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Kadyrov’s critic assassinated in Austria
Published: Sun, 05 Jul 2020 14:17:00 GMT

A 43-year-old Russian asylum seeker was shot dead in the Austrian city of Gerasdorf on Saturday, July 4.

Austrian news outlet OE24 writes that the man was shot in the head. The incident took place near one of the city's shopping centers.

Gerasdorf is located 20 km from Vienna.

Austrian special forces detained a suspect in Linz, he is also a Russian citizen. The man did not resist arrest.

Austrian radio station ORF reported that both Russians were probably from Chechnya.

According to Kavkaz.Realii and Kavkazsky Uzel publications, which cite sources in the Chechen diaspora in Europe, the murdered man is a Chechen-born blogger, Mamihan Umarov. He reportedly criticized the activities of the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov and ran a channel on Youtube called "Anzor from Vienna" in Chechen.

Umarov called himself a former employee of the Ministry of Sharia State Security of the Republic of Ichkeria in social networks and interviews and spoke about involvement of Russian special services in attempts on political emigrants and former Chechen separatists in Europe.

In Ukraine, Mamihan Umarov was a witness in the murder of the Chechen military volunteer Amina Okuyeva, writes the Ukrainian news agency Hromadske with reference to sources in the investigation.

Hromadske ‘s interlocutors said that Umarov's testimony helped to lay charges against the likely organizer of the murder of Amina Okuyeva - Salah Delimbekovich Humaidov.

In August 2019, a Chechen man, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was killed in Berlin. The Chechen sought asylum in Germany after several attacks on him in Georgia.

Khangoshvili was a field commander during the second Chechen war. He fought on the side of Shamil Basayev and Abu Walid, later - Aslan Maskhadov. Since 2002, Khangoshvili has been on the Russian wanted list on suspicion of terrorism. According to the chairman of the German-Caucasian Society, Ekkehard Mas, he was on the execution list among other Chechens living abroad.

The killer was detained, he turned out to be a Russian citizen who came to Berlin shortly before the crime. The prosecutor's office said that he did not admit guilt and refused to give evidence.

Yarosh: In 2014 Ukrainian volunteers could have liberated Donetsk but were ordered to retreat
Published: Sat, 04 Jul 2020 17:00:00 GMT

In 2014, Ukrainian fighters could have liberated Donetsk, stated the commander of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, ex-MP Dmytro Yarosh on air of the TV channel Obozrevatel TV.

According to Yarosh, Donetsk in 2014 was under the control of "real criminal gangs" and Russian regular forces were not there yet.

"We even went past the "Donetsk" sign and then we received the order [to withdraw]," Yarosh said.

Yarosh noted that the order to withdraw came "though the communication channel" of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as the military leadership was afraid of large losses among the civilian population of the city. He specified that when the troops enter the city, houses from which fire is being carried out could be destroyed.

At the same time, Yarosh stressed that Ukrainian volunteers were ready to liberate Donetsk. They had "good infantry" but lacked armored vehicles. One of the two tanks could not drive, and the other could not shoot.

He added that he has "gnawing pains" because if Donetsk had been liberated, there would have been no "DPR" or "LPR".

Lukashenko: building strong relations with U.S. is one of Belarus' main goals
Published: Sat, 04 Jul 2020 16:00:00 GMT

Building a strong and constructive relationship with the United States is one of Belarus' main goals, wrote the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in his greeting to his American counterpart on the Day of Independence of the United States.

"Building a strong, constructive relationship with the United States based on common values and priorities is one of the main goals of the Belarusian foreign policy," reads the greeting message addressed to Donald Trump.

Lukashenko noted that the acceleration of contacts in the economic, financial, scientific and educational spheres is in the interests of both countries. The Belarusian leader expressed confidence that raising the level of diplomatic representation in Minsk and Washington will contribute to the effective implementation of joint projects.

In May, Trump proposed appointing State Department staffer Julie Fischer as the new U.S. ambassador to Belarus. The countries partially severed diplomatic relations, withdrawing ambassadors in 2008 - after Washington's imposed sanctions against Minsk.

The U.S. and Belarus agreed to restore diplomatic relations in February 2020 during Secretary of State Michael Pompeo's visit to Minsk.

Putin announces overhaul of Russian legislation
Published: Sat, 04 Jul 2020 14:27:00 GMT

Amendments to the Russian Constitution, approved at the popular vote, come into force, announced on Friday, July 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to the decree signed by Putin and posted on the website of legal information, Russia will start living under the new Basic Law from July 4.

The Russian Federal Security Service ((FSB) is tasked with ensuring that the amended Constitution is published on the pravo.gov.ru website, the document reads.

The amendments come into force "without any overstatement at the will of the people," Putin said at a meeting with the working group preparing constitutional reform.

According to the Russian Central Election Commission, 77.92% of those who came to the polls voted in favor of the changes, which, among other things, will allow Putin to remain in power until 2036. This result shows the high consolidation of Russian society, the President said.

"We have made this momentous decision together, as a whole country, and it concerns the values and basic principles that underlie Russia's further development," he said.

The authorities will not limit themselves to amending certain articles of the Constitution. Russia will have a large-scale and qualitative change of the entire legislative framework, Putin said.

"It was obvious that if citizens supported the amendments, serious large-scale legislative work would be required. And this moment has come," Putin addressed the working group, which in addition to deputies and senators included the ataman of the All-Russian Cossacks society, Nikolai Doluda, pianist Denis Matsuev and two-time Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva.

Changes in the country, according to Putin, "affect everyone."

The Russian State Duma will immediately begin to work on the adoption of new laws to implement amendments, said the speaker of the lower house Vyacheslav Volodin. "It is extremely important," he added, that the standards of the updated Constitution "become the norm of life for us."

Legislation in the Duma will begin "virtually from today," Volodin said: for the sake of this, MPs will have to give up vacation.

"Whoever took on the duties of deputy, politician, should understand: the politician, the deputy has no vacations, it’s all conditional," Volodin explained. "Our deputies have responsible attitude; I hope that all of them understand that now we need to work on new laws."

About 100 constitutional and federal laws will need to be changed, said Pavel Krasheninnikov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Statehood and Constitutional Legislation Committee.

Five areas will be reviewed, he said. The first is social guarantees, pensions, support for the institution of the family, education; the second is healthcare, science and culture; the third is the laws on public power, issues of municipal and public service, elections legislation.

The fourth block is the defense and security, the sanctity of the territory; fifth, laws relating to business, entrepreneurship, property rights and the development of civil society institutions.

Russia demands that Kyiv show changes to Ukrainian Constitution on Donbas special status
Published: Sat, 04 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT

At the Normandy talks, Russia insists on adopting a legal definition of the status of the Donbas and wants to see the draft amendment to the Constitution of Ukraine, reports the German publication Der Spiegel, citing unofficial working documents of the Russian delegation.

According to the documents, the Russian side demands that Ukraine submit a draft amendment to the Constitution by July 6. It must determine the status of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in the state structure of Ukraine.

Russia also demands that Kyiv step up its efforts to implement the Steinmeier formula. The formula stipulates that the areas controlled by pro-Russian militants in the Donbas will automatically receive special status after the OSCE recognizes local elections as free and fair.

The document also says that Ukraine should "without additional conditions" by July 6 to draw up a list of prisoners, which the separatists must give back to the Ukrainian side. The separatists will also present a list of prisoners.

Dmitry Kozak, deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, said that Russia requires that Ukraine fulfills these conditions not until July 6, but "in the near future." He said that Moscow "is committed to encouraging all necessary decisions of a political peace settlement."

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky decided not to comment on the meeting of presidential advisers of the Normandy format on the settlement in the Donbas.

"No one can demand anything from Ukraine. We are an independent country. We all need to work on rhetoric. As for the meeting, I will tell you frankly: I am not ready to speak yet. The meeting was very good. It was focused. There is nothing more to comment on," the Ukrainian President said.

The Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration Andrii Yermak, who was present at the meeting on July 3 in Berlin, also did not talk about the results of the 11-hour talks. He said the meeting brought the forthcoming summit in Berlin closer.

The participants of the meeting agreed that every effort should be made to fully implement the decisions of the Paris summit of leaders of the Normandy format. In particular, the parties agreed on the need for real measures to ensure a full and comprehensive ceasefire.

The Russian side took a pause to prepare a response to the consolidated position of Ukraine, France and Germany.

At the end of March, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for the reintegration of temporarily occupied territories Oleksii Reznikov said that Ukraine is not going to introduce into the Constitution the special status of the captured territories of the Donbas, although, at the Trilateral Contact Group, Russia is constantly trying to raise this issue.

In June, the Ukrainian President's Office drafted a new bill on the "special status" of "the temporarily occupied territories of the Donbas", incorporating the "Steinmeier formula" into it.

Russia to deploy military communications and intelligence systems in space
Published: Fri, 03 Jul 2020 18:00:00 GMT

In 2022, Russia plans to begin the deployment of a next-generation satellite communications system in space, which will allow global control of the planet's surface, stated in an interview with the newspaper Red Star Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air and Space Forces Colonel-General Sergey Surovikin.

According to Surovikin, the program will be carried out as part of the creation of the Unified Space System. The deployment of an orbiting space reconnaissance system will begin in 2023 following the launch of phase three communication satellites.

The entire orbital grouping of new satellites will be launched into low-Earth orbit by 2024.

"This September, we plan to complete the tests of a space communication system with the Blagovest spacecraft in geostationary orbit," Surovikin said.

The general also noted that a new Command and Measurement System "Topaz" is being created for the Russian Aerospace Forces, which will allow to control satellites in all types of orbits.

The head of the Russian Air and Space Forces added that the work to improve the control of outer space, which is underway in Russia now, will allow in the future not only to track the launches of missiles, but also to control small spacecraft of foreign states.

Russia is now using meridian dual-use vehicles to monitor outer space. They were created in the 1980s as part of the Second Stage Unified Satellite Communications System. Meridian satellites have dual purpose. They perform both military and civilian tasks: provide communication to ships and aircraft, expand the communications network in the north of the country.

In 2020, Russia launched two military satellites. In February, the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket was used to launched the Meridian-M spacecraft from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. In May, another defense satellite was launched from the Cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region.

France sees no progress in relations with Russia
Published: Fri, 03 Jul 2020 16:00:00 GMT

France's attempts to build new relations with Russia and return it to the ranks of leading industrialized countries have not yet yielded results, said French Defense Minister Florence Parly.

French President Emmanuel Macron believes that pushing Russia away is a "big strategic mistake" and wants to enlist Moscow's help in resolving various crises in the world, while reducing the level of mistrust between Russia, NATO and the EU.

In September, Macron sent defense and foreign ministers to Moscow, interrupting a four-year pause in high-level diplomatic visits, and appointed a special representative for establishing the structural dialogue he proposed to Vladimir Putin.

"If you ask whether there are concrete results in the dialogue initiated by France with Russia, I will answer sincerely that there are still none," Parly said, speaking at a hearing in the European Parliament.

She said Russia's role in Libya, where it supports the Libyan National Army in the fight against the government in Tripoli, also poses a threat to the European Union.

"We are dissatisfied with this role... but as part of our efforts to achieve a truce in Libya, we need to communicate with Russia. And Libya is not the only area where this discussion is needed," she added.

U.S. General Hodges: Ukraine Syria and Libya are one theater of war for Russia
Published: Fri, 03 Jul 2020 15:00:00 GMT

Russia could provoke another migration crisis in Europe - about a million refugees can be transferred from Libya to the European continent, said in an interview with the Ukrainian news outlet LB.ua Lieutenant General, former commander of the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe Ben Hodges.

"If we do nothing to disrupt or limit their actions in Libya, we will get an additional million refugees from Libya to Europe. Just as we received more than three million refugees from Syria in Turkey and in European countries. It wasn't an accident, it was all meant to be. We call this phenomenon the "weapon of mass migration." After all, it has a destabilizing effect on the EU, on the relations between European countries. And I expect that Russia will continue to use this factor," the general said.

At the same time, he noted that Ukraine, Syria, Libya are one theater of war for Russia. According to him, Russia's aggression in Libya was made possible only after Russia captured Crimea in 2014.

"I believe that now the Kremlin's attention is focused on the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean, Libya and Syria. All this is one theater of war. It's all interconnected. What the Russians are doing in Libya is made possible by their actions in Syria, thanks to the presence of a naval and air base. And this would not have happened without a starting point [Crimea] in the Black Sea," Hodges explained.

The general is confident that with the connivance of the West, Moscow will continue to support General Haftar, as well as put pressure on European oil companies in Libya.

Hodges admits that in September Russia can seize the dam in Kherson to unblock the water flow to Crimea. According to him, the peninsula is very important for Moscow, because it is from the ports of the annexed Crimea that Russian ships are sent in support of criminal regimes in Syria and Libya.

Kyiv: Russia amassing troops along Ukrainian border for possible attack
Published: Fri, 03 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT

Russia has deployed near the Ukrainian border three groups of troops that are able of carrying out sudden attack, stated head of the Main Directorate of Military Cooperation and Peacekeeping Operations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Leonid Golopatyuk, during an online meeting of the OSCE Security Cooperation Forum, Ukrinform reports.

"As of today, three combined groups have already been deployed near the border with Ukraine, which are able of carrying out sudden offensive actions in Ukraine without mobilization and with minimal preparatory measures," Golopatyuk said during the meeting.

The Ukrainian general said that along the border of Ukraine, Russia is actively forming new military units and reorganizing existing military formations in order to increase their combat capabilities.

Currently, 28 battalion-tactical groups are deployed along the border. Three new military formations - two armies and an army corps, "which are expected to achieve full operational readiness" within 2020-2021, are also being established.

The 20th All-Arms Army consisting of the 3rd Motorized Rifle Division and the 144th Motorized Rifle Division has been created in the Western Strategic Direction. At the same time, the 448th Missile Brigade of the 20th Army has been armed with Iskander missile systems.

The 8th Combined Arms (Strike) Army consisting of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division, the 20th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade and operational subordinates of the 1st (Donetsk) and 2nd (Luhansk) army corps have been established in the South-West strategic direction. The Army is expected to include Iskander missile brigades.

According to the general, the total number of the Russian troops along the border of Ukraine is about 87,000 military, up to 1,100 tanks, up to 2,600 armored fighting vehicles, up to 1,100 artillery systems, up to 360 MLRS, 18 operational and tactical missile systems.

Kyiv to send American Javelin anti-tank missile systems to Ukrainian military in Donbas
Published: Thu, 02 Jul 2020 14:00:00 GMT

Ukrainian military will receive American anti-tank systems Javelin during the rotation in the combat zone in the Donbas, stated the Chief of the General Staff Ruslan Khomchak in an interview with ArmiaInform.

"Brigades of the Armed Forces will receive Javelins during the rotation in the combat zone. Currently, one of the brigades which is completing training before deployment to the Donbas, is working out the tactics for their use... Personally, I want to make sure that our soldiers can effectively use these anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs)," he said.

"In addition, in preparing this brigade for rotation, we will work out the use of Bayraktar drones," Khomchak added.

He also noted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces already have "a lot of units which are ready to use Javelins” but did not specify their specific number.

"How many of them? It’s a secret," the Chief of the General Staff said.

In December last year, Ukraine signed a contract with the United States for the supply of Javelin ATGMs. Prior to that, in October, the U.S. Congress gave preliminary consent to the sale to Ukraine of an additional batch of anti-tank missile systems Javelin for $39 million.

The first batch of Javelins worth $47 million arrived in Ukraine in the spring of 2018. Then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch said that Ukraine did not have to pay for these weapons. In the fall of 2017, the American edition of BuzzFeed, citing sources in the U.S. government, wrote that U.S. President Donald Trump does not want to give Ukraine weapons for free.

Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said that the program of military assistance to Ukraine provides both free weapons and its sale. In the summer of 2019, the U.S. Embassy reported that Ukraine for the first time asked the U.S. to sell weapons.

On June 17, 2020, a batch of American Javelin missiles arrived in Ukraine under contract.


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