World this week
Poland, one of Ukraine's staunchest allies, has announced an end to its arms transfers to the country a day after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Warsaw of playing into Russia's hands by banning Ukrainian grain imports in order to protect the interests of Polish farmers. Poland has been a key ally since the Russian invasion in February 2022 and is one of Kyiv's main weapons suppliers. It also hosts a million Ukrainian refugees, who have been supplied with various forms of state aid.
But relations have soured over recent days amid the growing row over grain. On Wednesday (Sept. 20), Poland's prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, called a halt to the arms shipments, saying his country had decided to prioritise its own defence. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has closed off Black Sea shipping lanes used before the war, resulting in the EU becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain. In May, the EU agreed to restrict imports to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, seeking to protect farmers there.
Azerbaijan's president declared that his country's sovereignty has been restored over Nagorno-Karabakh after a 24-hour military offensive against ethnic-Armenian forces. President Ilham Aliyev praised the heroism of Azerbaijan's army hours after Karabakh forces agreed to surrender. Some 120,000 ethnic Armenians live in the South Caucasus enclave, recognised internationally as part of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan now intends to bring the breakaway region under full control.
Its military launched an "anti-terror" operation on Tuesday (Sept. 19), demanding that Karabakh's forces raise a white flag and dissolve their "illegal regime". With no means of support from neighbouring Armenia, and after an effective nine-month blockade, the ethnic Armenians soon gave in. Armenian officials reported that at least 32 people were killed, including seven civilians, and another 200 wounded. However a separatist Armenian human rights official told the BBC at least 200 people were killed and more than 400 were wounded. The cessation of hostilities was agreed through Russian peacekeepers.
South Korean police are investigating 17 US soldiers and five other people who allegedly smuggled or used synthetic marijuana via military mail. This follows raids in at least two US army bases in May, including Camp Humphreys, its largest overseas base. A Filipino and a South Korean have been arrested, while prosecutors review the cases against all 22 suspects. A tip from the US Army's enforcement arm had sparked a four-month investigation by Korean authorities.
It was one of the largest in recent years involving American soldiers, US media reported citing Cha Min-seok, a senior detective in South Korea. Joint raids by South Korean police and the US Army's Criminal Investigation Division found 77g (2.7oz) of synthetic cannabis, more than 4kg of "mixed liquids" used for vaping and a total of $12,850 in cash at the 22 suspects' homes.
Singaporean police have taken control of more than S$2.4 billion worth of assets in the country's worst money laundering case. In an update on Wednesday, the police said they conducted more operations, after 10 foreign nationals were arrested in August for their alleged involvement in laundering the proceeds of their overseas organised crime activities. These included scams and online gambling activities.
The police said that during these operations, additional assets were seized and issued with prohibition of disposal orders. The police seized bank accounts with a total estimated value of more than Singaporean $1.127 billion. Cash, including foreign currencies, amounting to over S$76 million was also seized. Other confiscated items include 68 gold bars, 294 luxury bags, 164 luxury watches, 546 pieces of jewellery, cryptocurrencies worth more than S$38 million, and 204 electronic devices such as computers and mobile phones.
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