After 20 years of service, Russian Diplomat Boris Bondarev has resigned over the war incurred by Russia in Ukraine through a letter posted on social media. Bondarev has called Russia “witless” for its invasion within the Eastern European country. He stated that “Those who conceived of this war want only one thing – to stay in power forever…To achieve that, they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this.”
“Today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy,” he went on to write. “It is all about warmongering, lies and hatred. It serves interests of few, the very few people thus contributing to further isolation and degradation of my country. Russia no longer has allies, and there is no one to blame but its reckless and ill-conceived policy…When you see that your country is doing the worst things and being a civil servant you’re somehow related to that, it’s your decision just to terminate your connection with the government. We all must be responsible. And I don’t want to have any responsibility for what I don’t approve of.”
Bondarev stated his decision to quit was made in February, but took him two months to find the resolve to publicly announce his resignation. Bondarev is the first to make his resignation public, praised by the UN watch. Moscow has yet to respond to his departure. However, Russian news agency Kommersant did report on this, stating they also knew the names of other diplomats who have resigned following the invasion but have not announced it.
The EU Approves Ukraine for Candidacy
- The EU has finally approved the application of Ukraine to become a candidate country for admission to the 27- country organization. Ukraine will now join the official candidate list, which already includes Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey.
- The US is expected to provide an additional $450m in security assistance to Ukraine. Which includes four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
- The EU and Norway have agreed to cooperate and provide the EU’s 27 countries with gas from Western Europe’s biggest provider. The EU imports roughly ⅕ of its gas from Norway compared to the 40% it was receiving from Russia. Currently, Russia has been cutting gas supplies to countries refusing to pay for it in roubles.
- Melbourne is considering utilizing its largely vacant $200m Center for National Resilience building to house hundreds of refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine and Afghanistan. The center will only be able to temporarily house about 500 refugees from Afghanistan and about 200 from Ukraine.
- Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after receiving and welcoming the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from the United States.
- Nike joined other leading Western brands by formally making a full exit from Russia, three months after suspending its operations. Telecoms equipment maker Cisco is also planning to wind down business in Russia and Belarus as well.
Ukraine Receives German Delivery of Long Range Weapons as Putin Announces ICBM
- Ukraine has announced that they’ve recently deployed a number of long-range weapons sent from Germany. Ukrainian Defence Minister Okeysii Reznikov recently thanked Germany’s Federal Minister of Defence for the howitzers they received. The delivery comes after Germany announced plans last month to step up their delivery of weapons to Ukraine.
- President Vladimir Putin has also disclosed plans for Russia to deploy Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles around the end of 2022. The deployment of ICBMs is part of Russia’s larger plan to strengthen their military through improved weapons such as the S-500 air defense and missile defense systems.
- As both Russia and Ukraine expand their military arsenal, more settlements have been captured by Russian forces in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. Governor Serhiy Haidai has shared that Russian forces have captured the settlement of Toshkivka and several other settlements nearby. President Zelensky states in a video address that the current situation in Luhansk has been tough as Russian forces push into key areas of the region.
- Meanwhile, massive amounts of wheat and grains remain stuck at the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. Turkey plans to initiate dialogue with Russian, Ukrainian, and United Nations officials about opening up corridors that would allow for safe grain export. The White House has stated that President Joe Biden has also been examining options for the safe exportation of grain with White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby, calling the grain blockage a weaponization of food.
Latest Updates on the War on Ukraine
- With the invasion of Russia in the Ukraine, the block on Ukraine’s grain exports is causing a spark on grain and fertilizer shortages and has put millions of people at risk of starvation. On Monday, June 20 2022, the Ukrainian President asked during an address to the African Union to solve this issue with dialogue.
- AU’s chairperson Macky Sall responded by saying “Africa remains committed to respecting the rules of international law, the peaceful resolution of conflicts and freedom of trade”. The AU did not want to address President Zelensky’s comments as they do not fully agree. Food prices in African countries have increased. However, there is no shortage in sight as there are millions of tonnes of grain sitting in warehouses and Ukrainian ports.
- Russian oil imports to China have increased by 55% in May compared to a year ago, displacing Saudi Arabia as the top supplier. China increased their crude oil imports from Russia in May in order to help offset Moscow’s losses from the sanctions placed by Western Nations. China purchased about $7.47 billion dollars worth of Russian energy products in May, which is about $1 billion more than what was purchased in April.
- Analyst Wei Cheong Ho while explaining why China and India have purchased so much oil from Russia said, “For now, it is just pure economics that Indian and Chinese refiners are importing more Russian-origin crude oil… as such oil is cheap.” India has also bought six times more Russian oil from March to May compared year over year, making India the second largest importer of Russian crude oil overtaking Germany’s spot. Imports from China tripled during that same period. Data also showed China’s imports of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) amounting to nearly 400,00 tonnes last month, 56% more than last year.
Macron and Scholz Publicly Support Ukraine and Back Away from Moscow Diplomacy
- Although questions have been raised regarding France’s commitment to maintaining a sovereign Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron finally stated in a press conference with several European counterparts that Ukraine has his full commitment and support.
- Macron stated, “today, it is clearly on Ukrainian soil that the security of the European continent as a whole is at stake… and Europe is at your side and will remain so as long as necessary.” This was an entirely different tone from when he and his counterparts were discussing the topic of delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that it is absolutely necessary to continue an open dialogue with Russia. He stated “and if you really believe that you will rob some land and then hope that the times will change and all the things will become normal again, this is a mistake. You have to withdraw your troops and you have to find an agreement with Ukraine which is acceptable and right for the people of Ukraine.”
- Ukraine will have to be approved by the already 27 EU members and have to meet a series of criteria. Many countries, although supportive of Ukraine in the war, do not want a country at war to begin the accession process. It could take years after the war for Ukraine to become a functioning democracy and finally be accepted into the EU.
- Conditions in the eastern part of Ukraine are becoming more dire, especially in the city of Lysychansk, where civilians have been in the line of fire for months and now have no gas, power, or water. Many are frustrated as they shelter in school basements, line up for unfiltered water, and cook over an open fire.
- In St. Petersburg, President Putin still vows to accomplish all of Moscow’s alleged military goals in Ukraine. Putin referred to the war in Ukraine a “decision of a sovereign country based on the right to defend its security” and stated that Russia’s actions in Ukraine are not responsible for the global food crisis, but in fact the US’s fault for driving up food prices.
China’s Xi Asserts Support for Russia
- Chinese President Xi shares his support for Moscow’s security and sovereignty over a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- “All parties should responsibly push for a proper settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” Xi tells Putin on Wednesday.
- China has not referred to the crisis as a Russian invasion, meanwhile criticizing NATO and Western nations for instigating Moscow into attacking.
- The United States warns China that aligning with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine will brand them “on the wrong side of history.”
- Moscow blames the West’s unprecedented sanctions against Russia for causing a global economic slowdown.
- In the face of this slowdown, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up their cooperation to compensate for Moscow’s loss of major foreign firms following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Pope Francis suggests Ukraine and Russia war may have been ‘provoked’
Pope Francis praises the “brave” Ukrainians for resisting the Russian invasion but also states that the situation is not black and white as the invasion could have been “perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented.”
The remarks by the Pope were made during an interview by a Catholic Jesuit magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica, which was conducted last month and published this Tuesday. He condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine for the “ferocity and cruelty of the Russian troops” and said it violated a country’s right to self-determination.
On the other hand, the Pontiff also said “there are no metaphysical good guys and bad guys, in an abstract sense.”
Adding, “We need to move away from the usual Little Red Riding Hood pattern, in that Little Red Riding Hood was good and the Wolf was the bad one… something global is emerging and the elements are very much entwined.”
He believes that the people need to understand “the whole drama unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented. And note the interest in testing and selling weapons.”
He also said that months before the war a head of the state warned him that NATO was “barking at the gates of Russia”. He mentioned the same thing a month ago as well when asked for a comment on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in an interview with the Corriere Della Sera newspaper.
However, he said he was not pro-Putin at all.
“I am simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good guys and bad guys without reasoning about roots and interests, which are very complex,” he stated.
In another message by the Pope for the Roman Catholic Church’s upcoming World Day of the Poor, he said “The war in Ukraine has now been added to the regional wars that for years have taken a heavy toll of death and destruction.”
Yet, he also added, “Here the situation is even more complex due to the direct intervention of a ‘superpower’ aimed at imposing its own will in violation of the principle of the self-determination of peoples.”
The Pontiff also wants to have a direct meeting with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who seems to justify the war by using religious reasons.
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