Ukraine, Briefly

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This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to accuse Ukraine of preparing to detonate a “dirty bomb,” an allegation with no basis, but one raising fears in the West that the Kremlin was manufacturing an excuse to intensify its war in Ukraine, according to the New York Times. Russia has also drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution that would investigate claims that the US and Ukraine are violating prohibitions on biological weapons due to work at Ukrainian biological laboratories, The Hill added. Western nations have denied such allegations, while Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of planning such an attack itself to then blame Ukraine, Reuters noted.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops this week continued to hold out against repeated strikes in two towns in the eastern Donbas region, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling Russia’s tactics “crazy,” Al Jazeera reported. At the same time, Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces in the southern Kherson region is proving more challenging than a previous offensive in Kharkiv due to wet weather and rough terrain.
Also this week:

  • Russia has notified the US of its plans to conduct yearly nuclear drills, which Washington says reduces the potential for miscalculation, Euronews wrote. Since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine in February, Moscow has issued nuclear warnings and threats, with US officials describing its rhetoric as “reckless.” Even so, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia has “no need” to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, adding that media speculation that Moscow might deploy nuclear or chemical weapons in the conflict are “absolute lies,” CNBC noted.
  • A Russian court upheld WNBA star Brittney Griner’s nine-year sentence on Tuesday, rejecting the athlete’s appeal, said Griner is expected to be transferred to a penal colony to serve her prison sentence. Following her sentencing, the Kremlin said that any talks with the US government over a possible prisoner swap for Griner should remain confidential, according to the Athletic.
  • German and European Union officials met with “specialists” to begin work on what Germany’s chancellor referred to as a “new Marshall Plan” for Ukraine’s reconstruction, the Associated Press reported. The Marshall Plan was a US-sponsored effort that aided in the recovery of Western European economies after World War II. Attending the conference via video link, President Zelenskyy lamented that Ukraine has not received “a single cent” toward its $17 billion fast-recovery plan, Sky News added. He added that Russian rockets and Iranian-made drones have devastated more than a third of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

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