The Pentagon says Russian forces have completed their withdrawal from areas around Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and the city of Chernihiv and are preparing to redeploy to eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have urged civilians in the eastern region of Luhansk to evacuate as the area comes under heavy fire from Russian artillery. Elsewhere, newly surfaced video appears to show Ukrainian soldiers executing a captured Russian prisoner of war, in an apparent war crime.
Meanwhile, human rights groups warn Russian troops retreating from the eastern Kharkiv region left behind a new type of advanced land mine, triggered by sensors that detect people walking nearby. Such anti-personnel weapons are banned under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Ukraine became a party to the treaty in 2006, though Russia and the United States have refused to sign on.
The Biden administration has announced new sanctions targeting Russia’s largest public and private banks, as well as two daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The latest sanctions came as Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the Justice Department’s first indictment against a Russian oligarch. Garland says Konstantin Malofeyev violated sanctions and sought to set up a network of media companies to spread pro-Kremlin misinformation.
Attorney General Merrick Garland: “Our message to those who continue to enable the Russian regime through their criminal conduct is this: It does not matter how far you sail your yacht. It does not matter how well you conceal your assets. It does not matter how cleverly you write your malware or hide your online activity. The Justice Department will use every available tool to find you, disrupt your plots and hold you accountable.”
Attorney General Garland also said the Justice Department had disrupted a network of hijacked computers used by Russia to carry out cyberattacks.
In Hungary, newly reelected authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Wednesday he will pay for Russian gas in rubles — breaking ranks with other European Union countries. EU leaders say they’re preparing an import ban on Russian coal, but sources told Reuters that plan will be pushed back to mid-August. Meanwhile, EU members continue to purchase vast amounts of Russian oil and gas, at a cost of about $38 billion since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for an international embargo on Russian oil, saying inaction was funding Putin’s war effort and costing lives.
Turkey has suspended the trial of 26 Saudi men accused of killing and dismembering Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The suspects were being tried in absentia. Turkish officials say they’ll now turn over the case to prosecutors in Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups say that will lead to a cover-up of the assassination plot, whose alleged masterminds — including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — have not faced justice. Last month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to the kingdom and met with Mohammed bin Salman, asking Saudi Arabia to pump more oil, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to soaring gas prices.
Scientists around the world have launched a new civil disobedience campaign demanding a climate revolution. In Spain, they joined protesters with Extinction Rebellion who poured fake blood on the Spanish parliament in Madrid Wednesday, demanding real government action on the climate. This is Fernando Valladares, a climate scientist with the Spanish National Research Council.
Fernando Valladares: “Climate change is here, and it is causing deaths of tens of millions of people. We, the scientists, are very worried and don’t know what other language we have to express ourselves in. This is the reason for this rebellion, carried out by scientists in 25 countries all over the world. Climate science is not being heard, or at least not being converted into action.”
In Minnesota, prosecutors have declined to bring criminal charges against the Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Amir Locke while executing a no-knock warrant on February 2. Body-camera video of the incident shows Locke appeared to be asleep on a couch and wrapped in a blanket when a SWAT team entered the apartment where he was staying. Locke reached for a handgun that he legally owned and was shot three times by white police officer Mark Hanneman, who opened fire less than nine seconds into the raid. Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, spoke Wednesday after learning her son’s killer would not face charges.
Karen Wells: “I am angry. I am mad. I am disgusted with Minneapolis, Minnesota. This country is still a disappointment in 2022. We have rights. We vote. We carry legal firearms. And y’all still think that we don’t matter. Amir is more than a hashtag. We are going to continue the fight for the no-knock warrant bans in honor of his name, for Breonna Taylor. This cannot happen to nobody else.”
Kentucky Democratic Governor Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill that would ban transgender women and girls from school sports teams that align with their gender identity. The bill is modeled after similar anti-trans laws enacted in 12 other states. Republicans, who dominate Kentucky’s Legislature, are poised to override Governor Beshear’s veto with a simple majority in both chambers.
State lawmakers in Ohio have introduced a bill modeled after Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. The bill would ban teachers in some grades from discussing “sexual orientation or gender identity.” The bill would also prohibit the teaching of what the lawmakers describe as “divisive or inherently racist concepts.” Examples cited in the bill include critical race theory, intersectional theory and the 1619 Project.
Here in New York, Mayor Eric Adams is continuing his controversial plan to clear encampments in the city where unhoused people have taken shelter. On Wednesday, New York police arrested six activists and an unhoused man after a seven-hour standoff at one encampment in the East Village of Manhattan. Residents of the small encampment demanded the city provide actual housing to those in need.
Johnny Grima: “We need apartments. We don’t need temporary housing. We need apartments now, apartment studios now. … There’s more than 100,000 children homeless in New York City for the sixth year in a row, man. It’s disgusting, bro. All right? I was in a family shelter when I was 17 years old, man. You guys destroy people’s lives, man.”
New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said, “The Mayor’s attempt to police away homelessness and sweep individuals out of sight is a page from the failed Giuliani playbook. With no real plan for housing, services, or supports, the administration is choosing handcuffs.”
The prominent media critic Eric Boehlert has died at the age of 57 after a bike accident. He was a former senior fellow at Media Matters and a staff writer at Salon. His books included “Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush.” The columnist Will Bunch described Boehlert as “an irreplaceable voice in fighting against media misinformation in this country.” Click here to see our interview with Eric Boehlert.