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The war in Ukraine could last for years, the head of NATO said on Sunday, as Russia stepped up its assaults after the European Union recommended that Kyiv become a candidate to join the bloc.

Jens Stoltenberg said the supply of state-of-the-art weaponry to Ukrainian troops would boost the chance of freeing its eastern region of Donbas from Russian control, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper said.

“We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine,” Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of the military alliance, was quoted as saying.

“Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited Kyiv on Friday, also spoke of a need to prepare for a long war.

This meant ensuring “Ukraine receives weapons, equipment, ammunition and training more rapidly than the invader”, Johnson wrote in an opinion piece in London’s Sunday Times.

Smoke rises over the city following recent shelling from the Ukraine-Russia war in Donetsk, Ukraine on June 18, 2022.
Smoke rises over the city following recent shelling from the Ukraine-Russia war in Donetsk, Ukraine, on June 18, 2022.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“Time is the vital factor,” he wrote. “Everything will depend on whether Ukraine can strengthen its ability to defend its soil faster than Russia can renew its capacity to attack.”

Ukraine received a significant boost on Friday when the European Commission recommended it for candidate status, a decision EU nations are expected to endorse at a summit this week

That would put Ukraine on course to realize an aspiration seen as out of reach before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, even if membership could take years.

INTENSIFIED ATTACKS

Russian attacks intensified on Ukraine’s battlefields.

The industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, a prime target in Moscow’s offensive to seize full control of Luhansk – one of the two provinces making up the Donbas – faced heavy artillery and rocket fire again, the Ukrainian military said.

“The situation in Sievierodonetsk is very difficult,” said Serhiy Gaidai, the Ukrainian-appointed governor of Luhansk, adding that Russian forces, using drones for air reconnaissance, were adjusting strikes quickly in response to defense changes.

A tram depot is seen destroyed by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on June 18, 2022.
A tram depot is seen destroyed by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on June 18, 2022.
REUTERS

“Areas near the bridges have been heavily shelled again,” Gaidai said in an online post on Sunday, adding that the Azot chemical plant, where hundreds of people had been sheltering, was hit twice.

“Fighting continues for full control of the city,” the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said in a daily update on Sunday.

Analysts at the Washington Institute for the Study of War think tank wrote that “Russian forces will likely be able to seize Sievierodonetsk in the coming weeks, but at the cost of concentrating most of their available forces in this small area”.

In Sievierodonetsk’s twin city Lysychansk across the river, the bodies of two civilians had been found, Gaidai said, adding, “The destruction of housing in the city is increasing like an avalanche.”

Ukraine’s military acknowledged that “the enemy has partial success in the village of Metolkine”, just southeast of Sievierodonetsk.

Russia’s state news agency TASS said many Ukrainian fighters had surrendered in Metolkine, citing a source working for Russian-backed separatists.

Russian missiles hit a gasworks in the district of Izyum to the northwest, and Russian rockets raining on a suburb of Kharkiv, the second-largest city, hit a municipal building, caused a fire, but no casualties, Ukrainian authorities said.

They reported shelling further west in Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk, saying on Saturday that three Russian missiles destroyed a fuel storage depot in the town of Novomoskovsk, wounding 11 people.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Donetsk, the other province in the Donbas, said a civilian was killed and 11 wounded in shelling on Saturday.

A resident examines a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A resident examines a destroyed tram depot in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
AFP via Getty Images

The Ukrainian armed forces general staff said Russian troops on a reconnaissance mission near the town of Krasnopillya had been beaten back with heavy casualties on Saturday.

Reuters could not independently confirm the battlefield accounts.

Two top commanders of fighters who defended the Azovstal steel plant in the southeastern port of Mariupol have been transferred to Russia for investigation, TASS said. 

ZELENSKY DEFIANCE

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose defiance has inspired his people and won global respect, said he had visited soldiers on the southern frontline in the Mykolaiv region, about 340 miles south of Kyiv.

“I talked to our defenders – the military, the police, the National Guard,” he said in a video on the Telegram message app on Sunday that appeared to have been recorded on a moving train.

“Their mood is assured: they all do not doubt our victory,” Zelensky said. “We will not give the south to anyone, and all that is ours we will take back.”

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky visits a position of Ukrainian service members in  Southern Ukraine on June 18, 2022.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visits a position of Ukrainian service members in  Southern Ukraine on June 18, 2022.
via REUTERS

Another video showed Zelensky in his trademark khaki T-shirt handing out medals and posing for selfies with servicemen.

Zelensky has stayed mostly in Kyiv since Russia invaded, although in recent weeks he has made unannounced visits to Kharkiv and two eastern cities near battles.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated goals in ordering troops into Ukraine was to halt the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance and keep Moscow’s southern neighbor outside the West’s sphere of influence.

But the war, which has killed thousands, reduced cities to rubble and sent millions fleeing, has had the opposite effect – convincing Finland and Sweden to seek to join NATO – and helping to pave the way for Ukraine’s EU membership bid.


By: Ny Post

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LIV Golf receiving pushback in Oregon ahead of first US stop

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Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf is getting a chilly reception in Oregon, its first stop in the United States. 

This coming week, the series, which is paying enormous signing fees for players such as Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, descends on Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in tiny North Plains, nestled in the rolling hills west of Portland. 

But the North Plains mayor, as well as officials from surrounding cities, have written the club’s owner, Escalante Golf, with concerns. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is speaking out against the tournament, and some members of the pricy club also are uncomfortable with the situation. 

Opponents point to Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses, including the murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But in Oregon, there also is anger over the hit-and-run death of 15-year-old Fallon Smart in 2016. 

Saudi student Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah was facing a trial on first-degree murder charges when he removed a tracking device and vanished. U.S. authorities believe the Saudi government helped arrange for a fake passport and provided a private jet for travel back to Saudi Arabia. The case was featured on “60 Minutes.” 

“It’s wrong to be silent when Saudi Arabia tries to cleanse blood-stained hands, in the fight for Oregonians to get justice — Fallon Smart was killed very close to our house in Southeast Portland, and the person charged with the crime, a hit-and-run death, was, based on all the evidence, whisked out of the country by the Saudis before he stood for trial,” Wyden said in an interview with AP. 

Ron Wyden
Ron Wyden has been outspoken against LIV Golf.
Getty Images

There is also concern the event could bring protests to North Plains, a town of just 3,400 people. Tickets to the event prohibit fans from displaying any political signs. 

“We oppose this event because it is being sponsored by a repressive government whose human rights abuses are documented. We refuse to support these abuses by complicitly allowing the Saudi-backed organization to play in our backyard,” said a letter signed by North Plains Mayor Teri Lenahan and 10 other mayors from surrounding cities. 

Wyden accuses the Saudi government of sportswashing. 

“It’s just a page out of the autocrats’ playbook covering up injustices by misusing athletics in hopes of normalizing their abuses,” he said. 

The event also has put Pumpkin Ridge members in a difficult spot. Some decided to leave the club over the tournament, but it’s unclear how many departed. 

“A lot of members are like stuck between a rock and a hard place right now where politically they don’t agree with it at all,” said member Kevin Palmer of Beaverton. “But I also joined last year and put down like $12,000, and if I leave I don’t get any of that money back.” 

Greg Norman is CEO of LIV Golf Investments and the face of a circuit that aims to rival the PGA Tour. The 48-man field in Portland will compete for $20 million in prize money for individual play, and $5 million in team play, with 12 teams. Teams will be announced Tuesday after a draft. 

Greg Norman
Greg Norman
REUTERS

Johnson, who had been No. 1 in the world longer than any player since Tiger Woods, and six-time major champion Mickelson were among the first big names to join. The Portland field since has added Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed, all major champions, though none among the current top 20 players in the world ranking. 

The PGA Tour has suspended every member who competed in the first LIV event because they did not have conflicting event releases. Those in Portland also will be suspended when they tee it up. 

The tour typically awards three such releases a year, only for tournaments overseas. It does not allow its members to compete in tournaments held in North America. 

The Portland event is held the same week as the John Deere Classic in Illinois. 

“The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in attempt to buy the game of golf,” commissioner Jay Monahan said last week. “We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi golf league is not that. It’s an irrational threat, one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.” 

The LIV tour consists of eight events this year, five in the United States. Following the stop in Portland, the tour moves to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. 

Texas-based Escalante Golf, owner of Pumpkin Ridge and another course on the LIV series, did not respond to a request for comment. 

“We believe that we have a moral obligation to take a stand and speak out against this event in order to protect the people we serve,” the mayors wrote in their letter to the company. “While our local jurisdictions may not be able to prevent this event, we stand together to voice our concerns about the unwelcomed potential risks, visitors and harm this event could have on our communities.”


By: Ny Post

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Super PACs target AOC-backed ‘defund the police’ NY candidates

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Two political action committees bankrolled by New York business interests are waging a hard-hitting $1 million counteroffensive to defeat “defund the police” state Assembly candidates running in Tuesday’s Democratic primary races.

The related Super PACs — Common Sense New Yorkers and Voters of New York — have sent out mailers attacking the lefty candidates as soft on crime and are engaging in an 11th-hour “get out the vote” effort through robocalls, text messaging and other canvassing, said Jeff Leb, the treasurer of both groups.

“We are specifically running independent campaigns against socialist candidates who have declared publicly and privately that they want to defund the police,” said Leb.

“We have done multiple polls that confirm that across NYC and NYS regardless of the neighborhood or the district, public safety is the number one issue of concern to Democratic voters,” he added.

The candidates targeted by the groups are backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens), the left-wing Working Families Party and the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Super Pac Defund the Police
The Super PACs are targeting candidates who support defunding the police.
Capitol Consulting

Leb said his groups will conduct a similar campaign to bolster pro-safety candidates in state Senate primaries in August.

At least three mailers have targeted insurgent Jonathan Soto — a former AOC staffer endorsed by the socialist congresswoman and the WFP — who is running against veteran Assembly incumbent Michael Benedetto in The Bronx.

“Don’t vote for Jonathan Soto. He’s Too Extreme for the Bronx,” said one mailer, which described the “defund” challenger as a “dangerous, reckless, socialist.”

One mailer targets former AOC staffer Jonathan Soto who the PAC describes as “too extreme.”
Capitol Consulting

The PACs have also run attack ads against insurgent Jessica Altagracia Woolford, who is running against veteran Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz in the northwest Bronx Assembly District 81 covering Riverdale, Kingsbridge Heights, Norwood and Woodlawn; and Samy Nemir Olivares, who is seeking to topple incumbent Erik Dilan in Brooklyn’s District 54, covering Bushwick and Cypress Hills.

Benedetto, who is not connected to the independent groups, on Sunday welcomed their campaign.

“They accurately point out that my opponent wants to defund the police. I’m not for that all. I happen to be in the same political camp as Joe Biden,” said Benedetto, who received a donation from the New York State Troopers PAC.

super pac defund the police
The groups claim that public safety is the number one issue for New York voters.
Capitol Consulting

“They realize [Soto] is a radical who is out of step with the mainstream. We don’t want that.”

Soto on Sunday sought to turn the tables, saying Benedetto is backed by “Trump Republicans” who are sending attack mailers “distracting voters from what’s actually being defunded, our schools!”

Mayor Eric Adams has endorsed the more moderate Benedetto, and donated to his campaign in the ongoing proxy war with Ocasio-Cortez over the direction of New York’s Democratic Party.

super pacs defund the police
The groups are also targeting Jessica Altagracia Woolford who is running for state Assembly in the Bronx.
Capitol Consulting

The Adams-affiliated Striving for a Better New York gave Benedetto $4,700 work in mid-June, state BOE records show.

The AOC-backed Courage to Change PAC, meanwhile, donated $4,700 to Soto and cut four-figure checks to seven other lefty candidates in recent weeks, including challengers running against incumbents Dilan, Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster) and Nikki Lucas (D-Brooklyn) in the state Assembly, records show.

Dilan’s father is former longtime state Brooklyn state Sen. Martin Dilan, who lost a 2018 primary to the DSA-backed Julia Salazar.

The younger Dilan received a $4,700 check of his own from A.J.W. Properties Management and $2,000 from a PAC associated with state realtors, in addition to at least $13,000 more in donations from other labor and trade groups in recent weeks.

As for the two pro-law and order Super PACs, campaign finance records show Voters of New York received four donations from real estate and financial interest in recent weeks totaling $250,000.

Silverstein Properties gave $50,000 while Thomas Tuft, a former chairman of the Global Capital Markets Group at Goldman Sachs chipped in $25,000. Anel Holding Group and Broadwest Group 3 LLC contributed $100,000 and $75,000 respectively, according to campaign finance filings.

More than $100,000 in these donations went to just two entities – Live Media Productions LLC of lower Manhattan and Albany Marketing Solutions just blocks from the state Capitol, according to campaign records.

Both companies also received dozens of payments totaling a similar amount from Common Sense New York in recent days, records show.

Donors to this group include a litany of limited liability companies representing real estate and financial interests. The family-owned United American Land gave $100,000. Venture capitalist Lisa Blau gave $50,000, according to records.

The insurance industry and other trade groups have dumped $6,000 on Cahill, who chairs the Assembly Insurance Committee, as he battles back a challenge from the DSA and WFP-backed Sarahan Shrestha.

Shrestha also got $4,700 from the AOC-backed PAC on June 24, records state. 


By: Ny Post

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Duke assistant sees NBA starter in Knicks’ pick Trevor Keels

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The Knicks traded out of the first round on draft night, but they may have landed a player with the upside of a first-round pick. At least, that’s what Chris Carrawell believes the Knicks have in Trevor Keels.

The one-and-done guard had an up-and-down season with the Blue Devils, averaging 11.5 points and 3.4 rebounds, but the former five-star recruit was still projected by some to find his way into the first round. That didn’t happen, and the Knicks ended up selecting him with the No. 42 overall pick in the draft.

“I think he’s a starter [in the NBA],” Carrawell, the Duke assistant coach, told The Post in a phone interview on Sunday. “It’s harder when you’re a second-round pick, but he’s only 18. If he stays with it, and gets an opportunity and improves, I compare him to Marcus Smart.

“In a year [if he stayed in school] he would’ve been a potential lottery pick and guaranteed first-round pick for sure. Potential is there. … I think the Knicks got a steal.”

Duke
The Knicks selected Duke product Trevor Keels in the 2022 NBA Draft.
USA TODAY Sports

Carrawell singled out two needed areas of improvement for the 6-foot-5 Keels to develop into a solid NBA player. One of the youngest players in the draft, the Clinton, Md. native has to improve his perimeter jump shot — Keels shot just 31.2 percent from beyond the arc for Duke this past season — and he has to get into better shape. Keels registered 13.5 percent body fat at the draft combine, the fourth highest of the 76 players there.

“These guys come in, they’re 17, 18 years old, in college for the first time. No matter how much we talk to them about nutrition, things you gotta eat, they’re still college kids,” Carrawell said. “They’re going to still stay up late, they’re going to play video games, they’re going to hang out with their classmates, their teammates. He has the body type that you have to watch what you eat, make sure you’re putting in the work, which he does. But he’s still young. I didn’t pay attention to those things when I was 22. In time, once he learns, he can do it.”

Off the bat, Keels’ best asset is his competitive fire and on-court desire. He was one of Duke’s most intense players and, according to Carrawell, has an extremely high basketball IQ. That manifests itself at both ends of the floor.

Perhaps most important for Keels and the Knicks, Carrawell thinks he’s a Tom Thibodeau type of player, due to his aggressive nature and his desire on the defensive end. Thibodeau, of course, is notorious for relying on veterans, so Keels will have to prove himself to carve out a role for himself. The fastest way for that to happen is on the defensive end.

NBA
Trevor Keels working out at the NBA Draft combine.
USA TODAY Sports

Carrawell’s take was similar to what an NBA scout told The Post on draft night, that Keels has to improve his body and his jumper, but the toughness and edge he plays with will appeal to Thibodeau.

“I’m going into a foxhole, I want him on my side,” Carrawell said. “’Thibs is going to fall in love with Trevor, because he’s a competitor, he’s a winner.

“He competes, man. Trevor really has the potential to be a really good defender once he learns the NBA game. He can really guard the ball. When he’s locked in, he does a good job of putting pressure on the ball, and he’s not bad off the ball as well.”


By: Ny Post

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