Trump Policies Sent U.S. Tumbling in a Climate Ranking

The New York Times

Trump Policies Sent U.S. Tumbling in a Climate Ranking

Maggie Astor – May 31, 2022

President Donald Trump walks towards a lectern to announce his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 1, 2017. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Donald Trump walks towards a lectern to announce his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 1, 2017. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

For four years under President Donald Trump, the United States all but stopped trying to combat climate change at the federal level. Trump is no longer in office, but his presidency left the country far behind in a race that was already difficult to win.

A new report from researchers at Yale and Columbia universities shows that the United States’ environmental performance has tumbled in relation to other countries — a reflection of the fact that, while the United States squandered nearly half a decade, many of its peers moved deliberately.

But, underscoring the profound obstacles to cutting greenhouse gas emissions rapidly enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change, even that movement was insufficient. The report’s sobering bottom line is that, while almost every country has pledged by 2050 to reach net-zero emissions (the point where their activities no longer add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere), almost none are on track to do it.

The report, called the Environmental Performance Index, or EPI, found that, based on their trajectories from 2010 through 2019, only Denmark and Britain were on a sustainable path to eliminate emissions by midcentury.

Namibia and Botswana appeared to be on track with caveats: They had stronger records than their peers in sub-Saharan Africa, but their emissions were minimal to begin with, and the researchers did not characterize their progress as sustainable because it was not clear that current policies would suffice as their economies develop.

The 176 other nations in the report were poised to fall short of net-zero goals, some by large margins. China, India, the United States and Russia were on track to account for more than half of global emissions in 2050. But even countries like Germany that have enacted more comprehensive climate policies are not doing enough.

“We think this report’s going to be a wake-up call to a wide range of countries, a number of whom might have imagined themselves to be doing what they needed to do and not many of whom really are,” said Daniel C. Esty, the director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, which produces the EPI every two years.

A United Nations report this year found that there is still time, but not much, for countries to change course and meet their targets. The case of the United States shows how gravely a few years of inaction can fling a country off course, steepening the slope of emissions reductions required to get back on.

The 2022 edition of the index, provided to The New York Times before its release Wednesday, scored 180 countries on 40 indicators related to climate, environmental health and ecosystem vitality. The individual metrics were wide-ranging, including tree-cover loss, wastewater treatment, fine-particulate-matter pollution and lead exposure.

The United States ranked 43rd overall, with a score of 51.1 out of 100, compared with 24th place and a score of 69.3 in the 2020 edition. Its decline is largely attributable to the bottom falling out of its climate policy: On climate metrics, it plummeted to 101st place from 15th and trailed every wealthy Western democracy except Canada, which was 142nd.

The climate analysis is based on data through 2019, and the previous report was based on data through 2017, meaning the change stems from Trump-era policies and does not reflect President Joe Biden’s reinstatement or expansion of regulations.

American emissions did fall substantially over the full 10-year period examined, which also included most of the Obama administration and its efforts to regulate emissions, and the nation continues to outperform other major polluters.

But the pace of reduction has been insufficient given the United States’ extremely high starting point. The U.S. is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China. If current trajectories held, it would be the third largest in 2050, behind China and India, the lowest-ranked country in the overall index.

At the other end of the spectrum is Denmark, ranked No. 1 on climate and overall, whose parliament has made a binding commitment to reduce emissions 70% below 1990 levels by 2030. The country gets about two-thirds of its electricity from clean sources, and its largest city, Copenhagen, aims to reach carbon neutrality in the next three years.

Denmark has hugely expanded wind energy, set a date to end oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, taxed carbon dioxide emissions and negotiated agreements with leaders in transportation, agriculture and other sectors. Its economy has grown as emissions have fallen.

“This is such a comprehensive transformation of our entire society that there’s not one tool that you can use, one policy you can use overall, and then that will just solve the problem,” said Dan Jorgensen, the Danish climate minister. Denmark showed “it is possible to make this transformation in a way that doesn’t hurt your societies,” he said.

“It’s not something that makes you less competitive,” Jorgensen said. “Actually, it’s the opposite.”

The report’s methodology distinguishes between countries like Denmark that are intentionally transitioning to renewable energy and countries like Venezuela whose emissions are dropping only as a side effect of economic collapse.

One piece of good news it found was that many countries, including the United States, have begun to “decouple” emissions from economic growth, meaning their economies no longer directly depend on the amount of fossil fuels they burn.

Broadly, wealthier countries still emit much more than poorer ones. But two countries with similar GDPs can have very different emissions levels.

“The main take-home right now is that policy does matter, and there are specific pathways toward a more carbon-neutral and climate-friendly future,” said one of the report’s co-authors, Alexander de Sherbinin, associate director and senior research scientist at Columbia’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network. “But it really takes high-level policy agreement.”

The report is the first edition of the EPI to estimate future emissions, and its methodology has limitations. Most obviously, because it relies on data through 2019, it does not factor in more recent actions. Nor does it account for the possibility of removing already-emitted carbon from the air; such technology is limited now but could make a significant difference down the line. And it reflects only what would happen if countries continued to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions at the same rate, rather than enacting stronger policies or, conversely, losing steam.

That accounts for a striking disagreement between the EPI researchers, who found Britain on track, and Britain’s independent Climate Change Committee, which advises the British government and has said current policies are insufficient. (There is also a technical distinction: In addition to domestic emissions, the committee considers what other countries emit in producing goods that Britain imports, and the EPI doesn’t.)

Britain’s recent reductions came largely from switching from coal to natural gas, and the Climate Change Committee is “somewhat pessimistic that the trend will continue now that the low-hanging fruit has been picked,” said Martin Wolf, the EPI’s project director. “I see the rapid expansion of renewable energy capacity in the U.K. as a sign that the country is still on track.”

Tanja Srebotnjak, director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College and an expert in environmental statistics, said she viewed the projection methodology as “a reasonable first attempt” that could be refined later.

How best to extrapolate current trends is a matter of debate, said Srebotnjak, who has worked on past EPI editions but was not involved in this year’s report or in developing the new metric. But she added, “I think it will help policymakers have another tool in their toolbox for tracking how they’re doing and for comparing themselves with peers, to maybe learn from each other.”

Biden agrees to provide Ukraine with longer range missiles


Biden agrees to provide Ukraine with longer range missiles

Jeff Mason and Steve Holland – May 31, 2022

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden has agreed to provide Ukraine with advanced rocket systems that can strike with precision at long-range Russian targets as part of a $700 million weapons package expected to be unveiled on Wednesday.

The United States is providing Ukraine with high mobility artillery rocket systems that can accurately hit targets as far away as 80 km (50 miles) after Ukraine gave “assurances” they will not use the missiles to strike inside Russia, senior administration officials said.

In a New York Times op-ed published Tuesday, Biden said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will end through diplomacy but the United States must provide significant weapons and ammunition to give Ukraine the highest leverage at the negotiating table.

“That’s why I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine,” Biden wrote.

The package also includes ammunition, counter fire radars, a number of air surveillance radars, additional Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as anti-armor weapons, officials said.

Ukrainian officials have been asking allies for longer-range missile systems that can fire a barrage of rockets hundreds of miles away, in the hopes of turning the tide in the three-month-long war.

Biden on Tuesday told reporters that “we’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia.”

He did not rule out providing any specific weapons system, but instead appeared to be placing conditions on how they could be used. Biden wants to help Ukraine defend itself but has been opposed to providing weapons that Ukraine could use to attack Russia.

Thousands of people have been killed in Ukraine and millions more displaced since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, which Moscow calls a “special military operation” to “denazify” its neighbor. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war to seize territory.

The West has been increasingly willing to give Ukraine longer-range weaponry, including M777 howitzers, as its force battle Russians with more success than intelligence officials had predicted.

But U.S. intelligence has also warned about growing risks, particularly given a mismatch between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s apparent ambitions and the performance of his military.

Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday.

(This story refiles to add dropped word “includes” in the fifth paragraph)

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw; editing by Grant McCool and Lincoln Feast.)

U.S. agrees to send advanced rockets to Ukraine


U.S. agrees to send advanced rockets to Ukraine

Pavel Polityuk and Max Hunder – May 31, 2022

KYIV (Reuters) -Russian troops fought to take complete control of the eastern industrial city of Sievierodonetsk on Wednesday as the United States said it will provide Ukraine with advanced rockets to help it force Moscow to negotiate an end to the war.

President Joe Biden said the United States would provide Ukraine with more advanced rocket systems and munitions so it can “more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield”.

“We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table,” Biden wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times.

A senior Biden administration official said weaponry provided would include the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which Ukraine’s armed forces chief said a month ago was “crucial” to counter Russian missile attacks.

Addressing concerns that such weapons could draw the United States into a direct conflict with Russia, senior administration officials said Ukraine gave assurances the missiles would not be used to strike inside Russia.

“These systems will be used by the Ukrainians to repel Russian advances on Ukrainian territory, but they will not be used on targets in Russian territory,” the U.S. official told reporters.

Shortly after the U.S. decision was announced, the Russian defence ministry said Russia’s nuclear forces were holding drills in the Ivanovo province, northeast of Moscow, the Interfax news agency reported.

Some 1,000 servicemen were exercising in intense manoeuvres using more than 100 vehicles including Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, it cited the ministry as saying.

There was no mention of the U.S. decision to supply new weapons in the Interfax report.

The latest U.S. pledge of weapons for Ukraine – on top of billions of dollars worth of equipment already provided including anti-aircraft missiles and drones – came as Russia pressed its assault to seize the eastern Donbas region, having abandoned its earlier thrust toward Kyiv from the north.

Russian troops have now taken control of most of the eastern industrial city of Sievierodonetsk in Luhansk, one of two provinces in the Donbas, regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai on Tuesday.

Nearly all critical infrastructure in Sievierodonetsk had been destroyed and 60% of residential property damaged beyond repair, he said. Russian shelling had made it impossible to deliver aid or evacuate people.

A Russian victory in Sievierodonetsk and its twin city of Lysychansk across the Siverskyi Donets river would bring full control of Luhansk, one of two eastern provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.

A pro-Moscow separatist leader said Russian proxies had advanced slower than expected to “maintain the city’s infrastructure” and exercise caution around its chemical factories.

“We can say already that a third of Sievierodonetsk is already under our control,” Russia’s TASS state news agency quoted Leonid Pasechnik, the leader of the pro-Moscow Luhansk People’s Republic, as saying.

Gaidai warned Sievierodonetsk residents not to leave bomb shelters due to what he said was a Russian air strike on a nitric acid tank.

The Luhansk People’s Republic’s police force said Ukraine’s forces had damaged it. Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists traded accusations over a similar incident in April.

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council aid agency which had long operated out of Sievierodonetsk, said he was “horrified” by its destruction.

Up to 12,000 civilians remain caught in crossfire, without sufficient access to water, food, medicine or electricity, Egeland said.

“The near-constant bombardment is forcing civilians to seek refuge in bomb shelters and basements, with only few precious opportunities for those trying to escape,” he said.


Ukraine says weapons sent by the United States and other countries since the beginning of the invasion have helped fend off Russian gains.

The high mobility artillery rocket systems are part of a $700 million weapons package expected to be unveiled by the United States on Wednesday.

The package includes ammunition, counter fire radars, a number of air surveillance radars, additional Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as anti-armour weapons, officials said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called for more weapons while lambasting the European Union, which agreed on Monday to cut imports of Russian oil, for not sanctioning energy from Russia sooner.

The EU said it would ban imports of Russian oil by sea. Officials said that would halt two-thirds of Russia’s oil exports to Europe at first, and 90% by the end of this year.

Responding to the EU oil embargo, Russia widened its gas cuts to Europe, pushing up prices and ratcheted up its economic battle with Brussels.

Putin launched his “special operation” in February to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war to seize territory.

Ukraine accuses Russia of war crimes on a huge scale, flattening cities and killing and raping civilians. Russia denies the accusations.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Stephen Coates; Editing Grant McCool and Lincoln Feast.)

Biden: U.S. will provide precision rockets to Ukraine


Biden: U.S. will provide precision rockets to Ukraine

Lara Seligman and Paul McLeary – May 31, 2022

Mosa’ab Elshamy/AP Photo

The U.S. will provide Ukraine with more advanced rocket systems and precision-guided munitions that will give them an edge on the battlefield, President Joe Biden wrote in an opinion article in the New York Times published Tuesday.

But Kyiv has given the United States assurances that the new weapons will be used in Ukraine and not against targets in Russia, senior administration officials told reporters after Biden’s op-ed was published.

“America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression,” Biden wrote. “We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia.”

Ukrainian officials have been clamoring for advanced, longer-range rocket systems for weeks, but Washington has been concerned with the range of the weapons. Officials worried that sending weapons that could reach targets in Russia could provoke President Vladimir Putin into committing further atrocities or escalating the conflict by using chemical or nuclear weapons.

The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) that the U.S. is sending is a mobile rocket launcher that can strike targets from 40 to over 300 miles away, depending on the type of rocket it is outfitted with. The rockets that the administration has decided to send are on the shorter end, reaching up to 48 miles, the officials said.

Along with the HIMARS, the U.S. will send “munitions that will enable the Ukrainians to more precisely strike targets on the battlefield from a greater distance,” according to one of the officials.

The officials stressed that the new rockets will be used solely to strike targets on the battlefield in Ukraine, not into Russia.

“We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” the official said.

In his op-ed, Biden addressed worldwide concerns about the conflict sparking a nuclear war. The U.S. currently sees “no indication that Russia has intent to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Biden said though he stressed that Moscow’s “occasional rhetorical to rattle the nuclear saber is itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible.”

“Let me be clear: Any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict on any scale would be completely unacceptable to us as well as the rest of the world and would entail severe consequences,” Biden wrote.

The HIMARS and its munitions are part of a new $700 million aid package for Ukraine, which will be announced on Wednesday, the officials said. The package also includes counterfire radars, a number of air surveillance radars, additional Javelin anti-tank missiles, anti-armor weapons, additional artillery rounds, helicopters, additional tactical vehicles and spare parts, the second official said.

While there are limitations placed on their range, the HIMARS is a vastly more modern weapons system than anything the Ukrainians, or the Russians, can currently put on the battlefield. The vehicle-mounted launchers can fire volleys of six guided rockets at a time that land within several feet of their intended target, an accuracy unmatched in the artillery duels taking place across the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine. The vehicle carrying the launchers can also travel at more than 50 miles per hour.

The system can be reloaded within minutes and a new target can be digitally entered into the fire control system. The Russian and Ukrainian multiple-rocket systems currently in the fight can fire more rockets — a dozen to several dozen at a time — but each volley takes longer to load, and a new target must be physically resighted and the launchers redirected using cranks. Such a slow, labor-intensive process makes the vehicles juicy targets for the counter-battery radar systems the U.S. has rushed to Ukraine.

Only a few countries other than the United States operate the system: Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Romania. Poland and Australia have each ordered 20 HIMARS systems in recent years but have not yet taken delivery.

Giant Deep Ocean Turbine Trial Offers Hope of Endless Green Power


Giant Deep Ocean Turbine Trial Offers Hope of Endless Green Power

Erica Yokoyama – May 30, 2022

(Bloomberg) — Power-hungry, fossil-fuel dependent Japan has successfully tested a system that could provide a constant, steady form of renewable energy, regardless of the wind or the sun.

For more than a decade, Japanese heavy machinery maker IHI Corp. has been developing a subsea turbine that harnesses the energy in deep ocean currents and converts it into a steady and reliable source of electricity. The giant machine resembles an airplane, with two counter-rotating turbine fans in place of jets, and a central ‘fuselage’ housing a buoyancy adjustment system. Called Kairyu, the 330-ton prototype is designed to be anchored to the sea floor at a depth of 30-50 meters (100-160 feet).

In commercial production, the plan is to site the turbines in the Kuroshio Current, one of the world’s strongest, which runs along Japan’s eastern coast, and transmit the power via seabed cables.

“Ocean currents have an advantage in terms of their accessibility in Japan,” said Ken Takagi, a professor of ocean technology policy at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences. “Wind power is more geographically suited to Europe, which is exposed to predominant westerly winds and is located at higher latitudes.” Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) estimates the Kuroshio Current could potentially generate as much as 200 gigawatts — about 60% of Japan’s present generating capacity.

Like other nations, the lion’s share of investment in renewables has gone into wind and solar, especially after the Fukushima nuclear disaster curbed that nation’s appetite for atomic energy. Japan is already the world’s third largest generator of solar power and is investing heavily in offshore wind, but harnessing ocean currents could provide the reliable baseline power needed to reduce the need for energy storage or fossil fuels.

The advantage of ocean currents is their stability. They flow with little fluctuation in speed and direction, giving them a capacity factor — a measure of how often the system is generating — of 50-70%, compared with around 29% for onshore wind and 15% for solar.

In February, IHI completed a 3 ½ year-long demonstration study of the technology with NEDO. Its team tested the system in the waters around the Tokara Islands in southwestern Japan by hanging Kairyu from a vessel and sending power back to the ship. It first drove the ship to artificially generate a current, and then suspended the turbines in the Kuroshio.

The tests proved the prototype could generate the expected 100 kilowatts of stable power and the company now plans to scale up to a full 2 megawatt system that could be in commercial operation in the 2030s or later.

Like other advanced maritime nations, Japan is exploring various ways of harnessing energy from the sea, including tidal and wave power and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), which exploits the difference in temperature between the surface and the deep ocean. Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. has invested in UK-based Bombora Wave Power to explore the potential for the technology in Japan and Europe. The company is also promoting OTEC and began operating a 100 kW demonstration facility in Okinawa in April, according to Yasuo Suzuki, general manager of the corporate marketing division. Kyushu Electric’s renewable unit Kyuden Mirai Energy begins a 650 million yen ($5.1 million) feasibility test this year to produce 1 MW of tidal power around the Goto Islands in the East China Sea. The government this month also proposed changes to offshore wind auctions that could speed up development.

Among marine-energy technologies, the one advancing fastest towards cost-effectiveness is tidal stream, where “the technology has advanced quite a long way and it definitely works,” said Angus McCrone, a former BloombergNEF chief editor and marine energy analyst. Scotland-based Orbital Marine Power is one of several companies constructing tidal systems around Orkney, location of the European Marine Energy Centre. Others include SIMEC Atlantis Energy’s MeyGen array and California-based Aquantis, founded by US wind pioneer James Dehlsen, which reportedly plans to start testing a tidal system there next year.

While tidal flows don’t run 24 hours, they tend to be stronger than deep ocean currents. The Kuroshio current flows at 1 to 1.5 meters per second, compared with 3 meters per second for some tidal systems. “The biggest issue for ocean current turbines is whether they could produce a device that would generate power economically out of currents that are not particularly strong,” said McCrone.

Ocean Energy Systems, an intergovernmental collaboration established by the International Energy Agency, sees the potential to deploy more than 300 gigawatts of ocean energy globally by 2050.

But the potential for ocean energy is location dependent, taking into account the strength of currents, access to grids or markets, maintenance costs, shipping, marine life and other factors. In Japan, wave energy is moderate and unstable through the year, while areas with strong tidal currents tend to have heavy shipping traffic, Takagi said. And OTEC is better suited to tropical regions where the temperature gradient is bigger. One of the advantages of the deep ocean current is it doesn’t restrict navigation of ships, IHI said.

Still, the Japanese company has a long way to go. Compared with onshore facilities, it’s much more complicated to install a system underwater. “Unlike Europe, which has a long history of the North Sea Oil exploration, Japan has had little experience with offshore construction,” said Takagi. There are major engineering challenges to build a system robust enough to withstand the hostile conditions of a deep ocean current and to reduce maintenance costs.

“Japan isn’t blessed with a lot of alternative energy sources,” he said. “People may say that this is just a dream, but we need to try everything to achieve zero carbon.”

With the cost of wind and solar power and battery storage declining, IHI will also need to demonstrate that overall project costs for ocean current power are competitive. IHI aims to generate power at 20 yen per kilowatt-hour from large-scale deployment. That compares with about 17 yen for solar in the country and about 12-16 yen for offshore wind. IHI also said it conducted an environmental assessment before it launched the project and will use the test results to examine any impact on the marine environment and fishing industry.

If successful at scale, deep ocean currents could add a vital part in providing green baseline power in the global effort to phase out fossil fuels. IHI’s work could help Japan’s engineering take a leading role with government support, said McCrone.

IHI has to make a convincing argument that “Japan could benefit from being a technology leader in this area,” he said.

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Russian lawmaker suggests kidnapping NATO defence minister in Ukraine


Russian lawmaker suggests kidnapping NATO defence minister in Ukraine

Guy Faulconbridge – May 31, 2022

LONDON (Reuters) – A senior Russian lawmaker has suggested kidnapping a NATO defence minister in Ukraine and bringing them to Moscow for questioning about what “orders” the West has been giving to Kyiv.

Oleg Morozov, first elected to the Russian parliament in 1993 and a member of the dominant United Russia party, said the supply of Western arms to Ukraine posed a direct threat to Russia and might require Moscow to review its military aims.

“You know, perhaps it is a fantastical plot that I have brewing … that in the near future, at some stage, a war minister of some NATO country will go by train to Kyiv to talk with (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskiy,” Morozov told the “60 Minutes” talk show on Rossiya-1 state TV late on Monday.

“But he would not get there. And would wake up somewhere in Moscow,” Morozov said.

“You mean we abduct them?” TV host Olga Skabeyeva, one of the most pro-Kremlin journalists on television, asked with a smile.

“Yes. And then we would sort out who gave which order for what, who is responsible for what exactly,” Morozov said. “It is not such a mythical picture … There are new rules in the world now. Let all those war ministers gathering in Kyiv think a little about what it would be like to wake up in Moscow.”

Neither Morozov nor Skabeyeva could be reached for comment.

A succession of Western politicians have visited Kyiv to show solidarity with Ukraine – including U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who travelled there in April with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

President Vladimir Putin casts the 97-day-old war as a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and halt what he sees as the persecution of Russian-speakers by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists. He also accuses the United States of using Ukraine to threaten Russia through NATO enlargement.

Ukraine and its Western backers say Russia is waging an unprovoked war against a sovereign state which is fighting for its existence.

Russia has repeatedly warned the West that the supply of advanced arms to Ukraine risks escalating the war. Ukraine has called for the West to send more long-range weapons.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Gareth Jones)

Ukrainian soldiers destroyed a large unit of Wagner Group fighters in Donbas

Ukrayinska Pravda

Security Service of Ukraine: Ukrainian soldiers destroyed a large unit of Wagner Group fighters in Donbas

Ukrayinska Pravda – May 31, 2022

Ukrainian defenders destroyed a large unit of the Wagner Group [a network of mercenaries who serve as the de facto private army of Russian President Vladimir Putin] in Donbas.

Source: Security Service of Ukraine; Ukrainska Pravda’s interlocutor with law enforcement agencies

Details: A new telephone conversation between the invaders which was intercepted by the Security Service of Ukraine [SSU] showed that after the elimination of such an elite unit of Russian soldiers (according to a source, the Wagner group fighters were killed on 27 May), ordinary Russian occupiers are hesitating whether to fight.

Quote from the occupier: “So many ChVK Wagner [ChVK is the Russian abbreviation for Private Military Company] fighters were deployed there, where the border needs to be taken… But these ChVKs are of no use there! They all died there, these ChVKs. These are f**king special forces! Prepared, holy sh*t! They all died. Well, not all of them, there were some left. F**k if I know, I don’t see any other way out of this situation at all.”

Details: According to the intercepted call, the wife gives the occupier the right advice – “F**k them all, with their army.”

Previously: The Security Service of Ukraine has intercepted telephone conversations between Russian commanders in which they complain about their subordinates refusing to go on the offensive.

First wartime rape case sent to court, Ukraine’s prosecutor general says

The New Voice of Ukraine

First wartime rape case sent to court, Ukraine’s prosecutor general says

May 30, 2022

Russian soldiers raped women and children in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine
Russian soldiers raped women and children in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine

Russia’s war against Ukraine – the main events of May 30

According to the prosecutor general, a Russian soldier from the 239th regiment of the 90th guards tank Vitebsk-Novgorod division, Mikhail Romanov, will be tried for the murder of a man and sexual abuse of his wife in Kyiv Oblast.

Read also: Russian pilot who changed lives of Chernihiv residents

The investigation states that in March, during the occupation of the Brovary district of Kyiv Oblast, the invader broke into a house in one of the villages and shot its owner. After that, under the influence of alcohol, the Russian soldier, together with his comrade-in-arms, raped a woman several times. They threatened the woman with weapons and violence against her child, who was nearby at that time.

The defendant has not yet been arrested.

Read also: UK floats war crimes tribunal for Russian leaders and soldiers

Venediktova stressed that he would not escape a fair trial and responsibility before the law. She also urged to report other possible crimes of the invader.

Earlier Liudmyla Denisova, the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Ukraine, said the cases of rape, of both adults and children, by Russian occupying forces had been revealed to be widespread after their retreat from Kyiv Oblast.

These, and other atrocities, were revealed to the world on the discovery of the bodies of civilians, tortured and murdered and dumped on the streets of Bucha, Irpin, Borodianka, and along the Zhytomyr highway.

Read also: Ukraine’s Internal Ministry identifies 13 victims of sexual violence in Kyiv Oblast

According to Denisova, it is now impossible to estimate the scale of sexual crimes committed by Russian forces during the occupation of Ukrainian settlements. The unwillingness of victims to testify may complicate things further, the Ombudsman says – law enforcement authorities are unable to record crimes that are not reported.

I served in Vietnam, no child should experience the horror of military weapons as I did

The Courier Journal

I served in Vietnam, no child should experience the horror of military weapons as I did

Wes Kendall – May 30, 2022

Editor’s note: this story details historic violence and connects it to the recent massacre in Uvalde, Texas, which some readers may find upsetting.

We are again in another horrible, tragic moment. Our school children were murdered by a gunman with an assault rifle.

On this Memorial Day, it brings it all back for me to a place I do not want to go. Even though I was awarded a Bronze Star while there, some of it is still very painful. But for all of us who love this nation, we feel we must stand up and be counted.

In Vietnam, I carried an M-16 and I was assigned to the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion in Da Nang, South Vietnam. We made propaganda leaflets and dropped them from airplanes. Hoping they would persuade the enemy to surrender.

After battles, our soldiers assembled enemy bodies for a body count. I was assigned to photograph them for new leaflets, describing the battle and their friend’s death. Nothing was more shocking than to see the results of arms and legs blown off or bodies cut in half. Close-up views of what assault weapons were meant to do. Kill people.

Wes Kendall In Vietnam. He carried an M-16 and was assigned 7th Psychological Operation Battalion in Da Nang, South Vietnam
Wes Kendall In Vietnam. He carried an M-16 and was assigned 7th Psychological Operation Battalion in Da Nang, South Vietnam

Therefore, I understand why DNA had to be provided for some of the small children in Texas. I’ve seen and photographed the results of assault weapons.

When I thought back about how the horrors of war, what I saw in Vietnam and that same thing had happened to our young children in school, it became too much. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is what we go to wars over. The protection of our family and nation is what it’s all about.

I cannot remain silent when I see our, so-called leaders, put more importance on guns than they do the safety of our people.

Fifty Republican senators are responsible for nothing being done on gun control, or restrictions on assault weapons in the U.S. I suggest those senators be required to go to the morgue in Texas and see, firsthand, what their love for power and weapons has accomplished and then explain to us why it is more important than the lives of our school children.

More: Texas shooting raises pressure on Mitch McConnell to pass gun laws. Why it will likely fail

Why are these 50 republicans so adamant about protecting the unborn, from fertilization to delivery? But after birth, do nothing to protect them from gunmen who murder them in schools? They only deliver lip service. Statements, that we as parents can recite, word for word. “Need more teachers with guns,” or “more funds for mental health.” Your actions speak loud and clear and your words are totally meaningless.

Senators, you should see in person, what your precious handy work and stalling tactics have achieved. To see small children – cut beyond recognition. If that doesn’t affect your opinion nothing will. I know that will never happen because that takes courage, integrity, and responsibility and you have none.

Our only solution is to seek out those politicians responsible for this problem and vote them out of office. As voters, this should be our number one priority on the ballot. Stop the killing of our children. Then your replacement can work and help make laws that will help keep our citizens from being killed.

Wes Kendall
Wes Kendall

This is not about taking away your guns — it always comes to that argument — no one wants to take away your guns. It’s only about removing military-style weapons from the public that should never have been there in the first place. If this had been done by a terrorist attack on our school children – something would have been done immediately.

Wes Kendall is an artist, Vietnam Veteran and Bronze Star recipient who lives in Louisville.

Tending Russia’s Dead as They Pile Up in Ukraine

The New York Times

Tending Russia’s Dead as They Pile Up in Ukraine

Valerie Hopkins – May 30, 2022

The boots of one the 62 Russian soldiersÕ bodies stick out from a bag, in a refrigerated train car on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 29, 2022. (Nicole Tung/The New York Times)
The boots of one the 62 Russian soldiersÕ bodies stick out from a bag, in a refrigerated train car on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 29, 2022. (Nicole Tung/The New York Times)

KHARKIV, Ukraine — They lie in white and black bags at 20 degrees below zero Celsius, but the stench is still overpowering. Filled with the bodies of 62 Russian soldiers, the bags are stacked in a refrigerated train car in a secret location on the outskirts of Ukraine’s second-largest city. A spry, elderly train worker spun open the vaultlike door to reveal the bloodied bags as the scent hung in the damp air.

“We are collecting these bodies for sanitary reasons, because dogs have been eating them,” said a Ukrainian soldier who would only give his call sign, Summer. “Eventually, we will return them to their loved ones.”

Summer said many of the bodies had been lying in the open for a month or longer before his unit found them. His two-man team works to identify the soldiers by their faces, tattoos and belongings. They also take a DNA swab from each corpse to determine whether any are potential war-crimes suspects.

In the gloom of the darkened car, a few traces of humanity, of the soldiers who once brought Russia’s war to Ukraine, can be made out. A pair of boots caked in mud peek out of one bag. Off in the corner, the collar of a camouflage jacket is visible through an opening, but not a face.

Summer’s colleague, who refused to use even his first initial because of the sensitivity of the topic, said they were the only two men in their unit tasked with finding and preserving the bodies of the enemy. He said identifications were possible about 50% of the time, while in other cases, the corpses were too deteriorated. Most of the bodies had been found in villages around Kharkiv.

“This is the best work in the world,” he said of the grim satisfaction to be found in collecting the corpses of the invader.

In recent weeks, the Ukrainian army successfully counterattacked Russian forces, pushing them farther from Kharkiv and giving the city a sense of calm, at least until shelling resumed again Wednesday.

When the Russians retreated, they left some of their fallen behind, and as Kharkiv inhabitants have begun returning tentatively to villages that had been in the line of fire, some have found the bodies in their homes or have stumbled across them elsewhere.

The train attendant sleeps in the wagon next to the refrigerated car, keeping guard over the corpses. Colleagues have taken on similar duties in other cities, among them Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro, where other refrigerated wagons hold hundreds of bodies.

Ukrainian authorities have complained that the Kremlin has been reluctant to engage on the subject of repatriating its dead.

Ukraine says 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion began Feb. 24; those numbers are impossible to independently verify, and Russia rarely gives casualty tolls. Last week, a British intelligence assessment put the estimated Russian losses at half that number. Thousands more Russians are missing or are being held by the Ukrainians, Western intelligence agencies estimate.

Russia has not released casualty figures since late March, when it said 1,351 soldiers had died and 3,825 had been wounded. Estimates based on publicly available evidence suggest that well over 400 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded in one incident alone this month in northeastern Ukraine.

Last week, for the first time since Russia invaded, President Vladimir Putin visited a military hospital in Moscow to visit wounded soldiers. Donning a white lab coat, he called everyone serving in Ukraine “heroes.” Putin also announced further compensation increases for people serving there, a sign he may be trying to tamp down bubbling public discontent over casualties. Russia also abolished upper age limits for signing a military service contract.

Ukraine has not shared its own military casualty information, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week at Davos that as many as 100 servicemen might be dying every day in the brutal fighting in the eastern Donbas region.

Allies of Ukraine have also been reluctant to comment on the casualties the country’s troops have sustained, but U.S. intelligence agencies estimated in mid-April that between 5,500 and 11,000 soldiers had been killed and more than 18,000 wounded.

One of the soldiers handling the Russian corpses in Kharkiv said he hoped Ukraine’s decision to safeguard Russia’s war dead may improve its chances of getting its own back from behind enemy lines.

“For me,” he said, “it is most important that we bring the bodies of our boys back to their families. So we treat these bodies respectfully.”