Report: Ukraine Using US-Provided Rockets to Hit Russian Troops

An advanced rocket system provided to Ukraine by the United States is making a substantial impact in the country’s ongoing war against Russia, American and Ukrainian officials told The New York Times on Friday.

Four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems have deployed to the front lines of Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the Donbas, with Ukrainian officials claiming they require nearly 300 more to combat the Kremlin.

“Because it is such a precise, longer-range system, Ukrainians are able to carefully select targets that will undermine the effort by Russia in a more systematic way … than they would be able to do with the shorter-range artillery systems,” a Pentagon source said, per The Hill.

“What you see is the Ukrainians are actually systematically selecting targets and then accurately hitting them, thus providing this, you know, precise method of degrading Russian capability,” the source continued. “I see them being able to continue to use this throughout Donbas.”

Other Pentagon officials and military analysts told The Times that Ukrainian soldiers were using the weapons effectively, firing one or two guided rockets at strategic Russian positions at night.

“So far, they seem to be a quite useful addition,” said Russian military specialist Rob Lee of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “They will help hinder further Russian advances, but they won’t necessarily mean Ukraine will be able to take back territory.”

The news comes as President Joe Biden promised $800 million more in aid to Ukraine during the NATO summit on Thursday, according to Reuters.

“We are going to support Ukraine as long as it takes,” Biden told attendees in Madrid.


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Canada Issues New Sanctions Against 74 People and Businesses in Russia, Belarus


SCHLOSS ELMAU, Germany—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new sanctions against 74 people and businesses in Russia and Belarus as G7 leaders discussed the threat to global stability posed by the invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions include 46 entities linked to the Russian defence sector, and 15 Ukrainians who support the Russian occupation of the country.

The Canadian government has also sanctioned 13 people linked to government and defence and two entities in Belarus.

Trudeau says Canada also plans to sanction those related to state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda agents, in an attempt to counter Kremlin disinformation.

Canada will also ban the export of advanced technologies that would improve Russia’s domestic defence manufacturing capabilities.

Canada has also banned the export of advanced technologies and goods that could be used in the manufacturing of weapons to Belarus, as well as the import and export of a broad range of luxury goods between Canada and Belarus.

Trudeau also announced that Canada, along with the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan, will ban the import of certain gold goods from Russia, shutting the commodity out of formal international markets.

The announcement came in a written statement on Monday after a two-hour meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and G7 leaders at their summit in Germany. Zelenskyy, appearing virtually, told the leaders the country will need help to rebuild its infrastructure.

The leaders met in a bright and beautiful meeting room in Schloss Elmau, Germany, a veritable mountaintop castle surrounded by blooming meadows and stunning vistas.

Zelenskyy appeared on a small monitor looking down on the group, stone-faced, in front of a grey background.

The conflict has been a running theme through Trudeau’s meetings with world leaders in Germany, as well as last week at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda.

Zelenskyy thanked G7 leaders for their support, and laid out Ukraine’s requests for tougher sanctions against Russia, more defensive military support, and help to rebuild the bombed and destroyed communities and infrastructure once the conflict subsides, according to Canadian government officials who provided a briefing on the condition they not be named.

He made the point that governments should start thinking about that work now.

Russia announced its own set of new sanctions against Canada on Monday, targeting 43 Canadians including the prime minister’s former adviser Gerry Butts and Conservative strategist Jenni Byrne.

Trudeau spoke to Zelenskyy on the first day of the G7 summit to inquire what he needs from the leaders. According to Zelenskyy’s Twitter account, the two spoke about increasing defence support for the embattled country.

The heads of the world’s most developed economies dedicated their first session of the day to discussing the war and listening to Zelenskyy’s pleas for more aid.

Before the meeting, Trudeau and summit host Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke during a walk from the manor building, or schloss in German, down to one of the meadows, nestled between the building and the mountain view.

“We are … cautious that we will help the Ukraine as much as is possible, but that we also avoid that there will be a big conflict between Russia and NATO,” Scholz told the media during a photo op with Trudeau.

The night before, in Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, weeks of general calm were shattered by Russian missile strikes. The missiles hit a kindergarten and a residential building, killing one man and injuring a woman and child, the city’s mayor said.

While G7 leaders have been united in their condemnation of Russia, they are also expected to meet with Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, who has been invited to the summit but who also tightened economic and diplomatic ties with Russia in recent months.

Trudeau will meet with Modi one-on-one in a private meeting as well.

On Sunday, the United Kingdom announced new sanctions against Russia which would ban the import of Russian gold, the country’s biggest non-energy export.

The U.K. government says the same will apply to Canada, the United States and Japan, which, as a combined effort, would shut Russia out of formal markets. The idea is to “ratchet up pressure on Russia’s war machine,” squeezing the country out of funds to finance the conflict.

Russia was poised to default on its foreign debt on Sunday for the first time since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, further alienating the country from the global financial system.

Russia calls any default artificial because it has the money to pay its debts but says sanctions have frozen its foreign currency reserves held abroad.

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Russia Defaults on Foreign Debt for First Time Since 1918

Russia defaulted on its foreign-currency sovereign debt for the first time in a century, the culmination of ever-tougher Western sanctions that shut down payment routes to overseas creditors.

For months, the country found paths around the penalties imposed after the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. But at the end of the day on Sunday, the grace period on about $100 million of snared interest payments due May 27 expired, a deadline considered an event of default if missed.

It’s a grim marker in the country’s rapid transformation into an economic, financial and political outcast. The nation’s eurobonds have traded at distressed levels since the start of March, the central bank’s foreign reserves remain frozen and the biggest banks are severed from the global financial system.

But given the damage already done to the economy and markets, the default is also mostly symbolic for now and matters little to Russians dealing with double-digit inflation and the worst economic contraction in years.

Russia has pushed back against the default designation, saying it has the funds to cover any bills and has been forced into non-payment. As it tried to twist its way out, it announced last week that it would switch to servicing its $40 billion of outstanding sovereign debt in rubles, criticizing a “force-majeure” situation it said was artificially manufactured by the West.

“It’s a very, very rare thing, where a government that otherwise has the means is forced by an external government into default,” said Hassan Malik, senior sovereign analyst at Loomis Sayles & Company LP. “It’s going to be one of the big watershed defaults in history.”

A formal declaration would usually come from ratings firms, but European sanctions led to them withdrawing ratings on Russian entities. According to the documents for the notes whose grace period expired Sunday, holders can call one themselves if owners of 25% of the outstanding bonds agree that an “Event of Default” has occurred.

With the final deadline passed, focus shifts to what investors do next.

They don’t need to act immediately, and may choose to monitor the progress of the war in the hope that sanctions are eventually softened. Time may be on their side: The claims only become void three years on from the payment date, according to the bond documents.

“Most bondholders will keep the wait-and-see approach,” said Takahide Kiuchi, an economist at Nomura Research Institute in Tokyo.

During Russia’s financial crisis and ruble collapse of 1998, President Boris Yeltsin’s government defaulted on $40 billion of its local debt.

The last time Russia fell into default vis-a-vis its foreign creditors was more than a century ago, when the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin repudiated the nation’s staggering Czarist-era debt load in 1918.

By some measures it approached a trillion dollars in today’s money, according to Loomis Sayles’ Malik, who is also author of “Bankers and Bolsheviks: International Finance and the Russian Revolution.”

By comparison, foreigners held the equivalent of almost $20 billion of Russia’s eurobonds as of the start of April.

“Is it a justifiable excuse to say: ‘Oh well, the sanctions prevented me from making the payments, so it’s not my fault’?” Malik said.

“The broader issue is that the sanctions were themselves a response to an action on the part of the sovereign entity,” he said, referring to the invasion of Ukraine. “And I think history will judge this in the latter light.”

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov dismissed the situation on Thursday as a “farce.”

With billions of dollars a week still pouring into state coffers from energy exports, despite the grinding conflict in east Ukraine, he reiterated that the country has the means and the will to pay.

“Anyone can declare whatever they like,” Siluanov said. “But anyone who understands what’s going on knows that this is in no way a default.”

His comments were prompted by the grace period that ended on Sunday. The 30-day window was triggered when investors failed to receive coupon payments due on dollar- and euro-denominated bonds on May 27.

The cash got trapped after the U.S. Treasury let a sanctions loophole expire, removing an exemption that had allowed U.S. bondholders to receive payments from the Russian sovereign. A week later, Russia’s paying agent, the National Settlement Depository, was also sanctioned by the European Union.

In response, Vladimir Putin introduced new regulations that say Russia’s obligations on foreign-currency bonds are fulfilled once the appropriate amount in rubles has been transferred to the local paying agent.

The Finance Ministry made its latest interest payments, equivalent to about $400 million, under those rules on Thursday and Friday. However, none of the underlying bonds have terms that allow for settlement in the local currency.

So far, it’s unclear if investors will use the new tool and whether existing sanctions would even allow them to repatriate the money.

According to Siluanov, it makes little sense for creditors to seek a declaration of default through the courts because Russia hasn’t waived its sovereign immunity and no foreign court would have jurisdiction.

“If we ultimately get to the point where diplomatic assets are claimed, then this is tantamount to severing diplomatic ties and entering into direct conflict,” he said. “And this would put us in a different world with completely different rules. We would have to react differently in this case — and not through legal channels.”


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Chinese Diplomat Says China Is ‘Ready’ to Supply Aircraft Parts to Russia


A Chinese diplomat reportedly said that China is prepared to supply Russia with aircraft parts through “certain channels” that can bypass U.S. and European sanctions.

“We are ready to supply components to Russia; we are organizing such cooperation,” Chinese Ambassador to Moscow Zhang Hanhui told Russian news agency TASS.

“[Airlines] are currently addressing [it], they have certain channels, there are no restrictions from the Chinese side,” the diplomat added.

Zhang didn’t provide further information on those “certain channels.”

It’s noteworthy that Zhang’s remarks weren’t published on any Chinese official media. Chinese news portal NetEase was the only media that covered the story, but it was removed soon after it was published.

Earlier in March, Washington warned Beijing not to use the business opportunities created by Western sanctions against Moscow to help Russia circumvent export controls and financial restrictions.

Since Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine in February, Western countries banned the export, lease, and supply of aircraft and components to Russia as part of a raft of sanctions.

In response, Russia seized the foreign aircraft leased by airlines. Moscow passed a law allowing Russian airlines to re-register leased aircraft in Russia, in contravention of international rules.

A March 29 report by Cirium, a data source for the aviation and travel industry, revealed that Russia has 980 passenger aircraft in operation, 777 of which are leased from foreign countries. That means that those aircraft, which had no access to spare parts and were not properly maintained, have been operating under such poor condition for nearly four months.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded its aviation safety rating of Russia in April.

Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, expressed concern about the safety of Western-made aircraft continuing to fly in Russia. “This is very unsafe,” he told reporters at a conference on June 14, according to Reuters.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (C) reviews a military honour guard with Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 8, 2018. (Greg Baker/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

China and Russia Deepen Mutual Cooperation

Zhang’s remarks were made in an exclusive interview with TASS during an international economic forum that Russia hosted on June 15–18 in St. Petersburg.

China was a vital guest of Russia’s annual forum but the regime’s head, Xi Jinping, attended the conference via video conference.

During the Sino-Russian business dialogue held on June 16, Zhang said that both sides have “deepened strategic supports and mutual interests in the fields of energy, nuclear energy, aviation, aerospace, and infrastructure,” Taiwan-based China Times reported on June 16.

Zhang also cited official figures, saying that in 2021, Sino-Russian bilateral trade reached a record high of more than $140 billion, and in the first five months of this year alone, it surpassed $65 billion, an increase of 28.9 percent from the same period of last year.

A day earlier, Xi said in a call with Putin that the two sides “will further develop military and military-technical ties,” VOA reported on June 17.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Xi’s ambition to unify Taiwan by force has drawn even more public attention.

Jennifer Bateman

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Jennifer Bateman is a news writer focused on China.



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Russia Attacks Western-owned Grain Terminals in Southern Ukraine

The Russian military on Wednesday targeted two grain terminals owned by Western companies in the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, dealing another substantial blow to the global food supply chain, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Soon after, the Canadian agribusiness Viterra said that one of its terminals was on fire, confirming no deaths but one injured employee. The U.S.-based Bunge Limited also claimed one of its terminals was hit but said there were no casualties.

The Kremlin’s latest attack continues a string of attempts by Russian President Vladimir Putin to hinder exports in and out of Ukraine.

According to The New York Times, Russia is seeking buyers for its plundered Ukrainian harvest. Earlier this month, African Union head Macky Sall, who is president of Senegal met with Putin to discuss trading the stolen crops to Africa.

“This is not a dilemma,” said Hassan Khannenje, director of the HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Africans don’t care where they get their food from, and if someone is going to moralize about that, they are mistaken.”

“The need for food is so severe,” he added, “that it’s not something they need to debate.”

Since last month, Russia and Turkey have also been considering a deal with the United Nations to open Ukrainian food exports to the world market in exchange for the West easing Russian and Belarusian fertilizer exports, according to Reuters.

“We support efforts to address this crisis, including ensuring the flow of key commodities,” a spokesperson for Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., reportedly said.

“We’re very concerned about the impact of the war on shipping in the Black Sea, on Ukraine’s ability to export grain, and the way in which rising food insecurity in Africa, the Middle East, and around the world has been exacerbated by Russia’s brutal war.”


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Russian TV Host: Famine in Ukraine Will Spur West to End Sanctions Against Russia

A Russian state TV host who is apparently familiar with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s thinking asserts that the threat of famine in Ukraine will eventually force the West to lift its collective sanctions against Russia.

At the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of the Russian state-controlled media outlet RT, said she has heard from several people in Moscow that ”all our hope is in the famine.”

”Here is what it means,” Simonyan continued. ”It means that the famine will start now and they will lift the sanctions and be friends with us, because they will realize that it’s necessary.”

Various sanctions against Russia were levied around Feb. 24, when Russia  invaded Ukraine. Nearly four full months later, the military conflict continues between the neighboring countries.

The sanctions include:

  • The United States placed a ban on all imports of Russian oil and gas, while also targeting the country’s largest lenders.
  • The United Kingdom has been phasing out imports of Russian oil.
  • Germany halted plans to open the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
  • And the European Union has promised to phase out imports of coal from Russia by August.

The widespread sanctions have also hit prominent individuals, businesses and banks, while big companies such as McDonald’s, Starbucks and Coca-Cola have completely withdrawn from Russia as a sign of protest against Putin’s war.

Russia, meanwhile, has been accused of blocking Ukraine’s ports and laying the groundwork for a global food crisis. 

According to the United Nations, the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia’s seizure of foreign farmland and the Black Sea blockade have exacerbated the food crisis in Ukraine,  driving up famine levels in that country.

Putin has reportedly pledged to lift the blockade if Western sanctions from Russia’s ”special military operation” are removed in due time.

”Most important of all, we need to end the war in Ukraine,” António Guterres, the U.N. secretary‑general, told the Security Council on May 19, while lamenting how the food distribution networks are struggling.

Sara Menker, founder and chief executive officer of Gro Intelligence, which provides actionable insights across the economy, climate and agriculture, said that before the war, Russia and Ukraine provided nearly one-third of the world’s wheat exports.

The countries were also among the top five global exporters of corn, she said.

For now, though, all Ukrainian ports remain closed amid the conflict.

A representative of Ukraine reportedly told the Security Council that Putin’s war threatens some 400 million people globally who rely on Ukrainian grain exports.

Russia is also seizing Ukrainian grain for its own consumption or to sell it illegally on international markets, according to the unnamed official.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, has accused Putin of deliberately attempting to ”create hunger in the world in order to put pressure … on the EU.”

”This is a real war crime. If you are using hunger as a weapon of war — this has a name,” Fontelles said in Luxembourg after arriving for a meeting of EU foreign ministers, according to Newsweek.


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Newsweek: Russian Consumers Feel Less Pressure Than Americans

Russian consumers are feeling less pain than Americans even amidst a series of pullbacks from Western companies along with accompanying sanctions, Newsweek reports.

Iakov Yakubovich, head of Moscow’s Tsverskoy Municipal District, tells Newsweek that he hasn’t “noticed any change in consumer behavior.”

“Other than the obvious rise in price of many goods and services,” he adds, “there’s no difference that’s visible to the naked eye.”

Yakubovich says that despite inflation and Western sanctions, Moscow has been largely unaffected.

“We recently allocated an 8% increase to the budget for the improvement of public services,” Yakubovich added.

“There is a sense that nervousness has increased, that people don’t know what the inflation might mean for their savings. But there are very few clear, visible signs that anything is different.”

“Alexander,” who has asked Newsweek not to use his real name, said he does feel concerned about the quality of available goods.

Alexander, who works as a shipping entrepreneur specializing in transporting goods from China to Russia, he says that “on February 23, the day before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, one U.S. dollar cost 78.6 rubles. Over the next two weeks, the price of a dollar in Russian currency increased dramatically, peaking at 135.8 on March 10. Since then, however, the price of the U.S. dollar has fallen below 60 rubles, a level unseen since March 2018.”

The report adds that the Russian Central Bank has so far succeeded in staving off what many in the West thought would be an imminent financial collapse.

Nikolai Topornin, a professor of international finance at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, says that the “ruble is actually stronger than the government would like. For budgetary purposes, they’d actually prefer to collect dollars from oil and gas sales and convert them into rubles at a more favorable rate before paying out pensions and other domestic expenses.”

Topornin adds most of the economic pain is being felt by those in the upper class.

“If someone really wants to buy a Mercedes, then it will be much more expensive than it was a few months ago, but as for the milk, eggs, meat, and grain that the mass of regular people buy, inflation is much more mild. People are worse off, but they aren’t hungry.”


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Wealth Tracking Firm Predicts Russian Millionaire Exodus of 15K by 2023

Russia could lose 15% of its millionaires by 2023 because of harsh economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other nations in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

The wealth tracking organization Henley & Partners is predicting that Russia will “hemorrhage” some 15,000 millionaires by the end of 2023 as it grapples with harsh economic sanctions, according to the firm.

“Russia is expected to see a net loss of around 15,000 high-net-worth individuals in 2022, a massive 15% of its total millionaire population,” New World Health Head of Research Andrew Amoils wrote of the migration trends expected this year. “Affluent individuals have been emigrating from Russia in steadily rising numbers every year over the past decade, an early warning sign of the current problems the country is facing. Historically, major country collapses have usually been preceded by an acceleration in emigration of wealthy people, who are often the first to leave as they have the means to do so.”

The organization predicts that the main destination for these millionaires is likely the United Arab Emirates.

The Guardian reported in March, about a month following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that nations around the world were imposing tough economic sanctions on President Vladimir Putin’s country, that the UAE’s destination city of Dubai was throwing out the welcome mat for rich Russians, including many of the most well-heeled in Putin’s inner circle.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Alan Pinto, a leasing consultant at Espace Real Estate in Dubai Marina told the Guardian in March. “A radical amount of Russian investors are purchasing units. Even tenants: we’ve had a huge amount of calls. They transfer their funds via crypto. They have an intermediary who will do that for them and then the cash is passed to the landlords.”

The moves come as U.S.-led sanctions against Russia’s central bank are preventing it from propping up the Russian ruble, denying them access to the SWIFT messaging system, which hampers Russia’s ability to move money around the world, and assets of several key oligarchs are being seized including bank accounts, real estate, and luxury items housed in other countries, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition, the United States and several other countries have stopped importing Russian oil and gas, a significant money-maker for that nation, which combined have the potential to “produce far more severe consequences” to the Russian economy, according to the council.

According to the wealth tracking firm’s analysis, Russia has about 101,000 millionaires, or high-net-worth individuals, in the country.


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Putin to Meet Heads of Foreign Companies in St. Petersburg

Russian President Vladimir Putin is still likely to meet with leaders of foreign companies at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), but officials won’t reveal who with, fearing pressure from the United States amid economic sanctions.

“In order not to give more work to American ambassadors, I will not announce anything now,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly told TASS.

“We expect a very, very interesting plenary session.”

A plenary session is out in the open at the forum, but Putin has traditionally met with foreign corporations’ leaders at the forum. He could still interact with business leaders in the “plenary session” at the June 15-18 SPIEF, according to the report.

World diplomats are putting pressure on businesses to stand up against Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, which began Feb. 24.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Newsmax in an exclusive interview late last month in Kyiv that the world needs to continue to amp up sanctions against Russia, especially economically.

Also, Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak told Newsmax that the sanctions are bold in their words, but have lacked carry through on the execution.


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Ukrainian Intel Official: Without Western Aid, Defeat Looms

A top Ukrainian intelligence official told The Guardian in a Friday interview that the county is heavily reliant on Western aid and at risk of losing its war against Russia.

Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence, said Russia currently outguns Ukraine in heavy weapon supplies as he pleaded with Western allies to provide more artillery ammunition.

“Everything now depends on what [the West] gives us,” Skibitsky said. “Ukraine has one artillery piece to 10 to 15 Russian artillery pieces. Our Western partners have given us about 10% of what they have.”

According to Skibitsky, Ukraine is roaring through artillery rounds at an unsustainable rate of 5,000 to 6,000 rounds per day.

“We have almost used up all of our ammunition and are now using 155-calibre NATO standard shells,” Skibitsky said.

However, as Skibitsky noted, the Kremlin also appears to be running low on rockets. He pointed out that sanctions prevented Russia from producing rockets quickly, which has caused the country to use around 60% of its supplies.

On troop movements, Skibitsky claimed that most of Russia’s army was now primarily located in the eastern Donbas border region. Russian troops in Kharkiv are reportedly focused on defending from Ukrainian counteroffensives, with Kremlin troops in occupied southern Ukraine reportedly digging in significantly.

“It will now be harder to get that territory back,” Skibitsky said of Russian-fortified southern Ukraine. “And that’s why we need weapons.

“If they succeed in the Donbas, they could use these territories to launch another attack on Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, [and] Dnipro. Their aim is the whole of Ukraine and more.”

The news of Ukraine’s growing struggles against Russia comes a month after President Joe Biden signed a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, with an additional $700 million announced on June 1, Newsweek reported.


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