News Trending

Two individuals suspected of espionage and sabotage activities targeting German military support for Ukraine have been apprehended in Bavaria, Germany. Described as dual German-Russian nationals, they were arrested in Bayreuth on suspicion of spying for Russia, including scouting potential targets such as US military facilities in Germany. The main suspect, Dieter S, is accused of various offenses, including planning explosions, arson, and maintaining contact with Russian intelligence. He is also alleged to have participated in a Russian proxy armed force in eastern Ukraine from 2014 to 2016.

The second suspect, Alexander J, is accused of assisting Dieter S in identifying potential targets. Germany, as the second largest donor of military aid to Ukraine after the US, has earmarked significant funds for this purpose. The suspects are accused of discussing sabotage operations to undermine Germany’s support for Ukraine, particularly targeting military and industrial infrastructure. The arrests are seen as a significant success in combating Russian espionage networks, according to German officials.

These developments come amidst ongoing efforts by Germany to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses, with plans to provide additional Patriot systems. The arrests follow other notable espionage cases in Germany, including a German national suspected of passing information to Russian diplomats and the former CEO of Wirecard, who is believed to have fled to Moscow and is now suspected of being a Russian spy.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending War

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced the removal of Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov from his position. Reznikov had been in charge of the defense ministry since before Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. President Zelensky cited the need for “new approaches” in the defense ministry and nominated Rustem Umerov, head of Ukraine’s State Property Fund, as Reznikov’s successor.

Reznikov, who had developed strong relationships with senior politicians in London, is rumored to become Ukraine’s new ambassador to the United Kingdom. While he was internationally recognized for his role in lobbying for additional military equipment, his dismissal had been anticipated, with Reznikov himself exploring other positions within the Ukrainian government.

The cabinet reshuffle is not expected to bring significant changes to Ukraine’s battlefield strategy, as General Valery Zaluzhny continues to oversee the campaign as the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces. Reznikov’s dismissal is part of a broader anti-corruption effort in President Zelensky’s administration, as Ukraine aims to address corruption issues to join Western institutions like the EU.

Although Reznikov himself is not personally accused of corruption, the Ministry of Defense had faced scandals related to the procurement of goods and equipment for the army at inflated prices. Earlier this year, Reznikov’s deputy resigned amidst such allegations.

In addition to the anti-corruption drive, Ukraine is engaged in a slow and bloody counter-offensive with advanced weapons received from Western allies. Ukrainian forces have reported breaking through key Russian defenses in the south of the country, while Russia has reported attempted drone attacks on its territory and launched an attack on the Izmail port, one of Ukraine’s major grain-exporting ports on the Danube River.

Picture Courtesy: google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending War

A Hong Kong-flagged merchant ship named Joseph Schulte, which had been stuck in the Ukrainian port of Odesa due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has departed the port. Despite concerns that Russia might target vessels in the Black Sea, the ship left after Kyiv announced a “humanitarian corridor” for ships in the Black Sea. This corridor was established following the collapse of a previous deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain. The ship’s departure comes after Russian air strikes reportedly damaged grain storage facilities in Reni, a port on the Danube river.

Ukrainian officials released images showing the destruction of storage facilities and crops in Reni. Despite the attacks, the port is said to be operational. Russia has not commented on these latest developments. Previously, Russia withdrew from an agreement that guaranteed safe passage for ships in the Black Sea, suggesting that ships heading to Ukrainian ports could be considered military targets.

Ukraine, a significant exporter of grain and oilseeds, has faced challenges due to the blockade, leading to global increases in food prices. In response to these threats, Ukraine established a humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea to facilitate the departure of ships from its ports. The Joseph Schulte was carrying over 30,000 tonnes of cargo, including food, and was headed to Istanbul, Turkey. The corridor is intended to help evacuate ships that have been trapped in Black Sea ports since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have been conducting a counter-offensive to retake territory from Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region. Despite receiving military equipment from Western countries, their advances have been limited. Recent clashes have led to the evacuation of many residents in the country’s east. Russia has also reported downing drones near Moscow in a series of attacks on Russian cities.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

The Russian ruble has reached its lowest point in 16 months, dropping below 100 against the US dollar.

This decline is a result of mounting pressures on the Russian economy, marked by a faster increase in imports compared to exports and heightened military expenditures due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia. Although the ruble initially plummeted during the onset of the conflict, it received some support from capital controls and exports of oil and gas.

Since the war began, the ruble’s value has been fluctuating, but it has overall lost around 25% of its value against the US dollar since the invasion of Ukraine.

On a recent Monday, the ruble’s exchange rate was 101.04 per US dollar. A higher number of rubles needed to buy a dollar indicates the currency’s weakening, given the dollar’s status as a dominant global currency.

Russia’s central bank has suggested the possibility of a key interest rate increase but maintains that the country’s financial stability is not under threat. In response to the invasion, the bank had raised rates from 9.5% to 20%, subsequently reducing them.

Jane Foley, Managing Director at Rabobank London, noted the progressive weakening of the ruble throughout the year, with the pace accelerating since late July. She attributed this trend to Russia’s challenging economic fundamentals, such as budget deficits and export pressures.

Russ Mould, Investment Director at AJ Bell, indicated that Western sanctions, particularly concerning oil and gas, were negatively impacting Russia’s trade and economy. The EU countries heavily reliant on Russian energy sources pledged to decrease their dependence and explore alternative suppliers.

The imposition of a price cap by G7 and EU leaders in December 2022, aimed at limiting Russia’s oil export revenue by maintaining oil prices below $60 per barrel, contributed to the reduction in Russia’s oil-related exports.

The interruption of gas supplies to Europe by Russia also played a role. Germany, a significant importer, announced its reduced reliance on Russian fossil fuels for energy.

Mould stated that the exclusion of Russia from Swift, a global payment system, had further impacted Moscow.

He pointed out that the ruble’s depreciation should also be considered alongside the strength of the US dollar. The dollar’s gain against emerging currencies was partly attributed to the robust US economy, prompting the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates while many emerging central banks were cutting rates.

The attractiveness of holding dollars or dollar-denominated assets was further enhanced due to higher cash returns in dollars compared to other currencies.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

Moscow authorities have introduced a new educational textbook aimed at rationalizing the war in Ukraine and attributing blame to Western nations for Russia’s predicament. As per extracts disclosed by Russian media, the school material asserts that humanity’s survival was at stake if Vladimir Putin hadn’t initiated his “special military operation” against Ukraine. The textbook, titled “Russian History, 1945 – early 21st century,” was co-written by Vladimir Medinsky, a former Russian culture minister and current presidential adviser.

Notably, this marks the first officially sanctioned history book in Russian schools covering events as recent as the complete invasion of Ukraine, which commenced in February 2022. Beginning September, it will be taught in the final year of Russian secondary education, attended by 17 to 18-year-old students.

The textbook argues that Western powers are dedicated to destabilizing Russia and disseminating “unconcealed Russophobia.” It contends that the West is deliberately dragging Russia into conflicts, with the ultimate goal of dismantling the nation and gaining control over its mineral resources. The book also relies on familiar Kremlin narratives, depicting Ukraine as an aggressive state led by nationalist extremists manipulated by the West to act against Russia.

The textbook distorts historical facts. For instance, it frames Russia’s initial involvement in Ukraine in 2014 as a response to a popular uprising in eastern Donbas, without mentioning Russia’s military involvement in the region. The book cites the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO as a key reason for the full-scale invasion in 2022, suggesting that such an event would have prompted Russia to wage war against the entire NATO alliance, potentially leading to catastrophic consequences.

The textbook also inaccurately claims that Ukraine planned to turn Sevastopol into a NATO base and pursue nuclear weapons. Additionally, it misrepresents the linguistic demographics of Ukraine’s population, asserting that 80% spoke Russian as their mother tongue before 2014, when the actual figure was much lower.

In the context of mounting evidence linking Russian forces to atrocities in Ukraine, the textbook warns students about the proliferation of staged media content and fake imagery. The book critiques Western sanctions against Russia following the invasion, depicting them as efforts to undermine Russia’s economy and wrongly asserting that they violate international law.

Furthermore, the exodus of Western businesses from Russia post-invasion is depicted in a positive light, being characterized as a “fantastic opportunity” for Russian entrepreneurs.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending War

A Russian drone strike targeted port facilities in Izmail, Ukraine, situated close to the River Danube and adjacent to NATO member state Romania. The attack resulted in the damaging of a grain warehouse, a passenger building, and a grain loading elevator. This comes after Russia abandoned a UN deal that allowed both countries to export grain safely across the Black Sea. The attack has sparked a large fire in the port area, with videos from the Romanian side of the Danube capturing the extent of the blaze.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis condemned the continued attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure near Romania, stating that they are unacceptable. Odesa regional leader Oleh Kiper confirmed that emergency services were responding to the latest attack, but no casualties were reported.

Ukraine, a major exporter of wheat and corn, has been severely affected by the Russian attacks on its port facilities. The River Danube is now seen as an alternative route for exports, but the attacks are causing significant disruptions and logistical challenges. The continuous targeting of Ukrainian ports by Russia is viewed as an attempt to control Ukraine’s grain exports and exert influence in the region.

In addition to the attacks on port facilities, Russia has also launched drone strikes against Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, though no official response has been issued by Russia regarding these reported attacks.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

On Friday evening, Dnipro, an eastern Ukrainian city, experienced a missile attack that caused injuries to at least nine people, including two children, as reported by officials. A BBC team at the scene confirmed that the top floor of a large residential tower block was severely damaged in the strike. Additionally, a building belonging to Ukraine’s security services (SBU) was also hit, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky, who attributed the attack to “Russian missile terror.” Zelensky shared a video on Telegram depicting the damaged buildings and a street-level fire.

Emergency meetings were convened by President Zelensky with the SBU, interior ministry, emergency services, and local officials in response to the incident. Fortunately, there have been no reported deaths from the attack. However, two children, aged 14 and 17, were among those injured and were receiving treatment at home, according to Regional head Serhiy Lysak. The missile strike occurred at 20:30 local time.

Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov revealed that this was the third time the SBU building had been targeted by Russia. Fortunately, both buildings struck were largely empty at the time. The residential tower had recently been completed, and units were being offered for sale.

In retaliation, Russia claimed that it intercepted two Ukrainian missiles over its southern Rostov region, resulting in 15 injuries from falling debris in the city of Taganrog. The Russian defense ministry stated that the first missile was directed at “residential infrastructure” in the city, while the second missile was downed near the city of Azov, causing debris to fall in an unpopulated area. Taganrog, a coastal city located about 25 miles (40km) from the Ukrainian border, is on the road leading to Mariupol, a strategic port city that had previously suffered significant damage from Russian shelling.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending

According to local officials, Russian drones have targeted and destroyed grain storage facilities at Ukrainian ports along the River Danube, which are situated just across the river from NATO-member Romania. The River Danube serves as a crucial export route for Kyiv, especially after Russia withdrew from a deal that allowed Ukraine to ship wheat, corn, and other products via the Black Sea.

One such attack occurred in the Black Sea port city of Odesa, where a grain depot was destroyed. The attacks have caused significant damage, with more than 60,000 tonnes of grain being destroyed in the past week. This has resulted in an 8% increase in grain prices in global markets since Russia pulled out of the grain deal on 17 July.

The collapse of the deal has also led to Russia resuming its targeting of port locations in Ukraine, which had been suspended during the deal. Odesa’s head, Oleh Kiper, reported that the infrastructure in the Danube ports of Reni and Izmail was attacked for four hours using Iranian-made drones. Multiple warehouses and storage tanks were destroyed in the attacks.

The situation has raised concerns for regional security and has been condemned by Romanian President Klaus Yohannis, as the attacks occurred very close to Romanian territory. The River Danube, as well as road and rail routes from Ukraine to neighboring countries like Poland and Romania, have been developed as alternative export channels since the Russian invasion. However, these routes have been able to handle only a fraction of Ukraine’s export needs and are more expensive compared to sea transport.

Ukraine’s status as Europe’s breadbasket makes it the world’s seventh-largest wheat exporter, with 71% of its land being used for agriculture. In response to the attacks on Ukraine’s grain exports, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia can replace Ukrainian grain for countries in Africa on a commercial or free-of-charge basis. This comes ahead of a Russia-Africa summit in Moscow.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

News Trending War

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced that a suspected Russian agent involved in the deadly attack in Kramatorsk will be charged with treason. Zelensky emphasized that those assisting Russia in causing harm deserve the harshest punishment. The missile strike on a popular restaurant claimed the lives of twelve individuals, including three teenagers. The Ukrainian authorities claim that the suspect, a resident of Kramatorsk, had sent video footage of the restaurant to the Russian military prior to its destruction. The city of Kramatorsk is under Ukrainian control but is situated near Russian-occupied areas. Rescue efforts are still underway, and the security services have released a photo of the arrested suspect, who could face life imprisonment.

The targeted restaurant, called the Ria lounge, was a frequented venue for international journalists, volunteers, and Ukrainian soldiers taking breaks from the nearby front lines. Several people, including Colombian nationals and a prominent Ukrainian writer, were injured in the attack. One witness described the aftermath of the explosion, mentioning the surreal sight of particles moving in slow motion. A leading Ukrainian writer is in critical condition following the incident.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro denounced the attack on Colombian citizens and instructed the foreign ministry to issue a diplomatic protest. The Colombian peace negotiator who was present during the attack sustained minor injuries. Ukrainian officials have been urging their allies to provide modern fighter jets to enhance their defense capabilities against Russian strikes. The United States recently announced its support for Ukraine by allowing Western allies to supply American-made F16s and training Ukrainian pilots to operate the jets. The Russian government has claimed that its strikes target military installations and alleged the destruction of a temporary deployment of Ukrainian commanders in Kramatorsk without providing further details.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright