Bodies of all crash victims, aircraft black box retrieved

The bodies of all 22 people, including three crew members who were killed in the Tara Air plane crash on Sunday at Sanusare, Thasang rural municipality-2 of Mustang have been brought to Kathmandu.

  • The Twin Otter aircraft with call sign 9N-AET had taken off for Jomsom, Mustang from Pokhara at 9.55am and it was reported out of contact at 10.07 am. The wreckage of the plane was located on Monday morning, 19 hours after the plane went missing.
  • Chief District Officer (CDO) of Mustang, Netra Prasad Adhikari said the bodies of all the people onboard the plane- 16 Nepali, four Indians and two German nationals – have been found. According to him, 10 bodies were flown to Kathmandu on Monday itself while the remaining bodies have been airlifted to Kowang from the crash site.
  • CDO Sharma said the security personnel mobilized for the search and rescue have also returned after retrieving all the bodies of the victims and also the black box of the aircraft from the crash site.

Preparations have been made to send the 12 bodies brought to Kowang to Kathmandu by Nepali Army helicopter.

It took much time to collect the bodies and their belongings lying scattered on a cliff face at an altitude of 4,200 metres from the sea level due to the difficult terrain, fog cover and frequent snow and rain.

  • The crash site is on the base of a mountain and is four hours’ trek from Kowang, the headquarters of Thasang rural municipality, Mustang district.

Nepali Army, the Armed Police Force and Nepal Police personnel, Sherpas and locals had reached the crash site and collected the mortal remains of the victims.

  • Bishal Gharti of Badigad rural municipality-7, Baglung district, who had gone to the base of the mountain for collecting yarchagumba (Cordyceps sinensis), a valuable herb, had spotted the crash site at 7am on Monday and then informed the police about the same.
  • He could smell the aviation fuel and followed to its origin. It was the site where the plane had crashed. Bodies were lying scattered amidst the wreckage of the plane. Gharti took picture of the scene and also made a video, which he send to the police.


Turkey cancels NATO drills in Black Sea on basis of Montreux Convention, says top diplomat

Turkey has cancelled or postponed some planned NATO drills in the Black Sea due to the requirements of the Montreux Convention amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with the Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

  • “If we had joined the sanctions, we would not have been able to fulfill the mediation role that we have now. We applied the Montreux Convention to warships, but the airspace, that corridor, we have to keep it open. Outside of the convention, there have been requests from Russia, the United States for ships to pass. We have, in accordance with the convention, cancelled or postponed planned NATO drills. We play an important role, and we fulfill our obligations,” he said.

Cavusoglu recalled that Ankara “said from the very beginning that it would only join the UN sanctions” if they were officially imposed on Russia.

“Everyone can now impose sanctions on anyone they want. That’s their business. We have chosen the role of mediator, we are trying to make things easier. And this position is welcomed in the EU, in the world,” he said.

However, the minister notes that Turkey’s policy of not joining the sanctions against Russia does not mean there’s a possibility of circumventing them through Ankara.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Ukraine in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics. He stressed that Moscow’s plans did not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories; the goal was the demilitarization and denazification of the country. After that, the US, the EU, the UK, and a number of other states imposed sanctions against Russian individuals and legal entities.

Source: TASS

WHO not confident spread of monkeypox can be fully contained

An effective response to the spread of monkeypox won’t require such large-scale measures as in the fight against COVID-19, yet scientists do not yet know whether it will be possible to completely contain the novel disease, according to a statement by Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe made public on Tuesday.

  • “As of now, an effective response to monkeypox will not require the same extensive population measures as we needed for COVID-19 because the virus does not spread in the same way. But – and this is important – we do not yet know if we will be able to contain its spread completely. For that, we need a significant and urgent reduction in exposures through clear communication, community-led action, case isolation during the infectious period, and effective contact tracing and monitoring,” he noted.

The official reiterated that the European region remains at the epicenter “of the largest and most geographically widespread monkeypox outbreak ever reported outside of endemic areas in western and central Africa.”

Research shows that it began as early as mid-April. Monkeypox is caused by a virus that can infect anyone and is not intrinsically associated with any specific group of people.

  • “Rapid, amplified transmission has occurred in the context of the recent lifting of pandemic restrictions on international travel and events. The potential for further transmission in Europe and elsewhere over the summer is high. Monkeypox has already spread against the backdrop of several mass gatherings in the Region. Over the coming months, many of the dozens of festivals and large parties planned provide further contexts where amplification may occur,” he reiterated.

The majority of people infected with monkeypox experience a mild form of the disease which may last up to several weeks.

  • “We do not yet know what health impact there will be in individuals who can have severe outcomes from monkeypox, particularly young children, pregnant women and people who are immune-compromised,” the health official cautioned.

The WHO Regional Director for Europe urged to contain this outbreak “by stopping human-to-human transmission to the maximum extent possible.” In order to do so, it is necessary to increase awareness and information exchange on how people can reduce their risk of exposure, equip medical facilities with the knowledge and diagnostic capacities, swiftly track all contacts of those infected, use the currently available medical countermeasures fairly and equitably as well as accelerate regional, country and community-led action to stop the spread.

Source: TASS

Italian PM offers Navy help to clear mines from Ukrainian ports

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Tuesday said the country’s Navy could help to clear the Ukrainian ports of mines.

“There’s Russian consent for ships to leave ports but the problem is they are rigged with mines,” he said at a news conference following an EU summit.

“The sides – Russia and Ukraine – accuse each other but the fact is they are full of mines. And our Navy sailors could help.”

“We cannot lose the battle for food security, otherwise countries that are at risk of famine and that are not on the side of the West will feel betrayed and will never be on the side of the alliance,” Draghi warned.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously explained to some European leaders in telephone talks that the food supply problems were the result of anti-Russian sanctions and other Western mistakes, and said that blaming Russia for them is unacceptable.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier that the Russian Navy will ensure unhindered passage for ships with Ukrainian grain if Ukraine clears its waterways of mines.

The situation in Ukraine and the massive sanctions imposed by the US and the EU on Russia have led to disruptions in grain supplies, which increases the risk of a food crisis in several countries around the world.

Since the beginning of the year, prices for wheat and corn have risen significantly.

Wheat inventories, as the UN Security Council noted at a meeting on May 21, are enough to last the world for only 10 weeks and the situation is worse compared with the crisis in 2007-2008.

Source: TASS

Kiev planted mines on dead militants at Azovstal to accuse Russia, says top brass

Ukrainian troops left behind a van with 152 dead militants in underground facilities of the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol and planted mines underneath them on Kiev’s direct instruction as a provocation against Russia, Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.

  • “When examining underground facilities of the Azovstal metals factory in Mariupol where the Nazis of the Ukrainian Azov battalion had been hiding before their surrendered, the Russian servicemen found a refrigerated van. The van with its idle refrigerating system stored 152 bodies of dead Ukrainian militants and military personnel,” the spokesman said.

When examining the van, the Russian combat engineers uncovered four mines planted beneath the bodies of the dead Ukrainian servicemen, with the total amount of explosives sufficient to wipe out all the bodies remaining in the van, the general said.

  • “As the interrogation of captured Azov battalion militants revealed, the mines had been planted on Kiev’s direct instruction. The provocation was aimed at accusing Russia of deliberately destroying the remains of the bodies and preventing their retrieval for delivery to relatives in order to rescue the political ‘reputation’ of the Kiev regime and personally [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky,” Konashenkov stressed.
  • The military command of the Azov nationalist battalion publicly turned to Zelensky before the surrender with a request to collect the bodies of the dead militants so that their families could bury them on the Kiev-controlled territory, the spokesman said.

“However, no inquiries came from Kiev for retrieving the dead bodies from the Azovstal steel complex,” Konashenkov said.

“The Russian side plans to hand over the bodies of Ukrainian militants and servicemen found on the territory of Azovstal to Ukraine’s representatives in the immediate future,” the spokesman said.

Source: TASS

Header: Russian service members work on demining the territory of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, May 22, 2022. Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Ruble-yuan trade soars over 1,000%

Russia and China are continuing to eliminate the US dollar from mutual trade as monthly volumes on the ruble-yuan pair have reportedly soared 1,067% to nearly $4 billion over the past three months.

According to Bloomberg calculations, some 25.91 billion yuan, or $3.9 billion, have been exchanged for rubles on the Moscow spot market so far in May, marking a twelvefold surge versus the volumes recorded in February, when Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine.

The spike coincides with a rally in the ruble to a five-year high against the yuan and the US dollar.

Meanwhile, volume in the dollar-ruble pair reportedly dropped to the lowest level in a decade. The ruble rallied 118% against the greenback between early March and late May, even as most traders deserted the pair amid capital controls and forced dollar sales.

“The main players in the yuan-ruble market are corporations and banks, but there is also a growing interest from retail investors,” a currency and rates strategist at Sberbank CIB, Yuri Popov, told the agency.

“The volume on the Moscow Exchange’s spot market has surged. This is due to sanctions concerns, as well as the intentions of Russia and China to encourage the usage of national currencies in bilateral trade,” he added.

The mass exodus of international brands from the sanctions-hit country have reportedly forced Russian businesses to turn to Chinese goods to replace Western imports. Meanwhile, the Chinese yuan may gain fresh impetus for internationalization just when growing tensions between Washington and Beijing are slowing that process.

Source: RT

First interview of ‘Volyna’, leader of Mariupol garrison in Azovstal

The first trial in the case of war crimes of Ukrainian nationalists in the Donbass region may be held before the end of summer, according to the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Denis Pushilin.

All those who surrendered are currently being interrogated in order to establish if they were involved in war crimes, including the shelling of residential areas, killing civilians and prisoners of war etc.

The interrogation of Sergei Volynsky (nicknamed Volyna), the former commander of the 36th separate Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, was of particular interest.

Being besieged in Azovstal, he closely cooperated with the leaders of the Azov regiment, ad gained worldwide fame thanks to his patriotic appeals to world leaders and even the Pope with requests for “emergency extraction” of Ukrainian nationalists.

He gave his first interview in a prison camp, which revealed that members of the famous Mariupol garrison are snot as brave as Volyna claimed on his video appeals from Azovstal.

Sergey Volynsky, former commander of the 36th separate brigade of the AFU Marines:

“We were supposed to act together, but from there was no command on the move received from Baranyuk. He acted by yourself or I don’t know what maneuvers he was pursuing, what goals. He came under artillery fire, air strikes, his equipment ran into mine barriers. People were killed, wounded, and the movement of equipment “drowned”. About two hundred guys went with me, mostly guys from the Marine battalion which I served. We got ready, we put “Z” signs on the equipment to confuse the forces who might accidentally meet us on the way. We worked out the route, built a combat order and moved in the direction Azovstal.”

“In fact, there was nothing left. We had remnants of ammunition, small armaments. There were great difficulties with water, food, equipment, and the morale of the soldiers. There were many wounded, many dead. The Russian Federation had superiority in aviation, artillery, armored vehicles, tanks and manpower. We were completely surrounded and that was the problem.”


Header: Russian service members work on demining the territory of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, May 22, 2022. Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Rules of War for Russian soldiers in Ukraine

Another prove of the respect of the norms of humanity by Russian forces in Ukraine are the leaflet distributed among the Russian servicemen:


in the performance of military service duties and special (combat) tasks


During an armed conflict, the norms of humanity must be respected even in relation to the enemy. These norms are contained in international humanitarian law (mainly in the four Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols).


  • Whenever the situation allows, pick up all the wounded and sick (including representatives of the enemy side) and take care of them
  • It is forbidden to take hostages and use “human shields”
  • It is forbidden to use torture, corporal punishment, mutilation, mockery of human dignity, collective punishments and punishments without a proper judicial decision


  • It is prohibited to destroy, export or render unusable objects necessary for the survival of the civilian population
  • It is forbidden to rob the property of the civilian population
  • It is forbidden to cause large-scale, long-term and serious damage to the environment


  • The distinctive emblems of the Red Cross should be respected in all circumstances. It is forbidden to commit any actions aimed at diminishing respect and protection in relation to them
  • Medical facilities, personnel, equipment and sanitary vehicles must be respected and protected under all circumstances


  • Civilian objects and civilians should not be the object of attack
  • It is necessary to take all possible precautions when determining whether a person or object is civilian. In case of doubt, it should be assumed that the person or object is protected from direct attack
  • Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited
  • Attacks that are likely to cause accidental civilian casualties or damage to civilian objects should not be excessive in relation to the expected concrete and directly military advantage
  • It is forbidden to kill or injure a combatant (a person from the armed forces who takes part in an armed conflict (with the exception of medical and spiritual personnel) who is under your control, unable to defend himself or has clearly expressed his intention to surrender

It is necessary to take all possible precautions to protect the controlled civilian population and civilian objects from the consequences of attacks

Failure to comply with any of the above requirements may result in disciplinary or criminal liability

If you have any questions, please contact the legal adviser of the commander of the military unit.


Header: Pro-Russian troops drive a tank in Donetsk Region, Ukraine, May 22, 2022. The writing on the tank reads: “Russia.” Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Bill Gates Opposes COVID Vaccine Mandates and Passports at Davos

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates voiced opposition to vaccine mandates and passes during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos earlier this month. [note: published at May 24, 2022]

During a panel titled “Preparing for the Next Pandemic”, the Microsoft co-founder said that when it comes to vaccine mandates and passes,

“If you have breakthrough infections, what’s the point?”

Gates explains that what’s really needed are “infection blocking and long duration” vaccines that can block community transmission for a long period of time. Without those, he sees no point in mandates and passports.

  • It’s been evident for some time that Gates has been increasingly disappointed with the performance of COVID vaccines for stopping transmission, and unlike many political leaders around the world has not continued to press for these particular failed policies.
  • He doesn’t appear to appreciate that the kind of sterilising immunity he has in mind is very unlikely to be possible through vaccination for common respiratory pathogens with pandemic potential like influenza and coronaviruses.

Hopefully, Gates’s opposition will increase pressure on the U.S. and other states, which continue to discriminate against the unvaccinated including, in the U.S.’s case, by refusing permission to enter the country.

Separately, a paper opposing vaccine mandates and passports authored by a group of scientists and academics from Oxford, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and other leading universities has now been formally published.

The authors include two funded by the Wellcome Trust, a major funder of medical research with close ties to the pharmaceutical industry led by Sir Jeremy Farrar. The Daily Sceptic covered this surprising paper back in February when it was first put out in pre-print form, and it is good to see the final version appearing now in BMJ Global Heath.

The authors are clear that current mandatory vaccine policies are “scientifically questionable and are likely to cause more societal harm than good”.

They continue:

“Restricting people’s access to work, education, public transport and social life based on COVID-19 vaccination status impinges on human rights, promotes stigma and social polarisation, and adversely affects health and well-being. Current policies may lead to a widening of health and economic inequalities, detrimental long-term impacts on trust in government and scientific institutions, and reduce the uptake of future public health measures, including COVID-19 vaccines as well as routine immunisations. Mandating vaccination is one of the most powerful interventions in public health and should be used sparingly and carefully to uphold ethical norms and trust in institutions.”

Hear, hear.

Source: Will Jones – DAILY SCEPTIC

N.Korea lifts COVID lockdown amid ‘stable’ virus situation -media

North Korea has lifted movement restrictions imposed in the capital Pyongyang after its first admission of COVID-19 outbreak weeks ago, media reported, as the isolated country says the virus situation is now under control.

The North has been in a heated battle against an unprecedented COVID wave since declaring a state of emergency and imposing a nationwide lockdown this month, fuelling concerns about a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food shortages.

As of Sunday, the restrictions had been lifted, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said, citing an unnamed source in Beijing.

A spokesman for South Korea’s unification ministry handling inter-Korean affairs said it could not confirm the report, as the North’s state media had not announced the decision.

The Kyodo report came shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over a politburo meeting to discuss revising anti-epidemic restrictions, assessing the situation over the country’s first COVID outbreak was “improving.”

“The Political Bureau examined the issue of effectively and quickly coordinating and enforcing the anti-epidemic regulations and guidelines given the current stable anti-epidemic situation,” the North’s state media KCNA said on Sunday.

North Korea reported 100,710 more people showing fever symptoms and one additional death as of Sunday evening, compared with some 390,000 two weeks ago, KCNA said. The death toll rose to 70.

North Korea has not confirmed the total number of people testing positive for the coronavirus, apparently lacking in testing supplies. Experts have said the announced figures could be underreported, and that it is hard to assess the actual scale of the situation.


Header: People wearing protective face masks walk amid concerns over the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pyongyang, North Korea May 15, 2020, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS/File Photo


Along with Eritrea, North Korea is one of only two countries that have not started a vaccination campaign against COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The COVAX global COVID-19 vaccine-sharing programme cut the number of doses allocated for North Korea as the country has so far failed to arrange for any shipments, reportedly over international monitoring requirements.

Pyongyang also declined offers of vaccines from China.

Ukraine’s unity is crumbling amid serious military losses in the Donbass and Zelensky is feeling the heat

  • Ukrainians appear to be losing unity amid military defeats in the Donbass and the economic crisis in the rest of the country. The surge of patriotism that arose when the Russian army was close to Kiev appears now, in the last days of May, to have been exhausted. Along with it, the national consensus that saw all political groups rallying behind the Ukrainian army, rather than struggling against President Volodomyr Zelensky seems to have disappeared.

Now, the Western-backed leader looks to be in big trouble.

The withdrawal of Russian troops from areas around Kiev, Chernigov, and Sumy, completed by April 3, was seen as a significant victory for the Ukrainian authorities. The removal of the threat from the capital made it possible to return diplomatic institutions, organize the visits of foreign delegations to the sites of past battles, and convince NATO countries that Ukraine would be able to withstand the war against Russia if it received more serious weapons.

All this was presented to Ukrainians as laying the groundwork for preparing a counteroffensive in Kharkov, Kherson, and the Donbass. In addition, a favorite carrot was brought out – promises of early accession to the European Union, bypassing existing norms – as payment for heroism and Ukraine taking up the banner of “Europe’s Shield.” The mood in Ukrainian society was positive. The Russian army had already been stopped. It remained only to wait for Western help, and it would be possible to take revenge for 2014, when Moscow reabsorbed Crimea.

Meanwhile, foreign aid was flowing in, but it did not bring relief to Ukraine. It proved effective only in supporting refugees in countries free from Ukraine’s corruption and cronyism. As for the military component, by the end of May, it turned out that the requested artillery and air defense systems were not enough to defeat Russia, and it was necessary to boost the army’s ranks to one million.

This increase was to be carried out through the mobilization and transfer of territorial defense detachments to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In the face of the economic crisis, even more Ukrainian men were to be sent to the front line.

As a result, the Kiev government has been detaining men on the streets of the cities it controls and serving them with draft notices. Meanwhile, Western Ukrainian territorial defense units that initially wanted weapons to protect their villages in the Carpathians have found themselves, instead, under Russian aviation and artillery in the eastern Donbass.

That is how belief in a speedy victory disappeared from Ukrainian society. Alexey Arestovich, a top adviser to the office of the President, who has somehow become the main military expert in Ukraine, as well as military bloggers associated with the nationalist Azov unit, are already talking about a difficult June and July. Even Zelensky himself has lost his optimism.

  • What is the reason for this?

Since the second half of April, the Russian army has concentrated on several objectives:

  1. Expanding its foothold around Izium and cutting off Slaviansk

  2. Conducting an offensive from Kupiansk along the Oskol Reservoir to Sviatogorsk and Liman

  3. Liberating the Rubezhnoye-Severodonetsk-Lisichansk area

  4. Breaking through the fortified defense formations in the Popasnaya area to enter the operational theater

  5. Breaking through the fortified defense formations in the area of Avdeevka and its surroundings

  6. Establishing control over Mariupol

  • By the end of May, most of these tasks had been completed.

The Ukrainian army put up the greatest resistance in the area around Izium, thanks to which the front has been kept at a distance of 20 kilometers from Slavyansk. However, this was achieved by concentrating most of its reserves between Izium and Slavyansk, which made it impossible to deploy them in other areas.

A little to the east, the Russian army marched about 80 kilometers along the Oskol Reservoir, liberating the district center Liman on May 27. Now Slavyansk is under threat not only from a strike from the northwest, but also from the northeast, and positions on the left bank of the Seversky Donets River, which is key for this theater of operations, remain only in the Svyatogorsk area and the Kharkov Region.

This victory was impossible without successful action in the vicinity of Severodonetsk: the village of Kremenna and the northern part of the city of Rubezhnoye were occupied there without a fight. Fighting continued for a month, until the Ukrainians retreated from the southern suburbs on May 12, blowing up the bridge over the Borovaya River behind them. The success in Kremenna made it possible to attack Ukrainian army positions in the Liman area from the east and bring the vicinity of Seversk, an important logistics hub, within firing range.

Despite the constant advance, the Russian army did not go without defeats. An attempt at a forced crossing of the Seversky Donets River near Belogorovka to encircle Lisichansk failed, leading to the defeat of one battalion. This success extended the life of the Ukrainian garrison in Severodonetsk and Lisichansk for a month, but it is doomed due to a breakthrough in the south, in Popasnaya.

The town is a major rail hub in the Donbass, with a population of 20,000 people. Unfortunately, since 2014, the Ukrainians have transformed Popasnaya into one solid fortified area. This was facilitated by convenient multi-story buildings in the town center, the presence of large railway depot buildings, and its location on a hill. The battles for Popasnaya lasted more than two months and led to the complete destruction of the city. After the victory in Popasnaya, the Russian army conducted a successful offensive, bringing the Bakhmut-Lisichansk highway within firing range, effectively depriving the garrisons in Severodonetsk and Lisichansk of communication with the rest of Ukraine.

Also, the victory in Popasnaya made it possible to launch an offensive on the important logistics hub of Bakhmut and force the Ukrainian forces to retreat from Svetlodar, essentially leaving a strip of serious fortifications on the so-called Svetlodar arc without a fight.

In the Avdeevka area, the successes of the Russian army have not been as significant as in Popasnaya, but the Ukrainian forces are gradually retreating from this important area. Control over Avdeevka gives the Ukrainian army the ability to bombard Donetsk with artillery, as well as the hope of launching a counteroffensive on Yasinovataya and Donetsk. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have concentrated such significant forces here that the DPR army does not have time to move forward after the enemy is successfully weakened by artillery attacks, as it is literally swamped with resurgent enemy manpower. But even under such conditions, they have managed to sever the Avdeevka-Konstantinovka highway and significantly impair the enemy supply lines.

  • But the main Russian victory has taken place to the south, in the port city of Mariupol, which was cut off at the beginning of the war. The most combat-ready and motivated units of the Ukrainian Army and National Guard were surrounded and captured there. First and foremost, we are talking about the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment, whose backbone consisted of far-right militants. In addition to indoctrinating its own members, Azov was the main agent propagating ultra-right ideas in the entire Ukrainian army.

This was done through NCO courses, where, in addition to military subjects, emphasis was placed on ideology. This is one of the reasons for the ideological drift of the Ukrainian army, which surrendered Crimea without a fight in 2014 but has now managed to repel the Russians from Kiev.

The garrison in Mariupol, which later retreated to the Azovstal plant, became widely known both in Ukraine and around the world as an example of the resilience of Ukrainian soldiers. It seemed to everyone that these Neo-Nazis would fight steadfastly to the very end, like their heroes in the Waffen SS. Ukraine believed in them, and the Russians were forced to tie up significant forces in the area.

  • Heads of state, the Pope, and even the winners of Eurovision spoke about Mariupol. It turned out to be most inconvenient in the latter case: as soon as Ukraine won the song contest, the Azovstal garrison capitulated, as if it had an order to hold out until the final was completed.

Azov’s transformation from brutal far-right militants to the personification of Ukrainian resilience was risible. The West media coverage was also ridiculous, insisting that they were being ‘evacuated’, rather than captured. The Ukrainian leadership behaved like comedians, in asserting that the surrender was a ‘special operation’. Jokes flourished on the Russian internet, warning that the Azov had established a foothold in the Rostov-on-Don pre-trial detention center and an attack on the court area was imminent.

  • The situation surrounding the Ukrainian army, which received a lesson in how to treat POWs humanely from the Russians, was no joke. The worst thing here is that it received this education during the collapse of the frontlines in the area of Liman, Popasnaya, and Severodonetsk. And if, after cultivating military honor Azov’s members allowed themselves to be taken prisoner, then personnel manning garrisons caught in future ‘kettles’ or encirclements could surrender in good conscience too.

This threatens the Ukrainian strategy of turning the cities of Donbass into fortresses based on large industrial facilities. Due to the characteristics of the region, there are such complexes in every city, and they were built solidly, in anticipation of a nuclear war. It is possible to maintain a defense in them for a very long time – Azovstal is a precedent for this. But holing up like this is suicidal, as Ukrainian garrisons are quickly deprived of access to provisions, food, medicine, and ammunition. And now the Ukrainian leadership is unsure if its army is ready to stand to the end, since the best Ukrainian units have already refused to do so.

The scandal with Azovstal, whose members became national heroes only to be taken prisoner with the prospect of facing a military tribunal, is now complemented by appeals from various units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which are being sent First World War weapons – for example, Maxim machine guns – to take on advanced Russian tanks and aviation. Under these conditions, what is to prevent them from abandoning their positions without considering themselves deserters?

  • Ukrainian society has faced serious military defeats, and its motivation to continue the war is exhausted. Ukraine has already given up more than 5,000 Ukrainian military prisoners in Mariupol alone, and a new encirclement is on the way in Severodonetsk and Lisichansk. The Ukrainian government is now faced with a choice: surrender Donbass, save the army, and be faced with a revolt from patriotic forces who consider the surrender of Donbass a betrayal; or fight for Donbass to the last soldier, lose the army, and Donbass a little later, followed by other territories.

In reality, the situation is dire: By suffering defeats, Zelensky is losing the ability to lie to his Western allies about Ukraine’s readiness to fight if only it receivse more heavy weapons.

What is the point of Britain or the United States giving Ukraine the most advanced weaponry if it is surrounded and falls into the hands of the Russian army, as has already happened with MANPADS and armored vehicles?

Source: Vladislav Ugolniy – RT

Header: Pro-Russian troops gesture as they drive an armored vehicle along a street in the town of Popasna, Luhansk Region, Ukraine, May 26, 2022. Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Ukraine’s NATO membership unlikely in near future, Turkish expert says

The only prospects for Ukraine are to be fast-tracked into the EU, while the country’s membership in NATO is unlikely in the near future, a leading Turkish expert on European security told TASS on Monday.

  • “Currently, Ukraine stands no chance of being admitted to NATO. The country is more likely to join the EU, yet the issue is not on today’s agenda, despite statements being heard in Europe about its preparedness to immediately integrate Ukraine into the European family,” said Huseyin Bagci, president of Turkey’s Foreign Policy Institute.

If Ukraine has so far resisted to Russia, it’s primarily thanks to the support it’s been receiving from NATO, he said.

“It’s no secret that the alliance has been offering Ukraine all kinds of assistance so that the country could survive, while NATO itself has avoided direct confrontation with Russia,” the Turkish expert said.

Speaking ahead of the military bloc’s summit in June, Bagci said one should not expect landmark decisions to be made then, even though the bloc has been pushing for a new strategy.

“The baseline expectation is that the Ukrainian crisis will end soonest, but this will not depend on NATO, but on Russia and Ukraine and on the scope of concessions the two could make,” he added.

The ambition to punish Russia for its conflict with Ukraine will come at a cost to Europe, Bagci warned.

“Despite the current confrontation, cooperation between Europe and Russia is inevitable, and both sides need each other, even though the continent is making efforts to create a security architecture against Russia,” the Turkish expert pointed out.

“Meanwhile, it’s cooperation with Russia, not confrontation, that many European countries tend to pursue”.

Source: TASS

UN watchdog: Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile 18 times over deal limit

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Monday that it estimated Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium had grown to more than 18 times the limit laid down in the 2015 deal with world powers, AFP reported.

IAEA said in its latest report on Iran’s nuclear program that it “estimated that, as of May 15, 2022, Iran’s total enriched stockpile was 3,809.3 kilograms.”

The limit in the 2015 deal was set at 300 kg (660 pounds) of a specific compound, the equivalent of 202.8 kg of uranium.

  • The report also says that Iran is continuing its enrichment of uranium to levels higher than the 3.67 percent limit in the deal.

The stockpile of uranium enriched up to 20 percent is now estimated to be 238.4 kg, up 56.3 kg since the last report in March, while the amount enriched to 60 percent stands at 43.1 kg, an increase of 9.9 kg.

  • Enrichment levels of around 90 percent are required for use in a nuclear weapon.

In a report released in March, the IAEA said Iran has defied Western powers by converting some of its uranium enriched to near weapons-grade into a form less easily recovered, diluted and shipped out of the country.

In a separate report also issued on Monday, the IAEA reiterated that it still had questions which were “not clarified” regarding previous undeclared nuclear material at three sites named as Marivan, Varamin and Turquzabad.

Last year, the IAEA found uranium particles at two Iranian sites it inspected after months of stonewalling.

Although the sites where the material was found are believed to have been inactive for nearly two decades, opponents of the 2015 nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers say evidence of undeclared nuclear activities shows that Iran has not been acting in good faith.

The report said Iran has offered the explanation of an “act of sabotage by a third party to contaminate” the sites, but added no proof had been provided to corroborate this.

The latest reports come as talks to revive the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers remain deadlocked after stalling in March.

Iran scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal, in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018, but has held several rounds of indirect talks with the US on a return to the agreement.

Last week, US Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley told lawmakers that the prospects for reaching a deal with Iran are “tenuous” at best.

Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Malley said the United States is ready to tighten sanctions and act with Israel and others to counter the Iranian threat if efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal fail.

“We do not have a deal … and prospects for reaching one are, at best, tenuous,” said the envoy.

A day later, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian accused Israel of “taking control” of United States policy, thus preventing a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Russia’s Moon mission gets new launch window

The long-delayed Luna-25 Moon lander mission is expected to be launched in September this year, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s national space agency Roscosmos said on Monday.

“I hope that all the tests will be successful and at the end of September we will launch Luna-25,” Rogozin told reporters.

  • Back in April, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of continuing the country’s lunar program.

“We’ll resume the lunar program,” Putin said as he visited Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur Region, outlining the goal to launch the mission in the third quarter this year.

The Russian leader stressed that the unprecedented wave of Western sanctions imposed on the country over its ongoing military offensive against Ukraine will not derail Moscow’s efforts to explore space.

  • “Despite all the difficulties and attempts to interfere from the outside, we’re definitely going to implement all our plans with consistency and persistence,” Putin stressed.
  • Shortly after the announcement in April, the European Space Agency stated it is ceasing cooperation with Roscosmos on martian and lunar expeditions, because of the Ukraine conflict.

Luna-25 is expected to carry some 30kg of scientific equipment. The lander also boasts a robotic arm and a drill, to perform various experiments and take samples of lunar regolith. The probe’s planned destination is the Moon’s south polar region near the Boguslavsky Crater.

The mission is set to become the first Russian lunar probe in post-Soviet history.

While the exploration of the Earth’s only natural satellite began with the Soviet Luna-2 probe in 1959, the country has not carried out similar missions for nearly five decades already.

The last mission, Luna-24, was launched by the Soviet Union in 1976.

  • The new mission, conceived in the late 2000s, has been repeatedly postponed. The robotic lander was expected to blast off last October; however, the launch was delayed as the team developing Luna-25 deemed it not ready.

Source: RT

Researcher ‘raped’ in Metaverse – report

A group of researchers from the SumOfUs NGO has experienced assorted abuse and violence on the Meta-owned Horizon Worlds metaverse platform. A fresh report from the group, titled ‘Metaverse: another cesspool of toxic content’, revealed that their virtual reality experience involved racial abuse, gun violence and even rape.

The report bemoaned a lack of moderation on the platform, describing it as a “breeding ground for harmful content.”

“Within a few minutes of logging into the platform, SumOfUs researchers experienced homophobic slurs, gun violence (including a shoot out at a house party), drugs laid out on a table, and a user stalking the researcher and following her into different worlds,” the report read. The NGO backed-up its allegations by posting in-game footage of the behavior.

One of the researchers, a young woman using an avatar with a female voice and appearance, claimed she was “raped” by a user, while others watched.

The experience was described as “disorienting” and “confusing” by the researcher.

  • “About an hour into using the platform, a SumOfUs researcher was led into a private room at a party where she was raped by a user who kept telling her to turn around so he could do it from behind while users outside the window could see – all while another user in the room watched and passed around a vodka bottle,” the report read.

Meta, however, tried to shift the blame for the incident on the researcher herself, pointing out that she had disabled a safety feature that prevented other users from getting too close to someone else’s avatar.

“In Horizon Worlds, personal boundary is default ‘on’ at almost 4ft for non-friends to make it easier to avoid unwanted interactions,” a Meta spokesperson told Mail Online.

“We don’t recommend turning off the safety feature with people you do not know.”

While the SumOfUs report admitted that the researcher had indeed turned off the feature, it claimed she was “encouraged and instructed by another user” to do so, and the interaction “quickly spiraled into sexual harassment.”

  • The “personal boundary” feature was introduced in early February following reports of inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment, “groping,” and even “gang rape” on the Horizon virtual reality platform.

A prominent incident was reported by Horizon Worlds beta tester Nina Jane Patel, who claimed she was virtually “groped” by “three to four male avatars, with male voices.”

The tester later escalated her accusations to “gang rape,” insisting that the hostile avatars had “essentially, but virtually gang-raped my avatar and took photos.”

Source: RT

Look again: You’re not seeing double

Nurses at Shaare Zedek Medical Center rubbed their eyes to make sure they were not mistaken: Identical twin sisters, both pregnant with their fourth babies, both with the same due date, gave birth at Shaare Zedek on the same day.

The identical twins, Yael Yishai (31), a programmer who lives in Gush Etzion; and Avital Segal, an accountant, also from Gush Etzion, both have three children – two girls and a boy.

On Monday night, Yael, who was born a few minutes before her sister, arrived at Shaare Zedek after her waters broke. A few hours later, she gave birth. The next afternoon, Avital began feeling contractions, and arrived at the hospital, where she told the staff that a few hours earlier, her identical twin had given birth.

  • Avital said, “The amazing nurses noticed the excitement and immediately asked for my sister’s name, so that they could put us in the same room in the maternity ward. After long hours in the delivery room, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The staff went above and beyond to make the process easier for me. After the birthing process was finished, they made sure to take me up to be next to my sister.”

Yael added, “Birth is a special and emotional event. I am very happy to share it with a good friend who is also a sister. It was fun being together in the room, with our new babies. In the past, we merited to give birth six weeks apart, for our third births, and this will be our second maternity leave together.”

Rina Dvir and Efrat Herling, head midwives at Shaare Zedek, said: “In the delivery room, we, the midwives, are in an unending circle of creating life and family, and that is our motto. So when two sisters, identical twins, give birth, we rejoice in their double happiness. Most of the babies in the city are born here, and we feel ourselves part of one big family, in our roles here in the largest birthing center in Israel. The births went well, with healthy babies, and we wish them and their families a double congratulations and much health, contentment, and happiness.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Header: Yael and Avital