Ukraine Snake Island kitten

A member of the Ukrainian Special Forces holds 'Snake', a small kitten rescued from Snake Island after it was recaptured by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on 22nd July. PICTURE: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

Meet Snake, a kitten with a heck of a war story. And the Ukrainian special forces soldier who saved him. When Ukraine's military released images in early July of its troops raising the country's blue and yellow flag over Snake Island, a desolate but strategic Black Sea outcrop abandoned by the Russians, it included pictures of soldiers picking up a tiny black kitten. They named him after the island. On Friday, two weeks after he was saved, Snake was taken out for a frolic along the Dnipro River in the capital Kyiv and introduced to a small group of reporters. The man who saved him told the story of the kitten's rescue. "In the first stage of the operation, we took a picture of the island's territory with a drone," said the special forces soldier, wearing a mask to conceal his identity, while the kitten, just a few months old, curled up in his hands. "The commander saw the little comrade, and included the task of bringing him back as one of the mission objectives." Was it hard to find a little kitten on a big, windy island? "We thought it would be difficult, but he found us," the soldier said. "The report we made to the commander after we left theisland was: 'Mission complete, no casualties. One additional team member - a kitten called Snake.'" Snake Island has assumed legendary status in Ukraine since the very first hours of the war, when the Ukrainian garrison there, ordered by Russia's Black Sea Fleet flagship to surrender, radioed back an obscenity. The incident was immortalised on a Ukrainian postage stamp, and on the day it was released Ukraine sank the ship. Today, Snake has found a new home in Kyiv. The soldier would not discuss the kitten's living arrangements in detail, butSnake seemed evidently happy in the soldier's hands. "He is with a loving family now. All is well." - YIMING WOO/Reuters



Ukraine Kyiv Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy walk at Mykhailivska Square, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on 17th June. PICTURE: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters.

Still in Ukraine, and a tongue-in-cheek petition to give outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Ukrainian citizenship and make him the country's prime minister has garnered over 2,500 signatures hours after being put up on Ukraine's official petitions site on Tuesday. Despite losing domestic popularity and eventually having been forced to announce his resignation after dozens of ministerial departures in early July, Johnson remains a cult figure in Kyiv for his vocal support of Ukraine as it fights off Russia's invasion.  Paintings, murals, and even cakes in Ukraine's capital bear the likeness of the man some Ukrainians affectionately call "Johnsoniuk". The petition, addressed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, lists Johnson's strengths as "worldwide support for Boris Johnson, a clear position against the military invasion of Ukraine, [and] wisdom in the political, financial and legal spheres". The petition, however, does acknowledge one negative side of such an appointment: its non-compliance with Ukraine's constitution. In an apparent coincidence, several hours after the petition was put up on Tuesday, Johnson presented Zelenskiy with the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award for what his Downing Street office described as "incredible courage, defiance, and dignity" in the face of Russia's invasion. Zelenskiy did not mention the new petition when accepting the award, but he will be obliged to officially respond if it receives 25,000 signatures. Accepting the award via video link from Kyiv, Zelenskiy quoted wartime British premier Churchill, saying that Johnson "had no thought of quitting the struggle" when the going got tough. - MAX HUNDER/Reuters



Satellite in orbit

A satellite in orbit. PICTURE: NASA

News from the US that NASA is reportedly considering repurposing satellites which are already in space to the search for aliens. NASA announced in June that it was commencing an eight-month inquiry investigating hundreds of unexplained UFO sightings. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science missions - who is heading up the inquiry, reportedly told a press conference in June that NASA has "the tools and teams who can help us improve our understanding of the unknown, and we are prepared to use these powerful tools of scientific discovery in this case". “Unidentified phenomena in the atmosphere are of interest for many reasons. Frankly, I think there’s new science to be discovered. And there’s been many times where something that looked almost magical turned out to be a new scientific effect". Colonel Pam Melroy, the deputy administrator of NASA, subsequently told reporters in London that the tam conducting the inquiry was "going to be looking at questions like: ‘do we have sensors that can see things, you know, take another look at the evidence?’." “One of the big questions that Thomas asked is: ‘We have a tonne of satellites looking down at the Earth, are any of them useful?’ I mean, before you build a rover that’s going to Mars, you ask yourself, ‘What’s the sensor I have to build to detect the most interesting thing?’ So they’re going to really focus on that."