Sri Lanka says Russia to stop recruiting fighters from the island

Sri Lanka says Russia to stop recruiting fighters from the island
People protest near the Russian embassy in Colombo on June 4, 2024, seeking the release of Sri Lanka's ex-soldiers fighting for Russia and prisoners of war in Ukraine. (AFP)
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Updated 11 June 2024
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Sri Lanka says Russia to stop recruiting fighters from the island

Sri Lanka says Russia to stop recruiting fighters from the island
  • Moscow will accept a delegation from Sri Lanka on June 26 to “review these issues in detail

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said Tuesday it had received assurances from Russia that it would stop recruiting the island nation’s citizens to fight in Ukraine following allegations thousands had been duped into combat roles.
Relatives have urged Colombo to bring back the Sri Lankans, mostly retired soldiers, at least 16 of whom have been reported killed and 37 wounded in the fighting, according to parliament, with around a dozen others reportedly held as prisoners of war in Ukraine.
Sri Lankan foreign minister Ali Sabry raised the issue with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the BRICS ministerial meeting in Moscow on Monday, the ministry said.
“At the request of minister Ali Sabry, it was also agreed that no further recruitment from Sri Lanka will be done,” the ministry said.
Moscow will accept a delegation from Sri Lanka on June 26 to “review these issues in detail and take suitable action to arrest the situation,” the ministry statement said.
Thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine since the invasion began more than two years ago, and Moscow has been on a global quest for more troops.
Sri Lanka says many of its nationals had been duped into believing they would receive high salaries, land and the right to settle in Russia in return for serving in non-combat roles, but ended up being sent to the front.
Police in the island nation have arrested two retired generals for illegally acting as recruiting agents for Russian mercenary firms.
Soldiers from Sri Lanka’s neighbors India and Nepal have also joined the fight, with several confirmed deaths.


Belarus’s Lukashenko says border tension gone, extra troops go home

Belarus’s Lukashenko says border tension gone, extra troops go home
Updated 26 sec ago
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Belarus’s Lukashenko says border tension gone, extra troops go home

Belarus’s Lukashenko says border tension gone, extra troops go home
  • President Lukashenko said that Belarusian intelligence had determined that Ukraine had withdrawn troops from sensitive areas
  • Lukashenko allowed Russia to use Belarusian territory to launch the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, but has not committed troops to the conflict

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, said on Saturday that tensions had subsided at his country’s border with Ukraine and extra troops deployed there were being sent back to their bases.
Belarus’s defense ministry said late last month that it was reinforcing its border after a security incident and in response to a Ukrainian troop buildup. They said a division of multiple launch rocket systems had been deployed to test their combat readiness.
Lukashenko, quoted by the official BelTA news agency during a tour of a border region, said that Belarusian intelligence had determined that Ukraine had withdrawn troops from sensitive areas.
“That means that those (Ukrainian) troops which had been brought in as reinforcements are now gone,” BelTA quoted him as saying. .”..There are now no difficulties with the Ukrainians and I hope there will be none.”
BelTA said he told a meeting of regional officials that the additional Belarusian troops dispatched to the area should return to their assigned bases.
“Well, friends, we have to pull back our troops from the border,” he was quoted as saying. “So that it is understood that we have no intention of fighting or concentrating our armed forces here, apart from special operations forces.”
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s border guards, in a statement posted online, dismissed the notion of an extra deployment.
“From the outset the Belarusians created this threat for themselves and then lifted the very same threat,” it said.
Russia had said the Belarusian statements and deployment were “cause for concern.”
Lukashenko allowed Russia to use Belarusian territory to launch the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, but has made plain he has no intention of committing troops to the conflict.
The Belarusian president, in power since 1994, relied on Putin’s assurances of support in quelling unprecedented mass protests in 2020 by demonstrators alleging he rigged his re-election to a sixth term.
The two men meet regularly and Russia has in the past year has deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.


French PM eyes rebuilding political force after party backing

French PM eyes rebuilding political force after party backing
Updated 13 July 2024
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French PM eyes rebuilding political force after party backing

French PM eyes rebuilding political force after party backing
  • Sunday’s election runoff left the National Assembly without any overall majority, but a broad alliance — called New Popular Front of Socialists, Communists, Greens & the hard-left France Unbowed won the most seats, with 193 in the 577-strong lower chamber

PARIS: France’s prime minister on Saturday was elected leader of his party’s National Assembly lawmakers as politicians from all sides jockeyed for position to form the next government.
Gabriel Attal was the only candidate in the vote by the Renaissance party parliamentary group, which he plans to use as the base from which to rebuild the political force that got roundly beaten in a snap election called by President Emmanuel Macron.
Of the 98 Renaissance deputies registered to vote, 84 backed Attal, who will start in his role next week.
As Attal and other ministers eye a future outside government, deep cracks have appeared between the 35-year-old premier and his former mentor Macron.
Macron did not get any mention in Attal’s message to Renaissance deputies outlining his leadership bid, with observers saying that the prime minister blames the president for calling the vote, which he said took the party to the brink of “extinction.”
Sunday’s election runoff left the National Assembly without any overall majority, but a broad alliance — called New Popular Front of Socialists, Communists, Greens and the hard-left France Unbowed won the most seats, with 193 in the 577-strong lower chamber.
Macron’s allies came second with 164 seats and the far-right National Rally third at 143.
According to the constitution, Macron will appoint the next prime minister, who must be able to survive a confidence motion in parliament.
This appointment could come as early as next week when the new National Assembly session opens, but Macron could ask Attal to stay on while Paris hosts the Olympic Games starting July 26.

 

 


Two dead in Russian ‘double tap’ attack on town near Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Two dead in Russian ‘double tap’ attack on town near Ukraine’s Kharkiv
Updated 13 July 2024
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Two dead in Russian ‘double tap’ attack on town near Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Two dead in Russian ‘double tap’ attack on town near Ukraine’s Kharkiv
  • Prosecutors said the mid-afternoon missile attack targeted the railway station in Budy, southwest of Kharkiv
  • After rescue teams arrived, a second missile hit the area, injuring 23 people

KYIV: Russian forces launched a “double tap” missile attack on Saturday on a small town near Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, killing two people, an emergency services official and a police officer, officials said.
Officials also reported two dead in Russian attacks on the Donetsk region to the southeast.
Prosecutors said the mid-afternoon missile attack targeted the railway station in Budy, southwest of Kharkiv. After rescue teams arrived, a second missile hit the area.
They said 23 people were injured in the incidents.
Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said the head of the Kharkiv district emergency services was killed, along with a police officer from a rapid reaction unit. Among the injured were three emergency workers, a policeman and about 20 civilians.
Reuters could not verify independently the accounts and Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians. But Russian forces have used the “double tap” tactic to devastating effect.
Kharkiv remained out of Russian hands in the initial advance of the Kremlin’s forces after the February 2022 invasion.
The city and surrounding area have since come under constant attack, though Ukrainian officials say the frequency has diminished since US supplies of weaponry to Ukraine resumed after a break of several months.
Donetsk regional governor Vadym Filashkin said an attack by multiple rocket launchers hit a multi-story apartment building in Chasiv Yar — a town targeted by Russian forces as a key staging point in moving forward through Ukraine’s east.
And a guided bomb killed one person near the town of Kurakhove, where some of the heaviest fighting is taking place along the 1,000-km (600-mile) front.


Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes

Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes
Updated 13 July 2024
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Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes

Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes
  • Several hundred athletes plus coaches and other people closely involved in professional and amateur sports in Ukraine have been killed
  • Volodymyr Kogutyak, vice president of the French Ukrainian association, said: “Some were killed fighting in the Ukrainian armed forces”

PARIS: In a powerful tribute to the hundreds of Ukrainian athletes who have perished since the Russian invasion of their homeland, the Union of Ukrainians of France led a peaceful march of several hundred people in Paris on Saturday.
The demonstration, held in the run-up to this month’s Olympic Games, aimed to honor these fallen sports heroes and highlight the ongoing impact of the conflict on Ukraine’s athletic community.
Several hundred athletes — including some who competed at elite levels — plus coaches and other people closely involved in professional and amateur sports in Ukraine have been killed in the full-scale invasion since 2022, some while fighting as soldiers on the front lines.
The human losses, the ongoing war, and the widespread destruction of sports facilities threaten to erode Ukraine’s edge, both at the Paris Games that open July 26 and in the future, as a powerhouse of Olympic sport after the breakup of the former Soviet Union.
“What is tragic today is that we have hundreds of Ukrainian athletes who will unfortunately not have the chance to come to the Olympic Games in Paris because the Russian Federation senselessly killed them,” said Volodymyr Kogutyak, vice president of the French Ukrainian association. “Some were killed fighting in the Ukrainian armed forces, but many others were simply killed as civilians.”
Among those being remembered is Maksym Halinichev, a promising boxer who won a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018 and was the junior European champion in 2017. Halinichev joined the Ukrainian army and was killed at the front in March 2023 at the age of 22. Other notable athletes include Ivan Bidnyak and Yehor Kikhitov, both pistol shooters and members of the Ukrainian national team. Bidnyak won a silver medal at the European Championships in Osijek in 2013.
Also commemorated is Stanislav Hulenkov, a 22-year-old judoka, whose body was only identified 10 months after his death, and Oleksandr Peleshenko, a weightlifter who represented Ukraine at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Anastasiia Ihnatenko, an acrobatic gymnastics coach, died in a Russian missile strike along with her husband and their 18-month-old son.
The event drew scores of participants, including Ukrainians, French citizens, and people from various other backgrounds, all united in their grief and determination to honor the athletes’ memories. Participants wore T-shirts displaying the names of the deceased athletes, and a minute of silence was observed, followed by speeches from organizers.
“These athletes were killed at a time when they could have been training to be chosen for the Olympic Games. That is significant. Russia did not give them the choice to train and go to Paris. That is the sad part,” Kogutyak emphasized.
Ukraine’s haul of 11 medals at the 2016 Rio Games was its smallest as an independent nation and it tumbled to a low of 22nd in the country rankings. Ukraine recovered to 16th at the pandemic-delayed Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, but just one of its 19 medals was gold — another new low.
The peaceful protest also served a political purpose, aiming to send a clear message regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the upcoming Paris Games. “The protest is to loudly and clearly state that the Belarusian and Russian athletes, regardless of what flag or colors they come to Paris under, are not welcome,” Kogutyak declared.
He further noted his sadness that some of those Russian athletes had been decorated by various ministries and had met President Vladimir Putin.
The human toll of the ongoing war, coupled with the widespread destruction of sports facilities in Ukraine, poses a severe threat to the country’s future in Olympic sports. The loss of these athletes robs the nation of its current talents and jeopardizes its sporting future.
It is still unclear how many Russian athletes will compete at the Olympics being held from July 26-Aug. 11. The IOC already barred them from taking part in the opening ceremony of boats sailing along the River Seine.


Russia can counter US missile deployments in Europe, Kremlin says

Russia can counter US missile deployments in Europe, Kremlin says
Updated 13 July 2024
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Russia can counter US missile deployments in Europe, Kremlin says

Russia can counter US missile deployments in Europe, Kremlin says
  • Peskov noted that throughout the Cold War, American missiles based in Europe were aimed at Russia

MOSCOW: European countries would be putting themselves at risk if they accept deployments of long-range US missiles, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a video published on Saturday.
Asked by Russian state TV reporter Pavel Zarubin about the possibility of the United States deploying hypersonic missiles to Europe, Peskov said: “We have enough potential to deter these missiles. But the capitals of these (European) states are potential victims.”
Peskov noted that throughout the Cold War, American missiles based in Europe were aimed at Russia, with Russian missiles aimed at Europe in return, making the continent’s countries the chief victim of any potential conflict.
He said: “Europe is now coming apart at the seams. This is not the best time for Europe. Therefore, in one way or another, history will repeat itself.”