That night, she and her husband slept in their cellar. The commander curled up next to the wounded soldier on the kitchen floor.

When Ms. Kozyr stepped outside the next morning, to check on her calf and pigs, she passed by the kitchen and peered through the window.

The soldier’s hands were curled, his body stiff. He was dead.

She started crying at the memory of it, pulling a small rag out of her pocket and wiping her eyes. But she did not question the counteroffensive.

“It needed to be done,” she said. And then she repeated herself, a little more softly. “It needed to be done.”

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn and Oleksandr Chubko contributed reporting from Mykolaiv, Ukraine, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Pokrovsk, Ukraine.

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Biden To Meet With South African Leader About Ukraine, Trade, Climate

By Associated Press
September 16, 2022

South African leaders have accused the U.S. of focusing on the Ukraine conflict to the detriment of other global crises.

U.S. President Joe Biden and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa are set to meet Friday at the White House for talks on Russia’s war in Ukraine, climate issues, trade and more.

Ramaphosa is among African leaders who have maintained a neutral stance in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with South Africa abstaining from a United Nations vote condemning Russia’s actions and calling for a mediated settlement.

South Africa’s international relations minister, Naledi Pandor, said Ramaphosa would emphasize the need for dialogue to find an end to the conflict during his meeting with President Biden and in separate talks with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Pandor added that the issue will be South Africa’s focus when it participates in the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly next week.

“We would want a process of diplomacy to be initiated between the two parties and we believe the U.N. must lead, the U.N secretary-general in particular,” Pandor said.

The White House meeting comes on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to South Africa last month, in which he said the Biden administration sees Africa’s 54 nations as “equal partners” in tackling global problems.

But the administration has been disappointed that South Africa and much of the continent have declined to follow the U.S. in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

During the Blinken visit, Pandor accused the U.S. and other Western powers of focusing on the Ukraine conflict to the detriment of crises around the globe.

“We should be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine, as we are with what is happening to the people of Ukraine,” she said.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has sought to underscore that Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports has led to scarcities in grain, cooking oil and fertilizer — resulting in disproportionate impact on Africans.

South Africa’s neutral position is largely because of the support the Soviet Union gave during the Cold War era to Ramaphosa’s African National Congress in its fight to end apartheid, South Africa’s regime of repression against the Black majority that ended in 1994. South Africa is seen as a leader of the several African countries that will not side against Russia.

Despite the differences on the war in Ukraine, the Biden administration recognizes the importance of strengthening relations in Africa as China has spent decades entrenching itself in the continent’s natural resources markets. Improving relations with South Africa — one of the continent’s biggest economies — is central to the U.S. effort.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the two leaders would also discuss climate change and opportunities to increase trade and investment. Harris and Ramaphosa will discuss global health security, space cooperation and other matters, when they meet over breakfast at the vice president’s residence, Jean-Pierre said.

South Africa’s ambitious efforts to transition from coal to cleaner energy are expected to be discussed during the leaders’ talks. The U.S., Britain, France and Germany announced a plan last year to provide $8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to help South Africa phase out coal.

Ramaphosa could also raise with President Biden the failure of the United States and other wealthier nations to make good on a more than decades-old pledge — first made in 2009 and reaffirmed at the 2015 Paris climate talks — to spend $100 billion to help developing nations deal with climate change.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Exclusive: With a Russian nudge, Turkey and Syria step up contacts

  • Any normalisation would reshape decade-long Syria war
  • Intelligence chiefs held meetings over last few weeks
  • Focused on Ukraine, Moscow urges political solution in Syria

ANKARA/BEIRUT, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Turkey’s intelligence chief has held multiple meetings with his Syrian counterpart in Damascus over the last few weeks, a sign of Russian efforts to encourage a thaw between states on opposite sides of Syria’s war, four sources said.

A regional source aligned with Damascus told Reuters that Hakan Fidan, head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), and Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk met as recently as this week in the Syrian capital.

The contacts reflect a Russian policy shift as Moscow steels itself for a protracted conflict in Ukraine and seeks to secure its position in Syria, where its forces have supported President Bashar al-Assad since 2015, according to two Turkish officials and the regional source.

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Any normalisation between Ankara and Damascus would reshape the decade-long Syrian war.

Turkish backing has been vital to sustaining Syrian rebels in their last major territorial foothold in the northwest, after Assad defeated the insurgency across the rest of the country, aided by Russia and Iran.

But rapprochement faces big complications, including the fate of rebel fighters and millions of civilians, many of whom fled to the northwest to escape Assad’s rule.

Turkey, a NATO member country, has troops on the ground across the area, deemed occupying forces by Assad.

During the meetings, Fidan – one of President Tayyip Erdogan’s closest confidants – and Mamlouk evaluated how the two countries’ foreign ministers could eventually meet, according to a senior Turkish official and a Turkish security source.

“Russia wants Syria and Turkey to overcome their problems and achieve certain agreements…which are in the interest of everyone, both Turkey and Syria,” said the Turkish official.

One big challenge is Turkey’s desire to include Syrian rebels in any talks with Damascus, the official added.

RUSSIAN SHIFT

The Turkish security official said Russia has gradually withdrawn some military resources from Syria in order to focus on Ukraine, and had asked Turkey to normalise relations with Assad to “accelerate a political solution” in Syria.

The Damascus-allied source said Russia had nudged Syria to enter talks as Moscow seeks to nail down its position and that of Assad in the event it must redeploy forces to Ukraine. Russia has sustained stunning losses on the ground in Ukraine over the past week.

The most recent meetings – including a two-day visit by Fidan to Damascus at the end of August – had sought to lay the ground for sessions at a higher level, the source said.

The senior Turkish official said Ankara does not want to see Iranian or Iran-backed forces – already widely deployed in government-controlled parts of Syria – plugging gaps left by Russian withdrawals.

The Turkish security official said neither did Russia want to see Iranian influence expand as it reduces its presence.

A diplomat based in the region said Russia had pulled a limited number of troops out of Syria’s south earlier this summer, particularly in areas along the border with Israel that were later filled by Iran-aligned forces.

While Fidan and Mamlouk have spoken intermittently over the last two years, the pace and timing of recent meetings suggests a new urgency to the contacts.

The regional source allied to Damascus and a second senior pro-Assad source in the Middle East said the Turkish-Syrian contacts had made a lot of progress, without giving details.

A third regional source aligned with Damascus said Turkish-Syrian relations had begun to thaw and were advancing to a stage of “creating a climate for understanding”.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the contacts, which have not been publicly disclosed.

The Russian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkey’s MIT declined to comment and the foreign ministry did not immediately comment. The Syrian information ministry did not immediately reply to emailed questions from Reuters.

UNTHINKABLE BECOMES THINKABLE

Turkish-Syrian rapprochement seemed unthinkable earlier in the Syrian conflict, which spiralled out of an uprising against Assad in 2011, killing hundreds of thousands of people, drawing in numerous foreign powers, and splintering the country.

Erdogan has called Assad a terrorist and said there could be no peace in Syria with him in office, while Assad has called Erdogan a thief for “stealing” Syrian land.

But in an apparent change of tone last month, Erdogan said he could never rule out dialogue and diplomacy with Syria. read more

Erdogan faces tight elections next year in which a key issue will be repatriating some of the 3.7 million Syrian refugees now in Turkey. read more

The Turkish-Syrian contacts come against the backdrop of a flurry of meetings between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, including one planned on Friday in Uzbekistan.

In July, Turkey helped seal a U.N.-backed deal that lifted a blockade on grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports which had prevailed since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of its neighbour.

After a recent visit to Moscow, Erdogan said Putin had suggested Turkey cooperate with Damascus along their joint border, where Ankara has waged several offensives into areas where Syrian Kurdish groups have carved out autonomy since 2011.

Turkey has been threatening to launch another offensive against the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, which Ankara deems a national security threat. Russia has signalled opposition to such an incursion.

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Reporting by Orhan Coskun in Ankara and Laila Bassam and Maya Gebeily in Beirut; writing by Tom Perry; editing by Jonathan Spicer and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Xi, Putin Hold Summit In Uzbekistan As Ukraine War Dominates

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 15, 2022

Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi were due to meet one-on-one to discuss the war in Ukraine, according to one presidential adviser.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and leaders from India and Central Asia gathered Thursday in Uzbekistan for a summit of a security group formed by Beijing and Moscow as a counterweight to U.S. influence.

The meeting Friday of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization is overshadowed by Putin’s attack on Ukraine and strains in China’s relations with Washington, Europe, Japan and India due to disputes over technology, security and territory.

The event in the ancient sultanate of Samarkand is part of Xi’s first foreign trip since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic 2 1/2 years ago, underscoring Beijing’s desire to assert itself as a regional power.

Putin and Xi were due to meet one-on-one and discuss Ukraine, according to the Russian president’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov.

Xi’s government, which said it had a “no limits” friendship with Moscow before the invasion, has refused to criticize the attack. Beijing and India are buying more Russian oil and gas, which helps Moscow offset the impact of Western sanctions.

China “states explicitly that it understands the reasons that forced Russia to launch a special military operation,” Ushakov said Thursday, according to the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass.

Putin planned to meet Friday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ITAR-Tass said, citing Ushakov.

There was no indication whether Modi might meet Xi. Chinese-Indian relations are strained due to clashes between soldiers from the two sides in a dispute over a border in a remote area of the Himalayas.

Other SCO governments include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

The meeting planned to consider an application by Iran, an observer of the group, to become a full member, according to ITAR-Tass.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which has the status of “dialogue partner,” was also in attendance.

Putin and Erdogan planned on Friday to “evaluate the effectiveness” of a deal under which wheat exports from Ukraine via the Black Sea resumed, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to ITAR-Tass.

The Chinese leader is promoting a “Global Security Initiative” announced in April following the formation of the Quad by Washington, Japan, Australia and India in response to Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy. Xi has given few details, but U.S. officials complain it echoes Russian arguments in support of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

The region is part of China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to expand trade by building ports, railways and other infrastructure across an arc of dozens of countries from the South Pacific through Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

On Thursday, Xi met with President Sadyr Zhaparov of Kyrgyzstan and said Beijing supports the “early operation” of a planned railway linking China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

China’s economic inroads into Central Asia have fueled unease in Russia, which sees the region as its sphere of influence.

Xi made a one-day visit Wednesday to Kazakhstan en route to Uzbekistan. Pope Francis was in Kazakhstan, but they didn’t meet.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Sept 10 (Reuters) – Moscow has abandoned its main bastion in northeastern Ukraine, a sudden apparent collapse of one of the war’s principal front lines after Ukrainian forces moved to encircle the area in a shock advance. read more

FIGHTING

* The state-run TASS news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying it had ordered troops to leave the area around the city of Izium in Kharkiv province, saying they would be sent to reinforce operations elsewhere in neighbouring Donetsk.

* The announcement came hours after rapidly advancing Ukrainian troops captured the city of Kupiansk, the sole railway hub supplying Russia’s entire frontline across northeastern Ukraine, cutting thousands of Russian troops off from supplies.

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* A Reuters journalist inside a vast area recaptured in recent days by the advancing Ukrainian forces saw Ukrainian police patrolling towns and boxes of ammunition lying in heaps at positions abandoned by fleeing Russian soldiers.

* Russia’s defence ministry said its air forces destroyed a Ukrainian radar tracking station the southern Mykolaiv region and six weapon and missile depots in eastern and southeastern areas, TASS reported.

* Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

QUOTES

* Mark Hertling, a retired four-star general and former commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe: “Make no mistake, (Ukraine) is executing a brilliant maneuver focused on terrain objectives to ‘bag’ Russians. But the Russians are helping them – by doing very little to counter.”

* Russia’s defence ministry on TASS: “To achieve the stated goals of the Special Military Operation for the liberation of Donbas, it was decided to regroup the Russian troops located in the districts of Balakliia and Izium for the purpose of increasing efforts in the Donetsk direction.”

NUCLEAR

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron about the situation at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, calling for it to be “demilitarized”.

* Shelling has destroyed power infrastructure in the city of Enerhodar where staff operating Zaporizhzhia live, posing a growing threat to the plant, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday. read more

ENERGY

* European Union energy ministers on Friday gave the European Commission the task of pressing ahead with a cap on the revenues of non-gas power producers benefiting from soaring energy prices, while backing away from capping Russian gas prices. read more

GRAIN

* Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday a deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea is being fulfilled “badly” and its extension, due in late November, will depend on how it is implemented, RIA reported. read more

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Compiled by Grant McCool, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Prepare bomb shelters in Crimea, Zelenskiy adviser tells residents

A view shows the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters following a reported combat drone attack in Sevastopol, Crimea July 31, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer/

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KYIV, Sept 5 (Reuters) – Ukraine on Monday told residents of Russian-annexed Crimea to prepare bomb shelters and stock up on supplies as Kyiv presses ahead with plans for a major counteroffensive to drive Russian troops out of occupied Ukrainian territory.

Ukraine has for weeks been telling residents in its occupied south to be ready and to evacuate before it launches a counter-offensive. Still, Monday’s warning was notable because it was addressed to residents of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, in contrast to areas captured by Russia during this year’s invasion.

The Black Sea peninsula is thought to be out of range of Ukrainian weapons, though several recent explosions at Russian military sites in Crimea have called that into question. Kyiv has declined to claim responsibility for the incidents.

“We ask residents of occupied territories, including the Crimean peninsula, to follow (Ukrainian) officials’ recommendations during de-occupation measures,” said Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.

“In particular, to prepare a bomb shelter, stock up with sufficient amounts of water and charge powerbanks. Everything will be Ukraine,” he wrote on Twitter.

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Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Tomasz Janowski

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High Seas Deception: How Shady Ships Use GPS to Evade International Law

The scrappy oil tanker waited to load fuel at a dilapidated jetty projecting from a giant Venezuelan refinery on a December morning. A string of abandoned ships listed in the surrounding turquoise Caribbean waters, a testament to the country’s decay after years of economic hardships and U.S. sanctions.

Yet, on computer screens, the ship — called Reliable — appeared nearly 300 nautical miles away, drifting innocuously off the coast of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. According to Reliable’s satellite location transmissions, the ship had not been to Venezuela in at least a decade.

Shipping data researchers have identified hundreds of cases like Reliable, where a ship has transmitted fake location coordinates in order to carry out murky and even illegal business operations and circumvent international laws and sanctions.

maritime resolution signed by nearly 200 nations in 2015, all large ships must carry and operate satellite transponders, known as automatic identification systems, or AIS, which transmit a ship’s identification and navigational positional data. The resolution’s signatories, which include practically all seafaring nations, are obligated under the U.N. rules to enforce these guidelines within their jurisdictions.

sophisticated examples of AIS manipulation, officials said, and the country goes to great lengths to conceal the illegal activities of its large fishing industry.

Windward is one of the main companies that provide shipping industry data to international organizations, governments and financial institutions — including the United Nations, U.S. government agencies and banks like HSBC, Société Générale and Danske Bank. At least one client, the U.N. Security Council body that monitors North Korea’s sanctions compliance, has used Windward’s data to identify ships that breach international laws.

reported an increase in cases of AIS manipulation and jamming in the Black Sea, coinciding with U.S. and Ukrainian claims that Russia was trying to hide its oil exports and smuggle stolen Ukrainian grain.

many of the same ships have recently started trading Venezuelan oil that is under U.S. sanctions.

The spread of AIS manipulation by E.U.-registered vessels shows how advances in technology allow some shipowners to earn windfall profits from commodities under sanction while benefiting from European financial services and legal safeguards.

Cyprus’s deputy shipping minister, Vassilios Demetriades, said illegal manipulation of on-ship equipment is punishable by fines or criminal penalties under the island’s laws. But he has downplayed the problem, saying AIS’s “value and trustworthiness as a location device is rather limited.”

According to Cyprus’s corporate documents, Reliable belongs to a company owned by Christos Georgantzoglou, 81, a Greek businessman. The ship crossed the Atlantic for the first time shortly after Mr. Georgantzoglou’s company bought it last year, and has transmitted locations around eastern Caribbean Islands since, according to Windward’s analysis.

But Venezuela’s state oil company records reviewed by The New York Times show that Reliable was working for the Venezuelan government in the country during that time.

Mr. Georgantzoglou and his company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Their Venezuelan dealings appear to contradict a promise made by Greece’s powerful shipowners association in 2020 to stop transporting the country’s oil. The association did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Reliable is still moving fuel around Venezuelan ports or loading crude onto Asia-bound ships in open waters to hide its origin, according to two Venezuelan oil businessmen, who asked not to be named for security reasons. It still broadcasts coordinates of a ship adrift in the Caribbean Sea.

Adriana Loureiro Fernandez and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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