Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West on Tuesday of deliberately creating a scenario designed to lure it into war and ignoring Russia’s security concerns over Ukraine.
In his first direct public comments on the crisis for nearly six weeks, a defiant Putin showed no sign of backing down from security demands that the West has called non-starters and a possible excuse to launch an invasion, which Moscow denies.
“It’s already clear now … that fundamental Russian concerns were ignored,” Putin said at a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Hungary, one of several NATO leaders trying to intercede with him as the crisis has intensified.
Putin described a potential future scenario in which Ukraine was admitted to NATO and then attempted to recapture the Crimea peninsula, territory Russia seized in 2014.
“Let’s imagine Ukraine is a NATO member and starts these military operations. Are we supposed to go to war with the NATO bloc? Has anyone given that any thought? Apparently not,” he said.
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and Western countries say they fear Putin may be planning to invade.
Russia denies this but has said it could take unspecified military action unless its security demands are met. Western countries say any invasion would bring sanctions on Moscow.
The Kremlin wants the West to respect a 1999 agreement that no country can strengthen its own security at the expense of others, which it considers at the heart of the crisis, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
He raised the charter signed in Istanbul by members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes the United States and Canada, during a call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Lavrov said Blinken accepted the need to discuss the matter further whilst a U.S. account of the call focused on the need for Moscow to pull back.
“If President Putin truly does not intend war or regime change, the Secretary told Foreign Minister Lavrov then this is the time to pull back troops and heavy weaponry and engage in a serious discussion,” a senior State Department official told reporters.
The U.S. is willing to discuss giving the Kremlin a way to verify the absence of Tomahawk cruise missiles at NATO bases in Romania and Poland, if Russia shares similar information about missiles on certain Russian bases, Bloomberg reported.
The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment but a source familiar with the situation said the United States has only offered to have talks on a variety of Russia’s concerns, such as arms control issues in the appropriate forums.
Putin had not spoken publicly about the Ukraine crisis since Dec. 23, leaving ambiguity about his personal position while diplomats from Russia and the West have been engaged in repeated rounds of talks.
His remarks on Tuesday reflected a world view in which Russia needs to defend itself from an aggressive and hostile United States. Washington is not primarily concerned with Ukraine’s security, but with containing Russia, Putin said.
“In this sense, Ukraine itself is just an instrument to achieve this goal,” he said.
“This can be done in different ways, by drawing us into some kind of armed conflict and, with the help of their allies in Europe, forcing the introduction against us of those harsh sanctions they are talking about now in the U.S.”
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has often sparred with Western European leaders over democracy in his own country, said he believed after his talks with Putin that there was room for a compromise.
“I got convinced today that the existing differences in positions can be bridged and it is possible to sign an agreement that would guarantee peace, guarantee Russia’s security and is acceptable for NATO member states as well,” Orban said.
GUN TO UKRAINE’S HEAD
As Western countries rush to show solidarity with Ukraine, the U.S. urged Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to cancel a visit with Putin in Russia, a source told Reuters.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv and accused Putin of holding a gun to Ukraine’s head to demand changes to the security architecture in Europe.
“It is vital that Russia steps back and chooses a path of diplomacy,” Johnson said. “And I believe that is still possible. We are keen to engage in dialogue, of course we are, but we have the sanctions ready, we’re providing military support and we will also intensify our economic cooperation.”
Johnson said any Russian invasion of Ukraine would lead to a military and humanitarian disaster.
“There are 200,000 men and women under arms in Ukraine, they will put up a very, very fierce and bloody resistance,” he said. “I think that parents, mothers in Russia should reflect on that fact and I hope very much that President Putin steps back from the path of conflict and that we engage in dialogue.”
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, also visiting Kyiv, said Poland would help Ukraine with gas and arms supplies, as well as humanitarian and economic aid.
“Living close to a neighbour like Russia, we have the feeling of living at the foot of a volcano,” said Morawiecki.
Zelenskiy, who has repeatedly played down the prospect of an imminent invasion, signed a decree to boost his armed forces by 100,000 troops over three years. He urged lawmakers to stay calm and avoid panic.
The troop increase was “not because we will soon have a war … but so that soon and in the future there will be peace in Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Vladimir Soldatkin; Additional reporting by Matthias Williams and Gabriela Baczynska in Kyiv, Tom Balmforth and Alexander Tanas in Moscow, Krisztina Than in Budapest, Mark Trevelyan, William James and Guy Faulconbridge in London, Simon Lewis, Steve Holland, Eric Beech and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington, Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Gabriel Stargardter in Rio De Janeiro; Writing by Peter Graff and Costas Pitas; Editing by Mark Trevelyan, Mark Heinrich and Grant McCool)
‘McGregor-Mayweather rematch in the making’
Mayweather beat McGregor in their huge clash back in June 2017 but McGregor has hinted at a possible rematch in a post on his Instagram account.
The UFC superstar posted a cryptic post hinting at a second bout by sharing a picture of their 2017 clash and writing, “I accept.”
However, it’s uncertain as to whether a rematch between the pair would be another exhibition bout, or whether Mayweather would make it one more professional fight.
Meanwhile, YouTuber, Jake Paul, has repeatedly claimed that Mayweather still hasn’t paid him following last year’s exhibition bout. Their eight-round exhibition bout went to a draw as Mayweather was unable to knockout Paul, “Floyd Mayweather is broke. I have been saying it all the time. I think he probably spent it on the girls he pays to be around him. He’s hard to hit, but even harder to collect money from. Who should I fight next?”
However, Mayweather has since dismissed the accusations claiming that Paul has suggested that the pair should have a second exhibition bout.
“This is the guy who said he didn’t get paid, which we know is truly false, which is why I don’t entertain the bull*** a lot of the time. We know he got paid and if he didn’t get paid he wouldn’t be trying to get another payday. It is so crazy that Logan Paul wants to do an exhibition again but it is the same guy that said he didn’t get paid. It is what it is,” said Mayweather.
Mayweather was expected to earn US$64 million from the fight, with Logan receiving US$18.5 million of the purse.
G7: Canada to elevate small Commonwealth nations' concerns – CTV News
KIGALI, Rwanda –
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau headed to the G7 summit in Germany on Saturday without a consensus from the Commonwealth to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but with a chorus of countries calling for help to overcome the fallout of the war.
Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity. Trudeau departed for the G7 talk slater in the day.
In the final communique from the Commonwealth summit, the 54 participating countries said they discussed the conflict in Ukraine, ” underscored the need to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” and ” emphasized that all countries must seek peaceful resolution to all disputes in accordance with international law.”
The countries stopped short of condemning Russia, as Trudeau and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson have done throughout the summit.
“I can assure you that the topic of standing up for Ukraine was much discussed,” Trudeau said at a press conference following the conclusion of the summit, referencing “strong language” in the communique.
Most Commonwealth Nations condemned Russia’s actions at a United Nations vote in March, but 10 abstained. Among them was India, whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted not to attend the Commonwealth summit and instead spoke virtually with the leaders of Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa.
Trudeau said Russian President Vladimir Putin has run a disinformation campaign and has even been “telling outright lies,” including blaming the food security crisis on Western sanctions against Russia.
He said food shortage stems from Russia’s illegal actions, including blockade at key ports, as well as the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian grain storage facilities through cruise missile strikes.
“I was very clear with our friends and partners around the table, and not just clear on Russia’s responsibility, but on how Canada and the West are stepping up,” Trudeau said.
Canada will be raising the growing threat of famine at the G7 in Schloss Elmau Germany, Joly said.
She said Canada was in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth meetings, where leaders of smaller nations were able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.
“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday in Rwanda.
Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.
Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda, the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the warin Ukraine.
Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming sanctions against its government for stopping the flow of grain.
At the conclusion of the Commonwealth summit, Trudeau announced $94 million in funding for various education initiatives and $120 million to support gender equality and women’s rights in Commonwealth countries.
Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings, including the G7 summit,
belong to youth leaders who spoke at a Saturday-morning event focused on issues facing young people around the world.
Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.
New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays – Global News
The federal government has created a special task force to help tackle the major delays with immigration applications and passport processing that have left Canadians frustrated.
In a statement announcing the new task force, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government knows the delays are unacceptable, and will continue to do everything it can to improve the delivery of the services in an efficient and timely manner.
Trudeau said the new task force will help guide the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians, and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.
Ten cabinet members will spearhead the new committee, which will review how services are delivered, and identify gaps and areas for improvement.
New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog
The committee will be expected to make recommendations outlining short- and longer-term solutions that would reduce wait times, clear out backlogs, and improve the overall quality of services provided.
In addition, the task force will monitor external issues, such as labour shortages around the world, which contribute to travel delays at home and abroad.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
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