Putin looks to expand ties with North Korea
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly sent a message of friendship to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in which he expressed his wish for Russia and North Korea to deepen relations.
North Korea’s state media outlet KCNA reported on Sunday that Putin had sent the North Korean leader a congratulatory telegram for North Korea’s Liberation Day, on Monday, in which he expressed a will to “continue to expand the comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations” between the countries.
A deepening of such ties would, Putin reportedly wrote, help “strengthen the security and stability of the Korean peninsula and the Northeastern Asian region.”
Kim then reportedly sent a reply to Putin in which he noted that a North Korean-Russian friendship had been forged in World War II with victory over Japan.
The “strategic and tactical cooperation, support and solidarity between the two countries,” Kim said, united them against what he called “hostile forces’ military threat and provocation, and high-handed and arbitrary practices.”
The North Korean leader did not give any more detail on which countries he was alluding to, but North Korea frequently lambasts the West.
North Korea, a secretive, closed and authoritarian country, is among only a handful of states that have openly supported Russia’s war in Ukraine and officially recognized the independence of two breakaway pro-Russian regions in east Ukraine.
— Holly Ellyatt
The West calls on Russia to withdraw forces from Ukrainian nuclear power plant
The U.S., U.K., EU and other countries have called on Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and all of Ukraine.
“We urge the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorized personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions,” said a joint statement published on Sunday on the website of the EU Delegation to the International Organizations in Vienna.
The statement, endorsed by 42 countries, said Russia’s control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant — Europe’s largest nuclear power plant — “poses a great danger” to the international tenets regarding nuclear safety and security, as outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“Deployment of Russian military personnel and weaponry at the nuclear facility is unacceptable and disregards the safety, security, and safeguards principles that all members of the IAEA have committed to respect,” the statement said.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and there was widespread consternation when Russian forces captured the unit on March 4, with reports of military equipment and ammunition being placed there.
Russian and Ukrainian forces have accused each other of shelling the power plant in recent weeks, raising fears of a catastrophic incident at the plant.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ship bearing 23,000 tonnes of wheat prepares to leave Ukraine port
Another grain ship is preparing to leave Ukraine on Monday, this time heading for Ethiopia.
Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Sunday on Facebook that more than 23,000 tonnes of wheat had been loaded onto the “Brave Commander” bulk carrier at the port of Pivdenny, and that the ship was due to leave dock on Monday.
“Today we see how the initiative on the safe transportation of grain and agricultural products, signed in Istanbul, works. On Friday, the Brave Commander, a ship chartered by the UN World Food Program (WFP), arrived at the port of Pivdenny for loading. Now we can see the ship finally preparing for its departure, carrying more than 23,000 tonnes of wheat to the people of Ethiopia,” the minister said.
Grain ships have begun to leave Ukraine tentatively following a deal between Russia and Ukraine, and brokered by the U.N. and Turkey, to allow ships bearing vital produce like wheat to be allowed to leave Ukrainian ports following a blockade of such shipping during the war which has exacerbated a rise in global food prices.
— Holly Ellyatt
Foreign fighters to stand trial in pro-Russian ‘republic’ in Ukraine
Three British citizens, a Swedish citizen and a Croatian citizen who fought for the Ukrainian armed forces are expected to face a criminal trial Monday.
“The court hearing is scheduled for August 15, it will be held behind closed doors,” said Russian state news agency Interfax last week, citing a court representative.
Swedish citizen Matthias Gustavsson, Croatian Vekoslav Prebeg, and British citizens John Harding, Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy will be standing trial in the “Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” a pro-Russian breakaway region in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.
If the court — widely seen as a kangaroo court in the West — finds the defendants guilty, they may face the death penalty.
— Holly Ellyatt
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