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US sanctions Ukrainian officials accused of helping Russia

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US sanctions Ukrainian officials accused of helping Russia

By AAMER MADHANI and ELLEN KNICKMEYER

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department levied new sanctions Thursday against four Ukrainian officials, including two current members of parliament who administration officials say are part of a Russian influence effort to set the pretext for further invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions name parliament members Taras Kozak and Oleh Voloshyn and two former government officials. According to Treasury, all four have been intimately involved in disinformation efforts by Russia’s federal security service, known as the FSB.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the four men were at the heart of a Kremlin effort begun in 2020 “to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian state to independently function.”

The new sanctions were announced less than 24 hours after President Joe Biden said he thinks Moscow will newly invade Ukraine. He warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that his country would pay a “dear price” in lives lost and a possible restriction in access to the global banking system if it does.

Biden faced criticism from Republicans and Ukrainian officials that he invited a limited Russian invasion by suggesting in comments to reporters on Wednesday that the U.S. would react with a measured response if there was only a “minor incursion.” Administration officials immediately sought to clarify his remarks, and Biden himself did so on Thursday.

“I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin,” Biden said Thursday. “He has no misunderstanding: any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion.”

Biden on Wednesday said his team is looking at possible sanctions against Moscow that would target the Russian banking system, restricting its ability “to deal in dollars.” Biden was referring to potentially limiting Russia’s access to “dollar clearing” — the conversion of payments by banks on behalf of clients into U.S. dollars from rubles or other foreign currency, according to a senior administration official who was not authorized to comment publicly.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat who co-led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Ukraine last weekend, told reporters Thursday she understood the administration was still analyzing what the impact would be on other countries if Russia were banned from SWIFT, a banking system that handles the flow of money around the world.

Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan in a Twitter posting urged the administration to take action that makes certain that “Russian oligarchs that support Putin” aren’t “able to spend their weekends shopping in Monaco and Paris.”

The White House last week warned that Russia has stationed operatives in and around Ukraine possibly to create a pretext for an invasion. U.S. and Ukrainian officials have also been concerned about the Russian weaponizing of disinformation.

“The United States is taking action to expose and counter Russia’s dangerous and threatening campaign of influence and disinformation in Ukraine,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. “We are committed to taking steps to hold Russia accountable for their destabilizing actions.”

Kozak, who controls several news channels in Ukraine, is accused of amplifying false narratives about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s inner circle and the 2020 elections. Voloshyn has worked with Russia’s FSB to undermine Ukrainian government officials, Treasury says.

Treasury officials say Voloshyn also worked with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who was previously sanctioned for allegedly attempting to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and passing on information to Russian intelligence.

Treasury also sanctioned Ukraine’s former deputy secretary for national security and defense councils, Vladimir Sivkovich. The administration says Sivkovich worked last year with a network of Russian intelligence activists to carry out influence operations that attempted to build support for Ukraine to officially cede Crimea to Russia in exchange for a drawdown of Russian-backed forces. Russian troops seized Crimea in 2014 and Russia then annexed the Black Sea peninsula.

The other former official cited is Volodymyr Oliynyk, who Treasury says worked at the direction of the FSB to gather information about Ukrainian critical infrastructure. Oliynk is currently living in Russia, according to Treasury.

Biden on Thursday noted that Russia “has a long history of using measures other than overt military action to carry out aggression.”

After his speculation about a “minor incursion” by Russia, Biden underscored that any invasion would be seen as violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and would result in severe consequences for Russia. Nevertheless, his comments rattled Kyiv.

“We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Zelenskyy tweeted Thursday shortly before the new sanctions were announced. “Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones.”

Some 100,000 Russian troops have massed near Ukraine’s border. Russian officials are demanding written guarantees that NATO will not expand westward. Members of the alliance refuse to give such a pledge.

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Mets’ series opener against Rockies in Denver postponed due to snow

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Mets’ series opener against Rockies in Denver postponed due to snow

DENVER — In a flashback to last year’s trip to the Mile High City, the Mets were again hit with snowy and frosty weather that shelved their series opener against the Rockies.

The Mets’ game against the Rockies, scheduled for 8:40 p.m. ET at Coors Field, was postponed due to heavy snow in the forecast, the home team announced on Friday afternoon. The matchup will be made up as part of a split doubleheader on Saturday, with Game 1 starting at 3:10 p.m. ET and Game 2 beginning at 8:40 p.m. ET. It will be the Mets’ fifth doubleheader of the season.

The city of Denver issued a winter storm and freeze warning beginning Friday evening that would last all the way until Saturday morning/afternoon. Total snow accumulations were forecasted to be between 3 and 10 inches, with temperatures dropping to 26 degrees.

The Mets were snowed out in Colorado last year (April 16, 2021). Prior to that, the last time the Mets were snowed out was on April 2, 2018 vs. Philadelphia at Citi Field. Before last season, the Mets were last snowed out in Colorado on April 15 and April 17, 2013.

Of course, when the Mets begin a three-game road trip to sunny California against the Giants on Monday, the weather in Denver is expected to return to being warm and sunny.

Carlos Carrasco (3-1, 3.73 ERA) was scheduled to face off against right-hander German Marquez (1-3, 6.16 ERA) in the series opener. The Mets did not announce their Saturday pitching plans as of Friday afternoon, but it is expected that Carrasco will take the mound on an extra day of rest for at least one of the two games.

The Mets (26-14) are in need of a spot starter on Saturday for whichever game Carrasco does not pitch. Trevor Williams (2-4, 4.20 ERA) just pitched Game 1 of the team’s doubleheader against the Cardinals on Tuesday, so he would be pitching on just three days’ rest if the Mets decided to go that route. Taijuan Walker (1-0, 3.52 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Sunday.

But it gets trickier after that, with injuries deconstructing the top of the Mets rotation.

Max Scherzer is sidelined until at least the end of June with a moderate to high oblique strain, so the Mets will need a regular replacement for the ace beginning Monday at San Francisco, which was his scheduled start day. Tylor Megill, who has been dealing with right biceps tendinitis since at least last Sunday, is expected to begin playing catch sometime this weekend. But Megill doesn’t appear close to rejoining the rotation.

And, of course, Jacob deGrom is still on the 60-day injured list with a stress reaction on his scapula. DeGrom recently began increasing his distance and velocity while throwing on flat ground, but he has yet to throw off the mound.

David Peterson, who has not pitched since May 13 for Triple-A Syracuse, is the next best depth option to replace Scherzer. But, as of Friday afternoon, the Mets were still going through their options for Saturday’s spot starter and Monday’s outing. It’s possible, a team official said, that Peterson could jump into the rotation as early as Saturday and the Mets will push Williams back to Monday.

These next several weeks will feature a jigsaw puzzle of sorts for Buck Showalter’s Mets as they maneuver how best to proceed with their thin rotation.

Williams and Peterson, both of whom can be considered the team’s long-relief options, potentially sliding into the rotation on a regular basis will rely on their results. Williams has been solid for the Mets, hurling 7.2 scoreless innings combined in his last two outings (one long relief outing and one start against the Nationals and Cardinals, respectively). Peterson has a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings and four games (three starts) for the Amazin’s early this season, when he filled in for the injured Taijuan Walker.

Most alarmingly, the Mets bullpen is in danger of being overworked while Scherzer and Megill are on the IL as both of those right-handers were able to go deep into games. Without them, the relief corps may be called upon earlier, thus taxing a unit that is already one of the team’s weakest links.

The Mets are 6-2 in doubleheaders this year with two sweeps and two splits.

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Russia claims to have taken full control of Mariupol

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Russia claims to have taken full control of Mariupol

By ELENA BECATOROS, OLEKSANDR STASHEVSKYI and CIARAN McQUILLAN

POKROVSK, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s defense chief says the country’s forces have taken full control of the steel plant in Mariupol that was the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the city.

That would mark the end of a nearly three-month siege that reduced much of Mariupol to ruins and left over 20,000 people feared dead.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin on Friday that the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol has been “completely liberated” from Ukrainian fighters.

There is no immediate confirmation from Ukraine.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

POKROVSK, Ukraine (AP) — The West moved to pour billions more in aid into Ukraine on Friday, as Russia shifted troops freed up by the imminent fall of the pulverized city of Mariupol and fighting raged in the country’s industrial heartland in the east.

Russian forces shelled a vital highway and kept up attacks on a key city in the Luhansk region, hitting a school among other sites, Ukrainian authorities said. Luhansk is part of the Donbas, the mostly Russian-speaking eastern expanse of coal mines and factories that Russian President Vladimir Putin is bent on capturing.

“The liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic is nearing completion,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared, referring to the breakaway state proclaimed by pro-Moscow separatists in 2014 and recognized by the Kremlin.

In Mariupol, the strategic port in the southern corner of the Donbas, Russian troops worn down by their nearly three-month siege of the city may not get the time they need to regroup, Britain’s Defense Ministry said.

With the battle winding down for the Azovstal steel plant that represented the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, Russia is continuing to pull back forces there, and their commanders are under pressure to quickly send them elsewhere in the Donbas, according to the British.

“That means that Russia will probably redistribute their forces swiftly without adequate preparation, which risks further force attrition,” the ministry said.

An undisclosed number of Ukrainian soldiers remained at the Azovstal steel plant. Russia said more than 1,900 had surrendered in recent days. Also remaining at the plant were the bodies of soldiers who defended it while tying down Russian forces.

Denis Prokopenko, commander of the Azov Regiment, which led the defense of the plant, called them “fallen heroes.”

“I hope soon relatives and the whole of Ukraine will be able to bury the fighters with honors,” he said.

Wives of fighters who held out at the steelworks spoke emotionally about what may have been their last contact with their husbands.

Olga Boiko, wife of a marine, wiped away tears as she said that her husband had written her on Thursday: “Hello. We surrender, I don’t know when I will get in touch with you and if I will at all. Love you. Kiss you. Bye.”

Natalia Zaritskaya, wife of another fighter at Azovstal, said that based on the messages she had seen over the past two days, “Now they are on the path from hell to hell. Every inch of this path is deadly.”

She said that two days ago, her husband reported that of the 32 soldiers with whom he had served, only eight survived, most of them seriously wounded.

In other developments:

— The Group of Seven major economies and global financial institutions agreed to provide more money to bolster Ukraine’s finances, bringing the total to $19.8 billion. In the U.S., President Joe Biden was expected to sign a $40 billion package of military and economic aid to Ukraine and its allies.

— Russia will cut off natural gas to Finland on Saturday, the Finnish state energy company said, just days after Finland applied to join NATO. Finland had refused Moscow’s demand that it pay for gas in rubles. The cutoff is not expected to have any major immediate effect. Natural gas accounted for just 6% of Finland’s total energy consumption in 2020, Finnish broadcaster YLE said.

— A captured Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian awaited his fate in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial. Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, could get life in prison.

Meanwhile, fighting intensified deeper in the Donbas.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, said Russian forces were especially focused on the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway, the only road for evacuating people and delivering humanitarian supplies.

“The road is extremely important because it’s the only connection to other regions of the country,” he said via email. “The Russians are trying to cut us off from it, to encircle the Luhansk region.”

Russian forces shelled the road constantly from multiple directions, but Ukrainian armored transports were still able to get through, Haidai added.

Moscow’s troops have been trying for weeks to seize Severodonetsk, a key city in the Donbas. One of Friday’s attacks was on a school in Severodonetsk that was sheltering more than 200 people, many of them children, Haidai said. Three adults were killed, he said on Telegram.

Twelve people were killed in Severodonetsk, Haidai said. It was not immediately clear if that included the three at the school. In addition, more than 60 houses were destroyed across the region, he added.

Russian forces now control 90 percent of Luhansk, but the attack on Severodonetsk failed — “the Russians suffered personnel losses and retreated,” Haidai said. His account could not be independently verified.

Another city, Rubizhne, has been “completely destroyed,” Haidai said. “Its fate can be compared to that of Mariupol.”

Pro-Moscow separatists have fought Ukrainian forces in the Donbas for the past eight years and held a considerable swath of it before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. But the effort by Putin’s troops to take more territory there has been slow-going.

In a sign of Russia’s frustration with the war, some senior commanders have been fired in recent weeks, Britain’s Defense Ministry said.

Russian forces elsewhere in Ukraine continued to blast away at targets, some of them civilian.

In the village of Velyka Kostromka, west of the Donbas, explosions in the middle of the night Thursday shook Iryna Martsyniuk’s house to its foundations. Roof timbers splintered and windows shattered, sending shards of glass into a wall near three sleeping children.

“There were flashes everywhere,” she said. “There was smoke everywhere.” She grabbed the children and ran toward the home’s entrance, “but the corridor wasn’t there anymore. Instead, we saw the starry night.”

They ran down the road to a neighbor’s home, where they hid in the basement.

Around 20 other houses were damaged and two people were lightly wounded, said Olha Shaytanova, head of the village.

___

McQuillan reported from Lviv. Stashevskyi reported from Kyiv. Associated Press journalists Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, Jamey Keaten in Geneva and other AP staffers around the world contributed.

___

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Billy The Kid Episode 7: May 22 Release, Time, Where To Watch And Plot Speculations

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Billy The Kid Episode 7: May 22 Release, Time, Where To Watch And Plot Speculations

Release Date And Time

 Episode 7 of the series Billy the Kid will be released on May 22, 2022, at 10 PM Eastern Standard Time, 7:30 AM Indian Standard Time, and 2 AM Greenwich Mean Time.

 Where To Watch?

 The show is an EPIX original series and hence can be watched on Epix on tv or Epix website, or the Epix app. You can also watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

1653073848 683 Billy The Kid Episode 7 May 22 Release Time Where

 About The Show

 Billy, the Kid, is a historical drama and romance series about a real-life person called William H. Bonney, a gunslinger and an outlaw during the American Old West. Known as Billy the Kid, the cowboy was one of the most notorious gunfighters of the wild west.

The show starts with a 12-year-old boy and his journey to make his name in the world. The show covers almost every stage of his life since he and his family moved from Ireland to New York and then left New York to travel west for survival. Then, became the famous gunslinger and his pivotal role in the Lincoln County War and beyond.

The show explores and delves deep into Billy’s character. He became an outlaw to survive but resisted his hardest to avoid being one. Even with all the resistance, he did turn out to be a murderer. Until his death after New Mexico’s Lincoln County War.

Up until episode 6, Billy finally met Pat Garrett and the 7 Rivers Gang. Pat is riding with the gang and takes Billy to meet Jesse. Billy meets with Frank Baker, and Baker proposes to help.

 With their journey to Lincoln County to work for Lawrence Murphy, he agrees due to the law creeping in, but not before saving his friend Segura from being hanged.

 Episode 7 Plot Speculation

 Billy would head to Lincoln County and meet up with the rest of the gang. Murphy would make them do his dirty work, especially against his new competitor, John Tunstall. The show has set up all the characters in Lincoln county, like Billy, Pat, Santa Fe Ring, Upson, Murphy, etc. So we can feel the war and inevitable creeping in. The episode would be expected to have much action and thrill as this is the penultimate episode of the 8-episode-long series.

The episode is not to be missed with all the war and death coming, good ol’ wild west way. CAST AND CREW

The show has got an impressive cast with Tom Blyth playing William H. Bonney, a.k.a Billy the Kid, Daniel Webber as Jesse Evans, Eileen O’Higgins will be appearing as Kathleen McCarty, Dakota Daulby will be portraying the character of John Beckwith, Sean Owen Roberts will be portraying Bob Olinger, and Jonah Collier will be playing young Billy.

The show is created by Micheal Hirst, a well-known Historian writer and creator (he has done projects like Tudors, Vikings, and Vikings: Valhalla, etc.). The show has many producers, and the Music is by Mark Korven. Most of the cast would return for episode 7.

The post Billy The Kid Episode 7: May 22 Release, Time, Where To Watch And Plot Speculations appeared first on Gizmo Story.

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