Russian trial for American basketball player Brittney Griner begins
American basketball player Brittney Griner (pictured here at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games) was accused by Russian authorities of having cannabis oil in her luggage and smuggling the narcotic material, a crime that could draw a 10-year jail sentence.
Jean Catuffe | Getty Images
American basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17, arrived at a Moscow court for her trial. The Olympic gold medalist was accused by Russian authorities of having cannabis oil in her luggage and smuggling the narcotic material, a crime that could draw a 10-year jail sentence.
U.S. officials argue that Griner is being wrongfully detained. U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan said this week that the athlete is being “wrongfully detained, unjustly detained, and we have made that clear as an official determination of the U.S. government.”
— Natasha Turak
An iron curtain is ‘already descending’ between Russia and the West, Russia says
An iron curtain between Russia and the West is essentially already here, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, describing the political and economic wall that has formed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As far as an iron curtain is concerned, essentially it is already descending,” Lavrov said after talks with Belarus’s foreign minister, according to a translation by AFP.
He added that the EU made no effort to understand Russia’s interests, saying it’s “interested in what has been decided in Brussels. And what has been decided in Washington has been decided in Brussels.”
Since early March and the imposition of numerous sanctions on Russia by the West, which cut off many travel, finance and business ties, many historians have invoked the so-called “iron curtain” in describing 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 seal itself off from the West.
— Natasha Turak
Biden says U.S. will stick with Ukraine for ‘as long as it takes’
U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to support Ukraine for as long as necessary. He was speaking at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid that saw the alliance agree to massively ramp up its troop presence in eastern Europe.
When asked during a new conference Thursday if there was any limit to U.S. spending on aid for Kyiv, Biden replied, “We’re gonna stick with Ukraine, and all of the allies will stick with Ukraine, as long as it takes, and in fact 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 following Russian withdrawal from Snake Island
Ukraine’s 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 following the liberation of Snake Island, a remote island off the south of Ukraine.
“Undoubtedly, the main word today is ‘Snake.’ Apparently, there was just as much talk about Zmiinyi (Snake) Island only on the day when the Russian ship arrived there. Then the ship left forever and now the island is free again,” Zelenskyy said via the Telegram messaging platform, according to an NBC News translation.
Ukrainian officials said earlier that Russian troops evacuated Snake Island, which was taken by Russian forces on the first day of the invasion. Russia’s Ministry of Defense also confirmed the withdrawal.
— Amanda Macias
Trudeau says Canada will increase its troop presence in Latvia
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference after the NATO Summit at the IFEMA Convention Center in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022.
Dursun Aydemir | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will increase Canada’s troop presence in Latvia as part of NATO’s commitment to strengthen its deterrence measures along Russia’s border.
Trudeau made the announcement at the close of the three-day NATO summit in Madrid. He did not give specific numbers.
Canada leads NATO’s battlegroup in Latvia of around 2,000 soldiers in total. Albania, the Czech Republic, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain also provide troops to the group.
“We will be bolstering our military deployment in Latvia and work with other allies to be able to rapidly augment our current strength to our combat capable brigade when required,” 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