Ukrainian alarm over Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant grows, Zelensky warns of provocation
Alarm is growing in Ukraine over the fate of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which has been under Russian control since the opening weeks of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year. In his nightly address on Tuesday (4 July), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia is "preparing a provocation" at the Zaporizhzhia NPP. Citing Ukrainian intelligence, President Zelensky said that Russia has placed explosives on the roof of two power units, raising concerns that Russia could deliberately damage the power plant under their control to hinder Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive. The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces also reported that Russia is preparing a strike "in the near future", adding that "their detonation should not damage power units but may create a picture of shelling by Ukraine's military". Zelensky also said that "now the whole world must realise that common security depends entirely on global attention to the occupiers' actions at the station". Earlier on 20 June, citing intelligence, President Zelensky also warned that Russia was considering attacking the NPP through radiation leakage.
patrickn97 Wed, 07/05/2023 - 09:49
Opinion: Central Asia is treading carefully after Wagner's mutiny in Russia

"As Russia tries to manage its internal challenges, Central Asian countries are treading carefully, prioritising stability and cooperation and avoiding involvement in Russia's internal affairs," writes Arianna Belluardo in this op-ed for

patrickn97 Tue, 07/04/2023 - 12:01
Israeli operation in West Bank refugee camp continues, at least 10 dead and 100 injured
On Monday (3 July) Israel launched a major military operation in the Jenin refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank in what the Israeli government described as an "extensive counter-terrorism effort". Monday morning began with drone strikes on targets in the militant stronghold, before Israel deployed hundreds of troops into the West Bank refugee camp. The operation came after growing domestic pressure following a series of attacks on Israelis, including a shooting last month that killed four Israelis. As of Tuesday morning (4 July), Palestinian officials have announced that 10 Palestinians have been killed during the Israeli operation in Jenin, while over 100 have been injured. Some 3,000 people have fled the refugee camp overnight, reports the Palestinian Red Crescent. While the Israeli government said that its operation "dealt a heavy blow to terrorist organisations", Palestinian officials have described the events as a "war crime" and an "invasion".
patrickn97 Tue, 07/04/2023 - 08:59
Ukraine sanctions Georgian national airline, Georgian Airways

Ukraine has placed sanctions on Georgia's national airline, Georgian airways, over its decision to re-start flights with Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted a ban on flights between Georgia and Russia on 10 May.

patrickn97 Mon, 07/03/2023 - 10:28
Saudi Arabia to strengthen partnerships with Hong Kong, China
Saudi Arabia is keen to strengthen its partnernships with Hong Kong and mainland China, the Saudi communications and IT minister Abdullah Al-Swaha said on Sunday (2 July). Speaking at the "One Gateway Shared Vision — Hong Kong x Saudi Arabia" event in Hong Kong, Abdullah Al-Swaha said closer collaboration would help boost the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform agenda, a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil and diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as healthcare, tourism, education, infrastructure and recreation. "Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia are going through very promising transformations, where both economies are financial hubs in their own regions. We have an opportunity to build an innovation bridge, to leapfrog into the future with an innovation-based economy," he said. A "pro-partnership and pro-openness" Saudi Arabia was willing to do business with "any partner that can comply with our security and regulatory requirements," he said. Saudi authorities would look to work closely with Hong Kong across a range of sectors, including health sciences and biotechnology, environmental, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and smart cities, he said. Al-Swaha's visit to Hong Kong the Arab-China Business Conference held in Riyadh last month, at which Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the Kingdom could serve as China’s gateway to the Arab world.
patrickn97 Mon, 07/03/2023 - 09:44
The Hague to host three meetings on the South Caucasus this week
This week in the city of the Hague, the foundation LINKS Europe will host three important meetings related to the South Caucasus region. The city will welcome participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and beyond, many of who are involved in the delicate process of building trust and confidence between people after years of warfare and animosity in the South Caucasus Region. A spokesperson for LINKS Europe said that the three meetings are,in their different ways, all symbolic and significant, and are being held at a critical juncture for the future of the South Caucasus region, and its relations with Europe.  LINKS Europe has a long history of engagement with the region, and has for many years been particularly active in promoting peace, dialogue and reconciliation. "We are looking forward to three days of intensive meetings, discussions and debates, and we hope the outcome of the meetings will contribute to the wider ongoing process for  peace and reconciliation in the region, and for stronger relations between the region and the rest of Europe", the spokesperson said.
dennis2020 Mon, 07/03/2023 - 08:59
Protesters storm Swedish embassy in Baghdad after Quran-burning in Stockholm

Dozens of protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday (29 June) after Salwan Momika - an Iraqi living in Sweden - burned a Quran in protest in front of Stockholm's central mosque on Wednesday.

In accordance with free speech laws, the Swedish police had given Momika a permit for the protest but the police later released a statement saying that it would investigate the issue over potential incitement of hatred. Momika conducted his protest amid a heavy police presence.

patrickn97 Fri, 06/30/2023 - 10:03
Kazakhstan GDP grows 4.5% in first five months of 2023, inflation remains high

Kazakhstan's GDP grew by 4.5% in the first five months of 2023, announced Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov on Thursday (29 June) at a national forum of members  of local representative bodies of the ruling Amanat Party.

patrickn97 Fri, 06/30/2023 - 09:45
Editor's choice
Editorial: the next few weeks will define the South Caucasus for a decade

Editorial: the next few weeks will define the South Caucasus for a decade

In the chancelleries of Europe diplomats are preparing to go on their annual summer holidays. There are a number of files they would like to neatly close before they do so. The South Caucasus is one of them, writes in this editorial. "Hard luck. There is no chance that any of the major issues facing the region can be brought to a conclusion yet, and it promises to be a long summer full of surprises. But on a number of issues an end game is approaching. The region is in one of those defining moments which everyone agrees will have a deep and long term impact on the future. People are hoping for the best, but worried about the worst. First, there is Georgia. By October, it should be clear if the country will get candidate status for EU membership, a hugely symbolic step that would make the possibility of Georgia becoming an EU member state within a decade a reality for the first time [...] Then there is the business of war or peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both sides appear not convinced its going to be either one or the other. The foreign ministers of the two countries are meeting in Washington this week under the watchful eye of Antony Blinken. They may register progress, but it is unlikely to be enough."