(August 2nd) #UkraineWar Update (Day 160) – Multiple #News Sources

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Security Service busts ‘million-bot’ farm used to discredit Ukrainian leadership, media allege Poroshenko’s involvement

August 2nd 2022

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) exposed a massive bot farm suspected of spreading disinformation about the Ukrainian government and fake news about the situation on the front line, allegedly with the help of a lawmaker who is “a part of the close circle of the former leadership of the state.” The SBU statement does not name any particular political party or lawmakers in its statement published on Aug. 2. But the Ukrainiska Pravda media outlet and the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported that, according to their sources in law enforcement, the lawmaker in question is from the European Solidarity Party, which is led by former President Petro Poroshenko. Lawmakers in Poroshenko’s party swiftly denied any involvement. According to the SBU, the suspects used over one million fake online accounts, or so-called bots, and social media networks with an audience of over 400,000 users to distribute content about Ukraine’s leadership in an effort to “destabilize the socio-political situation” in the country. Among the suspects’ latest disinformation campaigns was the alleged conflict between the President’s Office and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Lieutenant General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, as well as information aimed at discrediting First Lady Olena Zelenska, the SBU said. 

The alleged cybercriminals were backed by Russia, the SBU said, with its leader identified as “a Russian citizen living in Kyiv who had positioned himself as a political expert.” The SBU alleged that the man organized the information-subversive activities on the order of one of Ukraine’s political parties. In order to coordinate disinformation campaigns, “he was in contact with a current lawmaker who is part of the close circle of the former leadership of our state,” the SBU said. Iryna Gerashchenko, the co-chair of the 25-seat European Solidarity faction, wrote on Facebook that “our team categorically denies any involvement in any so-called bot farms, especially pro-Russian ones.” Gerashenko instead blamed “media outlets that cite some anonymous, unnamed sources trying to tie our political power to this provocation,” calling the reports “a dishonor and execution of the political will of (those in) power.” This isn’t the first time a political party in Ukraine, including Poroshenko’s European Solidarity Party, has been accused of using bots to attack political rivals. Bots tied to political parties and PR agencies to sway public opinion are common in the country. In July of 2020, Facebook removed dozens of fake accounts linked to a Ukrainian marketing group called Postmen for spreading offensive content about Ukrainian politicians during the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. It was unclear at the time who Postmen was working for, as the content spread “black PR” about several Ukrainian politicians. 

Please check source for more on this story

SOURCE = Kyiv Independent

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‘Russia will re-broadcast his words’: Jeremy Corbyn is branded a ‘disgrace’ after he condemns the UK for ‘pouring arms into Ukraine’ and calls for peace with Russia

August 2nd 2022

Jeremy Corbyn was branded a ‘disgrace’ last night after attacking Britain for ‘pouring arms into Ukraine‘ instead of seeking peaceful negotiations with Vladimir Putin. The former Labour leader said providing military aid would only ‘prolong and exaggerate’ the conflict. He made the remarks during an interview with Al Mayadeen, a Lebanon-based TV channel accused of having sympathies with terrorist organisation Hezbollah and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Mr Corbyn currently sits as an independent MP after having the Labour whip removed in 2020, and last night party sources suggested his comments would only make his readmission less likely.

Refusing to condemn Putin or his illegal invasion, Mr Corbyn said: ‘Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war.’ He noted the recent grain agreement between Russia and Ukraine, but added that ‘putting more and more arms into Ukraine’ would not help such deals hold. Alexander Stafford, a Tory MP with Ukrainian heritage, said: ‘These comments are an absolute disgrace and smack of the worst type of appeasement. ‘History is clear that the only way to stop despots attacking innocents is to show strength.’ Former Labour MP Mike Gapes said: ‘So many Labour MPs and members were prepared to support this threat to our national security. And he is still a member of Labour. Why?’ And Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defence committee, warned: ‘Russia will re-broadcast his words in an attempt to show UK support for Ukraine is slipping.’

Please check source for more on this story

SOURCE = Daily Mail

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US sanctions on Kremlin-connected elites for ‘complicity’ in Ukraine war

August 2nd 2022

The US on Tuesday announced a new tranche of sanctions against Russian elites with connections to the Kremlin for their role in supporting the invasion of Ukraine. “As innocent people suffer from Russia’s illegal war of aggression, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s allies have enriched themselves and funded opulent lifestyles,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. Among those hit with sanctions were Andrey Guryev, a billionaire and associate of Mr Putin who owns Witanhurst, the second-largest estate in London after Buckingham Palace. The sanctions also name Mr Guryev’s son and Alfa Nero, a yacht based in the Caribbean. Viktor Rashnikov, majority owner of one of the world’s largest steel producers, was also slapped with sanctions. Other Russian elites hit by the latest penalties included Alina Kabaeva — a former Olympic gymnast — and Natalya Popova, the statement read.

In a joint action, the State Department imposed sanctions and visa restrictions on oligarchs “running massive revenue-generating companies”, including Dmitry Pumpyanskiy, Andrey Melnichenko and Alexander Ponomarenko, as well as about 900 officials and a series of defence and technology-related firms aiding “Russia’s war machine”. “As Ukrainians continue to valiantly defend their homeland in the face of President Putin’s brutal war, Russia’s elite are running massive revenue-generating companies and funding their own opulent lifestyles outside of Russia,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. The latest sanctions seize any US-based funds or properties owned by the individuals or organisations named and prohibit US-based first firms from conducting financial business with them.

Please check source for more on this story

SOURCE = The National

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Russian claims of destroying Ukrainian HIMARS false – Pentagon

August 2nd 2022

The Pentagon on Tuesday denied Russian claims that the country had destroyed six US-made HIMARS missile systems since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to Interfax, said on Tuesday that Russia had destroyed the HIMARS after Moscow deployed tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24. “We are aware of these latest claims by Minister Shoigu and they are again patently false,” Todd Breasseale, the Pentagon’s acting spokesman, said. “What is happening, however, is that the Ukrainians are employing with devastating accuracy and effectiveness, each of the fully accounted for precision missile systems the US, our Allies, and partners have provided them to defend against Russia’s brutal, criminal invasion,” Breasseale added.

Russia regularly claims it has hit HIMARS, but has yet to show proof. Shoigu said Russia had also destroyed five anti-ship Harpoon missile launch systems and 33 M777 howitzers since Moscow deployed tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine. Reuters could not verify the accuracy of the reports. Ukraine officials have said they operate up to a dozen HIMARS systems, whose accuracy and long range have allowed Kyiv to reduce Russia’s artillery advantage.

SOURCE = SABC News

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U.S. sanctions more Russian oligarchs; Senate moves toward vote to admit Sweden and Finland into NATO

August 2nd 2022

The United States slapped more sanctions on Russian oligarchs on Tuesday, as the U.S. Senate moved closer to a vote to admit Sweden and Finland into the NATO military alliance. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of fears over a nuclear accident in Ukraine. He told reporters late Monday that there are “credible reports” that Russia “is using this plant as the equivalent of a human shield, but a nuclear shield in the sense that it’s firing on Ukrainians from around the plant.” Meanwhile, the first shipment of grain exports from Ukraine in months departed Monday from the port of Odesa. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the shipment a “positive signal.”

Two Republican senators have proposed amendments on the vote to add Sweden and Finland to NATO. Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, both are seeking changes to the treaty vote as Congress prepares to head into recess. Paul told NBC News that his amendment states that “nothing in the Article Five portion of the NATO Treaty supersedes the congressional directive that we have to declare war.” The NATO provision holds than an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all members. Sullivan told NBC News that his amendment states that every member of NATO, to now include Sweden and Finland, should commit to the 2% of GDP spending on defense goal established at the 2014 NATO Wales Summit. The vote to include Sweden and Finland in NATO is expected to overwhelmingly pass.

Please check source for more on this story

SOURCE = CNBC

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Ukraine war: Russia accuses US of direct role in Ukraine war

August 2nd 2022

Russia has accused the US of direct involvement in the war in Ukraine for the first time. A spokesperson for Moscow’s defence ministry alleged the US was approving targets for American-made Himars artillery used by Kyiv’s forces.Lt Gen Igor Konashenkov said intercepted calls between Ukrainian officials revealed the link. The BBC could not independently verify this. Russia previously accused Washington of fighting a “proxy war” in Ukraine. A spokesperson for the Pentagon said it provided the Ukrainians with “detailed, time-sensitive information to help them understand the threats they face and defend their country against Russian aggression”. Himars is a multiple rocket system which can launch precision-guided missiles at targets as far as 70km (45 miles) away – far further than the artillery that Ukraine previously had. They are also believed to be more accurate than their Russian equivalents. Mr Konashenkov said: “It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all rocket attacks approved by Kyiv on residential areas and civilian infrastructure facilities in settlements of Donbas and other regions that caused mass deaths of civilians.”

In April, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said US President Joe Biden’s decision to supply Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of arms meant “Nato, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy”. “War means war,” the 72-year-old warned. Throughout the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has been accused of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity. Last week, Ukraine accused Moscow of bombing a prison in separatist held Donetsk to cover up allegations of torture. And the BBC has documented allegations of torture and beatings of Ukrainian prisoners by both the Russian military and security services.

SOURCE = BBC News

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Russia-Ukraine war: Kyiv recaptures 53 settlements in Kherson as fightback grows

August 2nd 2022

Ukraine has recaptured 53 settlements in the southern region of Kherson as its fightback in the largely Russian occupied region mounts, the regional governor has said. Ukraine has pledged to conduct a major counter-offensive to retake the swathes of land Russia captured early in the war, using Western-made long-range weapons to hit Russian supply lines. “As of now, 53 settlements have been confirmed as liberated,” Dmytro Butriy, the acting governor, said on national television. That figure was nine settlements more than the number he gave on 1 August, which appeared to indicate a quickening tempo of Ukrainian gains in the region.

That’s all for tonight

Today’s top stories included:

  • Russia accuses US of ‘direct involvement’ in the war
  • The first unblocked Ukraine grains shipment has reached Turkish waters
  • Russia’s supreme court has designated Ukraine’s Azov battalion ‘terrorists’
  • Putin’s ex-gymnast ‘lover’ and 25 Russian airline-run Airbus planes are sanctioned by the US
  • Three British men are to stand trial in a Russian proxy court accused of being mercenaries
  • Ukrainians have been killed in Russian strikes on an evacuation bus

Finland and Sweden’s bid to join Nato backed by Italy’s lower house of parliament

Finland and Sweden are a step closer to joining Nato after Italy’s Chamber of Deputies ratified a bill approving their accession, which needs to be voted for by the parliaments of all 30 of its members.

The bill now needs a second, final green light from Italy’s Senate.

First grains ship reaches Turkish waters

The first grain ship to leave Ukraine since the war began has reached Turkish territorial waters, AFP reports.

The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni was reportedly slowed down by bad weather in the Black Sea en route to Istanbul.

“The inspection of the ship by the joint inspection team will begin (Wednesday) morning,” the Turkish defence ministry said.

More than 26,000 tonnes of corn are on board the Razoni, which set sail from the Ukrainian port of Odesa on Monday, destined for Lebanon.

Please check source for more on this story

SOURCE = The Telegraph

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Parliament to introduce draft laws corresponding to EU requirements

August 2nd 2022

The Verkhovna Rada plans in the near future to include in the plan of consideration bills concerning the implementation of the recommendations of the European Commission on granting Ukraine the status of a candidate for membership of the European Union, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk said. “The Parliament is involved in the implementation of six of the seven requirements that Ukraine has received from the European Commission and the European Council regarding candidacy for EU membership. Seven requirements is a separate track. This applies to the law on the Constitutional Court (the introduction of elected positions), and the appointment of members of the Supreme Council of Justice by Parliament, and the issue of de-oligarchization and financial monitoring, and issues related to the media, and the issue of national communities. In the near future we will put them in the order of consideration of the Parliament of Ukraine,” the speaker said in a comment to the Interfax-Ukraine agency on Monday. At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that the fulfillment of Ukraine’s obligations to adapt national legislation to the legislation of the European Union is a separate “track” that the Rada is working on.

“Together with the government, we conducted the first stage of mutual verification of how many bills aimed at European integration are already in the Verkhovna Rada, and this figure is 49. According to these 49 documents, we will definitely give 30 days for the first time in the history of the Parliament to bring them into line with the resolution [No. 7595 ‘On certain measures for Ukraine’s obligations in the field of European integration’]: there should be a table of compliance with EU directives. That is, there will be not just a traditional comparative table of how it was and how it became, but there will be another, additional column about how this or that provision meets the EU requirements and which point of which directive can be referred to,” Stefanchuk explained. According to him, this is necessary so that “expert opinion is privileged and there is an understanding in the hall to what extent this or that bill corresponds to the requirements of the EU.” At the same time, the head of the Verkhovna Rada stressed that 49 draft laws are far from an exceptional list, but only an initial number.


SOURCE = Kyiv Post

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