The Kremlin threatened on Tuesday to sever diplomatic relations with Washington if the United States declared Russia a sponsor of terrorism.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the proposed designation “naive” and a violation of international law.
“The logical result of such a move becomes a break in diplomatic relations,” she said. “Washington is finally at risk of crossing the point of no return – with all the consequences that come with it. This should be well understood in Washington.”
Last week, the Senate passed a nonbinding resolution urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the United States to adopt the designation.
Blinken, however, balked at the plan, saying the current penalties are similar to what would be imposed with the designation.
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►Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles backtracked on a plan to send 10 tanks to Ukraine, saying the equipment was in poor condition.
►The first cargo ship to leave Ukraine in more than five months has encountered bad weather in the Black Sea and will arrive late in Istanbul. The Razoni, which left Odessa on Monday, is now expected to reach Istanbul early on Wednesday, Turkish Rear Admiral Ozcan Altunbulak said.
►The death toll from a Russian missile attack on Vinnytsia has risen to 27. Local officials said a man died of severe burns after 20 days in hospital. Ninety people were hospitalized after the missile hit the downtown area of the central-western Ukrainian city on July 14.
US sanctions against associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin are getting more personal.
After previously refusing to sanction Putin’s reputed girlfriend, apparently for fear of escalating tensions, the Biden administration took that step on Tuesday by freezing Alina Kabaeva’s visa.
The Treasury Department said it also imposed ownership restrictions on Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast and former State Duma member who the department says has “a close relationship with Putin.” The Treasury added that Kabaeva, 39, is the head of a Russian national media company that promotes the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The UK sanctioned Kabaeva in May and the European Union imposed travel and property restrictions on her in June. In April, the United States sanctioned Putin’s adult daughters, Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova.
“Along with our allies, the United States will also continue to choke off the revenue and equipment that underpins Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
Brittney Griner, the WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist who was arrested in Russia for possession of cannabis, returned to a Moscow-area courtroom on Tuesday amid intensified diplomatic talks between the White House and the Kremlin.
Defense lawyer Maria Blagovolina told Reuters that closing arguments would take place on Thursday and that Griner’s sentencing was expected “very soon”.
Griner, 31, has been detained in Russia since February after vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Last week the The United States said it offered a deal for Griner’s release and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia for espionage. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Russia made a “bad faith” counter-offer that US officials do not consider serious.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov called for “low-key” talks, accusing the United States of “megaphone diplomacy” that will not move the talks forward.
Russia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday labeled the Ukrainian Azov Regiment a terrorist organization and said its members could be held criminally responsible. The regiment ignored the designation in social media posts, saying Russia was seeking excuses for its war crimes. This designation could deprive hundreds of fighters who surrendered to the Azovstal steelworks in May of their POW rights. The fighters had made a final week-long fight in the southern port city of Mariupol.
Dozens of Azov fighters and other prisoners of war were killed or injured last week in an explosion at a prison controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian town of Olenivka . Russia blamed Ukraine for strike; Ukrainian authorities said Russia set off the explosion to cover up the mistreatment of the prisoners.
Azov’s early rulers openly espoused white supremacist views. However, since the group became part of Ukraine’s National Guard in 2014, leaders have repeatedly rejected Nazism, fascism and racism.
BP became the latest energy giant to report massive profits on Tuesday, mounting pressure on governments to intervene as energy companies benefit from high oil and natural gas prices fueling inflation and hitting customers in the portfolio.
London-based BP said second-quarter profits nearly tripled to $9.26 billion from $3.12 billion in April-June last year. The company added that supply disruptions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine are expected to keep prices high.
BP’s glowing earnings report follows the same trend as that of its competitors. Last week, its British rival Shell posted a record quarterly profit of $18 billion. Exxon Mobil reported net income of $17.85 billion, while fellow American Chevron earned $11.62 billion.
Four more US HIMARS mobile missile systems have arrived in Ukraine, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said. The weapons arrived as the White House announced another $550 million in aid for HIMARS artillery and ammunition. Reznikov said the funds are “another security investment in NATO’s eastern flank” and a show of support for democracy. Ukrainian gunners are ready to “turn night into day” to expel Russian troops, he said.
The Pentagon said the rocket systems had a range of 50 miles, allowing the Ukrainians to strike positions out of range of most Russian artillery.
“Grateful to @POTUS @SecDef Lloyd Austin III & folks for strengthening #UAarmy,” Renikov said on Twitter. “We’ve proven to be smart operators of this weapon. The sound of the #HIMARS volley has become one of this summer’s top hits on the front lines!”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sounded the alarm over the war in Ukraine, nuclear threats in Asia and the Middle East and other tensions, warning that “humanity is only a misunderstanding, a miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”. The warning came Monday as a pandemic-delayed conference opened to review the 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieve a world without nuclear.
The threat of nuclear disaster was also raised by the United States, Japan, Germany, the UN nuclear chief and many other opening speakers.
Russia, which faced criticism from some speakers, did not deliver a speech in its scheduled slot on Monday but was due to speak on Tuesday. The representative of China was also due to speak on Tuesday.
Contribute: The Associated Press