Russia’s war in Ukraine
A new biography claims Elon Musk ordered SpaceX engineers to cut off Ukrainian access to Starlink satellites near the Crimean coast to prevent a surprise drone attack on Russian warships.
The billionaire told the author that he feared a strike on occupied Crimea would amount to a “mini-Pearl Harbour” and lead to a Russian nuclear retaliation, Mr Isaacson writes.
“Sometimes a mistake is much more than just a mistake. By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian military fleet via Starlink interference, Elon Musk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Mr Zelensky’s office said.
“As a result, civilians, children are being killed. This is the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego.”
Meanwhile yesterday Russia warned of “very sad consequences” after the Pentagon announced Ukraine will be armed with depleted uranium anti-tank rounds that can aid its troops in piercing Russian tanks.
Nato chief defends Kyiv against Western critics: ‘Russian army second strongest in Ukraine now’
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has clapped back at the recent criticism of “slow” counteroffensive from Ukrainian troops as he pointed out the numbers of mines in the battlefield Ukraine is encountering are at a historic high.
“The starting point is that the Russian army used to be the second strongest in the world. And now the Russian army is the second strongest in Ukraine. That’s quite impressive by Ukrainians,” he said, praising the Ukrainian forces for their achievements on the battlefield.
“No one ever said that this was going to be easy,” Mr Stoltenberg told lawmakers at the European parliament.
“Hardly any time in history we have seen more mines on the battlefield than we are seeing in Ukraine today. So it was obvious that this was going to be extremely difficult.”
He added: “The Ukrainians are gradually gaining ground. They have been able to breach the defensive lines of the Russian forces, and they are moving forward.”
In the past four months, Ukrainian soldiers on the battlefield have struggled to break through entrenched Russian lines, dotted heavily with mines and recently faced flak from Western media for concentrating forces in the wrong places.
Ukrainian officials say the war being fought in the country is unlike any other, as its air space has not been shut down and it does not have top-tier warplanes like F-16s.
“They are making progress. Not perhaps as much as we hoped for but they are gaining ground gradually,” the Nato chief said.
“Some hundred metres per day, meaning that when the Ukrainians are gaining ground, the Russians are losing ground.”
Arpan Rai8 September 2023 07:04
Ukraine reports successes in counteroffensive for second day in a row
Volodymyr Zelensky thanked and singled out military units in the east and south for their actions against Russian troops in his nightly address as other officials reported some breakthroughs in a counteroffensive to reclaim Russian-occupied territory.
The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces described a “partial success” near the eastern city of Bakhmut, long a focal point of fighting.
Mr Zelensky provided few details of operations. “Thank you soldiers for very, very effective results in destroying the occupiers,” he said. “And results are precisely what Ukraine needs now from everyone.”
Ukrainian troops were making gradual progress in their southward advance to the Sea of Azov, the armed forces said.
The general staff report said: “As a result of its assault operations, the defence forces have achieved a partial success south of Bakhmut, pushing the enemy out of and reinforcing their own positions.”
Deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar told national television that Ukrainian forces were pressing their drive near southward from the village of Robotyne, captured last week.
Maliar said that on the southern front, where Ukrainian forces are trying to sever a land bridge established by Russia between the Crimean peninsula Russia annexed in 2014, and the occupied east, “events are developing rapidly.”
Russian accounts of the fighting said their troops had beaten back Ukrainian attacks near Bakhmut.
Arpan Rai8 September 2023 06:45
Will India’s G20 summit be a ‘stunning’ success – or an embarrassment?
India has faced a seemingly insurmountable task in bridging the gap between Western nations on one side and allies Russia and China on the other, with their differences over the Ukraine war having only widened throughout the year since India assumed the G20 presidency, analysts say.
The G20 began in 1999 in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis and India says this year’s summit is a huge opportunity at a time when global growth is projected to fall to 3 per cent, while more than 50 countries across the world face debt crises.
Yet, the economic forum is being overshadowed by the geopolitical fallout of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and objections over the wording of joint communiques when it comes to the conflict have impacted all this year’s G20 meetings and working groups so far. Instead of joint statements, India has been issuing a “chairman’s summary” after each event, outlining what was discussed.
If this weekend’s summit only ends in a similar “chairman’s summary” it would be seen as an “embarrassment” for India, says Rand Corporation analyst Derek Grossman – but hardly a surprise.
Arpan Rai8 September 2023 06:34
Sunak says Putin orchestrating his own international exile
Prime minister Rishi Sunak has said leaders meeting in New Delhi for the G20 summit this weekend will be picking up the pieces of Vladimir Putin’s destructive invasion of Ukraine, while the Russian president continues his “diplomatic exile”.
“Once again, Vladimir Putin is failing to show his face at the G20,” the prime minister said. “He is the architect of his own diplomatic exile, isolating himself in his presidential palace and blocking out criticism and reality,” Mr Sunak told reporters travelling with him to India for the summit, according to BBC News.
“The rest of the G20, meanwhile, are demonstrating that we will turn up and work together to pick up the pieces of Putin’s destruction,” Mr Sunak said.
This is the second time Mr Putin is skipping a G20 Summit where he and 19 international leaders meet annually to discuss global economic issues.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine and China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region have added friction, pitting some of the most powerful G20 countries directly against each other diplomatically, experts have warned.
Mr Putin has been joined by Chinese president Xi Jinping in shunning the G20 summit, with both instead sending lower-level officials.
Arpan Rai8 September 2023 06:16
Sunak will urge India to ‘call out’ Russia over Ukraine war – report
Rishi Sunak will urge his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to “call out” Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and use its clout to help end the war when the two meet for the G20 summit.
India has a “vital role to play as the world’s largest democracy in calling out Russia’s assault on human rights and indeed democracy itself”, a Downing Street spokesperson said, and added that “we will use meetings with Modi or elsewhere to encourage them to use that influence to bring an end to the brutal invasion.”
Mr Sunak will travel to New Delhi to attend the G20 summit this weekend, in his first official trip to India since taking office last October.
The two leaders are expected to hold bilateral talks on the margins of the G20 event and will discuss progress in the trade deal the two countries are trying to negotiate, reported The Financial Times.
Mr Sunak will use the opportunity to discuss progress towards circumventing Russia’s Black Sea grain blockade with G20 leaders, according to an earlier report.
Arpan Rai8 September 2023 05:08
Elon Musk thwarted Ukrainian drone attack on Russian ships, book claims
The drones packed with explosives “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly” during the thwarted attack some time last year, Walter Isaacson writes in his upcoming book Elon Musk, according to an excerpt obtained by CNN.
Mr Musk told the author that he feared a strike on occupied Crimea would amount to a “mini-Pearl Harbour” and lead to a Russian nuclear retaliation, Mr Isaacson writes.
The decision led Ukrainian officials to beg the world’s richest person to reinstate the satellites.
Arpan Rai8 September 2023 04:15
Musk’s Starlink interference slammed by Zelensky aide: ‘Cocktail of ignorance and big ego’
Volodymyr Zelensky’s top aide has ripped into SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for interfering in the war by shutting off Starlink’s satellite network over Crimea to aid Russia by thwarting a Ukrainian attack.
“Sometimes a mistake is much more than just a mistake. By not allowing Ukrainian drones to destroy part of the Russian military fleet via Starlink interference, Elon Musk allowed this fleet to fire Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian cities,” Mykhailo Podolyak said on social media after details of Musk’s alleged interference and aid to Russia were made public through his new biography.
“As a result, civilians, children are being killed. This is the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego,” the adviser to the head of the Ukrainian president said.
“However, the question still remains: why do some people so desperately want to defend war criminals and their desire to commit murder? And do they now realise that they are committing evil and encouraging evil?” in an indirect question to the SpaceX CEO.
The South Africa-born billionaire asked “How am I in this war?” during an interview with Walter Isaacson.
“Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes,” Musk said, according to Isaacson’s book.
He told the author that he was worried a Ukrainian attack on Russian vessels would lead to a nuclear war with Russia.
He had initially offered Starlink terminals to the country when Western nations came together to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion, but the billionaire eventually withdrew his help, leaving Ukrainian soldiers in a disadvantaged position.
Arpan Rai8 September 2023 04:01
Volodymyr Zelensky used an address on Thursday to praise three military units for “very, very effective” action against Russian troops on the front in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s president provided few details in his nightly address, but said one national guard unit was fighting in the east and two in the south – the focal points of Kyiv’s three-month-old counter offensive.
“Thank you soldiers for very, very effective results in destroying the occupiers,” Zelenskiy said. “And results are precisely what Ukraine needs now from everyone.”
William Mata8 September 2023 02:00
UN trying to improve Russia’s grain and fertiliser exports to pressure Moscow
The United Nations is reportedly “actively engaged” in trying to improve Russia’s grain and fertiliser exports in a bid to convince Moscow to again allow the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain.
Secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Thursday: “We believe that it’s necessary to create a system of mutual guarantee.”
Speaking at a conference in Jakarta, he said: “Guarantee that the Russian Federation is able, indeed, to overcome difficulties that still exist, even if many have been solved and, at the same time, guarantees that we that we will have the restoration of the Black Sea initiative.”
Guterres last week sent Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov “a set of concrete proposals” aimed at reviving the Black Sea grain deal, which Russia quit in July – a year after it was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.
William Mata8 September 2023 01:00
Volodymyr Zelensky meets Stephen Fry
Volodymyr Zelensky had a “cordial and friendly” meeting with British actor and humourist Stephen Fry.
A short film released on Twitter shows the pair exchanging gifts and pleasantries.
Fry has been heavily involved in charity work and humanitarian causes.
“Stephen Fry and I had a cordial and friendly meeting,” the president tweeted.
“We talked about a variety of aspects of Ukrainian life: culture, resilience, and our people’s bravery.
“I thanked him for supporting Ukraine. We all hope for a just peace to be restored.”
William Mata8 September 2023 00:00