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Putin Begins His Fifth Term As President, More In Control Of Russia Than Ever

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At a glamorous Kremlin inauguration on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took office for a fifth term, extending his six-year reign as head of state after crushing his political rivals, starting a catastrophic war in Ukraine, and consolidating all power in his own hands.

In front of an assembled group of specially chosen guests, Putin touched the Russian Constitution at the ceremony held in the opulent Grand Kremlin Palace and swore to protect it.

After taking the oath of office, Putin declared, “We are a united and great people and together we will overcome all obstacles, realize all our plans, and together we will win.”

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Putin Begins His Fifth Term As President, More In Control Of Russia Than Ever

Following President Boris Yeltsin’s death in the final hours of 1999, Putin turned Russia from a nation rising from economic ruin to a pariah state that poses a threat to international security. Russia is seeking assistance from other regimes such as China, Iran, and North Korea in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which has turned into the largest conflict in Europe since World War II. Russia has been subject to severe sanctions from the West.

Putin has been in power for almost 25 years, making him the longest-serving head of state since Josef Stalin. His current term will not end until 2030 when he will be allowed to compete for office again under the constitution.

In a highly staged performance, Putin was seen going through his files in his office before making his way down the lengthy halls of the Kremlin and stopping occasionally to admire an artwork en route to his inauguration.

Putin’s guard of honor waited for hours in the rain and sleet, at temperatures just above freezing, as his Auras limousine made the short trip to the Grand Kremlin Palace.

Putin angrily denounced the West and thanked the “heroes” of his battle in Ukraine in the opening minutes of his fifth term.

He declared that Russia “does not refuse dialogue with Western states.” Instead, he declared, “the choice is theirs: do they intend to look for a path to cooperation and peace, or do they intend to continue trying to contain Russia, continue the policy of aggression, and continuous pressure on our country for years.”

He was met with cheers when he arrived in the hall with over 2,500 invited guests. Among them were prominent figures from the Russian government, such as American actor Steven Seagal.

German, British, and American diplomats were not present. According to the US Embassy, Ambassador Lynne Tracy was on “prescheduled, personal travel” when she left the nation.

A few representatives from the European Union attended the inauguration, even though top EU diplomat Josep Borrell claimed to have advised them that “the right thing to do is not to attend this inauguration” because Putin is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, which holds him accountable for the kidnappings of Ukrainian children.

According to a French official who spoke anonymously because they were not permitted to talk publicly, the French ambassador was among those present.

A 30-gun salute followed Putin’s speech. In the drizzle on Cathedral Square in front of the Kremlin, Putin inspected the presidential regiment before going nearby to Annunciation Cathedral to receive a blessing from Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

During the brief ceremony, Kirill compared Putin to Prince Alexander Nevsky, the medieval tyrant who “courageously defended their people on the battlefield.”

Recalling that the head of state occasionally “has to take fateful and formidable decisions” that can result in victims, he reminded Putin that the church has backed the conflict in Ukraine that has resulted in several casualties.

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Putin Begins His Fifth Term As President, More In Control Of Russia Than Ever

The current question is what the 71-year-old Putin will do in the Kremlin during the next six years, both domestically and internationally.

Using scorched-earth tactics, Russian forces are consolidating their position in Ukraine while Kyiv struggles with a manpower and ammunition shortfall.

By using drones and missiles, Ukraine has moved the war to Russian territory, particularly in border areas. Putin promised to carry out Moscow’s objectives in Ukraine and take all necessary steps to “defend our sovereignty and security of our citizens” in a speech given in February.

Putin announced he wanted to create a buffer zone in Ukraine to safeguard his nation from cross-border attacks shortly after his planned reelection in March. He also hinted that a conflict between NATO and Russia would occur.

The Russian government has been dissolved so that Putin can choose a new prime minister and Cabinet.

A crucial domain to monitor is the Defense Ministry.

Amidst allegations of widespread corruption, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s protege, Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, was arrested last month on bribery accusations. Given that the war is ongoing, it would be risky for some commentators to claim that Shoigu may fall victim to the cabinet upheaval.

Putin’s popularity at home is strongly correlated with rising living levels for common Russians.

Putin assured Russians on Tuesday that their country would grow in the future, but many have seen their standard of living increase since the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin pledged at the start of his term in 2018 that Russia’s economy would be “modern and dynamic” and that it would rank among the top five in the world. Rather, Russia’s government is spending unprecedented sums on defense, and the country’s economy has shifted to a war footing.

Now that Putin has secured a further six years in office, analysts predict the government may decide to implement controversial measures like tax increases to finance the war and increased pressure on men to enlist in the military.

Authorities have clamped down on any dissent in the years after the invasion with an intensity not seen since the Soviet era.

Putin hinted on Tuesday that he would keep critics quiet.

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Putin Begins His Fifth Term As President, More In Control Of Russia Than Ever

Recalling the “tragic cost of internal turmoil and upheaval,” he advised the audience gathered in the Grand Kremlin Palace that Russia “must be strong and absolutely resistant to any challenges and threats.”

Putin faces essentially no domestic opposition as he begins his fifth term in office.

Laws that threaten lengthy prison terms have been passed for anyone who discredits the armed forces. In addition, the Kremlin attacks rights organizations, independent media, LGBTQ+ activists, and other groups that deviate from what Putin has described as Russia’s “traditional family values.”

Opposition leader and worst political enemy, Alexei Navalny, passed away in a prison camp in the Arctic in February. Several well-known detractors have either left the nation or been imprisoned, and several of his opponents overseas are afraid for their safety.

Before the inauguration, Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Navalny, declared in a video that Putin’s pledges “are not only empty, they are false.”

She declared that “a liar, a thief, and a murderer” rules Russia.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

Science

Webb Telescope Uncovers Merger Of Two Massive Black Holes From Early Universe

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – The Webb Space Telescope discovered the earliest known merger of black holes.

These two massive holes and their galaxies formed only 740 million years after the universe-creating Big Bang. Scientists claimed Thursday that they have made the furthest distant detection of merging holes ever.

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Webb Telescope Uncovers Merger Of Two Massive Black Holes From Early Universe

A black hole is 50 million times bigger than our sun. The other is estimated to be similar in size but buried in dense gas, making it difficult to measure.

Until today, astronomers didn’t know how supermassive black holes got so huge.

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Daily Sabah – VOR News Image

Webb Telescope Uncovers Merger Of Two Massive Black Holes From Early Universe

The current findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, imply that mergers explain how holes can expand quickly — “even at cosmic dawn,” according to lead author Hannah Ubler of the University of Cambridge.

“Massive holes have been shaping the evolution of galaxies from the very beginning,” Ubler stated.

black

AP – VOR News Image

Webb Telescope Uncovers Merger Of Two Massive Black Holes From Early Universe

Webb, the largest and most powerful observatory ever launched into space, will be the successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope when it launches in 2021. The infrared observatory, a joint US-European initiative, scans the universe from one million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth.

SOURCE – (AP)

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China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

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BEIJING — On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated their “no-limits” friendship, which has expanded as both countries face mounting tensions with the West, and blasted US military deployments in Asia and the Pacific.

At their summit in Beijing, Putin hailed Xi for China’s recommendations to settle the conflict in Ukraine, which Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected as mostly adopting the Kremlin’s line.

Putin’s two-day state visit to one of his biggest allies and commercial partners comes as Russian forces launch an operation in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, marking the most serious border incursion since the full-scale invasion began on February 24, 2022.

China claims to be impartial in the crisis, but it has supported the Kremlin’s accusations that the West led Russia into attacking Ukraine, and it continues to supply vital components required by Moscow for weapons manufacture.

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China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

China, which has not condemned the invasion, suggested a broad-based peace plan in 2023, calling for a cease-fire and direct talks between Moscow and Kyiv. Both Ukraine and the West rejected the idea because it did not call on Russia to vacate Ukraine’s occupied territories.

China also lent a verbal nod to Russia’s narrative about Nazism in Ukraine, with a joint statement issued Thursday saying Moscow and Beijing should protect the post-World War II order and “severely condemn the glorification of or even attempts to revive Nazism and militarism.”

Putin has claimed the “denazification” of Ukraine as a primary purpose of the military action, falsely referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government as neo-Nazis.

The mostly symbolic and ceremonial visit emphasized cooperation between two countries facing challenges in their relations with the United States and Europe.

“Both sides want to show that despite what is happening globally, despite the pressure that both sides are facing from the U.S., both sides are not about to turn their backs on each other anytime soon,” said Hoo Tiang Boon, a Chinese foreign policy researcher at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

While Putin and Xi stated they wanted to stop the war, they made no new ideas in their public remarks.

“China hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability and will continue to play a constructive role toward this,” Xi said in prepared remarks to the media in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. His statements echoed China’s overarching peace initiative.

Earlier in the day, Putin was greeted in Tiananmen Square with military fanfare and cannon fire.

On the eve of his visit, Putin stated that China’s proposal may “lay the groundwork for a political and diplomatic process that would take Russia’s security concerns into account and contribute to achieving long-term and sustainable peace.”

Zelenskyy has stated that any negotiations must entail the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the departure of Russian soldiers, the release of all captives, a tribunal for those responsible for the assault, and security assurances for Ukraine.

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China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

Putin said he would brief Xi on the situation in Ukraine, adding, “We appreciate the initiative of our Chinese colleagues and friends to regulate the situation.”

Following Russia’s latest attack in Ukraine last week, the war has reached a crucial point as Ukraine’s depleted military awaits new supplies of anti-aircraft missiles and artillery rounds from the United States, which have been delayed for months.

China and Russia’s joint statement also harshly slammed US foreign policy, citing US-formed alliances as having a “Cold War mentality.”

“Both sides expressed serious concern about the consequences caused to the strategic stability of the Asia-Pacific region by AUKUS,” according to the statement, referring to the acronym for Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

China and Russia have accused the United States of installing land-based intermediate-range missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region under the guise of joint drills with allies. They claimed that the United States’ operations in Asia were “changing the balance of power” and “endangering the security of all countries in the region.”

The united declaration underscored China’s support for Russia.

“There’s so much Chinese falling over themselves to give Russia face and respect without saying anything specific, or committing to anything,” said Susan Thornton, a former diplomat and senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.

The meeting was another endorsement of China and Russia’s amicable “no limits” friendship, which they signed in 2022, just before Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Since then, Russia has been increasingly economically dependent on China since Western sanctions have limited its access to most of the global commercial system. China’s expanding commerce with Russia, which reached $240 billion last year, has helped the country buffer some of the worst effects of sanctions.

Moscow has transferred most of its energy exports to China and relied on Chinese enterprises to purchase high-tech components for Russian defense sectors to avoid Western sanctions.

china

AP – VOR News Image

China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

“I and President Putin agree we should actively look for convergence points of the interests of both countries, to develop each’s advantages, and deepen integration of interests, realizing each others’ achievements,” added Xi.

Xi congratulated Putin on the start of his fifth term in office and commemorated the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, which were formed after a civil war in 1949. In the March election, Putin eliminated all significant political opponents and faced no serious threat. He, like Xi, has not spelled out a succession strategy.

“In a famous song of that time, 75 years ago — it is still performed today — there is a phrase that has become a catchphrase: ‘Russians and Chinese are brothers forever,'” Putin stated.

During the war, Russia and China expanded their military ties. In recent years, they have conducted several cooperative war simulations, including naval drills and long-range bomber patrols over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Russian and Chinese ground forces have also moved to the other country’s territory to conduct joint training.

China continues to be a major market for Russian military hardware, while the country’s defense industry is rapidly developing, including the production of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

Putin has already stated that Russia has shared highly sensitive military technologies with China, considerably improving its defense strength.

SOURCE -(AP)

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Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico Recovering Attempt on His Life

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Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico Recovering
Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in critical condition: Image CTN

Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in critical condition after being wounded in an assassination attempt while leaving a government meeting on Wednesday, a government minister said.

The gunman shot Fico, 59, five times, leaving the prime minister in critical condition and requiring surgery hours later on Wednesday evening.

“I was very shocked… fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well – and I guess in the end, he will survive… he’s not in a life-threatening situation right now,” Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Tomas Taraba told the BBC’s News.

Taraba stated that one bullet passed through Robert Fico’s stomach and another struck a joint. News outlet According to an unidentified source, Fico has recovered from surgery and is in stable condition.

Defence Minister Robert Kalinak told a press conference hours earlier that Fico had suffered “serious polytrauma” as a result of many gunshot wounds. Slovakia’s Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok previously stated that Robert Fico was in a life-threatening condition while still in the surgery room.

“This assassination (attempt) was politically motivated, and the perpetrator’s decision came soon after the presidential election,” Sutaj Estok added, referring to the April election won by a Fico ally, Peter Pellegrini.

The shooting in the central Slovak town of Handlova, which Slovak media reported was carried out by a 71-year-old man, shocked the small central European country and prompted international criticism.

Robert Fico's shooting

The moments after Slovak PM shot: Screen Capture

Prime Minister Robert Fico’s shooting condemned

Slovakia, a NATO and EU member, has a relatively short history of political violence. Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden joined Slovakia’s EU partners in voicing shock and condemnation over the shooting.

The country of 5.4 million has seen polarized political discourse in recent years, including the hard-fought presidential election last month, which helped Fico tighten his grip on power.

Fico has made rapid policy changes since taking office as Prime Minister in October of last year. Opposition critics describe it as a power grab.

His government has reduced its support for Ukraine while engaging in discussions with Russia, attempted to lower corruption punishments and dissolved a special prosecutor’s office, and is overhauling the RTVS public broadcaster amid appeals for media freedom protections.

Fico has long been skeptical of Slovakia’s major media, refusing to talk with certain outlets. Members of his party have recently criticized media and opposition actions. Following the attack, Robert Fico was brought to the hospital in Handlova, where he had been chairing a government meeting.

He was subsequently flown by helicopter to the provincial capital Banska Bystrica for emergency treatment, according to the report, adding that his condition was too bad to be sent to Bratislava.

Shooter a Former Slovakia Security Guard

A witness told Reuters they heard bullets as Fico exited a building to shake hands with a mob of people who had gathered to welcome him. Officers then wrestled a man to the ground.

According to Slovak media, the gunman was a former shopping mall security guard, author of three poetry books, and member of the Slovak Society of Writers. According to Aktuality.sk, his son stated that his father was the lawful bearer of a weapons licence.

“I have absolutely no idea what my father intended, what he planned, or what happened,” the son stated.

According to TA3, the attack hit the Marxist prime minister in the midsection. Fico, Slovakia’s dominant force for two decades, has faced criticism for embracing a more pro-Russian posture in the Ukraine conflict.

In a telegraph to Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova, Putin described the shooting as a “monstrous” crime, saying, “I know Robert Fico as a courageous and strong-minded man.” I sincerely believe that these qualities would help him endure this terrible scenario.”

Biden offered US assistance to Slovakia, stating in a statement: “We condemn this horrific act of violence.”

Progressive Slovakia, Slovakia’s largest opposition party, called off a planned rally and urged caution to avoid increasing tensions. Following the attack, parliament suspended debate indefinitely.

Fico’s career has spanned the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic viewpoints opposed to EU and US policies. He has also demonstrated a readiness to modify course based on public sentiment or changing political realities.

Fico, an admirer of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has become increasingly critical of Western support for Ukraine’s struggle against invading Russian forces.

Fico was forced to quit as prime minister in 2018 following huge protests sparked by the contract killing of Jan Kuciak, a journalist who was exposing high-level corruption. These protests exacerbated long-standing social tensions in Slovakia.

Source: CTN News

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