NEWS DIGEST 27.08.2022: Covering the Ukraine and Tigray conflicts

Good morning and welcome to the long Late August bank holiday weekend, and also to HEMNA. Our news today is from Legible News.

Russia is wasting large volumes of natural gas by burning it in a huge orange flare near the Finnish border at a time when it has sharply cut deliveries to the EU, analysts have told the Reuters news agency. Rystad, an energy consultancy based in Norway, described Moscow’s move as an environmental disaster – with about 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted every 24 hours – and estimated the amount of gas being burned off into the atmosphere was equivalent to about 0.5 percent of daily EU needs. The spectacular flare can be seen in satellite images of Portovaya, the site of a compressor station for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany. The EU accuses it of using gas as a weapon to fight back against Western sanctions over Ukraine. Flaring is a common practice in oil and gas production, but the current level is unusually high and the timing is sensitive because of the Russian supply cuts – Russia-Ukraine latest updates: Zaporizhzhia plant reconnected (Al Jazeera)

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LONDON, Aug 26 – The deputy chief of traffic police in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Berdiansk died in hospital on Friday after being wounded in a bomb blast, local Russian-installed officials said. Berdiansk, a port of around 100,000 people on the Azov Sea, was captured by Russia in February. The incident there was the latest in a series of apparent assassinations of Russian-backed officials in occupied areas of Ukraine. This month, the deputy head of the Russian-imposed administration of Nova Khakovka was shot dead in his home, while in June a senior official in Kherson region’s Russian-installed administration was killed in a car bomb – Bomb kills traffic cop in occupied Ukrainian city – Russian-installed officials (Reuters ~ Europe)

An airstrike by Ethiopia’s air force hit a kindergarten in the country’s embattled Tigray region, causing deaths and injuries on Friday, according to local broadcasters. Tigray Television quoted witnesses saying the afternoon attack hit a kindergarten called Red Kids Paradise in the Tigrayan capital of Mekele. Ethiopia’s Government Communications Service said in a statement earlier Friday that the government will “take action targeting the military forces that are the source of the anti-peace sentiment of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front.” It warned people in Tigray to stay away from military equipment and training facilities used by Tigray forces. The report of a strike on a kindergarten comes amid a resumption of fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and Tigray fighters – Airstrike hits kindergarten in capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray (CTV News ~ WORLD – News)

NAIROBI, Aug 26 – An air strike hit Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region on Friday, which local media controlled by the breakaway authorities blamed on the federal government. A second humanitarian group in Mekelle confirmed hearing an explosion from the air strike. Government spokesperson Legesse Tulu did not respond to Reuters queries regarding the air strike. The strike comes days after fighting resumed on the border of the Tigray and Amhara regions between the national government and forces from the Tigray region. Both sides have blamed each other for breaking the four-month-old ceasefire between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the party that controls Tigray – Air strike on playground kills 7 in Ethiopia’s Tigray region – hospital (Reuters ~ Africa)

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has announced that his country’s troops had moved into the strategic city of Lachin to replace Russian peacekeepers stationed there in line with a peace deal signed with Armenia in 2020. Lachin lies in a narrow strip of land in a mountainous region that is the only transit option between Armenia and Stepanakert, the capital of the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies within Azerbaijan, had been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. In renewed fighting that began on September 27, 2020, Azerbaijan troops routed the Armenian forces and wedged deep into Nagorno-Karabakh. Their advance forced Armenia to accept a Russia-brokered peace deal on November 10, 2020, that saw the return to Azerbaijan of a significant part of the separatist region – Azerbaijan takes over Lachin city in line with Armenia peace deal (Al Jazeera ~ News | Conflict)

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