1. Confirmed: Moscow and US negotiating prisoner switch
A Russian diplomat showed on Saturday that Moscow and Washington are discussing a conceivable prisoner change.
The industry is prone to contain a Russian fingers broker imprisoned in america and a North American basketball participant, lately detained in Russia.
The US has mentioned it made a “substantial offer” to Russia to protected the discharge of basketball sensation Brittney Griner and a former soldier, Paul Whelan.
US media claims a well-known Russian fingers trafficker, Viktor Bout, nicknamed “the merchant of death”, is up for industry with Moscow.
Russia officers have till now remained poker-faced about the potential of a switch, calling america’s choice to interact in public international relations “problematic”.
Bout was once arrested in Thailand in 2008 and is serving a 25-year jail sentence in america. His peculiar existence helped encourage the movie “Lord of War” which depicts a cynical fingers broker.
“Discussions on the very sensitive subject of an exchange [of prisoners] are taking place through channels chosen by our presidents,” mentioned the director of the North America division on the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Dartchiev.
The diplomat showed that the ones named by way of america press have been “indeed [being] considered” in an interview revealed on Saturday.
“Silent diplomacy continues and should bear fruit if, of course, Washington (…) is careful not to fall into propaganda”, he added.
Brittney Griner, regarded as one of the most perfect basketball gamers on the planet, was once arrested in February in Moscow in ownership of a vaporizer containing cannabis-based liquid.
She was once lately sentenced to 9 years in jail for hashish trafficking.
2. Russia GDP contracts – however not up to anticipated
Russia’s GDP gotten smaller 4% in the second one quarter of this 12 months, the primary complete quarter since Russia invaded Ukraine, the rustic’s statistics company mentioned Friday.
The Russian financial system was once hit by way of a wide selection of western sanctions, that have targetted its power and monetary sectors, following its army attack on Ukraine in February.
However, the 4% decline between April and June was once a lot not up to what analysts anticipated.
Rosstat didn’t supply to any extent further main points at the causes at the back of the contraction, however mavens mentioned it was once led to by way of weak point in shopper call for and the aftermath of sanctions.
There was once a fifteen.3% drop in wholesale industry and a 9.8% contraction in Russia’s retail industry, which has observed loads of giant western manufacturers, akin to Addidas and McDonalds, pull abroad.
“June data suggests the contraction in the Russian economy seems to have bottomed out as the situation in some industries is stabilising,” said Sergey Konygin, an economist at Sinara Investment Bank.
Russia performed stronger than expected, with the hit to its economy less severe than what was predicted.
Analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecasted GDP would shrink 7% year-on-year in the second quarter, after expanding 3.5% in the first three months of the year.
Given the highly volatile political environment, official forecasts for the depth of Russia’s recession vary. Other studies have claimed that Russia’s economy is being catastrophically crippled by sanctions.
3. Russia accused of blocking medicines by Ukraine
Ukraine accused Russian authorities of blocking access to medicines in areas its forces have captured since the start of the invasion.
The country’s health ministry claimed this obstruction was a crime against humanity, though Russia has previously denied committing such crimes in Ukraine.
Speaking to AP, Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Liashko said Russian authorities have repeatedly blocked efforts by the Ukrainian government to give drugs to people in occupied cities, towns and villages.
“Throughout the entire six months of war, Russia has not [allowed] proper humanitarian corridors so we could provide our own medicines to the patients that need them,” Liashko said.
“We believe that these actions are being taken with intent by Russia, and we consider them to be crimes against humanity and war crimes that will be documented and will be recognised,” he added.
Ukrainian authorities provide state-subsidised medication to people with cancer and chronic health conditions across the country, which is being impeded by Russia.
The destruction of hospitals and other infrastructure in Ukraine has also interfered with other forms of treatment, according to United Nations and Ukrainian officials, alongside the mass displacement of the Ukrainian population.
445 attacks on hospitals and other health care facilities have been recorded by the World Health Organisation as of 11 August. These have directly resulted in 86 deaths and 105 injuries.
The deliberate targetting of medical sites is a war crime under international law, although Russia repeatedly denies having committed war crimes in Ukraine.
Liashko said the secondary effects of this destruction were far more severe for ordinary Ukrainians.
“When roads and bridges have been damaged … it is difficult to get someone who had a heart attack or a stroke to the hospital,” he said. “Sometimes, we can’t make it in time.”
“That’s why war causes many more casualties [compared to the number killed in fighting],” he added. “It’s a number that cannot be calculated.”
4. Moscow warns Russia-US relations will end if assets seized
Russia has warned that US-Russian relations could reach a point of no return should Washington seize any Russian assets.
The stark threat was issued on Saturday by the director of the North America department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Dartchiev.
“Westerners led by way of the United States have trampled on world legislation and absolute taboos in diplomatic observe,” Darchiev said to Russia’s state-controlled TASS news agency.
He alluded to legislation currently being discussed in the US Congress to declare Russia a ‘country sponsor of terrorism’, which could led to certain assets being frozen.
“If handed, it will imply that Washington must pass the purpose of no go back, with probably the most severe collateral harm to bilateral diplomatic members of the family, as much as their reducing and even breaking them off,” said Darchiev.
Russia’s relations with the West have deteriorated sharply since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, which responded by slapping unprecedented economic, financial and diplomatic sanctions on the country.
“We warn the Americans of the negative penalties of such movements that may completely harm bilateral members of the family, which is neither of their nor in our pursuits,” mentioned Darchiev.
The US and its European allies have frozen $30 billion of property held by way of rich folks with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with yachts, helicopters, artwork and actual property.
The US Department of Justice is looking for broader authority from Congress to snatch Russian oligarchs’ property as a method to force Moscow over its movements in Ukraine, a prosecutor mentioned in July.
Top Western officers, together with European Union overseas coverage leader Josep Borrell, have recommended seizing the frozen reserves to lend a hand fund the longer term reconstruction of Ukraine.
5. Ukraine teetering at the fringe of default: credit score scores businesses
S&P and Fitch downgraded the credit standing of Ukraine on Friday, hanging it just one notch clear of default.
The US credit standing businesses made the announcement following the issuing of a moratorium on Ukraine’s exterior debt from world collectors.
S&P downgraded the scores of Ukraine’s skill to pay again lengthy and non permanent debt in foreign currency echange from CC/C to SD (selective default).
Ukraine got from its world collectors a two-year postponement on paying its overseas debt, estimated at $20 billion.
Fitch downgraded Ukraine’s long-term debt from C to RD (limited default).
Neither of the 2 credit standing businesses commented on whether or not they deliberate to lift or decrease Ukraine’s rating.
A rustic is thought of as in default when it’s not able to honour its monetary commitments to collectors, that could be different nations, monetary establishments or world traders.
Major western collectors together with France, america, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom agreed on 20 July to a postponement of hobby bills on Ukrainian debt, after a request from Kyiv. The workforce suggested different holders of Ukrainian debt to do the similar.
Ukraine’s financial system has collapsed because the get started of the warfare with Russia and may just see its GDP plunge by way of 45% this 12 months, in step with the most recent World Bank estimate.