Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia reacted with outrage after China’s ambassador in Paris appeared to question the sovereignty not only of Ukraine, but all the former Soviet republics, saying they “do not have an effective status in international law.” Fearing diplomatic censure, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry backpedalled, releasing a statement saying: “China respects the sovereign status of former Soviet republics ” But such sentiments are fast gaining an alarming currency in Russian political circles. A commentator for pro-Kremlin newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda opined that “according to the Ukrainian scenario, we have an historical right” to Russian-inhabited lands of Kazakhstan. Former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, tweeted a call for Ukraine to “DISAPPEAR” (in caps), and referred to the country as “Malorossiya” (Little Russia)—a term from the empire of the czars for territories outside Great Russia (Russia proper). (Photo: Wikipedia)
The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued sanctions against 144 citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Moscow accused the individuals of hostile acts against the Russian state. The alleged acts include lobbying for sanctions, interference with Russia’s internal affairs, and inciting “Russophobic” sentiments. The three Baltic states are particularly outspoken in their support of Ukraine, and calls for holding Russia accountable for war crimes and possible “genocide.” (Photo of Riga, Latvia, via Wikimedia Commons)
Tens of thousands of conscription-age Russian men have fled to neighboring countries since Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of military reserve troops to fight in Ukraine. The tide has grown in recent days amid fears that the Kremlin will impose an exit ban. The sense of a closing window has led to chaotic scenes on Russia’s land borders with Georgia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia—countries that do not require a visa for visiting Russians. But Poland, Finland and the Baltic states have stopped issuing visas for Russians entirely. Among European Union countries, only Germany is offering refuge to Russians seeking to escape the war. Anti-war groups including War Resisters International, International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection have issued a petition calling on EU leaders to extend asylum for deserters and objectors to military service from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. (Photo: Verhniy Lars via Moscow Times)
Darya Dugina, Russian state media war propagandist and the daughter of ultra-nationalist ideologue Alexander Dugin, was killed when a remote-controlled explosive device planted in her SUV went off as she was driving on the outskirts of Moscow. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) is charging that the assassination was “prepared and perpetrated by the Ukrainian special services.” According to the FSB, a Ukrainian citizen, Natalya Vovk, carried out the attack and then fled to Estonia. Russian media reports are claiming she was a member of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, and that the elder Dugin was the actual target of the attack. A statement from Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the killing reflects Kyiv’s reliance on “terrorism as an instrument of its criminal ideology.” Kyiv vigorously denies any involvement in the killing. In Estonia, the prosecutor general’s office said that it “has not received any requests or inquiries from the Russian authorities on this topic.” (Image: Social media post in which Dugin called for “genocide” of the Ukrainian “race of degenerates.” Via Twitter)
The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament threatened to “claim back” Alaska if the United States freezes or seizes Russian assets in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. “Let America always remember: there’s a piece of territory, Alaska,” Vyacheslav Volodin said at the last session of the State Duma before summer break. “When they try to manage our resources abroad, let them think before they act that we, too, have something to take back,” Volodin said. He noted that deputy speaker Pyotr Tolstoy had recently proposed holding a referendum in Alaska on joining Russia. The day after Volodin’s comments, billboards proclaiming “Alaska Is Ours!” appeared in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, apparently placed by a local “patriot.” (Map via Wikipedia)
Amid quickly escalating tensions over Ukraine, Russia lodged a diplomatic protest with the US embassy in Moscow, claiming that a US nuclear submarine penetrated Russian territorial waters near the Kuril Islands. According to Moscow’s Defense Ministry, a Virginia-class US Navy submarine was detected off Urup Island, where Russia’s Pacific Fleet was conducting exercises. The Defense Ministry said the submarine was chased off by Russian vessels, and retreated at “maximum speed.” The statement accused the US of a “violation of Russia’s state border.” Media accounts did not emphasize that whether this purported incident indeed took place in Russian waters is questionable, as the Kurils are in part claimed by Japan—a dispute which has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from entering a treaty to formally end their World War II hostilities. Russia over the past weeks has conducted naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean, the North Sea, and northeast Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Pacific and Sea of Okhotsk, where the Kurils are located. (Map: International Kuril Island Project)
The US anti-missile station in Romania was officially activated, to harsh protests from Moscow—as NATO prepares to deploy German troops in the Baltic republics.
A group of US senators led by John McCain proposed legislation that would place a moratorium on the release or transfer of prisoners from Guantánamo Bay.
Above Russian protests, NATO is beefing up its Baltic Air Policing program with more fighter jets—at the request of regional leaders, who cite Russian provocation.