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UK judge allows first flight sending asylum-seekers to Rwanda to go ahead

The United Kingdom’s controversial plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda as early as next week was green-lit on Friday, after the High Court in London denied an injunction to block the first flight.

Britain’s government announced in April that it had agreed a deal to send asylum-seekers to the East African country, in a move that it insisted was aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the dangerous Channel crossing to England from Europe.
A challenge to block the deportation flights was brought by human rights groups on cloud shoes Care4Calais and Detention Action, along with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), a trade union representing civil servants in Britain’s Home Office, and some asylum-seekers facing deportation to Rwanda. They claimed UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s policy was “unlawful on multiple bases,” and sought an injunction to stop the plane from taking off.
The claimants also challenged Patel’s legal authority to carry out the removals, the rationality of her claim that Rwanda is generally a “safe third country” given its human rights record, the adequacy of malaria prevention in the country and whether the policy complied with The European Convention on Human Rights.
But Justice Swift rejected the campaigner’s urgent injunction at London’s Royal Courts of Justice on Friday, saying on the “balance of convenience” there was a “material public interest” in allowing the flights to go ahead while the judicial review was ongoing.
Both Patel and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the court’s decision on Friday. “We cannot allow people traffickers to put lives at risk and our world leading partnership will help break the business model of these ruthless criminals,” Johnson said on Twitter.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel shakes hands with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Birutaare after signing the partnership agreement at a joint news conference in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 14.
Rights groups have vowed to fight on. Care4Calais said they have been given permission to appeal the ruling on Monday “as we are deeply concerned for the welfare of people who may be forcibly deported to Rwanda, a fate that could profoundly harm their mental health and future,” the human right’s group founder Clare Mosley said in a statement.
“Today was just the beginning of this legal challenge. We believe that the next stage of legal proceedings may bring an end to this utterly barbaric plan,” she added.
The United Nations Refugee Agency and other international human rights groups have also opposed the plan, arguing that it would increase risks and cause refugees to look for alternative routes, putting more pressure oncloud shoes on front line states.
Two days ahead of the High Court decision, Detention Action Deputy Director James Wilson said in a statement that Patel had “overstepped her authority” in her “desire to punish people for seeking asylum by forcing them onto a plane to Rwanda.”
“By rushing through what we say is an unlawful policy, she is turning a blind eye to the many clear dangers and human rights violations that it would inflict on people seeking asylum,” Wilson added.

‘Dig in for the fight’

The High Court’s decision was handed down as Johnson comes under increasing scrutiny from members of parliament to prove the policy’s success.
Johnson told the Daily Mail that he expected a lot of legal opposition to the policy, but said the government would “dig in for the fight.”
‘We’re ready for that. We will dig in for the fight — we will make it work. We’ve got a huge flowchart of things we have to do to deal with it with the Leftie lawyers,” he said in an interview in May. He added that 50 people had already received notices warning that they faced removal to Rwanda.
The government has said the plan to send people to Rwanda would initially cost £120 million ($158 million), with funding provided to support the delivery of asylum operations, accommodation and “integration.”
The Home Office announced on June 1 that people who had undertaken “dangerous, unnecessary, and illegal journeys, including crossing the Channel” were among those being issued notices for removal to Rwanda. “While we know attempts will now be made to frustrate the process and delay removals, I will not be deterred and remain fully committed to delivering what the British public expect,” Patel said in a statement.
The plan is also facing a second legal challenge from refugee charity Asylum Aid, which applied for an urgent injunction on Thursday to prevent any flights from leaving.
Prior to Friday’s ruling, Care4Calais’ Mosley told CNN that the charity was working with more than 100 people who kizik shoes have received notices. Many fled persecution or conscription in their home countries to seek a better life in Britain and are terrified of being sent to Rwanda.
“So many of them have told me I would rather die than be sent to Rwanda,” Mosley said in an interview in the French port city of Calais, where the charity provides assistance to refugees living in and around the city.
Many asylum-seekers continue to travel to Calais, where a camp known as the “Jungle” drew global media attention at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015, before it was demolished by authorities the following year.
Thousands of people each year risk the dangerous journey across the English Channel, a relatively narrow waterway between Britain and France, and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
More than 10,000 people have crossed the Channel in small, rickety boats so far this year, according to analysis of government data by the PA news agency. Last year, more than 28,000 made the crossing.

Clarence House doesn’t deny report that Prince Charles finds UK’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda ‘appalling’

Clarence House said it would not comment on what it calls “supposed anonymous private conversations with The Prince of Wales” after British newspaper The Times reported that Prince Charles privately described the UK government’s controversial plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda “appalling.”

“He said he was more than disappointed at the policy,” The Times reported, quoting an anonymous source. “He said he thinks the government’s whole approach is appalling.”
CNN has not independently verified The Times report.
Clarence House told CNN in a statement that the Prince of Wales remains politically neutral.
“We would not comment on supposed anonymous private conversations with The Prince of Wales, except to restate that he remains politically neutral. Matters of policy are decisions for Government,” Clarence House said.
Prince Charles fears the controversial policy could overshadow the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Kigali, Rwanda, the Times reports.
The Times reported the Prince of Wales feared the controversial policy would loom over the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit taking place later this month in Kigali, Rwanda, where he is expected to represent Queen Elizabeth II.
In response to The Times report, a UK government spokesperson told CNN in a statement: “Our world-leading Partnership with Rwanda will see those making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK relocated there to have their claims considered and rebuild their lives. There is no one single solution to the global migration crisis, but doing nothing is not an option and this partnership will help break the business model of criminal gangs and prevent loss of life.”
“Rwanda is a fundamentally safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers and we are confident the agreement is fully compliant with all national and international law,” the statement adds.
The UK government announced in April that it had agreed a deal to send asylum-seekers to the East African country, in a move that it insisted was aimed at disrupting people-smuggling networks and deterring migrants from making the dangerous Channel crossing to England from Europe.
On Friday, the UK’s plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda as early as next week was green-lit, after the High Court in London denied an injunction brought by campaigners to block the first flight due to leave on Tuesday.
The Home Office’s scheme is under judicial review at the Royal Courts, where a ruling on its legality is expected in late July.
Human Rights groups have said they will appeal the decision. Care4Calais, one of the human rights groups that brought the initial challenge to block the deportations, said they have been given permission to appeal the ruling on Monday.

Britney Spears wears elegant Versace gown to wed Sam Asghari

Britney Spears wore an elegant custom Versace gown to marry personal trainer and model Sam Asghari at an intimate wedding ceremony outside Los Angeles on Thursday.
The pop princess completed her outfit with a dramatic satin-edged veil and white choker as she tied the knot at her home in Thousand Oaks, California.
Following months of speculation about who would design Spears’ gown, the singer reportedly let slip in a since-deleted Instagram post last year that “Versace is making my dress as we speak.” The brand’s chief creative officer, Donatella Versace, confirmed her involvement Friday, revealing on social media that her label had also designed Asghari’s tuxedo.
Spears' dress was custom designed by Versace.

Spears’ dress was custom designed by Versace. Credit: Kevin Ostajewski/Shutterstock
Posting a picture of the newlyweds to Instagram, the Italian designer wrote that Spears held “a very special place in my heart.”
“Designing Britney and Sam’s wedding outfits came naturally to me,” she wrote in the accompanying caption. “A tremendous amount of love was poured into every detail. Together with our Atelier, we created a gown and tuxedo that exudes elegance and glamour. They look just perfect together!”
Versace joined a high-profile guest list that included Lady Gaga, Madonna and Selena Gomez.
With its classic silhouette and three-meter-long (10-foot) train, the design featured a plunging neckline and capped, off-the-shoulder sleeves. The gown’s fitted bodice was pleated in the front, while the skirt split into a deep V-shaped leg slit.
The pair wed in an intimate ceremony in Thousand Oaks, California.

The pair wed in an intimate ceremony in Thousand Oaks, California. Credit: Kevin Ostajewski/Shutterstock
A representative for Versace told CNN that Spears also wore tulle gloves embellished with pearls and a pair of white satin pumps. The gown took the fashion house’s tailors over 700 hours to produce.
Spears accessorized with 62 carats’ worth of diamonds in the form of a tennis necklace, tennis bracelet and tear-drop earrings, according to Vogue. Her bridal makeup was the work of British makeup artists Charlotte and Sofia Tilbury, with the former telling the fashion magazine that she was “thrilled and honored” to work with Spears on her wedding look.
According to Vogue, there were three outfit changes throughout the evening. Spears later appeared in a red mini dress, a black mini dress and a two-toned outfit — all of which were designed by Versace.
Asghari, who met Spears on the set of her “Slumber Party” music video in 2016, meanwhile wore a black wool tuxedo to the ceremony. His suave Versace jacket featured silk satin details, and was paired with a white shirt, black loafers and black silk bow tie.
Versace has released sketches of its custom designs.

Versace has released sketches of its custom designs. Credit: Versace
Spears’ wedding dress bore some similarities to the one she wore to marry Kevin Federline in 2004. On that day, she opted for a classic, strapless satin wedding gown by Filipina American bridalwear designer Monique Lhuillier, and later changed into a white lace mini-dress with a high-neck and open back.
Speaking to CNN last year, Lhuillier said she was given just three weeks to design and produce the wedding and reception dresses, as well as gowns for the entire wedding party. “(I told them) ‘OK, we’ll get it done. Don’t worry,'” she recalled, “but inside, I was dying.”
Spears’ first husband, Jason Alexander (to whom she was married for just 55 hours before the union was annulled in 2004), attempted to crash the star’s wedding Thursday. He was arrested and charged with trespassing and battery, police said.
The nuptials come nearly seven months after Spears won a court battle against her long-standing conservatorship, a binding legal agreement that she said prohibited her from getting married or having children. In April, she and Asghari announced that they were expecting a baby, though they later posted a joint statement revealing that they had lost their pregnancy
This article was updated to reflect the year of Spears marriage annulment, and to include details of her and Asghari’s pregnancy announcement.

Boris Johnson is still in charge. But behind closed doors, rivals are plotting his ouster

Boris Johnson ends the week with reason to be cheerful. On Monday, he survived the biggest challenge to his leadership since becoming Prime Minister, after his Conservative MPs backed him in a confidence vote to remain party leader by 211 to 148.

That victory does, however, come with some major caveats.
Johnson’s government is currently thought to have somewhere between 170-180 MPs on its payroll. As the vote was private, that means as a best-case scenario, Johnson was only able to secure a handful of backbench votes. In a worst-case scenario, people on the payroll voted against him the second they were given the protection of anonymity.
While Johnson and his allies have since claimed the victory was convincing and a decisive result that hands the PM a refreshed mandate, the reality is 41% of his own MPs do not want him in power. That number is worse than the result of a confidence vote in Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, in 2018 and is likely to rise in the coming months.
For now, though, Johnson’s job is safe. Conservative Party rules protect him from another confidence vote for 12 months. There is speculation that the party might try and rewrite those rules, but given the private nature of the Conservatives, it’s hard to get a real sense of how likely this is.
So, what happens next?
Johnson is announcing a flurry of policy ideas designed to cheer up his backbenchers and voters. More houses, more doctors, more police, crackdowns on illegal immigration to name a few.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul's Cathedral as part of celebrations marking the Platinum Jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, in London, Friday, June 3, 2022.

Meanwhile, those who most want to see his downfall are not sitting on their hands. Publicly, MPs say that the result of the confidence vote means they owe Johnson their loyalty — for now. He deserves the time to turn things around, they say.
However, multiple sources confirmed to CNN that those with an eye on the top job are already building their power bases and getting ready to launch leadership bids, should the time come.
Dinners with donors who would fund individual campaigns have already taken place, organized by MPs who have already picked their choice for leader. Influential MPs have been courted to test the water.
“The phone calls tend to start with 15 minutes of insisting that Boris has their full support and that they don’t think a leadership contest will happen. Then they outline their vision of how they would improve things. It’s discreet, but it’s happening,” a senior Conservative told CNN.
The hopefuls acting most openly are unsurprisingly long-term critics of Johnson.
“Most of the activity seems to be around Jeremy Hunt and other former Remainers,” says one veteran Conservative and former cabinet minister, referring to those who wanted the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. “That makes sense as they never wanted Boris in the first place and have the least to lose.”
Hunt, who has held three cabinet posts, most notably health, is without question the highest-profile contender on the moderate, ex-Remain side of the party. However, he comes with baggage and sources from the opposition Labour Party have told CNN they are already writing attack lines.
Jeremy Hunt is without question the highest-profile contender on the moderate, ex-Remain side of the Conservative Party.

A senior Conservative said that their fellow MPs are aware of this. “It can’t be Jeremy. Labour can say he was running healthcare for six years and failed to prepare for a pandemic. They can say when he was culture secretary he chummed up to the Murdochs during the phone hacking scandal. He will get crushed,” the source said.
Other potential candidates for this side of the party include Tom Tugendhat, a former soldier who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and the current Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi.
Tugendhat has impressed colleagues with his oratory and seriousness, most notably when he spoke about the fall of Afghanistan, a country where he’d served while in the army.
Despite voting to leave the EU in 2016, Zahawi is widely admired among the moderates in the party. Crucially, as one Conservative source put it, “he’s not been in government long enough to have any obvious defects and, despite supporting Boris even after the confidence vote, is not too tainted by association.”
Obviously running a stealth leadership campaign is harder if you are a sitting cabinet minister. How do you square defending the prime minister after the confidence vote while courting MPs to test the water?
That is the problem facing those considered to be the Leave candidates.
Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, voted Remain in 2016, but has since become one of the loudest Euroskeptic voices in the government, particularly on Northern Ireland. She has a formidable and dedicated team around her — some of whom previously worked in Number 10 — which has been producing slick videos and photos of her looking thoroughly statesmanlike. Which might come in handy if she were to run for leader, a cynic might say.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss voted Remain in 2016, but has since become one of the loudest Euroskeptic voices in the government, particularly on Northern Ireland.

A source working in the Foreign Office told CNN that since Monday, Truss “has been in endless meetings with MPs,” adding that while the meetings are officially about Northern Ireland “it’s been insinuated that she’s seeing what her support base is, should the time come.”
Truss’s office denies that any covert leadership bid is coming. She said before the confidence vote that she backed Johnson “100%” and encouraged colleagues to do the same. After the vote, she urged MPs that it was time to move on “get behind the PM”.
Truss’s most obvious rival is current Home Secretary Priti Patel. One of the Conservative sources said that Patel’s stealth campaign “has been busy, organized and running for about a year.”
Patel is very popular among the party’s grassroots and more conservative wing. She is a longstanding Euroskeptic who has years of hard talk on immigration, crime and economics under her belt. She famously used to support bringing back the death penalty, although she has since distanced herself from this.
Both cabinet ministers publicly support the prime minister and officials say that their focus is on delivering Johnson’s agenda, nothing else.
However, a government minister told CNN that some cabinet ministers are “using their office to raise their profile and engage with MPs.”
While inviting influential MPs into your grand office of state is nothing new, the minister says that the tone in Westminster “has changed since Monday. Everyone expects that there will be a vacancy at some point in the near future.”
The next major hurdle for Johnson to clear is the two by-elections taking place on June 23. If he loses both, which is not impossible, his critics will move again. The party might try to rewrite rules so he faces another leadership vote.
If the party doesn’t rewrite the rules, he has an uphill struggle to turn around both his own popularity and the popularity of his party before the next scheduled election in 2024.
It’s an unenviable task, given the UK is experiencing a cost-of-living crisis and the Conservatives have been in power for 12 years. And under normal circumstances, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Johnson is safe as no one in their right mind wants the job.
But that’s how bad things are. Despite how grim the next few years look for the UK, ambitious politicians are willing to throw their hats in the ring at what might be the worst possible moment and risk their whole career. Because if they don’t, it’s anyone’s guess how far Johnson might pull his party down with him.

UN-mandated rights inquiry rebukes Israel for seeking ‘complete control’

A Palestinian flag flies at the ruins of houses, destroyed by Israeli air strikes during Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in the Gaza Strip in May 2021.

Geneva, Switzerland and JerusalemAn independent commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council after the 2021 Gaza war said Israel must do more than end the occupation of land Palestinians want for a state, according to a report released on Tuesday.

“Ending the occupation alone will not be sufficient,” the report said, urging additional action to ensure the equal enjoyment of human rights.
It cited evidence saying Israel has “no intention of ending the occupation” and is pursuing “complete control” over what it calls the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, which was taken by Israel in a 1967 war.
Israel boycotted the inquiry and barred entry to its investigators.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said: “It is a biased and one-sided report tainted with hatred for the State of Israel and based on a long series of previous one-sided and biased reports.”
While prompted by the 11-day May 2021 conflict in which 250 Gaza Palestinians and 13 people in Israel died, the inquiry mandate includes alleged human rights abuses before and after that and seeks to investigate the root causes of the tensions.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated Washington’s opposition to the inquiry and said the report does nothing to alleviate US concerns over “a one-sided, biased approach that does nothing to advance the prospects for peace.”
Citing an Israeli law denying naturalization to Palestinians married to Israelis, the report accuses the country of affording “different civil status, rights and legal protection” for Arab minorities. Israel says such measures safeguard national security and the country’s Jewish character.
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but, with the help of Egypt, clamps down on the borders of the enclave now governed by Hamas Islamists. Palestinian authorities have limited self-rule in the West Bank, which is dotted with Israeli settlements.
Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, opened the May 2021 war with rocket attacks following moves to evict Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.
The Gaza fighting was accompanied by rare street violence within Israel between Jewish and Arab citizens.
Hamas welcomed the report and urged the prosecution of Israeli leaders in what it said were crimes against the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian Authority also praised the report and called for accountability “in a manner that puts an end to Israel’s impunity”.
The report will be discussed at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council next week. The body cannot make legally binding decisions.
The United States quit the Council in 2018 over what it described as its “chronic bias” against Israel and only fully rejoined this year.
Unusually, the three-member commission of inquiry from Australia, India and South Africa has an open-ended mandate. A diplomat said that its mandate was already a sensitive issue. “People don’t like the idea of perpetuity,” he said.

Apparent human remains found near Brazilian port where missing journalist and researcher were heading

Indigenous groups search for missing British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous affairs specialist Bruno Pereira on the Itaquaí River in Brazil's Javari Valley on Thursday.

(CNN)Search teams in Brazil found what appear to be human remains near the area where British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous affairs expert Bruno Pereira were headed before they went missing, police said Friday.

“Organic material” that is “apparently human” was discovered in the river close to the Atalaia do Norte Port, located on the border of the remote Javari Valley in the far western part of Amazonas state, according to a statement from Brazil’s Federal Police. Police said that they collected genetic material from both Pereira and Phillips for comparative analysis.
The pair were first reported missing Sunday in the Javari Valley and had allegedly received death threats just days prior.
On Thursday, federal police said that blood had been found in a boat owned by a suspect in the disappearance. The suspect, who was arrested after being found in possession of “a lot of drugs” and ammunition, was arrested Wednesday and remains in custody, authorities said. Materials collected from the boat have been sent to the Amazonas state capital for forensic analysis.
Five other people have also been questioned in connection to the missing pair, according to police.
The Federal Police’s Crisis Committee said it has been conducting “river search and aerial reconnaissance” over the last 24 hours in Rio Itaquaí.

US defense chief says China muscling neighbors, plundering resources in Pacific

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks at the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 11, 2022.

Singapore (CNN)US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called out China on Saturday for a series of coercive, aggressive and dangerous actions that threaten stability around Asia and vowed the United States would stand by partners to resist any pressure.

“Indo-Pacific countries shouldn’t face political intimidation, economic coercion, or harassment by maritime militias,” Austin said in a keynote speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defense conference.
“The PRC’s moves threaten to undermine security, and stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific,” Austin said, using the acronym to refer to the country by its official name, the People’s Republic of China.
He listed a series of areas where he said China is muscling its neighbors, including sending large numbers of warplanes into the skies near Taiwan, dangerously intercepting the patrol planes of US allies, and illegal fishing operations that “plunder the region’s provisions.”

Restoration of empire is the endgame for Russia’s Vladimir Putin

Reading Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mind is rarely a straightforward task, but on occasion the Kremlin leader makes it easy.

Such was the case on Thursday, when Putin met with a group of young Russian entrepreneurs. Anyone looking for clues as to what Putin’s endgame for Ukraine might be should read the transcript, helpfully released here in English.
Putin’s words speak for themselves: What he is aiming for in Ukraine is the restoration of Russia as an imperial power.
Many observers quickly picked up on one of Putin’s more provocative lines, in which he compared himself to Peter the Great, Russia’s modernizing tsar and the founder of St. Petersburg — Putin’s own birthplace — who came to power in the late 17th century.
“Peter the Great waged the Great Northern War for 21 years,” a relaxed and apparently self-satisfied Putin said. “On the face of it, he was at war with Sweden taking something away from it… He was not taking away anything, he was returning. This is how it was.”
It didn’t matter that European countries didn’t recognize Peter the Great’s seizure of territory by force, Putin added.
“When he founded the new capital, none of the European countries recognized this territory as part of Russia; everyone recognized it as part of Sweden,” Putin said. “However, from time immemorial, the Slavs lived there along with the Finno-Ugric peoples, and this territory was under Russia’s control. The same is true of the western direction, Narva and his first campaigns. Why would he go there? He was returning and reinforcing, that is what he was doing.”
Alluding directly to his own invasion of Ukraine, Putin added: “Clearly, it fell to our lot to return and reinforce as well.”
Those remarks were swiftly condemned by Ukrainians, who saw them as a naked admission of Putin’s imperial ambitions.
“Putin’s confession of land seizures and comparing himself with Peter the Great prove: there was no ‘conflict,’ only the country’s bloody seizure under contrived pretexts of people’s genocide,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “We should not talk about ‘saving [Russia’s] face,’ but about its immediate de-imperialization.”
A portrait from circa 1700 shows Peter I, who ruled Russia as Peter the Great from 1682 until his death in 1725.

There’s a lot to unpack here, in terms of both history and current affairs. Podolyak was alluding to talk in international capitals about offering Putin a face-saving way to de-escalate or halt the fighting in Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron has led that charge, saying last weekend that the world “must not humiliate Russia” in the search for a diplomatic resolution.
Those arguments may have seemed more reasonable before February 24. In the run-up to the invasion, Putin laid out a series of grievances to make the case for war, from NATO’s eastward expansion to Western delivery of military assistance to Ukraine.
But read the transcript of Putin’s remarks on Thursday more closely, and the facade of rational geopolitical bargaining falls away.
“In order to claim some kind of leadership — I am not even talking about global leadership, I mean leadership in any area — any country, any people, any ethnic group should ensure their sovereignty,” Putin said. “Because there is no in-between, no intermediate state: either a country is sovereign, or it is a colony, no matter what the colonies are called.”
In other words, there are two categories of state: The sovereign and the conquered. In Putin’s imperial view, Ukraine should fall into the latter category.
Putin has long argued that Ukrainians do not have a legitimate national identity and that their state is, essentially, a puppet of the West. In other words, he thinks Ukrainians have no agency and are a subject people.
By summoning the memory of Peter the Great, it also becomes clear that Putin’s aims are driven by some sense of historical destiny. And Putin’s project of imperial restoration could — in theory — extend to other territories that once belonged to the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union, something that should raise alarms in all the countries that emerged from the collapse of the USSR.
Earlier this week, a deputy from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party submitted a draft law to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, abolishing a Soviet resolution recognizing the independence of Lithuania. Lithuania may now be a NATO member and part of the European Union, but in Putin’s Russia, that kind of neo-colonial posturing is the surest display of loyalty to the president.
And that does not bode well for Russia’s future. If there is no reckoning with Russia’s imperial past — whether in Soviet or tsarist guise — there is less chance that a Russia without Putin would abandon a pattern of subjugating its neighbors, or become a more democratic state.
Former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski famously asserted that Russia could only part ways with its imperial habits if it were willing to surrender its claims to Ukraine.
“It cannot be stressed strongly enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire,” he wrote in 1994.
Putin, however, is counting on something of the opposite: For Russia to survive, he argues, it must remain an empire, regardless of the human cost.

Biden: Americans will be “seeing for the first time” details of Jan. 6 riot during tonight’s hearing

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting at the Summit of the Americas on Thursday.
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting at the Summit of the Americas on Thursday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/AP)

Ahead of the House select committee’s Jan. 6 hearing, President Biden said many Americans will be “seeing for the first time” details that occurred during the insurrection at the Capitol.

The President said the actions taken on that day were a “flagrant violation of the Constitution” and that the committee’s hearing is going to “occupy” the country.

“I think it was a clear, flagrant violation of the Constitution. I think these guys and women broke the law — tried to turn around a result of an election and there’s a lot of questions, who’s responsible, who’s involved,” Biden said in Los Angeles at the beginning of a bilateral with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

McCarthy misleads about Republican representation on Jan. 6 committee

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks during Thursday's news conference on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks during Thursday’s news conference on Capitol Hill.

During his weekly news conference on Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy slammed the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Among other criticisms, McCarthy said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “rejected the minority’s picks to be on the committee.” He continued moments later, “You reject the minority to have a say in the committee.”

After McCarthy specified that Pelosi had rejected Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, he alleged that while she rejected “these qualified Republicans, she appointed radical Democrats.”

Facts FirstMcCarthy’s claims are misleading, leaving out critical context. Pelosi did reject two of McCarthy’s five proposed Republican committee members, Banks and Jordan, on account of concerns about their “statements made and actions taken” – but she accepted McCarthy’s three other Republican picks, and she also gave McCarthy a chance to suggest another two members to replace Banks and Jordan. Instead, McCarthy decided to withdraw the three members Pelosi had accepted. Even after he did so, the Republicans’ House minority still had “a say” on the committee: Reps. Liz Cheney, who had already been selected by Pelosi before McCarthy pulled out his own selections, and Adam Kinzinger, whom Pelosi selected later. Both Cheney and Kinzinger are outspoken Trump critics who have been at odds with many of their GOP colleagues, but they are elected Republicans nonetheless.

In addition, all of these developments came after McCarthy had rejected a proposal for a bipartisan commission that would have given equal membership and subpoena power to Democrats and Republicans. After the commission proposal failed in the Senate because of Republican opposition (only six Republicans voted in favor), the House created the Democratic-controlled select committee.