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UKRAINE WRAP | Ukraine's president names telecoms expert head of occupied southern region

04 August 2022 - 06:20 By TimesLIVE
A member of the Ukrainian National Guard jumps into a trench at a position near a front line, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on August 3 2022.
A member of the Ukrainian National Guard jumps into a trench at a position near a front line, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on August 3 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy

August 04 2022 — 20:28

Ukraine's president names telecoms expert head of occupied southern region

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appointed a senior official from a Ukrainian telecommunications institute as governor of the mostly Russian-occupied southern region of Kherson on Thursday, his office said.

The new governor, Yaroslav Yanushevych, for the last six years had been an adviser to the head of Ukraine's state radio frequencies institute. His experience there, the president's office said, "would be useful in the performance of the tasks set before him as head of the important region."

Ukraine has vowed to mount a major counteroffensive against Russia in Kherson.

Following its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, Russia transferred the mobile network in Kherson to Russia's cellular grid and dialling code. Ukraine accused Moscow in May of conducting "a shutdown of all communications" there. 

-Reuters

August 04 2022 — 18:49

In handcuffs and in tears, Griner says: 'I love my family'

 U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner said "I love my family" as she was led out of a Russian courtroom in handcuffs after being jailed for nine years on drugs charges, a Reuters reporter at the court said.

Her voice quavering and visibly in tears, Griner said she understood the sentence before being led away.

Outside the courtroom, Griner's lawyer Maria Blagovolina said: "She is very upset, very stressed. She can hardly talk. It's a difficult time for her."

"When we saw Brittney on Tuesday, we told her 'see you on Thursday'. She said, 'see you on doomsday. So it looks like she was right," Blagovolina said.

Griner was convicted on charges of drugs possession and smuggling after she entered Russia with cannabis-infused vape cartridges. During her closing remarks, she said it had been "an honest mistake". 

-Reuters

August 04 2022 — 17:49

Brittney Griner sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia

A Russian court on Thursday sentenced US basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years prison on drugs charges, after finding her guilty of narcotics possession and smuggling for bringing cannabis-infused vape cartridges into Russia.

August 04 2022 — 17:24

US basketball star Griner says bringing cannabis into Russia was 'an honest mistake'

US basketball star Brittney Griner says bringing cannabis into Russia was “an honest mistake” after a Moscow court found her guilty of drugs charges.

August 04 2022 — 15:14

Russian finance ministry concerned about corporate holdings of 'unfriendly' FX - TASS

The Russian finance ministry said on Thursday it shares the central bank's concerns that Russian companies have holdings in currencies of designated "unfriendly" countries, TASS state news agency reported.

The central bank on Thursday recommended that the government order state companies to transfer their FX holdings in currencies of countries that have targeted Moscow with sanctions to those of countries that have not.

Reuters 

August 04 2022 — 14:50

Russia summons Norwegian ambassador after 'Russophobic' comments

Russia's foreign ministry summoned Norway's ambassador to Moscow on Thursday in protest at what it called the Norwegian consul in Murmansk's "offensive Russophobic comments".

Footage on Russian social media showed what it said was the consul appearing to say "I hate Russians". Reuters was unable to immediately verify the footage.

The ambassador repeated the Norwegian foreign ministry's apology, and reiterated that the employee's words in no way reflect Norwegian policy or Norwegian attitudes towards Russia or the Russian people," the foreign ministry in Oslo said.

Norway in June temporarily closed its Murmansk consulate and does not currently have any diplomats in the city.

Reuters 

August 04 2022 — 12:10

Petropavlovsk to sell Russian assets for $600m to UMMC

Russian miner Petropavlovsk has agreed to sell its domestic subsidiaries and a majority of its other units to metal producer UMMC-Invest for $600m, after a months-long crisis set off by Western sanctions over the Ukraine invasion.

Petropavlovsk went into administration in July after sanctions on Gazprombank, its main lender and the sole buyer of its gold, left it unable to repay loans, making it one of the most high-profile Russian corporate casualties of the Ukraine situation.

The Ukraine invasion, which Moscow terms "a special military operation", led to Western sanctions that made doing business in Russia more difficult. The miner's extensive commercial and financial relationship with Gazprombank created particular challenging since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The company in a separate statement said administrators expect the sale proceeds will be sufficient to pay creditors in full but without any return for shareholders.

Petropavlovsk owned one of the only two plants in Russia which extract gold and other metals from "refractory" or difficult to process ore, and it is this asset being bought by UMMC, or Ural Mining Metallurgical Co, which is arguably the defunct company's most valuable asset.

Kommersant business daily had reported in May that UMMC was considering buying Petropavlovsk's assets.

Gazprombank had assigned all its rights under the term loan to UMMC.

Founded nearly 30 years ago by British businessman Peter Hambro and Russia's Pavel Maslovskiy as Peter Hambro Mining — and renamed Petropavlovsk in 2009 — the miner became one of the largest gold producers operating in the Russian Far East.

Petropavlovsk said the sale is conditional on a number of matters but should be completed by September 30.

Reuters 

August 04 2022 — 12:00

Ukrainian shelling kills 5 in Donetsk, Russian-backed separatists say

At least five people were killed and six injured on Thursday when Ukrainian forces shelled Donetsk, a Ukrainian city held by Russian-backed separatists, officials in the breakaway region said.

Footage on social media showed bodies, some blown apart, lying beside a road in central Donetsk. Blood stained the pavement.

The Donetsk People's Republic said in a statement that 5 people had been killed and 6 injured during shelling of the city's Voroshilovsky district.

Reuters could not immediately verify battlefield reports.

Donetsk city has been controlled by Russian-backed proxies since 2014, but the Ukrainian army continues to hold positions on the city's outskirts. Since the beginning of full-scale war on February 24, Donetsk city has come under artillery fire multiple times. 

Reuters

August 04 2022 — 11:55

Russian shelling kills eight in eastern town of Toretsk: Ukrainian governor

Eight people were killed and four were wounded in Russian artillery shelling in the eastern Ukrainian town of Toretsk in Donetsk region on Thursday, the regional governor said.

The shelling hit a public transport stop where people had gathered, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram.

Three children were among the wounded, he said. 

Reuters

August 04 2022 — 11:27

Ukrainian diaspora 'boosts data usage' for Mobile operator Veon

Mobile operator Veon reported a 5.6% rise in second-quarter revenue on Thursday, driven by a rising number of subscribers and Ukrainian refugees' data usage, coupled with an inflationary pricing strategy.

Although the firm has been facing geopolitical uncertainties amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which investors feared could put pressure on cash flow as both countries account for its most profitable markets, it still saw a strong ramp-up in revenues in the three months ending in June.

The Amsterdam-listed company recorded revenues of $2bn in the three months to June 30, compared with $1.9bn a year earlier.

In Ukraine, where Veon operates the biggest cell phone provider Kyivstar, the 4G customer base grew 11.9%, while in Russia, its biggest market where it operates the Beeline mobile brand, reported a revenue increase of 12.2%.

"For us Ukraine is a network that needs to run at all costs," chief executive officer Kaan Terzioglu said in an interview.  "Six-million Ukrainians have been out of the country in roaming conditions and their utilisation of voice and data has increased 16 times during this time."

He noted that two employees have been killed in Ukraine because of the conflict.

Russia's capital controls are impacting international cash transfers but Terzioglu said Veon's operations self-sufficiency allows the company to finance activity at its country units through money earned locally.

Terzioglu said that the company, which reported $2.4 billion in cash, does not plan to take money out of Russia. "They will be very cash rich, local operation," he said.

The company said it will continue to monitor the situation in Russia and Ukraine and assess the need for potential impairment charges.

Reuters 

August 04 2022 — 10:49

With eye on Russia, US Senate backs Finland and Sweden joining Nato

The US Senate approved on Wednesday Finland and Sweden's accession to Nato, the most significant expansion of the 30-member alliance since the 1990s as it responds to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Senate voted 95 to 1 to support ratification of accession documents, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority of 67 votes required to support ratification of the two countries' accession documents.

“This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to Nato, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Sweden and Finland applied for Nato membership in response to the February 24 invasion. Russia has repeatedly warned both countries against joining the alliance.

Nato's 30 allies signed the accession protocol for them last month, allowing them to join the US-led nuclear-armed alliance once its members ratify the decision.

At that point, Helsinki and Stockholm were able to participate in Nato meetings and have greater access to intelligence, but were not protected by Article Five, the Nato defence clause stating that an attack on one ally is an attack against all.

The accession must be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 North Atlantic Treaty Organization members before Finland and Sweden can be protected by the defence clause.

Ratification could take up to a year, though it has already been approved by a few countries, including Canada, Germany and Italy.

Senators from both parties strongly endorsed membership for the two countries, describing them as important allies whose modern militaries already worked closely with Nato.

“The qualifications of these two prosperous, democratic nations are outstanding and will serve to strengthen the Nato alliance,” said Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, urging support before the vote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invited the ambassadors and other diplomats from Finland and Sweden to the Senate to watch the vote.

Republican Senator Josh Hawley was the lone no vote. Republican Senator Rand Paul voted present.

Reuters

August 04 2022 — 08:45

Russia's ambassador to Japan pays respects at Hiroshima

Russia's ambassador to Japan paid his respects at a memorial in Hiroshima on Thursday saying he wanted to highlight Russia's efforts to reduce nuclear arms and criticising a decision not to invite him to a commemoration on Saturday, media reported.

Hiroshima became the first city to suffer an atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, and it holds a remembrance ceremony every year on the anniversary of the US attack that killed more than 140,000 people by the end of that year, regularly inviting ambassadors from some 100 countries to take part.

August 04 2022 — 06:37

Zelenskyy seeking 'direct talks' with China's Xi to help end Ukraine war- SCMP

Ukraine is seeking an opportunity to speak “directly” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help end its war with Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

In an interview with SCMP, the Ukrainian leader urged China to use its outsize political and economic influence over Russia to bring an end to the fighting.

“It's a very powerful state. It's a powerful economy ... So (it) can politically, economically influence Russia. And China is [also a] permanent member of the UN Security Council,” the report quoted Zelenskyy as saying.

Reuters

August 04 2022 — 06:20

Zelenskyy plays down first Ukraine grain shipment

The first grain ship to leave Ukraine since the Russian invasion passed through the Bosphorus Strait on its way to Lebanon. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the shipment was a fraction of the crop Kyiv must sell to salvage its economy.

August 04 2022 — 06:00

Ukraine warns of new Russian offensive; Sweden, Finland move closer to joining Nato

Ukraine said Russia had started creating a military strike force aimed at President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown of Kryvyi Rih, as Nato moved closer to the most significant expansion of the alliance in decades as it responds to the invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. Senate and the Italian parliament both approved on Wednesday Finland and Sweden's accession to the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). Under Nato membership, which must be ratified by all 30 member states, an attack on one member is an attack against all.

This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to Nato, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, has repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden against joining NATO.NATO's 30 allies signed the accession protocol last month, allowing them to join the US-led nuclear-armed alliance once its members ratify the decision.

Ratification could take up to a year.

Ukraine on Wednesday dismissed suggestions by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the five-month war and said any dialogue would be contingent on a Russian ceasefire and withdrawal of its troops.

Tentative attempts at peace talks in March went nowhere.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Thursday that Ukraine was seeking an opportunity to speak “directly” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help end the war.

In an interview with SCMP, Zelenskyy urged China to use its political and economic influence over Russia to bring an end to the fighting.

“It's a very powerful state. It's a powerful economy ... So (it) can politically, economically influence Russia. And China is (also a) permanent member of the UN Security Council,” the report quoted Zelenskyy as saying.

Ukraine on Wednesday night said Russia was engaged in considerable military activity in the east, northeast and south of the country and warned that Moscow could be preparing new offensive operations in southern Ukraine.

Dmytro Zhyvytsky, governor of Sumy region on the border with Russia, said three towns had been shelled by Russian forces on Wednesday, with a total of 55 missiles fired. There were no injuries, but homes and commercial premises were damaged.

He said eight artillery shells hit residential parts of Krasnopilska community.

Reuters was not able to verify battlefield reports.

Russia denies it targets civilians, but many towns and cities have been destroyed and thousands of civilians killed in the biggest conflict in Europe since World War 2. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russian forces of war crimes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops in Ukraine in what he said was a “special military operation” to rid the country of fascists. Ukraine and the West said Putin launched an unprovoked “imperial” land grab.

The war has sparked a global energy and food crisis. Russia and Ukraine produce about one third of global wheat and Russia is the main energy supplier to Europe.

An agreement between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, to allow safe passage of grain ships from Ukraine has been hailed as a rare diplomatic success in the war.

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain since the war started passed through the Bosphorus Strait on Wednesday.

The ship, Razoni, left Odesa on the Black Sea early on Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn to the Lebanese port of Tripoli.

A senior Turkish official said three ships could leave Ukrainian ports daily following the Razoni's departure, while Ukraine's infrastructure minister said 17 more ships had been loaded with agricultural produce and were waiting to set sail.

Reuters 


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