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Continued arms supplies from US to Ukraine increase threat of further escalation : envoy

Continued arms supplies from US to Ukraine increase threat of further escalation : envoy

 

Dhaka June 29 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on June 29 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Attack on Crimea could spark WW3 – Medvedev

An assault on the peninsula by Ukraine could lead to a Russia-NATO war, former president has warned

Ukraine could unleash a world war by attacking Crimea, if it becomes a full-fledged NATO member, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned.

“For us, Crimea is part of Russia. And that will be so forever. Any attempt to infringe upon Crimea is a declaration of war against our nation. If a NATO member does that, it would mean a conflict with the entire North Atlantic Alliance. World War III. Total disaster,” he said in an interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty published on Tuesday.

Crimea broke away from Ukraine after the 2014 coup in Kiev, and voted to re-join Russia in a referendum. The move was rejected by Ukraine, which considers the peninsula a Russian-occupied territory. Ukrainian officials have said that their pledge not to use Western-supplied weapons against Russian territory does not apply to Crimea.

Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chair of the Security Council of Russia, described the scenario while commenting on why NATO expansion into Ukraine would be more dangerous than Finland and Sweden joining the bloc. He said Russia does not like the proposed expansion in Northern Europe, but can live with it.

“We don’t have and don’t expect to have any territorial disputes with those nations, or even possible causes for one. If they feel better and safer by joining the alliance, let them have it. NATO is already next to our nation without Sweden and Finland,” he said.

This, however, comes with the caveat that Russia would react to the expected admission of the Nordic nations by deploying nuclear weapons in the Baltic, among other things, Medvedev noted. “Nobody is excited about that, including the citizens of the two NATO candidates. Having our Iskander [tactical missiles], hypersonic missiles and nuclear-armed warships on one’s doorstep is not something to be thrilled about.”

He added that the escalation of tensions with Russia will require military buildup in Finland and Sweden, with resources that could be used to fund civilian programs being poured into defense instead. Medvedev described this as “senseless and not cheap.”

 

Russians in Arctic face Norwegian blockade

A Russian Arctic mining operation in the Svalbard Islands is facing shortages after Norwegian authorities held up over 20 tons of supplies in the port of Storskog, citing the EU sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine. The foreign ministry in Oslo acknowledged on Tuesday that the Russian application for a humanitarian exemption had been rejected.

The special permit application submitted by the Russian embassy and the mining company Arktikugol was rejected on June 15, the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK reported on Tuesday.

Arktikugol runs the mining town of Barentsburg, which is mainly inhabited by Russian nationals. The archipelago, about halfway between the Arctic circle and the north pole, has fewer than 3,000 residents and has been under Norwegian jurisdiction for about a century.

Norwegian laws apply in Barentsburg, even though its residents are Russians, Siri R. Svendsen of the foreign ministry told NRK. Therefore, she said, the cargo bound for the islands is subject to EU sanctions against Moscow.

Barentsburg relies on a single ship that ferries goods from Tromsø to the islands every ten days. Previously, Russian supplies were brought by truck from Murmansk and loaded on the ferry. However, Norway has held up the supplies at the Storskog border crossing with Russia.

Arktikugol fears a humanitarian crisis in Barentsburg if the goods are not allowed through, according to a letter the company sent to the Norwegian authorities last month. Russian consul general Sergey Gushchin has told NRK that fruits, vegetables, flour, and dairy were running short, but described the situation as “stable” for now. Spare parts, medical, and technical equipment were also blockaded on the border, however.

“I can assure you that no one will suffer harm in any direction as long as it is Norway that has full and complete control over the archipelago,” Svalbard governor Lars Fause told the national broadcaster. The government is in “ongoing dialogue” with Arktikugol, he added.

Svalbard has been a flashpoint of diplomatic tensions between Moscow and Oslo before, when Norway tightened entry requirements following the 2015 visit of a senior Russian official under EU sanctions on account of Ukraine. Russia protested that such behavior was violating the 1920 treaty that established Norwegian rule over the islands.

 

Russian space agency mocks NATO

Roscosmos published the coordinates of Western “decision-making centers” ahead of the alliance’s summit

The Russian space agency marked the start of a key summit of NATO leaders in Madrid on Tuesday by releasing satellite images and coordinates of Western seats of power.

While the leaders of the 30 members of the US-led bloc are busy with their deliberations in the Spanish capital, “Roscosmos publishes satellite images of the proverbial ‘decision making centers’ that support Ukrainian nationalists,” the agency said in a post on social media, which included the photos. “We are providing coordinates of the sites. Just in case.”

The coordinates were the not-so-secret locations of the White House and Pentagon in the US, No. 10 Downing Street in London, the Élysée Palace in Paris, the German Chancellery in Berlin and NATO’s own headquarters in Brussels.

During the NATO summit in Madrid this week, members of the organization will adopt a new Strategic Concept of the alliance, which is expected to identify Russia as a major security threat and cite China as a concern. The bloc will discuss plans to support Ukraine against Russia, boost the militaries of member states and enlarge itself by accepting Finland and Sweden as new allies.

Earlier in June, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Al Jazeera that Moscow would strike “decision-making centers” if Kiev used the weapons it had received from the United States to attack Russian territory.

“It is obvious what those decision-making centers are: the defense ministry, the general staff and so on,” he added. “But it should be understood that, in this case, the ultimate decision-making centers are regretfully not even on the territory of Kiev.”

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Continued arms supplies from US to Ukraine increase threat of further escalation — envoy

WASHINGTON, June 28. /TASS/. Continued weapons deliveries from Washington to Kiev only tighten the conflict spiral and heighten the threat of the further aggravation with unpredictable consequences, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Monday.

“The reckless and unanswered flooding of Ukraine with arms only tightens the conflict spiral and increases the threat of the further escalation with unpredictable consequences,” the Russian Embassy’s Telegram channel quoted him as saying. “However, Washington’s ruling circles, blinded by the idea to weaken Russia, are still not capable to rationally assess the whole danger of their moves,” the envoy added.

“The administration increases the supplies of weapons to Kiev. If previously they were delivering MPADS and ATGMs, now it’s on to heavy artillery, MLRS and, by all appearances, air defense systems,” he noted.

The diplomat emphasized that additionally, the US shares intelligence data with the Ukrainian side and consults as to “how to act on the battlefield.” “Essentially, with its provocative moves the US is pushing the Kiev regime to commit mass murders of civilians. Additionally, here they are condoning the continued deployment of US mercenaries to Ukraine,” he added. “Such a policy creates additional risks in relations between the largest nuclear powers,” the ambassador emphasized.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people “who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years.” Following this, the US and its allies announced the introduction of sweeping sanctions against Russia and stepped up arms deliveries to Kiev.

 

China urges NATO to give up attempts at destabilizing Asia — Foreign Ministry

BEIJING, June 28. /TASS/. The Chinese government is calling on NATO to stop trying to destabilize Asia in the wake of the crisis in Europe, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said while commenting on Bloomberg’s report China would be called a “systemic challenge” in NATO’s new strategic concept.

“What NATO needs to do is to abandon the Cold War mindset, zero-sum games and the practice of creating enemy images. After the turmoil in Europe, NATO countries should abandon their attempts to destabilize Asia and the world,” Zhao told a news conference on Tuesday.

“As a product of the Cold War and the world’s largest military alliance, NATO has long professed outdated views on security issues and has long become a tool for individual countries in attempts to maintain their hegemony,” he stressed.

“China pursues an independent and peaceful foreign policy. It does not interfere in the internal affairs of other states. Nor does it export its ideology or use extraterritorial jurisdiction, economic blackmail, or unilateral sanctions. How can China be a systematic challenge?” Zhao said.

“China’s development is an opportunity for the world, not a challenge to anyone. We strongly urge NATO to immediately stop spreading false information about China and refrain from provocative statements,” he stressed.

NATO’s meeting at the level of heads of state and government will take place in Madrid on June 28-30. The summit’s participants will adopt a new strategic concept, consider ways of strengthening the alliance and the implications of global climate change for the security sphere.

 

Without Russian gas Germany faces a loss of 193 billion euros — Readovka.world

Arina Korf

Prognos AG research company provided results of the economic analysis

There is no denying of substantial consequences for the EU economy in the context of energy crisis. Among them, Germany is the most vulnerable one. A sudden disruption of gas supplies from Russia would cause a 12.5 percent decline in Germany’s economy. Across the country, 5.6 million jobs will be affected.

The Bavarian Industry Association has published a special investigation concerning risks of a complete absence of Russian gas.

«German government has already declared gas emergency», – said Bertram Brossardt, the Bavarian Industry Association’s chief executive.

Prognos AG research company provided results of the economic analysis.

«Germany’s dependence on Russian gas is underestimated», – warns Michael Bohmer, chief economist of Prognos AG.

With the complete absence of Russian gas in Germany from July 1, the glass, steel and food industries would have to put up with damage, equivalent to 49 billion euros. This corresponds to 3.2 percent of the total value added in Germany. This will also affect supply chains in other industries. In the second half of 2022, losses would amount up to 144 billion euros. And in six months – 193 billion euros.

 

Drug lab busted at nuke-hosting NATO base

Belgian law enforcement has busted an illegal drug lab located on the premises of the NATO Kleine-Brogel airbase in the northeast of the country, Limburg police said on Tuesday.

The lab was discovered at the airbase last Wednesday, the police said, adding that “a neighboring house” located off the installation’s premises was involved into the operation as well. The lab has been manufacturing the synthetic drug MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

Two suspects, who were not military personnel, were arrested during the raid. The suspects have been released under certain conditions since then. The police did not make any statements on the potential charges the two might be facing.

The Kleine-Brogel airbase is believed to house a stockpile of US nuclear weapons stationed across Europe under NATO nuclear-sharing program. The base has repeatedly became the target for anti-nuclear and anti-NATO protesters, who rallied outside the installation.

Apparent nuclear status of the base has been the subject for assorted rumors for decades already and the number of warheads kept at the facility is not officially known. Back in 2019, a Green MP told Belgium’s parliament that some 10 to 20 warheads were stockpiled at the site.

 

China mocks G7

With the eyes of the world on the G7, Beijing reminded the West that it’s outnumbered by its competitors

Amid high-profile meetings of the G7 and NATO leaders, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted an image on Tuesday pointing out that despite being referred to as “international society,” the G7 countries actually account for a small percentage of the world’s population.

Depicting the leaders of the G7 countries alongside the leaders of the BRICS nations, the image noted that the population of the former amounts to 777 million, while the BRICS countries are home to 3.2 billion people.

“So next time when they talk about ‘international society,’ you know what they mean…” Zhao wrote.

After the summit in Germany over the weekend, the G7 leaders departed for Madrid, where the US-led NATO alliance is meeting to draft its new Strategic Concept – a document that outlines its mission and stance toward non-members. In its first update since 2010, the document will address China as a “challenge,” and according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “will make clear that allies consider Russia as the most significant and direct threat to our security.”

Just days before the G7 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the leaders of Brazil, India, and South Africa, met virtually for the less-reported summit of the BRICS nations. The group, denoted by an acronym composed from the first letter of its member nations’ names, includes four of the world’s top ten economies and represents more than 40% of the planet’s population and 30% of its GDP.

While the BRICS group is not a formal alliance in a military or economic sense, its members are often united in opposition to the Western consensus. Save for Brazil, none of the BRICS nations voted with the US and its allies to condemn Russia’s military operation in Ukraine at the UN General Assembly in March, for example, and China and India have stepped up their trade links with Russia since then.

The bloc may soon expand too. Argentina and Iran applied last week for membership, with the Iranian Foreign Ministry describing BRICS as a “very creative mechanism with broad aspects,” and Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez said that the platform could “implement an agenda for the future that will lead to a better and fairer time.”

During the BRICS summit last Wednesday, Putin said that the five-member group was working on setting up a new global reserve currency “based on a basket of currencies of our countries.”

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Russia comments on alleged mall strike in Ukraine

An airstrike on the Kremenchug ammo stockpile in Ukraine caused a fire at a closed shopping center nearby, the Russian Ministry of Defense claims

The Russian military has confirmed an airstrike on the Ukrainian city of Kremenchug on Monday, but claimed it targeted a stockpile of Western weapons. The detonation caused damage to a nearby non-functioning shopping mall, Tuesday’s report said. Kiev had claimed that Russia attacked the shopping center, killing and injuring many civilians.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the location of the arms stockpile was near the Kredmash factory. The Amstor Mall, where a fire was reported by Ukrainian sources on Monday, is right next to it. The military claimed that the Western munitions detonated and caused a fire at the facility, which was no longer operating.

Ukrainian officials claim that the mall was packed with people at the moment Russia allegedly attacked it. However, video showed that the car park outside was almost empty.

According to the latest casualty report, 18 people were killed and 59 injured in the incident, with 25 of the wounded taken to the hospital for treatment.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the incident in Kremenchug as “one of the most blatant terrorist attacks in European history.” He stated that the site posed no threat to the Russian military and had no strategic value.

Kremenchug is a city in central Ukraine around 250km southeast from Kiev. The Russian military had previously attacked a major oil refinery in the city, denying the Ukrainian military fuel for their vehicles.

 

Ukrainian mayor blames shopping mall management for deaths

A shopping center in the city of Kremenchug, where 18 were reported killed on Monday, failed to shut down after a warning

Management at a Ukrainian shopping mall, where 18 people were reported killed on Monday after a nearby Russian air strike, ignored a warning of an imminent air attack, the mayor of Kremenchug reported on Tuesday.

“Ukraine is at war, so ignoring an air raid alert is a crime, which the tragedy in Amstor demonstrated once again,” Vitaly Maletsky wrote on social media. He threatened public venues with criminal prosecution if they fail to evacuate patrons and employees when a warning is given by the authorities.

The mayor posted a screenshot of what he claimed to be the official social media account of the outlet, which informed that it would remain open during alert periods. The policy change took effect last Thursday, according to the timestamp.

Ukraine claimed that a Russian airstrike killed and injured scores of civilians at the mall in Kremenchug. President Volodymyr Zelensky called it one of the “most brazen terrorist attacks in European history”.

On Tuesday, Moscow confirmed attacking the city, but denied targeting the shopping venue. The strike hit a nearby plant where West-supplied munitions were stored before being shipped to the frontline, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed. Detonations of the ammo caused damage to the shopping center, the report claimed. The ministry described the mall as not operational at the time of the attack.

The Russian military regularly launches missile attacks deep in Ukrainian territory but claims it only targets sites of military importance. On several occasions during the four-month-long conflict with Ukraine, it has hit a major oil refinery in Kremenchug, which presumably processed fuel for Ukrainian forces.

Ukraine’s air defense regularly warns the residents of areas that the authorities believe may be hit by Russia, prompting them to seek shelter. The entire Poltava region in central Ukraine, where Kremenchug is located, had been considered under threat on Monday before the mall incident, according to local media.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

 

Ukraine confirms Russian missile hit plant adjacent to burned down shopping mall

The strike left a large crater at a factory that was used to stockpile weaponry, according to Moscow

The Russian military on Monday targeted the Kredmash vehicle plant in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchug, the chairman of the factory’s supervisory board, Nikolay Danileyko, has confirmed. The plant is located right next to the shopping mall that was destroyed in a blaze after the missile strike, with 18 people reported killed and over 50 injured.

The factory was a civilian facility and had not produced military vehicles or parts for them since 1989, Danileyko told local media. The plant’s workers were not injured in the attack, he added.

Footage from the scene aired by local media shows a large crater in the middle of one of the factory’s hangars. The strike inflicted heavy damage on the building, blowing away parts of its roofing and walls and rupturing underground piping.

While Kiev was quick to accuse Moscow of deliberately attacking the shopping mall itself, the Russian military maintained it had targeted a stockpile of Western-supplied weaponry on the premises of the Kredmash plant. Secondary detonations of the destroyed weapons sparked a fire that spread to the shopping mall, the Russian military claimed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed the shopping mall was tightly packed, with “more than a thousand civilians” visiting it at the time of the strike. Footage from the scene taken moments after the strike, however, showed that the parking lot by the mall was almost empty, with several armed individuals in military uniform roaming the area.

The mayor of Kremenchug pinned the blame for the civilian casualties on the venue’s operators, accusing them of ignoring a warning of an imminent air attack.

“Ukraine is at war, so ignoring an air raid alert is a crime, which the tragedy in Amstor [mall] demonstrated once again,” the mayor, Vitaly Maletsky, wrote on social media.

 

Hostilities to end if Kiev orders nationalists to lay down weapons — Kremlin spokesman

MOSCOW, June 28. /TASS/. Hostilities in Ukraine may end “before the end of today,” if Kiev orders the nationalists to lay down their weapons, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday.

“The Ukrainian side can end all this before the end of this day; an order is necessary for the nationalist units to lay down their weapons, an order is necessary for the Ukrainian military to lay down their weapons; and they must fulfill all Russia’s demands. Then everything will be over before the day ends,” the spokesman said, commenting on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s remark that he would like to end the hostilities before the cold comes.

“Everything else are just speculations of the Ukrainian head of state,” the spokesman added.

“We orient ourselves on the statements made by our President [Vladimir Putin] that the special military operation proceeds according to the plan and achieves its goals,” the spokesman underscored.

When asked if the Russian side has any approximate timeframe for the end of the special operation, Peskov answered in a negative.

“No,” he said.

 

Mercenaries involved in murdering POWs eliminated – Russia

A group of fighters from the Georgian Legion have been eliminated in the LPR, the Russian Defense Ministry has revealed

Russian forces have eliminated a group of Georgian mercenaries, fighting on the Ukrainian side, who were allegedly involved in the abuse and murder of prisoners, the spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Moscow, Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, said on Monday.

According to Konashenkov, on June 26, three kilometers from the Lisichansk oil refinery in the Lugansk People’s Republic, Russian units “destroyed two sabotage and reconnaissance groups of mercenaries with a total number of 14 militants.”

The first group, according to the spokesman, “consisted of citizens of various European countries,” while the second listed only mercenaries from the so-called Georgian Legion. According to Konashenkov, “Georgian militants were involved in the brutal torture and murder of Russian servicemen near Kiev in March this year.”

Since the launch of the Russian military offensive in Ukraine at the end of February, Moscow and Kiev have been accusing each other of abuse and torture, as well as of atrocities against civilians. In May, the Russian Investigative Committee said it was looking into a video published on social media, showing a Georgian mercenary beating a captured Russian soldier.

Tatyana Moskalkova, Russia’s top human rights official, voiced concerns this month over the treatment of Russian prisoners in Ukraine. The International Red Cross had not provided any information about visits to check on the conditions the Russian POWs have been kept in, she claimed.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

 

Kremenchuk: Bloodthirsty Ukraine is looking for a scandal — Readovka.world

Effi Stounem

But this time it won’t work, lads

On the battlefield Ukraine suffers defeat. «Defenders» run through Seversky Donets; on «Azot» demons are buried as before on «Azovstal». In this context, it needs some kind of huge media scandal, after which the audience will stop asking questions about why ordinary Ukrainian dies in the fields of Lysychansk, and the partners will still decide to prolong the agony by distributing new missiles.

And here in the midst of total collapse and shame – the explosion in Kremenchuk. First of all, one detail catches the eye. The videos show that a huge crowd of armed men in uniform immediately appeared at the peaceful shopping center. Kremenchuk is far behind, how can there appeared masses of soldiers immediately after the tragedy? Did they know where it will land? Or were they the target of the strike?

Yes, Ukrainian propaganda will use the events in the shopping center of Kremenchuk to the fullest. But you should still be able to ask questions with a clear mind. So the Ukrainian channels themselves report that the shopping center caught on fire not from a direct hit, but from a fire behind it, where Ukrainian army equipment repair base is located. At the same time, only two deaths are known, which serves as additional proof that everything is not as much bloodthirsty as the Ukraine wants.

 

More weapons to Ukraine – more missions on the ground, Russia warns West

“Pumping up” Ukraine with weapons will make Russian forces “perform more missions on the ground,” Moscow has said

“Pumping up” Ukraine with Western weapons will only lead Russia “to perform more missions on the ground,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference, the minister claimed that the position of the West when it comes to the situation in Ukraine wais “absolutely counterproductive and harmful.”

“The more weapons is pumped into Ukraine, the longer this conflict will last, the longer the agony of the Nazi regime, which is supported by Western capitals, will last,” he said.

In this context, Lavrov commented on the Ukrainian and Western politicians

In accusations related to a shopping mall in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchug, allegedly hit on Monday by the Russian forces.

The minister referred to the earlier statement by the Russian Defense Ministry according to which the military targeted an hangar with American and European weapons and ammunition. Detonations set fire to the shopping center, which was empty, Lavrov stressed.

“I am saying it to emphasize the fact that the longer weapons are supplied, which are designed to prolong the conflict, prolong the suffering of civilians who constantly live under shelling by the Ukrainian neo-Nazi movement, the more missions we will perform on the ground,” Lavrov said.

He added that “these missions will be completed.”

Lavrov’s remarks came as the leaders of G7 agreed to continue supporting Ukraine, both militarily and financially, “for as long as it takes.”

 

Ukraine hits Donbass with American HIMARS – LPR

The Lugansk People’s Republic claims at least one missile was fired from a US-made multiple launch rocket system

US-supplied М142 HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems have already been used by the Ukrainian military in Donbass, the authorities in the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) reported on Tuesday.

On their Telegram channel, the LPR’s representatives from the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination on ceasefire and stabilization of the demarcation line (JCCC) posted a message that read, “shelling has been detected from the positions of Ukrainian armed groups: at 7:20AM … using the М142 HIMARS (1 missile).”

This is the first time the local authorities have reported that the US-supplied systems have been used in combat.

Taking to Facebook on Saturday, the chief of Ukraine’s General Staff, Valery Zaluzhny, wrote: “Multiple rocket launcher M142 HIMARS are already working in the interest of Ukraine’s defense.” He added that Ukrainian troops “skillfully hit certain targets – military targets of the enemy on our, Ukrainian, territory.”

Zaluzhny also posted a two-minute video clip, said to show how the pro-Kiev forces operate the long-range rocket system.

The arrival of several M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System units in Ukraine was also confirmed last Thursday by Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov. In a Twitter post, he expressed his gratitude to “colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools!”

HIMARS have arrived to Ukraine.Thank you to my 🇺🇲 colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools!Summer will be hot for russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them. pic.twitter.com/BTmwadthpp

— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) June 23, 2022

Also on Thursday, acting Pentagon press secretary Todd Breasseale revealed that Washington would send Kiev four more HIMARS systems, in addition to the four already delivered.

On top of that, Britain is shipping three tracked M270 MLRS systems, while Germany has pledged to contribute another three.

Ukrainian officials, however, insist they need far more weapons to achieve parity with Russia’s forces.

Plans to deliver the four HIMARS units were announced by US President Joe Biden in early June. According to media reports, the White House had initially been concerned that Ukrainian forces could hit targets inside Russia with the help of these long-range systems, which could be construed as further escalation by Moscow. The US said it would provide GMLRS guided rockets with the systems, which have a range of 32-60km. The HIMARS platform can also fire a single guided missile with a range of up to 300km, but the US has not yet provided Ukraine with these projectiles.

Following the announcement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, the “Ukrainians have given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory.”

However, several senior Ukrainian officials have since said that Kiev reserves the right to use US-supplied weapons on targets in Crimea, which both Ukraine and Russia consider part of their own territory.

The peninsula became a Russian region following a referendum in 2014, in which the vast majority voted for reunification with Russia after the Maidan coup in Kiev.

 

INSIGHTS

What does foreign debt default mean for Russia?

Attempts to prevent Moscow from paying its foreign debt may undermine the Western financial system

Western media is reporting that Russia is facing a default on its foreign debt for the first time since 1918. Moscow was forced to make interest payments on bonds in rubles after Washington blocked dollar payments.

What is Russia’s reaction to default claims?

Moscow has rejected the assertions and has accused Washington of trying to engineer an artificial default, explaining that the country is willing and able to service its foreign debt. The transition to ruble payments does not imply a debt default, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has stressed.

How does Moscow plan to service its foreign debt?

Under a new payment mechanism, which was recently announced and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, Moscow considers its obligations completed “if they are fulfilled in rubles in an amount equivalent to the value of obligations in foreign currency” at the exchange rate on the day the funds are transferred to the central depository (NSD), through which they will be paid to creditors.

Why is Russia making bond payments in rubles?

In May, the US ended a bond payment waiver that had allowed Moscow to service its debt in dollars. The Russian Finance Ministry subsequently said that, in order to defend its reputation as a reliable borrower, Russia would service its Eurobond obligations in the national currency, the ruble, if it were unable to pay in foreign currency.

What does being in default mean for a country?

Countries in default cannot borrow money cheaply through international financial institutions because they are considered a risk.

How does that impact Russia?

There is no reason for Moscow to issue bonds. The country runs a low debt of around 16% of GDP, because it traditionally doesn’t rely heavily on borrowing. In comparison, most Western countries run debts close or well over to 100% of their GDP.

How much damage does a default do to the country’s economy?

In terms of the Western financial system, it doesn’t matter. Sanctions make it impossible for Russia to trade as it used to. Most Western companies have pulled out and borrowing money from Western financial institutions is not possible. This makes Russia’s credit rating in the West meaningless.

How does this impact Russia’s remaining trade partners?

In terms of China, India and other major partners it has no negative effect. Russia’s trade with its BRICS partners has grown by almost 40% in the first quarter of 2022 from the $164 billion reached last year. Russia’s trade partners have been eager to replace Western businesses in Russia.

What are Moscow’s alternatives to borrowing in Western institutions?

Financial institutions, such as the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), which was established by the member states Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, with the aim of financing infrastructure and development projects in emerging nations, could be a good option for Russia.

What’s the potential fallout?

The West denies that a possible Russian default could have the kind of impact on global financial markets and institutions that came from an earlier default on domestic debt in 1998. Back then, Russia’s default on ruble bonds pushed the US government to step in and get banks to bail out a major American hedge fund whose collapse, it was feared, could have shaken the wider financial system.

However, investment analysts acknowledge that holders of Russian bonds could take serious losses as a result of Western actions and file lawsuits against the US government, which prevented Russia’s dollar payments. Moscow points out that attempts to push Russia into default only undermines the reputation of the Western financial system.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section.

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