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Ukraine Crisis

Finland, Sweden another step closer to full NATO membership

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Finland and Sweden are a step closer to full NATO membership after all thirty NATO allies signed an accession protocol.

It will be NATO’s biggest expansion in decades – but it likely won’t happen in full for at least a year.

NATO allies signed an accession protocol for Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance in Brussels on Tuesday (July 5).

Ankara had previously threatened to scupper their chances of joining.

Both Nordic countries gave assurances to Turkey in response that they would do more to fight terrorism – and Turkey backed down.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hailed the historic move,

This is truly an historic moment […] with 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger.

JENS StOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL

This protocol allows Helsinki and Stockholm to take part in NATO meetings, and have greater access to intelligence.

But the ratification process can take up to a year or more.

Neither country will be protected by NATO’s defence clause – where an attack on one is considered an attack on all during that time.

THE DUMA IS RUSSIA’S PARLIAMENT


Meanwhile, Russia’s Duma announced two bills that would put Russia onto a more aggressive wartime economy.

The first bill would allow Russia’s government to demand businesses supply the military with goods.

The second bill would oblige employees to be available to work overtime, nights, and forego additional pay in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The bills need a second and third reading, approval by Russia’s upper house, and be signed by Vladimir Putin before they would become law

Simon is a ticker NEWS corespondent in London. Simon started his career in his hometown of Sydney as a news video producer for NineMSN, then moved to the UK with Good Morning Britain on ITV, followed by a TV reporter for a local news service in Manchester in England’s north. Simon joins ticker News after several years in the London headquarters of ITN Productions as a news producer, and as an assistant news editor for ITV News.

Ukraine Crisis

Zelensky’s hometown in Russian crosshairs

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Ukraine said on Wednesday that Russia might be building a strike force to target Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy’s hometown

Ukraine has warned that Moscow could be preparing new offensive operations in southern Ukraine.

Russia occupies broad stretches of Ukrainian territory in the south of the country,

Much of which Russia captured early on in the war after it launched its February 24 invasion.

Ukraine has also said that Russia has begun to assemble a military strike force – and may be aiming for Kryvyi Rih – the hometown of the Ukrainian president.

“It’s also quite likely that the enemy is preparing a hostile counter-offensive with the subsequent plan of getting to the administrative boundary of Kherson region”

Ukraine southern military command

However, Ukraine has also said it was to mount a counter-offensive to regions of Ukraine that Russia currently holds.

Kryvyi Rih is a steel-producing town around 50km (30 miles) from the southern frontline of the war.

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Ukraine Crisis

Grain vessel allowed to leave Ukraine waters

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A cargo vessel carrying grain for export has been permitted to leave Ukrainian waters via the Black Sea in a rare Russia-Ukraine agreement

The vessel, named “Razoni” under a Sierra-Leone registration left the port of Odesa bound for Lebanon, carrying 26,000 tonnes of grain on board.

It’s the first cargo vessel that’s been permitted to carry cargo on the Black Sea following an export agreement between Ukraine and Russia that was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations.

Russia and Ukraine account for a third of the world’s global wheat supply between them.

But Russian blockades of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast as well as the ongoing war have meant exports have plummeted – leading many nations to worry over interrupted food supplies.

Crew aboard the vessel spoke of their concerns about sea mines.


“To be honest, I am scared from the fact that there are naval mines. This is the only thing that I fear during this trip, as for the other things, we are used to them as sailors.”

Abdullah jendi, junior engineer aboard razoni

But they also spoke of their joy at being allowed to sail through.
Junior engineer Abdullah Jendi said it was a great feeling.

“Everyone on the ship was very happy,” he said. “I can say that it was the best feeling we have had in 2022.”

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Ukraine Crisis

Russia cuts down European gas supply

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Russia cuts gas capacity to Europe to a fifth of normal supplies, sending prices soaring and EU nations agreeing to voluntary rationing

Russia has cut down supplies of gas via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to a fifth of its usual capacity.

Gazprom, Russia’s state run energy and gas firm, has blamed the current reduction on a turbine that was undergoing repairs in Canada.

But the German government has said there’s no technical reason for the current supplies to be limited.

It comes as the European Union member states agreed to voluntary rationing of gas supplies – aiming for a 15 per cent reduction in gas usage between August and March next year.

But the agreements have been messy, with many exemptions being granted for several EU nations where a 15 per cent reduction is not feasible.

Moscow says that the recent spike in gas prices is down to Western sanctions, and that it’s not responsible for the price hike – insisting it is a reliable business partner when it comes to gas.

But critics of Moscow say that it’s using blackmail, holding supplies of gas hostage as a weapon of war.

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