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UKRAINE WRAP | Ex-CIA director's prediction about who will win in Ukraine

19 June 2022 - 06:28 By TIMESLIVE
A Ukrainian serviceman sits in a trench at a position, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Luhansk region, Ukraine June 18, 2022.
A Ukrainian serviceman sits in a trench at a position, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Luhansk region, Ukraine June 18, 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva

June 19 2022 — 20:05

Hear ex-CIA director's prediction about who will win in Ukraine

David Petraeus, retired US Army general and former CIA Director, discusses where the war in Ukraine stands now and who will win.

June 19 2022 — 19:54

Germany announces steps to boost gas storage as Russia cuts supply

Germany on Sunday announced its latest steps to boost gas storage levels to prepare for the next winter season, when it fears Russia, which has cut deliveries in recent days, could reduce or even completely halt supplies.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany, which relies on Moscow for most of its gas, is seeking to fill its gas storage facilities and to phase out Russian energy imports.

Germany's Economy Ministry said the new measures would include increased reliance on coal-fired power plants as well as an auction system starting in the coming weeks to incentivise industry to consume less.

It also includes 15 billion euros ($15.8 billion) in credit lines for Germany's gas market operator, via state lender KfW, to fill gas storage facilities faster, a government source said, asking not to be named.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck said that depending on the situation, the ministry, which is in charge of security of energy supply in Europe's top economy, will take further measures.

Two people familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that could include launching the second phase under Germany's gas emergency plan.

The second phase, which kicks in when there is a high risk of long-term supply shortages of gas, would enable utilities to pass on high gas prices to customers and thereby help lower demand.

Germany's chemicals industry association VCI, which represents the sector most exposed to the gas delivery cuts, said reduced supplies had not yet caused acute problems.

The measures announced on Sunday follow a package unveiled earlier this year to provide Germany's energy companies and economy with support payments to manage the Ukraine crisis, which has led to soaring power costs.

"The tense situation and the high prices are a direct consequence of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's war of aggression on Ukraine," Habeck said in a statement."

What's more, it is obviously Putin's strategy to make us insecure, to drive up prices, and to divide us. We will not let that happen. We will fight back decisively, precisely and thoughtfully.

"The Economy Ministry said bringing back coal-fired power plants into the mix could add up to 10 gigawatts of capacity in case of a critical gas supply situation, adding a corresponding law would go to the upper house of parliament on July 8."

That is painful, but it is a sheer necessity in this situation to reduce gas consumption," said Habeck, a member of the Green party that has pushed for a faster exit from carbon-intensive coal."

But if we don't do it, then we run the risk that the storage facilities will not be full enough at the end of the year towards the winter season. And then we are blackmailable on a political level."

Germany targets storage levels of 80% by October and 90% by November.

Data from Gas Infrastructure Europe shows German gas storage levels at 57.03% as of June 17, up from 29.69% on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine.


June 19 2022 — 15:44

Italian foreign minister accuses own party of 'immaturity' over Ukraine

 Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Sunday accused his own 5-Star Movement party of undermining government efforts to support Ukraine and weakening Rome's standing within the European Union.

His outburst could signal an imminent schism in the group he once led, with 5-Star officials due to meet later on Sunday to consider Di Maio's position following other recent broadsides.

The internal party feuding also creates problems for Prime Minister Mario Draghi as he faces an important vote in parliament on Tuesday over Ukraine, with some 5-Star members looking to limit Italy from sending further weapons to Kyiv.

Italy, like many EU countries, has been dispatching arms to Ukraine to help it battle the Russian assault.

In a statement, Di Maio said the government had to defend the values of democracy and freedom, adding that while everyone wanted peace, Russian President Vladimir Putin was pursuing war.

Against this backdrop, he said 5-Star leaders were attacking him with “hatred” and causing trouble for the government with its European partners. "(This is) an immature attitude that tends to create tensions and instability within the government,” he added.

There was no immediate comment from 5-Star leader, former prime minister Giuseppe Conte. Earlier on Sunday, one of Conte's loyalists, Riccardo Ricciardi, said Di Maio had turned on his political family and should face the consequences.5-Star is the largest political force in parliament after winning 33% of the vote in 2018 national elections. Its fortunes have however suffered since then as it lost its anti-establishment identity once in government.

Latest opinion polls put it on around 13% and it won barely 3% of the vote in local elections last weekend.

Di Maio blamed the rout on Conte, while the latter said 5-Star was paying a price for being in Draghi's broad coalition.

Party officials said he was lashing out because the 5-Star leadership had said it would enforce an old rule that its members cannot stand for re-election after two consecutive terms in parliament — a measure that would stop Di Maio from being a candidate next time around.

If Di Maio leaves the party, a band of supporters might follow him and create a breakaway party inside parliament, bringing fresh turbulence to Draghi's administration.


June 19 2022 — 14:30

Russia has assured Hungary of continued gas shipments -foreign minister

 Russia has promised to continue gas shipments to Hungary and that Gazprom will fulfil its contractual obligations to the country, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in an interview on public service radio on Sunday.

In Russia's response to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow since its invasion of Ukraine, state energy giant Gazprom has cut supplies to Denmark's Orsted (ORSTED.CO) and to Shell Energy (SHEL.L) for its contract to supply gas to Germany.

It also cut supplies to Dutch gas trader GasTerra along with Bulgaria, Poland and Finland for refusing to make payments for Russian gas in roubles under a new rouble scheme.

Szijjarto said that Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and Russia's deputy prime minister Alexander Novak had both assured him in a phone call that the company would fulfil its obligations towards Hungary set out in its contract, Szijjarto said.

The minister did not say when the phone call took place. The foreign ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Under a deal with Gazprom signed last year, Hungary receives 3.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year via Bulgaria and Serbia under its long-term deal with Russia, and a further one bcm via a pipeline from Austria.

The agreement is valid for 15 years, with an option to modify purchased quantities after 10 years.

Szijjarto also said on Sunday that Hungary's energy security, including its gas supply, is stable and that gas shipments have been arriving daily as per the contract, on schedule, and without any disruptions.

Russian gas flows to Europe fell short of demand on Friday as Italy and Slovakia reported receiving less than half of the usual volumes through the Nordstream 1 pipeline, which crosses the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany and accounts for around 40% of Russian pipeline flows to the European Union.

On Sunday Germany announced further steps to boost gas storage levels to prepare for the next winter season, when it fears Russia could reduce or even completely halt supplies.


June 19 2022 — 14:06

UK must have military capable of fighting in Europe, says army head

Britain must have a military capable of fighting in Europe and defeating Russia, the new head of the British army was quoted as telling troops by local media.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a vocal supporter of Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February, has ruled out sending British troops to help Kyiv, but warned this weekend that London would have to show support for “the long haul”.

Patrick Sanders, who took command of the British army this month, told British troops, according to the i newspaper on Sunday: “I am the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take command of the Army in the shadow of a land war in Europe involving a continental power.”

“Russia's invasion of Ukraine underlines our core purpose — to protect the UK by being ready to fight and win wars on land.” 


June 19 2022 — 13:30

Russia says eastern attack is going well, strikes Ukraine with missiles

Russia said on Sunday that its offensive against Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine was proceeding successfully after it took control of a district in the outskirts of the city.

“The offensive in the Sievierodonetsk direction is developing successfully,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in a video statement. He said the settlement of Metyolkine, on the eastern outskirts of the city, had been taken.

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue to strike military targets on the territory of Ukraine,” he said.

Konashenkov said long-range Kalibr cruise missiles struck a command centre in the Dnipropetrovsk region, killing Ukrainian generals and officers, including from the general staff.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the details or toll of Russia's strikes on Ukraine.

Russia also said it had destroyed 10 155-mm M777 howitzers and up to 20 military vehicles in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv that had been supplied by Western countries over the past 10 days.

Iskander missiles struck a Kharkiv tank repair plant in Ukraine, destroying two multiple rocket launch systems, Konashenkov said. 


June 19 2022 — 11:15

Russian troops to advance towards Kharkiv -Ukraine official

The situation north of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, is quite difficult as Russian forces have been trying to get closer to shell the city again, an official at Ukraine's interior ministry said on Sunday.”

Russia is trying to make Kharkiv a front line city,” Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to the interior minister, told Ukraine's national television. 


June 19 2022 — 10:00

Blast rocks area near Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, say Russian separatists

 A big explosion rocked an area near the besieged Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk on Saturday and a large orange-coloured cloud could be seen rising into the air, a Russian-backed representative said.

Rodion Miroshnik, an official in the self-styled separatist administration of the Luhansk People's Republic, posted a video of what he said was the cloud on the Telegram messaging app.

Miroshnik said he could not tell whether the blast had occurred in the city or near it.

Sievierodonetsk — which Russian troops have been shelling for weeks — is home to the Azot chemical plant, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering.


June 19 2022 — 06:23

Russia's war in Ukraine could last years, Nato's Stoltenberg says

Russia's war in Ukraine could take years, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a German weekly newspaper, adding that the supply of state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would increase the chance of liberating the Donbas region from Russian control.

“We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told Bild am Sonntag.

“Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices.”

A NATO summit in Madrid later this month is expected to agree an assistance package for Ukraine that will help the country with the move from old Soviet-era weaponry to NATO standard gear, Stoltenberg said earlier this week.

Ukraine vowed on Saturday to prevail against Moscow as it fought Russian assaults near a key eastern city and multiple locations came under shell and missile attack.

Russian forces were defeated in an attempt to storm Ukraine's capital Kyiv in March. Russia has since refocused on the Donbas region in the eastern part of Ukraine. 



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