Battle in Ukraine’s east rages, Zelensky vows to retake territory

Battle in Ukraine’s east rages, Zelensky vows to retake territory
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Self-propelled howitzers M109A3, provided by Norway, are deployed on the front line against Russian invaders in an unknown place of Ukraine. (Handout via AFP)
Battle in Ukraine’s east rages, Zelensky vows to retake territory
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Ukrainian servicemen clean the trunk of a self-propelled howitzers M109A3, provided by Norway, on the front line against Russian aggressors in an unknown place of Ukraine. (Handout via AFP)
Battle in Ukraine’s east rages, Zelensky vows to retake territory
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President Volodymyr Zelensky awarding a Ukrainian serviceman during his visit to the frontline positions of the army at Bakhmut and Lysychansk districts. (UPPS handout via AFP)
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Updated 08 June 2022

Battle in Ukraine’s east rages, Zelensky vows to retake territory

Battle in Ukraine’s east rages, Zelensky vows to retake territory
  • Street-to-street fighting in eastern city of Sievierodonetsk
  • US adds more sanctions, World Bank adds to Ukraine help

KYIV: Ukrainian forces struggled to hold their ground in bloody street-to-street fighting in the eastern frontline city of Sievierodonetsk as President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation was difficult, also pledging to retake Russia’s gains.
The days-long battle for the industrial city has emerged as pivotal, with Russia focusing its offensive might in the hope of achieving one of its stated aims — to fully capture surrounding Luhansk province on behalf of Russian-speaking separatists.
“We have to achieve a full deoccupation of our entire territory,” Zelensky said by video link at an event hosted by Britain’s Financial Times newspaper on Tuesday.
Asked about comments by France’s Emmanuel Macron that it was important not to “humiliate” Moscow, interpreted in Ukraine as implying some demands must be accepted, Zelensky said: “We are not going to humiliate anyone, we are going to respond in kind.”

The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, said the defenders were finding it hard to repel Russian attacks in the center of Sievierodonetsk.
Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, and Popasna remain the most difficult places, Zelensky said late on Tuesday.
Moscow said its troops have been advancing, while Zelensky said the “heroic defense” of Donbas was ongoing. Reuters could not independently verify the situation on the ground.
Since being pushed back from Kyiv and Kharkiv, Russia has focused on the region known as the Donbas, comprised of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, and closest to the Russian border.
Moscow says it is engaged in a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” its neighbor.

'Book of Executioners'
Ukraine and allies call this a baseless pretext for a war that has killed thousands, flattened cities and forced millions of people to flee. Zelensky said Ukraine would launch next week a “Book of Executioners” to detail war crimes.
“These are concrete facts about concrete individuals guilty of concrete cruel crimes against Ukrainians,” he said.
Russia says it has gone out of its way to avoid targeting civilians in its operation in Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) visits a sanatorium in the Zaporizhzhia region serving as refuge for Ukrainians forced to leave their homes amid the Russian invasion. (AFP) 

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies collected on Monday showed significant damage in Sievierodonetsk and nearby Rubizhne.
“Russian multiple rocket launchers, self-propelled and towed artillery are deployed to the northeast and oriented in firing positions toward the cities,” the US company said in a release.
Ukrainian officials had said their forces staged a surprise counter-attack last week, driving the Russians from part of the city center.
Before that, Russia had seemed on the verge of encircling Ukraine’s garrison in Luhansk, attempting to cut off the main road to Sievierodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk.
Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, was also hit by shelling on Tuesday, and the local mayor said one person was killed. The northeastern city had been quieter in recent weeks.
Viacheslav Shulga, an employee at a pizzeria in the north of Kharkiv that was hit, said there had been hopes the restaurant could reopen soon.
“Everything is destroyed. We are removing equipment, there will be no business here for now,” he said.

Volunteers deliver ready meals to residents of the Saltivka district, north of Kharkiv, on June 7, 2022, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP) 

More than two weeks since a siege of the southern city of Mariupol ended, Tass news agency cited a Russian law enforcement source as saying that over 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered there have been transferred to Russia for investigation.

Global crisis
As the effects of the war are felt around the world, the United States added further sanctions to Moscow by banning US money managers from buying any Russian debt or stocks in secondary markets.
The World Bank approved $1.49 billion in fresh funds to help pay wages for government and social workers in Ukraine as it and other countries deal with the damage to its economy.
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest exporters of grain, and Western countries accuse Russia of creating the risk of global famine by shutting Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

The governor of the region that includes the port of Mykolaiv said weekend shelling had destroyed warehouses in one of Ukraine’s largest agricultural commodities terminals.
Moscow denies responsibility for the international food crisis, blaming Western sanctions.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Russian-occupied Ukrainian ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol were ready to resume grain exports. Ukraine says any such shipments from territory seized by Moscow would amount to illegal looting.

Adani’s market losses top $100 billion as crisis shockwaves spread

Adani’s market losses top $100 billion as crisis shockwaves spread
Updated 19 min 16 sec ago

Adani’s market losses top $100 billion as crisis shockwaves spread

Adani’s market losses top $100 billion as crisis shockwaves spread
  • Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries is now Asia’s richest person as Adani Group chairman's net worth plunges
  • S&P Dow Jones Indices said it would remove Adani Enterprises from widely used sustainability indices

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Adani’s market losses swelled above $100 billion on Thursday, sparking worries about a potential systemic impact a day after the Indian group’s flagship firm abandoned its $2.5 billion stock offering.
Another challenge for Adani on Thursday came when S&P Dow Jones Indices said it would remove Adani Enterprises from widely used sustainability indices, effective Feb. 7, which would make the shares less appealing to sustainability-minded funds.
In addition, India’s National Stock Exchange said it has placed on additional surveillance shares of Adani Enterprises , Adani Ports and Ambuja Cements .
However, Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani is in talks with lenders to prepay and release pledged shares as he seeks to restore confidence in the financial health of his conglomerate, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.
The shock withdrawal of Adani Enterprises’ share sale marks a dramatic setback for founder Adani, the school dropout-turned-billionaire whose fortunes rose rapidly in recent years but have plunged in just a week after a critical research report by US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research.
Aborting the share sale sent shockwaves across markets, politics and business. Adani stocks plunged, opposition lawmakers called for a wider probe and India’s central bank sprang into action to check on the exposure of banks to the group. Meanwhile, Citigroup’s wealth unit stopped making margin loans to clients against Adani Group securities.

The crisis marks an dramatic turn of fortune for Adani, who has in recent years forged partnerships with foreign giants such as France’s TotalEnergies and attracted investors such as Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company as he pursues a global expansion stretching from ports to the power sector.
In a shock move late on Wednesday, Adani called off the share sale as a stocks rout sparked by Hindenburg’s criticisms intensified, despite it being fully subscribed a day earlier.
“Adani may have started a confidence crisis in Indian shares and that could have broader market implications,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at Swissquote Bank.
Adani Enterprises shares tumbled 27 percent on Thursday, closing at their lowest level since March 2022.
Other group companies also lost further ground, with 10 percent losses at Adani Total Gas, Adani Green Energy and Adani Transmission, while Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone shed nearly 7 percent.
Since Hindenburg’s report on Jan. 24, group companies have lost nearly half their combined market value. Adani Enterprises — described as an incubator of Adani’s businesses — has lost $26 billion in market capitalization.
Adani is also no longer Asia’s richest person, having slid to 16th in the Forbes rankings of the world’s wealthiest people, with his net worth almost halved to $64.6 billion in a week.
The 60-year-old had been third on the list, behind billionaires Elon Musk and Bernard Arnault.
His rival Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries is now Asia’s richest person.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries, is now Asia''s richest person. (AFP) file)

Broader concerns
Adani’s plummeting stock and bond prices have raised concerns about the likelihood of a wider impact on India’s financial system.
India’s central bank has asked local banks for details of their exposure to the Adani Group, government and banking sources told Reuters on Thursday.
CLSA estimates that Indian banks were exposed to about 40 percent of the $24.5 billion of Adani Group debt in the fiscal year to March 2022.
Dollar bonds issued by entities of Adani Group extended losses on Thursday, with notes of Adani Green Energy crashing to a record low. Adani Group entities made scheduled coupon payments on outstanding US dollar-denominated bonds on Thursday, Reuters reported citing sources.
“We see the market is losing confidence on how to gauge where the bottom can be and although there will be short-covering rebounds, we expect more fundamental downside risks given more private banks (are) likely to cut or reduce margin,” said Monica Hsiao, chief investment officer of Hong Kong-based credit fund Triada Capital.
In New Delhi, opposition lawmakers submitted notices in parliament demanding discussion of the short-seller’s report.
The Congress Party called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee be set up or a Supreme Court monitored investigation, while some lawmakers shouted anti-Adani slogans inside parliament, which was adjourned for the day.
Adani vs Hindenburg
Adani made acquisitions worth $13.8 billion in 2022, Dealogic data showed, its highest ever and more than double the previous year.
The canceled fundraising was critical for Adani, which had said it would use $1.33 billion to fund green hydrogen projects, airports facilities and greenfield expressways, and $508 million to repay debt at some units.
Hindenburg’s report alleged an improper use of offshore tax havens and stock manipulation by the Adani Group. It also raised concerns about high debt and the valuations of seven listed Adani companies.
The Adani Group has denied the accusations, saying the allegation of stock manipulation had “no basis” and stemmed from an ignorance of Indian law. It said it has always made the necessary regulatory disclosures.
Adani had managed to secure share sale subscriptions on Tuesday even though the stock’s market price was below the issue’s offer price. Maybank Securities and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority had bid for the anchor portion of the issue, investments which will now be reimbursed by Adani.
Late on Wednesday, the group’s founder said he was withdrawing the sale given the share price fall, adding his board felt going ahead with it “will not be morally correct.”

US backs Russians competing as neutrals in Olympics

US backs Russians competing as neutrals in Olympics
Updated 23 min 7 sec ago

US backs Russians competing as neutrals in Olympics

US backs Russians competing as neutrals in Olympics
  • The US position adds to a growing debate over the status of athletes from Russia and Belarus at the 2024 Paris Games

WASHINGTON: The US backs moves to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to take part at the 2024 Olympics as neutral athletes provided they are prevented from displaying their national flags or emblems, the White House said Thursday.

“The United States has supported suspending Russia and Belarus’ sport national governing bodies from international sports federations,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

However, if athletes are invited to an international event, such as the Olympics, “it should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarussian states,” she said.

“The use of official state Russian, Belarussian flags, emblems and anthems should be prohibited as well.”

The US position adds to a growing debate over the status of athletes from Russia and Belarus at the 2024 Paris Games.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky staunchly opposes any participation by Russian and Belarussian athletes, and has called for Russia to be banned over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia is pushing for all restrictions to be lifted, arguing that the Olympics should not be politicized.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it is examining a “pathway” for Russians to take part in the summer Games, probably as neutral athletes.

Writing on Twitter shortly after the White House remarks on Thursday, Zelensky described the IOC’s stance as a “legitimization of the criminal aggression against Ukraine.”

“We won’t allow sport to be used against humanity & for war propaganda!” Zelensky tweeted.

The IOC’s willingness to allow Russian and Belarussian athletes in Paris has divided the sporting and diplomatic world.

On Wednesday, two UN rights experts applauded the IOC’s moves to allow athletes from the two countries to compete, arguing that no athlete should be “discriminated against on the basis of their nationality.”

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has also backed the IOC’s moves to create a pathway for Russian and Belarussian athletes.

In a conference call in December, USOPC chairwoman Susanne Lyons warned that the “fabric” of the Olympic movement was at risk if athletes were not given the chance to compete as neutrals.

Barring Russian and Belarussian athletes from Paris risked a return to the Olympic boycotts of the 1970s and 1980s.

“There are conflicts around the world every day, countries at war every day, and if people decide they want to boycott things, tit-for-tat, — ‘You didn’t come to our games, so we won’t come to your games’ — very quickly the fabric of the Olympic and paralympic movement falls apart,” Lyons said.

US Olympic officials are adamant however that athletes would only be able to participate in “strictly neutral” uniforms.

Similar words of support have come from the Olympic Council of Asia and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.

But Britain, Poland and Baltic nations have all condemned the IOC’s position.

Writing on Twitter after a meeting with his counterparts from the Baltics and Poland in Riga earlier this week, Latvia’s foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics said allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Olympics was “immoral and wrong.”

British Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said the IOC’s plans were “a world away from the reality of war being felt by the Ukrainian people.”

“We will strongly condemn any action taken that allows President Putin to legitimize his illegal war in Ukraine — a position the IOC previously shared,” Donelan said.

“We, and many other countries, have been unequivocal on this throughout, and we will now work urgently across like-minded countries to ensure that solidarity continues on this issue.”

Vinicius scores, escapes injury after hard hit in Real Madrid win

Vinicius scores, escapes injury after hard hit in Real Madrid win
Updated 57 min 44 sec ago

Vinicius scores, escapes injury after hard hit in Real Madrid win

Vinicius scores, escapes injury after hard hit in Real Madrid win
  • Vinicius scored his goal after a long run on a breakaway in the 54th

MADRID:  Vinicius Junior had more than his goal to celebrate in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Valencia in the Spanish league on Thursday.

Vinicius also was glad to escape serious injury after a vicious foul by Gabriel Paulista in the second half, which ignited a brawl and earned the Valencia defender a straight red card.

Paulista struck a hard kick at Vinícius’ legs after the Brazil forward got past him with the ball in the 72nd minute, sending the Brazil forward hard to the ground. Vinicius quickly got up and went to confront Paulista, shoving him from behind as other players arrived to join the scuffle.

Madrid defender Éder Militao, who had been taken off earlier in the match, confronted Paulista as he made his way to the tunnel after being sent off.

Vinicius scored his goal after a long run on a breakaway in the 54th, two minutes after Marco Asensio had given the hosts the lead with a shot from outside the area.

Vinícius endured a tumultuous period last week after his effigy was hanged off a bridge in a hate attack before Madrid’s game against city rival Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey.

Thursday’s win put Madrid back within five points of league leader Barcelona at the halfway point of the season. The Catalan club won 2-1 at Real Betis on Wednesday.

Both games were postponed from January because of the teams’ participation in the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia, where Madrid beat Valencia in the semifinals after a penalty shootout before losing to Barcelona in the final.

Madrid, who hadn’t won in two matches in all competitions, lost two of their key players because of injuries — Militão had to be replaced in the first half and Karim Benzema early in the second.

Madrid have one last league game — at Mallorca on Sunday — before traveling to Morocco to play in FIFA’s Club World Cup next week, when it will seek a record-extending eight title.

It was Valencia’s first game without coach Gennaro Gattuso, whose contract was terminated by mutual agreement amid the team’s poor run. It was under the command of Voro Gonzalez, a club director who often acts as an interim manager.

Valencia have won only one of its last 11 league games and is one point from the relegation zone. Its only two wins this year came in the Copa del Rey, though it failed to get past the quarterfinals.

Defender Antonio Rüdiger thought he had put Madrid ahead with a header off a corner kick three minutes into first-half stoppage time, but the goal was disallowed after video review saw a foul by Benzema away from the ball.

Madrid, the defending league champions, are six points in front of third-place Real Sociedad.

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer
Updated 50 min 46 sec ago

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

CHICAGO: A Chicago woman has been accused of keeping her mother’s dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.
Eva Bratcher, 69, appeared in court Thursday on charges of concealing her 96-year-old mother’s death and possessing a fraudulent identification card.
Regina Michalski’s body was discovered this week in a freezer in the garage near the apartment they had shared, police said. Investigators believe she died in March 2021. The cause won’t be determined until the body is thawed.
The allegations are “very disturbing,” Judge David Kelly said in setting a $20,000 bond for Bratcher.
Kelly turned down a defense lawyer’s request for a lower bond to get Bratcher out of jail.
She has past convictions for forgery, and investigators said they were trying to determine if Bratcher was collecting her late mother’s Social Security benefits, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Bratcher’s daughter, who lives in Kentucky, asked police to check the home after losing contact with her grandmother.
“What could go wrong? Apparently, everything,” Sabrina Watson said.

Tennis star Kyrgios to contest Australian assault charge

Tennis star Kyrgios to contest Australian assault charge
Updated 03 February 2023

Tennis star Kyrgios to contest Australian assault charge

Tennis star Kyrgios to contest Australian assault charge
  • The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend

CANBERRA, Australia: Tennis star Nick Kyrgios was due to appear in an Australian court Friday to apply to have an assault charge stemming from events two years ago dismissed on mental health grounds.
His lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared in a court in Kyrgios’ hometown of Canberra in October and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.
Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Friday, when lawyers for the 27-year-old Australian are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.
Kyrgios, a Wimbledon finalist last year, is set to appear in court in person for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July last year.
His hearing was listed to start at 2:15 p.m. local time (0315 GMT).
The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and if dealing with an allegation in such a way would benefit the community and the defendant.
The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police in December that year.
The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.
Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.
In February last year, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”
“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”
Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the US Open.
After ending Daniil Medvedev’s US Open title defense in September last year to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.
Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for Friday’s hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.
Kyrgios had a career setback last month when he withdrew from the Australian Open because of an injured left knee that required arthroscopic surgery.
He was the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year in singles and teamed with good friend Thanasi Kokkinakis to claim the men’s doubles championship at the 2022 Australian Open.
Kyrgios was considered the host country’s strongest chance to win a title at Melbourne Park last month before he had to pull out of the tournament. Djokovic went on to win the Australian Open singles championship for the 10th time.