Ukraine News: More Brutal Fighting Expected in East

Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times
Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times
Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times

LVIV, Ukraine — Artemiy Dymyd’s closest friends unwrapped his parachute and spread it gently over his grave. The red, silky material swaddled his coffin as it was lowered down.

The men, many soldiers themselves, covered the freshly dug hole with dirt. The first shovelfuls landed with a thud.

The funeral for Mr. Dymyd, a marine killed in action, was the first funeral of the day in Lviv, a western city in Ukraine where residents have seen a relentless stream of their sons killed in the war with Russia. By Tuesday’s end, three other freshly dug graves near Mr. Dymyd’s would also be filled with young soldiers who had died in battle for the country’s east, hundreds of miles away.

The funeral had begun in a Greek Catholic church, an eastern branch of Catholicism that is widespread in Lviv. Mr. Dymyd’s father, a priest, delivered his eulogy. And then his mother, her voice thick with emotion, sang a final lullaby for her son.

The procession then made an all-too-familiar journey from the church to the city’s main market square, where dozens of young people in scouting uniforms formed a honor guard. Mr. Dymyd, 27, had been a part of Ukraine’s scout organization since the age of 7. Young children, teenagers and adults from the group were there to say a final goodbye.

At the bottom of the square, four white placards announced the details of the military funerals to be held in the city on Tuesday, all for men killed in the battle for the country’s east in recent weeks. Three of them never reached their 30th birthday.

Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times

One young woman, wearing the distinctive green scarf of the scouts, closed her eyes, drew sharp breaths and clenched her fists to keep her tears at bay as she joined the slow procession for Mr. Dymyd.

Scouting was just one part of his life. Mr. Dymyd also loved traveling and adventure, and extreme sports like parachuting. His nickname was Kurka, which means chicken. Friends said that Metallica music would have been more fitting for his funeral than the military dirges that now play in Lviv’s Lychakiv cemetery daily.

“He is one of the most decent men I’ve ever met,” said Dmytro Paschuk, 26. “He lived many lives in his 27 years. People write books about characters like him, and maybe there will be books soon.”

Mr. Paschuk, who ran a wine bar before the war, served alongside Mr. Dymyd in a special operation unit of the Ukrainian marines. They had become like brothers in the last few months, he said.

On the night of the attack that ended his friend’s life, Mr. Paschuk said, he woke to the sound of an explosion and soon knew that something was wrong. He immediately looked for Mr. Dymyd and saw that another friend was giving him first aid. When he saw Mr. Dymyd’s eyes, he knew it was bad.

“I was scared to be beside him,” he said slowly. “Because when I saw him I felt that he wouldn’t make it.”

Mr. Dymyd died a short time later.

Mr. Paschuk said he had mixed feelings about returning to the front lines in a few days. He described waves of emotions, but he said he was not angry or vengeful.

“I don’t have the feeling I want to kill everyone because this happened,” Mr. Paschuk said. “Thanks to Kurka. He taught me to remain calm.”

Roman Lozynskyi, a fellow marine, had been a friend of Mr. Dymyd for two decades, having met him when they were young scouts. Mr. Lozynskyi, who is a member of Ukraine’s Parliament, volunteered for the military three months ago and served in the same unit as Mr. Dymyd and Mr. Paschuk.

He described his lifelong friend as a “crazy man” with a lust for life who had raced back to Ukraine from a parachuting trip in Brazil to enlist when the war began. Mr. Dymyd wanted to continue parachuting during the war and finally had a chance last month as part of a mission, his friends said.

It was Mr. Dymyd’s brother, Dmytro Dymyd, who thought of placing the parachute in his grave, Mr. Lozynskyi said, in a nod to Mr. Dymyd’s passion for the sport of parachuting. The brother, who is also a soldier, was given permission to attend the funeral but would return to the Donetsk region in a few days.

As the mourners slowly made their way from the cemetery, the grave diggers tamped down the earth on Mr. Dymyd’s grave to a sturdy mound.

There were still three more to go.

Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times

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Netherlands says Russian spy caught seeking war crimes court internship

  • Russian agent accused of posing as intern to infiltrate court
  • ICC is investigating allegations of war crimes in Ukraine
  • False Brazilian ID included tastes for trance music, bean stew

AMSTERDAM, June 16 (Reuters) – The Dutch intelligence service said on Thursday it had uncovered a Russian military agent attempting to use a false identity to infiltrate the International Criminal Court (ICC) which is investigating accusations of war crimes in Ukraine.

Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov created an elaborate cover story dating back years to try and enter the Netherlands as a Brazilian national for an internship at the Hague-based ICC in April, the agency’s head told Reuters.

“This was a long-term, multi-year GRU operation that cost a lot of time, energy and money,” said Dutch intelligence agency chief Erik Akerboom, using the acronym for Russia’s military intelligence service.

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No GRU representative could be immediately reached for comment, though President Vladimir Putin’s government has in the past frequently denied spying accusations as a Western smear campaign against Moscow.

The Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) said in a statement that the man, who went by the alias Viktor Muller Ferreira, was picked up at a Dutch airport. He was declared an undesirable alien and put on the next flight back to Brazil, it added.

Brazil’s federal police said Cherkasov was taken into custody and is being prosecuted for the use of false documents.

“It clearly shows us what the Russians are up to – trying to gain illegal access to information within the ICC. We classify this as a high-level threat,” Akerboom added, saying the ICC had accepted him for an internship.

There was no immediate comment on the case from the Russian government, or the ICC.

‘WELL-CONSTRUCTED COVER’

The Dutch agency said it had taken the unusual step of releasing detailed information on the case to expose the workings of Russian intelligence and threat to other international institutions.

It distributed a four-page document outlining what it said was Cherkasov’s invented cover story. That included a supposed troubled family history and details from a club where he liked to listen to electronic trance music and his favourite restaurant in Brasilia where he would eat cheap brown bean stew.

“Cherkasov used a well-constructed cover identity by which he concealed all his ties with Russia in general, and the GRU in particular,” the statement said.

Brazilian police said Cherkasov entered Brazil in 2010 and assumed the false identity of a Brazilian whose parents had died. Passing for a Brazilian, he lived in Ireland and the United States for several years, the police statement said, and had returned to Brazil to prepare his move to the Netherlands.

The ICC, a permanent global war crimes tribunal with 123 member states, opened an investigation in Ukraine just days after Putin sent his troops in on Feb. 24. It is examining allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The Dutch have expelled more than 20 Russians accused of spying in recent years.

They include four people accused in 2018 of hacking the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), two accused of spying in the corporate, high-tech sector in 2020, and 17 suspected operatives accredited as diplomats who were thrown out after this year’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has denied all the charges and responded to the latest expulsions by also kicking out 15 Dutch embassy and consulate staff from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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Reporting by Anthony Deutsch;
Additional reporting by Anthony Boadles in Brasilia; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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How a Religious Sect Landed Google in a Lawsuit

OREGON HOUSE, Calif. — In a tiny town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, a religious organization called the Fellowship of Friends has established an elaborate, 1,200-acre compound full of art and ornate architecture.

More than 200 miles away from the Fellowship’s base in Oregon House, Calif., the religious sect, which believes a higher consciousness can be achieved by embracing fine arts and culture, has also gained a foothold inside a business unit at Google.

Even in Google’s freewheeling office culture, which encourages employees to speak their own minds and pursue their own projects, the Fellowship’s presence in the business unit was unusual. As many as 12 Fellowship members and close relatives worked for the Google Developer Studio, or GDS, which produces videos showcasing the company’s technologies, according to a lawsuit filed by Kevin Lloyd, a 34-year-old former Google video producer.

critically acclaimed winery; and collected art from across the world, including more than $11 million in Chinese antiques.

Revelations.” Mr. Burton described Apollo as the seed of a new civilization that would emerge after a global apocalypse.

sold its collection of Chinese antiques at auction. In 2015, after its chief winemaker left the organization, its winery ceased production. The Fellowship’s president, Greg Holman, declined to comment for this article.

The Google Developer Studio is run by Peter Lubbers, a longtime member of the Fellowship of Friends. A July 2019 Fellowship directory, obtained by The Times, lists him as a member. Former members confirm that he joined the Fellowship after moving to the United States from the Netherlands.

At Google, he is a director, a role that is usually a rung below vice president in Google management and usually receives annual compensation in the high six figures or low seven figures.

Previously, Mr. Lubbers worked for the staffing company Kelly Services. M. Catherine Jones, Mr. Lloyd’s lawyer, won a similar suit against Kelly Services in 2008 on behalf of Lynn Noyes, who claimed that the company had failed to promote her because she was not a member of the Fellowship. A California court awarded Ms. Noyes $6.5 million in damages.

Ms. Noyes said in an interview that Mr. Lubbers was among a large contingent of Fellowship members from the Netherlands who worked for the company in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

At Kelly Services, Mr. Lubbers worked as a software developer before a stint at Oracle, the Silicon Valley software giant, according to his LinkedIn profile, which was recently deleted. He joined Google in 2012, initially working on a team that promoted Google technology to outside software developers. In 2014, he helped create G.D.S., which produced videos promoting Google developer tools.

Kelly Services declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Under Mr. Lubbers, the group brought in several other members of the Fellowship, including a video producer named Gabe Pannell. A 2015 photo posted to the internet by Mr. Pannell’s father shows Mr. Lubbers and Mr. Pannell with Mr. Burton, who is known as “The Teacher” or “Our Beloved Teacher” within the Fellowship. A caption on the photo, which was also recently deleted, calls Mr. Pannell a “new student.”

Echoing claims made in the lawsuit, Erik Johanson, a senior video producer who has worked for the Google Developer Studio since 2015 through ASG, said the team’s leadership abused the hiring system that brought workers in as contractors.

“They were able to further their own aims very rapidly because they could hire people with far less scrutiny and a far less rigorous on-boarding process than if these people were brought on as full-time employees,” he said. “It meant that no one was looking very closely when all these people were brought on from the foothills of the Sierras.”

Mr. Lloyd said that after applying for his job he had interviewed with Mr. Pannell twice, and that he had reported directly to Mr. Pannell when he joined a 25-person Bay Area video production team inside GDS in 2017. He soon noticed that nearly half this team, including Mr. Lubbers and Mr. Pannell, came from Oregon House.

Google paid to have a state-of-the-art sound system installed in the Oregon House home of one Fellowship member who worked for the team as a sound designer, according to the suit. Mr. Lubbers disputed this claim in a phone interview, saying the equipment was old and would have been thrown out if the team had not sent it to the home.

The sound designer’s daughter also worked for the team as a set designer. Additional Fellowship members and their relatives were hired to staff Google events, including a photographer, a masseuse, Mr. Lubbers’s wife and his son, who worked as a DJ at company parties.

The company frequently served wine from Grant Marie, a winery in Oregon House run by a Fellowship member who previously managed the Fellowship’s winery, according to the suit and a person familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisal.

“My personal religious beliefs are a deeply held private matter,” Mr. Lubbers said. “In all my years in tech, they have never played a role in hiring. I have always performed my role by bringing in the right talent for the situation — bringing in the right vendors for the jobs.”

He said ASG, not Google, hired contractors for the GDS team, adding that it was fine for him to “encourage people to apply for those roles.” And he said that in recent years, the team has grown to more than 250 people, including part-time employees.

Mr. Pannell said in a phone interview that the team brought in workers from “a circle of trusted friends and families with extremely qualified backgrounds,” including graduates of the University of California, Berkeley.

In 2017 and 2018, according to the suit, Mr. Pannell attended video shoots intoxicated and occasionally threw things at the presenter when he was unhappy with a performance. Mr. Pannell said that he did not remember the incidents and that they did not sound like something he would do. He also acknowledged that he’d had problems with alcohol and had sought help.

After seven months at Google, Mr. Pannell was made a full-time employee, according to the suit. He was later promoted to senior producer and then executive producer, according to his LinkedIn profile, which has also been deleted.

Mr. Lloyd brought much of this to the attention of a manager inside the team, he said. But he was repeatedly told not to pursue the matter because Mr. Lubbers was a powerful figure at Google and because Mr. Lloyd could lose his job, according to his lawsuit. He said he was fired in February 2021 and was not given a reason. Google, Mr. Lubbers and Mr. Pannell said he had been fired for performance issues.

Ms. Jones, Mr. Lloyd’s lawyer, argued that Google’s relationship with ASG allowed members of the Fellowship to join the company without being properly vetted. “This is one of the methods the Fellowship used in the Kelly case,” she said. “They can get through the door without the normal scrutiny.”

Mr. Lloyd is seeking damages for wrongful termination, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and the intentional infliction of emotion distress. But he said he worries that, by doing so much business with its members, Google fed money into the Fellowship of Friends.

“Once you become aware of this, you become responsible,” Mr. Lloyd said. “You can’t look away.”

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Crypto Firms Quake as Prices Fall

SAN FRANCISCO — No one wanted to miss out on the cryptocurrency mania.

Over the last two years, as the prices of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies surged, crypto start-ups proliferated. Companies that market digital coins to investors flooded the airwaves with TV commercials, newfangled lending operations offered sky-high interest rates on crypto deposits and exchanges like Coinbase that allow investors to trade digital assets went on hiring sprees.

A global industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars rose up practically overnight. Now it is crashing down.

After weeks of plummeting cryptocurrency prices, Coinbase said on Tuesday that it was cutting 18 percent of its employees, after layoffs at other crypto companies like Gemini, BlockFi and Crypto.com. High-profile start-ups like Terraform Labs have imploded, wiping away years of investments. On Sunday, an experimental crypto bank, Celsius, abruptly halted withdrawals.

dropped by about 65 percent since autumn, and analysts predict the sell-off will continue. Stock prices of crypto companies have cratered, retail traders are fleeing and industry executives are predicting a prolonged slump that could put more companies in jeopardy.

stocks crashing, interest rates soaring and inflation high, cryptocurrency prices are also collapsing, showing they have become tied to the overall market. And as people pull back from crypto investments, the outflow is exposing the unstable foundations of many of the industry’s most popular companies.

OpenSea, the largest marketplace for the unique digital images known as nonfungible tokens, reached a staggering $13 billion valuation. And Wall Street banks such as JPMorgan Chase, which previously shunned crypto assets, and Fortune 500 companies like PayPal rolled out crypto offerings.

confidence evaporated in the early 2000s, many of the dot-coms went bust, leaving just the biggest — such as eBay, Amazon and Yahoo — standing.

This time, investors predict there will be more survivors. “You certainly have some overhyped companies that don’t have the fundamentals,” said Mike Jones, an investor at the venture firm Science Inc. “But you also have some really strong companies that are trading way below where they should.”

There have been warning signs that some crypto companies were not sustainable. Skeptics have pointed out that many of the most popular firms offered products underpinned by risky financial engineering.

Terraform Labs, for example, offered TerraUSD, a so-called stablecoin with a fixed value linked to the U.S. dollar. The coin was hyped by its founder, Do Kwon, who raised more than $200 million from major investment firms such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Galaxy Digital, even as critics warned that the project was unstable.

The coin’s price was algorithmically linked to a sister cryptocurrency, Luna. When the price of Luna plummeted in May, TerraUSD fell in tandem — a “death spiral” that destabilized the broader market and plunged some investors into financial ruin.

drew scrutiny from several state regulators. In the end, a drop in crypto prices appeared to put the company under more pressure than it could withstand.

With the price of Bitcoin tumbling, Celsius announced on Sunday that it was freezing withdrawals “due to extreme market conditions.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The market instability has also triggered a crisis at Coinbase, the largest U.S. crypto exchange. Between the end of 2021 and late March, Coinbase lost 2.2 million active customers, or 19 percent of its total, as crypto prices dropped. The company’s net revenue in the first three months of the year shrank 27 percent from a year earlier, to $1.2 billion. Its stock price has plunged 84 percent since it went public last year.

This month, Coinbase said it would rescind job offers and extend a hiring freeze to battle the economic downturn. On Tuesday, it said it would cut about 1,100 workers.

Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s chief executive, informed employees of the layoffs in a note on Tuesday morning, saying the company “grew too quickly” as crypto products became popular.

“It is now clear to me that we over-hired,” he wrote. A Coinbase spokesman declined to comment.

“It had been growth at all costs over the last several years,” said Ryan Coyne, who covers crypto companies and financial technology at the Mizuho Group. “It’s now turned to profitable growth.”

memo to staff, the Winklevoss twins said the industry had entered a “crypto winter.”

commercial starring the actor Matt Damon, who declared that “fortune favors the brave” as he encouraged investors to put their money in the crypto market. Last week, Crypto.com’s chief executive announced that he was laying off 5 percent of the staff, or 260 people. On Monday, BlockFi, a crypto lending operation, said it was reducing its staff by roughly 20 percent.

Gemini and BlockFi declined to comment. A Crypto.com spokesman said the company remains focused on “investing resources into product and engineering capabilities to develop world-class products.”

Cryptocurrencies have long been volatile and prone to boom-and-bust cycles. In 2013, a Chinese ban on Bitcoin sent its price tumbling. In 2017, a proliferation of companies creating and selling their own tokens led to a run-up in crypto prices, which crashed after regulators cracked down on so-called initial coin offerings.

These bubbles are built into the ecosystem, crypto enthusiasts said. They attract talented people to the industry, who go on to build valuable projects. Many of the most vocal cheerleaders encourage investors to “buy the dip,” or invest more when prices are low.

“We have been in these downward spirals before and recovered,” Mr. Jones, the Science Inc. investor, said. “We all believe in the fundamentals.”

Some of the companies have also remained defiant. During Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals on Monday night, Coinbase aired a commercial that alluded to past boom-and-bust cycles.

“Crypto is dead,” it declared. “Long live crypto.”

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Don’t close the embassy, U.S. ambassador tells Russia

LONDON, June 6 (Reuters) – Russia should not close the U.S. embassy despite the crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine because the world’s two biggest nuclear powers must continue to talk, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow was quoted as saying on Monday.

President Vladimir Putin has cast the invasion of Ukraine as a turning point in Russian history: a revolt against the hegemony of the United States, which the Kremlin chief says has humiliated Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine – and its Western backers – says it is fighting for its survival against a reckless imperial-style land grab which has killed thousands, displaced more than 10 million people and reduced swathes of the country to wasteland.

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In a clear attempt to send a message to the Kremlin, John J. Sullivan, the U.S. ambassador appointed by President Donald Trump, told Russia’s state TASS news agency that Washington and Moscow should not simply break off diplomatic relations.

“We must preserve the ability to speak to each other,” Sullivan told TASS in an interview. He cautioned against the removal of the works of Leo Tolstoy from Western bookshelves or refusing to play the music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

His remarks were reported by TASS in Russian and translated into English by Reuters.

Despite the crises, spy scandals and brinkmanship of the Cold War, relations between Moscow and Washington have not been broken off since the United States established ties with the Soviet Union in 1933.

Now, though, Russia says its post-Soviet dalliance with the West is over and that it will turn eastwards.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month quipped that he would like to dedicate Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” to Putin.

Asked about that remark, Sullivan said: “We also will never break up entirely.”

When asked by TASS if the analogy meant that the embassies could be closed, Sullivan said: “They can – there is that possibility, although I think it would be a big mistake.

“As I understand it, the Russian government has mentioned the variant of severing diplomatic relations,” he said. “We can’t just break off diplomatic relations and stop talking to each other.”

Russia’s foreign ministry has called in the Moscow bureau chiefs of U.S. media outlets to discuss on Monday what it says are the repercussions of the United States’ unfriendly actions.

Tsarina Catherine the Great’s refusal to support the British empire when America declared independence laid the ground for the first diplomatic contacts between the United States and St Petersburg, then Russia’s imperial capital.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917, President Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize Vladimir Lenin’s revolutionary government and the U.S. embassy closed in 1919. Relations were not re-established until 1933.

“The only reason I can think of that the United State might be forced to close its embassy would be if it became unsafe to continue its work,” Sullivan said.

Asked how relations would develop, Sullivan, a 62-year-old lawyer, said he didn’t know but added that he hoped there might one day be a rapprochement.

“If I were to make a bet, I would say perhaps not in my lifetime.”

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Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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What Happened on Day 99 of the War in Ukraine

As the war in Ukraine approaches its 100th day, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that Russian forces now control one-fifth of the country, a blunt acknowledgment of the slow but substantial gains that Moscow has made in recent weeks.

Though battered, depleted and repulsed from their initial drive to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Russian troops have used their superior artillery power to grind closer to their goal of taking over the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, known collectively as the Donbas, where Kremlin-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops since 2014.

Mr. Zelensky said Russia had expanded its control of Ukrainian territory from an area roughly the size of the Netherlands before the invasion began to an area now greater than the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg combined. Seizing that swath of land could give President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia huge leverage in any future talks to end the war, as well as a base of operations to launch further attacks inside Ukraine.

Yet momentum in the war can shift quickly and unpredictably. As Russia has pounded targets in the east, Ukrainian forces have regained control of 20 small towns and villages in a counteroffensive in the south of the country, a regional official, Hennadiy Lahuta, said on national television.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Fighting was raging, Mr. Zelensky said, along a roughly 620-mile-long, crescent-shaped front that stretches from around the northeastern city of Kharkiv to the outskirts of Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea, in the south.

“If you look at the entire front line, and it is, of course, not straight, this line is more than a thousand kilometers,” Mr. Zelensky said in a video address to the Parliament of Luxembourg. “Just imagine! Constant fighting, which stretched along the front line for more than a thousand kilometers.”

Amid intense battles and heavy losses suffered by both the Russian and Ukrainian armies, the arrival of more sophisticated and powerful weapons from Western nations could alter the dynamic on the battlefield.

President Biden this week promised to send Ukraine advanced rocket systems that can target enemy positions from nearly 50 miles away, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany pledged to ship a sophisticated air defense system and a tracking radar capable of pinpointing Russian artillery.

For now, Moscow’s main military target is Sievierodonetsk, the last major city in the Luhansk region that is not in Russian hands. Russian forces have shelled the area for weeks, reducing much of the city to depopulated rubble.

Russia controls about 70 percent of the city, although a regional official said on Thursday that Ukrainian troops had forced Russian soldiers back from several streets amid fierce urban combat.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Russian forces have renewed assaults to the west of the city in an effort to sever a Ukrainian supply line along a highway and side roads that the Ukrainians have called the “road of life,” the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington research group, said in an assessment.

“The Russian army is trying to break through the defenses of the armed forces of Ukraine,” Serhiy Haidai, the military governor of the Ukrainian-controlled portions of the Luhansk region, wrote on Telegram.

“Now, the main goal for them is Sievierodonetsk, but they had no success overnight,” he wrote.

Military analysts have viewed the Ukrainian army’s decision to hold out in the city as a risky maneuver. It allows the Ukrainians to inflict casualties on Russian troops but could also result in heavy losses for Ukrainian soldiers, who have been besieged by relentless artillery fire.

Mr. Zelensky said that more than 14,000 Ukrainian civilians and service members had been killed in conflict with Russia since 2014, when it seized Crimea. More than 8 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced since Russia’s invasion in February, and more than 6.5 million have fled to other countries as refugees, according to the United Nations.

In his nightly address to the nation Thursday, Mr. Zelensky said that more than 200,000 children had been deported since the invasion began. He called the deportations “one of Russia’s most heinous war crimes.”

“These are orphans from orphanages. Children with parents. Children separated from their families,” Mr. Zelensky said. “The Russian state disperses these people on its territory, settles our citizens, in particular, in remote regions. The purpose of this criminal policy is not just to steal people, but to make deportees forget about Ukraine and not be able to return.”

Credit…Maciek Nabrdalik for The New York Times

Russia has denied that people are being forced to leave Ukraine, saying that the 1.5 million Ukrainians now in Russia were evacuated for their own safety. On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that over the past 24 hours, 18,886 people had been evacuated from eastern Ukraine, including 2,663 children.

American officials have rejected Russia’s claims that it has been offering Ukrainians humanitarian relief by moving them to Kremlin-controlled territory.

“As many eyewitness accounts have described in detail, Russia is subjecting many of these civilians to brutal interrogations in so-called filtration camps,” Michael Carpenter, the United States ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said in a speech this month in Vienna.

Raising the issue again this week, he said: “Local residents who try to escape Russia’s reign of fear and brutality risk abduction and forced deportation to Russia or Russia-held areas.”

Russia has not released casualty figures for its troops since late March, when it said 1,351 soldiers had died. Mr. Zelensky said Ukrainian officials believe that at least 30,000 Russian troops have been killed. In late March, NATO estimated that 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops had been killed.

In an effort to isolate and punish Mr. Putin and his allies for having launched the invasion, the Biden administration on Thursday announced a new set of sanctions aimed at freezing the shadowy network of international assets that Mr. Putin and members of his inner circle use to hide their wealth.

Among the targets were four yachts linked to the Russian leader: the Shellest, the Nega, the Graceful and the Olympia. Mr. Putin has used some of the vessels for ocean excursions, including one outing last year on the Black Sea with Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, the strongman leader of Belarus, who has supported the invasion of Ukraine, the administration said.

Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

The sanctions also targeted several prominent members of the Russian elite, including Sergei Roldugin, a cellist, conductor and artistic director of the St. Petersburg Music House, whom the administration called a close Putin associate, godfather to one of Mr. Putin’s daughters and custodian of the Russian president’s offshore wealth.

Mr. Roldugin was added to the European Union’s sanctions list in late February, days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He has been described as “Putin’s wallet.”

Following a drop in Russian oil exports caused in part by Western sanctions, a group of oil-producing nations known as OPEC Plus agreed on Thursday to raise production levels in July and August. The agreement followed months of lobbying by the White House, but analysts said it was too slight to ease high gas prices that have posed a political challenge for Democrats in the midterm elections.

OPEC Plus, which includes Russia, Saudi Arabia and other major oil producers, announced the plan to increase production just days after the European Union agreed to ban most imports of Russian oil, imposing a harsh penalty on Moscow that also threatened to drive European energy costs higher.

As E.U. negotiators finalized the details of the oil embargo and other sanctions against Russia, they made a change at the insistence of Hungary, removing from the sanctions list Patriarch Kirill I, the leader of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church, who has been accused of offering spiritual cover for the invasion of Ukraine.

Reporting was contributed by Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Julian E. Barnes, Michael Forsythe, Stanley Reed and Andrew E. Kramer.

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Gun in Texas Shooting Came From Company Known for Pushing Boundaries

He has said that his gun company was born out of his poor golf game. Instead of puttering around the course, Mr. Daniel started using an AR-15 — the type of gun he would later go on to make — for target practice. “Every shot he fired filled him with a satisfaction he’d never before experienced,” the company’s website says.

At the time, Mr. Daniel had trouble finding a way to mount a scope onto his rifle. He began designing and selling his own accessory that allowed gun owners to add lights, a range finder and lasers onto the rifle.

He got his break in 2002 at a gun show in Orlando, Fla., where he was approached by a representative of the U.S. Special Forces. He ultimately won a $20 million contract to produce the accessories for combat rifles. More deals followed. In 2008, he won a contract with the British military, according to Daniel Defense’s website.

By 2009, the company had expanded to making guns for consumers. Its military ties were the basis of its marketing, which often featured heavily armed fighters. “Use what they use,” one ad says. Another shows a military-style scope aimed at passing cars on what looks like a regular city street. Others include references — using hashtags and catchphrases — to the “Call of Duty” video game.

Before the 2000s, most gun makers did not market military-style assault weapons to civilians. At the largest industry trade shows, tactical military gear and guns were cordoned off, away from the general public. That started to change around 2004, industry experts say, with the expiration of the federal assault weapon ban.

“Companies like Daniel Defense glorify violence and war in their marketing to consumers,” said Nick Suplina, a senior vice president at Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that supports gun control.

In 2012, the Sandy Hook shooting led to an industrywide surge in gun sales, as firearm enthusiasts stocked up, fearing a government crackdown. In an interview with Forbes, Mr. Daniel said the shooting “drove a lot of sales.” (Forbes reported that Daniel Defense had sales of $73 million in 2016.)

After the shooting, Daniel Defense offered employees extra overtime to meet skyrocketing demand, according to Christopher Powell, who worked for the company at the time. “They kept people focused on the task at hand,” he said.

But in the late 2010s, some colleagues started to worry that Mr. Daniel had become distracted by the glamour of marketing the brand and rubbing shoulders with celebrities and politicians, according to a former Daniel Defense manager. They voiced concerns that some of the marketing materials were inappropriate for a company that manufactures deadly weapons, said the manager and a former executive, who didn’t want their names used because they feared legal or professional repercussions.

Some ads featured children carrying and firing guns. In another, posted on Instagram two days after Christmas last year, a man dressed as Santa Claus and wearing a military helmet is smoking a cigar and holding a Daniel Defense rifle. “After a long weekend, Santa is enjoying MK18 Monday,” the caption states, referring to the gun’s model.

The industry’s aggressive marketing has landed some companies in trouble. Earlier this year, the gun maker Remington reached a $73 million settlement with families of children killed at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn. The families had claimed that Remington improperly marketed its assault rifles, including with its weapons appearing in “Call of Duty,” which the killer at Sandy Hook had frequently played.

A year after Sandy Hook, with the Super Bowl approaching, Daniel Defense deployed a new marketing stunt.

The National Football League had a policy prohibiting ads for weapons on its telecasts. But Daniel Defense tried to buy a 60-second spot that depicted a soldier returning home to his family, with ominous music in the background. “I am responsible for their protection,” the ad’s narrator intones. “And no one has the right to tell me how to defend them.”

Given the N.F.L.’s ban on gun ads, it was no surprise that the ad was rejected. (Daniel Defense claimed that the ad complied with the policy because the company sells products besides guns.) But Mr. Daniel turned the rejection into a rallying cry, and the conservative media lapped it up. Appearing on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” he urged viewers to “call the N.F.L. and say, ‘C’mon, man, run my ad.’”

“That is Marty Daniel at work,” Mr. Powell said. “He’s not one of those typical C.E.O.s that you see.”

Mr. Daniel and his wife, Cindy, have worked hand-in-hand with the National Rifle Association to raise money for the group, sell weapons to its members and beat back calls for gun control.

In recent years, Mr. Daniel and Ms. Daniel, the company’s chief operating officer, became outspoken supporters of Donald J. Trump, contributing $300,000 to a group aligned with Mr. Trump. Mr. Daniel joined the “Second Amendment Coalition,” a group of gun industry heavyweights who advised Mr. Trump on gun policy.

Mr. Daniel told Breitbart News in 2017 that Mr. Trump’s election saved “our Second Amendment rights.” He and his wife have also donated to other Republican candidates and groups, including in their home state of Georgia. So far in the 2022 election cycle, they’ve given more than $70,000 to Republicans.

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Why Jony Ive Left Apple to the ‘Accountants’

The new arrangement freed Mr. Ive from regular commutes to the company’s offices in Cupertino. He shifted from near daily product reviews to an irregular schedule when weeks would pass without weighing in. Sometimes word would spread through the studio that he was unexpectedly coming to the office. Employees compared the moments that followed with old footage of the 1920s stock market crash with papers being tossed into the air and people scurrying around in a furious rush to prepare for his arrival.

With anticipation mounting on Wall Street for a 10th-anniversary iPhone in early 2017, Mr. Ive summoned the company’s top software designers to San Francisco for a product review. A team of about 20 arrived at the city’s exclusive social club, The Battery, and began spreading out 11-by-17-inch printouts of design ideas in the club’s penthouse. They needed Mr. Ive’s approval for several features on the first iPhone with a full-screen display.

They waited that day for nearly three hours for Mr. Ive. When he finally arrived, he didn’t apologize. He reviewed their printouts and offered feedback. He then left without making final decisions. As their work stalled, many wondered, How did it come to this?

In Mr. Ive’s absence, Mr. Cook began reshaping the company in his image. He replaced the outgoing company director Mickey Drexler, the gifted marketer who built Gap and J. Crew, with James Bell, the former finance chief at Boeing. Mr. Ive was irate that a left-brained executive had supplanted one of the board’s few right-brained leaders. “He’s another one of those accountants,” he complained to a colleague.

Mr. Cook also emboldened the company’s finance department, which began auditing outside contractors. At one point, the department rejected a legitimate billing submitted by Foster + Partners, the architecture firm working closely with Mr. Ive to complete the company’s new $5 billion campus, Apple Park.

Amid those struggles, Mr. Cook began to broaden Apple’s strategy into selling more services. During a corporate retreat in 2017, Mr. Ive stepped outside to get fresh air when a newcomer to Apple named Peter Stern stepped before the company’s top leaders. Mr. Stern clicked to a slide of an X-shaped chart that showed Apple’s profit margins from sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs declining while profit margins rose from sales of software and services like its iCloud storage.

The presentation alarmed some people in the audience. It depicted a future in which Mr. Ive — and the company’s business as a product maker — would matter less and Mr. Cook’s increasing emphasis on services, like Apple Music and iCloud, would matter more.

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Jeffrey Epstein, a Rare Cello and an Enduring Mystery

At first Mr. DeRosa didn’t take Mr. Epstein’s command seriously. But Mr. Epstein kept calling, as did members of his staff, asking if he’d made any progress. Mr. DeRosa got to work tracking down a cello.

Like many professional musicians, Mr. DeRosa was wired into the small world of rare string instruments, a few of which command prices as high as $20 million. His own cello, made by the Italian master Domenico Montagnana in 1739, is considered one of the world’s finest and is likely worth millions of dollars. Mr. DeRosa assured Mr. Epstein he wouldn’t have to spend that much.

Soon after, Mr. DeRosa was visiting his mother in Los Angeles when he learned of a cello being sold there by a musician who recorded soundtracks for Hollywood studios. (Before that, the cello had been played by a member of the Indianapolis symphony orchestra.)

While not a Stradivarius or a Montagnana, this cello had a distinguished pedigree, and was manufactured by Ettore Soffritti, who worked in the string instrument center of Ferrara, Italy, from the late 1800s until his death in 1928. Benning Violins, the Los Angeles dealer, described the cello’s sound as “rich and powerful” and said the instrument was “suitable for the finest of cellists.”

Mr. DeRosa tried the cello. He was smitten. He said he considered it “one of the greatest modern cellos in existence.” (By “modern” he meant any produced after the Italian Renaissance.) With an asking price of $185,000, he also considered it a bargain.

Mr. Epstein seemed pleased when Mr. DeRosa told him he’d found something. He said the cello’s intended recipient — a young Israeli man named Yoed Nir — had to test the instrument first. Mr. DeRosa knew nearly every up-and-coming cellist, but he had never heard of Mr. Nir.

Mr. DeRosa had the cello on a trial basis, and Mr. Nir tested the instrument on a visit to Mr. DeRosa’s mother’s house in Los Angeles. Mr. Nir, who was about 30 years old and had dark, shoulder-length hair, which he tossed theatrically while playing, played some of Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites. He had clearly had musical training (he was a graduate of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance), but Mr. DeRosa considered his playing unexceptional by his exacting standards. He could think of many young cellists more deserving of such an instrument. “I thought it incredibly odd that Jeffrey had chosen this guy,” Mr. DeRosa recalled.

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