Training mission is first step towards EU troops in Ukraine – member state

Sending instructors to the war-torn country would cross “another red line,” Peter Szijjarto has said

The potential deployment of EU military instructors to Ukraine is a “very dangerous proposal” that would lead to soldiers from the bloc becoming fully involved in the conflict, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has warned.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters last month that the bloc may “have to adapt our training capacities and offers to the Ukrainians’ needs,” possibly by “doing part of the training in Ukraine.” Doing so would allow the EU to tailor its training “to the real circumstances of the war,” he argued, before admitting that there was still no “consensus” on the idea among the bloc’s 27 member states.

“This is a very dangerous proposal, which would mean crossing another red line,” Szijjarto told Hungarian reporters after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday. Hungary considers such a step unacceptable, he continued, arguing that it would be “practically the first step towards sending European soldiers to Ukraine.”

Around 50,000 Ukrainian soldiers have already been trained in the EU, under a bloc-wide mission set up in 2022. The EU Advisory Mission also trains Ukrainian police and national guard units on Ukrainian soil, while mercenaries from multiple EU countries have joined Kiev’s military, ostensibly without their home countries’ backing.

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EU to bypass Hungarian veto on tapping Russian assets – FT

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he was working to “finalize” a coalition of Western nations willing to send military instructors to Ukraine. 

Western military personnel are already active in Ukraine “under the guise of mercenaries,” and “have been there for a long time,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in response. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov singled out the French in particular, telling reporters that “whether they are members of the French armed forces or simply mercenaries, they represent an absolutely legitimate target for our armed forces.”

Back in January, Russian forces carried out a missile strike on a temporary base for foreign fighters in Kharkov. At least 60 soldiers were killed, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated, adding that “most” of this number were “French mercenaries.”

Hungary has repeatedly called for peace talks between Moscow and Kiev, and has refused to allow any Western weapons to enter Ukraine via its territory. Budapest has also threatened to veto the EU’s economic penalties on Moscow, agreeing to 14 successive sanctions packages only after securing concessions from Brussels, including a partial exemption from the EU’s bloc-wide oil embargo and a guarantee that its nuclear sector won’t be affected by future packages.

READ MORE: Hungary ‘won’t ride NATO war train’ – Orban

Additionally, Hungary has vetoed the EU’s use of seized Russian assets to purchase arms for Ukraine. However, Borrell told the Financial Times on Monday that Brussels had developed a legal workaround to bypass Budapest’s block. 

US lawmaker condemns attack on Crimea

The American military should defend its own country, Marjorie Taylor Greene has said

The American military should not be involved in helping Ukraine to target Russian civilians, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has said in response to the deadly ATACMS strike on a Sevastopol beach.

A volley of ATACMS missiles, provided by the US to Ukraine, targeted Crimea on Sunday. Cluster munitions from one of the missiles struck a busy beach near Sevastopol, killing five civilians and injuring over 150, including children.

“This should not be happening,” Greene posted on X (formerly Twitter). “Imagine if Russia, using a Russian satellite, fired cluster munitions on a Florida beach.”

“The only border our American military should be defending is our own border,” the Georgia Republican added.

Greene was quoting a report that showed a US Global Hawk military drone circling around in the Black Sea during the Ukrainian attack, appearing to help Kiev’s forces with using the US-supplied missiles.

“Are winning hearts and minds? How hard will [US President Joe] Biden continue to poke the bear ahead of the November elections?” the author of the post asked.

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Deadly Crimea attack using US missiles caught on VIDEO

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Ukrainian military fired five ATACMS missiles at Crimea. While Russian air defense systems destroyed four of the projectiles in mid-air, the fifth was damaged, veered off course, and detonated its cluster warhead over a packed beach, killing five civilians and injuring more than 150. Three of the dead were children.

The Kremlin described the beach attack as an act of terrorism and argued that the US was as responsible for it as Ukraine. Moscow’s ambassador in Washington pointed out that ATACMS “can’t be launched” without targeting information and intelligence supplied by the US, and that such attacks happen whenever American drones loiter over the Black Sea.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned US Ambassador Lynne Tracy on Monday morning to answer for Washington’s role in the attack. According to a statement released by the ministry, Russian officials told Tracy that Sunday’s “bloody atrocity” would “not go unpunished.”

The US Embassy in Moscow has yet to comment. When asked for its take on the Ukrainian strike, the Pentagon replied that “we have seen the reports and have nothing to say.”

Meanwhile, Vladimir Zelensky’s adviser Mikhail Podoliak defended the strike – and not for the first time – by claiming there are no civilians in Crimea, only Russian “occupiers.” 

Historically a Russian peninsula, Crimea was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR by Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev in 1954. Its population voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia in 2014, following the US-backed coup in Kiev.

Record number of labor strikes held in Germany in 2023 – report

Some 312 disputes were recorded last year, the highest in nearly a decade, a new report says

Germany saw a sharp increase in industrial actions and labor disputes in 2023, according to a new report published by the Institute of Economic and Social Sciences (WSI).

A total of 312 labor disputes were recorded in Germany last year, up from 225 in 2022, the report said. The strikes linked to those disputes resulted in the equivalent 1,527,000 working days of labor lost — twice as much as the previous year, according to the institute. Among the longest strikes were ones that lasted 123 and 180 days, figures cited in the report show.

The last time the number of strikes was this high was 2015, the statistics showed. Germany was perceived by many as a “strike republic” last year, the report added, noting that the industrial disputes had seriously impacted the everyday lives of many people. Strikes in the fields of public transportation, the postal service, and among airport and railway workers were among the notable examples, it said.

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Grim prognosis for German economy issued

According to the WSI, high inflation and wage losses were the primary factors driving the increase in labor disputes. The question of “how the costs of inflation are distributed between capital and labor” was at the core of such conflicts, it said. Some labor market changes that put employees in a relatively stronger position also contributed to their determination to seek better pay and working conditions, it added.

This year is also shaping up to be “a year of intensive labor disputes,” the WSI warned.

According to the report, a major industrial action is expected in the nation’s metals industry this autumn, which employs some 4 million people across the country.

The German economy has taken several major hits in recent years, particularly in light of the EU push to eliminate Russian energy imports as part of the sanctions drive against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.

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‘Russia turned off the gas’ – German leader

For years, Germany’s prized industrial sector had been fueled by relatively inexpensive Russian gas. However, Berlin decided to switch to costlier alternatives from other sources, including American liquefied natural gas.

In February, the president of the German Institute for Economic Research, Marcel Fratzscher, estimated that the Ukraine conflict had cost the nation more than €200 billion ($216 billion).

Germany was the only G7 economy to contract last year as it struggled to overcome the fallout from the energy crisis. Official data published in January showed that the economy shrank by 0.3% year-on-year in 2023 under pressure from soaring inflation and higher interest rates.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has nevertheless blamed Moscow for his nation’s economic woes. The embargo against Russia was necessary to defend Europe against “imperialism,” he claimed in April.

Paris organisers still unable to confirm Seine will be swimmable in time for Olympics events

The Seine is set to be a star feature of the Paris Olympics, but with just one month remaining until the opening of the games, heavy rains and pollution are keeping organisers in suspense on whether they will be able to host the open-water swimming events and a leg of the triathlon in the river.

Kremlin issues warning over ‘barbaric’ Crimea attack

US involvement in the deadly Ukrainian cluster munition strike on a crowded beach in Russia’s Sevastopol will have consequences, Dmitry Peskov has said

Moscow “understands perfectly well” who is behind Sunday’s deadly strike on the city of Sevastopol in Russia’s Crimea, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said, vowing Russian retaliation.

The Ukrainian attack carried out with US-supplied ATACMS missiles killed at least four people, among them two children, and injured more than 150, according to local officials. Four missiles were intercepted by air defenses, while a fifth deviated from its trajectory and detonated its cluster warhead over the busy Black Sea beach. As a result, the falling fragments of cluster munitions led to numerous civilian casualties, the Russian Defense Ministry stated on Sunday.

“We see … an absolutely barbaric missile attack in Crimea. We understand perfectly well who is behind this … who is aiming these absolutely technically complex missiles at the targets,” Peskov told reporters during a press briefing on Monday.

“You should ask my colleagues in Europe, and above all in Washington, ask the press secretaries there why their governments are killing Russian children. Just ask them this question,” Peskov told the journalists in attendance.

He went on to warn that “of course, the direct involvement of the United States in hostilities that result in Russian civilians being killed [will] have consequences. What exactly, time will tell,” he said, recalling remarks by President Vladimir Putin that Moscow has considered similarly arming the adversaries of Western nations as a response to the supplying of weapons to Ukraine.

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Pentagon has ‘nothing to say’ about strike on Crimean beach with US-supplied weapons

Moscow has placed the blame for Sunday’s attack primarily with Washington, accusing it of enabling the “premeditated terrorist missile attack.” The targets for these US-provided missiles are assigned to Ukrainian troops by American specialists, based on their own intelligence data, the Defense Ministry stated.

Kiev deliberately chooses mass gatherings of people as targets, both out of hatred and to sow panic, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said following the attack. Pentecost Sunday was picked deliberately, she claimed.

The US announced in July 2023 that it would provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, sparking outrage in Moscow. At the time, US President Joe Biden called the decision “very difficult” but justified, arguing that the deliveries were needed to fuel a Ukrainian counteroffensive that subsequently failed with heavy losses for Kiev.

Ukraine has previously targeted the Crimean peninsula with US-provided ATACMS missiles. In May, ten ATACMS on a trajectory toward the strategic Crimean Bridge were shot down, according to Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov.