NEWS AND COMMENTARIES
Opinions expressed in the articles or videos do not represent the views of Polonia Institute
1. United Nations Votes to Suspend Russia From Human Rights Council
The United Nations on Thursday voted to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council following reports alleging Russian forces carried out war crimes in recent days.
Ninety-three countries voted in favor of booting Russia from the Council, while 24 voted against it and 58 abstained from voting. China, Iran, Syria, and Belarus were among those who voted against the measure.
Russia is now the second country to be removed from the Human Rights Council. In 2011, Libya was suspended in response to former strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s actions during the Arab Spring protests, which turned into a movement to overthrow his government.
2. Russia will defend its interests, Kremlin says after UN human rights body suspension
Russia will continue to defend its interests, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday after the United Nations suspended Moscow’s membership in its Human Rights Council over the invasion of Ukraine.
[…] The Kremlin spokesman conceded that Russian troops have suffered “significant losses” in Ukraine.
“We have suffered significant losses of troops. This is a huge tragedy for us,” he said, without specifying a death toll.
3. Russia says Ukraine gave ‘unacceptable’ draft peace proposal
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Kyiv had presented Moscow with a draft peace deal that contained “unacceptable” elements, but that Russia would nonetheless continue talks and press to secure its own requirements.
4. Ukraine Calls for More Arms as It Girds for Heavier Fighting Against Russia in the East
Ukrainian officials called for more weapons to fight Russia as both sides mobilize forces in the east for what are expected to be some of the fiercest battles of the war so far.
At a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels on Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba underscored his country’s need for a sustainable supply of arms to counter Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas area.
5. Zelensky trying to provoke conflict between NATO and Russia: Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not rule out that Ukraine President Vladimir Zelensky is trying to provoke a conflict between Russia and NATO, as evidenced by his “militaristic frenzy”.
6. Senate Votes to End Normal Trade Relations, Oil Imports With Russia
The Senate on Thursday morning voted to end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and to bar Russian oil imports into the United States in response to the nations’ invasion of Ukraine.
The bill to end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus passed in a 100–0 vote, a rare event in increasingly divided Washington. The bill to ban Russian imports of oil also was approved in a 100–0 vote.
7. NATO Chief Says Sweden, Finland Could ‘Easily Join’ Its Ranks If They Apply
If Finland and Sweden decide to apply for NATO membership, all allies of the defensive alliance would quickly welcome both Nordic countries, said NATO’s top civilian official.
“It’s for them to decide of course, but if they apply, I expect that all allies will welcome them,” Jens Stoltenberg told a Wednesday news conference in Brussels. “We know that they can easily join this alliance if they decide to apply.”
8. US scraps missile test to avoid Russian ‘misinterpretation’: report
The test launch of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was canceled over concerns Russian President Vladimir Putin would view the move as escalatory, Defense Department officials told NBC.
“The Department of the Air Force recently cancelled the routinely planned test flight of an LGM-30G Minuteman III missile,” Pentagon deputy press secretary Todd Breasseale said in a statement. “The launch had been previously delayed due to an overabundance of caution to avoid misinterpretation or miscommunication during the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
US scraps missile test to avoid Russian ‘misinterpretation’: report
9. EU proposing new sanctions, Russia more prudent in food export
The Russia-Ukraine conflict continued on Wednesday as the European Union (EU) is proposing its fifth sanction package against Russia.
On Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the package, which will be discussed and given the final approval by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, includes bans on coal imports worth 4 billion euros a year and on four Russian banks.
She added that the European Commission is also pushing for bans on Russian ships entering EU ports, on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators, and on imports of oil, wood and cement, seafood and alcohol from Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said that Russia will be more prudent this year in exporting food, especially to countries that are pursuing a hostile policy towards Russia.
10. Japan Adds Luxury Goods to Russia Sanctions as It Takes in Ukrainian Refugees
Luxury products are among a list of items banned by the Japanese government for export to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Announced on March 29, the ban went into effect on April 5.
Nineteen luxury products, including perfume, fine artwork, and high-end cars, are now part of an expanding list of banned exports to Russia that also includes weapons, military-grade tools, carbon fiber, and general semiconductors.
11. US sanctions target Putin’s daughters amid belief they help hide his wealth
Putin‘s daughter Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova is a tech executive whose work supports the Russian government and its defense industry, according to details in the U.S. sanctions package announced on Wednesday.
His other daughter Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova leads government-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin toward genetics research, and are personally overseen by Putin, the United States said.
[…] On Thursday, the Kremlin said it was bewildered by the U.S. decision, and described the move against the daughters as part of a broader Western frenzy against Russia.
The sanctions announced Wednesday also include the daughter and wife of Russian foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov. The U.S. also banned Americans from investing in Russia, and targeted Russian financial institutions and Kremlin officials, in response to what President Joe Biden condemned as Russian “atrocities” in Ukraine.
12. ‘The Space Foundation’ Erases Name of First Man in Space Because He Was Russian
Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is widely regarded as a hero in Ukraine, sparking confusion of the move
A space industry conference named for the first man to travel to outer space has erased his name from their title due to his Russian ethnicity, joining in with the anti-Russian sentiment displayed by several other organizations since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a non-NATO nation.
The nonprofit Space Foundation erased the name of Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to enter outer space, from their “Yuri’s Night” space conference. The conference was given the stale new corporate name of “A Celebration of Space: Discover What’s Next,” citing his Gagarin’s ethnicity and “current world events.”
[…] “The focus of this fundraising event remains the same — to celebrate human achievements in space while inspiring the next generation to reach for the stars,” a web posting from The Space Foundation, that was later deleted following public ridicule, read announcing the name change, which it blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ironically, Yuri Gagarin never actually represented Russia, considering that nation, like Ukraine, was held under the rule of the Soviet Communists for his entire life, and was part of the USSR. Like in Russia, Gagarin is considered a hero in Ukraine and is widely admired. In 2011, a Ukrainian stamp even commemorated the 50th anniversary of his first flight into space.
‘The Space Foundation’ Erases Name of First Man in Space Because He Was Russian
13. Ruble becomes best-performing currency in March; soars to 83 to the dollar
The ruble appreciated to 83 to the dollar intraday on Tuesday against a record low of 139 on March 7.
The ruble has recouped most of its losses and become the top-performing currency globally. It continues to gain and is up 60 per cent against the US dollar from its lows in the first week of March.
The ruble appreciated to 83 to the dollar intraday on Tuesday against a record low of 139 on March 7. Thanks to the recent rally, the ruble is only about 10 per cent lower than what it was before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The ruble was trading at around 76 before the invasion, according to the data from Bloomberg.
14. Zelenskyy Says Post-war Ukraine Will Emulate Israel, Won’t Be ‘Liberal, European’
Soldiers in ‘cinemas, supermarkets, and people with weapons’ is Ukraine’s future, Zelenskyy tells reporters, as the country’s leaders begin to imagine what a precariously post-war Ukraine might look like
Ukraine will become a “‘big Israel’ with its own face,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared on Tuesday, indicating that his country intends to emulate the Israeli security state in the wake of Russia’s invasion.
15. Czechs Warned They Could Be Jailed for Supporting Russia on Social Media
European Union and NATO member-state Czechia has warned citizens who express support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including on social media, they could face prison.
The Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office considers it necessary to inform citizens that the current situation associated with the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine may have implications for their freedom of expression,” warned Czechia’s Attorney-General, Igor Stříž, in an official press release.
“[F]reedom of speech also has its limits in a democratic state governed by the rule of law,” the official asserted, explaining that anyone who “publicly (including at demonstrations, on the Internet or on social networks) agreed (accepted or supported the Russian Federation’s attacks on Ukraine) or expressed support or praised the leaders of the Russian Federation in this regard, they could also face criminal liability under certain conditions”, citing sections of the criminal code making it a crime to approve a criminal offence or deny, question, approve or justify genocide.
16. Did Putin’s 2007 Munich Speech Predict the Ukraine Crisis? [Commentary]
This article appeared in National Interest (Online) on January 24, 2022.
Putin’s Munich speech [at the Munich Security Conference] was an important diplomatic warning to the United States and its allies that Russia’s patience with NATO’s encroachment was at an end.
NATO governments and Western news media are extremely agitated by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent demands that NATO provide guarantees on several security issues. Specifically, the Kremlin wants assurances that the alliance will reduce the scope of its military presence in Eastern Europe and will never offer membership to Ukraine. Amazingly, both the substance and tone of Moscow’s position seem to have surprised U.S. and NATO officials. However, indications that Russian leaders are alarmed and angry at NATO’s growing encroachment on Russia’s security zone have been building for years. Indeed, Boris Yeltsin complained about the first stage of NATO expansion that brought Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary into the alliance in 1998. Moscow’s objections have grown louder and more insistent with each subsequent provocation.
An especially pointed warning came when Putin addressed the annual Munich Security Conference on March 10, 2007. He took direct aim at the notion so popular in the United States during the 1990s and early 2000s that the international system was unipolar and that Washington’s power was unchallengeable. “However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision‐making. It is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign.”
Putin emphatically rejected that model. Implicitly referring to the U.S.-led military interventions in the Balkans and Iraq, he stated: “Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force — military force — in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts.” “And of course,” Putin continued, “this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this — no one feels safe!”
It was when he moved on from such general observations to focus on Russia’s relations with NATO, however, that Putin’s objections and warnings became emphatic. “NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders,” although as yet, we “do not react to these actions at all.” NATO expansion, he stated, “represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?”
Continue reading here:
17. TRANSCRIPT: 2007 Putin Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy
TRANSCRIPT: 2007 Putin Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy
18. The Speech In Which Putin Told Us Who He Was [Opinion]
It wasn’t really Putin’s excoriation of the United States for hypocrisy after its invasion of Iraq that was notable; this was pretty much mainstream German, French, and much American thinking. The real moment of revelation was his broader conclusion that the U.S.-led liberal order, a.k.a. the Free World, was of no interest or value to Russia.
19. Invasion of Ukraine ‘Totally ’: Gen. Michael Flynn [Opinion]
The current Russian invasion of Ukraine could have been avoided, and it demonstrates a failure that the U.S. leadership couldn’t effectively communicate with its Russian counterpart, according to Gen. Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who briefly served as the National Security Advisor to former President Donald Trump.
[…] “It really goes back to 1994, what was called the Budapest Accords, in Budapest, Hungary, at the end of the Cold War,” said Flynn.
[…] The Budapest Memo (pdf) didn’t mention the NATO expansion. However, Western leaders had promised no NATO eastward expansion throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991. The most famous one is then-Secretary of State James Baker’s “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990.
[…]The war also shows the Biden administration’s failure to communicate with Russia in an effective way to prevent the escalation of the Ukraine situation, said Flynn.
“War is a failure of policy and diplomacy,” said Flynn. “Anytime you see states, nations, nation-states, at war with each other, it’s because there’s a failure to communicate some way somehow. And that’s what happened.”
Flynn said Russian President Vladimir Putin kept saying Ukraine shouldn’t join NATO and it should declare neutrality,…
20. China demands religion teaches socialism and Communist directives
Other faith beliefs are part of ‘illegal activities
Communist authorities in China have banished religious teachings that fail to teach to believers “socialism and [Chinese Communist Party] directives and [instill] in them the love of the party and socialism.”
“It is necessary to guide the religious circles to deeply and systematically study the Party’s religious work theories, principles and policies,” the party leaders have insisted.
People also should understand that non-sinicized religion simply is part of “illegal religious activities.”
China demands religion teaches socialism and Communist directives
21. Newly Released Docs: Pfizer Had to Hire 1,800 Additional Employees in Early 2021 to Process ‘Large Increase’ in Vaccine Adverse Events
Pfizer hired 1,800 additional full-time employees in the first half of 2021 to deal with “the large increase” of adverse reactions to its COVID vaccine, newly released secret documents reveal. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was made available under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11, 2020. By February of 2021, the company was seeing so many safety signals, including in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, it had to immediately hire 600 employees to process the data.
[…] The FDA released 10,000 pages of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine review documents on April 1, pursuant to a court order in January that forced the company to expedite its process of making the information available to the public.
Newly Released Docs: Pfizer Had to Hire 1,800 Additional Employees in Early 2021 to Process ‘Large Increase’ in Vaccine Adverse Events
22. Counties With Highest Vaccination Rates See More COVID-19 Cases Than Least Vaccinated
U.S. counties with the highest rates of vaccination against COVID-19 are currently experiencing more cases than those with the lowest vaccination rates, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 500 counties where 62 to 95 percent of the population has been vaccinated detected more than 75 cases per 100,000 residents on average in the past week. Meanwhile, the 500 counties where 11 to 40 percent of the population has been vaccinated averaged about 58 cases per 100,000 residents.
[…] Among counties with populations of 1 million or more, the 10 most vaccinated had a case rate more than 27 percent higher than the 10 least vaccinated. In counties with populations of 500,000 to 1 million, the 10 most vaccinated had a case rate almost 19 percent higher than the 10 least vaccinated.