At least 25 Pamiri protesters were killed by security forces in Tajikistan on Wednesday, May 18. From The Guardian:
According to witnesses, several hundred residents of Khorog, the capital of GBAO, gathered at the weekend to call for the dismissal of the governor and the release of demonstrators arrested for participation in a protest in November, when three men were killed and 17 wounded by security forces.
Protests continued until Wednesday when, as people marched to the main square in Khorog, security forces blocked the road and allegedly started firing rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas at the protesters, killing at least 25 people.
The Tajik government says that the protesters were actually foreign-backed terrorists sent to block traffic in order to inflame already-tense political and social situation.
Pimiri activists, however, say that the protests were peaceful.
Tajikistan will face severe food shortages if Kazakhstan prolongs its wheat export restrictions beyond June https://www.asiaplustj.info/en/news/tajikistan/economic/20220415/tajikistan-will-face-severe-food-shortages-if-kazakhstan-prolongs-its-wheat-export-restrictions-beyond-june
The people of Sri Lanka find themselves in dire straits as the country faces extreme shortages of food and fuel. A ban on certain fertilizers last year led to a drop in crop yields this year. The president has since lifted the ban, and has promised to import enough of the fertilizers for next year. But this doesn’t help the current shortfall in food supplies.
This comes as gasoline and other fuels begin to run dry as well. The government closed schools and most government offices on Friday, May 20, in an attempt to lower demand on fuel as people are forced to wait in long lines for gasoline, sometimes for days.
On Thursday, May 19, Sri Lanka officially defaulted on its national debt, unable to make a 78 million dollar payment on accrued interest. With its economy collapsing, the country is unable to pay for imports of fuel and food to alleviate its shortages.
One citizen said to Reuters:
"There is no point in talking about how hard life is," said A.P.D. Sumanavathi, a 60-year-old woman selling fruit and vegetables in the Pettah market in Colombo, the commercial capital, on Friday. "I can't predict how things will be in two months, at this rate we might not even be here.”
Speaking to the European Parliament on Wednesday, May 18, Moldovan President Maia Sandu said that Russia must remove its troops from the breakaway state of Transnistria. She said:
"The Transnistrian conflict is another problem we face. We are still giving preference to a peaceful solution to this conflict, which will fully preserve the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova and territorial integrity within our internationally recognized borders."
She also reiterated her wish that Moldova be granted membership in the European Union.
Meanwhile, the EU is pushing a three-hundred billion dollar plan to help member countries move away from Russian oil and gas. The move is meant to deprive Russia of funds it needs to continue its invasion into Ukraine. From AP:
An EU ban on coal from Russia is due to start in August, and the bloc has pledged to try to reduce demand for Russian gas by two-thirds by year’s end. Meanwhile, a proposed EU oil embargo has hit a roadblock from Hungary and other landlocked countries that worry about the cost of switching to alternative sources.
On Saturday, May 21, Russia cut off gas exports to Finland following Finland’s refusal to pay for energy imports in rubles. Russia also ended electricity exports to Finland earlier this month. The moves are seen as mostly symbolic, as Russian energy only accounted for five percent of Finland’s energy needs.
As Finland begins the process of joining NATO, Russian President Vladimir Putin says he sees no problem with the move, although he does warn against a military buildup in the region. Speaking to a military alliance of former Soviet states, Putin said:
"As to enlargement, Russia has no problem with these states - none. And so in this sense there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion to include these countries. But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response. What that will be - we will see what threats are created for us."
Russia says it will beef up forces near western border
On Friday, May 20, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia would strengthen its military forces along its western borders, adding 12 units and divisions to the area.
Meanwhile, Russia’s attacks within the Donbas region intensify as it seeks to gain more control in the area. Shelling in the area has increased, and on Saturday, May 21, Russia claimed complete control over the city of Mariupol after taking the Azovstal steel plant.
European officials say they believe Russia has enlisted the help of Syrian barrel bomb experts to aid in the invasion. This was one of the factors cited by US and European intelligence officials that they fear Putin will use chemical weapons in the region.
Russia has been offering bounties to Syrian soldiers if they join the invasion. Officials estimate that somewhere between 500 to 1,000 Syrian soldiers have joined the Russian war effort.
On Saturday, May 21, Russia announced lifetime bans on over 900 American citizens it had banned from entering the country. The list includes many key political leaders, including President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senator Chuck Schumer, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA head William Burns.
An aviation institute caught fire on Saturday, May 21, near Moscow. Officials say an electric transformer exploded, setting fire to a substation about 25 miles south of Moscow. The center is helping to develop the next generation of Russian airliners.
Ukrainian soldiers are finding unique ways to build out their military capabilities, and they’ve added electric bikes to their inventory. E-bike maker Delfast handed over a number of the machines to the Ukraine military, which has equipped the bikes with heavy weaponry, including anti-tank missiles called NLAWS.
On Sunday, May 22, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky announced a joint customs agreement with Poland meant to make the movement of people and exports out of Ukraine easier. The joint venture also includes the development of a new railway. During an address to the nation, Zelensky said:
"A solution has been reached that is revolutionizing the order on our border. We are introducing joint customs control with Poland. This will significantly speed up border procedures. It will remove most of the corruption risks. But it is also the beginning of our integration into the common customs space of the European Union. That is a truly historic process."
This is an achievement—the historic achievement of our people. And I want the brotherhood between Ukrainians and Poles to be preserved forever. As I talked about it today in front of the deputies, our unity of Ukrainians and Poles is a constant that no one will break."
Ukraine peace deal: Kyiv rules out ceding land to Russia
Meanwhile, Zelensky has ruled out giving up any land in any potential peace deal with Russia.
Israel has announced that it will not open an investigation into the death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abuh Akleh. According to Israeli news outlet Ha’aretz, Israeli police believe investigating Israeli forces will lead to opposition among Israeli people.
Ha’aretz also reports that Israeli police believe there was no criminal act, as soldiers who were interviewed said they were firing at a Palestinian fighters. They state that Abu Akleh was likely killed by Palestinian fire.
Other investigations have concluded that Abu Akleh could only have been killed by Israeli police.
While speaking at his presidential library on Thursday, former president George W. Bush had a slip of the tongue when he called the Iraq war “unjustified and brutal.” He was talking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but maybe was reminiscing over of his own time in office?
GOP Holding CPAC in Hungary
GOP held a CPAC event last weekend in Hungary, with Hungary's President Viktor Orban speaking to the crowd. Tucker Carlson also spoke, along with Mark Meadows, and Donald Trump spoke remotely.
“Have your own media. It’s the only way to point out the insanity of the progressive left.” He also said: “We have to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We must find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that they’ve charged four members of China’s Ministry of State Security with spying on dissidents and human rights activists living and working within the United States.
The indictment claims the four officials directed a fifth person, American citizen Wang Shujun, to collect information on U.S. citizens, including their personal information, statements, and personal beliefs.
The four individuals charged, all Chinese citizens, haven’t been arrested.
The Chinese embassy in Washington denied the accusations, calling them “pure fabrication.”
On Tuesday, the Pentagon reaffirmed its commitment to investigating the numerous sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, also known as UFOs.
Almost a year ago, there were over 140 reported sightings of UAPs from military pilots going back to 2004.
Since that report was published, Scott Bray, deputy director of naval intelligence, told a House intelligence subcommittee that the number has grown to 400 cases, cataloged by a Pentagon task force assigned to collect UAP reports. Bray was careful to keep speculation Earth-bound, saying
we have no material, we have detected no emanations, within the UAP task force that would suggest it is anything non-terrestrial in origin.”
Ronald Moultrie, U.S. defense undersecretary for intelligence and security, leads the current investigative team. He told the subcommittee:
“We know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena, and because UAP pose potential flight safety and general security risks, we are committed to a focused effort to determine their origins.”