Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu has called the Kremlin’s claims that the perpetrator of a deadly car bomb outside Moscow fled to Estonia a “provocation”.
Reinsalu told Estonian television that the claim was the latest “in a very long series of provocations by the Russian Federation”. Reinsalu said the claim was an attempt by the Russian regime to pressure Estonia into supporting Ukraine in the war.
The US State Department issued an alert on Tuesday urging Americans to “leave Ukraine now”, citing fears Russia is stepping up missile strikes on civilian and government structures.
The warning comes amid public outcry in Russia over a car bomb that killed a hardline Russian commentator outside Moscow on Saturday night. Hundreds of people lined up on Tuesday to pay their respects to Darya Dugina, 29, the daughter of right-wing Russian political philosopher Alexander Dugin, who was widely seen as the intended target.
Ukraine has banned large public gatherings that had been planned for Wednesday, Ukraine’s Independence Day marking its break with the Soviet Union in 1991. However, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was defiant during a flag day event tuesday.
“Nobody wants to die, but nobody is afraid of Russia, and that’s the most important signal,” he said.
►NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the defense alliance’s “long-term support for Ukraine so that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign and independent nation”.
►Dynamo Kyiv’s unlikely bid to reach the Champions League group stage ended in the final hurdle on Tuesday after the Ukrainian side’s 5-0 aggregate loss to Portugal’s Benfica in the qualifiers qualifying.
►High energy prices, increasing food shortages, soaring inflation and the growing risk of nuclear catastrophe are some of the global consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine as she’s approaching six months with no end in sight.
►The 25th cargo ship carrying grain has left Ukraine as part of an agreement with Russia brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to unblock Ukrainian ports, according to Agence France-Presse.
SIX MONTHS IN THE WAR:The whole world is losing. Will this conflict ever end?
UKRANIAN REFUGEES IN THE UNITED STATES:Long-term survival is a big concern. Here’s why.
US to help Ukraine mark Independence Day with $3 billion aid package
The United States is sending Ukraine a very expensive Independence Day package: an additional $3 billion in security aid.
The latest aid, to be announced on Wednesday as Ukraine celebrates its separation from the Soviet Union in 1991, will focus less on the current war with Russia and more on equipping and training Ukrainian forces for the long term, U.S. officials told The Associated Press. The money will fund contracts for drones, weapons and other equipment that might not see the battlefield for a year or two, they said on condition of anonymity.
The new package, unveiled as the war reaches the six-month mark, also serves as proof that the United States remains committed to supporting Ukraine through thick and thin in the conflict, the officials said.
UN officials reiterate need to inspect beleaguered nuclear power plant
United Nations officials have issued fresh calls for the warring parties to reach a deal allowing inspectors access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, as the Security Council meets Tuesday to address concerns that fighting in the region could trigger a disaster.
UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo said at the start of the emergency meeting that the International Atomic Energy Agency was seeking to send a mission to carry out a security inspection at the site, which made the object of bombardment for which Russia and Ukraine blame each other.
“Preparations for the mission are continuing and the IAEA is in active consultation with all parties regarding its efforts to send such a mission as soon as possible,” DiCarlo said, echoing UN warnings that “any damage potential in Zaporizhzhia is suicidal”.
The Zaporizhzhia plant has been under the control of Russian forces since early March, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, and Moscow has resisted demands to withdraw its troops and military equipment from the facility. Ukrainian technical experts continue to operate nuclear equipment.
The Ukrainian football league plays its first match since the invasion
Ukraine’s professional football league kicked off its new season on Tuesday after a poignant ceremony honoring those who fought in the war with Russia. The opening match at Kyiv’s empty 65,000-seat Olympic Stadium brought together two teams from the war-torn east, Shaktar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 from Kharkiv.
Players entered the pitch with Ukrainian flags draped over their shoulders and observed a minute of silence as the names of towns where people had died in the war were displayed on a large screen. The first top-flight football match played in the country since the Russian invasion in February ended in a 0-0 draw.
Rodman’s plan to help Brittney Griner could backfire, experts warn
Dennis Rodman has once again inserted himself into US diplomatic relations, this time in an effort to free detained WNBA star Brittney Griner. The retired NBA great told NBC News he plans to travel to Russia to “help this girl.” But his contributions to the negotiations — if Russia even chooses to pay attention to him — will be minimal, or even could hurt Griner’s case, experts say.
Rodman, the enigmatic three-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer, made his first foray into attempting peace with an American adversary by linking up with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in basketball. The current task would be to negotiate with Russia for the release of Griner, who was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this month (she is currently appealing).
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Rodman would not be traveling on behalf of the U.S. government and that “anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and impede these liberation efforts”. Learn more here.
— Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY
Contributor: The Associated Press