A distracted chess player.
(The weekend edition of News Items will be distributed tomorrow. But the time of arrival isn’t certain.)
1. Eurointelligence: “The reason Vladimir Putin has the power to invade a country the size of Ukraine is western money. Each day the west is importing energy from Russia to the tune of $700 million. We even increased our reliance on Russian energy after he annexed Crimea. At no point did we ever solve the problem. Going after the yachts of some oligarchs is one of many ways of not solving the problem. Inviting President Volodymyr Zelensky to a grand-standing session in the European parliament is another one. We are not going to make Ukraine a member of the EU. We now see a clear path for Putin to win this war. He encircles and destroys. He will do to Kiev what he did to Aleppo, Grozny, and most recently to Kharkov. Putin is a very predictable military strategist.” (Source: eurointelligence.com, italic emphasis added)
2. Across Ukraine, Russian forces are pressing ahead, laying siege to cities and trying to control vital ports, and Western officials said Moscow’s forces were targeting civilians and critical infrastructure. Russia’s continuing gains in the south could make it harder for Ukraine’s army to fight in other parts of the country. Ukraine’s spirited defense has slowed the Russian advance, notably near Kyiv, the capital, where its forces have attacked a vast armored convoy bearing down on the city. But Russia is adding forces from the south and west in its efforts to take Kyiv, which the Ukrainian military said Friday remained a “key” Russian objective. More here. (Source: nytimes.com)
3. A fire broke out early Friday at a complex in southern Ukraine housing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after Russian troops fired on the area, the Ukrainian government said. Security camera footage verified by The New York Times showed a building ablaze inside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex near a line of military vehicles. The videos appeared to show people in the vehicles firing at buildings in the power plant. Ukraine’s state emergency service later said the blaze went out after 6 a.m. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine accused the Russian military of deliberately attacking the complex and said an explosion there would have been “the end for everybody, the end of Europe.” (Source: nytimes.com)
4. As President Putin wages war against Ukraine, he is fighting a parallel battle on the home front, dismantling the last vestiges of a Russian free press. On Thursday, the pillars of Russia’s independent broadcast media collapsed under pressure from the state. Echo of Moscow, the freewheeling radio station founded by Soviet dissidents in 1990 and that symbolized Russia’s new freedoms, was “liquidated” by its board. TV Rain, the youthful independent television station that calls itself “the optimistic channel” said it would suspend operations indefinitely. And Dmitri A. Muratov, the journalist who shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said that his newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which survived the murders of six of its journalists, could be on the verge of shutting down as well. “Everything that’s not propaganda is being eliminated,” Mr. Muratov said. (Source: nytimes.com)