Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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    Kim Jong Un Wraps Up Russia Visit Amid Arms Deal Speculation

    North Korean Leader Leaves Russia with Military Equipment and Gifts Amidst Arms Deal Rumors

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has concluded his visit to Russia, marked by his departure from the far-eastern city of Artyom on a specially equipped armored train. This visit has garnered international attention, particularly in Washington, amidst speculations about a potential arms deal between Moscow and Pyongyang. Russia’s interest in procuring artillery, in the face of dwindling stockpiles, adds an intriguing dimension to this diplomatic engagement.

    During his stay in Russia, Kim Jong Un had the opportunity to view aviation equipment and missile systems in Vladivostok. He was warmly received by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, as reported by the state media outlet Tass. Amidst diplomatic engagements, Kim also found time for cultural experiences, attending “The Sleeping Beauty” ballet at the Primorsky stage of the Mariinsky Theater. Additionally, he explored an aquarium, where he witnessed the captivating performances of marine animals, as per Russian media reports.

    In a noteworthy gesture, the governor of the Primorye region, which shares its borders with China and North Korea, presented Kim Jong Un with a substantial gift. This included five kamikaze drones, a reconnaissance drone, and a bulletproof vest, reported Tass on Sunday.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is poised to make a significant visit to Washington, D.C., this week, as reported by The Washington Post. Scheduled tentatively for Thursday, his visit to Capitol Hill holds the purpose of appealing for additional aid, a plea that enjoys the backing of the Biden administration. This marks Zelensky’s second visit to the United States since the onset of the war.

    Key Developments:

    Two merchant ships, Resilient Africa and Aroyat, made their way to Ukrainian ports on Saturday, marking the first civilian vessels to traverse a temporary shipping corridor in the Black Sea since the collapse of a grain deal with Russia in July. These ships are destined for Chornomorsk, where they will load nearly 20,000 tons of wheat, destined for Africa and Asia, as reported by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.

    In central Ukraine, Jewish pilgrims congregated to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Over 35,000 pilgrims, primarily hailing from the United States, Israel, and Europe, gathered in the city of Uman, a place of historical significance for the Hasidic community. Ukrainian and Israeli police were present, and air raid alerts were issued Sunday morning, reflecting ongoing security concerns.

    Russian authorities in occupied Crimea have announced their intention to sell an apartment owned by President Zelensky among 100 properties on the peninsula. Volodymyr Konstantinov, the speaker of Crimea’s parliament, stated that eight auctions have already concluded, generating approximately $8.8 million. The remaining sales are expected to take place shortly. This move comes against the backdrop of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

    Global Impact:

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in an interview with German media, emphasized that there would be no swift resolution to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Stoltenberg noted that most wars tend to last longer than initially anticipated, and he expressed confidence that Ukraine would eventually become a member of NATO. He reiterated the international community’s hope for a speedy peace in the region.

    Poland has instituted a ban on Russian-registered cars entering its borders, effective from Sunday. This measure aligns with similar restrictions imposed by Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These actions come in response to updated guidelines from the European Commission, urging member states to prevent Russian citizens from bringing cars and other goods into the European Union to curb potential sanction evasion.

    Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced that defense firms from 21 countries will participate in Ukraine’s Defense Industries Forum, scheduled for this fall. This groundbreaking event will be the first of its kind hosted by Ukraine. Zelensky emphasized the forum’s objective of providing Ukraine with the means to produce weapons, ammunition, and modern technology for reliable defense against various forms of aggression.

    The U.K. authorities are offering support to the family of Daniel Burke, a British man who reportedly died in Ukraine. Burke, a former British soldier, was reported missing by his family in August after traveling to the Ukrainian front to combat Russian forces. Ukrainian authorities recently recovered his body in the Zaporizhzhia region.

    Battleground Updates:

    Tragedy struck in Beryslav, Kherson, as a 45-year-old farmworker lost his life, and another individual sustained injuries when a tractor struck a mine while plowing a field. The survivor, a 26-year-old man, was fortunate to escape with injuries. Authorities emphasize that farmers should refrain from resuming work in fields until they receive clearance from mine-clearing authorities.

    Russia’s air defense forces reported shooting down two Ukrainian drones over the Moscow region during the night. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin confirmed the incidents, with one drone being downed in the Istra district and the other in the Ramensky district. Fortunately, no casualties or damage were reported.

    Ukraine’s air force reported that Russia launched drone and missile attacks on southern parts of Ukraine’s Odesa region. These attacks targeted an agricultural facility, with Russia deploying six Iranian-made Shahed drones and ten cruise missiles. The Air Force stated that twelve projectiles were successfully intercepted before reaching their intended targets.

    The British Ministry of Defense has noted that Russian forces have likely reinforced their defenses around the occupied town of Tokmak in southern Ukraine. This reinforcement includes additional checkpoints, situated approximately 10 miles behind the current front line. The move suggests Russia’s growing concern about potential tactical penetrations by Ukrainian forces north of the main defensive line.

    From Our Correspondents:

    Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, a prominent figure in the country’s oil, banking, and media sectors, finds himself under intense scrutiny amidst ongoing criminal cases. Once valued at $2 billion, the influence of oligarchs like Kolomoisky has waned significantly due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. David L. Stern reports from Kyiv, highlighting Kolomoisky’s legal troubles, including allegations of asset misappropriation from Ukraine’s wealthiest bank, which he formerly owned. Kolomoisky’s media ownership, particularly his television channel that aired the popular show “Servant of the People,” has also been a subject of scrutiny amid Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts.

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