Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

American basketball player Brittney Griner begins trial in Russia

American basketball player Brittney Griner (pictured here at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics) has been charged by Russian authorities with having cannabis oil in her luggage and smuggling narcotics, a crime punishable by a 10-year prison sentence.

John Catuffe | Getty Images

American basketball player Brittney Griner, detained in Russia since February 17, has arrived in a Moscow court for her trial. The Olympic gold medalist has been charged by Russian authorities with having cannabis oil in her luggage and smuggling narcotics, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

US officials argue that Griner is being wrongly detained. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said this week that the athlete was “detained wrongly, unjustly, and we have made this clear as an official decision of the US government”.

—Natasha Turak

An Iron Curtain has ‘already descended’ between Russia and the West, says Russia

An iron curtain between Russia and the West is essentially already there, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said, describing the political and economic wall that has formed following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

“As far as the Iron Curtain is concerned, it is already falling,” Lavrov said after talks with the Belarusian foreign minister, according to an AFP translation.

He added that the EU had made no effort to understand Russia’s interests, saying it was “interested in what was decided in Brussels. And what was decided in Washington was decided in Brussels. “.

Since early March and the imposition of numerous sanctions on Russia by the West, which cut many travel, financial and trade ties, many historians have invoked the so-called “Iron Curtain” to describe international relations. .

The term was first popularized by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1946 to describe the political, military and ideological barrier erected by the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin to isolate itself from the West.

—Natasha Turak

Biden says US will stay with Ukraine ‘as long as it takes’

US President Joe Biden has pledged to support Ukraine for as long as needed. He was speaking at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid which saw the alliance agree to massively boost its military presence in Eastern Europe.

When asked at a new conference on Thursday if there was a limit on US aid spending in Kyiv, Biden replied: “We will stay with Ukraine, and all allies will stay with Ukraine. Ukraine, as long as it takes, and make sure they are not defeated.”

Biden also announced a new $800 million military aid package for the country as the war enters its fifth month.

—Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy thanks Ukrainian troops after Russian withdrawal from Snake Island

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a working session of G7 leaders via video link, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 27, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Ukrainian forces after the liberation of Snake Island, a remote island in southern Ukraine.

“Undoubtedly, the main word today is ‘Snake’. Apparently, Zmiinyi (Snake) Island was talked about just as much as the day the Russian ship arrived there. Then the ship was gone forever and now the island is free again,” Zelenskyy said via the Telegram messaging platform, according to a translation of NBC News.

Ukrainian officials said earlier that Russian troops evacuated Snake Island, which was taken by Russian forces on the first day of the invasion. The Russian Defense Ministry also confirmed the withdrawal.

—Amanda Macias

Trudeau says Canada will increase its military presence in Latvia

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference after the NATO summit at the IFEMA convention center in Madrid, Spain, June 30, 2022.

Dursun Aydemir | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his government will increase the presence of Canadian troops in Latvia as part of NATO’s commitment to strengthen its deterrent measures along the Russian border.

Trudeau made the announcement at the close of the three-day NATO summit in Madrid. He did not give specific numbers.

Canada leads the NATO battle group in Latvia, which has a total of about 2,000 soldiers. Albania, the Czech Republic, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain also contribute troops to the group.

“We will bolster our military deployment in Latvia and work with other allies to be able to rapidly augment our current strength to our combat-capable brigade should the need arise,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said his government also wants to send up to 39 armored combat support vehicles to Ukraine along with six additional drone cameras to help fight the Russian invasion.

— Associated Press

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