Russia’s Wagner Group says it has begun withdrawing from Bakhmut and will transfer control of the devastated Ukrainian city to the Russian army. On Wednesday, Wagner’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said 20,000 of the group’s mercenaries were killed during Russia’s months-long assault on Bakhmut. Prigozhin also warned the invasion of Ukraine could trigger a revolution in Russia, blasting what he called the “fat, carefree” lives of Russia’s elite, while poor and working-class Russians die by the thousands.
On Wednesday, the commander of a self-described anti-Putin Russian militia spoke to reporters on the Ukrainian side of the border, promising more attacks on Russian territory, after the Kremlin said it had repelled a raid by the militia in the Belgorod region. The New York Times reports the pro-Ukraine fighters used at least three U.S.-made armored vehicles known as MRAPs during their incursion. In Moscow, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov cited the hardware as evidence of direct involvement in the conflict by the United States and its NATO allies.
Earlier today, Russia signed an agreement with Belarus to begin deploying tactical nuclear weapons in the former Soviet state. Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin traveled to Shanghai for talks with President Xi Jinping, who said Wednesday cooperation between Moscow and Beijing would reach a “higher level.” We’ll have more on Russia, Belarus and Ukraine later in the broadcast.
In Sudan, bouts of fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have been reported in Khartoum and other cities, threatening a fragile seven-day ceasefire. Both sides blamed the other for violating the temporary truce, which was mediated by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The ongoing fighting has hindered delivery of essential humanitarian relief as the U.N. says over 1.3 million people have now fled their homes, about a quarter of them seeking refuge in neighboring countries.
A push by the U.N. to raise funds for the worsening humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa fell far short of its goal, raising just $2.4 billion of the $7 billion needed to respond to the hunger crisis facing millions of people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. U.N Secretary-General António Guterres appealed to wealthy nations to step up, saying, “People in the Horn of Africa are paying an unconscionable price for a climate crisis they did nothing to cause.” Guterres spoke ahead of the U.N.’s pledging event Wednesday.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “The longest drought on record. Mass displacement after years of conflict and insecurity. Skyrocketing food prices. And now chaos and fighting have engulfed Sudan, radiating instability across the entire region.”
Typhoon Mawar is headed toward the Philippines and Taiwan after lashing the island of Guam. The powerful storm, which has been upgraded to a supertyphoon, downed trees, tore roofs off of houses and knocked out power across much of the U.S. territory Wednesday, but no fatalities have been reported. Some areas received up to two feet of rain. A meteorologist in Guam said of the post-typhoon scene, “what used to be a jungle looks like toothpicks.”
In Germany, police have raided the operations of direct action climate group Last Generation, targeting seven locations across the country. Police also froze the group’s accounts and shut down their website. The climate activists have been branded a criminal organization due to their high-profile protests, which include shutting down traffic on major roads by gluing themselves to the concrete. Last Generation is one of several direct action groups that have turned to public acts of disruption to draw attention to the spiraling climate disaster. Activists have also shut off pipelines and famously threw mashed potatoes on a painting by Monet in a museum. This is Last Generation member Aimée van Baalen speaking after Wednesday’s raid.
Aimée van Baalen: “This doesn’t mean that the resistance will stop. We will still continue to resist. … We have democratically agreed that we have signed the Paris Agreement. We have a Constitution in which Article 20 states that our livelihoods must be preserved, today and in the future. And, of course, it is absolutely democratic to defend that.”
A new investigation from the watchdog group Corporate Accountability finds that over 90% of Chevron’s carbon offsets are “junk,” with some likely contributing to the climate crisis and creating social harm. Environmental and Indigenous activists have long opposed the idea of carbon offsets as corporate greenwashing.
In related news, the city of Hoboken in New Jersey is suing Chevron, Exxon and other oil companies over racketeering charges for knowingly deceiving the public of the climate risks of its industry.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday the U.S. remains on course to default on its loans as early as next Thursday, unless lawmakers agree to raise the ceiling on the national debt. The White House says a default would cause severe damage to the U.S. economy, costing up to 8 million jobs. On Tuesday, far-right House Freedom Caucus member Matt Gaetz openly admitted Republicans were holding the U.S. economy hostage in a bid to force Democrats to agree to huge cuts in federal spending.
Rep. Matt Gaetz: “I think my conservative colleagues, for the most part, support Limit, Save, Grow, and they don’t feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre seized on Gaetz’s comments, saying they showed the fight over the debt ceiling was a “manufactured crisis.”
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: “And don’t take our word for it; just listen to members of the House Freedom Caucus. They’ve been very honest about this and are now openly — they’re saying the quiet thing out loud, referring to the full faith and credit of the United States as a hostage.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has officially entered the race for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination. DeSantis announced his candidacy during a Twitter Spaces interview with Twitter’s billionaire owner Elon Musk. DeSantis’s announcement was delayed by a half-hour, as Twitter’s live stream repeatedly glitched and crashed.
Gov. Ron DeSantis: “There is no substitute for victory. We must end the culture of losing that has infected the Republican Party in recent years. The tired dogmas of the past are inadequate for a vibrant future. We must look forward, not backwards.”
As governor of Florida, DeSantis has signed a slew of bills targeting reproductive rights, immigrant rights, public sector unions, the transgender community, and diversity programs in schools. We’ll go to Florida after headlines for more on Ron DeSantis’s candidacy.
Uvalde, Texas, has marked the first anniversary of the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 19 elementary school children and two of their teachers. Mourners gathered Wednesday outside St. Philip’s Episcopal Church for a “Day of Remembrance” vigil. San Antonio resident Yolanda Valenzuela says the massacre has caused lasting trauma to teachers, students and parents across Texas.
Yolanda Valenzuela: “Nobody feels safe anymore. The kids, you know, they spend some of their time learning how to deal with active shooters and how to hide and this and that and the other. And 10 years ago, you didn’t hear that.”
At the White House, President Biden marked the anniversary of the Uvalde massacre with another appeal to Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons and other gun controls.
In India, the Delhi High Court has summoned the BBC to face a defamation case over a documentary on India’s Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi. The film, titled “India: The Modi Question,” aired earlier this year, highlighting Modi’s role in anti-Muslim riots which killed an estimated 1,000 people in 2002, when Modi was governor of Gujarat state. Modi’s government has attempted to block people sharing the film, calling it “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage.”
An Australian police officer has been charged over the killing of a 95-year-old great-grandmother in a New South Wales nursing home. Clare Nowland died Wednesday of complications from head trauma after 33-year-old senior police constable Kristian White fired his Taser at her, causing her to collapse. Officers had been responding to a report of an elderly woman with dementia holding a serrated steak knife. Australian police are allowed to use Tasers if they feel their lives are in danger, but witnesses say Noland weighed 95 pounds and was slowly advancing toward officers, using a walker. New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb announced the charges Wednesday.
Commissioner Karen Webb: “For the offenses of recklessly inflict grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and assault.”
Here in New York, resident doctors at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens have ended their strike after reaching a tentative deal with their employer, the Mount Sinai Health System. Their union says the agreement brings early-career doctors “much closer” toward parity with their counterparts who work at hospitals in Manhattan.
The “Queen of rock 'n' roll” Tina Turner has died at the age of 83. Born Anna Mae Bullock in Tennessee, she rose to fame alongside her husband Ike Turner in the 1960s before leaving the abusive relationship and becoming a solo artist. Turner topped the charts with hits like “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “The Best” and “Proud Mary.” She won eight Grammys throughout her career and was celebrated for her electrifying stage performances. Like many notable Black artists, Tina Turner faced racism in the U.S. and said she felt more at home in Europe, where she had an even larger fanbase. She lived with her husband Erwin Bach in Switzerland, where she passed away peacefully after a battle with intestinal cancer.