(Moscow-AP) — Russia is detaining a U.S. citizen on spying charges in Moscow. Paul Whelan was taken into custody last Friday. Former CIA Analyst Ned Price says it’s makes almost no sense that the Michigan resident would be working as what’s known as a Non-Official Cover Agent, or NOC.
The 48-year-old Whelan is the global security director for an auto parts supplier and was discharged from the Marines in 2008 after being found guilty of larceny in a special court-martial. A criminal case which could give him as much as 20 years in prison has been opened against Whelan by the Russian state.
(AP) – The Ukrainian government is concerned Russia maybe preparing to launch a large-scale ground invasion. President Petro Poroshenko declared martial law in parts of Ukraine yesterday, a day after Russian ships attacked and seized Ukrainian vessels near the coast of Crimea. Petroshenko said Russia moved to a new state of aggression in what he called a fifth year of a hybrid war against Ukraine.
He said intelligence services have evidence Russia is preparing for a massive invasion. Russian forces moved into eastern Ukraine in early 2014 and Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula in March of that year. n.
(Augusta, GA-AP) — A former government contractor guilty of leaking U.S. secrets about Russia’s attempts to hack the 2016 presidential election will spend five years behind bars. Reality Winner was given the longest sentence ever for a federal crime involving leaks to the media.
Winner was contracted by the National Security Agency and copied a classified report detailing Russian efforts to penetrate a Florida voting software supplier. In her guilty plea, Winner says she committed the actions on her own free will.
(SL) – President Trump is admitting his son, Donald Trump Jr, met with a Russian attorney to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the campaign for the White House.
In a tweet yesterday, Trump wrote that his son’s meeting in June of 2016 was “to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere.” Trump ended with “I did not know about it!” Trump’s son-in-law and now White House adviser Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.
(New York, NY) – Protesters took to Times Square in what they’re calling a campaign to “confront corruption.” Organizers say the rally highlighted the “corruption of the American government by the President, his associates and many in his party.” People in Times Square were holding signs including “Traitor Trump” and “Dump Trump.”
The rally came after President Trump held a press conference with Russian President Vladamir Putin. Trump appeared to side with Putin’s claim that Russia didn’t try to influence the election. But he’s since walked back his remarks, saying he believes the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia is responsible.
(Moscow) — Burger King Russia is apologizing and pulling an ad offering around 50-thousand dollars and a lifetime of free burgers to women who get pregnant by World Cup soccer players. The global competition is in Russia this year.
The ad, posted on social media, said getting pregnant by star athletes would pass down the athletes’ genes and boost the success of Russia’s team in the future generations.
(Pyongyang) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is planning a trip to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean lead Kim Jong Un. North Korean state media Sunday reported the planned meeting, which comes after Assad received the credentials of the North Korean ambassador to Syria.
The U.N. has accused North Korea of working with Syria on chemical weapons, something both nations deny. Depending on when the meeting takes place, it could be the first time Kim publicly meets with a foreign head of state in Pyongyang since taking power in 2011. A planned summit between Kim and President Trump is set for June 12th in Singapore.
In related news, the White House is in the early stages of organizing a summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The Wall Street Journal” reported that the effort aims at resolving differences about nuclear weapons, Syria and Ukraine.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has reportedly been working for months to make the meeting happen. The two leaders have met twice before during other international gatherings.
(Ukraine) – A Russian journalist showed up at a news conference today in Ukraine the day after he was reportedly assassinated. It appears to be all part of a plot on the part of the Ukrainian security service.
Arkady Babchenko, along with the police agency, faked his own death in an effort to catch the people who were making death threats against him. Police reported yesterday that the Kremlin critic and veteran Russian war correspondent had been shot three times and died on his way to the hospital.
The plot had reportedly been in the works for nearly two months and even Babchenko’s family didn’t know about it. Police did make one arrest in connection with the covert operation.
(Tehran) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country will remain in the 2015 nuclear deal if it can protect its interests. The deal, originally made between the U.S., Iran and five other world powers, offered sanctions relief in exchange for checks on Iran’s nuclear program.
President Trump pulled out of the deal this month, after months of calling it broken.
Rouhani said that Tehran will stay in if the remaining five nations, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K., stick to the agreement.
(Washington, DC) – Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. is warning that there will be consequences for the U.S.-led military strikes on Syria. Ambassador Anatoly Antonov called the strikes an insult to Russian president Vladimir Putin, and said insulting the president of Russia is unacceptable and inadmissible. Antonov said Friday that the U.S. has the biggest arsenal of chemical weapons and has no moral right to blame other countries. He said Russia is being threatened by the strikes, and that “such actions will not be left without consequences.”
On Saturday, Russian lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov said Russia was likely to call for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss U.S., British and French air strikes on Syria. The lawmaker told Russian news, “the situation is being analyzed right now.”