Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, sends abortion back to the states

Yahoo! News

Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, sends abortion back to the states

Jon Ward, Chief National Correspondent – June 24, 2022

Roe has fallen, and the fight over abortion in America will now rage on into a new and possibly even more polarizing and divisive chapter.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion, in one of the most momentous and controversial decisions of the past few decades.

The court’s conservative majority overturned the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade by a vote of 5-4. Roe had stood as one of the most debated rulings in the court’s history: revered by many women’s rights advocates and reviled by conservatives who believe abortion kills a human life.

Security fencing outside the Supreme Court.
Security fencing outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” read the majority opinion.

Under Roe and the court’s 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, states had not been allowed to enact bans on most abortions until after a pregnancy had reached the threshold of fetal viability, when it is believed that an unborn child could survive outside the womb. That viability threshold is about 23 or 24 weeks.

The abortion issue will now be decided state by state. Abortion will not be outlawed across the country. Some states will now expand access to the procedure.

“Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens,” read the dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

In at least 15 states abortion will be illegal. Most of these states — across the South, the Midwest and the Mountain West — have “trigger” laws in place that will now ban the procedure. The new laws will take effect within a few days in some places, and within a month in others.

The 15 states that are now expected to enact an outright ban on abortion are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Three other states — Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina — are likely to ban abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. Two other states — Arizona and Florida — have passed 15-week bans this year.

That is a total of 20 states banning or limiting abortion within the first trimester or early in the second.

But others may join them. Iowa currently limits abortion after 22 weeks, and this month the state’s highest court said there is no right to abortion in Iowa’s Constitution. Republican lawmakers in the state are likely to try now to ban the procedure.

Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion activists outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion activists outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

And so there are about 20 states, and the District of Columbia, where abortion is likely to remain widely available — and fairly well along into a pregnancy.

President Biden, a supporter of abortion rights, is limited in what he can do in response to the ruling. There are marginal changes he can make to expand access through the Food and Drug Administration and through Medicaid.

Conversely, the overall impact on abortion rates may not be as dramatic as anti-abortion activists might be hoping for, which is likely to lead to the next round of political skirmishes over the issue.

“Absolute bans in red states probably won’t have the effect that the right-to-life movement expects … especially if blue states step up abortion funding, and especially given the difficulty of eliminating access to abortion medication,” wrote Mary Ziegler, a historian and attorney who has written five books about abortion law and politics, including “Dollars for Life,” which was released this month. “The question becomes what happens then.”

“Some conservative lawmakers will likely respond by trying to stop interstate travel for abortion or fighting for a nationwide ban — steps designed to eliminate abortion in progressive states,” she wrote.

Anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court. One man holds up a sign that reads: Goodbye, Roe.
Anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court on June 13. (Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Last December, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Dobbs case, Ziegler made the point even more sharply: “The right-to-life movement is aiming for the recognition of personhood and the outlawing of every abortion, nationwide. Roe is just the beginning,” she said then.

However, Justice Brett Kavanaugh signaled during those arguments that he does not believe the court can enact a nationwide ban. Kavanaugh, who was confirmed to the court in 2018, described the state of Mississippi as arguing that “because the Constitution is neutral, that this court should be scrupulously neutral on the question of abortion.”

In his concurring opinion in the court’s final decision, Kavanaugh made this point even more explicitly.

“Because the Constitution is neutral on the issue of abortion, this Court also must be scrupulously neutral. The nine unelected Members of this Court do not possess the constitutional authority to override the democratic process and to decree either a pro-life or a pro-choice abortion policy for all 330 million people in the United States,” Kavanaugh wrote.

Since Chief Justice John Roberts wrote his own concurring opinion saying he supported a 15-week ban but did not support throwing out a right to abortion entirely, the court does not currently have a majority of judges who might even be open to enacting a nationwide ban on abortion.

It was clear last December, however, that the court was likely to dramatically weaken abortion protections, and even overturn Roe. But there was some thought that the court might enact a nationwide ban at 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Then, in early May, a draft of the court’s opinion in Dobbs was leaked to a Politico reporter. Politico also reported that a majority of justices were prepared to rule that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided, and that states should decide the issue.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
Justice Samuel Alito in 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the leaked draft opinion that the Roe ruling was “egregiously wrong from the start.”

It was not known for sure, however, that the court’s ruling would emerge in the same form as the leaked draft. However, the final decision that was released was largely the same.

Roe, Alito wrote in the final opinion, was “egregiously wrong and on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided.”

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” he wrote.

The dissenting opinion said that under Roe and Casey, the court had “struck a balance” between Americans with “profoundly different views about the ‘moral[ity]’ of ‘terminating a pregnancy, even in its earliest stage.’”

“Today, the Court discards that balance. It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” the dissent said.

“Some States have enacted laws extending to all forms of abortion procedure, including taking medication in one’s own home. They have passed laws without any exceptions for when the woman is the victim of rape or incest. Under those laws, a woman will have to bear her rapist’s child or a young girl her father’s — no matter if doing so will destroy her life.

“… Most threatening of all, no language in today’s decision stops the Federal Government from prohibiting abortions nationwide, once again from the moment of conception and without exceptions for rape or incest,” the dissent said.

The liberal justices also expressed grave concern that other individual rights, to contraception and to “same-sex intimacy and marriage,” may be under threat from the conservative majority.

Now that the court has thrown Roe out, the American debate may become even more contentious, as the legal and political battles shift to a kaleidoscope of state legislatures and courts.

“Don’t believe [the Supreme Court] when the justices say this will deescalate debate about abortion,” Ziegler wrote. “That doesn’t seem to be where this is headed.”

Cover thumbnail photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

What will happen now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned

Dark Purple – Post Roe law will ban or severely restrict abortion

Blue – Abortion will be legal*

Red – Trigger law will ban all or nearly all abortions

Orange – Will Likely ban abortions

Light purple – Pre Roe law will ban abortions

Megan Rapinoe, sports world react to Supreme Court decision on abortion rights: ‘The cruelty is the point’

Yahoo! Sports

Megan Rapinoe, sports world react to Supreme Court decision on abortion rights: ‘The cruelty is the point’

Henry Bushnell and Chris Cwik – June 24, 2022

Athletes and sports organizations reacted, mostly with horror, to the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade and enable dozens of state laws that will criminalize abortions.

“This decision shows a branch of government that is so out of touch with the country and any sense of human dignity,” the WNBA players association said in a statement less than two hours after the Court officially ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Sue Bird tweeted that she was “gutted.” Her team, the Seattle Storm, said they were “furious and ready to fight.”

The WNBPA statement continued: “This ruling provides a treacherous pathway to abortion bans that reinforce economic, social and political inequalities and could lead to higher rates of maternal mortality while eviscerating rights to reproductive freedom for everybody.”

The NWSL players association also “strongly condemned” the decision — “a decision that effectively takes away a person’s right to make decisions about their own body, a basic human right at the core of every aspect of life,” the NWSLPA said in a statement later Friday afternoon.

Megan Rapinoe delivers emotional response, call to action

Individual soccer players also spoke out against the ruling while in camp with the U.S. women’s national team. On a previously-scheduled Zoom call with reporters Friday afternoon, midfielder Lindsey Horan said she was “still a little bit shocked,” and called it a “step backwards for our country.”

Forward Megan Rapinoe, who was not originally slated to meet with reporters, asked to speak in light of the Court’s ruling, and wiped away tears as she described a “disheartening,” “infuriating” and “scary day.”

In an unscripted opening statement that lasted more than nine minutes, she stressed that the decision will hit various groups of marginalized women most forcefully.

“We know that this will disproportionately affect poor women, Black women, Brown women, immigrants, women in abusive relationships, women who have been raped, women and girls who have been raped by family members — [or] who, you know what, maybe just didn’t make the best choice,” she said.

“And that’s no reason to be forced to have a pregnancy. It will completely exacerbate so many of the existing inequalities that we have in our country. It doesn’t keep not one single person safer. It doesn’t keep not one single child safer, certainly. And it does not keep one single — inclusive term — woman safer. We know that the lack of abortion [rights] does not stop people from having abortions, it stops people from having safe abortions.”

Rapinoe also responded emotionally to the concern — sparked by Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Friday’s ruling — that the Court could ultimately overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, which protects same-sex marriage, and other landmark rulings as well:

“I absolutely think gay rights are under attack, I absolutely think we will see legislation pop up state by state by state that will eventually come to this radical court. I have zero faith that my rights will be upheld by the court. I have faith in our country, and I have faith in people, and I have faith in the voters. And if you ever needed a f*cking motivation to vote, to get involved — quite literally, people’s lives depend on it. Actual lives. We’re talking life and death, and also your life in terms of, what does it mean to even be alive? If you can’t be your full self, what the f*ck is the point?”

She also explained why she doesn’t view the ruling as “pro-life,” pointing to other areas — such as healthcare — that will be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I just can’t understate how sad, and how cruel this is. I think the cruelty is the point. Because this is not pro-life by any means. This way of thinking, or political belief, is coupled with a complete lack of motivation around gun laws, it comes with pro-death penalty, it comes with anti-healthcare, anti-prenatal care, anti-childcare, anti-pre-K, anti-food assistance, anti-welfare, anti-education, anti-maternity leave, anti-paternity leave.

“This is not pro-life. And it’s very frustrating and disheartening, and frankly just infuriating to hear that be the reason that people are wanting to end abortion rights, and end this vital aspect of a woman’s — not only healthcare and general basic safety in this country, but her bodily autonomy, and the right to freedom, and the pursuit of happiness and liberty, is being assaulted in this instance. And it’s just incredibly disheartening.”

She concluded with a call to men who’ve “been silent” on abortion rights. “Stand up,” she said. “Say something.”

She pointed out that the decision was made by a majority-male court, and that the many systems and laws that discriminate against women in the U.S. were created by men.

“You are allowing a violent and consistent onslaught on the autonomy of women’s bodies, on women’s rights, on women’s minds, on our hearts, on our souls,” Rapinoe said when asked what her message to men, as a monolith, would be. “We live in a country that forever tries to chip away at what you have enabled, at what you have been privileged enough to feel your entire life.

“You also have the opportunity to do better every single day. You have the opportunity to show up, make your voices heard, whether that’s in the workplace, on a media zoom, in stadiums, in your family, the way that you vote. It is not a women’s issue. It is everyone’s issue.”

Other prominent athletes speak out on Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

Several athletes past and present referenced the timing of the decision, one day after the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the watershed law that helped spark a decades-long women’s sports boom. “Yesterday we celebrated Title IX,” Orlando Magic guard Devin Cannady tweeted. “Today we tell these same women that they don’t have the freedom to make decisions about their own body.

“I’m sick for you, I stand with you,” Cannady wrote. “This country needs to be better, this sh*t is so backwards.”

Several teams and leagues responded with incisive statements, including the NBA and WNBA, which vowed to ensure access to reproductive health care for their employees.

“The NBA and WNBA believe that women should be able to make their own decisions concerning their health care and future, and we believe that freedom must be protected,” the joint statement reads. “We will continue to advocate for gender and health equity, including ensuring our employees have access to reproductive health care regardless of their location.”

In the NWSL, the Kansas City Current said they were “heartbroken.” The OL Reign said they “fiercely oppose the decision.” Gotham FC said it “vehemently objects to any rollback of Roe v. Wade and believes reproductive rights are human rights.”

The NWSL released its own statement, saying the ruling denies individuals “liberty and equality.”

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today denies individuals in this country the full liberty and equality that is the cornerstone of a just society. Reproductive rights are human rights. Until every individual has the same freedoms as their neighbor, our work is not done. We will continue to make our voices heard. The NWSL is more than just a soccer league; we are a collective who will stand up every day for what is right.”

While most strong statements came from women’s leagues and teams, the Seattle Sounders of MLS said they “believe in the right to autonomy over our bodies, and the right to choose.” Their goalkeeper, Stefan Frei, tweeted that “our country is actively moving in the wrong direction.”

Orlando City, in a joint statement with the NWSL’s Orlando Pride, said that this autonomy, and access to safe reproductive healthcare, were “basic, nonnegotiable human rights, and our club deeply objects to today’s Supreme Court decision.”

“Today’s reversal of Roe v. Wade is one that will not only put many at risk, disproportionately those in BIPOC and underserved communities, but is one that opens the door for future discrimination and civil rights violations of other marginalized groups,” the two Orlando clubs continued.

“Defending human rights is a battle that we will continue to fight, both for those impacted today, and for those who may be targeted in the future.”

With Roe v. Wade defunct, a ‘poverty shock’ is coming

Yahoo! Finance

With Roe v. Wade defunct, a ‘poverty shock’ is coming

Rick Newman, Senior Columnist – June 24, 2022

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that had secured the federal right to obtain an abortion.

Now a political earthquake is likely to ensue.

Abortion protections have been in place since the court’s decision in 1973, and polls show roughly two-thirds of Americans think it should stay that way. Yet the explosive opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization invalidates Roe and leaves abortion laws up to states. About half of states plan to partially or fully ban abortions, which is bound to generate storms of protest.

There will also be stark financial implications for many women who want to end a pregnancy but find they can’t. “What we’re going to see is a shock to poverty and inequality for poor women, Black women, young women in the Deep South,” economist Caitlin Myers told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview, before the June 24 decision came down. “What we will see are poor, vulnerable women, many of whom are already parenting, having children that they do not feel prepared for and suffering financial shocks as a result.”

Myers organized more than 150 economists and other researchers who filed an amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson, which began in Mississippi in 2018 when the state legislature banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. There were prompt legal challenges, and the Supreme Court heard the case last December. With the court overturning Roe, it won’t make abortion illegal everywhere, but will leave the decision up to states. Some states are ready to impose bans much stricter than the Mississippi law.

While there are obvious moral arguments against abortion, it may also be morally dubious to ban abortions and effectively impose financial hardship on reluctant mothers. Research shows that abortion protections afforded by Roe have helped reduce teenage motherhood by 34% and teen marriage by 20%. That has allowed more young women to complete high school, attend college and establish professional careers. People who go further in school have higher lifetime earnings, in general. By most metrics, the improved outcomes are more pronounced for Black women than for whites, which suggests Black women would suffer more from a new set of bans than white women would.

“Some of the financial instability that these women experience, it is severe, it can last for years,” Myers told Yahoo Finance. “We do see some evidence of recovery, particularly at about five years out. But then there are other components of the shock, for instance, shocks to the probability that these women complete their desired education, that they finish high school, that they finish college, that they enter a professional occupation. Those shocks appear to be much more permanent. And they can have long run effects on the probability that women live in poverty.”

Doctors perform about 800,000 abortions in the United States each year. Despite the new abortion bans on the way, most women seeking an abortion in the United States will still be able to get one by traveling to a state that allows them if they live in one that doesn’t. But some women who live in an anti-abortion state won’t have the means to travel for the procedure, and researchers estimate that overall, 10% to 15% of women who want an abortion won’t be able to get one. So the total number of abortions might decline by 100,000 per year, or a little more.

That may not sound like a lot, but women who can’t afford to travel out of state are generally in tough financial circumstances already. They’re unlikely to be able to afford $10,000 or more per year for child care so they can work after the child is born. They’re at risk of falling into or remaining in the poverty trap Roe has helped some women avoid.

States that do enact abortion bans can put programs into place that would help keep new mothers afloat, such as child-care and health-care subsidies and more generous welfare programs. But they seem unlikely to, given that virtually all the states likely to enact bans have Republican governors or legislatures that tend to oppose well-funded social programs. Of the 12 states that have refused to expand Medicaid, as the Affordable Care Act allows them to do, for instance, 10 also have abortion bans on the books or in the works, including Florida and Texas, the most populous anti-abortion states. Abortion opponents who think they’ve won a historic victory should consider the women who will lose from the decision.

War for eastern Ukraine reaches ‘fearful climax’ as European Union approves Ukraine candidacy

Los Angeles Times

War for eastern Ukraine reaches ‘fearful climax’ as European Union approves Ukraine candidacy

Nabih Bulos, Jaweed Kaleem, Tracy Wilkinson – June 23, 2022

Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region Saturday, June 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region on June 18. (Efrem Lukatsky / Associated Press)

Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers appeared to be all but encircled as Russian troops advanced Thursday around two strategically important cities in eastern Ukraine in what a senior Ukrainian official called a “fearful climax” of the battle for the Donbas, signaling that the fall of a significant part of the region was imminent.

The comment, from Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych, highlighted the stark contrast between the battlefield and growing international diplomacy in support of Ukraine as the war approaches its fourth month.

Millions of people are displaced, cities are in ruin and air-raid sirens have become a terrifying part of everyday life across wide swaths of the nation even as Western support for it grows. Meeting Thursday in Brussels, European Union representatives acting with unusual speed granted Ukraine status as an EU candidate. The idea that once faced significant hurdles in the bloc gained greater appeal amid the protracted war and economic sanctions against Russia.

The decision does not guarantee admission to the EU, and the candidacy process could take years. Ukraine will need to fulfill economic and political requirements and gain unanimous approval from the EU’s 27 members. Still, giving Ukraine a candidacy position — which the EU also granted tiny Moldova, another former Soviet republic that borders Ukraine — is a boost to Kyiv’s aspirations to be part of the West and a snub to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This is “a good day for Europe,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded via Twitter: “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”

Zelensky, who had called the EU meeting a “crucial moment” for his nation, said in an overnight address that the war was reaching a tipping point and repeated pleas for more help from Western powers.

“We must free our land and achieve victory, but more quickly, a lot more quickly,” Zelensky said early Thursday as he asked for bigger and faster armaments.

The U.S. and other Western countries have increased shipments of heavy weaponry to Ukraine. Washington announced another $450-million package Thursday that will include long- or medium-range rocket systems, tactical vehicles, grenade launchers, machine guns and aquatic patrol boats, the latest in approximately $6 billion in U.S. equipment supplied to Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

Still, Zelensky and Kyiv’s military officials say Moscow’s military superiority is hard to match in what has become a sustained artillery battle in the east, where Putin’s forces are backed by separatists. Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzianyk estimated this week that Russian fire often outnumbers Ukrainian fire 6 to 1.

“There were massive air and artillery strikes in Donbas. The occupier’s goal here is unchanged. They want to destroy the entire Donbas step by step,” Zelensky said in his overnight video address.

The president said, “Russian troops aim to turn any city into Mariupol,” the major port city that Moscow overtook last month after relentless pounding.

Zelensky is scheduled to appear virtually at summits this and next week of the Group of 7 major economies and, separately, of NATO’s 30 countries. Major points on both summits’ agendas will be Ukraine and ways to continue to arm it and ease its humanitarian crisis.

The Russian advance around the sister cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk underscored the do-or-die strategy the Ukrainians have adopted for their defense.

Ukrainians have slowed Moscow’s push and Russians have incurred losses as they gain ground in the Donbas. But the cost has been devastating and has often left Ukrainian defenders with no path of escape.

In Lysychansk, Ukrainian personnel said Thursday that the Russian army had made gains along the Seversky Donets River with apparent aims to surround Lysychansk from the north and the south. That would leave leave thousands of Ukrainian soldiers trapped. The river separates Lysychansk from Severodonetsk.

It was not clear Thursday if the Russian encirclement around the cities had fully closed. One aid worker who was delivering assistance to Lysychansk said that he could still make it from the west into the city but that the Russians were pressing closer to cut off access. He said Russians had already overrun suburbs south of Lysychansk.

Alexander, a special forces police instructor in Lysychansk, acknowledged the situation was bad. “It’s hard, we understand,” he said Thursday. “But we stand.”

The war, now largely concentrated in the east, has also continued elsewhere in the Donbas in addition to other regions.

Shelling reported overnight in the second-largest city, Kharkiv, and towns around it left 10 people dead, said regional governor Oleh Sinegubov. The Ukrainian army — whose counteroffensives in the south have reportedly made gains around the Russian-held city of Kherson — said Thursday that three cruise missiles hit nearby Mykolaiv. The army also said two missiles were shot down near the coastal city of Odesa.

In the west, Lviv has remained among the major cities least affected. The city is a key route for refugees and international workers on their way to Poland, and Lviv’s shops were open and its streets were bustling. At a crossing at the Ukraine-Poland border, the commercial shipping truck lane was crowded while regular travelers came in quickly.

Once through the border, Ukrainian soldiers on their way to training made their way to a bus where an army officer checked off names from a list. The Polish end of the crossing was lined with hundreds of cars waiting to enter Ukraine that formed a miles-long queue.

It was a stark contrast to Ukraine’s east, where blacked-out ghost towns and the disquieting silence after air-raid sirens are most of what can be seen.

Bulos reported from Lviv and Kaleem from London. Wilkinson reported from Washington.

Ukraine becomes EU membership candidate as Donbas battles reach ‘fearsome climax’

Reuters

Ukraine becomes EU membership candidate as Donbas battles reach ‘fearsome climax’

Pavel Polityuk and Vitalii Hnidyi – June 22, 2022

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine became a candidate to join the European Union on Thursday, a bold geopolitical step triggered by Russia’s invasion that Kyiv and Brussels hailed as an “historic moment”.

Starting on the long path to EU membership will be a huge boost to morale in the embattled country, as Russian assaults on two cities in the eastern Donbas region move toward a “fearsome climax”, according to a Ukrainian government adviser.

“Ukraine’s future is in the EU,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter after the official announcement.

“A historic moment,” European Council chief Charles Michel tweeted, adding: “Our future is together.”

The approval of the Kyiv government’s application by EU leaders meeting in Brussels will anger Russia as it struggles to impose its will on Ukraine. Moldova also became an official candidate on Thursday, signalling the bloc’s intention to reach deep into the former Soviet Union.

Friday will mark four months since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops across the border in what he calls a “special military operation” sparked in part by Western encroachment into what Russia considers its sphere of influence.

The conflict, which the West sees as an unjustified war of aggression by Russia, has killed thousands, displaced millions, and destroyed cities, while the curtailment of food and energy exports has affected countries across the world.

Russia has focused its campaign on southern and eastern Ukraine after its advance on the capital in the early stages of the conflict was thwarted by Ukrainian resistance.

The war of attrition in the Donbas – Ukraine’s industrial heartland – is most critical in the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, which sit on opposite banks of the Siverskyi Donets River in Luhansk province.

The battle there is “entering a sort of fearsome climax”, said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelenskiy.

HOT SUMMER

Russian forces were trying to encircle Ukrainian troops defending Lysychansk, senior Ukrainian defence official Oleksiy Gromov said in a briefing on Thursday.

Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said separately that all Lysychansk was within reach of Russian fire and that Ukrainian troops there might retreat to new positions to avoid being trapped.

Russian-backed separatist forces said there was fierce fighting underway around Ukrainian positions in Hirske, which lies on the western side of the main north-south road to Lysychansk, and Zolote, another settlement to the south.

Ukrainian forces were defending Sievierodonetsk and nearby Zolote and Vovchoyrovka, Gaidai said, but Russian troops had captured Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka to the south. Hundreds of civilians are trapped in a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk.

On the southern front, Russian forces struck Ukrainian army fuel tanks and military equipment near Mykolaiv with high-precision weapons, Russia’s defence ministry said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

A river port and ship-building centre just off the Black Sea, Mykolaiv has been a bastion against Russian efforts to push West towards Ukraine’s main port city of Odesa.

Zelenskiy urged Ukraine’s allies to speed up shipments of heavy weapons to match Russia on the battlefield. “We must free our land and achieve victory, but more quickly, a lot more quickly,” he said in a video address early on Thursday.

Later, Ukrainian defence minister said HIMARS multiple rocket systems had arrived from the United States. With a range of 70 km (44 miles), the systems can challenge the Russian artillery batteries that have bludgeoned Ukrainian cities from afar.

The United States will provide an additional $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including more long-range rocket systems, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

SHIELD FOR THE EU

Russia has long opposed closer links between Ukraine, a fellow former Soviet republic, and Western groupings like the European Union and the NATO military alliance.

Diplomats say it will take Ukraine a decade or more to meet the criteria for joining the EU.

But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was convinced that Ukraine and Moldova will move as swiftly as possible to implement necessary reforms.

Their move to join the EU runs alongside applications by Sweden and Finland to enter NATO in the wake of the Russian invasion – indications that the Kremlin’s military actions have backfired on its geopolitical aims.

In Kyiv, where mass protests eight years ago ousted the then-president after he broke a promise to develop closer ties with the EU, 22-year-old serviceman Volodymyr Yanishan welcomed Ukraine’s candidate status.

“It means that people almost reached what we have been striving for since 2014, in a bloody fight which cost us much effort… I think the majority will be glad and it means changes for better.”

(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; writing by Angus MacSwan, Alexandra Hudson and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Catherine Evans and Rosalba O’Brien)

200 Russian deserters wandering in woods in Kharkiv Oblast

The New Voice of Ukraine

200 Russian deserters wandering in woods in Kharkiv Oblast

June 21, 2022

The occupiers deserted after the battle with the Armed Forces near Izyum (illustrative photo)
The occupiers deserted after the battle with the Armed Forces near Izyum (illustrative photo)

The Russian deserters were noticed by residents of Borova, a small town near the city of Izyum, close to Kharkiv. Borova community council in turn wrote about them on social media.

Read also: Ukraine’s General Staff reports that low morale is leading Russian soldiers to disobey order

“They (the Russians) came back here – injured, covered with dirt, hungry, full of anger, with their equipment damaged,” an official with the council wrote.

“Then they found a place for refuge in our village to recover. We have information that approximately 200 Russians are now hiding in the woods close to our village. They’re being sought by their commanders.”

After suffering losses in another battle for control over Izyum, a group of Russian soldiers retreated to Gorohovatka, a small village on the outskirts of Borova.

Another group of Russian servicemen went into hiding in the local woods. While Borova is located on the eastern bank of Oskil river, Gorohovatka is located on the western bank. The two locations are connected by a bridge.

Read also: Uncaring Russian elites are fueling Russian military de-motivation, suggests Ukraine’s International Legion

Vast areas in this part of the country are covered with woods. The closest Russia-controlled area is likely to be Severodonetsk in Luhansk Oblast, while the distance to Russia’s Belgorod Oblast is pretty much the same.

This week, the Ukrainian army destroyed the command and intelligence center of Russia’s 20th army, which was located in Kharkiv Oblast, leaving many Russian troops without tactical guidance.

In the northeast, the Russian army has been experiencing interruptions in logistics bringing supplies, including food and ammunition, since the beginning of the war.

Despite Western arms, Ukraine is outgunned in the east

Associated Press

Despite Western arms, Ukraine is outgunned in the east

Andrea Rosa and Jamey Keaten – June 20, 2022

FILE - Commander of an artillery unit of the Ukrainian army, Mykhailo Strebizh, center, inside a destroyed house due to shelling in a village near the frontline in the Donetsk oblast region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, June 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)
Commander of an artillery unit of the Ukrainian army, Mykhailo Strebizh, center, inside a destroyed house due to shelling in a village near the frontline in the Donetsk oblast region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, June 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)
FILE - Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region Saturday, June 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
 Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region Saturday, June 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
FILE - A Ukrainian tank is in position during heavy fighting on the front line in Severodonetsk, the Luhansk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Oleksandr Ratushniak, File)
A Ukrainian tank is in position during heavy fighting on the front line in Severodonetsk, the Luhansk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Oleksandr Ratushniak, File)

BAKHMUT, Ukraine (AP) — Holed up in a bombed-out house in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian troops keep a careful accounting of their ammunition, using a door as a sort of ledger. Scrawled in chalk on the door are figures for mortar shells, smoke shells, shrapnel shells, flares.

Despite the heavy influx of weapons from the West, Ukrainian forces are outgunned by the Russians in the battle for the eastern Donbas region, where the fighting is largely being carried out by way of artillery exchanges.

While the Russians can keep up heavy, continuous fire for hours at a time, the defenders can’t match the enemy in either weapons or ammunition and must use their ammo more judiciously.

At the outpost in eastern Ukraine, dozens and dozens of mortar shells are stacked up. But the troops’ commander, Mykhailo Strebizh, who goes by the nom de guerre Gaiduk, lamented that if his fighters were to come under an intense artillery barrage, their cache would, at best, amount to only about four hours’ worth of return fire.

Ukrainian authorities say the West’s much-ballyhooed support for the country is not sufficient and is not arriving on the battlefield fast enough for this grinding and highly lethal phase of the war.

While Russia has kept quiet about its war casualties, Ukrainian authorities say up to 200 of their soldiers are dying each day. Russian forces are gaining ground slowly in the east, but experts say they are taking heavy losses.

The United States last week upped the ante with its largest pledge of aid for Ukrainian forces yet: an additional $1 billion in military assistance to help repel or reverse Russian advances.

But experts note that such aid deliveries haven’t kept pace with Ukraine’s needs, in part because defense industries aren’t turning out weaponry fast enough.

“We’re moving from peacetime to wartime,” said Francois Heisbourg, a senior adviser at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research think tank. “Peacetime means low production rates, and ramping up the production rate means that you have to first build industrial facilities. … This is a defense-industrial challenge which is of a very great magnitude.”

The Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany last week reported that the U.S. has delivered about half of its pledged commitments in military support for Ukraine, and Germany about one-third. Poland and Britain have both come through on much of what they promised.

Many foot soldiers say they can’t even begin to match the Russians shot for shot, or shell for shell.

Earlier this month, Ukraine’s ambassador in Madrid, Serhii Phoreltsev, thanked Spain — which trumpeted a shipment of 200 tons of military aid in April — but said the ammunition included was enough for only about two hours of combat.

Ukrainian filmmaker-turned-fighter Volodymyr Demchenko tweeted a video expressing gratitude for guns sent by the Americans, saying, “It’s nice guns, and 120 bullets to each.” But he lamented: “It’s like 15 minutes of a fight.”

Part of the problem, too, is that the Ukrainian forces, whose country was once a member of the Soviet Union, are more familiar with Soviet-era weaponry and must first be trained on the NATO equipment they are getting.

An untold number of Ukrainians have traveled abroad to get training on the Western weapons.

Of the $1 billion pledge from the U.S., only slightly more than one-third of that will be rapid, off-the-shelf deliveries by the Pentagon, and the rest will be available over a longer term. The pledge, which includes 18 howitzers and 36,000 rounds of ammunition for them, addresses Ukraine’s plea for more longer-range weaponry.

That’s still far short of what the Ukrainians want — 1,000 155 mm howitzers, 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles and 1,000 drones — as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s adviser Mikhail Podolyak tweeted last week, before the latest big Western pledges.

“What the Ukrainians have got to do is conduct what military people tend to call a counter-battery operation” to respond to Russian artillery fire, said Ben Barry, a former director of the British Army Staff who is senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “To do this, you need accurate weapons with a high rate of fire and a range that allows them to keep out of the way of the other side’s artillery.”

“The Ukrainians are saying they don’t have enough long-range rockets to adequately suppress Russian artillery,” he said. “I think they’re probably right.”

As it now stands, Ukrainian fighters often have to use “shoot and scoot” tactics — fire, then move before the Russians can zero in on them.

Better NATO hardware, even in small quantities, is often welcome.

On a nearby front on Saturday, a Ukrainian unit granted The Associated Press rare access to the firing of U.S.-supplied M777 howitzers — towable, 155 mm weapons — on Russian positions.

A lieutenant who goes by the call sign Wasp touted the M777’s precision, speed of fire, simplicity of use and the ease with which it is camouflaged, saying the new hardware “raises our spirits” and “demoralizes the enemy because they see what the consequences are.”

Denys Sharapov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of defense in charge of procurement, told a publication of the U.S.-based National Defense Industrial Association that the weapons systems that have been received cover only 10% to 15% of the country’s needs. He noted the breadth of the challenge — a front line with 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of active combat.

Interviewed by National Defense magazine in an article published Wednesday, Sharapov said no single supplier could satisfy Ukraine’s needs alone.

“Quite unfortunately for us, we have become the biggest consumer of weapons and ammunition in the world,” he said.

Friends of Ukraine are digging in for the long haul.

Time may be on Ukraine’s side, the experts say. Ukrainian fighters are both motivated and mobilized — all men in the country of 40 million have been called to fight, whereas Russia has so far avoided a call-up of conscripts, which could vastly tilt the war in Russia’s favor but may not be popular domestically.

As for how long such fighting could last, analyst Heisbourg said a years-long war of attrition is “quite possible.”

Keaten reported from Geneva. Srdjan Nedeljkovic in Bakhmut, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

Russia is facing its worst recession in 30 years — and the ‘Putin Generation’ is paying the price

Business Insider

Russia is facing its worst recession in 30 years — and the ‘Putin Generation’ is paying the price

Huileng Tan – June 20, 2022

A girl takes a self portrait with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he vists a sports center for children in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014.
A generation of young people in Russia have grown up knowing only one leader — Vladimir Putin.Alexei Nikolsky/RIA-Novosti/Associated Press
  • Russian youths face shrinking professional opportunities as multinational firms exit the country.
  • Young Russians will also find it tougher to pursue higher education in Europe.
  • The Russian economy will contract 11.2% in 2022, per a World Bank forecast released in April.

Russian youths entering the job market and pursuing higher education are in for a rough ride.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, multinationals have left Russia in droves, while sanctions from major world economies are intensifying. Meanwhile, there are changes taking place at Russian universities that stand to make it difficult for the country’s students to pursue higher education elsewhere.

“We’re really entering a kind of uncharted territory in so many ways,” Hassan Malik, a senior sovereign analyst at Boston-based investment management consultancy Loomis Sayles, told Insider.

Experts told Insider it’s impossible, just months into the war, to quantify the impact of the war on Russian youths. But they also said the generation that grew up under the presidency of President Vladimir Putin — which started in 2012 — is now experiencing a very different Russia from the one it grew up in.

Loosely termed the “Putin Generation,” this group of young people grew up knowing only one president in its formative years and is between 17 and 25 years old, according to the Wilson Center. They grew up eating McDonald’s, watching the latest Hollywood films, and posting on Instagram — all of which are, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, no longer available in Russia.

Two experts Insider spoke to broke down how much tougher it’ll be for young Russians at work and in school.

Multinationals are leaving en masse, limiting professional opportunities

Like in many countries, the value of a good education in Russia is that it opens up doors at not just homegrown employers, but also at multinational companies that present opportunities for employees to enter and leave the European job market freely. These windows are closing fast.

“A lot of multinational corporations had promised good stable careers, where one can advance on their merits in a kind of traditional Western capitalist model,” said Andrew Lohsen, a fellow in the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Those opportunities are drying up as these companies leave Russia, and some of the industries that have promised high salaries are starting to be hamstrung by sanctions.”

Lohsen cited oil and gas and IT as some sectors where multinationals are departing in droves, leaving a future of uncertainty for those looking to enter these major industries. Earlier this month, American tech giants IBM and Microsoft laid off hundreds of employees in Russia as companies continued to pull out of the market.

Such exits are not just about the job market. They will also curtail training and professional networks for Russian professionals, Malik told Insider.

In response, many Russian tech employees are leaving, Insider’s Belle Lin, Masha Borak, and Kylie Robison reported in April. While many made their exits due to fear of being conscripted to fight the war, some said they were driven by the impact of sanctions on their jobs.

In April, the World Bank said the Russian economy is expected to contract 11.2% in 2022, marking its worst economic contraction in three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russian universities and education will quash open debate, push for top-down thinking

The experts Insider spoke to also expressed concern about the future of Russia’s academic system, as the country looks to exit the Bologna Process in which European governments align education standards and qualifications.

“What that means is that Russians who are thinking about getting a higher education in Europe — especially a professional or doctoral degree — will find it much harder now to try to enter European universities,” Lohsen told Insider. Russia is planning to revert to the Soviet standard, which makes it very difficult for any sort of European University to verify their academic credentials, he added.

Europe’s academic community is especially concerned about the freedom for open debate in Russia after 700 rectors and university presidents from Russian universities signed a letter nine days into invasion endorsing the Kremlin’s version of events — namely, that Moscow is aiming for a “demilitarisation and denazification” of Ukraine, the Times Higher Education magazine reported, citing the letter, which has since been taken down.

“What we are seeing is the politicization of the education system, and that goes from the top to the bottom,” said Lohsen. “There’s a real sharp turn in the Russian education toward embracing the state narrative and excluding any sort of doubt or alternatives, and punishing those who step out of line.”

Malik said he had participated in conferences with Russian and international institutions in the past where there were dynamic exchanges of ideas. He now thinks this would now be extremely difficult, especially since Russia passed a law in March that would jail for up to 15 years those intentionally spreading “fake” news about the military.

A political upheaval is unlikely even if Russians are unhappy, experts say

While the situation looks grim, Moscow has been ramping up propaganda in recent years to promote a top-down structure with the state, the military, and the church at the core of Russian society, said Lohsen. Alongside a mass media environment that’s largely controlled by the state or linked to the Kremlin, such messages could distract the populace from impending economic hardship, he added.

Some young Russians who are unhappy with Putin’s rule fled the country after the war broke out. But there are everyday practicalities to consider for Russians who wish to start afresh outside of their home country — such as long-term visas, employment, and financial resources, all of which are now harder to come by due to sanctions over the war, Malik and Lohsen told Insider.

Inside Russia, support for the war remains. In late May, an independent Russian pollster called the Levada Center conducted a survey of 1,634 Russian people and found that 60% of 18- to 24-year-old Russians supported the war.

There’s little indication anything will change politically — even if there are pockets of dissent, said Malik.

“A revolution is more likely in an democracy than in an autocracy — because in a democracy, you can just have an election,” he told Insider. After all, the economic conditions in the former Soviet Union were worse than what they are now in Russia — but nothing changed for decades, he added.

“For discontent to translate into policy change, and let alone regime change in an autocracy is a very high bar,” he said.

Pence Says He’s Never Seen a President Lie as Much as … Biden

Rolling Stone

Pence Says He’s Never Seen a President Lie as Much as … Biden

Ryan Bort – June 20, 2022

Former VP Pence Joins Brian Kemp At Rally On Eve Of Georgia Primary - Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Former VP Pence Joins Brian Kemp At Rally On Eve Of Georgia Primary – Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump knew his supporters were storming the Capitol last Jan. 6 when he tweeted that Mike Pence lacked “courage,” causing the rioters to “surge,” according to the Jan. 6 committee. The committee also revealed that the Proud Boys, the extremist militia Trump told to “stand back and stand by,” intended to kill Pence during the attack if they had the chance. Some in the crowd chanted for Pence to be hung for his failure to illegally stop the certification of the Electoral College. Upon hearing the news, Trump said Pence “deserved” it.

A violent mob calling for the vice president’s head is one of many terrifying consequences of the Big Lie that the 2020 election was rigged, which may be the most outlandish, traitorous fabrication in American history. Pence’s refusal to accept this fabrication when it mattered most all but destroyed his standing in the Republican Party, in addition to almost getting him killed.

Pence on Monday said he’s never seen a president who doles out so many falsehoods as … Joe Biden.

“Have you ever seen a president who refused to accept blame and commits so many falsehoods — I’m being very polite here calling it falsehoods — who on any given day is out there saying stuff that just isn’t true?” Larry Kudlow of Fox Business asked Pence of President Biden. “Have you ever seen anything like that?”

“Never in my lifetime,” Pence replied. “I said today that there has never been a time in my life when a president was more disconnected from the American people.”

Again, Kudlow and Pence are talking about Biden here.

The exchange is astonishing given everything the Jan. 6 committee has revealed over the course of its first three public hearings, the last of which focused on Trump’s pressured campaign to convince Pence to illegally block the certification of the election results. Trump allegedly called Pence a “pussy” as he refused to do so on the morning of the riot.

Pence’s refusal to acknowledge that he did the bidding of the most pathological liar anyone could have ever imagined would occupy the Oval Office may be astonishing, but it isn’t really that surprising, considering he clearly has designs on a future in Republican politics. If he’s going to win over the GOP before then — not to mention the Trump supporters who literally want to kill him — he’s going to have to paint Biden as the devil incarnate at every turn. If that means going easy on the man who said he deserved to be executed, so be it. It’s a small price to pay for having absolutely no chance at winning two years from now.

You’ll Never Guess the Lie Putin Has Come Up With Now

Daily Beast

You’ll Never Guess the Lie Putin Has Come Up With Now

Julia Davis – June 20, 2022

MAXIM SHEMETOV
MAXIM SHEMETOV

Russia’s flagship economic event, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF, which ended over the weekend), served as another reflection of the country’s shifting place in the world. After Russia invaded Ukraine and was largely shunned by the international community, Western investors who had turned up at the event dubbed “the Russian Davos” in droves during previous years were conspicuously absent. Likewise, there would be no foreign moderator. This year’s SPIEF was moderated by Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the controversial media outlet RT (formerly known as Russia Today).

Earlier in June, discussing Simonyan being selected for the role, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS: “The sanity of many prominent Western reporters is currently raising questions… all of them have simply gone nuts… Margarita [Simonyan] is a world class reporter and media manager. So for us, she leaves journalists in the dust internationally, that’s why it’s her who will be the moderator.”

Fresh from the event, Simonyan appeared on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, gushing about her recent meetings with Putin and spouting a new fabulist tale about what Russia is supposedly doing in Ukraine. The host of the program, Vladimir Solovyov, asked Simonyan for details of her meetings with the Russian authoritarian before and after the forum. She grinned and coyly retorted: “Of course, I can’t tell all about it publicly, I’ll later whisper it into your ear.”

Solovyov hinted that Simonyan may have even given Putin some advice herself: “Based on recent observations, the president is open to receiving information that is coming from different levels… Our decision-making centers aren’t acting as Olympic Gods. They take information from everywhere: official sources, unofficial sources, war correspondents, people on location, which is very important.”

In the best traditions of Soviet and North Korean propagandists, the head of RT started her monologue by praising Putin’s great health, indefatigable stamina, unshakable confidence and cheerful disposition.

Team Putin in a Panic Over Jan. 6 Hearings ‘Lynching Trump’

She claimed that the most frequently requested questions average Russians wanted her to ask the Russian president were simple: the first one was a message of implicit support and the second one reflected the everyday citizens’ urgent plea to strike the “decision-making centers” as soon as possible. Angrily clenching her fist, Simonyan exclaimed: “I also want to ask, why don’t we strike them? Where are those red lines?” She recounted Putin’s response: “I won’t say which red lines they are, but they know about them… I won’t name them due to the military tactics: why would we show them our cards in advance?”

Who is Vladimir Putin?

Vladimir Putin is the President of Russia and has been leading the country for more than 22 years. He was born on 7 October 1952 in what used to be Leningrad and is now St. Petersburg, Russia. He didn’t come from a rich background and was born into a working-class family. Putin’s academic results were not his strong point at school. He was reportedly very sporty when growing up and practiced judo and samba, which is a Russian combat sport. According to the Russian government, Putin wanted to work in intelligence even before he had finished high school. It wasn’t until he had graduated from college that he was then recruited by the KGB (former main security agency for the Soviet Union), and served with them for 15 years. In 1983, he married a flight attendant named Lyudmila, whom he had two children with. His political career began when he and his family moved to Moscow in 1996. In 2014, Putin was ranked the world’s most powerful person by Forbes. On 24 February 2022, the president ordered the invasion of Ukraine under the pretext of ‘demilitarisation’ and ‘denazification’. To find out more about the former intelligence officer, watch Yahoo UK’s explainer video.

Simonyan claimed that one of Putin’s reasons for not carrying out more intense bombings in major cities was a rather practical one: “He said, “Would we want to turn those cities into Stalingrad?” Indeed, our people are there! Those are our future cities! It’s obvious… This is our land and our people, we’ll later have to restore it.”

After her secretive meetings with Putin, Simonyan—who for years promoted the idea of Russia’s armed intervention in neighboring countries—emerged with a drastically different iteration of the events being witnessed by the rest of the world. She outright denied that Russia is waging either a war or even a special operation in Ukraine. Instead, Simonyan alleged, there is a civil war and Russia simply took the side of the Russians.

The head of RT did her best to sell an implausible story, laced with genocidal denial of Ukrainians as a people, and an outright dismissal of an idea they could possibly be fighting to defend their Motherland. Describing one of the videos of a Ukrainian POW she recently watched, Simonyan said: “A surrendered soldier of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was sitting down, his face is absolutely Russian, totally Russian. None of you could tell who he was, he’s Russian. Big blue eyes, blonde hair and beard. He said, “I was mobilized under mandatory enlistment.” We should understand, not all of them are there of their own free will.” Simonyan, who often claims that the Russian troops are in Ukraine fighting for their Motherland, absurdly denied that such a concept could ever apply to Ukrainians fighting on their own soil.

Recounting the video with a captive POW, Simonyan claimed: “He doesn’t even care where to live. He has no military-patriotic feelings that he’s defending his Motherland. He understands perfectly well that he isn’t defending any Motherland, but somebody else’s interests that have nothing to do with his own. He couldn’t care less where he ends up living: in Donetsk, Belgorod or his village near Kyiv, where he’s from.”

As for those fighting against the Russian troops or opposing Russian aggression, Simonyan noted: “There is a significant number of Nazis and indoctrinated people, with whom there isn’t much to be done, other than to have them shot under the laws of the DPR [the supposed Donetsk People’s Republic].”

In addition to advocating the murder of Ukrainians resisting Russia’s invasion, including POWs, Simonyan refused to acknowledge their very existence as a people in any context aside from being either Russian or anti-Russian. She said, “It’s obvious to any person that there is no war between Russia and Ukraine. This isn’t even a special operation against the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This is a civil war in Ukraine. Part of Ukrainians, who are Russophobes and are anti-Russian in the same sense fascists were antisemitic—absolutely the same way—is destroying another part of its own people. Russia is simply supporting one side of those warring parties. Why this particular side? That is obvious, because they are Russians. Those are our people. And over there, they are anti-Russians. That’s all.”

Realizing the impossibility of successfully selling this preposterous explanation to Western audiences, Simonyan speculated that in the event Russian state media abroad continued to operate unabated, Americans and Europeans would believe Russia’s alternative portrayal of its aggression and electoral chances of their leaders who support Ukraine “would tumble downward, from 20-30 percent approval rating all the way to zero.” Simonyan surmised, with a sigh: “From their point of view, I understand how smart it was for Europe and America to get rid of RT and Sputnik.”