Ukraine-Russia war: Putin makes absurd claim new military pact with North Korea and Kim is ‘peaceful’

Zelensky says China trying to undermine Ukraine peace summit

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has insisted a new partnership struck with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un – including a mutual defence clause – is “peaceful”, according to state news.

Mr Kim hailed the new agreement struck during Mr Putin’s first visit to Pyongyang in 24 years as heralding a “new, high level of alliance” between their countries, and claimed it would “become a driving force accelerating the creation of a new multipolar world”.

The details of the partnership were not immediately clear, but Western nations have expressed growing concern over an arms arrangement in which Moscow receives ammuntion for its war in Ukraine in exchange for economic and technology assistance which could enhance the threat of North Korea’s nuclear programme.

Mr Putin was received with much pomp in North Korea, where Mr Kim promised his full support for Russia’s war in Ukraine ahead of their one-on-one meeting.

The visit looks to cast a shadow over the mammoth peace talks held by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Switzerland over the weekend. Nearly 80 nations agreed that peace talks will begin only after Russia restores Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Russia sentences US soldier Gordon Black to nearly four years in penal colony

A Russian court sent an American soldier to three years and nine months in a penal colony for stealing and threatening murder, state news media reported.

Gordon Black, 34, was detained in Vladivostok in Russia’s far east on 2 May. He was there to see Alexandra Vashchuk, a woman he believed to be his girlfriend, and was arrested after being accused of assaulting her and stealing 10,000 rubles (£90) from her, according to state news agency TASS.

He “forcefully grabbed the girl by the neck, which she perceived as a real threat to her life”, and then stole money from her wallet, the prosecutor said.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain19 June 2024 22:00

Russian interference in UK general election will likely ramp up dramatically, warns senior US senator

Washington has witnessed “egregious efforts” by Moscow to interfere in the democratic process across the globe, similar to those alleged in the 2016 US presidential election, said Mark Warner.

The senior senator, who is regularly briefed on secret US intelligence, said he had been closely monitoring the situation in the UK, adding: “I think the next big test of the state of play will be the British elections in a few weeks.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain19 June 2024 21:00

Putin’s best friend routine with Kim Jong-un is a clear and present danger to the WestThe Russian president is desperate for ammunition for his invasion of Ukraine, forcing him to turn to another international pariah for help, writes Kim Sengupta

The Russian president is desperate for ammunition for his invasion of Ukraine, forcing him to turn to another international pariah for help, writes Kim Sengupta:

Maryam Zakir-Hussain19 June 2024 20:00

Thales to create joint venture with Ukraine to boost military supplies

French multinational Thales has signed three deals with Ukraine including one announcing an intention to create a joint venture in the country that will boost delivery of military gear, the defence company has announced.

“Domains of cooperation include Electronic Warfare, Tactical Communications, Air Defence Systems and radars, as well as Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” it added.

Besides the planned joint venture and another deal to help Ukraine cut repair times of electronic warfare gear, Thales also inked a deal with Ukraine’s FRDM aiming to co-develop and manufacture a drone system capable of releasing munitions.

Andy Gregory19 June 2024 19:43

Fire at drone-hit Russian oil depot rages for second day

A blaze caused by a Ukrainian drone strike on an oil terminal in southern Russia has been raging for more than a day and a half despite the efforts of firefighters, the regional governor has said.

Several oil storage tanks in the town of Azov caught fire after a drone attack early on Tuesday that a Ukrainian intelligence source told Reuters was conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

Vasily Golubev, governor of the Rostov region, wrote on Telegram that emergency services had been unable to extinguish the flames as of Tuesday afternoon as the second storage tank had been depressurised.

Azov has two oil product terminals, DonTerminal and Azovproduct, which handled a total of about 220,000 tons of fuel for export during the period from January to May 2024.

Ukraine has often said that targeting Russia’s energy, military and transport infrastructure undermines Moscow’s war effort.

Reuters19 June 2024 19:13

Putin praises Vietnam for ‘balanced’ stance on Ukraine war

Vladimir Putin praised Vietnam for its “balanced” stance on the Ukraine war and listed progress on payments, energy and trade in an opinion piece published on Wednesday in the newspaper of Vietnam’s Communist Party.

In the piece timed for Mr Putin’s state visit to Vietnam, he applauded the Communist-ruled country for supporting “a pragmatic way to solve the crisis” in Ukraine, in comments published in the Nhan Dan newspaper.

Andy Gregory19 June 2024 18:44

France’s far-right Bardella backtracks on past pledge to pull out of Nato command

The far-right leader angling to become prime minister after France’s upcoming parliamentary election has backtracked on his party’s previous promise to pull out of Nato’s strategic military command.

National Rally president Jordan Bardella said he “doesn’t plan to question the commitments France has made on the international stage” if voters give his far-right party a majority that enables him to lead a new government, in what would be an awkward power-sharing arrangement with President Emmanuel Macron.

Referring to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Mr Bardella said at the Eurosatory arms trade show outside Paris: “France mustn’t leave Nato’s military command while we are at war, because it would considerably weaken France’s responsibility on the European scene and, obviously, its credibility with regard to its allies.”

The comments pulled back from a campaign promise made by his party in its manifesto for the 2022 French presidential election, which stated: “The priority will be to leave the integrated Nato command.”

Jordan Bardella is the protege of France far-right leader Marine Le Pen
Jordan Bardella is the protege of France far-right leader Marine Le Pen (AP)

Andy Gregory19 June 2024 18:15

Pyongyang decked out with Putin portraits and Russian flags

Portraits of Putin and Russian flags line streets in Pyongyang ahead of arrival

Andy Gregory19 June 2024 17:47

Editorial | The Putin-Kim bromance is a dangerous liaison

There was a time, many decades ago, when an audience between the leaders of Russia and North Korea was a genuine meeting of ideological minds. Stalinism bound Kim il-Sung, grandfather of Kim Jong-un, to his sponsors and counterparts in the Kremlin and, it is fair to say, without the substantial military assistance given to the elder Kim and his comrades during the Korean war, the so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would not exist today.

Much has changed geopolitically since then, and relations between Moscow and Pyongyang have waxed and waned accordingly. Today, with Vladimir Putin’s first visit to the unpredictable hermit kingdom in a quarter of a century (when the then freshly minted President Putin met Mr Kim’s father), their renewed friendship is based less on sentiment and Marxist-Leninism than on cold calculations of common advantage.

They are both heavily sanctioned international pariahs, both enemies of the West. They share an uneasy relationship with China, which, because of its huge economic power, military prowess and status as a superpower, is more dominant neighbour than dependable friend.

The Putin-Kim bromance is a dangerous liaison, not just for South Korea, Japan and other regional powers, but for the rest of the world, and, indeed, the protagonists themselves.

Read The Independent‘s full editorial below:

The Putin-Kim bromance is a dangerous liaison

Editorial: Rather than the forging of a new axis against Western influence, the Russian president’s rare visit to North Korea is a telling sign of his weakness – and how, to declare victory in Ukraine, he may be prepared to take risks

Andy Gregory19 June 2024 17:20

Full report: Ukraine launches a national sexual assault registry for victims of Russian forces

Authorities in Ukraine have created a national registry to document cases of sexual violence allegedly committed by Russian forces, a senior prosecutor has said.

Viktoriia Litvinova, the country’s deputy prosecutor general, said that the registry was created out of a pilot project that had already resulted in the convictions of five people in absentia.

“We used to have to visit territories where hostilities are taking place ourselves,” she said. “But now people – individuals who have experienced sexual abuse – are seeking us out for information.”

Litvinova said 303 cases of conflict-related sexual violence had been registered since the start of the full-scale invasion in early 2022, with 112 involving male and 191 involving female victims. Some of the victims have suffered from multiple assaults, she said.

Derek Gatopoulos has the full report:

Andy Gregory19 June 2024 16:53

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