War in Ukraine: Friday’s five key events you need to know about

Moscow City Council sentenced to seven years in prison for criticizing the war in Ukraine

Moscow City Council deputy Alexei Gorinov was sentenced on Friday to seven years in prison for condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine.

According to Judge Olesya Mendeleeva, Gorinov was found guilty of “spreading deliberately false information” about the Russian military using his “official duties” and as part of an organized group motivated by “political hatred.”

“Rehabilitation of the defendant is impossible without a sentence of imprisonment,” the justice of the peace said before sentencing him to seven years in a strict regime colony.

Before she passed sentence, the court spectators applauded the defendant, which led to the expulsion from the courtroom of the spectators who came to support him.

Gorinov, 60, was sentenced at the height of a wave of repression to silence any criticism of Russia’s war.

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2. The US is sending another $400 million in military aid to Ukraine

The United States will send Ukraine another $400 million (€393 million) in military hardware, including four more advanced missile systems, a senior Defense Department official said Friday to support Ukraine’s efforts to strike deeper behind Russian lines in the east. Donbass region.

The aid comes after Moscow declared full control of Ukraine’s Luhansk region in Donbas this week, but Ukrainian officials say their troops still control a small part of the region, with heavy fighting continuing in several villages.

A defense ministry spokesman said eight highly mobile artillery rocket systems, or HIMARS, that were sent earlier are still being used by Ukrainian forces in combat. And that will give them four more to help hit Russian command and control centers, logistics facilities and other systems that are far behind the front lines. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not yet been made public.

In recent days, Russia has fired dozens of rockets into Ukraine and pinned down Ukrainian forces with continuous long-range fire for several hours. Ukraine’s leaders have publicly called on Western allies to quickly send more munitions and advanced systems to help them close the gap in equipment and manpower. Precision weapons can help Ukraine defeat Russian guns that are further away and are used to shell Ukrainian targets.

The latest aid was the 15th batch of military weapons and equipment, transferred to Ukraine from the warehouses of the Ministry of Defense since August last year. In addition to HIMARS, the US will also send 1,000 rounds of 155mm artillery, which has improved accuracy, which will also help Ukraine hit specific targets. The kit will also include three tactical vehicles, anti-battery radar systems, spare parts and other equipment.

Looking ahead to the coming months, the official said a key goal is to build up Ukraine’s logistical and repair capabilities so that troops can maintain their weapons systems and continue fighting in the future.

Overall, the US has sent about $7.3 billion (€7.1 billion) in aid to Ukraine since the war began in late February.

** 3. **Ukrainian official warns of ‘disaster’ in captured city

On Friday, a Ukrainian regional official warned of deteriorating living conditions in the city captured by Russian forces two weeks ago, saying Severodonetsk had no water, electricity or working sewerage, and the bodies of the dead were decomposing in hot apartment buildings.

Governor Sergei Gaidai said the Russians were firing indiscriminately in an attempt to secure their positions in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine. Moscow this week claimed full control of Lugansk, but the governor and other Ukrainian officials said their troops kept a small portion of the area.

Luhansk was not completely captured, although the Russians deployed their entire arsenal to achieve this goal, Gaidai told The Associated Press.

The Russian forces “are hitting every building they think might be a fortified position,” he said. “They are not stopped by the fact that civilians remain there, and they die in their homes and yards. They keep shooting.”

Occupied Severodonetsk, meanwhile, “is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe,” the governor wrote on social networks. “The Russians have completely destroyed all critical infrastructure, and they are not in a position to restore anything.”

Haidai reported last week that about 8,000 residents remained in the city, down from a pre-war population of 100,000. Some Ukrainian officials and soldiers said Russian troops leveled Severodonetsk, the capital of Luhansk region, before Ukrainian troops were ordered to leave the city late last month to avoid encirclement and capture.

Moscow trolls British and US embassies by renaming roads

Moscow took a page from Washington’s script to troll both the US and Britain by renaming the streets in front of their embassies in the Russian capital.

The streets are now officially named after two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine where the most intense fighting is taking place. Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized their independence in February, just before sending troops to “liberate” them from Ukraine.

The US and UK have not recognized the Donetsk and Lugansk “People’s Republics,” but Moscow officials have said they will at least have to recognize the new addresses if they want to receive their mail.

On Friday, a poster appeared renaming the street in front of the British embassy to Luhansk People’s Republic Square. The US Embassy in Moscow has been located on the square of the Donetsk People’s Republic since last month.

However, the US has been playing this game for much longer. In the 1980s, a section of 16th Street near the Soviet embassy in Washington was symbolically renamed Andrei Sakharov Square in honor of the Soviet nuclear physicist, leading human rights activist and dissident.

Since 2018, the section of Wisconsin Avenue in front of the new Russian embassy has been symbolically named Boris Nemtsov Plaza. Nemtsov, an opposition leader who led anti-Putin protests and exposed official corruption, was gunned down near the Kremlin in 2015.

The Russian embassy in London, at least for now, has kept its more respectable address in Kensington Palace Gardens.

5. The Russians are officially off the track of the world championships

Athletics officials confirmed on Friday that the Russians would not be allowed to compete in the World Championships this month due to the war in Ukraine.

The federation banned Russians from major international events shortly after the country invaded Ukraine in February. At the time, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe stated that the unprecedented move proved to be “the only peaceful way to disrupt and disable Russia’s current intentions and restore peace”.

The World Championships will start next Friday and run until July 24th.

World Athletics confirmed the ban in a press release, announcing that it has allowed 18 more Russian athletes to compete internationally as neutrals, but those permits will not apply to the World Championships.

These athletes were acquitted as part of the protocol following a doping scandal that saw the Russian Athletics Federation suspended from 2015. At last year’s Olympics, 10 Russians were allowed to compete in athletics; 29 Russians competed at the World Championships in 2019.

Currently, 73 Russian athletes can compete as neutrals, although their status in major international competitions is in limbo due to the war.

Among them is the current Olympic champion and world champion in high jump Maria Lasitskene, who has never lost in international competitions. Last month, she criticized the decision in an open letter to IOC President Thomas Bach, who recommended Russia’s suspension.

Lasitskene’s main rivals are from Ukraine, and she said: “I still don’t know what to say to them and how to look them in the eye.”

“They and their friends and relatives are experiencing things that no human should ever experience,” she said.