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Ukraine Hit With More Russian Missiles, U.K. To Supply Tanks




LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak offered to deliver tanks and artillery equipment to Ukraine on Saturday as Moscow launched new missile attacks against numerous Ukrainian cities for the first time in two weeks.

According to regional Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko, five people were killed, and more than 20 were injured in the southern city of Dnipro, where a Russian missile strike demolished a piece of an apartment complex. A big gap was visible in photos of the nine-story skyscraper.

Infrastructure facilities in western Lviv and northeastern Kharkiv were also affected. The capital, Kyiv, was also targeted.

Sunak offered to give Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Challenger 2 tanks and other artillery weapons, according to the office of the British Prime Minister in Downing Street. Sunak and Zelenskyy spoke on Saturday.

It didn’t disclose when or how many tanks would be delivered. Without saying where the information came from, British media said that four Challenger 2 main battle tanks would be sent to Eastern Europe immediately, and eight more would follow soon after.


Ukraine Seeking Bigger Tanks

Saturday, Zelenskyy thanked Sunak for “decisions that will not only help us on the battlefield but also send the right message to other partners.”

Ukraine has been seeking bigger tanks for months, notably the US Abrams and German Leopard 2 tanks, but Western officials have been cautious.

The Ukrainian army has received Soviet-era T-72 tanks from the Czech Republic and Poland. Poland has also stated willingness to contribute to a company of Leopard tanks, but President Andrzej Duda emphasized during a recent visit to the Ukrainian city of Lviv that such a step would only be viable as part of a bigger international coalition of tank help to Kyiv.

France announced earlier this month that it would supply Ukraine AMX-10 RC armored combat vehicles, known as “light tanks” in French. This week, the U.S. and Germany said they would send Bradley combat vehicles and Marder armored personnel carriers for the first time.


First Major Attack In Days

Sunak’s statement came as Russian forces fired missiles at Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine on Saturday. This was the first major attack in days.

Rescuers in Dnipro were using a crane to remove persons stuck in the apartment building’s top stories, some of whom were signaling with flashlights on their cell phones, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, on Telegram. He also stated that there were probably persons under the rubble.

Gov. Oleh Syniehubov of the northeastern Kharkiv area said two Russian missiles again hit a piece of infrastructure on Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the day, a similar thing happened. According to its Telegram channel, the Kharkiv subway ceased operations amid the attacks.

According to Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi, another infrastructure facility was hit in the western Lviv region.


Missiles Fired North

Air defense systems were also triggered in other parts of Ukraine, and then another set of air raid sirens rang out across the country in the afternoon, and regional officials encouraged inhabitants to seek shelter.

Vitali Kim, the governor of the southern district of Mykolaiv, hinted in a Telegram message that several missiles had been stopped over his province.

Earlier in the day, explosions shook the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. The explosions occurred before the air sirens, which is rare. Because the attack was carried out with ballistic missiles faster than cruise missiles or drones, the explosions were likely heard before the warning sirens.

Yurii Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian air force, said that Russia fired missiles from the north.


Difficult To Detect And Shoot Down

“The ballistics are difficult for us to detect and shoot down,” he told local news outlets. The missile warning was delayed due to a need for more radar data and information from other sources.

According to Ukrainian officials, the morning missile attack hit an infrastructure target.

According to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, explosions were heard in the Dniprovskyi neighborhood, a residential area on the Dnieper River’s left bank. Klitschko also said that pieces of a missile fell on a non-residential area in the Holosiivskyi district on the right bank and started a fire in a building for a short time. So far, no fatalities have been reported.

It was the first attack on Ukraine’s capital since January 1.

Two Russian missiles struck Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, early Saturday morning. The S-300 missile strikes targeted “energy and industrial objects of Kharkiv and the (outlying) region,” according to Governor Syniehubov. The official said there were no confirmed deaths, but emergency power outages could have been in the city and other nearby towns.


Three People Were Killed In an Artillery Bombardment

Three persons were killed in a Russian artillery bombardment on Saturday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, where fighting is most intense, according to mayor Vitalii Barabash.

The attacks come in the wake of conflicting reports about the fate of Soledar, a fiercely disputed salt mining town in Ukraine’s beleaguered east. Russia claims to have conquered the town, which would be a remarkable success for the Kremlin after a string of humiliating defeats on the battlefield.

On Saturday, Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, claimed that “fierce fights for Soledar are still ongoing.”

Moscow has painted the battle for the town and the nearby city of Bakhmut as critical to capturing the eastern region of the Donbas, which includes the partially occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as a way to grind down the best Ukrainian forces and prevent them from launching counterattacks elsewhere.

However, Ukraine claims its vigorous defense of eastern strongholds has helped tie up Russian soldiers. According to Western authorities and commentators, the significance of the two towns is symbolic rather than strategic.




Australia Swelters Under Extreme Heat As Rare Early Cyclone Barrels Toward Northern Coast




A tropical cyclone has rapidly strengthened off Australia’s northern coast, as millions face heat wave conditions expected to last into the weekend.

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, severe tropical storm Jasper strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, with maximum winds of 220 kilometers per hour (138 mph).

“Further intensification Friday is possible, and a category 5 system cannot be ruled out,” according to the country’s meteorology bureau.

According to a CNN investigation of National Hurricane Center storm tracks, Jasper is the earliest Category 4 tropical cyclone to form in the Coral Sea since records began in 1900.

The storm, which is 1,195 kilometers (742 miles) northeast of Queensland and moving south at 9 kilometers per hour (6 miles per hour), could hit the coast near Cairns, a city of 250,000 people, with maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour (87 miles per hour) by early Tuesday.

Forecasters believe the expected route could change.


Australia Swelters Under Extreme Heat As Rare Early Cyclone Barrels Toward Northern Coast

During El Nio, a climate trend in the Pacific Ocean along the equator that often reduces rainfall on Australia’s east coast, the storm arrives unusually early.

This year’s system has had an impact on weather all over the world, and it has the potential to significantly impact storm seasons.

Meanwhile, heat advisories are in effect in various states and territories, including New South Wales, which has a population of almost 8 million people.

Temperatures in Sydney, the state capital of New South Wales, are anticipated to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday, thanks to strong, dry winds.

Due to the elevated risk of bushfires, some Sydney schools were forced to close on Friday, and a total fire ban was in effect in some parts of NSW.

On Friday, regions of South Australia received a “catastrophic” fire rating, the highest on the scale, indicating that lives and property are likely to be lost if a fire starts.


Parts of New South Wales and Victoria have extreme fire risk ratings.

The heat is expected to subside by the end of the weekend and into early next week.

With frequent heat waves, excessive rains, and destructive bushfires, Australia is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate catastrophe.

Earlier this year, amid Australia’s warmest winter since records began in 1910, more than 20 runners in the Sydney Marathon were hospitalized due to heat exhaustion.

Ski resorts, including the country’s largest, Perisher, also closed early owing to a lack of snow.

Fears were especially high because the devastating 2020 Black Summer fires, the country’s worst in decades, are still fresh in the minds of millions of Australians.

The fires consumed 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres), killing hundreds and destroying over 3,000 homes.


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Azerbaijan And Armenia Agree To Prisoner Swap And To Work Towards Peace Deal




Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed to exchange prisoners and work toward restoring relations and a peace agreement to end a decades-long conflict, which the US and EU have applauded.

According to a joint statement issued by Azerbaijan’s state news agency, AZERTAC, Azerbaijan will swap 32 prisoners of war for two military personnel.

“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan both believe that there is a historical chance for the region to achieve long-awaited peace.” The two countries “reaffirm their intention to normalize relations and reach a peace treaty based on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to the statement. The breakthrough resulted from conversations between the offices of Azerbaijan’s president and Armenia’s prime minister.

“An agreement has been reached on taking tangible steps towards building confidence between two countries,” the statement says.


Azerbaijan And Armenia Agree To Prisoner Swap And To Work Towards Peace Deal

According to Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the US State Department, the prisoner swap was “an important confidence-building measure” as the two countries worked toward a peace agreement.

“We commend Azerbaijani President (Ilham) Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister (Nikol) Pashinyan for their joint efforts to lay the groundwork for a more peaceful and prosperous future for the people of the South Caucasus,” the statement read. “The United States will continue to strongly support efforts to reach a durable and dignified peace.”

“Establishing and deepening the bilateral dialogue between sides has been a key objective of the EU-led Brussels process: today’s progress is a significant step,” said EU Council President Charles Michel on X. “I now encourage the leaders to finalize the … peace deal ASAP.”

The neighboring countries have been at odds for decades over Nagorno-Karabakh, an area in the Caucasus Mountains.

After mounting a quick 24-hour attack, Azerbaijan reclaimed control of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian enclave within its boundaries, in September.


Azerbaijan And Armenia Agree To Prisoner Swap And To Work Towards Peace Deal

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been controlled by Armenian rebels for decades. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over Nagorno-Karabakh, and cease-fire agreements have proven unstable.

Armenia admitted earlier this year that the province was part of Azerbaijan, but there are still disagreements about the future of its administration.

The latest progress on prisoner swaps and repairing relations came as delegates from both countries gathered in Dubai for the COP28 climate conference.

The statement also stated that Armenia would withdraw from consideration to host the annual UN-backed climate meeting next year and that Azerbaijan hoped other nations would support its bid.


Azerbaijan And Armenia Agree To Prisoner Swap And To Work Towards Peace Deal

There is a vacancy for the summit host for COP29 in 2024, which, according to UN standards, should be hosted in Eastern Europe. Before Thursday, the two countries had been obstructing each other’s candidacy in the voting process.

A vote among the region’s nations determines the year’s host country. Russia voted against numerous countries that are members of or allies of the European Union.

Azerbaijan is a big oil and gas producer that has been strengthening ties with Russia. Oil and gas account for about half of the country’s GDP and over 90% of its exports.


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U.K News

Italy Quits Belt And Road Plan As Europe Rethinks China Relations




Italy, the only G7 country to join China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative, will abandon the global infrastructure program when its contract expires next year, marking the latest symptom of Europe’s growing hostility against Beijing and its worldwide ambitions.

Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister, acknowledged the much-anticipated action on Thursday. She made the promise during her election campaign last year in response to complaints that the agreement with China that a previous administration had negotiated in 2019 had not been particularly beneficial to Italy’s economy.

On the other hand, Meloni emphasized that Rome could maintain excellent relations with Beijing outside of the program, which has increased China’s worldwide power while raising concerns that it has burdened some nations with unmanageable debt.


Italy Quits Belt And Road Plan As Europe Rethinks China Relations

“I believe we should… improve our cooperation with China on trade and the economy,” Meloni told reporters, according to Reuters, in her first public comments on the matter following rumors that Italy had informed China of its decision not to renew the treaty when it ends in March 2024.

“The tool of the (BRI) … has not produced the results that were expected,” she said in a statement.

Italy’s decision coincides with the European Union’s campaign to “de-risk” its supply chains from China and secure critical technologies after the bloc’s designation of Beijing as a “systemic rival” in 2019.

These tensions were on display Thursday during a conference in Beijing between EU leaders and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as the two sides grappled with issues ranging from trade to Russia’s war in Ukraine – with little progress made.

When asked about the Italian pullout during a normal news briefing on Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry maintained a cautious tone, citing the “enormous appeal and global influence of Belt and Road cooperation.”

“China vehemently opposes attempts to smear and sabotage Belt and Road cooperation, or to incite bloc confrontation and division,” said spokesperson Wang Wenbin, without mentioning Italy specifically.


Italy Quits Belt And Road Plan As Europe Rethinks China Relations

China has signed collaboration agreements with what it claims are more than 140 countries for the initiative, which has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in roads, ports, airports, and bridges, mostly in the Global South over the last decade.

Italy’s decision to join the scheme in 2019 was generally interpreted as a diplomatic victory for Beijing, prompting criticism from Washington and Brussels.

This summer, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto called the 2019 decision “wicked,” citing growing trade disparities between the two countries in an interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Last year, China imported $26.9 billion in Italian goods, up from $21.4 billion in 2019. According to China’s customs data, Chinese exports to Italy increased from $33.5 billion to $50.5 billion during the same time.

Former China-friendly Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who joined the scheme, blasted the withdrawal in an interview on his Facebook page, saying it was made for “ideological reasons” and risked “scuppering” future Italian export growth.


Italy Quits Belt And Road Plan As Europe Rethinks China Relations

In an interview with the Italian news outlet Fanpage earlier this year, the Chinese Ambassador to Italy, Jia Guide, stated that a “reckless” choice to withdraw from the accord would have a “negative” influence on cooperation.

Italian politicians were eager to tread gently in their withdrawal, with Meloni frequently implying that good relations with China could be maintained outside of the Belt and Road initiative. She has also refuted allegations that the US persuaded her to abandon the scheme.

Rome withdrew as a delegation of top European Union officials arrived in Beijing for the first EU-China meeting in four years.

Chinese leaders saw the summit as a critical opportunity to calm tense relations with Europe, which Beijing sees as a major potential counterweight in its competition with the United States.

“We should not regard each other as rivals simply because our systems are different,” Xi told the visiting leaders, according to China’s official readout. “We should not reduce cooperation because competition exists, or engage in confrontation because there are disagreements.”


Italy Quits Belt And Road Plan As Europe Rethinks China Relations

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel challenged Xi and Chinese Premier Li Qiang on their countries’ massive trade deficits and “unfair competition,” while Li urged the EU to be “prudent” in its use of “restrictive” economic policies.

Even though the summit looked to achieve nothing regarding fundamental problems, Von der Leyen stated that both parties agreed “that it is in our mutual interest to have balanced trade relations.”

The EU will seek “concrete progress following these discussions,” according to a statement issued after the meeting.

Source – CNN

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