factors driving the location of more overseas manufacturing facilities,” Manocha added. “If the United States wants to maintain or increase its share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity, the federal government absolutely needs to get in the game.”

Semiconductor Industry Association President and CEO John Neuffer said in a statement, “The Senate CHIPS Act would greatly strengthen America’s economy, national security, and leadership in the technologies that will determine our future.”

He added, “This is America’s window of opportunity to re-invigorate chip manufacturing, design, and research on U.S. shores, and Congress should seize it before the window slams shut.” 

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US Warns Putin Falling for His Own Rhetoric

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have succumbed to his own mythmaking and hyperbole, unable to let go of his desire to conquer Ukraine, no matter what the costs, according to a public assessment by America’s top spymaster.

CIA Director William Burns, the last U.S. official to meet with Putin before he ordered Russian forces into Ukraine in February, warned late Wednesday that the Russian leader truly believes he must conquer Ukraine to fulfill his destiny.

“Putin really does believe his rhetoric, and I’ve heard him say it privately over the years, that Ukraine’s not a real country. … He really thought he could take Kyiv in less than a week,” Burns told an audience at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado.

“He is convinced that his destiny as Russia’s leader is to restore Russia as a great power … and he does not believe you can do that without controlling Ukraine and its choices,” Burns added. “He believes it’s his entitlement, it’s Russia’s entitlement to dominate Ukraine.”

Previous U.S, intelligence assessments have suggested that while Putin had no intention of forsaking his effort to conquer all of Ukraine, it was possible he might be willing to officially pause the fighting to give his forces time to reorganize following substantial losses since the invasion began.

“It is entirely plausible, from our perspective, that depending on how things develop over the coming months and so on that he [Putin] is convinced that there is value in effect, coming to some sort of agreement,” U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said last month.

U.S. intelligence estimates say approximately 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine, with another 45,000 wounded.

Ukrainian defense officials put the number of Russian soldiers killed at about 38,000.

Burns seemed to cast doubt on the idea a deal of some sort could be in play, describing it as inconsistent with Putin’s world view.

Putin is “a big believer in control and intimidation and getting even,” Burns said, calling the Russian leader “an apostle of payback.”

“As his grip on power has tightened, as his circle of advisers has narrowed, his own personal sense of destiny and his appetite for risk has grown,” Burns said. “Putin’s bet … is that he can succeed in a grinding war of attrition, that they can wear down the Ukrainian military, that winter’s coming and so he can strangle the Ukrainian economy, he can wear down European publics and leadership, and he can wear down the United States.”

“My own strong view is that Putin was wrong in his assumptions about breaking the [NATO] alliance and breaking Ukrainian will before the war began and I think he’s just as wrong now,” Burns said.

There are some indications that Russia has learned lessons from its early failures in Ukraine, limiting its objectives to those in the Donbas region and by increasing its use of long-range artillery, an area in which Moscow maintains an advantage over Kyiv.

At the same time, however, there are signs Putin’s ambitions are reemerging.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday warned that Russian forces could soon expand their “special operation” due to the provision of U.S. High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine.

“Now the geography has changed. It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s Kherson, Zaporizhia, and several other territories,” Lavrov told state-run media Wednesday.

“We cannot allow the part of Ukraine that will be controlled by [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, or whoever replaces him, to contain weapons that will pose a direct threat to our territory and the territory of the republics that have declared independence, those that want to determine their own future.”

Two hundred Ukrainian troops have been trained on the HIMARS and at least eight units have seen action so far, according to U.S. military officials, targeting and destroying Russian weapon depots and command-and-control centers.

U.S. defense officials have said four more HIMARS are being sent to the Ukrainian military and promised the delivery of yet another four systems in a security package set to be announced later this week.

“We’re not working just to provide security assistance in the short term,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Wednesday. “[We’re] also looking ahead to provide Ukraine with the capabilities that it will need for deterrence and defense over the longer term.”

Other Ukrainian allies also see the war grinding on.

“We don’t see any signs that the war will end soon,” NATO Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security David Cattler told an online forum Tuesday.

“In fact, there are even more signs that this war will be a very long one,” he said.

Russia and Iran

U.S. defense and intelligence officials are warning Iran not to get involved in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

A day after Putin met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters at the Pentagon it would be a “really, really bad idea” for Iran to provide Russia with armed drones.

“On the issue of Iranian support to Russia, we would advise Iran to not do that,” Austin said.

Asked about Austin’s comments, Burns called Austin, “very good at understatement.”

“The reality is Russians and Iranians need each other right now, both heavily sanctioned countries, both looking to break out of political isolation,” Burns added.  “But I think as troubling as some of the steps between those two parties are, and we focus on them very sharply at CIA, there are limits I think, to the ways in which they’re going to be able to help one another right now.”

Lessons for China

Burns said Moscow is getting some help from China, with Beijing stepping up purchases of energy products to help support the Russian economy. But he cautioned the Chinese have been very cautious about lending Russia any military support.

“It seems to me that President Xi [Jinping] and the Chinese leadership has been unsettled to some extent, especially in the first phase of Putin’s war in Ukraine … unsettled by the military performance of the Russians early on and the performance of Russian weaponry, unsettled by the economic uncertainties that the war has unleashed,” he said.

However, Burns said Russia’s struggles are unlikely to change China’s calculus about using force to take Taiwan.

“Our sense is that it probably affects less the question of whether the Chinese leadership might choose some years down the road to use force to control Taiwan but how and when they will do it,” he said.

“If there’s one lesson I think they may be drawing from Putin’s experience in Ukraine, is you don’t achieve quick decisive victories with underwhelming force,” Burns said.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum earlier Wednesday, China’s ambassador to the United States played down the likelihood Beijing would use force against Taiwan.

“The last thing we wish to do is to fight with our compatriots [in Taiwan],” Ambassador Qin Gang said, accusing the U.S. of sending sophisticated weapons to support the Taiwanese military.

“We will try our best in our great sincerity to achieve the peaceful reunification,” Qin added. “The ‘One China’ principle is the political foundation for China-U.S. relations, and is the bedrock for the peace and stability across Taiwan Strait …  but we urge the United States to honor its commitments with actions.”

 

Posted by Worldkrap on

Italian Prime Minister Draghi Resigns

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned Thursday after failing in his efforts to unite the fractious pieces of his unity government.

President Sergio Mattarella’s office said in a statement the president had accepted Draghi’s resignation but asked him to stay on in a caretaker role.

The development could mean Italy heads to a parliamentary election in the coming months instead of the scheduled vote set to take place next year.

Draghi became prime minister in 2021 as Italy dealt with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and a sagging economy.

Mattarella rejected his earlier offer of resignation last week, urging Draghi to appeal to lawmakers to keep the ruling coalition together.

But several key parties boycotted a confidence vote, prompting Draghi to submit his resignation again.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

Posted by Ukrap on

Кандидатка у премʼєри Британії Трасс виступає проти відправки британських військ до України

Ліз Трасс виключає «пряму участь» британських військ у протидії російській агресії

Posted by Ukrap on

Премʼєр Італії подав у відставку

Маріо Драгі подав заяву про відставку президенту Серджо Матарелла під час ранкової зустрічі 21 липня

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Russia Resumes Gas Deliveries Through Pipeline to Europe

Russia resumed the flow of natural gas through the Nord Stream pipeline to Europe on Thursday after a 10-day interruption for maintenance.

Klaus Mueller, head of Germany’s energy regulator, tweeted that gas flows had reached 40% of capacity, the same level as before the shutdown.

Russia’s state-owned Gazprom blamed the reduction on the absence of a gas turbine being repaired in Canada.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted Gazprom would meet its delivery obligations, while warning that work on another turbine later this month could bring more reductions.

European Union leaders have warned of the potential for Russia to cut off supplies in response to Western pressure on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The EU has asked member countries to voluntarily reduce their use of gas, both to seek alternative options and to save existing supplies for winter months.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

Posted by Ukrap on

Ракетний удар по Вінниці: 20-річна дівчина померла у лікарні – ОВА