Russian Trade Rises Despite Sanctions, as NATO Member Turkey Offers ‘Critical Lifeline’

Despite Western attempts to stifle Russia’s economy through sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine last year, Russian trade volumes with dozens of countries have actually increased since the war began — with NATO member Turkey providing a “critical” economic lifeline for Moscow, according to an analysis by the Washington-based Atlantic Council.

The countries that have increased trade since the February 2022 invasion include several European Union and NATO members, according to the analysis.

“Such surges in trade, however, are not necessarily an indicator of support” for the war launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the report says. “Instead, it is more likely they are predominantly the result of companies — and countries — pursuing legal opportunities for cheaper exports and new gaps in the Russian market.”


It notes that China’s trade with Russia had already been increasing at an average annual rate of 23% over the past five years, excluding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It said China’s trade with Russia has jumped by another 27% since the Ukraine invasion.

Other countries have seen a far greater increase in trade with Russia since February 2022.

“We see increases of trade across a range of different countries, with places like India and Greece, for example, importing cheap Russian oil at below market prices. And this is what’s causing the surge of trade there,” said Niels Graham, a co-author of the Atlantic Council report, in an interview this week with VOA.

“But we also see other countries like Turkey, for example, exporting a lot of electronics as well as chemical industrial goods to Russia to take advantage of the holes in the Russian market that have been caused by the sort of G7 statecraft response,” he said.

He said that Beijing is actually showing signs of “restraint” since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“China is certainly engaging with Russia, certainly increasing its trade overall, but doing so very much in line overwhelmingly with the red lines the West has drawn — for fear of Western retaliation against China, cutting it off from a much more important Western market,” Graham told VOA.

Russian Oil

India’s trade with Russia has soared by 250% since 2021, the biggest increase by far among Russia’s trading partners.

China and India imported record volumes of Russian oil in May, according to Reuters, totaling about 110 million barrels for the month. Analysts say the world’s two biggest buyers of Russian oil are capitalizing on discounted prices after the G7 group of rich nations imposed a price cap of $60 per barrel in December.

Washington has warned that Moscow is seeking to circumvent the price cap by using the Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline along with ports in eastern Russia, where there may be less Western oversight of trading activities.

The West never intended to completely block Russia oil sales, said Graham.

“Doing so against an oil producer as large as Russia would have skyrocketed global oil prices, would have likely tipped the global economy into recession, and would have made a lot of countries angry against Western actions,” he said.

Turkish lifeline

The Atlantic Council report says NATO member Turkey also provides a vital lifeline for Russia’s economy, with trade volumes increasing by some 93% since the invasion.

It said Turkey has sold Russia sensitive material like integrated circuits and semiconductors which could be used in weapons systems.

“Although Turkish exports of electronic machinery, including critical integrated circuits, fell in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion, they have since recovered and grown well beyond the pre-invasion average. From March 2022 to March 2023, Turkish electronic exports to Russia jumped by about 85%,” the Atlantic Council report said.

“To Ankara’s credit, following pressure from the Group of Seven [G7], Turkey has agreed to halt its transit of sanctioned goods to Russia,” the report added. “However, its trade with Russia remains a vital economic lifeline for its businesses as the country recovers and reconstructs from a devastating earthquake earlier this year.”

Turkey assured the European Union in March that it would no longer ship or transit goods to Russia that are subject to sanctions or export controls, according to an EU official quoted by Reuters.

Ankara has denied exporting goods to Russia that could have military applications.

Pakistani Charities Burdened by Record Inflation

Pakistanis traditionally give generously to charity, but most avoid paying taxes. Now, charities are feeling the pressure as donations drop amid record-setting 38% inflation. Low tax collection, meanwhile, hurts economic growth, forcing more to rely on charities for survival.

Every day, thousands of Pakistanis come to one of the Saylani Welfare Trust’s free food distribution centers, spread across the country, for a hot meal.

Security guard Muhammad Khursheed is one of them.

He said if the free food from Saylani wasn’t available, he would be spending all his salary on just food.

With an annual inflation rate of almost 38% eating through people’s incomes, Saylani, one of Pakistan’s largest charities, is seeing a rise in daily demand for its free food but a drop in donations.

Suhail Ahamed is a regional manager with the charity.

He said that up until a few months ago, he used to get 30,000 pieces of bread made. Now the number has reached almost 42,000. Donations have reduced but Saylani has not cut down its work, he added.

Charitable giving is a big part of Pakistani culture. In a 2021 Gallup Pakistan survey, around 76% of the respondents said they had given money to help someone in the year before.

At the same time, the proportion of Pakistanis who pay taxes has always remained dismally low.

The country’s tax to GDP ratio is below 10%, meaning the government receives less than 10% of the size of the economy in taxes.

What most countries need to sustain economic growth, according to experts, is a tax to GDP ratio of at least 15%.

Economic researcher Ali Khizar says in Pakistan, huge sectors such as agriculture, trade, retail and real estate use political muscle to keep their taxes low.

“These sacred cows have presence in the parliament. These sacred cows have really strong lobby in the military establishment, and they are very much entrenched in those who are making the decisions,” he said.

A complicated taxation system, ineffective implementation, and lack of trust in the government also cause many to evade taxes.

Broadening the tax net and increasing collection are among the conditions for reviving a stalled 2019 International Monetary Fund bailout deal. However, authorities will likely miss the target.

With Pakistan teetering on the brink of default, and millions getting pushed into poverty because of the rising cost of food and fuel, pressure on charities like Saylani is growing, says regional manager Ahmed.

He said they are very worried that their work may stop but will try their best to prevent that from happening.     

«Укргідроенерго» звернулось до ЄСПЛ через руйнування Каховської ГЕС

Компанія «Укргідроенерго» повідомила, що звернулася до Європейського суду з прав людини (ЄСПЛ) та проінформувала суд в межах справи «Ukrgidroenergo, PAT v. Russia» про «вчинений Росією терористичний акт».

«З метою якнайшвидшого захисту порушених прав та інтересів компанія просить суд розглянути можливість визначити першочерговість розгляду відповідної справи у зв’язку з терористичними діями Росії. Варто відзначити, що організований підрив греблі, що є об’єктом критично-важливої соціальної інфраструктури, порушує Женевську конвенцію, зокрема, Перший додатковий протокол до Женевських конвенцій, що стосується захисту жертв міжнародних збройних конфліктів від 8 червня 1977 року, який встановив перелік об’єктів, які не можуть бути об’єктами нападу. Крім того, вчинені Росією дії грубо порушили порядок ведення війни, створили додаткові та невиправдані ризики для життя, здоров’я та майна цивільних осіб, а також призвели до пошкодження та знищення майна Укргідроенерго, яке, за попередньою оцінкою, відновленню не підлягає», – йдеться у заяві компанії.

У компанії кажуть, що ЄСПЛ вже прийняв до розгляду позов «Укргідроенерго» проти РФ щодо компенсації збитків через воєнну агресії проти України.

«Загальна сума заявлених збитків, завданих активам компанії – Каховській ГЕС та недобудованій вітровій електростанції на острові Зміїний, за незалежною експертною оцінкою, сягнула майже 17 млрд грн», – йдеться в повідомленні.

6 червня генпрокурор України Андрій Костін підписав документ, яким Міжнародному кримінальному суду у Гаазі надається вся необхідна інформація стосовно руйнування дамби Каховської ГЕС.

За даними ОГП, Костін поінформував прокурора МКС Каріма Хана «про підрив дамби Каховської ГЕС російськими окупаційними військами».

«Зробимо все, щоб притягнути винних до відповідальності. Ми відкриті до співпраці з МКС і готові надавати всі необхідні докази, які збирають і обробляють прокурори, для встановлення і покарання усіх причетних до цього злочину», – зазначив Костін.

У свою чергу, російська служба ВВС сьогодні повідомила, що у четвер російські представники виступили у МКС із звинуваченнями на адресу України щодо руйнування Каховської ГЕС.

На світанку 6 червня стало відомо про руйнування дамби Каховської ГЕС. Українська влада звинуватила у підриві дамби російські окупаційні сили, які захопили і контролюють гідроелектростанцію від 24 лютого 2022 року. Російські окупаційна влада натомість стверджує, що це ЗСУ вночі обстріляли і пошкодили дамбу Каховської ГЕС.

У компанії «Укргідроенерго» переконані, що руйнування окупованої Каховської ГЕС спричинив вибух всередині станції, і що такий вибух стався у трьох місцях.

США і Велика Британія заявляють, що поки зарано говорити, що спричинило руйнування Каховської ГЕС.

Російський обстріл під час евакуації: одна людина загинула, кілька – поранені

В Офісі генпрокурора повідомили, що 8 червня російські військові обстріляли Херсон та населені пункти у Херсонському районі під час евакуаційних заходів – є жертва і кілька поранених.

«Через прицільні удари окупантів під час проведення евакуаційних заходів у Херсоні загинула цивільна особа. Ще двоє людей отримали травми. Дані уточняються. В одному із сіл через обстріли травмовано четверо місцевих мешканців. Пошкоджено об’єкти цивільної інфраструктури», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Повідомляється, що Херсонська та Олешківська окружні прокуратури розпочали досудове розслідування у кримінальних провадженнях за фактом порушення законів та звичаїв війни.

Водночас голова Державної служби з надзвичайних ситуацій Сергій Крук повідомив, що масований артобстріл відбувся сьогодні по локаціях, де працюють рятувальники. 

«Поранення отримали два наших співробітники: водолаз-сапер та водій-сапер з Миколаївської області», – написав Крук у фейсбуці.

Сьогодні вдень влада Херсонщини повідомила, що російські війська вдарили по Херсону, зокрема по прибережних територіях та центральній частині міста, коли там проходила евакуація населення.

Якщо на контрольованій українською владою території регіону евакуація ведеться за посередництва рятувальників, поліції, військових і волонтерів, то на окупованих територіях ситуація складна. За даними мера Олешків Євгена Рищука, на окупованому Лівобережжі евакуацією займаються волонтери, яким сили РФ часто перешкоджають у доступі до потерпілих.

Сьогодні МЗС України повідомило, що домовилося із ООН про відправку груп, які будуть направлені у постраждалі окуповані території Лівобережжя для надання гуманітарної допомоги та евакуації людей. Але для цього необхідні гарантії безпеки від РФ. Москва поки на це офіційно не реагувала.

Зеленський поїхав на Херсонщину – скликано нараду з ліквідації наслідків руйнування Каховської ГЕС

За даними Держслужби з надзвичайних ситуацій, станом на ранок 8 червня з підтоплених територій Херсонщини евакуювали 1995 людей, з яких 103 – діти

На окупованій ЗАЕС знущаються із працівників, які не отримали паспорт РФ – керівник Держатомрегулювання

Російські війська окупували місто Енергодар і розташовану поблизу нього Запорізьку АЕС наприкінці лютого 2022 року

Trump’s Lawyers Notified That Former President Is Target of Classified Documents Probe

Federal prosecutors have notified former U.S. President Donald Trump’s attorneys that he is the target of an investigation into his handling of classified materials, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, adding to his legal troubles as he campaigns for the White House in 2024. 

The Justice Department typically notifies people when they become targets of an investigation to give them an opportunity to present their own evidence before a grand jury. The notification does not necessarily mean Trump will be charged.  

News of the notification to Trump’s legal team surfaced just two days after his attorneys met with Justice Department officials to discuss the case.  

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump’s attorneys in the documents case could not be reached for comment. 

Trump’s legal team was notified on Monday, the person said. Although there are some signs that the documents investigation is coming to a close, the timing of when a person is told they are a target cannot necessarily be used as a predictor of when charges might be brought, said David Schoen, an attorney who represented Trump ally Steve Bannon during his criminal trial on contempt of Congress charges. 

“Sometimes they are issued at the beginning of a long investigation and sometimes at the conclusion of an investigation,” he said. 

Trump, the front-runner in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has repeatedly described the multiple investigations as politically motivated.  

A federal grand jury has been investigating Trump’s retention of classified materials after leaving the White House in 2021. 

A second criminal investigation is looking into alleged efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

A spokesperson for Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the probes, declined to comment. 

Thousands of documents 

Investigators in August 2022 seized roughly 13,000 documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. One hundred of these were marked as classified, even though one of Trump’s lawyers had previously said that all records with classified markings had been returned.  

Trump has defended his retention of documents, suggesting that he declassified them while he was president. However, Trump has not provided evidence of this, and his attorneys have not made that argument in court filings. 

Trump handed over 15 boxes of records in January 2022, a year after leaving office, but federal officials came to believe he had not returned all the documents.  

The Justice Department issued Trump a grand jury subpoena in May 2022 asking him to return any other records bearing classified markings, and top officials traveled to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the materials. 

Trump’s attorneys turned over 38 pages marked as classified to FBI and Justice Department officials and showed them a storage room at Mar-a-Lago but did not permit the agents to open any of the boxes. 

One of Trump’s lawyers also signed a document attesting that all records with classified markings had been returned to the government, a claim later proven false after the FBI searched his home.  

Trump’s legal woes are growing.  

A jury in federal court in Manhattan in May decided in a civil lawsuit that Trump must pay $5 million in damages for sexually abusing former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll and then defaming her by branding her a liar. 

Trump also faces a criminal investigation by a county prosecutor in Georgia relating to his efforts to undo his 2020 election loss in that state. 

Trump’s legal woes are growing.  

Former VP Pence Takes Aim at Trump for Republican Nomination

Several challengers this week have jumped into the race to try to thwart former U.S. president Donald Trump from capturing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination for a third consecutive time. Most notable among the new entrants: Trump’s longtime vice president, Mike Pence. VOA’s chief national correspondent Steve Herman at the White House explains Pence wasted no time doing what he previously hesitated to — forcefully criticize his former boss’ conduct in office.

China’s Targeting of US Firms Politically Motivated, US Ambassador Says

The United States will push back on China’s targeting of American firms, which Washington considers politically motivated and unfair, U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said on Wednesday.

Several U.S. companies have faced increased scrutiny in China in recent months, including U.S. memory chipmaker Micron Technology Inc, which China’s cyberspace regulator said in May would be barred from selling to operators of key infrastructure.  

Businesses groups have warned about the rise in China’s use of exit bans, pressure on foreign due diligence firms, and the vague wording of China’s new counterespionage law, which bans the transfer of any information related to national security and broadens the definition of spying.

Burns said five U.S. companies had been singled out by Chinese authorities in recent months: Micron, Deloitte, and consultancies Bain & Company, Capvision, and Mintz Group.

“It’s not happening to companies of other countries, but it is to ours,” Burns told a U.S. Global Leadership Coalition forum in Washington via video link from Beijing.

“It looks political in nature. It looks like payback from the Chinese perspective, and it’s wrong. And obviously we are going to resist this and we are going to push back,” Burns said.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has emphasized national security since taking office in 2012 as suspicion of the U.S. and its allies grows, but that focus contrasts with Beijing’s message that it is opening up to overseas investment.

The Biden administration has pushed to boost engagement with China even as ties have deteriorated over disputes ranging from military activity in the South China Sea, Beijing’s human rights record, and technology competition.

Chinese officials complain that Washington has put hundreds of Chinese companies under various U.S. sanctions or on export ban lists.  

Burns said the U.S. was restricting American companies’ ability to sell technology such as advanced semiconductors to China so as to not give China’s military a “leg up.”  

“While we compete, it is important that we manage that competition so that it has limits and barriers, and it is always a peaceful competition,” Burns said. 

New Nigerian President Says He Will Remove Fuel Subsidy

After his May 29 inauguration, Nigerian president Bola Tinubu announced he would soon end a decades-old fuel subsidy, saying the country can no longer afford the cost. His comments sparked panic buying of gas and raised concerns about inflation in one of Africa’s top oil-producing countries. Gibson Emeka has this report from Abuja.

Camera: Gibson Emeka

Nigerian-Born Political Newcomer Becomes Colorado City Mayor

After a history-making victory, Nigerian immigrant Yemi Mobolade was sworn in on June 6 as mayor of Colorado Springs, the second-largest city in the western U.S. state of Colorado.

Colorado Governor Jered Polis said he is inspired by Mobolade’s story.

“Somebody who has dedicated his life to making Colorado Springs and America a better place, whose story we can all identify with, who came here, who started businesses,” Polis said at the inauguration ceremony.

Mobolade moved to the U.S. 27 years ago as a student and became a U.S. citizen in 2017. He started a family, opened two restaurants and a church, and then won election in this traditionally conservative city as its first elected Black leader.

“I wake up every morning and I think it’s a dream, and then I realize, no, this really happened,” Mobolade said.


But what earned him the trust of many residents, some said, is his stint as the small business development manager for Colorado Springs from 2019 to 2022.

Some residents told VOA that Mobolade’s electoral victory sends a message that their state is welcoming to people from all walks of life.

“Colorado Springs is lavishly hospitable,” Michael Lipede told VOA. “If the natives of Colorado have not received us with an open heart, there is no way we will accomplish all we have accomplished,” said Lipede, a lead pastor at Redeemed Christian Church of God Living Faith Sanctuary in Colorado Springs.

In a city of nearly 500,000 people that is more than 75% White, residents found hope in the fact that so many voters were willing to support someone from a different background.

“Coloradans … don’t believe in ethnicity, they believe in competence and capacity and capability, and they found out that Mr. Yemi has it all.” Olawale Akinremi, a Colorado Springs resident told VOA.

“I feel hopeful about today. I love our new mayor, Yemi Mobolade. He is a man of strength, faith, character, and courage. And we are so fortunate to have him leading our city,” Cindy Aubrey, Colorado Springs resident said.

Another resident, Nkechi Onyejekwe said “I think it is something that is very amazing to celebrate and I think it is something very timely as well,” she told VOA, adding that “Colorado Springs has a very diverse population and I think that their legislative bodies should also reflect that.”

Ami Bajah-Onyejekwe, a Pueblo Colorado resident said it is important for people to see someone they can look up to in positions of leadership. “Just by seeing someone who looks like you, who has similar background to yours and see where that person has reached, and the goals they have achieved,” she said, “gives hope and says, ‘I can do it as well.’”

Mobolade has pledged to be a leader for all of Colorado City’s increasingly diverse population.

“I think today matters for a lot of young black kids because it tells them that the sky’s the limit, that they too can step into the arena and lead,” he said.

This story originated in VOA’s Hausa Service.

Reuters/Ipsos: Biden’s Approval Rating at 41%, Americans Concerned About Economy

U.S. President Joe Biden’s public approval was at 41% in recent days, close to the lowest level of his presidency but little changed following a tense negotiation with congressional Republicans over the federal government’s debt, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed.

The four-day poll, which ended on Monday, showed a marginal increase in Biden’s popularity from last month, when 40% of respondents said they approved of his performance since taking office in January 2021. The poll has a margin of error of three percentage points. 

The economy remained the top concern, amid high rates of inflation and a push by central bankers to tame prices by raising interest rates, which has made mortgages and car loans costlier.

Democrat Biden reached a deal last week with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the top elected Republican official, to suspend a limit on federal borrowing following weeks of talks. The deal averted the financial disaster that would have unfolded if the government were forced to stop paying all its bills.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed only 27% of Americans approve of how McCarthy is handling his job.

Some 56% of the poll’s respondents supported sending more U.S. weapons and financial aid to Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces, about the same share as in a February poll.

But that backing is not evenly distributed across the two political parties. Some 73% of Democrats said they backed more aid, compared to 44% of Republicans.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll gathered responses from 1,056 adults, using a nationally representative sample. 

На Дніпропетровщині затримали «російського агента», який шпигував за бойовою авіацією – СБУ

Чоловіку повідомили про підозру за статтею «державна зрада, вчинена в умовах воєнного стану», йому загрожує довічне ув’язнення

«Не підлягає виконанню» – УПЦ (МП) про вимогу виїхати з Лаври за три дні

Раніше сьогодні міністр культури й інформаційної політики Олександр Ткаченко повідомив, що комісія МКІП завершила свою роботу в Києво-Печерській лаврі, і тепер УПЦ (МП) має звільнити приміщення Лаври протягом трьох днів