Ukraine War: Putin Approves New Foreign Policy, Factory Tensions Rise, US Actors Sanctioned

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1. Putin approves of the new foreign policy of the “Russian world”

President Vladimir Putin on Monday approved a new foreign policy doctrine based on the concept of the “Russian world”, a notion that hardline conservatives have used to justify intervention abroad in favor of Russian speakers.

The Russian president endorsed the 31-page “humanitarian policy” which aims to “protect, safeguard and advance the traditions and ideals of the Russian world”.

Among the goals set out in the document are strengthening ties with the war-torn separatist entities of eastern Ukraine, the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic; promote rapprochement with Abkhazia and Ossetia, two secessionist Georgian regions whose independence is recognized by Moscow; and to develop a closer relationship with Slavic nations, China and India, as well as with countries in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Putin has for years highlighted what he sees as the tragic fate of some 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves living outside Russia in newly independent states when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a event he described as a geopolitical catastrophe.

Moscow has also continued to consider former Soviet satellite regions, from the Baltic to Central Asia, as part of its legitimate sphere of influence – a notion fiercely opposed by many of those countries, as well as the West. .

The new document said that Russia’s ties with its compatriots abroad have enabled it to “strengthen on the international stage its image as a democratic country striving for the creation of a multipolar world”.

2. Tension rises over the bombing of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Tensions have risen at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine as shelling has increased the risk of a possible radioactive disaster.

The factory – which is run by Ukrainian employees but has been under Russian control since it was captured in early March shortly after the invasion of Moscow – is under investigation by the International Intelligence Agency. Atomic Energy (IAEA), a monitoring body of the United Nations.

Russia and Ukraine have for weeks accused each other of endangering the security of Zaporizhzhia – and, by extension, Europe – by launching attacks at and near the plant. But so far, no independent third party has been able to establish who inflicted what damage to the plant.

On Tuesday, the IAEA released a much-anticipated report that called for the creation of a “safe zone” around the plant and better working conditions for staff, without directly attributing the bombings to any one or the other of the parties. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi led the mission last week and two IAEA staff members remain on site to monitor the situation.

On Monday, Zaporizhzhia was disconnected from the Ukrainian network. Chairman of Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Energoatom, Peter Kotin, warned in an interview with the Financial Times that “anything can happen at any time” and that the current situation could “lead us to a nuclear catastrophe”.

The IAEA reported on Monday that, despite Zaporizhzhia being disconnected, it “continues to receive the electricity it needs for the safety of its only operating reactor.” The nuclear power plant is designed to withstand severe impacts, but a disruption of the water cooling systems could lead to a radioactive leak.

3. Russia sanctions more Americans, including actors Ben Stiller and Sean Penn

Russia on Monday imposed personal sanctions on 25 Americans, including actors Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, in response to US sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The politicians, businessmen and academics on the list would be banned from entering Russia permanently, according to the country’s foreign ministry. Individuals like Penn and Stiller were outspoken critics of the Moscow War.

Others on the sanctions list include US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and US Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Rick Scott of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Previous rounds of Russian sanctions against Americans have included President Joe Biden and members of his family, as well as lawmakers and business leaders. The United States itself has sanctioned many Russians, including government officials and business leaders.

4. Russia Buys Weapons From North Korea, US Secret Service Says

US intelligence says Russia is buying artillery shells and rockets from North Korea, as reported in an article published Monday by The New York Times.

“The Russian Ministry of Defense is buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use on the battlefield in Ukraine,” said an official – who asked remain anonymous – via email, which also claimed that Russian military forces are “suffering from severe supply shortages in Ukraine, in part due to export controls and sanctions”.

“We expect Russia to try to buy additional North Korean military equipment in the future,” they added.

US government officials were quoted by The New York Times as saying such purchases were proof of the effectiveness of Western sanctions, diminishing Russia’s ability to support an invasion that the Kremlin still describes as a ” special military operation“.

The declassified intelligence report, however, did not provide specific details on the exact purchases, other than how the items included rockets and artillery shells.

5. Putin’s chilling encounter at the War Games

Vladimir Putin was captured in an awkward encounter with his military chief of staff on Tuesday while inspecting war games in the Russian Far East.

The Zvezda Military Information Service released a video of Putin and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov entering an observation booth, seated with a wide space between them and maintaining an uncomfortable silence as they waited for the arrival of the Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The awkward body language between the two – as Gerasimov stroked his hair and shuffled papers, and Putin picked up and looked through a pair of binoculars – has been scrutinized by analysts and politicians around the world.

“Putin obviously doesn’t even want to speak with the Commander of the Russian Armed Forces,” former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter.

In a separate clip, the mood appeared lighter when Putin and Shoigu were shown exchanging a joke while Gerasimov spoke on the phone.

Gerasimov was almost absent from public view during Russia’s 195-day war in Ukraine, sparking speculation about his standing with Putin and even his health at times.

By continuing the quadrennial “Vostok” (Eastern) war games, which began on September 1, Putin seems to be sending a signal that the Russian military is able to carry on business as usual despite the consequences of the war.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the drills involved 50,000 troops, about a sixth of the figure cited in 2018. Western military analysts say both numbers are exaggerated.

6. Russian missile attack kills three civilians in Kharkiv region

Three civilians in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region were killed by a Russian missile attack, the regional governor announced on Tuesday.

The deceased are a 73-year-old woman from the city of Kharkiv and two men from the village of Zolochiv.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, is close to the Russian border and has been under constant fire throughout the Russian invasion.

“That night the enemy again launched a rocket attack on Kharkiv,” Governor Oleh Synehubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Moscow has denied targeting civilians. His attacks devastated Ukrainian cities.


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