Scholz: Ukraine Won’t Have Full NATO Member Security Guarantees

Germany is discussing security guarantees for Ukraine with its allies in preparation for a time after the war, but these will not be the same as for a member of the transatlantic alliance, German Chancellor Scholz told the broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

“We are discussing with close friends the question of the security guarantees we can give. This is an ongoing process. It is clear that it will not be the same as if someone were a member of NATO,” Scholz said.

Scholz, who took office in December, has faced accusations at home and abroad of failing to show leadership in the Ukraine crisis and failing to convey empathy for citizens struggling with the soaring inflation that it has helped to fuel.

But the Social Democrat chancellor, whose mechanical style of communication has earned him the nickname “Scholzomat,” said he did not want to be one of the “politicians who each week make a promise but then don’t keep 90% of them.”

“Especially in such difficult times, it’s not the time for people who constantly say something, but for people who make sure that basic decisions are made,” he said.

Scholz said he was “very worried” about the impact of soaring energy inflation, but that the government needed to assess the impact of its latest multibillion-euro relief package before considering a new one.

“Next year will be the biggest challenge,” he said. “For this year, almost everyone who has done the calculations says we’re going to offset about 90% of the price increases for the lower and medium income households through the measures already decided.”

Asked if he felt the effect of inflation in his own life, he said he had shopped for groceries “just yesterday,” and was able to name correct prices for a range of different goods.

Scholz countered suggestions that he was over-cautious by pointing to his government’s record increase of the minimum wage and its radical shift in defense policy: breaking with decades of refusal to send arms to a conflict zone and creating a 100 billion euro ($104 billion) fund to upgrade the army.

Asked whether his three-party coalition government with the Greens and Free Democrats would introduce a default speed limit on motorways to reduce energy consumption, Scholz referred to their coalition pact, which ruled this out.

On COVID-19, he said Germany would not shut schools and non-essential businesses again if infection rates rose significantly this year, but that face masks would play a bigger role. ($1 = 0.9590 euros)


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Blasts Rock Ukraine Southern City as Russia Grinds Out Gains in the East

Fighting intensified on Saturday for Lysychansk, Ukraine’s last bastion in the strategic eastern province of Luhansk, while blasts shook a southern city after the civilian toll from Russian strikes climbed in towns well behind the front lines.

Rodion Miroshnik, ambassador to Russia of the pro-Moscow self-styled Luhansk People’s Republic, told Russian television that “Lysychansk has been brought under control,” but added: “Unfortunately, it is not yet liberated.”

Russian media showed videos of Luhansk militia parading in Lysychansk streets waving flags and cheering, but Ukraine National Guard spokesman Ruslan Muzychuk told Ukrainian national television the city remained in Ukrainian hands.

“Now there are fierce battles near Lysychansk, however, fortunately, the city is not surrounded and is under the control of the Ukrainian army,” Muzychuk said.

He said the situations in the Lysychansk and Bakhmut areas, as well as in Kharkiv region, were the most difficult on the entire front line.

“The goal of the enemy here remains access to the administrative border of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Also, in the Sloviansk direction, the enemy is attempting assault actions,” he said.

Oleksandr Senkevych, mayor of the southern region of Mykolaiv, which borders the vital Black Sea port of Odesa, reported powerful explosions in the city.

“Stay in shelters!” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app as air raid sirens sounded.

The cause of the blasts was not immediately clear, although Russia later said it had hit army command posts in the area.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

Authorities said a missile slammed into an apartment block near Odesa on Friday, killing at least 21 people. A shopping mall was hit on Monday in the central city of Kremenchuk, leaving at least 19 dead.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the strikes on Friday as “conscious, deliberately targeted Russian terror and not some sort of error or a coincidental missile strike.”

In his nightly television address on Saturday, he said it would be a “very difficult path” to victory but it was necessary for Ukrainians to maintain their resolve and inflict losses on the “aggressor … so that every Russian remembers that Ukraine cannot be broken.”

“In many areas from the front, there is a sense of easing up, but the war is not over,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is intensifying in different places and we musn’t forget that. We must help the army, the volunteers, help those who are left on their own at this time.”

Kyiv says Moscow has intensified missile attacks on cities far from the main eastern battlefields and that it deliberately hit civilian sites. Ukrainian troops on the eastern front lines meanwhile describe intense artillery barrages that have pummeled residential areas.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and cities leveled since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov repeated Russian denials that its forces targeted civilians.

The Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, inspected Russian troops involved in what Moscow calls its “special military operation,” Russia’s defense ministry said, although it was not clear if he was in Ukraine.

The inspection followed slow but steady gains by Russian forces with the help of relentless artillery in east Ukraine, a focus for Moscow after it narrowed its broader war goals of toppling the government following fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Russia is seeking to drive Ukrainian forces out of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in the industrialized eastern Donbas region where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Kyiv since Russia’s first military intervention in Ukraine in 2014.

“Definitely they are trying to demoralize us. Maybe some people are affected by that, but for us it only brings more hatred and determination,” said a Ukrainian soldier returning from Lysychansk.

Russian forces seized Lysychansk’s sister city Sievierodonetsk last month, after some of the heaviest fighting of the war that pounded whole districts into rubble. Other settlements now face similar bombardment.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Telegram shelling had stopped Lysychansk residents dousing fires and added: “Private houses in attacked villages are burning down one by one.”

Ukraine has appealed for more weapons from the West, saying its forces are heavily outgunned by the Russian military.

Troops on a break from the fighting and speaking in Konstyantynivka, a market town about 72 miles west of Lysychansk, said they had managed to keep the supply road to the embattled city open, for now, despite Russian bombardment.

“We still use the road because we have to, but it’s within artillery range of the Russians,” said one soldier, who usually lives in Kyiv and asked not to be named, as comrades relaxed nearby, munching on sandwiches or eating ice cream.

“The Russian tactic right now is to just shell any building we could locate ourselves at. When they’ve destroyed it, they move on to the next one,” the soldier said.

Reuters reporters saw an unexploded missile lodged into the ground in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of the Donbas city of Kramatorsk on Saturday evening.

The missile fell in a wooded area between residential tower blocks. Police and military cordoned off an area a few meters around the missile and told onlookers to stand back. Outgoing artillery fire and several large explosions were heard in central Kramatorsk earlier in the evening.

Despite being battered in the east, Ukrainian forces have made some advances elsewhere, including forcing Russia to withdraw from Snake Island, a Black Sea outcrop southeast of Odesa that Moscow captured at the start of the war.

Russia had used Snake Island to impose a blockade on Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest grain exporters and a major producer of seed for vegetable oils. The disruptions have helped fuel a surge in global grain and food prices.

Russia, also a big grain producer, denies it has caused the food crisis, blaming Western sanctions for hurting its exports.


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Biden Admin to Give $820 Million More in Military Aid to Ukraine


The Biden administration announced new security assistance to Ukraine on July 1 in a package worth about $820 million in total.

The assistance comprises an authorization of a Presidential Drawdown (PDA) of security assistance valued at up to $50 million, as well as $770 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds. The PDA is the 14th drawdown of arms and equipment from the Pentagon’s inventories since August 2021.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the United States has committed a total of about $6.92 billion in military aid to Ukraine to fight Russian forces. Prior to the invasion, since 2014, the United States had committed some $1.8 billion in weapons and military training to Ukraine, $700 million of which came from the Biden administration.

The latest $820 million aid package was broadly announced by President Joe Biden at a news conference on Thursday in Madrid, which was the third and final day of the NATO summit focused on the Russia-Ukraine war.

“We are going to support Ukraine as long as it takes,” Biden said, adding that the United States is giving Ukrainians “the capacity” so that “they can continue to resist the Russian aggression.”

Two Surface-to-Air Missile Systems

The Pentagon issued a more comprehensive announcement on Friday as it formalized the announcement. It said that the USAI funds in the latest aid package will provide for Ukraine two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), a Norwegian-developed anti-aircraft system that is used to protect the airspace around the White House and Capitol in Washington.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude in his nightly video address, saying on Friday: “I am especially grateful today to the United States and to Biden personally for the package of support for Ukraine announced today, which includes very powerful NASAMS—an anti-aircraft missile system that will significantly strengthen our air defense. We have worked hard for these supplies.”

The USAI funds will also provide for up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, as well as four additional counter-artillery radars.

The counter artillery radars being sent are the Raytheon-Technologies AN/TPQ-37 systems, a senior defense official told media, reported Reuters. This is the first time these systems are being sent to Ukraine which have about triple the effective range of the previously sent AN/TPQ-36 systems.

The radars will require weeks at a minimum for defense companies to build. Ukrainians are also being trained to use the newly provided systems.

The package will also include additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), provided by the PDA authorization. The Pentagon had provided the medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine in June.

Much of the aid will take weeks or months to reach Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement following the announcement of the aid: “As the United States prepares to commemorate our independence, we remain committed to the independence, security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com



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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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US Announces $820M in Ukraine Aid, Including Missile Systems

The U.S. announced on Friday that it will provide Ukraine with $820 million in new military aid, including new surface-to-air missile systems and counter-artillery radars to respond to Russia’s heavy reliance on long-range strikes in the war.

Russia in recent days has launched dozens of missiles across Ukraine and pinned down Ukrainian forces with continuous fire for sometimes hours at a time. Ukraine’s leaders have publicly called on Western allies to quickly send more ammunition and advanced systems that will help them narrow the gap in equipment and manpower.

All told, the U.S. has committed more than $8.8 billion in weapons and military training to Ukraine, whose leaders have sought more help from Western allies to repel larger and heavily equipped Russian forces. About $7 billion of that aid has been announced since Russia’s February invasion.

“We are going to support Ukraine as long as it takes,” President Joe Biden said this week at a press conference during the NATO summit in Madrid. He argued that Russia had already suffered a blow to its international standing and major damage to its economy from Western sanctions imposed over the invasion.

The U.S. is giving Ukrainians “the capacity” so that “they can continue to resist the Russian aggression,” Biden said. “And so I don’t know how it’s going to end, but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine.”

As part of the new package, the U.S. will purchase two systems known as NASAMS, a Norwegian-developed anti-aircraft system that is used to protect the airspace around the White House and Capitol in Washington. The Pentagon will also provide the Ukrainians with up to 150,000 rounds of 155-millimeter artillery ammunition.

The Pentagon will also provide additional ammunition for medium-range rocket systems it provided Ukraine in June, known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS. The ammunition will come from the Defense Department’s own inventory under what’s known as drawdown authority. This is the 14th package of military weapons and equipment transferred to Ukraine from Defense Department stocks since August 2021.

The war has evolved into a grinding stalemate in which both sides are heavily reliant on artillery, according to Western officials and analysts. While Russia has not achieved its initial goals of toppling Ukraine’s government, it is believed to be making slow progress in consolidating control over the eastern Ukrainian region known as the Donbas.


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Ukraine’s New Status as EU ‘Candidate Member’ a Dangerous Game to Play


Commentary

The European Council has now accepted the application of Ukraine and Moldova to become a “candidate member” countries of the European Union (EU). The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, welcoming the award of candidate membership, described it as “a unique and historic moment” in his country’s relationship with the 27 members of the EU and that “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”

However, full membership for Ukraine is years and possibly decades away. This is because membership is only granted when the candidate country is able to satisfy the “Copenhagen Criteria” for membership. These criteria include a functioning market economy, a stable democracy supported by the rule of law, and the acceptance of all EU legislation and the common currency, the Euro.

Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union also requires that “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights” are prerequisites for becoming a full member of the EU. Depending on their specific circumstances, a candidate country may thus be required to overhaul its legislation to ensure its compatibility with the EU legal system, including the principle of the supremacy of European law and acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and to strengthen their infrastructure and administration.

As a candidate country, Ukraine is thus effectively sitting in the waiting chamber, anticipating and hoping to be invited into the embrace of the EU.

The Ukrainian flag flutters alongside the European Union flag outside the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Feb. 28, 2022. (François Walschaerts/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Wrong Decision at the Wrong Time’

Professor Marc De Vos, a former Dean of Law at Macquarie University, writing in the Belgian Trends magazine and commenting on the haste with which this has been done, rhetorically asks the question of whether Ukraine would have been offered candidate status if there had been no war with Russia.

He argues that, in offering candidate status to Ukraine, the European Council, on the advice of the EU Commission, has made the wrong decision at the wrong time. To bolster his argument, he refers to the severe internal divisions in Ukraine, the lack of a democratic tradition, the abject poverty of the country, and the high incidence of corruption.

More importantly, the EU decision, in fanning the embers of a cold war with Russia and penalising that country’s invasion of Ukraine, might provoke Russia into retaliation. Indeed, the award of candidate status to Ukraine might be interpreted by the Kremlin as yet another piece in an attempted encirclement of Russia by the European Union and by NATO.

This sentiment is not altogether preposterous in view of the fact that both Finland and Sweden have applied to become members of NATO and the constant stream of weapons made available by the EU to the Ukrainian army.

The Case of Turkey

The rushed award of candidate country status is reminiscent of Turkey’s association agreement with the then European Economic Community on Sept. 12, 1963. This agreement, known as the “Ankara Agreement,” evolved in 1999 into the recognition of candidate status on an equal footing with the other candidate states. However, thus far, full membership has not been bestowed on Turkey, even though negotiations for the status were commenced on Oct. 3, 2005.

There are many reasons for Turkey’s failure to secure full membership. Specifically, its dismal human rights record and autocratic rule are notable obstacles to satisfying the requirements and expectations of the EU.

Turkey’s case is a reminder that Ukraine’s and Moldova’s path to full membership is arduous and unpredictable. The European Union, in conferring candidate membership on Ukraine, may well be guilty of speciously raising the hopes of this unfortunate country—a case of virtue signalling at its worst.

De Vos argues that if Ukraine were to become a full member of the EU, the EU would also need to take on the history of the relationship between Ukraine and Russia. This is a daunting prospect that could be likened to purchasing a debt-ridden company: not only does the purchaser gain possession of the company, but it is also saddled with its debts while hoping that all will turn out for the better in the future.

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via video link in Moscow on June 22, 2022. (Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via Reuters)

Seized as Justification for Russia’s Actions?

De Vos describes the award of candidate member status to Ukraine as a geopolitical game of “poker” because it is merely a symbolic expression of sympathy for the abominable suffering endured by the heroic Ukrainian army and people.

As expected, Russia will be able to point to this development as a justification for hardening its resolve to subdue Ukraine and to break what it regards as the encirclement of its country by the West.

Interestedly, the award of candidate status provides unexpected opportunities to Russia because it may now have compelling but specious reasons for continuing the conflict and expanding its “special military operation.” Russia might consider and exploit the signing of a peace agreement, whereby Russia could claim sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula, the Donbas region, and the corridor linking it to Mariupol and Odessa in exchange for recognising and guaranteeing the sovereignty of the rest of Ukraine and its membership in the Union.

This opportunity explains the subdued response of Russia to the award of candidate membership to Ukraine. But, for the West and NATO, this award represents a dangerous geopolitical game of poker that could potentially engulf the world in another devastating World War with no clear winner.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Gabriël Moens

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Gabriël A. Moens AM is an emeritus professor of law at the University of Queensland, and served as pro vice-chancellor and dean at Murdoch University. In 2003, Moens was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal by the prime minister for services to education. He has taught extensively across Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Moens has recently published two novels “A Twisted Choice” (Boolarong Press, 2020) and “The Coincidence” (Connor Court Publishing, 2021).



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Boris Johnson Under Pressure to Boost Defence Spending to Counter Russia Threat


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure from senior Cabinet ministers and military chiefs to boost defence spending in response to the renewed threat posed by Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

The prime minister, who will call on allies to invest more to modernise European defence at the NATO summit in Madrid, has faced calls to further increase the UK’s own defence expenditure, according to a statement on June 29 from 10 Downing Street.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on June 28 that the UK needs to boost its investment in defence before it is too late.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace arrives to attend the weekly Cabinet meeting at Downing Street on June 7, 2022. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), he said the £24 billion ($29 billion) increase announced in the 2020 spending review has been a “strong start,” but more action is needed to reverse the cuts made by successive governments—both Conservative and Labour—following the Cold War to cash in on the so-called “peace dividend.”

“For too long defence has lived on a diet of smoke and mirrors, hollowed-out formations, and fantasy savings when in the last few years threats from states have started to increase.”

Wallace said Russia is currently “the most direct and pressing threat” and “there is a very real danger Russia will lash out against wider Europe.”

“It is now time to signal that the peace dividend is over and investment needs to continue to grow before it becomes too late to address the resurgent threat and the lessons learned in Ukraine,” he said, adding: “It is time to mobilise, be ready, and be relevant.”

Army Cuts ‘Perverse’

Also speaking at the event, the new head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, said any further cuts to the size of the army—which is set to shrink from a target figure of 82,000 troops to 72,500—would be “perverse.”

The main opposition Labour Party also criticised the military cuts.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: “The prime minister keeps breaking his defence pledges to the British public. With threats increasing and rising Russian threats, ministers must reboot defence plans and halt army cuts now.”

Downing Street defended the government’s record on defence funding, insisting the benefits of new technology and kit outweighed cuts in the number of soldiers.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We are still of the view that we have set out with this massive increase in defence funding is the right one because it would be wrong—given what we are seeing play out in front of our eyes—to focus solely on numbers when we can see the impact that the latest technologies, equipment, training, intelligence are having.”

PA Media contributed to this report.

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Former CIA Officer: Putin’s Inner Circle Could Kill Him

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle of top aides could depose or even kill him because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, a former CIA officer said in an interview this week.

Daniel Hoffman, a former CIA officer with experience in Moscow, told The Daily Beast that three people close to Putin pose potential threats to him: the Kremlin security council chief, Nikolai Patrushev; Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov; and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. 

“Nobody’s gonna ask, ‘Hey Vladimir, would you like to leave?’ No. It’s a [expletive] hammer to the head and he’s dead. Or it’s time to go to the sanatorium,” Hoffman said. “They schwack him for it. That’s what they’ll do.” 

However, former CIA officer Ronald Marks, now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, noted that Putin has “done a nice job of getting rid of those who aren’t on his side,” and said Putin could be safe if the agents protecting him, known as the “siloviki,” stay loyal.

“I think he’s OK as long as the siloviki are on his side,” Marks said.

Marks also said that public opinion has not reached a point where it will influence the siloviki, though Marks said that that could happen if widespread unrest over the invasion of Ukraine spreads in Russia. 

“The Russians are very sensitive, more than they would say, to internal opinion within Russia,” Marks said. “It’s a country that will explode, but it takes a long time. … when you do see the explosion it’s going to come around the economics. Once they can’t get food, once things get rough like that, then you’re going to see people in the streets.”


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Wimbledon Starts, Bans No. 1 Men’s Player for Being Russian

The Championships at Wimbledon began on Monday without the top-ranked men’s player, who was banned from the contest for being Russian.

The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which manages Wimbledon, declared in April, according to Breitbart, that it would ban Russian players from participating in the tournament. The ban came as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Daniil Medvedev, a Russian tennis player who is ranked No. 1 by the Association of Tennis Professionals, hasn’t said much about the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In May, the 26-year-old Medvedev called the war ”very upsetting” and mourned the possibility he would be denied the opportunity to play.

”I don’t know if this decision is like 100 percent and it’s over. … If I can play, I’m going to be happy to play at Wimbledon. I love this tournament,” Medvedev said at the time.

But Andrey Rublev, a Russian player who is ranked No. 8, has been more vocal about his government’s actions. In February, while playing at the Dubai Championships, Rublev wrote ”no war please” on a camera lens after winning his quarterfinal match.

”In these moments,” Rublev said, ”you realize that my match is not important. It’s not about my match, how it affects me. What’s happening is much more terrible.”

Rublev has since condemned the ban on his participation due to his Russian citizenship as ”complete discrimination.”

”Banning Russian or Belarusian players … will not change anything,” Rublev argued. Instead, he suggested the tournament’s prize money should be given to Ukraine as humanitarian aid.

While the tournament has not addressed Rublev’s suggestion, it did, however, give away 1,000 tickets to Ukrainian refugees so they could watch tennis matches.

With Wimbledon’s decision proving unpopular, other male tennis players, such as No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia, called the banning of players based on their citizenship ”crazy.”

”I will always condemn war,” Djokovic told reporters in April while referencing his childhood in postwar Serbia, ”I will never support war, being myself a child of war. I know how much emotional trauma it leaves. In Serbia, we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans, we have had many wars in recent history. However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy.”

”When politics interferes … with sport,” Djokovic added, ”the result is not good.”


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Biden ‘Grumpy’ Over Ukraine, Sidelines NSA Adviser Sullivan

Joe Biden is “grumpy” these days, a White House insider shared with Newsmax.

The high-level Democrat, who has known Biden for years, said the president spends most of his White House meetings complaining about his low approval numbers, bad press, and the fact he’s not getting credit “for what’s going right.”

Notably, Biden sees Ukraine’s success in holding off Russia’s massive invasion as a major “win” for his administration, but feels he’s gotten little to no credit.

Biden is said to be so cranky about the Ukraine matter that he has moved almost all federal oversight of the Russian war from his young national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, to chief of staff Ron Klain.

“This is the same thing that happened with Afghanistan, when Joe and Klain decided to control the flow and looped out State, the Pentagon and even Jake,” the insider said, noting the significant chaos that ensued as a result.

Biden is said to trust Klain, his former vice presidential chief of staff during the Obama years, “like a son.”

Klain is said to return the loyalty. Biden likes making decisions “by the gut,” the source noted, adding he sticks to those decisions even if facts and events prove him wrong.

“But Ron’s not going to tell POTUS he’s wrong,” the source said.

Another source confirmed that Sullivan has been increasingly sidelined for several weeks from leading administration efforts on the Ukraine, arguably the most important national security issue of the day. 

The White House declined to comment on Sullivan’s status, but last week the national security adviser’s distance from Biden was confirmed obliquely.

Just over a week ago, the White House announced that Sullivan had contracted COVID-19. As for Biden’s possible infection, the White House assured the press there was no risk.

A National Security Council representative, Adrienne Watson, assured reporters that the national security adviser “is asymptomatic, and he has not been in close contact with the president.”

With multiple foreign policy issues dominating the administration, from Ukraine to Iran’s nuclear deal, China’s increasing belligerence toward Taiwan and other matters, several former national security officials from previous administrations were stunned by the White House’s admission that Sullivan had no direct, close interaction with the president.

The national security adviser’s office holds a premium spot in the West Wing near the Oval Office. One-time national security adviser Henry Kissinger noted its importance because of “the geography of power, its closeness to the president.”

National security advisers typically have daily face-to-face interaction with the president ,and they often travel with the president.

“I think the bigger problem is that, from what the White House says repeatedly, there are hardly any advisers who are ‘close contact’ to the president,” John Bolton, who served as former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, told Newsmax. “If he [Biden] really is as isolated as the press office is at pains to tell us, that is a major obstacle to effective decision-making.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.


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