Facebook Pixel

Prigozhin was killed, Trump was booked into jail, and the U.S. announced training on the F-16

The U.S. announced training on the F-16, while Trump was booked into jail: highlights from the week’s news

The U.S. announced training on the F-16, while Trump was booked into jail: highlights from the week’s news

The Ukrainian counteroffensive is making progress in the Zaporizhzhia region, the U.S. will begin training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 in October, and Moscow is forcing foreign companies to sell their assets for nothing when leaving the Russian market. Meanwhile, The Guardian wonders why Evgeny Prigozhin lived so long after the mutiny, and The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump surrendered at an Atlanta jail.

The Page offers a digest of Western mass media at the end of the August 21–25, 2023, business week.

Ukrainian forces have broken through the invaders’ defense

The Ukrainian army’s offensive is progressing. Photo: Getty Images

The Ukrainian army’s offensive is progressing. Photo: Getty Images

Signs are growing that Ukrainian forces have penetrated the first line of Russian defenses in the Zaporizhzhia region toward the town of Tokmak, CNN reports.

The Ukrainian General Staff said on Friday there had been further success towards the village of Novoprokopivka and further east in the direction of another small settlement, Ocheretuvate.

Earlier this week, the Ukrainians said they had liberated the village of Robotyne. Fighting continues to the south of that village.

Russian military bloggers are painting a gloomy picture of the situation for the invaders in parts of the southern front. They confirm that the Ukrainian forces have gained a foothold in Robotyne and are gathering forces for a new blow with artillery and air support.

Quote"It is objectively beginning to feel that there is a lack of new blood at the front," one blogger complained.

On Thursday, the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern command, Nataliya Humenyuk, said Russian forces were bringing more forces to the Zaporizhzhia area from Kherson to the south, due to the heavy casualties among units already there.

Yurii Malashko, head of Zaporizhzhia region military administration, said there were almost no buildings left standing in Robotyne after weeks of fighting in the area.

Quote"Our soldiers are slowly moving forward, but the mine barriers they [the Russians] have set up are very large, and it takes time to get through them."

In its latest assessment, the Washington DC-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Ukrainian forces advanced closer to the Russian second line of defense in the Robotyne area. ISW said that Russia’s lack of operational reserves would force the Russian command to conduct additional redeployments to counter Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.

Ukrainian pilots will be trained to fly the F-16 in the U.S.: When will it happen?

Biden promised Zelenskyi to start the F-16 training in October. Photo: the Office of the President

Biden promised Zelenskyi to start the F-16 training in October. Photo: the Office of the President

According to AP, the Pentagon announced on Thursday that the U.S. would start training Ukrainian pilots to fly U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, beginning at an Air National Guard base in October.

The announcement came as President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi to commemorate Ukraine’s Independence Day. Biden assured Zelenskyy of an expedited approval for other nations to transfer their F-16s to Ukraine once training is completed.

U.S. military officials stress it takes years of training to be able to field F-16 squadrons, limiting the impact the aircraft will have on Ukraine’s defense for the near future.

Quote"This is about the long-term support to Ukraine. This is not about the counteroffensive that they’re conducting right now," said the Pentagon spokesman, Brigadier General Patrick Ryder.

The training will take place at Morris Air National Guard base in Tucson, Arizona. The pilots will first undergo English instruction at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, to bring their fluency up to the level needed to operate the aircraft.

Ukraine has long pressed for the American fighter jets to help defend its cities and forces from Russian artillery and aviation. Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway announced in recent days they would supply the aircraft to Ukraine.

Ryder said the U.S. decided to join European allies in the training to avoid bottlenecks in bringing Ukrainian pilots up to speed.

According to him, the U.S. training would accommodate "several" Ukrainian fighter pilots and dozens of maintenance people for the jets. For experienced pilots, training can range around five months.

Russia forces Western companies to sell their assets for nothing

Some foreign companies trying to exit Russia are facing a big jump in costs as Moscow is demanding bigger discounts on the price tags of assets they want to sell, Reuters reports.

Western companies started leaving the Russian market soon after Moscow began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Since then, the conditions for exit are getting harsher, and navigating the rules is becoming harder.

As a data analysis conducted by Reuters shows, foreign companies have already been hit by losses of more than $80 billion from their Russian operations due to writedowns and lost revenue.

Thus, Dutch brewer Heineken (HEIN.AS) said on Friday it had completed its exit from Russia by selling its operations there to Russia's Arnest Group for a symbolic one euro.

The threat of nationalization also looms, particularly following the July seizure of Danish brewer Carlsberg's (CARLb.CO) and French yogurt maker Danone's (DANO.PA) Russian assets.

Companies still in the process of negotiating exits include telecoms group Veon (VON.AS), Nasdaq-listed tech group Yandex (YNDX.O) and Italian lender Intesa (ISP.MI).

Moscow already demands a 50% discount on all foreign deals after consultants selected by the Russian government have valued the business, and a contribution to the Russian budget of at least 10% of the price. But three people familiar with the exit process for foreign companies said that some deals are facing demands for additional discounts

Foreign companies concluded around 200 Russian asset sales between March 2022 and March 2023, the Russian central bank has reported, with about 20% worth more than $100 million.

Why wasn’t Prigozhin killed until now?

Analysts muse about why Prigozhin wasn’t eliminated at once. Photo: Getty Images

Analysts muse about why Prigozhin wasn’t eliminated at once. Photo: Getty Images

In June, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Wagner PMC, launched a mutiny, rejecting an ultimatum from the defense ministry to subjugate his mercenaries to the military. In so doing, according to The Guardian, he mounted the biggest challenge to the Russian state since Boris Yeltsin ordered his tanks to fire on Moscow’s White House during the 1993 constitutional crisis.

Two months later, Prigozhin is dead, probably assassinated, and for many Russian insiders, the bigger question is how he remained alive for so long.

Quote"The very fact that Prigozhin existed after the coup completely upended our understanding of the Putin regime," said Abbas Galyamov, a political consultant and former Putin speechwriter. "The rule was that you can’t go against Putin. For two months, everything was upside down. Prigozhin created a massive problem for Putin, he humiliated him."

After the mutiny, Prigozhin still kept a high public profile: he delivered a speech before his mercenaries in Belarus, was noticed on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit,and then appeared this week armed and in camouflage somewhere in Africa, saying he was "making Russia even greater on all continents".

Perhaps more importantly, he was never served with criminal charges after the mutiny. His companies continued to win multimillion-dollar catering contracts, and he continued to travel between Africa, Belarus and Russia on his Embraer jet until it crashed on Wednesday.

The CIA director, William Burns, last month called Putin an "apostle of payback" and warned Prigozhin not to fire his food taster. Still, Prigozhin thought he could manage a second act.

Quote"The whole African project completely relied on him," said Marat Gabidullin, a former Wagner commander and assistant to Prigozhin. "He was still very ambitious. Maybe he thought that he was too important for Putin. Overconfidence is definitely one of his flaws."

A former Russian senior defense official said:

Quote"The decision to kill Prigozhin was probably made from the very start after the coup, especially among the hardliners. Putin might have needed some convincing."

The Kremlin has also come down hard on other critics of its war effort: Igor Girkin, a former commander of Russian proxy forces in Ukraine, was arrested last month, and General Sergei Surovikin, a powerful Prigozhin ally in the defense ministry, has been held incommunicado since the mutiny and has been stripped of his command of Russia’s aerospace forces.

Quote"Prigozhin’s elimination is a strongly stabilizing factor for the current regime and for the mood in the army," said another source close to the Russian defense ministry.

At the same time, the murder of the mercenary chief has lowered the morale among the nationalists who were the most passionate about the war of aggression. It’s also unknown whether the ministry of defense will be able to co-opt the business of the Wagner PMC in Africa.

Trump surrendered at an Atlanta jail

Donlad Trump surrendered at a jail. Photo: Getty Images

Donlad Trump surrendered at a jail. Photo: Getty Images

On August 24, former U.S. President Donald Trump surrendered at a jail in Atlanta, Fulton county, Georgia. Ten days ago he was indicted for alleged participation in a sweeping criminal conspiracy to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia, The Washington Post reports.

Since March, Trump has been charged in four criminal indictments, of which two are tied to his alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election results. But while other jurisdictions processed Trump in courthouse facilities, Fulton County officials announced Trump would be treated no differently than any other Atlanta-area arrestee.

The former president had his height and weight recorded and was fingerprinted and photographed. However, unlike other arrestees, he was booked and released in roughly 20 minutes on a $200,000 bond negotiated by his legal team.

Trump is facing 13 counts in the Georgia case, including violating the state’s racketeering act, soliciting a public officer to violate their oath, conspiring to impersonate a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree and conspiring to file false documents.

The former president has denied any wrongdoing and described the investigation, led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, as a "political witch hunt."

Join us on social networks!
Thank 🎉