The Turkish President seems to be playing a bit of game these days…..
He’s told the Ukraine President that his country should be in NATO…..
(Thus dissing Sweden)
Zelensky is doing a traveling full court press with NATO leaders on the membership thing , which of course would mandate NATO countries joining his fight against Russia which American President Biden IN NOT GONNA DO…..
He’s also promised to help the Ukraine keep exporting grain……
The US will go ahead and send ‘cluster bombs’ to the Ukraine something Biden is getting a rough time from some ….
Cluster bombs have been used by the Russians and are outlawed by several countries…
Where are the Wagner tens of thousand’s of troops?
The battle for Bakhmut continues with the Ukraine advancing…..
A slow Ukraine counter offensive….
The Ukraine asks to join an transpacific trade pact….
After President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine paid a visit to Istanbul, the Turkish leader also said he would work to help extend the Black Sea grain deal for longer intervals.
Here’s what we’re covering:
With Zelensky at his side, Erdogan says Ukraine ‘deserves NATO membership.’
U.S. confirms talks with Russia on prisoner swap for Evan Gershkovich, but tempers expectations.
Biden defended the ‘difficult’ decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine.
Democrats denounce Biden’s decision to send cluster munitions to Ukraine.
Here is why cluster munitions are controversial.
A Belarusian military base has hundreds of tents, but no Wagner fighters…..
Biden told journalists Friday that he made the decision to send cluster munitions because Ukraine is “running out of ammunition.”
“Ukraine will not be joining NATO” at the alliance’s upcoming Vilnius summit, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at a White House briefing on Friday, despite last minute appeals by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The active discussion at the summit, he said, would be on whether Ukraine has “moved beyond the need” for benchmarks it has to meet to qualify for membership. Still, Sullivan said the summit would be “an important moment on the pathway toward membership.”
- Human rights groups criticised the U.S. move on munitions. “Cluster munitions are an indiscriminate weapon that presents a grave threat to civilian lives, even long after a conflict has ended,” Daniel Balson, the advocacy director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International USA, a rights group, said in a statement. Mary Wareham, advocacy director of the arms division of Human Rights Watch, described the U.S. decision as “dismaying,” arguing that removing the 1 percent failure measure would mean “an even greater threat to civilians, including de-miners.”
- Ukraine has provided written assurances it will not use the munitions in civilian areas, where unexploded “dud” bomblets can pose risks for decades to come. The U.S. weapons have a dud rate of 2.35 percent, said Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy. He said it was “apples and oranges” to compare the U.S. supplies to cluster munitions used by Russia with a “30 to 40 percent” failure rate that has left millions of unexploded submunitions on the battlefield.
- More than 120 nations have signed a convention banning cluster munitions, which release smaller submunitions that can remain unexploded and endanger civilians years after a conflict has ended. The United States, Ukraine and Russia — which has allegedly used cluster munitions extensively in Ukraine — are not parties to the convention. Human Rights Watch urged the United States to refrain from sending them and for Russia and Ukraine to “immediately stop” using cluster weapons. German and French officials told reporters their countries have declined to distribute cluster munitions to Ukraine, having made treaty commitments that prohibit them from doing so.
- The decision to supply cluster munitions bypasses a U.S. law prohibiting the production, use or transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than 1 percent. A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, said Thursday that the United States will be “carefully selecting” cluster munitions for Ukraine that have a “dud” rate of 2.35 percent or below, referring to the percentage of submunitions each shell carries that would remain unexploded after the shell was fired.
- “We recognise that cluster munitions create a risk of civilian harm from unexploded ordnance. This is why we deferred the decision for as long as we could,”Sullivan told reporters Friday. “But there is also a massive risk of civilian harm if Russian troops and tanks roll over Ukrainian positions and take more Ukrainian territory and subjugate more Ukrainian civilians.” In news briefings, Sullivan and Kahl said Biden’s decision to supply the controversial cluster weapons was unanimously recommended by his top national security advisers.
- NATO does “not have a position on the convention on cluster munitions, because a number of allies have signed the convention and a number of allies have not signed the convention. And it is for individual allies to make decisions on the delivery of weapons and military supplies to Ukraine,” Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s secretary general, said in a statement.
- Some lawmakers in the U.S. also criticised the choice to supply cluster munitions to Ukraine. “I strongly oppose the Administration’s decision to provide cluster munitions,” tweeted Rep. Chrissy Houlihan (D-Pa.). “I challenge the notion that we should employ the same tactics Russia is using.” Last month, Reps. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) and Ilan Omar (D-Minn.) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorisation Act intended to bar the transfer of U.S. cluster munitions.
How cluster munitions work
Cluster munitions release a deadly rain of smaller submunitions
over an area. The cluster munitions that the United States is set to provide
to Ukraine are launched from artillery pieces.
Source: Army training manual 9-1025-215-10
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support for Ukraine joining NATO, Zelensky said. In a statement released early Saturday, the Ukrainian leader said he was “glad to hear” Erdogan say that “Ukraine deserves to become a member of NATO.” Erdogan made the comment at a joint news conference with Zelensky in Istanbul, the Associated Press reported. Zelensky has been visiting NATO member states ahead of the alliance’s summit in Lithuania next week.
- Questions remain about the agreement under which the militia leader at the helm of a failed rebellion against Russian defense officials avoided insurgency charges. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the mercenary Wagner Group, was in Russia. A St. Petersburg businessman, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, confirmed Prigozhin’s presence in the country and said money and weapons seized by Russian authorities were returned to him, The Post reported.
- Sullivan responded Friday to reports that former U.S. officials affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank, had held talks with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Sullivan denied that such talks had served any diplomatic purpose, even indirectly. “My understanding is there was a meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations with the foreign minister of Russia,” he said. “That meeting did not include participation from the United States government. The United States government did not pass messages through that meeting.”
- Sullivan met Friday with family members and Wall Street Journal colleagues of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich, to mark his 100th day of detention in Russia on espionage charges that he, his representatives and rights groups unequivocally deny. The United States considers him to be wrongfully detained.
- The European Union has moved toward a deal to use $544 million from its budget to ramp up production of ammunition and missiles. The E.U. presidency announcedearly Friday that the E.U. Council, representing member states, and the E.U. Parliament have reached a provisional agreement likely to be ratified and come into force by the end of July. The deal forms one part of an E.U. plan announced in March to boost ammunition production for Ukraine.
- The Czech Republic pledged to send more attack helicopters and large-caliber ammunition to Ukraine,Prime Minister Petr Fiala tweeted Friday as Zelensky visited the NATO member state. Fiala said his country will also provide Ukraine with further pilot training, including for F-16 fighter jets. Their meeting came a day after Zelensky visited Bulgaria, another member of the bloc, ahead of next week’s NATO summit.
- The death toll in Lviv has risen to 10 after Russian cruise missiles struck the western Ukrainian city early Thursday, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote on social media. The attack — which Sadovyi said was the largest on civilian infrastructure in Lviv since the war began — also left at least 36 people injured, damaged many houses and hit the “buffer zone” of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Ensemble of the Historic Center, officials said.
- U.S. officials acknowledged in a briefing to press that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has progressed more slowly than anticipated, and that its delayed beginning gave the Russians more time to dig in their defensive lines. Still, said Kahl, the Pentagon undersecretary for policy, “in real wars things are hard. Sometimes things go faster than you think, like it Kharkiv last fall. Sometimes it’s a slog, like it was in Kherson … We always knew it was going to be tough.” Sullivan demurred on the same question, saying “I’m standing here in Washington D.C. I’m not on the battlefield. My life’s not on the line. So for me to sit here and say I’m satisfied, or I’m not satisfied … What I would say is that it is hard going. The Russians are dug in.”
- The Russian navy has created a new naval district in the Sea of Azov, with its headquarters in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol, the British Defense Ministry said Friday. The district, established July 1, will reportedly command eight warships and “will likely focus on supporting logistical and counter-partisan tasks,” allowing Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to focus on “long range strike operations and projecting maritime power further abroad,” according to the ministry’s daily update.
- Lukashenko said an offer still stands for the Wagner Group to station its troops in Belarus at former military camps, according to his office. The prospect is likely to spark concern among nearby NATO allies.
- Russia and Ukraine announced a prisoner exchange Thursday. The Russian Defense Ministry wrote on Telegramthat 45 service members have been repatriated, while Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential office, wrote that 45 individuals, including two civilians, have returned to Ukraine. Some of the Ukrainian soldiers had fought in Mariupol and at the Azovstal steel plant, he said.
- Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, said that “we reaffirmed that Sweden’s membership is within reach” after a meeting Thursday of Turkish, Finnish and Swedish delegations. But he added that some “unsolved issues” will be worked on ahead of another meeting Monday, the day before the NATO summit begins in Lithuania. Turkey has opposed Sweden’s NATO bid over what Ankara sees as Stockholm’s support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which it considers a terrorist group.
- Ukraine has formally asked to join a transpacific trade pact, Japanese and New Zealand authorities said Friday, according to the Reuters news agency. A New Zealand Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the country received Ukraine’s request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in May, with the next steps in the application process to be determined during the body’s next meeting later this month. Other members of the pact include Britain, which agreed to join earlier this year, Mexico and Australia.
Ukraine wants and expects an invitation to join NATO. Allies are not sure: Top Ukrainian officials are hoping that next week’s NATO summit in Lithuania will bring a “clear signal” that Ukraine will eventually join the alliance, anchoring the country in the West’s security infrastructure and sending an unequivocal message to Moscow, David L. Stern, Emily Rauhala and Isabelle Khurshudyan report…..