Перший заступник голови Верховної Ради пояснив, чому відрядження Порошенка скасували

За словами Олександра Корнієнка, відрядження Порошенка скасували після отримання листа з грифом «Для службового користування»

Міноборони: уряд цифровізує обмін документами для проходження пораненими військовими ВЛК

За даними Міноборони, систему електронного документообігу розгорнули в більшості військових частин, ТЦК та військових госпіталях

Світовий банк затвердив пакет допомоги на 1,2 мільярда доларів для соцвиплат в Україні

«Проєкт забезпечить фінансування 29 видів соціальних виплат найбільш вразливим верствам населення України»

ISW: «воєнкори» в РФ скаржаться на бюрократію, що заважає використанню дронів на Херсонщині

Інститут раніше повідомляв про скарги «воєнкорів» на проблеми на східному березі Херсонщини, але зазначає: вони не конче призводять до значних наслідків на полі бою

США співпрацюють з Україною, щоб підготуватися до очікуваних атак Росії взимку – Кірбі

«Ми можемо і повинні зробити більше, щоб Україна була в найкращому становищі для захисту себе та своєї енергетичної інфраструктури протягом зими» – Джон Кірбі

British Documentary Alleges China Influences Universities, Spies on Hong Kongers in UK

A BBC Channel 4 documentary, “Secrets and Power: China in the UK,” claims the Chinese government is interfering with academic freedom and spying on Hong Kong activists in the United Kingdom.

The 49-minute film released Wednesday alleges that the University of Nottingham used a Beijing-approved curriculum in classes taught on a satellite campus in Ningbo and closed its School of Contemporary Chinese Studies under pressure from Beijing. 

The program also claims a professor at the Imperial College London collaborated with researchers at a Chinese university on the use of artificial intelligence weaponry that could be used to benefit the Chinese military. Both institutions deny the allegations. 

The film also alleges that Chinese government agents pretending to be journalists used fake profiles and avatars to target Hong Kong activists now living in the U.K. 

VOA Mandarin sent an email to the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom seeking comments on the claims in the documentary but has not received a response.  

Nations track China’s influence

The documentary comes as other nations, including the U.S., are monitoring China’s influence on campuses (( https://www.voanews.com/a/us-officials-warn-of-chinese-influence-in-american-higher-education/4600204.html )) and its so-called “overseas police centers,” purportedly intended to help Chinese diaspora and tourists with everyday problems. 

VOA has previously quoted human rights groups saying the outposts are in fact part of a complex global surveillance and control web that gives Beijing reach far beyond China’s borders. 

The University of Nottingham was approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education to open a campus in Ningbo, China, in 2004. On the China campus, all courses are taught in English and students are awarded the same degrees as on the U.K. campus.  

Professor Stephen Morgan, the former vice provost for planning at the Ningbo campus, said in the documentary that books and articles on campus are censored by local Communist Party officials.  

According to Morgan, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also encouraged students to spy on their teachers. He said he was forced to resign from his management position after writing a blog criticizing constitutional changes that enabled President Xi Jinping to serve a third term. The CCP secretary at the Ningbo campus deemed the blog “totally unacceptable,” he said. 

Steve Tsang is director of the China Institute at SOAS London and a former director of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, which closed in 2016. 

Tsang, an outspoken critic of the CCP, said in the documentary that University of Nottingham administrators told him not to speak with media when Xi visited the U.K. in 2015. Tsang also said the university did not allow him to host a senior Taiwanese politician who planned to deliver a speech in 2014.  

School denies taking political action

The University of Nottingham has denied that the closure of its Institute of Contemporary China was for political reasons and denied Channel 4’s allegations about Nottingham’s Ningbo campus. 

“We do not recognize the description of the University of Nottingham’s Ningbo campus. Any U.K. organization operating overseas … must comply with the laws and customs of the host country.”  

The documentary alleges that Imperial College London’s collaboration with researchers from Shanghai University included the publication of several papers on the military applications of artificial intelligence. The work was overseen by Guo Yike, director of Imperial College’s Institute of Data Science. 

According to a report in the English newspaper The Telegraph, Imperial College said staff have a “clear code of research” and insisted that due diligence and regular reviews of partners have been done. 

The Chinese Embassy in London also denied to The Telegraph in the same article that it had interfered in the running of British universities, saying the allegation was “aimed at discrediting and smearing China.”  

Film alleges China targets activists

A study prepared by the British think tank Civitas and released this month in parliament found that a number of British universities have received significant funding from organizations linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) over the past five years. 

The documentary alleges Hong Kong activists who have taken refuge in Britain appear to be the targets of sophisticated Chinese government espionage. 

It follows the case of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Finn Lau, who said he had been repeatedly approached by fake journalists and feared being followed. In July, Hong Kong offered a bounty equal to $128,000 for Lau’s arrest. Seven others were also targeted.

According to the documentary, an American man who taught English in Shanghai pretended to be a journalist working for a Canadian media outlet and used a false avatar and profile to ask Lau for information about pro-democracy activities. When the American was asked by a Channel 4 reporter for his real name and those of his superiors, he hung up the video call.  

Hungary Says It Opposes EU Membership Talks With Ukraine

Hungary will not support any European Union proposal to begin talks on making Ukraine a member of the bloc, a government minister said Thursday. 

Gergely Gulyas, the chief of staff to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said at a news conference in Budapest that it was premature to begin formal talks with Kyiv on the war-ravaged country joining the EU, and that Hungary would not consent to opening the discussions when EU leaders meet in mid-December. 

“We are dealing with a completely premature proposal,” Gulyas said, adding that Hungary “cannot contribute to a common decision” on inviting Ukraine to begin the process of joining the bloc. 

Earlier this month, the EU’s executive arm recommended allowing Ukraine to open membership talks once it addresses governance issues that include corruption, lobbying concerns, and restrictions that might prevent national minorities from studying and reading in their own languages. 

But unanimity among all EU member nations is required on matters involving admission of a new country, giving the nationalist Orban a powerful veto. 

His government has long taken an antagonistic approach to Ukraine, arguing vehemently against EU sanctions on Russia over its invasion and holding up financial aid packages to Kyiv. 

Orban, widely considered one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies in Europe, has argued that accession negotiations should not begin with a country that is at war, and that Ukraine’s membership would reorient the system the 27-nation European Union uses to distribute funds to member countries. 

Earlier this month, Orban said that Ukraine is “light years” from joining the bloc, further signaling that his government would be a major obstacle to Kyiv’s ambitions at next month’s meeting of EU heads of state and government in Brussels. 

On Thursday, Gulyas also said Hungary would not support proposed amendments to the EU’s budget, part of which would provide 50 billion euros ($54.5 billion) in long-term aid to Kyiv. 

He said the EU was “illegally” withholding funds from Hungary, and that the government would consequently decline to support any budget amendment. 

The EU froze billions in funding to Budapest over the alleged failures of Orban’s government to adhere to EU rule-of-law and corruption standards. 

Hungary insists it doesn’t link the frozen EU funds to other issues, but many in Brussels see its veto threats regarding aid and Ukraine’s membership as an attempt to blackmail the bloc into releasing the withheld funds. 

As Closings Continue, Britain’s Church Buildings Find New Purpose

More than 2,000 of Britain’s churches of several denominations have closed in the last decade. Many have been demolished, but as Umberto Aguiar reports from London, some are finding new life and are being used for purposes other than religion. Marcus Harton narrates. Camera: Umberto Aguiar.

Bloomberg: ЄС представить план щодо прибутків від заморожених російських активів 12 грудня

За даними агентства, у проєкті плану буде роз’яснено, що пропозиція ЄС не передбачає втручання в національні податки чи інші заходи

Shane MacGowan, Lead Singer of The Pogues, Dies at 65

Shane MacGowan, the boozy, rabble-rousing singer and chief songwriter of The Pogues, who infused traditional Irish music with the energy and spirit of punk, died Thursday, his family said. He was 65.

MacGowan’s songwriting and persona made him an iconic figure in contemporary Irish culture, and some of his compositions have become classics — most notably the bittersweet Christmas ballad “Fairytale of New York,” which Irish President Michael D. Higgins said “will be listened to every Christmas for the next century or more.”

“It is with the deepest sorrow and heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our most beautiful, darling and dearly beloved Shane MacGowan,” his wife Victoria Clarke, his sister Siobhan and father Maurice said in a statement.

The singer died peacefully with his family by his side, the statement added.

The musician had been hospitalized in Dublin for several months after being diagnosed with viral encephalitis in late 2022. He was discharged last week, ahead of his upcoming birthday on Christmas Day.

The Pogues melded Irish folk and rock ‘n’ roll into a unique, intoxicating blend, though MacGowan became as famous for his sozzled, slurred performances as for his powerful songwriting.

His songs blended the scabrous and the sentimental, ranging from carousing anthems to snapshots of life in the gutter to unexpectedly tender love songs. The Pogues’ most famous song, “Fairytale of New York” is a tale of down-on-their-luck immigrant lovers that opens with the decidedly unfestive words: “It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank.” The duet between the raspy-voiced MacGowan and the velvet tones of the late Kirsty MacColl is by far the most beloved Pogues song in both Ireland and the U.K.

Singer-songwriter Nick Cave called Shane MacGowan “a true friend and the greatest songwriter of his generation.”

Higgins, the Irish president, said “his songs capture within them, as Shane would put it, the measure of our dreams.”

“His words have connected Irish people all over the globe to their culture and history, encompassing so many human emotions in the most poetic of ways,” Higgins said.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said MacGowan’s songs “beautifully captured the Irish experience, especially the experience of being Irish abroad.”

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald said: “Nobody told the Irish story like Shane — stories of emigration, heartache, dislocation, redemption, love and joy.”

Born on Christmas Day 1957 in England to Irish parents, MacGowan spent his early years in rural Ireland before the family moved back to London. Ireland remained the lifelong center of his imagination and his yearning. He grew up steeped in Irish music absorbed from family and neighbors, along with the sounds of rock, Motown, reggae and jazz.

He attended the elite Westminster School in London, from which he was expelled, and spent time in a psychiatric hospital after a breakdown in his teens.

MacGowan embraced the punk scene that exploded in Britain in the mid-1970s. He joined a band called the Nipple Erectors, performing under the name Shane O’Hooligan, before forming The Pogues alongside musicians including Jem Finer and Spider Stacey.

The Pogues — shortened from the original name Pogue Mahone, a rude Irish phrase — fused punk’s furious energy with traditional Irish melodies and instruments including banjo, tin whistle and accordion.

“It never occurred to me that you could play Irish music to a rock audience,” MacGowan recalled in “A Drink with Shane MacGowan,” a 2001 memoir co-authored with Clarke. “Then it finally clicked. Start a London Irish band playing Irish music with a rock and roll beat. The original idea was just to rock up old ones but then I started writing.”

The band’s first album, “Red Roses for Me,” was released in 1984 and featured raucous versions of Irish folk songs alongside originals including “Boys from the County Hell,” “Dark Streets of London” and “Streams of Whisky.”

Playing pubs and clubs in London and beyond, the band earned a loyal following and praise from music critics and fellow musicians from Bono to Bob Dylan.

MacGowan wrote many of the songs on the next two albums, “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash” (1985) and “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” (1988), ranging from rollicking rousers like the latter album’s title track to ballads like “A Pair of Brown Eyes” and “The Broad Majestic Shannon.”

The band also released a 1986 EP, “Poguetry in Motion,” which contained two of MacGowan’s finest songs, “A Rainy Night in Soho” and “The Body of an American.” The latter featured prominently in early-2000s TV series “The Wire,” sung at the wakes of Baltimore police officers.

“I wanted to make pure music that could be from any time, to make time irrelevant, to make generations and decades irrelevant,” he recalled in his memoir.

The Pogues were briefly on top of the world, with sold-out tours and appearances on U.S. television, but the band’s output and appearances grew more erratic, due in part to MacGowan’s struggles with alcohol and drugs. He was fired by the other band members in 1991 after they became fed up with a string of no-shows, including when The Pogues were opening for Dylan. The band briefly replaced MacGowan with Clash frontman Joe Strummer before breaking up.

MacGowan performed with a new band, Shane MacGowan and the Popes, with whom he put out two albums: “The Snake” in 1995 and “The Crock Of Gold” in 1997. He reunited with The Pogues in 2001 for a series of concerts and tours, despite his well-documented problems with drinking and performances that regularly included slurred lyrics and at least one fall on stage.

MacGowan had years of health problems and used a wheelchair after breaking his pelvis a decade ago. He was long famous for his broken, rotten teeth until receiving a full set of implants in 2015 from a dental surgeon who described the procedure as “the Everest of dentistry.”

MacGowan received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish president on his 60th birthday. The occasion was marked with a celebratory concert at the National Concert Hall in Dublin with performers including Bono, Nick Cave, Sinead O’Connor and Johnny Depp.

Clarke wrote on Instagram that “there’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world.”

“I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures,” she wrote.

Russia’s Supreme Court Effectively Outlaws LGBTQ+ Activism in Landmark Ruling

Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday effectively outlawed LGBTQ+ activism, in the most drastic step against advocates of gay, lesbian and transgender rights in the increasingly conservative country.

In a statement announcing a lawsuit filed to the court earlier this month, the Justice Ministry argued that authorities had identified “signs and manifestations of an extremist nature” by an LGBTQ+ “movement” operating in Russia, including “incitement of social and religious discord,” although it offered no details or evidence. In its ruling, the court declared the “movement” to be extremist and banned it in Russia.

The hearing took place behind closed doors and with no defendant. Multiple rights activists have pointed out that the lawsuit targeted the “international civic LGBT movement,” which is not an entity but rather a broad and vague definition that would allow Russian authorities to crack down on any individuals or groups deemed to be part of the “movement.”

“Despite the fact that the Justice Ministry demands to label a nonexistent organization — ‘the international civic LGBT movement’ — extremist, in practice it could happen that the Russian authorities, with this court ruling at hand, will enforce it against LGBTQ+ initiatives that work in Russia, considering them a part of this civic movement,” Max Olenichev, a human rights lawyer who works with the Russian LGBTQ+ community, told The Associated Press ahead of the hearing.

Some LGBTQ+ activists have said they sought to become a party to the lawsuit, arguing that it concerns their rights, but were rejected by the court. The Justice Ministry has not responded to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

The Supreme Court ruling is the latest step in a decadelong crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia begun under President Vladimir Putin, who has put “traditional family values” at the cornerstone of his rule.

In 2013, the Kremlin adopted the first legislation restricting LGBTQ+ rights, known as the “gay propaganda” law, banning any public endorsement of “nontraditional sexual relations” among minors. In 2020, constitutional reforms pushed through by Putin to extend his rule by two more terms also included a provision to outlaw same-sex marriage.

After sending troops into Ukraine in 2022, the Kremlin ramped up its comments about protecting “traditional values” from what it called the West’s “degrading” influence, in what rights advocates saw as an attempt to legitimize the war. That same year, the authorities adopted a law banning propaganda of “nontraditional sexual relations” among adults, also, effectively outlawing any public endorsement of LGBTQ+ people.

Another law passed earlier this year prohibited gender transitioning procedures and gender-affirming care for transgender people. The legislation prohibited any “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person,” as well as changing one’s gender in official documents and public records. It also amended Russia’s Family Code by listing gender change as a reason to annul a marriage and adding those “who had changed gender” to a list of people who can’t become foster or adoptive parents.

“Do we really want to have here, in our country, in Russia, ‘Parent No. 1, No. 2, No. 3’ instead of ‘mom’ and ‘dad?'” Putin said in September 2022. “Do we really want perversions that lead to degradation and extinction to be imposed in our schools from the primary grades?”

Authorities have rejected accusations of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. Earlier this month, Russian media quoted Andrei Loginov, a deputy justice minister, as saying that “the rights of LGBT people in Russia are protected” legally. Loginov spoke in Geneva, while presenting a report on human rights in Russia to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and argued that “restraining public demonstration of non-traditional sexual relationships or preferences is not a form of censure for them.” 

Зеленський обговорив оборонні питання з головами урядів Німеччини та Британії

Президент України Володимир Зеленський провів у четвер телефонні розмови з канцлером Німеччини Олафом Шольцем та прем’єр-міністром Великої Британії Ріші Сунаком, інформує сайт Офісу президента.

«Глава держави подякував співрозмовнику за потужний «зимовий» оборонний пакет від Німеччини, який містить чотири системи IRIS-T. Сторони обговорили подальшу оборонну співпрацю. Президент також висловив подяку за багаторічну програму фінансової допомоги від Німеччини», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Повідомляється, що йшлося і про ситуацію на полі бою, ситуацію в Чорному морі, функціонування «зернового коридору» тощо.

Крім того, Зеленський у розмові з Ріші Сунаком обговорив пріоритетні потреби для посилення оборонних спроможностей ЗСУ і зміцнення повітряного щита.

«Володимир Зеленський і Ріші Сунак відзначили важливість проведеної в жовтні зустрічі радників із питань національної безпеки та зовнішньої політики на Мальті та обговорили подальші кроки з імплементації української формули миру», – йдеться в повідомленні ОПУ.

Публічних деталей про бесіди від німецької і британської сторін наразі немає.

Останніми днями Зеленський здійснює виїзди у регіони, сьогодні побував на Куп’янському напрямку в Харківській області, вчора був на Одещині.

В уряді Угорщини заявили, що не погодяться на початок переговорів про членство України в ЄС

За словами Ґерґея Ґуяша, міністра-керівника апарату прем’єра, Угорщина не погодиться розпочати дискусії під час зустрічі лідерів ЄС у середині грудня

German Court Sentences Gambian Death Squad Member to Life in Prison

A German court on Thursday sentenced a Gambian man to life in prison over his participation in a death squad that assassinated opponents of former dictator Yahya Jammeh, including an AFP journalist.

Bai Lowe was convicted of crimes against humanity, murder and attempted murder for his role as a driver for the hit squad known as the Junglers.

Prosecutors had asked judges at the court in the northern town of Celle to hand a life sentence to Lowe, who denies the charges against him.

The Junglers unit was “used by the then-president of The Gambia to carry out illegal killing orders, among other things” with the aim of “intimidating the Gambian population and suppressing the opposition”, according to federal prosecutors.

The list of alleged crimes includes the 2004 killing of AFP correspondent Deyda Hydara, who was gunned down in his car on the outskirts of the Gambian capital Banjul on December 16, 2004.

Lowe was found to have helped to stop Hydara’s car and drove one of the killers in his own vehicle.

The trial, which began last year, is “the first to tackle human rights violations committed in The Gambia during the Jammeh era on the basis of universal jurisdiction,” according to Human Rights Watch.

The legal principle allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, regardless of where they were committed.

Journalist killing

Hydara was an editor and co-founder of the independent daily The Point and a correspondent for AFP for more than 30 years.

The father-of-four also worked as a Gambia correspondent for the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and was considered a doyen among journalists in the tiny West African state.

In The Point, he wrote a widely read column, “Good morning, Mr President,” in which he expressed his views on Gambian politics.

According to investigations by RSF, Hydara was being spied on by Gambian intelligence services just before his death.

As well as having a role in Hydara’s killing, prosecutors accuse Lowe of involvement in the attempted assassination of lawyer Ousman Sillah, and the murder of Dawda Nyassi, a suspected opponent of the president.

Lowe arrived in Europe via Senegal in December 2012, saying he was seeking asylum as a political refugee who feared for his life under Jammeh.

He was detained on the charges in Germany in March 2021.

‘Long arm of the law’

The evidence against Lowe includes a telephone interview he gave in 2013 to a US-based Gambian radio station, in which he described his participation in the attacks, according to police.

In a statement read out to the court, however, Lowe said he had merely repeated what other people had told him about the facts of the case to illustrate the cruelty of Jammeh’s government.

Jammeh ruled Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years but fled the country in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to relative unknown Adama Barrow.

He refused to acknowledge the results but was forced out by a popular uprising and fled to Equatorial Guinea.

“The long arm of the law has caught up to Bai Lowe in Germany… as it will hopefully soon catch up to Jammeh himself,” said Reed Brody, a lawyer with the International Commission of Jurists who works with Jammeh’s victims.

Lowe is one of three alleged accomplices of Jammeh to be detained abroad, alongside former interior minister Ousman Sonko, under investigation in Switzerland since 2017, and another alleged former Jungler, Michael Sang Correa, indicted in June 2020 in the United States.

The Gambian government itself said earlier this year it was working with the regional ECOWAS bloc to set up a tribunal to try crimes committed under Jammeh.

Russia Pounds Ukraine’s Donetsk Region, Wounding 10

Russian missiles pounded Ukraine’s Donetsk region overnight, as concerns grew about more intense attacks from Russia as weather conditions improve.

Ten people were wounded in the missile attacks, including four children. Five other people were trapped in rubble, Ukrainian interior minister Ihor Klymenko said Thursday.

In Pokrovsk, Klymenko said a 6-month-old baby was wounded alongside boys aged 13 and 16.

“One of the shells exploded in the yard of a house where a family with two children lived. As a result of the shelling, the roof and walls of the house were destroyed, and the family was buried under the rubble,” he added.

An apartment block, nine private houses, a police station, cars and garages were also damaged.

The Donetsk industrial region, which Russia claims to have annexed last year, has seen some of the fiercest fighting in the two-year conflict.

Russia’s defense ministry said Wednesday its forces had taken control the village of Khromove, which Russia calls Artyomovskoe.

Wednesday, a day after addressing the intense fighting in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had met with military commanders and government officials in the southern part of the country after a recent storm.

He said he instructed government officials “to increase the number of repair crews and equipment to promptly restore electricity supply to people. If necessary, the State Emergency Service personnel and power engineers from other regions that have not experienced such problems with the weather will be brought in.”

Repairs are being made to Odesa’s boiler facility, which was damaged by severe weather.

Weather conditions are improving in the country this week, which is allowing Russia to ramp up its assaults, according to Ukrainian army spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun.

“The enemy has doubled its artillery fire and airstrikes. It has also intensified ground infantry attacks, and is using armored vehicles,” he said.

Oleksandr Tarnavsky, a Ukrainian commander, said Russia had “significantly increased” its activity around Avdiivka.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.   

У Єврокомісії підтвердили ймовірність санкцій проти Польщі через ситуацію на кордоні з Україною

Радіо Свобода скерувало запит до Мінінфраструктури Польщі з проханням прокоментувати, чи готові вони до можливих судових скарг із боку Єврокомісії. Відповіді наразі немає

У Кремлі озвучили дату пресконференції Путіна з підсумками за рік

Цього року пресконференція та «пряма лінія» відбудуться напередодні виборів президента

Росія не вийшла з міжнародної ізоляції, а просто маніпулює в ОБСЄ – МЗС

Росія не виходить з міжнародної ізоляції, натомість вона маніпулює та користується своїм правом консенсусу у Організації з безпеки та співробітництва в Європі (ОБСЄ). В українському Міністерстві закордонних справ вважають, що виступ очільника МЗС РФ Сергія Лаврова на засіданні організації в Скоп’є не свідчить, що РФ приймають на міжнародному рівні. Про це в ефірі Радіо Свобода (проєкт «Свобода.Ранок») заявила Еміне Джеппар, перша заступниця міністра закордонних справ України. 

«Російська Федерація сьогодні в ОБСЄ фактично бойкотує і блокує всі процеси. Нагадаю, що вона досі є членом ОБСЄ. В ОБСЄ є право консенсусу: якщо одна країна проти, то все зупиняється. Російська Федерація активно маніпулює і використовує це своє право консенсусу, блокуючи бюджетні питання, блокуючи питання головування. Нагадаю, що з 2024 року в ОБСЄ мала головувати Естонія. Росія зупинила цей процес. В ОБСЄ, оскільки Росія ще є її членом, участь Лаврова – вона не є релевантною з точки зору, що тепер Росію приймають», – сказала дипломатка.

Заступниця міністра розповіла, що попри позицію великої частини міжнародної спільноти щодо РФ, є так званий «клуб друзів». Але ці країни, на думку Еміне Джеппар, «складно назвати демократичними», а РФ є «частиною цієї екосистеми».

«По Росії, мої висновки, мої відчуття однозначні: чим далі, тим більше країн усвідомлює справжнє обличчя Російської Федерації. І, фактично терористичний режим, який сьогодні панує в цій країні. Є «клуб друзів» Російської Федерації, який буде, він і був – це Нікарагуа, Венесуела, Північна Корея, Сирія. Ті країни, які важко назвати демократичними і, в принципі, це країни, які ізольовані в світі. І Російська Федерація є частиною цієї екосистеми», – заявила заступниця міністра.

Джеппар також заперечила, що є тенденція втоми від російсько-української війни. На переконання дипломатки – це більше російський наратив. Однак в МЗС вважають, що потрібно зважати і на міжнародну ситуацію та тримати тему російської агресії проти України на порядку денному.

«Щодо втоми: і так, і ні. Я не можу сказати, що є загальна тенденція втоми. Є російський наратив, який намагається переконати, що всі втомилися від України. Є об’єктивні речі, на які ми теж маємо зважати. Наприклад, ситуація з арабо-ізраїльським конфліктом. Палестина, Газа, Ізраїль – це те що об’єктивним чином, я не хочу користуватись словами «відволікає увагу», але по факту воно так і відбувається. Це об’єктивним чином теж є частиною міжнародного порядку денного. І однозначно тут є питання того, наскільки Україна буде спроможна тримати кейс на порядку денному», – розповіла Еміне Джеппар. 

30 листопада – 1 грудня у Північній Македонії у Скоп’є проходитиме засідання Ради міністрів закордонних справ ОБСЄ.

Міністри закордонних справ України та країн Балтії скасували свої плани щодо участі у зустрічі через очікувану присутність Лаврова.

У спільній заяві міністрів закордонних справ Естонії, Латвії і Литви зауважується, що «присутність Лаврова на засіданні ОБСЄ ризикує легітимізувати Росію-агресора як законного члена нашої спільноти вільних націй, применшуючи жорстокі злочини Росії».

Сергій Лавров очолює делегацію, у складі якої близько 80 осіб.


Russia Steps Up Presence in Indian Ocean

Russia docked warships in Bangladesh for the first time in five decades earlier this month and held its first joint naval exercises with Myanmar as Moscow eyes a greater role in the Indian Ocean region and looks to bolster ties with smaller countries in Asia.

Analysts say India is not averse to Russia, its old ally and largest supplier of defense equipment, stepping up its presence in its maritime neighborhood despite New Delhi’s deepening partnership with the United States, Japan and Australia to counter China’s expanding footprint in the strategic waters.

Ignoring pressure from its Western partners, New Delhi has maintained its decades-long relationship with Moscow and taken a neutral stand on the war in Ukraine.

“India has been keen for Russia to play a more active role in the Indo-Pacific because it suits New Delhi’s larger strategic goal of what it calls a multipolar global order. New Delhi believes a multipolar Asia is key to building a multipolar world,” Praveen Donthi, Senior Analyst, India, at the International Crisis Group, told VOA. “So far it has shown skill in navigating such strategic dilemmas, for instance on the Ukraine war.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry called the naval drills held with Myanmar in the Andaman Sea from November 7 to 9 “the first Russian-Myanmar naval exercise in modern history.” Two anti-submarine ships, Admiral Tributs and Admiral Panteleyev of the Russian Pacific Fleet, participated in the exercises with a frigate and a corvette from Myanmar’s navy.

Days after the Myanmar drills, the same Russian warships docked at Bangladesh’s Chittagong Port in the Bay of Bengal – the first such visit in 50 years. The Russian embassy in Dhaka called it a “huge milestone for Russia-Bangladesh relations.”

Russia also conducted two-day naval drills with India in the Bay of Bengal last week to “strengthen naval cooperation,” according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.

“While it may seem odd for India to welcome the presence of foreign militaries in nearby waters, India won’t view Russian naval power with the same concern it would that of China,” said Michael Kugelman, Director, South Asia Institute at The Wilson Center in Washington. “India likely views this Russian presence as something that can balance out Chinese naval power in the region, making the latter less of a threat to New Delhi.”

Analysts point out that China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean in countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar over the last decade has emerged as a major strategic headache for New Delhi, which has been engaged in a bitter military standoff with Beijing along their Himalayan border since 2020. In Sri Lanka for example, where Beijing has built the Hambantota port close to India, two Chinese research vessels that India sees as “spy ships” have docked since August last year.

Since the military junta in Myanmar seized power in 2021, Moscow’s cooperation with it has been growing and Russia is now the second largest supplier of arms to Myanmar. The country is also a key market for other Russian exports.

Russia and Dhaka have traditionally had close ties and as Bangladesh’s government comes under pressure from the United States over its human rights record, it could draw closer to Moscow. Russia is building the country’s first nuclear power plant.

“Russia is trying to demonstrate to the West that even if you try to isolate us, we have our supporters in the Global South and in Asia or Africa, we are not seen as pariahs or a country to be shunned. So that is the diplomatic message that they are giving,” pointed out Sankalp Gurjar, Assistant Professor in Geopolitics and International Relations at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education.

Analysts say the appearance of Russian warships in the Indian Ocean is also motivated by its goal to be present in all “major theaters” of the world.

“The Indian Ocean has become the main theatre for the great power rivalry between the US and China. And Moscow would like to enhance its strategic presence in the region by deepening its ties with nations in the region such as Myanmar and play a consequential role,” according to Donthi.

Other analysts agree. “It’s important for Russia to show its continued capacity to project power, especially far from home. Doing so in the Indian Ocean region, where its partner China has also been increasingly present, is an added advantage for Moscow,” Kugelman said.

However, Russia’s foray into the Indian Ocean also poses a strategic dilemma for India as Moscow has been moving close to India’s bitter rival, China, since its invasion of Ukraine. That is why New Delhi will watch carefully to see what role Moscow wants to play in the Indian Ocean, which it has long viewed as its sphere of influence.

“So far, it seems Moscow simply wants to mark its presence in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean,” according to Gurjar.  “However, concern arises from the fact that China’s and Russia’s naval collaboration has been deepening. In the Western Pacific for example, both countries have been holding joint exercises and both have been assertive in their posture. If that kind of collaboration gets extended to the Indian Ocean, that would present a challenge for India,” he said. 

Колишній держсекретар США Генрі Кіссінджер помер у віці 100 років

Дипломат помер у своєму домі в штаті Коннектикут

Russia’s Lavrov Sparks Rift at European Security Meeting

Member countries are divided over the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s annual foreign ministers’ meeting on Thursday, with Baltic nations and Ukraine refusing to attend over the presence of Russia’s Sergey Lavrov.

The 57-member OSCE is the successor to a Cold War-era organization for Soviet and Western powers to engage but is now largely paralyzed by Russia’s ongoing use of the effective veto each country has.

The U.S. and its allies are seeking simultaneously to keep the OSCE alive and hold Russia to account for its invasion of Ukraine. They are attending while making a point of denouncing Moscow’s actions, a stance that some of Ukraine’s closest allies have little truck with.

“How can you talk with an aggressor who is committing genocide, full aggression against another member state, Ukraine?” Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna told reporters on Wednesday in Brussels, where he attended a NATO meeting.

Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are siding with Ukraine on the issue. Russia’s Tass news agency reported Lavrov arrived in Skopje on Wednesday after a circuitous five-hour flight that avoided the airspace of countries that have barred Russian aircraft.

Borrell addresses friction

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said he understood unease about Lavrov attending the meeting in Skopje, North Macedonia. But he said it was a chance for Lavrov to hear broad condemnation of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“Your decision to allow Lavrov to participate is in line with our common objective to keep multilateralism alive,” Borrell told North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski at a joint press conference in Skopje.

“Lavrov needs to hear again, from everyone, why Russia is being condemned and isolated,” Borrell said. “Then he will be able to come back to the Kremlin and report to the Kremlin master.”

Estonia had been due to take over the annually rotating OSCE chairmanship, but Russia blocked it for months. A last-minute deal for neutral Malta to take over the chairmanship must be formally approved at the meeting on Thursday and Friday.

Concern on support for Ukraine

The OSCE issue reflects broader diplomatic questions about Ukraine. While only Belarus regularly sides with Russia at OSCE meetings, this week’s absentees worry that Western powers’ commitment to Ukraine is wavering.

The United States has been trying to reassure them while arguing that the OSCE, which upholds standards that Russia has agreed to, is the right place to hold Moscow to account.

“First of all … we have no planned interactions with Russia. We will also not accept any return to business as usual in the midst of this aggression, which has resulted in the largest land war on the European continent since World War II,” U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter told reporters.

“A lot has been done to expose Russian atrocities, and I expect that that will be the theme, of condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, in all its forms,” he said.

It later became clear, however, that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken would attend only meetings with his counterpart from North Macedonia and other like-minded countries on Wednesday. He then left for Israel before the Ministerial Council formally began on Thursday.

The OSCE is not the only international body where the West and Russia meet. Lavrov still attends Group of 20 events around the world and the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

In terms of substance, the stakes in Skopje are low. With the chairmanship settled, the main open issue is whether four top OSCE officials, including Secretary-General Helga Schmid, will have their terms extended.

The absentee countries, however, fear that Lavrov will use the meeting as a platform.

“It just so happens that the aggressor country is having a veto, and in a sense trying to hijack the agenda of the OSCE,” said Latvian Foreign Minister Krisjanis Karins. “I think that is simply wrong.”

Ukraine Businesses Pivot to New Military Technology Production

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, drone production in the country has surged. Ukrainian businesses have shifted from manufacturing products for peacetime to producing equipment for wartime. From Kyiv, Myroslava Gongadze explains how Ukrainian ingenuity is altering the course of the war. Camera: Eugene Shynkar.

Blinken Reassures NATO Allies US Still Committed to Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads back to Israel on Thursday, where he says he will work to help prolong a cease-fire so more hostages can be released and more humanitarian aid can be delivered to Gaza. At the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Blinken tried to reassure allies of continued U.S. support for Ukraine as Kyiv prepares for another winter of fighting. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

Росія на зустрічі ОБСЄ має почути, чому її «засуджують та ізолюють» – Боррель

За словами Жозепа Борреля, і Лавров зможе повернутися до Кремля і повідомити, що ЄС і ОБСЄ «залишаються об’єднаними у засудженні щодо агресивної, протиправної поведінки Росії»

Бербок пояснила своє рішення взяти участь у засіданні ОБСЄ, попри присутність Лаврова

За її словами, на засіданні важливо протистояти «імперському божевіллю» Росії

Blinken: ‘No Fatigue’ in NATO Support of Ukraine 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday there is “strong bipartisan support” for Ukraine in the United States and sees “no sense of fatigue” among NATO allies continuing their support as the country enters its second winter of war against Russia.

“Some are questioning whether the United States and other NATO allies should continue to stand with Ukraine as we enter the second winter of Putin’s brutality. But the answer here today at NATO is clear, and it is unwavering. We must and we will continue to support Ukraine,” Blinken said during a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

Since the war began, the United States has provided about $77 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which includes humanitarian, financial and military aid, according to Blinken. He noted that Washington’s European allies have provided more than $110 billion in support of Kyiv.

‘Ultimate membership’

Ukraine’s path to NATO membership was discussed during Wednesday’s first foreign minister-level meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council. Blinken also held separate talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The top U.S. diplomat said the allies reaffirmed their policy that “Ukraine will become a member of NATO when all allies agree and when conditions are met.”

In a separate press conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the member state laid out recommendations to Ukraine’s reforms.

“Ukraine is closer to NATO than ever before. We will continue to support them on the path to membership and will continue to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” Stoltenberg told reporters at NATO headquarters.

The United States is hosting the next NATO summit in Washington from July 9 to 11, 2024. Blinken discussed priorities for the meeting with his counterparts as the alliance celebrates its 75th anniversary next year.

A senior U.S. official told reporters that a significant portion of the discussions leading up to the Washington summit would aim to ensure that Ukraine is making the necessary progress toward “ultimate membership” in NATO “when conditions are right.”

The bloc’s member states have suggested to Ukraine “a set of governance reforms,” including strengthening anti-corruption agencies and authorities.

The NATO-Ukraine Council was inaugurated at the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other heads of member governments also in attendance.

It convened for the second time in late July to discuss Black Sea security following Russia’s withdrawal from a deal overseeing grain exports from Ukrainian ports.

The third meeting was held in October to discuss substantial assistance to Ukraine and to ensure Ukraine’s forces are fully interoperable with NATO.

The NATO-Ukraine Council is the joint body where allies and Ukraine sit as equal participants to advance political dialogue.

North Macedonia

Wednesday afternoon, Blinken leads the U.S. delegation to NATO member North Macedonia, which is hosting a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, in its capital, Skopje.

Blinken said he is supporting OSCE’s “determination” to “advance European security,” despite “Russia’s flagrant violations.”

Blinken is slated to hold talks with North Macedonia Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani before heading to the Middle East later in the evening.

Bulgaria has given permission for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s plane to cross its airspace enroute to Skopje following North Macedonia’s request, allowing him to attend the OSCE ministerial meetings.

This has sparked an immediate outcry from Ukraine and the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who will boycott the gathering due to Lavrov’s expected attendance.

“We obviously respect every country’s ability to make its decision about whether they should attend or not. We think it’s a useful forum to engage with OSCE members and are going to attend for that reason,” a senior State Department official told reporters on Tuesday.

When asked if Blinken would have any encounter with Lavrov during the OSCE meetings, the official said, “We do not expect one.”

After Skopje, Blinken will make his third trip to the Middle East since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. The U.S. is seeking an extension of the Israel-Hamas truce to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza and getting more hostages released.