Is Russia Moving Nuclear Weapons Toward Ukraine?

Amid unconfirmed reports that a train operated by Russia’s nuclear division was spotted heading toward Ukraine, the White House says that it has no indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine. Nuclear weapons experts tell VOA if Russia is moving nuclear weapons toward the Ukrainian border, the United States will know. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports. …

Greece Warns Turkey on Illegal Drilling  

Greece is warning it is ready to use all its diplomatic and military might to defend its sovereignty against what it calls hostile plans by its historic foe Turkey. The direct warning follows a controversial energy deal Turkey recently signed with an element of Libya’s divided government. But the tensions that have been building up recently between the two NATO allies is sparking fears of a crisis that could spill out of control and destabilize the military alliance. Speaking to Greece’s parliament, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis advised Turkey to return, in his words, to a realm of logic. Otherwise, he warned Ankara’s growing aggression and plans to claim control of areas Greece considers its territory will be stopped. The Greek leader said geography does not change at the behest of …

Russian Launches to Space From US, 1st Time in 20 Years

For the first time in 20 years, a Russian cosmonaut rocketed from the U.S. on Wednesday, launching to the International Space Station alongside NASA and Japanese astronauts despite tensions over the war in Ukraine.  Their SpaceX flight was delayed by Hurricane Ian, which ripped across the state last week.  “I hope with this launch we will brighten up the skies over Florida a little bit for everyone,” said the Japan Space Agency’s Koichi Wakata, who is making his fifth spaceflight.  Joining him on a five-month mission are three new to space: Marine Col. Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to orbit Earth; Navy Capt. Josh Cassada; and Russia’s lone female cosmonaut, Anna Kikina.  “Awesome!” said Mann as they reached orbit. “That was a smooth ride uphill. You’ve got three …

Putin Finalizes Annexation Claim Rejected by Ukraine, West

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday to formalize Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, a move widely condemned as illegal and one that comes as Ukrainian forces advance in a counteroffensive to take back areas under Russian control. The Russian measure, approved earlier this week by the country’s parliament, claims Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions as Russian territory. Russia-installed officials carried out what they called referendums in those areas. Ukraine and its western partners, along with the United Nations, rejected those votes and the overall annexation effort, saying the votes were held under coercive conditions and did not represent the will of the people. The U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote next week on a draft resolution condemning Russia’s annexation claim. Russia used its veto …

OPEC+ Heads for Deep Supply Cuts, Clash with US

OPEC+ looks set for deep oil output cuts when it meets on Wednesday, curbing supply in an already tight market despite pressure from the United States and other consuming countries to pump more.  The potential OPEC+ cut could spur a recovery in oil prices that have dropped to about $90 from $120 three months ago due to fears of a global economic recession, rising U.S. interest rates and a stronger dollar.  OPEC+, which includes Saudi Arabia and Russia, is working on cuts in excess of 1 million barrels per day, sources told Reuters this week. One OPEC source said on Tuesday the cuts could amount to up to 2 million barrels per day.   Sources said it remained unclear if reductions could include additional voluntary cuts by members such as Saudi …

Plastic-Gobbling Enzymes in Worm Spit May Help Ease Pollution

Enzymes found in the saliva of wax worms can degrade one of the most common forms of plastic waste, according to research published Tuesday that could open up new ways of dealing with plastic pollution. Humans produce some 400 million metric tons of plastic waste each year despite international drives to reduce single-use plastics and to increase recycling. Around a third is polyethylene, a tough plastic thanks to its structure, which traditionally requires heating or radiation before it starts to break down. There have been several studies showing that microorganisms can release enzymes that start the degradation process on polyethylene, but the process has until now taken months each time. But the enzymes contained in the saliva of the wax worm moth (Galleria mellonella) can act in only a few …

Despite Skepticism, China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway Deal Chugs Forward

Plans are finally in motion for a railway that runs from China to Europe through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, after being on the table for two decades. Some Central Asian residents remain skeptical of the project, while others anticipate it will be an economic boon for the region. The deal, reached in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s summit last month, cements a feasibility study that requires the transportation authorities of all countries involved to complete an assessment of the project by the middle of next year, then begin construction. The new route, costing roughly $4.5 billion, would be an alternative to China’s current dependence on a route through Russia and Kazakhstan for overland transit to Europe. That route has become politically problematic because of Western sanctions on Russia prompted …

Future Ukraine Aid May Hinge on Control of Congress in 2023

The impending November midterm elections, in which control of both houses of the United States Congress is being closely contested, could have significant consequences for the largest foreign policy challenge currently facing the Biden administration: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine in February, the U.S. and its allies, including most NATO countries, have been funneling aid and weapons into the country to help prop up the government and repel the invaders. While the U.S. public still maintains broad support for Ukraine, and bills providing for aid have been passing with large bipartisan majorities, a vocal minority of Republican lawmakers, echoed by a number of influential voices in the broader conservative movement, have criticized the federal government, saying it is spending too much …

Devastated by Russian Assault, Ukraine’s Schools Come Back to Life

Millions of Ukrainian schoolchildren are returning to the classroom despite air sirens that are still interrupting lessons. With more than 2,000 school buildings around the country destroyed, educators are working hard to rebuild and bring normality to children’s lives. VOA Eastern Europe Chief Myroslava Gongadze visited the village of Bohdanivka near Kyiv where Russian occupiers destroyed the local school and kindergarten. Camera: Eugene Shynkar …

Turkish Journalist Groups Slam Bill to Fight Disinformation

Turkish journalists groups on Tuesday protested a draft law the government says is aimed at combating fake news and disinformation but which critics denounce as yet another attempt to stifle freedom of expression. Parliament was set to debate a 40-article piece of legislation that amends multiple laws governing press, advertising and social media. The most controversial change is an amendment to the press law that would criminalize the spreading of “fake news” with a sentence of up to three years in prison. Critics, including opposition lawmakers and nongovernmental organizations, say the law is too vague and could potentially be abused by the government to further crack down on independent journalism, especially media that has developed on the internet. The government already controls most major news outlets and has been named …

Angela Merkel Wins UNHCR Nansen Award for Protecting Syrian Refugees

Former German chancellor Angela Merkel has won the prestigious Nansen Award from the U.N. refugee agency, for providing a haven for more than 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution in Syria. Angela Merkel welcomed the desperate people at the height of the Syrian conflict in 2015 and 2016, when other countries were turning their backs on them. In announcing the award, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Merkel displayed great moral and political courage by helping more than a million refugees survive and rebuild their lives. UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh says Merkel has helped to highlight the plight of refugees globally. He says she has shown what can be achieved when politicians work to find solutions to challenging situations rather than shifting responsibility to …

Afghan National Institute of Music Performs First Concert in New Home

Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music has performed its first concert in its new home of Lisbon, Portugal. Members of the exiled school are determined to keep Afghan music alive even though they can’t play in their homeland. VOA’s Farkhunda Paimani and Munaza Shaheed attended the concert in Lisbon and filed this report narrated by Amy Katz. Camera: Nawid Orokzai …

Russian Court Sets Brittney Griner Appeal Date for October 25

A Russian court on Monday set October 25 as the date for American basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal against her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession.  Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted August 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.  The Moscow region court said it will hear her appeal.  Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage but testified that she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain.  Her February arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just …

Albania Denies Police System Was Attacked by Iranian Hackers

Albanian authorities Monday denied the country’s police system was hacked after local media reported that data on people being investigated for crimes was released from an Iranian hacking group. Albanian media reported a leaked file with a list of suspected people, from allegedly the police database, who are being probed on different crimes. Ervin Karamuco, a criminology professor, was quoted in social media as saying a channel called Homeland Justice had published 1.7 gigabytes of criminal data from the Memex police system. State police denied its Memex system was damaged but urged local media not to publish data from hackers. Interior Minister Bledi Cuci said that list had not come from the criminal police database. He said Microsoft and the FBI were helping Albanian authorities recuperate the affected systems. Speaking …

Russian Journalist Sobchak Faces Investigation, TASS Reports

Prominent Russian journalist Ksenia Sobchak faces a criminal investigation over a story that police suspect was “fake,” state news agency TASS reported on Monday, citing an unidentified source in law enforcement.  Sobchak, whose late father was the mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s and worked closely with Vladimir Putin, hosts a YouTube channel with over 3 million subscribers. She also founded a popular Telegram account which regularly shares stories critical of Russia’s mobilization efforts.  TASS reported that Sobchak’s story related to “state funding of festivals” and that she could be charged under an article of Russian law that provides for three-year jail sentences.  Neither Sobchak, 40, nor representatives of her news site immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment on the TASS report.  Sobchak has so far avoided …

UN Report: Fiscal Policies of Advanced Economies Risk Global Recession

U.N. economists warn the monetary and fiscal policies of advanced economies risk plunging the world into a recession worse than the financial crisis of 2008. UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has issued its annual Trade and Development Report 2022. The authors of the report warn the world is teetering on the edge of a recession due to bad policy decisions by advanced economies, combined with cascading crises resulting from climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine. They project this year’s global growth rate of 2.5 percent will slow to 2.2 percent in 2023. This, they say, will leave a cumulative shortfall of more than $17 trillion, close to 20 percent of the world’s income. The report finds the slowdown is hitting countries in …

Ukrainian Forces Make Gains in Kherson

Ukrainian forces made further gains Monday in the Kherson region in the country’s south, adding to their gains in the east in recent days as they push a counteroffensive against Russia. Russia-installed officials in Kherson said Ukraine’s military had recaptured some settlements in Kherson. The region is one of four that Russia illegally annexed last week. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday that his forces in Kherson had liberated the settlements of Arkhanhelske and Myroliubivka. The developments in Kherson followed Sunday’s announcement by Ukrainian forces that they had retaken full control of Lyman, the eastern logistics hub that is also within territory Russia claimed last week was its own. “Lyman is fully cleared,” Zelenskyy declared in a short video clip on his Telegram channel. Russia did …

Reformists Gain in Bosnia Elections, Though Change Unlikely

Reformists who ran on fighting corruption and clientelism in public office appeared set to win an important race in Bosnia’s elections Sunday that could give them greater sway over the direction of the country which has never fully recovered from its 1992-95 sectarian war and remains divided along ethnic lines.   The first preliminary results released by Bosnia’s central election commission early Monday showed cooperation-prone contenders Denis Becirovic and Zeljko Komsic on course to win respective Bosniak and Croat seats in the tripartite presidency. However, the reformists were likely to be joined by Zeljka Cvijanovic from the strongest Bosnian Serb party – the secessionist and staunchly pro-Russian SNSD.   Moscow has often been accused by the West of seeking to destabilize the country and the rest of the Balkans through its Serb …

Greece Says It’s Open to Talks with Turkey Once Provocations End

Greece wants to have a constructive dialogue with Turkey based on international law but its Aegean neighbor must halt its unprecedented escalation of provocations, the Greek foreign minister said Sunday. The two countries — North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies but historic foes — have been at odds for decades over a range of issues, including where their continental shelves start and end, overflights in the Aegean Sea and a divided Cyprus. “It is up to Turkey to choose if it will come to such a dialogue or not, but the basic ingredient must be a de-escalation,” Nikos Dendias told the Proto Thema newspaper in an interview. Last month, the European Union voiced concern over statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing Greece, an EU member, of occupying demilitarized islands in …

Pope Calls on Putin to Stop ‘Spiral of Violence’ in Ukraine 

Pope Francis has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop “this spiral of violence and death” over the war in Ukraine. Francis’s remarks, made on Sunday in his weekly public prayer on St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, were some of the strongest he has made since the February 24 invasion. “My appeal is addressed first of all to the president of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop, also for the love of his people, this spiral of violence and death,” Francis said. “On the other hand, saddened by the immense suffering of the Ukrainian population following the aggression suffered, I direct an equally confident appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to serious peace proposals,” he said. The Roman Catholic leader also decried the growing …