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Putin Will Speak With Leaders Of China And India In His 1st Summit

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NEW DELHI, India — President Vladimir Putin will attend his first multilateral meeting since an armed uprising shook Russia this week as part of a rare international grouping in which his country still has backing.

Leaders will virtually meet on Tuesday for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation conference, a security organization formed by Russia and China to oppose Western alliances from East Asia to the Indian Ocean.

India, who joined the organization in 2017, is hosting this year’s event. It’s the latest opportunity for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to highlight India’s growing global clout.

So far, the Group has concentrated on strengthening security and economic cooperation, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, addressing climate change, and preparing for the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021. When the foreign ministers convened in India last month, Russia’s assault on Ukraine was rarely mentioned in public, but analysts believe the consequences for developing countries on food and fuel security are still a concern for the Group.

For Moscow, the meeting is more essential than ever, as it seeks to demonstrate that the West has failed to isolate it. In an area dominated by Russia, the Group includes the four Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Others are Pakistan, which joined in 2017, and Iran, expected to join on Tuesday. Belarus is also a candidate for membership.

“This SCO meeting is really one of the few opportunities that Putin will have globally to project strength and credibility,” said Michael Kugelman, director of the Wilson Center’s South Asia Institute.

None of the member countries have criticized Russia in UN resolutions, instead choosing to abstain. China has dispatched an envoy to negotiate between Russia and Ukraine, while India has consistently appealed for the issue to be resolved peacefully.

The conference allowed Putin to demonstrate his authority following a brief insurgency led by Wagner mercenary head Yevgeny Prigozhin.

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President Vladimir Putin will attend his first multilateral meeting since an armed uprising shook Russia this week.

“Putin will want to reassure his partners that he is still very much in charge, and leave no doubt that the challenges to his government have been crushed,” Tanvi Madan, a senior scholar at the Brookings Institution, said.

In May, India revealed that the summit would be held electronically rather than in person, as last year in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where Putin posed for photos and dined with other leaders.

The optics of having Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping just two weeks after Modi was honored with a pomp-filled state visit by US President Joe Biden would be better, at least for New Delhi.

“It would have been too soon (for India) to be welcoming Chinese and Russian leaders,” Kugelman added, referring to the attention Modi received from American officials during his recent visit.

Throughout the war, India’s relationship with Moscow has remained solid; it has purchased record volumes of Russian crude and relies on Moscow for 60% of its defensive weapons. Simultaneously, the United States and its allies have aggressively courted India, which they regard as a counterweight to China’s expanding ambitions.

With the country hosting the Group of 20 major economies’ summit in September, India’s objective in the forum is to balance its ties with the West and the East. It also serves as a venue for New Delhi to deepen its engagement with Central Asia.

“India glorifies this type of foreign policy where it’s wheeling and dealing with everybody at the same time,” said Derek Grossman, an Indo-Pacific specialist at the RAND Corporation.

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President Vladimir Putin will attend his first multilateral meeting since an armed uprising shook Russia this week.

According to analysts, New Delhi would aim to safeguard its interests during the summit. It will almost certainly emphasize the need to battle “cross-border terrorism,” a jab at Pakistan, which India accuses of supporting and training insurgents fighting for the independence of Indian-controlled Kashmir or its incorporation into Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies.

It may also emphasize the importance of territorial integrity and sovereignty, a criticism frequently leveled at its main opponent, China. India and China have been at odds for three years, with thousands of soldiers stationed along their disputed border in eastern Ladakh.

According to analysts, China is becoming a prominent participant in forums such as the SCO, where nations such as Myanmar, Turkey, and Afghanistan have expressed interest in full membership in recent years.

“The SCO’s limitation is that China and Russia are trying to turn it into an anti-Western grouping, which does not fit with India’s independent foreign policy,” Madan explained.

In the long run, the SCO might challenge Washington and its allies.

“For countries uneasy with the West and its foreign policies, the SCO is a welcome alternative, primarily due to the roles Russia and China play… I think that highlights just how relevant and concerning this Group could be for a number of Western capitals, especially if it continues to expand,” Kugelman said.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Says 31,000 Troops Killed Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

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Volodymyr Zelensky claims 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers were killed during Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The Ukrainian president stated that he would not disclose the number of wounded because it would facilitate Russian military plans.

Typically, the Ukrainian government do not release casualty counts, and other estimates are significantly higher.

The defence minister said half of all Western aid to Ukraine had been delayed, costing lives and land.

Mr Zelensky said on Sunday that he would provide an updated death toll in reaction to Russia’s inflated estimates.

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Says 31,000 Troops Killed Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

“31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have killed in this conflict. Not 300,000, 150,000, or whatever Putin and his dishonest circle claim. But each of these losses is a significant loss to us.”

Speaking about the war’s overall losses, Mr Zelensky stated that tens of thousands of civilians had been killed in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, but the exact figure was unknown.

“I don’t know how many of them died, how many were killed, how many were murdered, tortured, how many were deported.”

Ukraine rarely reports a military death toll, and other estimates suggest a far higher figure.

In August, US officials estimated that 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, with up to 120,000 injured.

In terms of Russian losses, Mr Zelensky stated that 180,000 Russian soldiers were killed and tens of thousands more injured.

BBC Russian, in collaboration with the Mediazona website, has identified the names of more than 45,000 Russian servicemen who have perished. However, it thinks that the total number is larger than that.

In February, the UK military ministry claimed that 350,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured.
President Zelensky’s speech came after his defence minister, Rustam Umerov, chastised the country’s

Western partners for delays in military assistance.

“At the moment, commitment does not constitute delivery,” he added.

Ukraine is currently facing several setbacks in its efforts to expel Russia from its land.

Mr. Umerov stated that the lack of supplies put Ukraine at a greater disadvantage “in the mathematics of war”.

“We do everything possible and impossible but without timely supply it harms us,” he told reporters.
Germany warned in November that the European Union’s (EU) promise to provide a million artillery shells by March would not be met.

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Says 31,000 Troops Killed Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

In January, the EU stated that little over half of these would reach Ukraine by the deadline, but the promised total would arrive at the end of 2024.

President Zelensky stated that a lack of armaments was one of the reasons Ukraine’s much-anticipated counter-offensive last year began later.

That counter-offensive was mostly unsuccessful, one of several failures for Kyiv following early victories in repelling Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Last week, it was revealed that Ukrainian troops had withdrawn from the strategic eastern town of Avdiivka, Moscow’s largest victory in months.

Mr Zelensky further blamed the situation on dwindling Western military shipments.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has claimed that the hold-up in Congress over a $60 billion aid plan for Ukraine led to the town’s fall.

Western leaders travelled to Kyiv on Saturday to demonstrate solidarity with Ukraine as it marked two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

There was an announcement that Italy and Canada had inked security agreements with Ukraine, increasing support until the country could join NATO.

Canada’s agreement comprised more than three billion Canadian dollars (£1.7 billion) in financial and military assistance.

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Ukraine War: Zelensky Says 31,000 Troops Killed Since Russia’s Full-Scale Invasion

It is not only Ukraine that is having difficulty funding its military activities. Western diplomats say Russia is also straining to send ammo and weaponry.

“Russia’s domestic ammunition production capabilities are currently insufficient for meeting the needs of the Ukraine conflict,” according to a Western diplomat.

They also stated that Moscow has only been able to augment its supply by exploring alternative sources of ammunition and weaponry, which provides a short-term answer.

Meanwhile, the director of Ukraine’s security service stated on Sunday that 47 Russian spy networks operating within Ukraine were discovered last year.

Vasyl Malik further stated that around 2,000 suspected “traitors” have been arrested since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

SOURCE – (BBC)

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Kenya Mourns As Marathon World Record-Holder Kelvin Kiptum Is Given A State Funeral

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NAIROBI, Kenya – Kelvin Kiptum, Kenya’s world marathon record holder, was accorded a state funeral Friday after being killed in a vehicle accident earlier this month, prompting many Kenyans to call on the government to do more to protect the country’s famed sportsmen.

Hundreds of dignitaries, including Kenyan President William Ruto and World Athletics Federation President Sebastian Coe, paid their final respects to Kiptum as he was interred in Naiberi, some 6 kilometres (4 miles) from his village of Chepkorio in western Kenya.

The 24-year-old runner and his Rwandan coach, Gervais Hakizimana, died in a collision two weeks ago near the town of Kaptagat in western Kenya, in the heart of a high-altitude region known as a training ground for Kenya’s and the world’s greatest distance runners.

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Kenya Mourns As Marathon World Record-Holder Kelvin Kiptum Is Given A State Funeral

Kiptum was one of the most promising road runners to emerge in recent years, breaking the world record in only his third competitive marathon outing. Just days before his death, the world track body World Athletics certified his record of 2 hours and 35 seconds achieved at the Chicago Marathon last October.

Kiptum intended to break the two-hour marathon record in Rotterdam in April and make his Olympic debut in Paris this year.

His death echoed throughout Kenya, where runners are the biggest sports heroes, and many people have become accustomed to tragedies involving their best athletes, with dozens dying in traffic accidents or as a result of domestic abuse.

According to officials, Kiptum was driving on the night of February 11 when the car went off the road into a ditch and collided with a huge tree. He and Hakizimana died instantly. Sharon Kosgei, another passenger, was also hurt in the incident.

Kiptum, an only child, leaves his wife, Asentah Cheruto, and their two children. A High Court on Thursday declined to postpone the funeral in response to a woman’s legal claim that Kiptum fathered her kid.

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Kenya Mourns As Marathon World Record-Holder Kelvin Kiptum Is Given A State Funeral

Kiptum ran the fastest as a marathon debutant in the 2022 Valencia Marathon. The next year, he won two of the world’s most prestigious marathons: London and Chicago. He set a new course record at the London Marathon in April; months later, he set the global record in Chicago.

He became the latest Kenyan celebrity to die in sad circumstances.

David Lelei, an All-Africa Games silver medalist, was killed in a car crash in 2010. Francis Kiplagat, a marathon runner, was among five individuals who died in a crash in 2018. Nicholas Bett, who won gold in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2015 World Championships, was also killed in a car accident in 2018.

Many Kenyans believe the government should do more to protect athletes who bring international attention to their country, such as providing them with security, drivers, and advisors.

Elizabeth Wairimu, a vegetable trader in the western Kenya town of Nakuru, said the number of athletes killed in road accidents was frightening.

“I am asking myself what is the problem with our athletes,” she said. “The government should look into this… figure out what is killing our athletes. Where are we headed?”

She expressed sadness that the government was rushing through the process instead of Kiptum, who had pledged to build a new house for his parents.

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Kenya Mourns As Marathon World Record-Holder Kelvin Kiptum Is Given A State Funeral

Others in the packed market agreed with Wairimu’s comments.

“The government should not wait until the legends are dead to start caring about their welfare,” said George Thuo, a market seller.

Jimmy Muindi, a six-time Honolulu Marathon winner from Kenya, believes young athletes who reach Kiptum’s level require assistance managing their newfound celebrity status. Former marathoner Isaac Macharia concurred, stating that a support system is required to develop stars.

Jack Tuwei, the president of Athletics Kenya, urged President Ruto and MPs to find a solution to secure the athletes’ well-being and “allow them to have everything they need to be safe.”

Ruto announced that an endowment fund would be established for athletes and that the government would provide Kiptum’s widow with another house and $34,000 in support.

SOURCE – (AP)

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The Tesla Cybertruck Is Impressive And Worrying

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There was a time when an electric Tesla truck, built to compete with America’s most popular goods, the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado, appeared to be the perfect way to propel Tesla into the mainstream.

Then, in 2019, Elon Musk revealed the Tesla Cybertruck, a bare metal box with wheels. It is the furthest thing from the mainstream. This truck has ardent fans and much more ardent detractors. However, it has good towing and hauling capabilities despite its edgy design limiting its usability. For some clients, the sacrifice is unquestionably worthwhile.

However, it is possible that Ford and GM are overly concerned.

If it’s a popularity contest, they win. Even after I put a rented Tesla Cybertruck next to a hot-pink McLaren supercar in a shopping centre parking lot in California, the McLaren drivers couldn’t stop chatting about the Cybertruck. The large, bright silver truck drew a crowd everywhere I went, attracting both young people waiting to see one in person and others, usually older, who had no idea what it was.

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The Tesla Cybertruck Is Impressive And Worrying

The Tesla Cybertruck resembles nothing else on the road. Its size, which is not quite as long as a Ford F-150 but appears even larger, is also striking. Of course, once the Cybertruck has been on the market for a time, its appeal will fade.

There’s much to enjoy about the Cybertruck, but it also represents a terrible amount of personal arrogance in cold, unforgiving steel. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has prioritized design and technical goals over customer needs and concerns for other drivers’ safety. As Walter Isaacson’s latest biography of Musk explains, Musk’s obsession with this structure, built from the same steel SpaceX uses for rockets, resulted in the rectilinear mass of naked metal that I was driving through the southern California hills.

It was the most enjoyable electric truck I’d ever driven. I’ve driven practically all of the other electric trucks on the market, including Fords and Rivian, and I don’t anticipate any of them outperforming Cybertruck’s sports-car-like performance. Normally, it is not a priority in a pickup. It has exceptional acceleration and steering that feels quick, sensitive, and agile. Its powerful acceleration, fast steering, and custom-designed Goodyear truck tyres reminded me of driving the Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato, a high-performance sports vehicle outfitted with off-road tyres and higher suspension. However, the Cybertruck is significantly larger and heavier.

Even a light tap on the accelerator swiftly pushed everyone else behind. With its drive-by-wire steering system, a tiny turn of its small, rectangular steering wheel produced tight bends at lower speeds, but it was easy to keep the truck in its lane at greater speeds. With four-wheel steering, it can turn around in a smaller area than one may imagine.

Tesla did not provide CNN with a Cybertruck for testing. Instead, we rented one for more than $1,000 daily from Turo, a-to-peer vehicle rental service. (Turo does not determine the rates; vehicle owners do, and Cybertruck charges have decreased slightly since then.) My Turo host guided me through the Cybertruck’s several unusual controls – by non-Tesla standards.

Instead of a stalk, steering wheel buttons control the turn signals. (Again, this is comparable to a Lamborghini or Ferrari.) I swiped up and down on a truck icon on the centre screen to shift the truck into drive or reverse. (If the screen ever goes blank, there is a row of gear selector buttons on the ceiling, right over the windscreen.) And I had to hunt around on the touchscreen to find the control for the Cybertruck’s single massive windscreen wiper. Everything made sense after driving the vehicle for an hour.

So, what’s with the rearview mirror?
It features a rearview mirror on the windscreen, but it is largely ineffective. With the bed cover closed, nothing is visible from the back window.

Many current SUVs include rearview mirrors that double as video screens, displaying a view from a camera installed in the rear. Tesla could have employed a comparable technology but didn’t. The Cybertruck’s back video view is presented in a small rectangle on the truck’s centre screen. It’s always there while you’re driving.

cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck Is Impressive And Worrying

This seemingly trivial element reveals Tesla’s approach to car controls. The only justification for having the rearview video display within the rearview mirror is that this is where drivers are accustomed to viewing. Similarly, the only purpose for a turn signal stalk is because it is what people expect. For better or worse, Tesla is okay with what you’re used to.

There are indicators that this mentality contributes to greater crash rates, yet if Tesla were designing a vehicle from the start, the unusual choices would be entirely understandable.

Then there’s the Cybertruck’s unusual shape. Other firms have been producing pickup trucks for well over a century, and there are reasons why they are rarely shaped like wedges. In this case, the Cybertruck’s obvious and unnecessary desire to stand out is a hindrance.

Not suitable for freight.
If you load the cargo bed in the Cybertruck and decide you want to reach anything in the front or back window, you’ll need to begin unpacking. It is not accessible by reaching over the side of the bed. The side wall is too high.

Unlike other large trucks, the Cybertruck has nowhere to put your foot to help you reach over the cargo bed’s edge to save the back tyre, which may be sticky with mud and filth. There isn’t even much room to stand on the rear bumper.

The “frunk,” or front trunk, is a rather ineffective afterthought compared to the one on the Ford F-150 Lightning. Ford’s is just larger and has plenty of power outlets, making it a truly useful office. The Cybertruck is useful as a place to sit. However, there is a reasonably sized storage bin.

For now, the Cybertruck is also more expensive than the Lightning. The Foundation Series truck that I drove cost more than $100,000. It will be next year before Tesla says it will begin building trucks for under $60,000.

Most problematic, however, is the manufacturing quality. The cabin is relatively good, although spartan, but that’s the easy part, especially because Tesla eliminates most switches. The difficult element is creating a body from stainless steel, particularly one with relatively straight edges that do not conceal misalignments.

Body panel alignments are primarily cosmetic in most automobiles and trucks. Having large, irregular gaps between different body portions does not look nice. However, most automobiles are not composed of thick, hard-edged stainless steel. Our Cybertruck’s front corners had openings large enough to see daylight through and hard edges protruding from the body.

cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck Is Impressive And Worrying

I was concerned that if this vehicle collided with a pedestrian or if someone slid while climbing over the bedside, the unforgiving metal might inflict serious injury. It’s not knife-edged, but it appears to rip through the skin when it hits soft flesh with enough force. I emailed Tesla to see if they had any issues, but I am still awaiting a response. Tesla has been waiting to respond to CNN’s questions for years.

This is not a truck that customers will buy in large numbers, and it’s not simply because Tesla still needs to produce them. It’s entertaining and engaging, but there’s little need to acquire this instead of something more ordinary and useful for those who want to get the job done. It doesn’t do much better – or at least anything significant – than a Ford F-150 Lightning or a Chevrolet Silverado EV, and it will undoubtedly be worse in several critical respects.

If you want to attract a crowd, this is your ride. At least as long as the novelty lasts.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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