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Zelenskiy Appeals To Security Council For Action To Stop Russian Attacks On Infrastructure

Firefighters work at the site of an apartment block destroyed by shelling in Vyshhorod, near Kyiv, on November 23.
Firefighters work at the site of an apartment block destroyed by shelling in Vyshhorod, near Kyiv, on November 23.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appealed to the UN Security Council to take action to stop Russian air strikes targeting infrastructure in his country after another massive Russian missile attack on November 23 killed six people and left Ukrainian cities in the cold and dark.

"Today is just one day but we have received 70 missiles. That's the Russian formula of terror," Zelenskiy told the council meeting in New York via video link. Hospitals, schools, transport infrastructure, and residential areas had all been hit in the strike, he said, adding that Ukraine is waiting to see "a very firm reaction" from the world.

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"We cannot be hostage to one international terrorist," he said. "Russia is doing everything to make an energy generator a more powerful tool than the UN Charter."

Zelenskiy called for Russia to be denied a vote on any decision concerning its actions.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin was "clearly weaponizing winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people."

The Russian president "will try to freeze the country into submission," she added.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya responded by complaining that it was against council rules for Zelenskiy to appear in a video link and rejected what he called "reckless threats and ultimatums" by Ukraine and its supporters in the West.

Nebenzya said damage to Ukraine's infrastructure was caused by missiles fired by air-defens systems that crashed into civilian areas and called on the West to stop providing Ukraine with air-defense missiles.

The Security Council is unlikely to take any action in response to Ukraine's appeal since Russia is a permanent member with veto power.

Earlier on November 23, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia should be recognized as a terrorist state throughout the world after the massive missile attack.

Kuleba said the latest barrage of missiles should make clear to any country still in doubt that "Russia must be recognized as [a] terrorist state worldwide and Ukraine must get all necessary air defense systems ASAP."

Kuleba’s message on Twitter came after the European Parliament designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Kuleba said Russia launched the "missile terror against Ukraine’s capital, other cities" in celebration of the designation. Russia has been unable to win in a fair fight against the Ukrainian military, so it is "waging a cowardly war of terror against civilians," he said.

Ihor Klymenko, chief of the National Police of Ukraine, said the rockets fired on November 23 hit 16 objects on the territory of Ukraine, including a residential building in the Kyiv region’s Vyshhorod district, killing three people and injuring 20.

Among the other victims was a newborn baby killed when a missile struck a maternity hospital in southern Ukraine.

WATCH: RFE/RL's Yehor Lohinov traveled with members of the Ukrainian Army's 58th Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade and watched as they remotely fired Ukrainian-built Stuhna missiles from a shelter. The brigade is defending the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's Donetsk region.

Stuhna Missiles Help Ukrainian Troops Keep Russian Armor At Bay Near Bakhmut
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The Ukrainian military said its air defenses destroyed 51 out of the 70 missiles fired by the Russians.

The attack damaged infrastructure in Kyiv, leaving some areas of the capital without electricity, heat, and water, but work is under way to restore services, Kyiv’s military administration said on Telegram, promising that heat and water would be restored by the morning of November 24.

The Russian missiles also forced the shutdown of nuclear power plants, and several Ukrainian regions and neighboring Moldova reported electricity outages. The city of Lviv in western Ukraine was left completely without power, said Mayor Andriy Sadoviy.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted after the missile barrage as saying Russia had faith in the success of its offensive in Ukraine.

"The future and the success of the special operation are beyond doubt," Peskov said.

Before recognizing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, the European Parliament argued that Moscow's military strikes on civilian targets such as energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and shelters violated international law.

The European Parliament's website subsequently came under a cyberattack. Roberta Metsola, the president of the parliament, said a pro-Kremlin group claimed responsibility.

Zelenskiy also thanked the United States for a new $400 million aid package announced earlier on November 23. The package includes weapons, munitions, and air-defense equipment, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"The artillery ammunition, precision fires, air defense missiles, and tactical vehicles that we are providing will best serve Ukraine on the battlefield," Blinken said in a statement.

The Pentagon said the package included additional munitions for NASAMS air-defense systems and for high-mobility artillery rocket systems.

With reporting by Reuters

More News

U.S. Treasury Sanctions Wagner-Linked C.A.R. Companies

 This undated photograph handed out by the French military shows three Russian mercenaries (right) in northern Mali. Russia's Wagner Group has deployed its personnel to Syria, Central African Republic, Libya, and Mali.
This undated photograph handed out by the French military shows three Russian mercenaries (right) in northern Mali. Russia's Wagner Group has deployed its personnel to Syria, Central African Republic, Libya, and Mali.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions on two Central African Republic companies on May 30 for their alleged involvement with Russia's Wagner private military company. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the companies -- Mining Industries SARLU and Logistique Economique Etrangere SARLU -- play a vital role in Wagner security operations and illicit mining endeavors in C.A.R. Mining Industries. SARLU leases aircraft to Wagner and Logistique Economique Etrangere supplies Wagner-linked illicit mining equipment, according to a Treasury press release. The U.S. Treasury previously sanctioned three other Wagner-related C.A.R. companies. To read the full statement from the U.S. Treasury Department, click here.

Andrew Tate Loses Appeal To Relax Judicial Restrictions As He Awaits Trial In Romania

Andrew Tate (file photo)
Andrew Tate (file photo)

Andrew Tate, the divisive social media influencer awaiting trial in Romania on charges of human trafficking and rape, lost an appeal on May 30 to have the Bucharest Court of Appeal relax geographical restrictions preventing him from traveling outside the Eastern European country. Tate challenged the May 10 decision that extended restrictions by 60 days, stipulating he may not leave the country. Tate had requested that he be able to leave Romania provided he stay within Europe’s visa-free Schengen zone, which Romania partially joined in March. Tate will face additional charges in the United Kingdom after legal proceedings in Romania conclude.

Germany Pledges New $542 Million Arms Package To Ukraine

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (file photo)
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (file photo)

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius on May 30 announced a new German arms package worth 500 million euros ($542 million) to support Ukraine. Pistorius made the announcement during a visit to the Ukrainian port city of Odesa and after meeting with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov to discuss Kyiv's military needs. The package contains a large number of missiles for medium-range IRIS-T SLM air-defense systems and a smaller number of SLS missiles with shorter ranges. It also includes drones for reconnaissance and combat in the Black Sea as well as urgently needed spare parts such as replacement barrels for artillery systems supplied by Germany and replacement engines for Leopard battle tanks.

Pakistan Says 4 Citizens Killed After Iranian Border Guards Open Fire

Pakistani soldiers stand guard at the closed Pakistan-Iran border in Taftan in 2020
Pakistani soldiers stand guard at the closed Pakistan-Iran border in Taftan in 2020

Iranian border guards opened fire on a vehicle carrying Pakistani citizens near the border village of Mashkel in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan Province, killing four people and injuring two others.

Omar Jamali, the deputy commissioner of Pakistan’s Washuk district, confirmed the shooting in the Washuk region, close to the border where violence often erupts.

Sahibzada Asfand, a government administrator, said the circumstances that prompted the gunfire remain unclear.

Neither Tehran nor the Pakistani Foreign Ministry have commented on the incident.

The shooting comes amid already strained relations between Iran and Pakistan, which have seen a significant escalation in incidents between the two countries.

In January, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) launched an attack in Pakistan's Balochistan Province, killing two children.

Tehran claimed it was targeting the Sunni Baluch militant group Jaish al-Adl, which is designated as a terrorist entity by both Iran and the United States.

In a retaliatory move, Pakistani warplanes conducted air strikes on alleged militant targets in Iran on January 18, resulting in at least nine deaths, including six children and two women. This marked a severe escalation in the conflict between the two nations.

In an effort to de-escalate the situation, the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Pakistan in early May.

His visit was aimed at mending relations through diplomatic engagements, described as critical for normalizing ties between Tehran and Islamabad.

Raisi died on May 19 in a helicopter accident.

The military actions in January targeted separatist factions. Islamabad attacked bases of the Baluch Liberation Front and the Baluchistan Liberation Army, while Tehran focused on the militant group Jaish al-Adl.

These groups operate in the mineral-rich, underdeveloped provinces of Balochistan in Pakistan and Sistan-Baluchistan in Iran, regions long plagued by instability.

The porous, 900-kilometer border between Iran and Pakistan has been difficult to control, allowing various militant groups, particularly those with Baluch nationalist ideologies, to operate in the area.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

No U.S. Representatives Will Attend UN Memorial For Iran's Raisi

A portrait of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during his funeral on May 22
A portrait of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during his funeral on May 22

The United States will not send representatives to a UN memorial ceremony for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a State Department spokesperson told RFE/RL. The United Nations on May 29 announced plans to hold the memorial ceremony on May 30, and UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis said member states were encouraged to deliver statements paying tribute to Raisi. The announcement sparked criticism from rights activists, who decried a move to honor a man they refer to as the "Butcher of Tehran" over his alleged role in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988. Raisi died in a helicopter crash on May 19 along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and several other officials.

Leak Suggests Bulgarian PM Tried To Pull Support For Srebrenica Genocide Resolution At UN

Bulgarian caretaker Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev
Bulgarian caretaker Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev

SOFIA -- Leaked documents of a back-and-forth between Sofia and its UN envoy have sparked accusations that caretaker Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev succumbed to “external pressure” over a widely followed UN vote in an effort to appease neighboring Serbia or Russia.

The correspondence between Glavchev and Bulgarian Ambassador to the United Nations Lachezara Stoeva suggests that Glavchev instructed Stoeva hours before the May 23 vote to abstain on a resolution to declare an international day of remembrance for the Srebrenica genocide.

Opposition or abstention would have marked a sharp departure in policy by Bulgaria, which co-sponsored the resolution, which was co-authored by Stoeva.

Stoeva voted for the measure on Bulgaria’s behalf, along with 83 other countries, versus 19 nays and 68 abstentions on a resolution that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called “highly politicized.”

Documents published on May 29 by the Bureau of Investigative Reporting and Data (BIRD), which is run by a French NGO founded by a Bulgarian investigative journalist, included a purported letter to Stoeva moments before the planned vote telling her to abstain because of the “tense situation” around it.

Luchezara Stoeva, Bulgaria's permanent representative to the United Nations
Luchezara Stoeva, Bulgaria's permanent representative to the United Nations

They also include a four-page response purportedly from Stoeva arguing such a move would be an “extreme act that could only be explained by external pressure and would wreak heavy damage to Bulgaria’s image within the international community.” The author goes on to say such an action is “contrary to the Euro-Atlantic values we uphold” and suggests “the only possible conclusion” would be that Russia or Serbia pressured Bulgaria into the about-face.

Glavchev, who is now an independent, became caretaker prime minister in April for the run-up to voting on June 9, Bulgaria’s sixth parliamentary elections since April 2021.

The Bulgarian government issued a statement on May 30 saying the leaked documents were “only part of the decision-making process and do not represent its entirety.” The letter circulated to the UN envoy it included was authentic, it said, but “does not contain the final instructions to Ambassador Lachezara Stoeva.”

It called the leak “an element of a hybrid attack” in the context of an election campaign and said it “harms the interests of Bulgaria.”

BIRD suggested Glavchev was influenced by a conversation between Vucic and former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who heads the GERB party that used to include Glavchev.

Having unsuccessfully argued against adoption of the resolution in the UN hall in New York on May 23, Vucic said after passage that “I was hoping for a surprise from Bulgaria. Five minutes before the meeting, I was convinced that Bulgaria would vote ‘abstain.’”

Passage of the resolution created International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica, where more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in what is now a mainly Serb region of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The resolution makes no mention of the Bosnian Serbs who committed the massacre after UN peacekeepers abandoned a declared “safe area” amid a bloody conflict further marred by widespread ethnic cleansing, or of Serbia.

Vucic has called what happened at Srebrenica a “tragedy” but says lives were lost on both sides and rejects the characterization of a genocide, a position shared by Moscow.

The appeals chamber for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), as well as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), have called the mass killings at Srebrenica a genocide.

A May 22 report in the independent news website Dnevnik asserted that Serbia was using unofficial channels to seek a change in Bulgaria’s position on the resolution.

Former Bulgarian envoy to the UN Stefan Tafrov, who is running on the We Continue The Change-Democratic Bulgaria ticket for the European Parliament, warned later the same day on social media that “Glavchev should not give in to Serbian pressure.”

Sri Lanka Tightens Controls To Stop Men From Being Duped Into Fighting In Ukraine

Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Levan Dzhagaryan (left) addresses a joint press conference with Sri Lanka's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya in Colombo on May 30.
Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Levan Dzhagaryan (left) addresses a joint press conference with Sri Lanka's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya in Colombo on May 30.

Sri Lanka will tighten controls to try to stop its men from being lured to Russia to fight in Ukraine with often false promises of salaries and benefits. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya told reporters on May 30 that Colombo will also send a delegation to Moscow in June to bring back dozens of Sri Lankans already fighting on the front line who want to come home. Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Levan S. Dzhagaryan told the press conference his embassy would cooperate with efforts to stop Sri Lankans from traveling illegally to Russia. He said his government was not involved in the recruitment offers.

Georgian NGOs To Challenge 'Foreign Agent' Law At Constitutional, European Courts

Demonstrators have rallied in support of Georgia's EU membership and against the "foreign agent" law. (file photo)
Demonstrators have rallied in support of Georgia's EU membership and against the "foreign agent" law. (file photo)

Several Georgian NGOs say they will challenge domestically and internationally the so-called "foreign agent" law pushed through parliament by the ruling Georgian Dream party despite a presidential veto and weeks of protests against the law, seen as mirroring a repressive Russian measure and jeopardizing the country's hopes to join the European Union.

The group of NGOs announced on May 30 that they were going to file a lawsuit with Georgia's Constitutional Court to contest the legality of the measure, while at the same time lodging a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

After the Georgian Dream-dominated parliament on May 28 overrode President Salome Zurabishvili's veto with an 84-4 vote in the 150-seat parliament, the law is now expected to land back on the president's desk within three days.

Once she receives it, Zurabishvili has five days to sign it. But the-pro-Western president, who has been at odds with Georgian Dream over the bill and sided with the protesters, has given no indication she intends to do so.

However, if she refuses as expected, the speaker of parliament, Georgian Dream member Shalva Papuashvili, can sign the law and publish it.

"Georgian NGOs continue their legal struggle against the 'Russian law.' We will not live by the norms of the 'Russian law' and will use all domestic and international mechanisms to impede its operation until the law is unconditionally repealed," the group of NGOs said in a statement read out at a joint news conference in Tbilisi on May 30.

"The Constitutional Court can act with the powers granted by the constitution and suspend the operation of the relevant articles of the law," the NGOs continued.

"We do not consider the Constitutional Court the only way of our legal struggle. If it does not act in a timely manner and within the constitutional framework, we will use an alternative legal mechanism," they added. "We are preparing to file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.”

The authors of the statement note that "all nongovernmental and media organizations can become participants in this fight.”

Georgia's civil society has for years sought to move the country away from the influence of Russia, which still maintains thousands of troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway Georgian regions that Moscow recognized as independent states following a five-day war with Tbilisi in 2008.

Critics say the legislation was introduced by Georgian Dream, founded by Russian-friendly Georgian tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, in order to cement the party's grip on power ahead of elections later this year seen as crucial for Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

The law requires civil-society and media organizations that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from foreign sources to submit to oversight that could encompass sanctions for as-yet-undefined criminal offenses.

Both the United States and the European Union have warned Georgian Dream that ignoring criticism and cracking down violently on protesters will have negative consequences.

Georgia obtained the coveted EU candidate status in December, but it has yet to start actual accession talks, which could last for years. There had been hope such talks could start later this year, but Brussels has warned that the "foreign agent" law could endanger the path toward Europe.

Georgian Dream has insisted that it remains committed to joining Western institutions and the law was only meant to increase transparency on NGO funding.

But Western governments and organizations have issued stark statements, warning the Georgian Dream government that the Tbilisi's EU path will be blocked if the law comes into force.

German Ambassador to Tbilisi did not mince words in an interview with Georgian media on May 29.

"Georgia is a [EU] candidate country. This was a huge historic step for both the EU and Georgia. The next step should have been to open accession negotiations, all countries are ready to start negotiations, however, the Georgian government passed a law that does not meet EU standards. As long as this law is in force, we will not open negotiations with Georgia."

European Council President Charles Michel also warned that overriding Zurabishvili's veto was a "step backward" for Georgia's European aspirations.

"The European Council decided in December to grant Georgia candidate status on the understanding that Georgia undertakes the relevant steps and necessary democratic reforms," Michel wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on May 28.

"The adoption of the transparency law in the parliament is a step backward and takes Georgia further away from its EU path. The Georgian people have clearly chosen a future in the EU and we will do everything to support their ambitions," Michel said, adding that the issue will be on the agenda of the next European Council meeting.

A day before the vote, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc had started weighing options should Georgia enact the law. He said a decision will be made next month.

A State Department spokesman said the United States condemns the parliament's decision and told reporters that the party's actions and anti-Western rhetoric threaten Georgia's democratic trajectory.

Senator Ben Cardin (Democrat-Maryland), chairman of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Georgian Dream vote was a "sad day for Georgia," and reaffirmed Washington's determination to back the aspirations of the Georgian people.

"The people have demonstrated that they will not allow Ivanishvili to destroy their democracy & take away their European future. We stand with them," Cardin said on X.

Zurabishvili, meanwhile, has urged Georgians to gear up for the upcoming parliamentary elections later this year.

"We must now do everything we can to prepare for October 26, which will be our answer to today. Are you angry today? Get angry, but let's get down to business," she said, calling for a campaign to collect signatures for an EU referendum.

New Charges Filed Against Jailed Iranian Rights Activist, Her Brothers

Fatemeh Sepehri (file photo)
Fatemeh Sepehri (file photo)

Iran's judiciary has filed new charges against Fatemeh Sepehri, a prominent opponent of the Islamic republic, and her two brothers, who are also imprisoned, for "insulting" current and former leaders of the Islamic republic.

Asghar Sepehri, Fatemeh's brother, revealed the charges on social media, saying they were added to their case files by Ali Soleymani Marshk, an investigating judge in Mashhad, after a court session on May 6.

Details of the charges were not immediately available.

The charges for being critical of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini follow the arrest of the siblings in October 2023, just a day before Fatemeh Sepehri was scheduled for surgery at Ghaem Hospital in Mashhad.

In September 2023, her brothers Mohamad-Hossein Sepehri and Hossein Sepehri were detained.

Fatemeh Sepehri, a vocal critic of the Iranian regime, has been detained for more than 20 months.

Her family has reported that her communications from prison are heavily monitored.

Fatemeh Sepehri is one of 14 activists in Iran who have publicly called for Khamenei to step down. She has been arrested and interrogated several times in recent years.

Sepehri and the other activists have also called for a new political system within the framework of a new constitution that would secure dignity and equal rights for women.

Criticism of Khamenei, who has the last say on almost every decision in Iran, is considered a red line in Iran, and his critics often land in prison, where political prisoners are routinely held in solitary confinement and subjected to various forms of torture.

Sepehri was arrested in September 2022 as protests erupted across the country over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was taken into custody by the morality police for allegedly violating the country's hijab law and died while in detention.

In March 2023, a Mashhad Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 18 years in prison on various charges, including "collaboration with hostile states" and "propaganda against the regime."

The sentence was upheld on appeal, but according to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, only 10 years of her sentence are enforceable.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Prison Sentences Of Iranian Women's Rights Activists Upheld On Appeal

The 11 activists were detained in August 2023 in the northern province of Gilan.
The 11 activists were detained in August 2023 in the northern province of Gilan.

Eleven women's rights activists cumulatively sentenced to more than 60 years in prison have lost their appeal, a lawyer for one of the campaigners said on May 29.

Ramin Safarnia said an appeals court in the northern city of Rasht on May 28 had upheld the preliminary verdicts handed to each activist. He vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court.

In a post on Instagram, activist collective Bidarzani accused the judge, Mohammad Sadeq Iran-Aqideh, of issuing the ruling "without holding a court session."

Based in the northern province of Gilan, all 11 activists were detained in August 2023 on various security-related charges, including "assembly and collusion to disrupt national security," "propaganda against the establishment," and "membership in an illegal group."

Speaking to RFE/RL's Radio Farda, a source close to the activists said the Islamic republic had increased the pressure on independent women's rights groups in the wake of the Women, Life, Freedom movement.

The movement was born out of the nationwide antiestablishment protests in 2022 following the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who had been detained for allegedly flouting Iran's strict dress code for women. More than 500 protesters were killed and thousands arrested during the months of unrest.

"They try to suppress [the groups] as much as they can, and they have had some success, but the resistance continues," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Zohreh Dadras was sentenced to more than nine years in prison on two separate charges.

Forugh Sami'nia, Sara Jahani, Yasamin Hashdari, Shiva Shahsiah, Negin Rezai, Matin Yazdan, Azadeh Chavoshian, and Zahra Dadras were each handed a total of six years and three months in prison on two separate charges.

Jelveh Javaheri and Human Taheri each received a one-year sentence.

A source previously claimed to Radio Farda that the some of the activists had been "beaten and put under pressure during interrogation."

Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, concluded in his report in March that the actions of the Iranian authorities since the 2022 protests pointed to "the possible commission of international crimes, notably the crimes against humanity of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual violence, and persecution."

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Ukraine Says Naval Drones Destroy Two Russian Boats In Crimea

A Ukrainian Magura V5 naval drone (file photo)
A Ukrainian Magura V5 naval drone (file photo)

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) has said its naval drones destroyed two Russian "Tunets" boats in Crimea. "On May 30, HUR's special unit Group 13, with the help of Ukrainian Magura V5 maritime attack drones, once again successfully attacked the ship depot of the aggressor state of Russia in the temporarily occupied Crimea," HUR said in a statement, adding that Russian troops used several attack helicopters to in an unsuccessful attempt to repel the attack. The Tunets is an 8.8-meter-long and 2.5-meter wide diesel boat mainly used by Russian border guards. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, click here.

Candidate Registration Opens For Iran's Presidential Election

A journalist sits in front of the pictures of late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (right) and other officials during the first day of registration for the presidential election at the Interior Ministry in Tehran on May 30.
A journalist sits in front of the pictures of late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (right) and other officials during the first day of registration for the presidential election at the Interior Ministry in Tehran on May 30.

The registration of candidates for the presidential election next month began on May 30 as Iran looks to fill the vacancy left by the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash. The registration period runs for five days, with the election scheduled for June 28. The IRNA state news agency reported that around 25 potential candidates have already submitted their registration requests, but all have been rejected. A final list of approved candidates will be announced on June 11 by the Guardians Council, whose members are either appointed or approved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Radio Farda, click here.

Russian Jailed For 13 Years For Urging Russian Troops To Surrender

Russian reservists called up for mobilization undergo training at a training ground near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in October 2022.
Russian reservists called up for mobilization undergo training at a training ground near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in October 2022.

A military court has sentenced a resident of the western Russian region of Chelyabinsk to 13 years in a maximum-security prison and fined him 200,000 rubles ($2,245) on a charge of high treason for calling on those mobilized to the military to surrender to Ukrainian forces. Investigators said the calls, posted on social media, had been made on instructions from "a representative of a foreign state." The man, whose name was not made public, was also charged with justifying terrorism for allegedly posting a comment on a social network in which he approved of the explosion on the Crimean Bridge that occurred in October 2022. To read the original story by Current Time, click here.

Hague Officials Reject Move To Name Street After Navalny

A sign left outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague
A sign left outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague

City officials in The Hague have turned down a request by activists to rename a street in the Dutch city in honor of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who died in February under suspicious circumstances in an Arctic prison. Sergei Gorbunov, the representative of Navalny's team in the Netherlands, told The Insider that 85,000 signatures had been collected in favor of renaming the street where the Russian Embassy is located after Navalny. The Hague city council responded that renaming the street would cause difficulties, since not only the Russian Embassy is located there. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Russian Service, click here.

Updated

Stoltenberg Floats Talks On Lifting Of Weapons Restrictions As NATO Meets In Prague

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a speech in Prague on May 30: "In light of how this war has evolved...the time has come to consider some of these restrictions, to enable the Ukrainians to really defend themselves."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a speech in Prague on May 30: "In light of how this war has evolved...the time has come to consider some of these restrictions, to enable the Ukrainians to really defend themselves."

PRAGUE -- Ukraine can prevail in its battle to repel Russian forces with the "robust support" of its allies, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said, as foreign ministers from the military alliance's 32 member countries gathered in Prague to discuss a fresh military aid framework for Kyiv.

The NATO gathering in the Czech capital, which is being attended by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will discuss an aid package for Ukraine that would be presented at NATO's summit in Washington in July.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

Speaking ahead of the meeting on May 30, Stoltenberg said it was time for the countries supplying military aid to Kyiv to discuss restrictions placed on Kyiv more than two years ago when Moscow first launched its full-scale invasion.

In recent months, Russia has launched withering air and ground assaults against Ukraine, which has struggled with ammunition shortages. Kyiv has pleaded for an acceleration of deliveries of ammunition and also has asked to be allowed to use longer-range weapons -- which came with restrictions on their usage into Russian territory -- to their full extent.

"Allies are delivering many different types of military support to Ukraine and some of them have imposed some restrictions on the use of these weapons.... These are national decisions," Stoltenberg said in a speech delivered in Prague.

"But I think that in light of how this war has evolved...the time has come to consider some of these restrictions, to enable the Ukrainians to really defend themselves."

Latvian Foreign Minister Baiba Braze told RFE/RL in an interview that Latvia has never imposed limitations on any of the weapons it has supplied to Ukraine and that Riga supports Ukraine's right to use weapons against legitimate military targets on Russian territory.

She emphasized that Kyiv needs a variety of weapons and should receive them from its allies more consistently, adding that there are "things that are being supplied without being spoken about publicly."

Blinken, who arrived in Prague after a trip to Moldova, immediately held talks with his Czech counterpart, Jan Liptovsky, on the issue of combating Russian disinformation as Moscow tries to drive a wedge between allies supporting Ukraine.

The top U.S. diplomat called Moscow's use of misinformation and disinformation “poison” and signed an agreement with the Czechs to combat it.

Blinken also visited a Czech military base, where armored vehicles that Prague is sending to Kyiv were on display, and was informed about Prague's drive to supply Ukraine with 1 million rounds of ammunition by the end of the year.

“We know that a major front in the competition that we have, the adversarial relationship that we have, notably with Russia, is on the information front,” Blinken said.

During the ministers' meeting, talks are scheduled on a plan presented by Stoltenberg in April on a framework that would transfer responsibility for military and civilian aid for Ukraine from an informal, U.S.-led group to the formal structures of the alliance.

NATO is currently not officially offering lethal military supplies to Kyiv. Individual NATO member states have been channeling supplies through the Ukraine Contact Group (UCG), an initiative chaired by the United States known informally as the Ramstein Group.

The ministers are also likely debate whether to allow Kyiv to use Western-provided weapons to strike targets inside Russia. The United States and Germany have been opposed to allowing such a move, while Britain and France have been in favor.

Stoltenberg and the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, have also voiced their approval of allowing Ukraine to use Western arms to hit military objectives on Russian territory under certain conditions.

As the two-day informal meeting of the alliance is set to kick off in Prague, Russia launched a large-scale attack early on May 30 that targeted military and civilian infrastructure in nine Ukrainian regions, causing casualties and damage.

In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Russian missiles struck two locations, wounding seven people, six of them women, regional Governor Oleh Synyehubov reported.

"A two-story administrative building was hit, resulting in partial destruction, followed by a fire. Six women and one man received minor injuries," Synyehubov said.

Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, is located just 35 kilometers from the Russian border and has been repeatedly pounded by Moscow's artillery and air strikes over the past several weeks as Ukraine's depleted air defenses and ammunition face increasing difficulties in repelling such attacks.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov earlier said critical infrastructure, including a gas pipeline, was damaged in the strikes, which also triggered a fire.

Separately, the Ukrainian Air Force said it shot down all 32 drones and seven of the 19 cruise missiles launched by Russia.

The missiles and drones were shot down over the Khmelnytskiy, Dnipropetrovsk, Cherkasy, Kirovohrad, Zaporizhzhya, Odesa, Kherson, Kyiv, and Vinnytsya regions, it said.

Separately, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) said its naval drones sank two Russian "Tunets" boats in Crimea.

"On May 30, HUR's special unit Group 13, with the help of Ukrainian Magura V5 maritime attack drones, once again successfully attacked the ship depot of the aggressor state of Russia in the temporarily occupied Crimea," HUR said in a statement, adding that Russian troops used several attack helicopters in an unsuccessful attempt to repel the attack.

The Tunets is an 8.8-meter-long and 2.5-meter-wide diesel boat mainly used by Russian border guards.

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak in Prague

Large Fire Breaks Out In Eastern Moscow

(illustrative photo)
(illustrative photo)

A large fire broke out early on May 30 in the eastern part of Moscow in a production building and a warehouse, Russia's Emergencies Ministry said on Telegram. The fire that broke out on Martenovskaya Street has engulfed an area of about 22,000 square meters, the ministry said, and 120 firefighters and 40 fire engines were working to contain the fire. Efforts to extinguish the fire are being complicated by the existence of containers with flammable liquid inside the building, it said. The cause of the fire was not immediately known. To read the original story by Curent Time, click here.

U.S. Army Opens New 155mm Artillery Munitions Plant In Texas

An employee handles 155mm caliber shells after the manufacturing process at the the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on April 16.
An employee handles 155mm caliber shells after the manufacturing process at the the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on April 16.

The U.S. Army inaugurated its new Universal Artillery Projectile Lines facility in Mesquite, Texas, on May 29, marking a significant step in producing more 155mm artillery and modernizing domestic munitions production capabilities. The plant is part of a broader effort by the army to update its industrial base and achieve a goal of making 155mm artillery shells at a rate of 100,000 a month. Demand for 155mm artillery rounds has soared in the wake of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and as allies' own supplies have depleted as they have rushed shells to Kyiv. The more than $500 million facility features advanced manufacturing technologies and automation for producing large-caliber metal parts.

Hungary's Foreign Minister Visits Belarus Despite EU Sanctions, Talks About Expanding Ties

Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto meet in Minsk on May 29.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto meet in Minsk on May 29.

Hungary's top diplomat visited Belarus on May 29 for talks on expanding ties despite the European Union's sanctions against the country. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto declared that "our position is clear: The fewer sanctions, the more cooperation." Belarusian and Hungarian officials signed an agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy that envisages training personnel and handling radioactive waste. Hungary is working with Russia on adding a new reactor to its Paks nuclear facility, which is expected to go online by the end of the decade. Belarus also has a Russian-built nuclear power plant.

Zelenskiy Says Russia Trying To Thwart Upcoming Peace Summit In Switzerland

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses a press conference with the Portuguese prime minister on May 28.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses a press conference with the Portuguese prime minister on May 28.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on May 29 that Ukraine continues to counter Russia's attempts to "weaken" a peace summit that is set to take place in Switzerland in two weeks.

Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address that Russia is putting pressure on leaders and "openly threatens various countries with destabilization."

He said this was a consequence of the world giving Russia too much time.

"Unfortunately, evil knows how to adapt and is now using all its resources to divide the world and prevent the world from forcing Russia to make peace," Zelenskiy said.

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Despite these efforts, nearly 100 states and international organizations are associated with "global efforts" to resolve the conflict, he said.

Zelenskiy wants the summit, scheduled for June 15-16 in Switzerland, to produce an international front to exert pressure on Russia and advance his "peace formula," which calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops and the restoration of Ukraine's 1991 borders.

Moscow has dismissed Zelenskiy's plan as unworkable and Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that Russia is prepared to negotiate an end to the conflict but said it would be possible to return to talks "only based on today's realities in the special operations zone."

Zelenskiy has rejected Moscow's preconditions, including allowing Russia to retain the territory its forces have taken thus far in the war.

Switzerland has not invited Russia to the summit, and Moscow dismisses the meeting as pointless without its participation. Ninety countries have agreed to attend, according to Zelenskiy.

Earlier this week Zelenskiy played down potential peace talks with Russia after a report that the European Union plans to organize a meeting in Saudi Arabia later this year with Russia's participation.

The meeting would come after the peace summit in Switzerland.

"There is no faith in Putin," Zelenskiy said on May 27 during a press conference in Spain.

The Ukrainian president said his country had held around 200 rounds of talks with the Kremlin and there were "no results." Many of the sessions took place long before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Kosovo, Serbia Urged To Further Probe Attack On KFOR Peacekeepers In Northern Kosovo

Soldiers of NATO-led international peacekeeping Kosovo Force (KFOR) scuffle with ethnic Serbs in front of the building of the municipality in Zvecan, Kosovo, on May 29, 2023.
Soldiers of NATO-led international peacekeeping Kosovo Force (KFOR) scuffle with ethnic Serbs in front of the building of the municipality in Zvecan, Kosovo, on May 29, 2023.

One year after an attack on Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeepers in northern Kosovo there are renewed calls for Pristina and Belgrade to investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

On May 29, 2023, members of the NATO-led mission were attacked in Serb-majority Zvecan during violent protests by Serbs who opposed the new ethnic Albanian mayor taking office in the municipal building. The new mayor had been elected weeks before in an election boycotted by ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo.

Some of the 93 KFOR officers who were attacked suffered life-altering injuries.

"We take very seriously the attacks carried out on KFOR peacekeepers in Zvecan. These were unacceptable and perpetrators must be held accountable," a NATO official said in a written statement to RFE/RL.

Major General Ozkan Ulutas, commander of KFOR, said in a separate news release that the peacekeepers' courage helped to stabilize the situation in the area and prevented a further escalation of violence.

However, little has been achieved in reaching justice.

The Special Prosecutor's Office of Kosovo, which is conducting the investigation, and the Basic Court in Pristina did not respond to RFE/RL's question about how far the criminal prosecution of the suspected perpetrators has gone. The High Public Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade also did not respond to questions by RFE/RL.

What is known is that about 10 people were arrested, most of whom were released. Four were charged, but two were acquitted. In addition, two citizens of Serbia were expelled from Kosovo after their six-month prison sentence was replaced by a fine.

RFE/RL asked the High Public Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade if it is investigating the attack and whether it has started proceedings against the individuals who participated in the attack who are now in Serbia. However, the office did not respond.

Ehat Miftaraj of the Kosovo Institute for Justice said the Special Prosecutor's Office of Kosovo has taken appropriate and effective actions to prosecute the attackers of the KFOR members and the journalists who also were attacked while reporting on the crisis.

However, there is a lack of cooperation with Serbia for the arrest and extradition of those who have committed criminal offenses in the territory of Kosovo and are not available to the responsible institutions, he said.

"Unfortunately, Serbia has turned into a safe haven for criminals who have committed crimes in Kosovo, providing them with complete institutional impunity," Miftaraj told RFE/RL.

He added that Kosovo's institutions should increase cooperation with KFOR and international partners when it comes to actions in northern Kosovo and thus build trust among the Serbian majority population there.

"In addition, KFOR and the international community must exert greater pressure on Serbia to extradite to Kosovo all those who participated in the aggression against Kosovo so that such actions are not repeated," Miftaraj said.

Last year's crisis in northern Kosovo culminated on September 24 when an armed group of Serbs attacked the Kosovo police in the town of Banjska near Zvecan, killing Sergeant Afrim Bunjaku. Three Serbs also were killed.

Kosovo blamed Serbia for the attack, which Belgrade denied. The responsibility was claimed by the former vice president of the Serbian List political party, Milan Radoicic. It is believed that he and other members of the armed group that took part in the attack are in Serbia.

NATO has sent around 1,000 additional troops and heavy armored equipment to Kosovo since the attack. This was the biggest reinforcement of KFOR troops in Kosovo in a decade. Currently, there are more than 4,500 KFOR troops in Kosovo. The security situation continues to be fragile, according to KFOR's assessment.

Every NATO Step To Support Ukraine Will Help Contain Russia, Czech Minister Says

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (file photo)
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (file photo)

NATO needs to send a signal that it will contain "Russian imperialism" and every move to aid Ukraine will help it do this, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said on May 29, as the military alliance meets this week to discuss support for Kyiv. Foreign ministers of NATO's 32 members will gather in the Czech capital Prague on May 30-31 to hammer out agreements for later when NATO leaders meet in Washington in July, focusing on putting support for Ukraine on a more stable long-term footing.

Putin Gives Rostelecom Go-Ahead To Buy Nokia Out Of Joint Venture

Nokia's headquarters in Espoo, Finland
Nokia's headquarters in Espoo, Finland

Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorized a subsidiary of telecoms firm Rostelecom to buy Nokia Solutions and Networks' stake in a software joint venture between the companies, according to a decree. Nokia said in April 2022 that it would exit the Russian market after Moscow launched its ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In a statement on May 29, Rostelecom said that its previous business model had become impossible after Nokia left the Russian market. "The transaction will be completed shortly," Rostelecom said. "Other details are not being disclosed."

Russia Adds Actor Aleksei Panin To List Of Extremists

Actor Aleksei Panin (pictured in 2013) left Russia in 2020 and now lives in the United States.
Actor Aleksei Panin (pictured in 2013) left Russia in 2020 and now lives in the United States.

Rosfinmonitoring, Russia's agency for countering money laundering and terrorism financing, said on May 29 it has added noted actor Aleksei Panin to the register of terrorists and extremists. No reason was given for adding Panin, who left Russia in 2020 and now lives in the United States, but a year ago he was placed on the wanted list after a probe against the actor was launched on a charge of "justifying terrorism." The charge stems from an online post that Panin published in October 2022 in which he expressed his support for an explosion that seriously damaged the Kerch bridge connecting Ukraine's Russian-annexed Crimea with Russia's Taman peninsula. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Russian Service, click here.

Dodik Says Bosnian Serb 'Foreign Agent' Bill Pulled Back For 'Harmonization' With EU Laws

Milorad Dodik (file photo)
Milorad Dodik (file photo)

Milorad Dodik, the Russian-friendly president of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Serb-led entity, said the sudden withdrawal from parliament of a controversial "foreign agent" bill was prompted by the need to harmonize it with EU legislation "since Republika Srpska is committed to the European path."

The law, initiated by Dodik himself back in 2022, was withdrawn without explanation from the agenda of the National Assembly on May 28, the same day Georgian lawmakers pressed ahead with similar legislation, overriding a presidential veto and ignoring weeks of mass protests against what is seen as a measure tailored on a repressive Russian law.

The withdrawal of the bill was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Milos Bukejlovic, who is also justice minister.

Dodik later explained on X, formerly Twitter, that the bill had been pulled back because "certain objections are visible, and they concern European norms, and since the Republika Srpska is committed to the European path, we agreed to withdraw it and additionally harmonize it...with European legal practice."

Bosnia became a candidate for EU membership in 2022, but the 27-member bloc said in December that accession negotiations will only begin "once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved."

One of the main stumbling blocks in Bosnia's progress toward the EU has been Dodik's separatist statements and actions. His statement on X did not mention the Bosnian state and did not explain how Republika Srpska can pursue European integration outside the Bosnian state.

Dodik, who is on friendly terms with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been placed under sanctioned by the United States and Britain over his efforts to undermine the Dayton peace accords that ended the Balkan country's civil war in 1995 and led to the formation of a Bosnian state consisting of two entities -- a Bosniak-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska -- tied together by a weak central government.

Last week, Dodik announced a formal proposal to "disassociate" his entity from the Bosnian state, a move that prompted a stark warning from the U.S. ambassador to Sarajevo, Michael Murphy, who called the proposal "secession by another name" and accused Dodik of pursuing "a dangerous path."

Dodik's "agents of foreign influence" bill is aimed at NGOs and other organizations that deal with political activities or that attempt to influence public opinion and those that "violate the integrity and constitution of the Republika Srpska."

The bill was introduced in parliament in March, one month after Dodik held talks with Putin during his fourth visit to Moscow since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The draft law calls for the surveillance of NGOs and other organizations that receive funding from abroad and requires registration, financial reporting, and a ban on political activities.

A written request from 46 NGOs was sent to deputies to vote against the law, which would open the way to repressing everyone "who fights for human rights and against corruption."

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also warned last week that the bill contradicts the constitutions of Republika Srpska and Bosnia and the country's international obligations to respect human rights.

Research conducted by RFE/RL showed that the draft law is similar to one that has been in effect for more than a decade in Russia, where the Kremlin uses it to silence political opponents and stifle independent media.

The U.S. Embassy previously told RFE/RL that the draft law was "repressive and undemocratic” and, if implemented, would drastically violate the rights and freedoms of people living in Republika Srpska.

The Office of the High Representative to Bosnia also asked for the withdrawal of the draft law from the parliamentary schedule, saying it was intended to scare civil society organizations into submission.

Chinese-Led Consortium To Build Massive Port Project On Georgia's Black Sea Coast

Once a Black Sea resort town, Anaklia will now be the site of Georgia's first deep-sea port, which will be built by a Chinese-led consortium.
Once a Black Sea resort town, Anaklia will now be the site of Georgia's first deep-sea port, which will be built by a Chinese-led consortium.

TBILISI -- Georgia has announced that a Chinese consortium submitted the sole bid to build a sprawling deep-sea port in Anaklia, ending a multiyear political saga over the megaproject that puts Tbilisi's growing ties with Beijing in the spotlight.

Georgian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Levan Davitashvili made the announcement at a May 29 press conference, where he said the government had received bids from a Swiss-Luxembourg consortium and a joint offer from China Communications Construction Company Limited and the Singapore-based China Harbour Investment Pte. Ltd.

"The application is complete, the relevant bank guarantees have been presented," Davitashvili said. "In a few days, we will have clarifications, after which the Chinese consortium will be announced as the winner."

He added that China Road and Bridge Corporation and Qingdao Port International Co Ltd will serve as subcontractors to build the port.

After months of consultations with both bidders, Davitashvili said that Tbilisi only received a final proposal from the Chinese consortium, which now looks set to build the country's first deep-sea port.

The announcement brings an end to a controversial political struggle over who would build Georgia's strategically important port, while the winning Chinese bid highlights Tbilisi's burgeoning relationship with China.

A previous attempt to build the port in Anaklia by a consortium formed between Georgia's TBC Bank and U.S.-based Conti International was canceled by the government in 2020 after years of political controversy that saw TBC co-founders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze facing money-laundering charges.

Following the charges, the American investor pulled out and the project ground to a halt until the government canceled the $2.5 billion port contract. In 2022, a court found Khazaradze and Japaridze guilty of fraud, but they were both released without prison time.

Khazaradze has claimed the authorities were trying to sabotage the project and that the real issue behind the dispute was his personal conflict with Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire former prime minister who leads the Georgian Dream party that has been in power since 2012.

The government announced plans to revive the project in 2022 and opened up a call for bids, saying that Tbilisi planned to hold a 51 percent stake in the port.

Georgia's strategic location on the eastern edge of the Black Sea has made it particularly crucial for the Middle Corridor, a trade route between China and Europe bypassing Russia that has grown in importance and usage since Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

But the megaproject has been at the center of geopolitical jostling, with European Union-based and Chinese companies said to have been in the running. Political observers and officials said that Tbilisi's choice of winner for Anaklia would be a bellwether for where the country was leaning in its future political orientation.

"If what is chosen is not in line with the EU -- a club that Georgia wants to join -- then that should help tell us about the direction this government is heading towards,” Asuncion Sanchez Ruiz, deputy head of mission of the EU delegation to Georgia, told RFE/RL in 2023.

Davitashvili's announcement also comes one day after parliament pushed through an override of a presidential veto of a controversial "foreign agent" law that has been criticized by Western governments and faced widespread protests at home.

In recent years, the government has pushed connectivity to the top of Georgia's foreign policy agenda and looked to capitalize on newfound interest in the Middle Corridor.

But the country has a dearth of high-quality infrastructure, which has so far held back its transit potential, with long lines of trucks at its borders and ports at Batumi and Poti operating near capacity as trade along the route has steadily increased since 2022.

This has led to organizations like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank warning that without a deep-sea port in Georgia -- which would allow larger ships to transport increased volumes at a more efficient rate -- neither the country nor the Middle Corridor will be competitive as a global trade route.

Georgia has increasingly turned to China for infrastructure projects, with one study by the Tbilisi-based Civic Initiative for Democratic and Euro-Atlantic Choice saying that since 2021, every infrastructure project worth more than $100 million has involved Chinese companies.

Written by Reid Standish in Prague with reporting from RFE/RL’s Georgian Service in Tbilisi

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