(AFP) — Finland on Saturday sought to allay Moscow’s fears about its bid to join NATO, as fierce fighting raged in Ukraine’s east, slowing down a hoped-for Russian advance.
Wives and parents of Ukrainian fighters trapped in the bowels of a besieged steel plant in the country’s south meanwhile made a desperate appeal to China to help secure their release.
And the G7 vowed to further turn the screw on the Kremlin with fresh sanctions, pledging never to recognise the borders it was attempting to redraw through destructive force.
One of Europe’s fiercest conflicts since World War II has seen more than six million people flee for their lives, and according to Kyiv has caused an estimated $90 billion in damage to civilian infrastructure.
One senior Ukrainian general predicted a turning point in the months ahead, and that the fighting could be over by the end of the year.
In Turin, Italy, a world away from the fighting, Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra is the bookmakers’ favourite to triumph at the world’s biggest live music event — the Eurovision Song Contest — on a wave of popular support.
But even here the war cast a shadow.
“We have one band member who joined the territorial defence of Kyiv on the third day of the war,” said lead singer Oleh Psiuk.
“We are very worried about him, and we hope to see him safe once we are back.”
Finland Announces Plan to Join NATO, as Boris Pledges UK Soldiers to Defend Finland and Sweden From Russiahttps://t.co/9EDyJvzuat
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 12, 2022
Finland and Sweden are poised to jettison decades of military non-alignment to join NATO as a defence against feared further aggression from Russia.
Moscow has warned Finland, with whom it shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border, that it would take “reciprocal steps”.
Hours after Finland’s grid operator said Russia had pulled the plug on electricity supplies overnight, President Sauli Niinisto spoke to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“The conversation was direct and straight-forward and it was conducted without aggravations,” Niinisto’s office said.
“Avoiding tensions was considered important. The phone call was initiated by Finland.”
Putin, however, told him that Finland joining NATO would be a “mistake”, insisting that Russia posed “no threat to Finland’s security”, the Kremlin said.
Finland’s bid to join NATO is expected to be announced this weekend.
Expert: Islamic Extremists Continue to Openly Recruit in Sweden https://t.co/uEV0qawKMb
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 15, 2021
Both Helsinki and Stockholm will first have to convince NATO member Turkey on the sidelines of an informal gathering of the alliance’s foreign ministers in Berlin.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday accused both countries of harbouring “terrorist organisations”. Both Sweden and Finland have sizeable Kurdish communities.
Ankara has regularly accused Stockholm in particular of harbouring members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been designated a terrorist organisation in the UK, European Union and the United States.
It has also been angered by Sweden’s recognition as genocide the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917, and claims of human rights abuses.
Both Nordic countries say they were not aware of Turkish misgivings. Analysts told AFP that Erdogan may also be playing hardball in an attempt to overturn a refusal by Washington to sell him fighter jets.
Israeli Researchers: Turkey’s Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian Christians Destroyed by ‘30-year Genocide’ https://t.co/aRjCReVK4W
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 19, 2019
In Ukraine, the government and military claimed it was holding back a Russian assault in the eastern Donbas region, stifling Moscow’s attempt to annex the south and east.
Russia, which sent in troops to Ukraine on February 24, has increasingly turned its attention to eastern Ukraine since the end of March, after failing to take the capital Kyiv.
The governor of the eastern Lugansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, said Ukrainian forces had prevented Russian attempts to cross a river and encircle the city of Severodonetsk.
Defence and military intelligence officials in London and Washington both said Russian forces had sustained heavy losses as they attempted the river crossing and had failed to make significant progress.
The Ukrainian General Staff said troops had managed to push Russian troops out of the Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv in the northeast — a priority target for Moscow.
“The enemy’s main efforts are focused on ensuring the withdrawal of its units from the city of Kharkiv,” a spokesman said.
Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synegubov meanwhile said in a video on Telegram that Ukrainian forces were counter-attacking in the direction of the northeastern city of Izyum.
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, said the months ahead would be decisive for the course of the war.
“The breaking point will be in the second part of August,” he told Britain’s Sky News television.
“Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year.”
PICS: Russian Forces Driven Away from Kharkiv, Press Offensive in Donbas https://t.co/P7fOBwOm7n
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 14, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday said his troops would fight to recapture all occupied territory, and those under siege, including in the southern port city of Mariupol.
There, the last defenders of the city are holed up in a warren of underground tunnels and bunkers at the vast Azovstal steelworks under heavy bombardment.
“Very difficult negotiations are under way on the next stage of the evacuation mission — the rescue of the seriously wounded, medics. It is a large number of people,” Zelensky said.
The United Nations and Red Cross helped to evacuate women, children and the elderly from the plant earlier this month.
But local officials said some 600 fighters from Ukraine’s Azov regiment were wounded and needed to be brought out for medical treatment.
In Kyiv, five wives and a father of fighters trapped at the plant appealed directly to China’s President Xi Jinping to step in.
“China has a big influence on Russia and on Putin personally. We ask for him to intervene,” said one man, Stavr Vychniak.
“Never forget who’s the real threat to the world,” a Chinese government spokesman wrote amid the invasion of Ukraine, sharing an infographic sarcastically entitled “USA Bombing List: The Democracy World Tour” listing military interventions https://t.co/7OCRyth6ry
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 27, 2022
Follow Breitbart London on Facebook: Breitbart London
Lincoln Memorial Briefly Closes After Georgetown Grads Litter Area with Glass Bottles
The Lincoln Memorial was briefly closed on Saturday after college students littered the area with broken glass bottles. A large group of Georgetown seniors celebrating their graduation were reportedly responsible for incident.
Hundreds of Georgetown seniors gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. in order to watch the sunrise Saturday morning after a night of celebrating their graduation.
The National Park Service later announced a brief delay in public accessibility to the Lincoln Memorial, saying the group had left debris in the area.
“The Lincoln Memorial is closed this morning following a local university graduation celebration that left litter, broken bottles and spilled wine and champagne covering the steps,” the National Park Service announced Saturday morning.
The Lincoln Memorial is closed this morning following a local university graduation celebration that left litter, broken bottles and spilled wine and champagne covering the steps. We will reopen as soon as the area has been cleaned and made safe. pic.twitter.com/AVuOeoof0y
— National Mall NPS (@NationalMallNPS) May 21, 2022
Workers were forced to clean up the mess on what was the hottest day of the year to date. By 11 am, the Lincoln Memorial was reponed to the public.
“Thanks to our facilities staff for the quick cleanup this morning. The Lincoln Memorial is open. We appreciate your patience,” the park service said in a follow-up statement.
Georgetown University issued a comment on the Lincoln Memorial incident but did not issue an apology. “We are monitoring the concerning and disappointing activity at the Lincoln Memorial. While Georgetown is one of several institutions celebrating graduation ceremonies this weekend,” a university spokesman told NBC 4 Washington.
He added that Georgetown did not officially plan an event at the monument. “We have had no University-sponsored events at or around the Lincoln Memorial. We expect all members of our community to be responsible citizens of our campus and our city and be respectful of the history and institutions of Washington, D.C.”
NPS spokesperson Mike Litterst told NBC4 Washington that no citations or arrests had been issued.
Celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial are set to begin this weekend.
AZ State Rep Jake Hoffman On RINO Speaker Rusty Bowers’ Attempt To Send Armed DPS Agents After Conservative House Members – “It’s Just Lunacy”
RINO Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers’ thuggery was on full display last Tuesday when he attempted to call on armed DPS Troopers to go after two conservative House members.
Rusty Bowers opposes election integrity laws, and he has previously weaponized the Arizona State House to prevent the passage of election integrity bills and the decertification of the fraudulent 2020 Presidential Election.
Because the Arizona Senate has failed to vote on and pass time-sensitive House Republican legislation, Rep. Jake Hoffman and Rep. Jacqueline Parker notified House Leadership that they would not be present to vote on the Senate’s bills.
“Both sides need to put their partisan bills up, and we need to send them to the governor because otherwise, we’re going to risk bills dying in a flurry of vetoes like we saw last year,” Jake Hoffman told The Gateway Pundit.
The Gateway Pundit reported on a critical election bill that Rusty Bowers previously tried to kill in the House and is now being blocked in the Senate.
The Primary election is in August, and the Arizona Senate needs to put these bills to a vote before it’s too late.
Now, he is targeting the members of his own party.
“Representative Parker and I had told leadership on Friday, and then again on Tuesday, that we would not have enough members to pass partisan bills because the Senate hasn’t been putting up the partisan bills from the House. We’ve got ballot Dropbox bans, we’ve got voter registration, and voter roll cleanups. We have lots of good bills over there,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman continued, “We’ve got a bill banning sexually explicit materials in the classroom over there. We had a bill that prohibited government’s requiring masks in their facilities. We had really good partisan bills over in the Senate. So we said, ‘hey, you guys need to do your job. And you need to communicate with the Senate. The House’s partisan bills need to go up.’”
On Tuesday, when Senate bills were on the calendar, the two did not show up because the Senate continues to hold House bills. Hoffman said this was meant to “unclog the logjam preventing critical election integrity bills from being voted on.” Hoffman and Parker had already told Leadership that they weren’t coming and asked them to coordinate with the Senate.
Instead of holding the bills on the calendar, Rusty Bowers decided to “play games” and intentionally put the Republican bills to a vote while members of the Republican caucus were absent. As a result, three bills were almost killed in the House.
“He put up the bills so that they would die so that he could blame us. So he was playing games with the bills just so he could try and make his own members look bad,” said Hoffman. “He’s doing everything he can to try and hurt his own members.”
“They’re not actually dead. We had members who were prepped and primed to change their votes so they could be reconsidered.”
Immediately after trying to kill Republican election integrity bills in the House, Rusty Bowers and Majority Leader Ben Toma held everyone in the chamber. They then tried to come up with a scheme to send armed DPS agents to retrieve Reps. Jake Hoffman and Jacqueline Parker.
Hoffman told us, “The speaker actually does have the power, and the Senate president has the same power, to compel DPS to bring a member that isn’t there back.” However, “after they had been voted down, when he didn’t have the authority to send DPS because remember they weren’t in the third read anymore, he then tried to come up with a way. And so he was like shopping for votes, trying to see if he had the votes to make a motion to send DPS after us.”
In the last session, however, Rusty Bowers refused Republican requests to lawfully send DPS after Democrats who were “intentionally obstructing the business of the House.” He even refused to use House Security to deter the Democrats from leaving before completing their work.
“It’s just lunacy that he would attempt to turn the power of the state against his own Republican members when he has repeatedly refused to even use such force against Democrats,” Hoffman stated.
Rusty Bowers is clearly a RINO Democrat. The establishment dinosaur has served at some point in each of the last four decades.
The Gateway Pundit reported that Bowers will run for Arizona State Senate because he is term-limited out of the House.
“Look, our job here is to pass good legislation. So that means that we need to be putting bills up in both chambers,” Hoffman finished.
This Monday, the Arizona Senate is scheduled to hear eight House bills.
Hoffman recently appeared on The James T. Harris Show to explain how these events unfolded.
Hoffman: I got to ask, what’s going on with old rusty Bowers Speaker of the House sending DPS after and Representative Parker, I believe. What was that about?
Harris: Thanks for having me on James. I have no idea why Rusty Bowers decided to play games like he did with an issue as critical to the future of not only our state, but our country as election integrity. Well, I mean, honestly, maybe we do know why James. I mean, after all, Rusty Bowers has repeatedly said that despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary, the 2020 elections was a perfect election with no irregularity and no chance of fraud. So maybe that’s why he played games with those bills. I don’t know. But the bottom line is that Rusty Bowers and Ben Toma knew that they were missing Republican votes yesterday. Yet they decided to put up election integrity bills anyway so that they would fail. As if playing games with election integrity bills wasn’t bad enough, James. After having torpedoed multiple election integrity measures, Rusty Bowers and Ben Toma then decided to force every single member of the House to sit around for almost an hour while they concocted a plan to try and send armed DPS officers after the two most conservative members of the House, the people who care about election integrity the most. You can’t make this stuff up, honestly. Put this into perspective, James, last year when Democrats all over the country, including right here in Arizona, were weaponizing their legislative attendance to try and kill election integrity legislation when they were running and hiding in an attempt to prevent a quorum. The Conservatives were the ones that asked Rusty Bowers last year to send DPS in a legitimate government role to bring them back to the capitol and he refused to even consider it every single time it was brought up yet when he knew days in advance that he was missing multiple Republican votes rusty Bowers chose to play petty political games with critical election integrity bills and then attempted to wield the power of tyrants to send armed men after his own conservative members to clean up his mess. It’s not a pretty picture, James.
Harris: Are those bills dead Hoffman, or will they come back to life?
Hoffman: The bill that you’re talking about of Senator Townsend’s, that is a very good bill. James, you and I have talked multiple times about the problems with the federal only ballots. I had the citizenship bill that requires proof of citizenship to vote earlier this year that passed out of the House and the Senate and was signed by the Governor. Senator Townsend deserves credit for that bill, and we got to get that bill back on the board. So look, the bills are not dead. That’s the bottom line. We asked the Conservative members to force leadership to reconsider the bill that’s called a motion to reconsider. That means that they’re gonna come back up for a vote in the next two weeks. So we will get those three election integrity bills that they tried to play games with across the finish line. But look, I think the moral of the story and James you hit on it in your question: We as a society have to ask ourselves, do we want to entrust this much unbridled power to people who have been wielding the power of government for nearly 40 years? Rusty Bowers has been in office for four decades. ‘In the in’ of four decades since 1996. And now, despite Arizona’s term limit laws, is running for yet another term in the Senate. We have to ask ourselves as a society, is that how our system of government is supposed to work? Do we want people who are willing to play games with the most critical issues of the day, serving not only in roles of leadership but serving an office for 40 plus years, which is what we’re about to come up on in terms of Rusty Bowers? So I mean look, the voters of Legislative District ten, they’ve got a choice to make.
Ron DeSantis defeats Donald Trump in Wisconsin straw poll
Most 2024 polls show the former President as the GOP frontrunner. Could that change?
In the latest in a series of indications of Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ rising position in the Republican Party, a straw poll of 2024 presidential primary preferences of 325 Wisconsin Republican activists saw him outperform former President Donald Trump.
The Saturday poll of attendees of the Wisconsin Republican Convention, reported on by WisPolitics.com, saw DeSantis get 38% of the vote in a hypothetical 2024 GOP field that included over two dozen potential candidates.
Trump got 32% of the vote, and no one else was even close: former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley got 7% of the vote, good for third place.
DeSantis was the only major Florida Republican to poll above low single digits. Sen. Marco Rubio had 2% support, and his in-state Senate colleague Rick Scott was under 1%.
The poll suggested Trump fatigue may be setting in, with just 43% of respondents supportive of another Trump campaign even happening.
Though straw polls can be wildly variable, this non-scientific survey tracks with more formal polling showing DeSantis is becoming a first choice with an increasing amount of Republicans as a potential 2024 GOP standard bearer.
DeSantis’ positioning is getting stronger as 2024 speculation simmers, while Trump struggles to get majority support in state polling.
The May poll from Texas’ CWS Research offers one such example. It shows that Trump would only command 45% support in a field with DeSantis and other Republicans. DeSantis’ 28% is a strong second, a full eight points up from April polling from this same group.
The same trend holds true in North Carolina, where a competitive Primary season has led to prospective 2024 questions as well in a series of polls.
National polls corroborate the more granular surveys of what is still a hypothetical contest. DeSantis is a strong second to Trump in surveys testing the two names in the same question.
Without Trump in the field, DeSantis wins most of these surveys by commanding margins.
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