Ukraine's president has named Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskiy as the country's top military commander. He replaces General Valeriy Zaluzhniy after months of speculation that he was at odds with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy over battlefield strategy, reported RFE/RL. Meanwhile, the New York Times said the move was widely perceived as “a politicized shakeup of Ukraine’s military” while The Guardian said it was a risky move for Zelensky in the midst of a war.

Zelensky said Syrskiy "has successful defense experience -- he conducted the Kyiv defense operation. He also has successful offensive experience -- the Kharkiv liberation operation." The Russia-born, 58-year-old Syrskiy, who has served as the commander of Ukrainian ground forces since 2019, replaces General Valeriy Zaluzhniy following reports that Zelensky was strongly considering removing him. Zelenksy said in a message on X, formerly Twitter, that is he grateful to Zaluzhniy and he appreciates "every victory we have achieved together." Before announcing the leadership change, Zelensky said he had "candidly discussed" with Zaluzhniy issues in the army that require urgent change.


The longtime, Kyiv-based Ukrainian-Canadian observer Bohdan Chomiak had this to say about the removal of Zaluzhniy: “It strikes me as odd that Ukraine's president should go out of his way to attack one of its best weapons. The weapon is morale. High morale has sustained Ukraine's armed forces and one of the crucial foundations for that morale was the commander of the armed forces - Gen. Zaluzny. His replacement is also well known in Ukraine, but a lower rating inside the military than outside.”

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report into Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents says the president's memory “appeared to have significant limitations" in interviews with investigators. Biden "did not remember when he was vice-president", and forgot when his term ended - BBC


Russia's election commission has rejected anti-war challenger Boris Nadezhdin as a candidate in next month's presidential vote. Mr Nadezhdin has been relatively critical of Vladimir Putin's full-scale war in Ukraine when few dissenting voices have been tolerated in Russia. Election authorities claimed more than 15% of the signatures he submitted with his candidate application were flawed. He had tried to challenge this, but the commission rejected his bid. Refusing to give up, Mr Nadezhdin, 60, said on social media that he would challenge the decision in Russia's Supreme Court - BBC

Polish farmers on Friday blocked roads and staged protests at border checkpoints with Ukraine, in a new wave of protests against farming imports from the neighbouring war-torn country. The blockade is for 30 days and impacts three border crossings with Ukraine. Farmers in Poland say that opening the European Union’s market to Ukrainian agricultural products has brought down prices and caused unfair competition. Meanwhile, Polandʼs Minister of Agriculture Czeslaw Siekierski said that farmers' protests against Ukraine imports are justified. He emphasized that in certain areas such as grain, a complete blockade is required.


Ukraine defence forces managed to intercept 11 of 17 Russian drones aimed at Odesa and other cities in the early morning of Thursday. The attack caused extensive property damage in Odesa and two law enforcement officers received injuries from secondary explosions while investigating the aftermath.

Meta has removed accounts run by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Instagram and Facebook for posts in support of the Palestinian group Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. “We have removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy,” a spokesperson for Instagram’s parent company Meta told RFE/RL in a statement.

The flow of Italian-made civilian light weapons into Russia has never stopped, not even after the large-scale invasion of Ukraine and despite sanctions. The majority came from the factory floors of Beretta SpA, a new investigation has found.

In the country that triggered the largest conflict in Europe since the Second World War, one might think that only Russian arms were on display at a weapons exhibition, first and foremost the Kalashnikov. However, visitors to OrelExpo were also able to admire and purchase Austrian Glock pistols, German Blaser rifles and American Barrett carbines. Together with Finnish rifles of the Sako and Tikka brands, owned by the historic Italian factory Beretta. In theory, no European-made weapon, not even for civilian use, should have reached Russia. An investigation by Investigate Europe had already reconstructed how in 2021 guns, rifles and ammunition worth almost €22 million were shipped from Italy to Russia. By analyzing the certificates of conformity, IrpiMedia and The Insider have now discovered that the flow of Italian-made civilian light weapons to Russia has never stopped, not even after the large-scale invasion of Ukraine. Read the full article by IrpiMedia here


A Spanish rice variety traditionally used to make paella is under threat from a fungus after the European Union banned a pesticide farmers said they relied upon, in another example of how the bloc's environmental rules are angering growers. Three rice producers in the Valencia region said their harvest of arroz bomba, or bomb rice, a variety grown almost exclusively in Spain, was half the 10-year average in 2023 as a result of the Pyricularia fungus which causes rice blast disease. Bomba rice "is very likely to disappear," said Miguel Minguet, a rice farmer in the Albufera Natural Park in Valencia. "Our crop is going to be lost to regulations." Meanwhile, major exporters such as Brazil, India and Cambodia are widely using the pesticide to protect their own crops - Nasdaq.


This review is reprinted with the author’s permission from his World Briefing blog.

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