According to the United Nations, both Ukrainian and Russian troops have violated human rights and international humanitarian law. UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet accused both warring parties in Geneva on Tuesday of placing military positions near civilian buildings and using “human shields”.
POWs continue to be tortured and mistreated without those responsible being held accountable. Cases of rape and other sexualised violence have also been documented in Russian and Ukrainian controlled areas. “On behalf of every victim of this senseless war: the killings, the torture, the arbitrary arrests must stop,” demanded Bachelet.
There are “significant fears that attacks by Russian forces are not compatible with international humanitarian law,” Bachelet said. To a “much lesser extent” this also applies to Ukrainian troops in the east of the country.
Referring to the Russian army, she spoke of “growing evidence” of unlawful killings and even mass executions. Her office has over 300 indications that soldiers have killed other people outside of combat operations.
At the same time, Bachelet expressed concern that the arrests of more than 1,000 suspected collaborators by the Ukrainian secret service SBU and the Ukrainian police were “not in accordance with international human rights obligations”. In twelve cases, people in Ukrainian judicial custody disappeared.
As of July 3, the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva recorded more than 10,000 civilians killed or injured, mostly due to the use of explosive weapons in residential areas. According to the information, 335 of the 4,889 dead were children. The actual numbers are much higher, emphasized Bachelet. So far, more than 400 destroyed health and educational facilities have been registered; here, too, there are probably more in reality.
Bachelet also lamented the mass expulsions caused by the war. These disproportionately affect women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, said the Commissioner for Human Rights.
After months of appreciation, the Russian ruble has fallen sharply on the Moscow stock exchange. The Russian national currency lost around ten percent against the dollar and the euro on Tuesday. Extrapolated to the past three trading days, the loss was around 20 percent, according to the RBC news agency.
At the end of the trading day, the dollar cost more than 61 rubles, the euro more than 63 rubles. During the course of the day, the key currencies were at times even more than 62 or 64 rubles. This is the highest level since early May. However, the ruble is still significantly more expensive than before the start of the war in February. The background to the appreciation were massive restrictions on foreign exchange trading and the sanctions, which particularly restricted Russia’s imports. As a result, demand for euros and dollars in Moscow had also fallen.
Experts justify the devaluation that has now taken place with the easing of foreign exchange policy by the central bank and the expectation that the central bank will also resume foreign exchange purchases on the stock exchange. Imports of consumer goods are also important for the further development of the ruble, which according to Economics Minister Maxim Reshetnikov have recently increased again slightly. (dpa)
The Russian parliament is considering terminating a border agreement in the dispute with Norway over a delivery blockade to Spitsbergen. The Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee will examine this and then inform the deputies, the Speaker of the Lower House Vyacheslav Volodin told the parliament’s website on Tuesday. In 2010, Russia and Norway defined their sea borders in the Barents Sea in the agreement, ending a 40-year-old dispute.
The two countries are two important players in the Arctic region with its wealth of raw materials. The agreement was seen at the time as a fresh start in Moscow-Oslo relations. Since then, however, tensions have escalated, particularly because of Moscow’s Russian military offensive in Ukraine.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry called on Russia to abide by the agreement. It “doesn’t contain a review clause,” the ministry said. “It’s common for this type of border agreement to be indefinite.” (AFP)
At least two people were killed in Russian rocket attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk on Tuesday, according to Ukrainian sources. Seven others were injured, the governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Telegram. Mayor Wadym Liach had previously reported massive Russian shelling. “Slovyansk! Massive bombardment of the city. In the center, in the north. Everyone in the air raid shelter,” Liach wrote on Facebook.
According to the mayor, the attack was aimed at the city’s central market. According to AFP journalists, several rockets hit the market square and adjacent streets. The market caught fire, the fire brigade tried to put out the flames.
“Once again, the Russians are deliberately targeting places where civilians are. This is terrorism, plain and simple,” explained Kyrylenko. Sloviansk, which had a population of 100,000 before the start of the Ukraine war, is apparently the next target of the Russian armed forces in their advance in the Donbass. (AFP)
NATO has initiated the ratification process for the accession of Finland and Sweden. The ambassadors of the 30 NATO countries signed the accession protocols for the two Nordic countries in Brussels on Tuesday.
This is a good day for Finland and Sweden and a good day for NATO. (…) With 32 nations around the table, we will be even stronger and our citizens even safer as we deal with the greatest security crisis in decades.
Sweden and Finland had applied to join the military alliance in May as a reaction to the Ukraine war after decades of military alliance neutrality. The accession of the two EU countries now has to be approved by the 30 NATO members. (AFP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy does not expect neighboring Belarus to intervene in the war with Russia. “We believe that Belarus will not get involved in this war. But there are provocations and they will continue,” Zelenskyy said in a video address at an event organized by The Economist group in Athens on Tuesday.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Ukraine of launching rocket attacks on his country on Sunday. However, the missiles were intercepted, he said. Russia-ally Belarus served as a base for Russian forces after the Kremlin’s offensive against Ukraine began on February 24.
Ukraine, for its part, claims that rockets have repeatedly been launched into Ukrainian territory from Belarus. “Many rockets of different calibers were launched from Belarusian territory and caused a lot of suffering to Ukraine,” said Zelenskyy. He called on the Belarusian people “to do everything possible not to be drawn into this war”. However, Ukraine is “ready” in the event of an attack. (AFP)
Four and a half months after the attack on Ukraine, Russia wants to gear its economy more closely to the needs of the military. The lower house of parliament in Moscow on Tuesday approved a proposal for a package of amendments tabled by the government in its first reading. Among other things, it stipulates that individual sectors can be obliged to supply the armed forces. In addition, workers there could be forced to work nights, weekends and public holidays and not to take vacation days.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borissov justified the project with the increased sanctions pressure on Russia and western arms deliveries to Ukraine.
In order to come into force, the legislative amendments still have to be passed at second and third readings, approved by the upper house of parliament and finally signed by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.
Critics and international military experts repeatedly point out that Russia may have lost significantly more soldiers and equipment in Ukraine in recent months than is officially stated. (dpa)
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the phone, according to his office. A spokeswoman said Johnson told Zelenskyy that the Ukrainian armed forces could regain territory recently seized by Russian troops. The Ukrainian military recently withdrew from Lysychansk. This was the last city in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region of Luhansk not yet under full Russian control. Johnson’s spokeswoman went on to say that the prime minister also briefed Zelenskyy on recent military supplies from Britain. In the coming days and weeks, for example, certain artillery systems and guided missiles should arrive in Ukraine. (Reuters)
The left in the Bundestag does not want to agree to the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO. Group leader Amira Mohamed Ali announced this on Tuesday. Finland’s desire to be included in the western defense alliance is understandable given Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. But the “dirty deal” between the two countries and Turkey is unacceptable. “That’s why we, as leftists, will not agree to that,” said Mohamed Ali.
Turkey had blocked the accession process, citing Sweden and Finland’s alleged support of “terrorist organizations” such as the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK, the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and the Gülen movement as a reason. Only when both countries promised in writing that they would respond to several of Turkey’s demands did Turkey give up its resistance to the start of the admissions process.
The Bundestag is expected to decide this week on Germany’s approval of the admission of the two countries. The endorsement is considered secure. (dpa)
A good four months after the start of the Russian war of aggression, the number of schoolchildren from Ukraine admitted to Germany is approaching the 150,000 mark. As the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) announced on Tuesday, 146,321 refugee children and young people were registered at schools in Germany last week, an increase of 2,263 compared to the previous week. So far, most have stayed in Bavaria (26,976), North Rhine-Westphalia, where the summer holidays are already (24,662), and Baden-Württemberg (19,198). The numbers have been rising steadily since the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February. There are a total of around eleven million schoolchildren in Germany. (dpa)
At the end of a two-day reconstruction conference for Ukraine, around 40 states pledged their support to the war-torn country until it fully recovered. The Lugano Declaration they signed was “an important first step on the long road to Ukraine’s recovery,” said host Swiss President Iganzio Cassis on Tuesday. Federal Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) announced that Germany intends to host a reconstruction conference in 2024.
Cassis said that the commitment to long-term support for Ukraine was already being made “in times of war”. “This should give the people of Ukraine hope and the certainty that they are not alone.” (AFP)