Russia vetoes UN resolution on Ukraine annexations
Russia on Friday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Moscow’s annexation of four Ukrainian territories. China, India and Brazil abstained from the vote, which came hours after President Vladimir Putin signed a decree incorporating four Ukrainian regions – Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk – into Russia. Russia’s ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, complained that it was unprecedented to seek condemnation of a permanent member of the Security Council. Moscow’s veto was a certainty but Western powers will be heartened that Moscow did not find support from Beijing and will now seek to pressure Russia through a vote of the General Assembly, which includes all countries.
Opening the meeting, US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on member states to act. “This is exactly what the Security Council was made to do. Defend sovereignty, protect territorial integrity, promote peace and security,” she said. “The United Nations was built on an idea that never again would one country be allowed to take another’s territory by force,” she said. The resolution, co-sponsored by the US and Albania, would condemn the “illegal” referenda held in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine and call on all states not to recognise any changes to Ukraine’s borders. It also called on Russia to withdraw troops immediately from Ukraine, ending an invasion launched on February 24. The Security Council, led by France, went ahead with the session despite certainly that Russia – one of five permanent members – will veto it.
Putin offers justification for Russia’s annexation
In an angry, conspiratorial address Friday, amid grand fanfare, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered the Kremlin’s justification for Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian territories, presenting an anti-Western worldview that accused “Anglo-Saxons” of neocolonialism and sabotage. The half-hour speech was delivered in the ornate Georgievsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, where Putin announced that Russia would formally incorporate Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions after staged referenda there. “People have made their choice, an unambiguous choice,” Putin said. The staged plebiscites came amid condemnation by world leaders and a Ukrainian military push that means Russia does not control all of the regions it now claims as it own.
Putin said Russia would never give up the annexed regions. Not only, he demanded that Ukrainian authorities begin peace talks, telling the “Kyiv regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war that they unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this.” Putin accused the West of creating a “neocolonial system” aimed specifically at destroying Russia, adding that the United States, not Russia, posed a nuclear threat to the world, referencing the use of nuclear weapons against Japanese cities during World War II. “The U.S. is the only country in the world to ever use atomic weapons,” he said. Refering to the damage to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, Putin said: “Sanctions are not enough for the Anglo-Saxons; they have switched to sabotage. In fact, they have begun to destroy the Pan-European infrastructure.” As the Russian leader ended his speech, he signed “accession treaties” to absorb the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, as did Moscow’s proxy leaders for the regions. To cheers, the leaders held hands and chanted: “Russia! Russia! Russia!”
Ukraine applies for ‘quick’ Nato membership
Hours after Putin’s ceremony annexing four Ukrainian provinces, a defiant President Zelenskiy announced that Ukraine was officially applying for Nato membership. In a speech filmed outside his presidential office in Kyiv, Zelenskiy said he was taking this “decisive step” in order to protect “the entire community” of Ukrainians. He promised the application would happen in an “expedited manner”. Observers pointed out the alliance was unlikely to accept Ukraine’s imminent Nato entry while it is in a state of war. The vice president of the Russian security council Dmitri Medvedev reacted to Ukraine’s request for NATO membership: he wrote on Telegram: “Zelensky wants to join NATO quickly. Great idea. He’s just asking the North Atlantic Alliance to hasten the start of a third world war.” American national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a media briefing: “The American military in Europe is ready for any eventuality”.
Ukraine reclaims village near Lyman
Ukraine says its troops have “liberated” a village near Lyman in the eastern Donetsk region, hours after Moscow-backed forces reported “alarming” news from the area. The defence ministry tweeted a photo of what it said were Ukrainian troops in Drobysheve, some 10 km to the north west of Lyman, which was taken by Russia in May after an extended battle. Lyman has been at the centre of renewed fighting since Ukraine routed Russian forces in the nearby Kharkiv region in a lightning counteroffensive this month.
Latvia goes to polls
Latvians will vote in parliamentary elections Saturday, with polls predicting that Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’s centre-right New Unity party will win the most votes, enabling him to continue his coalition with the conservative National Alliance. Reuters reports a victory for Karins could widen a growing rift between the Latvian majority and Latvia’s Russian-speaking minority over their place in society. Karins told Reuters he believes the war in Ukraine has consolidated his NATO and European Union nation of 1.9 million, and said that if re-elected, he would integrate the Russian minority – a quarter of population – by having the country educate its children in the Latvian language.
EU approves energy savings and cap on company revenues
EU energy ministers approved on Friday a first package of emergency measures in an effort to curb soaring electricity bills and coordinate member states’ responses to the energy crisis. The package, negotiated in less than a month, includes mandatory power savings, a cap on excess market revenues and a levy to capture surplus corporate profits. An EU-wide price cap on gas imports remains, for the time being, under study.
Bolsonaro lashes out at Lula in Brazil election debate
The last of three televised debates in Brazil’s presidential election featured hostile exchanges and insults between the main candidates; the leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the favourite in the polls, and the right-wing incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro. As Bolsonaro took to the microphone at the TV Globo in Rio de Janeiro, he openly called Lula a “liar, ex-convict, and traitor to the nation.” “You got kickbacks, your sons got kickbacks and stole millions from companies after you got to power”, he added. In retaliation, Lula also accused his opponent of corruption, asking whether it is presidential of Bolsonaro to make such accusations.
Hurricane Ian delivers second blow to South Carolina
Hurricane Ian, one of the worst storms ever to hit the United States, made landfall in South Carolina on Friday, delivering a powerful second punch after pummeling Florida. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm struck near Georgetown, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 140kph. The NHC warned people living along the Carolina coast that Ian could deliver a “life-threatening storm surge” of up to two metres and damaging winds. Twnety-one deaths have been reported in storm-ravaged Florida.
When President Putin announced the mass call-up of the old, the sick, the convicted and the infirm to serve the glory of Russia in their “special military operation” in Ukraine, locals were not having any of it. Aside from the chaos at Russia’s border points, those who could not flee have been googling “how to break an arm” so prolifically that it started trending. Probably not what the ARMy wanted, at any rate…