Ambassador Heidi Grau, the Special Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group announced that the security situation in Donbas continued to deteriorate over the recent months. “On the eve of the first anniversary of the agreement regarding additional measures to strengthen the ceasefire I would like to recall that, for several months, there has been considerable stabilization of the ceasefire along the line of contact as a result of this agreement”, she said.
Minister of Foreign Economy and Foreign Affairs of Hungary Péter Szijjártó, who currently also chairs the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, promised that he would help Donbas as much as possible. This was discussed during his visit to the contact line in the Joint Forces Operation zone. “It is very sad that in Europe in the 21st century there are still such places where military conflicts take place. It is clear that this checkpoint in Stanytsia Luhanska is one of the saddest places in Europe. We are now chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, we will do everything to help as much as possible. We are trying hard within our means to ensure that the agreements that were adopted in Minsk are fulfilled," Szijjártó said.
The United States Department of State does not believe that the country's participation in the Normandy Format talks will help in solving Donbas escalation. U.S. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet said so in a commentary. "At the moment, I think the U.S. participation in the Normandy Format talks will not probably not help solve the problem. The problem is Russia, as Russia is the aggressor, the one who creates the problems," he said.
Dmitriy Kozak, the Deputy Head of Administration of President of the Russian Federation claimed that if Ukraine goes for military scenario of re-integration of Donbas, Russia will not be staying away.
Russian media report that citizens of temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions will be able to vote at the elections to the State Duma of Russia.The voters must be holding Russian passports for that to happen.
Nord Stream 2
As the construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is almost over, Ukraine, Russia, U.S. and Germany state their positions in this topic. It is obvious that Ukraine fears to lose the role of transiter of the Russian gas to Europe.
Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said that Kyiv already began consultations with the European Commission and Germany. According to him, the Nord Stream 2 “threatens the security of Ukraine and violates the principles of diversification of the EU Energy Union”.
President Volodymyr Zelensky is likely to discuss the Nord Stream 2-related topics with his US counterpart Joe Biden, as the two leaders are supposed to meet on August 30.
Yuriy Vitrenko, the CEO of Naftogaz-Ukraine company doubts that Germany can guarantee the extension of gas transit contract between Ukraine and Russia after 2024.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis offered to lay down conditions for Russia in exchange for the launch of Nord Stream 2 pipeline."I believe it's a mistake, and it will cost us a lot. I see an opportunity to correct this mistake... if Ukraine gets an action plan of NATO membership, or if the launch of the pipeline will be used as a leverage for the demand to take the Russian troops away from Ukraine", Landsbergis said.
Meanhwile, Russia claims it never uses energy carriers to apply pressure on its neighboring countries. According to Russian ambassador in the US Anatoliy Antonov, his country has “never imposed its supplies on anyone, and did not use energy resources as an instrument of political pressure”.
The U.S. Presidential Administration allegedly called on Ukrainian authorities not to criticize future Washington-Berlin agreement on Nord Stream 2. U.S. officials have allegedly indicated that public opposition to the upcoming deal could damage bilateral relations between Washington and Kyiv. However, the US Department of the State denied that allegation; Derek Chollet, the Counselor of the Department said so in a commentary. "Ukraine is a democratic country, it has its own voice. We strive for a close and constructive partnership with our Ukrainian friends. So, we could defend our common interests and values," he said.
2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo
Today, the 2020 Summer Olympics has started in Tokyo. Two athletes living in the Olympic Village were the first to test positive for Covid-19 just days before the Tokyo Games, meanwhile, all Ukrainian athletes are healthy.
This year, IOC changed the Olympic motto for the first time in history. Meanwhile, the 2020 Olympics' website depicted Crimea as separate from Ukraine. Later, the map was removed from the Olympic website.
The curiosity of the Games: a softball match was almost canceled due to the message about a bear walking in the park not far from the stadium.
This week, the WHO announced that the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming worse and the world is increasingly moving away from its end, as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the world has increased by 11.5%.
Meanwhile, Delta strain spreads around the world. It is responsible for over 80% of new Covid-19 cases in the United States. Moreover, Delta variant accounts for almost a half of all coronavirus cases in Poland. Delta strain was also detected in Kyiv, Ukraine.
However, Covid vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca are highly efficient against the Delta strain after two doses are injected.
Moreover, the test trials of new French and Israeli vaccines are ongoing. To be more specific, the EMA announced launching of the French Covid-19 Vidprevtyn vaccine review. And Israel is supposed to be the first country in the world to test oral vaccine.
Meanwhile, scientists believe that antibody tests are not effective for coronavirus detecting.
Zelensky suspected of high treason in Wagner PMC case
This week, Kyiv Court obliged State Investigation Bureau to begin the pre-trial investigation into the possible fact of high treason committed by President Volodymyr Zelensky and his team, as they could be involved in disrupting the operation to detain Wagner private military company.