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The Russian economy is beginning to feel the heat of a fifth round of sanctions imposed by the EU, with Vladimir Putin’s daughters among the latest to be blacklisted. Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova, born in 1985 and 1986 respectively, were among 217 individuals sanctioned. Their mother is Lyudmila Putina, whose divorce from the Russian President was confirmed in 2013.
Putin’s family has, largely, been shrouded in mystery as he worked tirelessly to keep them off the world stage.
The women’s whereabouts are currently unknown, but their presidential connections have certainly served them well in life.
Both educated in Dresden, Germany, where their father was stationed as a KGB agent, they now enjoy white collar jobs.
Maria is a genetics researcher and paediatric endocrinologist with a specialism in dwarfism, having written a book on the matter.
Katerina, meanwhile, is reported to be head of the Moscow State University’s Artificial Intelligence Institute.
Both girls studied under false names at St Petersburg State University, whose current head is one of Putin’s cronies.
Away from her day job, Katerina proved an extremely talented sportswoman, representing her country in the acrobatic rock’n’roll world championships, finishing fifth.
After becoming involved in the sport, the Russian government rather conveniently funded a £24million state-of-the-art new training centre, which boasted a swimming pool and helipad.
Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov later denied any government involvement, telling Reuters it “does not have any relation to us”.
Both Katerina and Maria went on to lucrative marriages.
Maria married Jorrit Faassen, a Dutch businessman, in 2013.
She initially lived with him in a penthouse in western Holland, before returning to Moscow.
The pair had been driven out of the country after the Dutch people called for their expulsion following the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines MH17, which killed a number of Dutch nationals and was widely believed to be the Kremlin’s responsibility.
Mr Faassen now works for Russia’s state-owned oil company Gazprom, according to the Evening Standard.
Maria and her husband have a child. When Putin was asked if he plays with his grandchild in a 2017 interview with filmmaker Oliver Stone, he said: “Very seldom, unfortunately.”
Katerina married slightly closer to home, tying the knot with the billionaire son of one of Putin’s close friends’, Kirill Shamalov.They married in 2013 in a luxurious Igora ski resort, with guests sworn to secrecy.
Just a year after the wedding, Katerina’s new father-in-law Nikolai Shamalov, received a 17 percent share in Sibur, Russia’s largest petrochemicals company.
Katerina and Mr Shamalov divorced in 2018, but have a reported $2billion (£1.535billion) in shared assets.
Among the joint assets is a £2.8million holiday home in Biarritz, France, which was seized by pro-Ukrainian squatters following the invasion of Ukraine.
There are unverified rumours that Putin also has a third daughter with former Russian rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, once reported to have been Putin’s girlfriend.
However, neither the romance nor the child have ever been confirmed.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence has warned in its latest intelligence update that fighting is likely to intensify in eastern parts of Ukraine in the coming weeks.
Russian attacks, the MoD said, remain focused around Luhansk and Donetsk, with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv.
Intelligence suggests the Russians will launch a fresh assault on Kramatorsk, the city where dozens of civilians were killed in a rocket attack on the railway station last week.
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FAA investigating contact between 2 United airplanes on Boston Logan tarmac
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a Monday incident between two United Airlines flights at Boston Logan International Airport, the agency said in a statement to CNN.
“As a tow tug was pushing it back from the gate at Boston Logan International Airport, the right wing of United Airlines Flight 515 struck the tail of United Airlines Flight 267 around 8:30 a.m. local time this morning,” the FAA statement said.
“Both aircraft were Boeing 737s that were scheduled for departure,” the statement added.
has reached out to United Airlines and Massport for more information about the incident.
A sudden jolt’
Passenger Nicholas Leone took a photo after the incident and described to CNN what happened.
“I felt a sudden jolt and look to my right to see that the plane had crashed into the still plane, ” he said. “After seeing the fire trucks and police cars, people were a little rattled. Thankfully everyone was able to offboard quickly.”
Passengers said the incident was a little jarring, according to CNN affiliate WHDH in Boston.
“It was just a pretty big shake,” said passenger Martin Neusch. “While we were on the plane, it just clipped the wings, so the two wings clipped each other on the plane.”
The station said passengers on both planes were rebooked on other flights set for Monday afternoon.
The contact between two aircraft on Monday morning follows a string of five close-call incidents earlier this year, including one at Boston Logan last week.
Air traffic controllers stopped a departing private jet from running into a JetBlue flight as it was coming in to land at Logan last Monday night, according to the FAA.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating that incident.
The two planes involved came within 565 feet (172 meters) of colliding, according to Flightradar24’s preliminary review of its data.
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The NTSB is also investigating four other runway incursions involving commercial airliners at major US airports this year.
It’s investigating a possible “runway incursion” in Burbank, California, involving Mesa and SkyWest regional airliners.
Three other incidents have occurred at Honolulu, Austin and New York’s JFK airport this year.
Flambéed pizza thought to have sparked deadly Madrid restaurant fire
A fire believed to have been started by a flambéed pizza has killed two people and injured 12 others at a restaurant in the Spanish capital Madrid, city officials said Saturday.
“It appears the fire started when a flambéed pizza was being served, which set fire to the decorations in the restaurant,” Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida told Spain’s state television TVE at the scene on Saturday, hours after the late Friday night blaze.
Spanish media reported that a specialty of the restaurant was a pizza in the flambé style – a cooking procedure where spirits are poured on the food and briefly set alight.
“Firefighters told me it was a ferocious fire in the way it started and the smoke it generated, and if the fire station wasn’t just 100 meters (around 330 feet) away, the number of fatalities could have been higher,” said Almeida, speaking to TVE.
Carlos Marin, a Madrid fire department night supervisor, said the restaurant “had just one exit, and since the fire was very close to the door, people went back to the rear of the restaurant, and they were completely trapped,” in videos tweeted by Madrid city emergency services.
The fire was quickly extinguished. Firefighters pulled 12 injured people from the restaurant, and six were taken to a hospital. That was in addition to the two fatalities, said Montse Marcos, a supervisor with the Madrid city ambulance services.
The fire was in the Plaza de Manuel Becerra, on the edge of the Spanish capital’s upscale Salamanca neighborhood.
As Ukraine prepares counteroffensive, Russia appears in disarray
Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive appears imminent – and the way each side is preparing speaks volumes about their readiness.
Kyiv’s front lines are abuzz with vehicle movement and artillery strikes, with regular explosions hitting vital Russian targets in occupied areas.
Its defense minister has said preparations are “coming to an end” and President Volodymyr Zelensky has assured a counteroffensive “will happen,” while demurring on any exact start date.
It may have already started; it may be weeks away. We don’t know – and that fact is a strong measure of Ukraine’s success as this begins.
Moscow, on the other hand, is in the closing-time bar brawl stage of their war. After losing Kharkiv and Kherson, they have had at least seven months to ready the next likely target of Ukrainian attack: Zaporizhzhia.
That has happened, with vast trench defense networks that can be seen from space. That recognition of their enormity is not necessarily a compliment in 2023. They are big, yes, but they are also something anyone can peruse on Google. That’s not great in an era of precise rockets and speedy armored advances.
But it’s the last 72 hours that have perhaps most betrayed Russia’s lacking readiness.
First, the apparent firing of the deputy defense minister in charge of logistics, Mikhail Mizintsev. The Russian Ministry of Defense has not spelled out his dismissal, merely issuing a decree that Aleksey Kuzmenkov now has his job.
(A caveat: Prigozhin is not the most trustworthy source, and provides little evidence for what he says. But this sort of public spat isn’t something Moscow would encourage at this sensitive moment).
Russia’s eroding ammunition supplies were long known, but to suggest imminent failure just ahead of the counteroffensive smacks of a major bid to shift blame.
The bottom line is, the hours before Ukraine moves are shrinking. The amount we know about their emotional state, or target, is almost zero. And the extent of Moscow’s internal indecision, rivalries and disunity only grows.
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