War in the neighborhood: IPN updates

Beaches in Crimea in a crisis due to banned smoking in airdrome

An explosion was reported in an airdrome in Crimea’s Saki district, the deputy head of the local administration Viktoria Kazmirova said.

The Russian Defense Ministry noted the explosion of munitions caused a fire at a military air base in Russian-annexed Crimea on Tuesday, August 9.

An official said the blast on the Russian-occupied peninsula was the result of a Ukrainian strike. Moscow said only that munitions had exploded.

Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to Crimea’s leadership, confirmed reports of the explosions. "So far, I can only confirm that several blasts occurred near Novofedorivka,” he said, according to TASS.

Russia’s Defense Ministry insisted the blasts were down to ammunition that had exploded in a store and that there was no "fire impact" from outside - although this has not been independently verified.

And Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak denied that Ukraine was behind the blasts, telling the Dozhd online television channel: “Of course not. What do we have to do with this?”

The Saki military airdrome near Novofedorivka is used by the Russian Defense Ministry, including for naval aircraft

Zaporozhe nuclear power station close to becoming Russian

Russian forces occupying the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have turned the site into a military base to launch attacks against Ukrainian positions, the head of Ukraine's nuclear power company says.

Petro Kotin told the BBC the threat to the plant was “great”, but that it remained safe. Mr Kotin, who heads Enerhoatom, said 500 Russian soldiers were at the plant, and that they had positioned rocket launchers in the area, claims that cannot be independently verified.

The complex has been under Russian occupation since early March, although Ukrainian technicians still operate it. Over the weekend, Ukraine accused Russian forces of attacking the Soviet-era site, saying two workers were taken to hospital with shrapnel injuries and that three radiation sensors had been damaged.

They should ensure “all inclusive” at home!

The leaders of Estonia and Finland want fellow European countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, saying they should not be able to take vacations in Europe while the Russian government carries out a war in Ukraine.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas wrote Tuesday on Twitter that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right” and that it is “time to end tourism from Russia now.”

A day earlier, her counterpart in Finland, Sanna Marin, told Finnish broadcaster YLE that “it is not right that while Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy went further in a Washington Post interview Monday, saying all Western countries should ban Russian tourists

Russian disinformation in virtual sphere

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the European Union moved to block RT and Sputnik, two of the Kremlin’s top channels for spreading propaganda and misinformation about the war.

Nearly six months later, the number of sites pushing that same content has exploded as Russia found ways to evade the ban. They’ve rebranded their work to disguise it. They’ve shifted some propaganda duties to diplomats. And they’ve cut and pasted much of the content on new websites — ones that until now had no obvious ties to Russia.

NewsGuard, a New York-based firm that studies and tracks online misinformation, has now identified 250 websites actively spreading Russian disinformation about the war, with dozens of new ones added in recent months. Some of the sites pose as independent think tanks or news outlets. About half are English-language, while others are in French, German or Italian.

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