Russian troops have deployed to two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday declared them independent states. Putin made the announcement from the Kremlin during a lengthy speech in which he questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine as an independent sovereign state.
President Vladimir Putin: “We demand from those who captured and hold the power in Kyiv to immediately end the combat activities; otherwise, all responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling the territory of Ukraine.”
On Monday, the United Nations secretary-general condemned Putin’s decision as a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and inconsistent with the principles of the U.N. Charter. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield also criticized Putin’s move during an emergency meeting of the Security Council.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield: “He calls them peacekeepers. This is nonsense. We know what they really are. In doing so, he has put before the world a choice. We must meet the moment, and we must not look away. History tells us that looking the other way in the face of such hostility will be a far more costly path.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of violating the Minsk agreement and undermining diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine. On Monday, the Biden administration issued limited new sanctions targeting investors in the Russian-backed separatist regions. Meanwhile, Germany has announced it is halting the permitting process of Russia’s massive Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. We’ll have more on tensions over Ukraine after headlines.
In Florida, a state Senate committee has advanced a Republican-led bill that would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation now heads to the full state Senate for a vote. The bill makes no exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest, and would require two physicians to certify an abortion is necessary to save the pregnant person’s life. Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has called the bill “reasonable” and “supportive of protecting life.” He’s expected to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.
In a historic victory for reproductive rights, Colombia has legalized abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion rights advocates gathered outside the Colombian Constitutional Court in the capital Bogotá Monday evening celebrating as the decision was delivered.
Laura Castro González: “This is a big achievement. With today’s decision, all women won. We won a greater recognition of our full citizenship, more security over our bodies and over our sexual and reproductive rights.”
The Dominican Republic has begun construction of a wall along its border with Haiti. The nearly 13-foot barrier will cover about half of the 244-mile Dominican-Haitian border. Other border enforcement infrastructure will include fiber optics, movement sensors, cameras, radar, drones and over 70 watchtowers. The wall’s construction comes as Haitian migrants continue to flee extreme poverty, political instability and violence. Dominican President Luis Abinader spoke at a groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday.
President Luis Abinader: “The construction of this intelligent border fence will help protect our nation, safeguard the interests of our country, respect our dignity, our freedom, and defend our sovereignty.”
Dr. Paul Farmer, the world-renowned infectious disease doctor and medical anthropologist, died unexpectedly on Monday at the age of 62 in Rwanda on the grounds of a hospital and university that he helped establish. As a medical student in 1987, Paul Farmer co-founded the group Partners In Health to deliver free, quality healthcare to people in Haiti. Over time the organization grew into an international network serving patients in many of the poorest parts of the world in dealing with crises from AIDS to Ebola to tuberculosis. Later in the broadcast, we’ll look back at our interviews with Dr. Paul Farmer over the years and will speak with one of his longtime colleagues at Partners In Health.
Mali’s parliament has approved a plan that will allow the West African nation’s military rulers to remain in power for at least five more years. All but one member of Mali’s 121-seat army-dominated Legislature approved of the plan Monday, which fails to set a date for future elections. Mali’s military had initially promised elections would be held this month, after it seized power in an August 2020 coup.
A German whistleblower has leaked data on 18,000 accounts showing that Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse held hundreds of millions of dollars for dictators, human rights abusers, drug traffickers, arms traders and others accused of serious crimes. Among those named in the massive data leak is Sa’ad Khair, a former head of the Jordanian intelligence service and a key U.S. ally who participated in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Also exposed were former Egyptian spy chief Omar Suleiman, who’s been linked to the widespread torture of political dissidents, as well as Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, sons of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
In Argentina, eight separate wildfires in the northeastern Corrientes province have scorched nearly 2 million acres, destroying farms, pastures and wildlife. The fires started last month, fueled by strong winds, low humidity, searing heat and severe drought in a region that normally receives abundant rainfall.
In Portland, Oregon, a 43-year-old man is under investigation for a Saturday night shooting that left one person dead and five others wounded at a protest against police killings. Witnesses say Benjamin Jeffrey Smith confronted Black Lives Matter demonstrators, calling them “terrorists” before opening fire within 90 seconds of arriving on the scene. His bullets struck 60-year-old June Knightly in the head, killing her. Knightly was known as “T-Rex” to her friends and was a beloved fixture of Portland’s LGBTQ+ community and racial justice protests. Four others were injured by Smith’s handgun, before someone returned fire and injured Smith, sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Portland’s police have not said whether they will charge Smith with a crime; the police initially described the killing as a confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters.
Long Island University has announced the 2021 George Polk Awards in Journalism. The award for National Television Reporting goes to “American Insurrection,” hosted by A.C. Thompson and directed by Rick Rowley. The “Frontline”/PBS film documents how the Trump presidency has emboldened far-right movements across the U.S.
Azmat Khan, Dave Philipps and Eric Schmitt of The New York Times won for their investigations that uncovered intelligence failures and civilian deaths in U.S. airstrikes in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Also winning a Polk Award is Ian Urbina of The New Yorker for his investigative report, “The Secretive Prisons That Keep Migrants Out of Europe.” Urbina tells the story of Aliou Candé, a 28-year-old father of three who fled his failing farm in Guinea-Bissau trying to reach Europe by boat from Libya. He was captured at sea by the European Union-backed Libyan Coast Guard and jailed at a notorious migrant prison known as Al Mabani. Democracy Now! recently spoke with Ian Urbina about his reporting.
Ian Urbina: “What Western and non-Western aid groups that are able to get into these facilities, Al Mabani included, what’s routinely documented is extortion, rape, torture and sometimes murder. What we were investigating, in particular, was a particularly egregious murder in which guards opened fire on migrants, and Aliou Candé, our main character, was killed.”
You can link to our interviews with Polk Award-winning journalists Ian Urbina, Azmat Khan, Rick Rowley and A.C. Thompson at our website democracynow.org to watch all the interviews and read the transcripts.