The Kremlin threatened on Tuesday to sever diplomatic ties with Washington if the United States declares Russia a sponsor of terrorism.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the proposed designation “naive” and a violation of international law.
“The logical result of such a step becomes a rupture of diplomatic relations,” he said. “Washington risks finally crossing the point of no return, with all the ensuing consequences. This should be well understood in Washington.”
Last week, the Senate passed a nonbinding resolution urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the United States to adopt the designation.
Blinken, however, has opposed the plan, saying the current sanctions are similar to those that would come with the designation.
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►Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles reneged on a plan to send 10 tanks to Ukraine, saying the equipment was in poor condition.
►The first cargo ship to leave Ukraine in more than five months has run into bad weather in the Black Sea and will arrive late in Istanbul. The Razoni, which left Odessa on Monday, is expected to arrive in Istanbul early Wednesday, Turkish Rear Admiral Ozcan Altunbulak said.
►The death toll from a Russian missile attack in Vinnytsia has risen to 27. Local authorities said a man died of severe burns after 20 days in hospital. Ninety people were hospitalized after the missile hit a city center in west-central Ukraine on July 14.
US sanctions Putin’s alleged girlfriend
US sanctions on associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin are getting more personal.
After previously refusing to sanction Putin’s alleged girlfriend, reportedly due to concerns about escalating tensions, the Biden administration took that step Tuesday when it froze Alina Kabaeva’s visa.
The Treasury Department said it also placed ownership restrictions on Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast and member of the state Duma, who the department says has “a close relationship with Putin.” The Treasury added that Kabaeva, 39, is the director of a Russian national media company that promotes the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The UK sanctioned Kabaeva in May and the EU imposed travel and asset restrictions on her in June. In April, the United States sanctioned Putin’s adult daughters, Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova.
“Together with our allies, the United States will also continue to throttle the revenue and equipment that supports Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
Griner sentence expected ‘very soon’
Brittney Griner, the WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist who was arrested in Russia for cannabis possession, returned to a Moscow-area court on Tuesday amid intense diplomatic talks between the White House and the Kremlin.
Defense attorney Maria Blagovolina told Reuters closing arguments would take place on Thursday and Griner’s sentencing was expected “very soon.”
Griner, 31, has been detained in Russia since February after vape cans containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. She could face up to 10 years in prison if she is convicted.
Last week, the United States said it had proposed a deal for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, an American jailed in Russia on an espionage conviction. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Russia made a “bad faith” counteroffer that US officials do not consider serious.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov called for “discreet” talks, accusing the United States of “megaphone diplomacy” that will not move negotiations forward.
Russia declares Azov militia a ‘terrorist organization’
Russia’s Supreme Court designated the Ukrainian Azov regiment as a terrorist organization on Tuesday and said members can be held criminally responsible. The regiment brushed off the designation in social media posts, saying Russia was seeking excuses for its war crimes. The designation could strip hundreds of fighters who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in May of their prisoner-of-war rights. The fighters had made a weeks-long last stand in the southern port city of Mariupol.
Dozens of Azov fighters and other prisoners of war were killed or wounded last week in an explosion at a prison controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Olenivka. Russia blamed Ukraine for an attack; Ukrainian authorities said Russia set off the blast to cover up prisoner abuse.
The early Azov leadership openly espoused white supremacist views. However, since the group was integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard in 2014, the leadership has repeatedly rejected Nazism, fascism and racism.
BP can represent generous earnings
BP became the latest energy giant to report massive profits on Tuesday, mounting pressure on governments to intervene as energy companies benefit from high oil and natural gas prices that are fueling inflation and hurting customers pocket.
London-based BP said its second-quarter profit nearly tripled to $9.26 billion from $3.12 billion in April-June last year. The company added that supply disruptions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine are keeping prices high.
BP’s glowing earnings report follows the same trend as that of its competitors. Last week, British rival Shell posted a record quarterly profit of $18 billion. Exxon Mobil reported net income of $17.85 billion, while the US corporation Chevron earned $11.62 billion.
The sound of US rocket systems in Ukraine a “big hit of the summer”
Four more US HIMARS mobile missile systems have arrived in Ukraine, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said. The weapons came as the White House announced another $550 million aid package for HIMARS artillery and ammunition. Reznikov called the funds “another investment in NATO’s eastern flank security” and a show of support for democracy. Ukraine’s artillerymen are ready to “turn night into day” to expel Russian troops, he said.
The Pentagon said the rocket systems have a range of 50 miles, allowing the Ukrainians to attack positions beyond the range of most Russian artillery.
“I am grateful to @POTUS @SecDef Lloyd Austin III and the people for strengthening #UAarmy,” Renikov said on Twitter. “We have proven to be smart operators of this weapon. The sound of the #HIMARS barrage has become a huge hit this summer on the front lines!”
The world is one step away from ‘nuclear annihilation’, UN chief warns
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sounded the alarm over the war in Ukraine, nuclear threats in Asia and the Middle East and other tensions, warning that “humanity is only one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation. The warning came Monday as a pandemic-delayed conference opened to review the 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.
The threat of a nuclear catastrophe was also raised by the United States, Japan, Germany, the UN nuclear chief, and many other opening speakers.
Russia, which was criticized by some speakers, did not give a speech at its scheduled time on Monday but was expected to speak on Tuesday. The Chinese representative was also scheduled to speak on Tuesday.
Contributing: The Associated Press