An old World War II bomb “unexpectedly” exploded on Friday in the seaside town of Great Yarmouth in the United Kingdom, the Norfolk Police revealed in a statement.
The police said the 250kg bomb was discovered on Tuesday by a contractor working on the third crossing over the River Yare and exploded as workers attempted to diffuse it, though no one was hurt in the incident, which pre-empted an army disposal team’s plans for a controlled explosion.
Supply of more advanced United States weaponry to Ukraine will not end the war but only prolong it and trigger more retaliatory strikes from Russia, up to the extent of Russia’s nuclear doctrine, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said.
“All of Ukraine that remains under Kyiv’s rule will burn,” journalist Nadana Fridrikhson quoted him as saying in a written interview with her.
Fridrikhson asked Medvedev, who as deputy chairman of the Security Council has become one of Russia’s most hawkish pro-war figures since its invasion of Ukraine, whether the use of longer-range weapons might force Russia to negotiate with Kyiv.
“The result will be just the opposite,” Medvedev replied in comments that Fridrikhson posted on her Telegram channel.
“Only moral freaks, of which there are enough both in the White House and Capitol, can argue like that.”
The Pentagon said on Friday that a new rocket that would double Ukraine’s strike range was included in a $2.175 billion U.S. military aid package.
With the first anniversary of the invasion approaching on Feb. 24, Russian forces have been on the back foot for the last eight months. They do not fully control any of Moscow’s four Ukrainian provinces unilaterally declared part of Russia.
President Vladimir Putin casts Russia’s campaign in Ukraine as an existential defense against an aggressive West. He has, like Medvedev, several times brandished the threat of a nuclear response, saying Russia will use all available means to protect itself and its people.
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Asked what would happen if the weapons Washington promised Ukraine were to strike Crimea – which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 – or deep into Russia, Medvedev said Putin had addressed the matter.
“We don’t set ourselves any limits and, depending on the nature of the threats, we’re ready to use all types of weapons. By our doctrinal documents, including the Fundamentals of Nuclear Deterrence,” he said. “I can assure you that the answer will be quick, tough, and convincing.”
The Federal Government of Nigeria, the French Embassy in Nigeria, the French Development Agency (AFD) and Semmaris have signed a grant agreement of 1.2 million Euros for the development of a strategy for agriculture and food markets in Nigeria.
The AFD grant will finance a one-year technical assistance programme to assist the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in the design of a national agrifood market development strategy.
The one-year study, which will run from Q1 2023 to Q1 2024, will look at the whole value chains market ecosystem from rural to urban areas, with a particular focus on the three largest urban consumption areas in Nigeria: Lagos-Ibadan, Kano-Kaduna and Owerri-Port-Harcourt.
The study will result in an inventory of existing agricultural markets; an in-depth analysis of current distribution channels and agrifood logistics; a legal and regulatory framework adapted to market development, and technical recommendations to rehabilitate or build three terminal markets.
The programme will be implemented by the French company, Semmaris, with the support of the Federal Project Management Unit (FPMU) of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) within the FMARD.
Semmaris has been managing for over 50 years the largest wholesale fresh food market worldwide in Rungis, France.
The Rungis Market brings together over 1,200 companies from various segments of the food value chains. This initiative will build on the 10-year intervention of the World Bank and AFD in the rural development sector in Nigeria through the “Rural Access and Mobility Project” (RAMP) achieved in 2021, and the on-going “Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project” (RAAMP) (2020-2028) co-financed by AFD and WB for a total investment of EUR 700 M including EUR 296 M from AFD. These projects will contribute to reducing post-harvest losses through the rehabilitation of over 2 000km of all-season rural roads and the upgrading of 65 collection markets into agro-logistics hubs in 19 States across the country. In Nigeria, agriculture accounts for 22% of GDP in 2020 and employs 70% of the formal and informal working population. Nigeria is a major producer of roots and tubers (world’s leading producer of cassava, large producer of taro and yam), cereals (maize, rice, sorghum), cocoa and palm oil. The country’s agriculture is characterized by small, low-productivity family farms, which practice low-mechanized subsistence rain-fed agriculture. Eighty percent of farmers are smallholders and provide a total of 90% of the country’s agricultural production. Despite growing agricultural production, imports of agri-food products are increasing while 30 to 40% of crops are said to be lost on site due to lack of access to roads and markets. This study will contribute to structuring a food value chain and strengthen agri-food systems while also helping to identify the terminal markets that should be rehabilitated or newly built in the outskirts of cities, linking up Nigeria’s major urban consumption areas to rural areas that are benefitting from AFD and World Bank’s past and on-going interventions
Adistrict court in Sweden’s capital Stockholm detained a suspect who allegedly financially supported the PKK terrorist group for the first time, according to a statement made by prosecutor Hans Ihrman on Friday.
The suspect in his 40s has been in Sweden for about five years, according to a report by Swedish SR Radio.
Ihrman, citing court documents, said suspicions of attempted terrorist financing arose in connection with an investigation into attempted extortion and the suspect was arrested Friday on suspicion of attempted extortion and aggravated weapons offenses as well as terror financing.
The detention marks the first time that a prosecutor in Sweden linked someone to PKK – a terror group responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in Türkiye.
The suspect refused to comment during the court hearing, said the report.
Sweden has been seeking Türkiye’s approval to join NATO, for which it applied after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. NATO membership requires the approval of all 30 member states but Ankara has been withholding its “yes” vote.
Turkish officials criticize Sweden for harboring and tolerating members of terrorist organizations like the PKK and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which, helmed by U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, orchestrated the defeated 2016 coup in Türkiye, where 251 people were killed and 2,734 were injured.
Many times, Turkish officials said the Nordic nation needs to take a tougher stance against terrorist groups and their sympathizers.
Most recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Türkiye would not OK Sweden’s bid, due to their failure to abide by the terms of a trilateral memorandum signed in the summer.
But despite objections from Türkiye, Sweden and Finland’s premiers vowed to see the completion of their NATO applications together.
The Swedish government formalized its anti-terrorism bill on Thursday.
“The bill will be sent to the parliament in March and that will come into effect from June 1. This is a cornerstone in Sweden’s long-term commitment to fighting terrorism,” Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson noted.
“The proposed legislation widens the scope of activities that can be prosecuted, particularly within a terrorist organization that does not need to be concretely connected to a specific terrorism-related crime,” Kristersson’s Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer told a separate news conference on Thursday.
Actions such as handling equipment, organizing camps or locations for meetings, cooking or being in charge of transport for designated terrorist organizations would be criminalized under the new law.
The legislation only partially meets Ankara’s demands about cutting support to terrorists since, according to Strommer, “partaking in a demonstration or at a meeting will not in itself be punishable.”
“We have agreed on a commitment to mutual respect, whereby in our discourse and in our political practice we will avoid everything that we know offends the other party, especially regarding our respective spheres of sovereignty,” Sanchez said.
There have been regular diplomatic crises over Spain’s enclaves in North Africa, Morocco’s dispute with rebels over the Western Sahara region, and the arrival of refugees and migrants in Spain each year through Morocco.
Morocco refuses to recognise Spanish sovereignty over the enclaves Ceuta and Melilla but, last year, the two countries agreed to open the first customs control point at Ceuta.
Madrid says that reflects Rabat’s recognition of the enclaves as foreign territory but Morocco has made no public statement indicating that its long-held stance that the enclaves should be part of its territory has changed.
Sanchez restored cordial relations with Rabat in March 2022 after he reversed Spain’s policy on the disputed territory of Western Sahara by backing Morocco’s proposal to create an autonomous region. The Algeria-backed breakaway movement Polisario Front seeks to establish an independent state in the region.
Yasmine Hasnaoui, a North Africa specialist at the Institute of Saharan Studies Al Andalous, told Al Jazeera that Sanchez’s visit to Rabat marked a reset of relations with Morocco.
“The visit of the Spanish government to Morocco is ushering a new era thanks to a clear-cut roadmap after Spain unequivocally acknowledged the historical sovereignty of Morocco over its territory in the Western Sahara through the autonomy plan,” she said.
“The Spanish prime minister has reiterated today that [in] this new phase of bilateral relations with Morocco, [it] is considered an important partner with the EU in fighting extremism, terrorism and aiding the bloc’s migration policy.”
As the third largest destination for Spanish exports around the world, Hasnaoui said Spain also sees Morocco as a strategic economic partner.
“Spain has become aware that its profit is not only found in Europe but rather its interests are largely found in Morocco and the south in general,” she added.
But forging better relations between the neighbours has forced members of Sanchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party into some uncomfortable positions.
Last month, its MEPs voted against a resolution in the European Parliament to call on Morocco to improve its record on press freedom. MEP Juan Fernando Lopez said this week that maintaining cordial neighbourly relations sometimes involved “swallowing a toad”.
Tensions with Algeria Madrid’s about-turn on Western Sahara drew the ire of Algeria, a Polisario Front ally, which suspended trade with Spain and warned it could cut the flow of natural gas to Spain even as it forges closer gas ties with Italy.
Spanish exports to Algeria fell by 41 percent to 1 billion euros in the January-November 2022 period compared with a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Industry. Its exports to Morocco rose by 27 percent to 10.8 billion euros in the same period.
Spain expects to get a significant chunk of the 45 billion euros that Morocco is expected to invest by 2050 in improving infrastructure, a Spanish government source said.
Spanish companies are well positioned to win concessions in key sectors of Rabat’s development plan, such as in water sanitation and renewable energy, the person said.
State-owned railway operators Renfe and Adif are working with their Moroccan counterpart to develop new train lines, which could mean 6 billion euros of business.
Spain is discussing how to remove Morocco from a grey list of money laundering countries, another government source said.
A delegation from the Financial Action Task Force, a Paris-based global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, visited Morocco last month and is expected to announce later this month its decision on whether Morocco can be removed from the list.
In Rabat on Thursday, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch expressed satisfaction at Spain’s support for Morocco’s autonomy plan as the “most credible solution” to resolve the Western Sahara dispute, but did not reference an agreement to set aside all sovereignty disputes.
A joint declaration made no mention of Spain’s enclaves in Morocco, although it reiterated Spain’s new position on Western Sahara.
Morocco said it expected Spain’s upcoming presidency of the European Union would mean it could act as a conduit for better relations with the bloc
The United States has agreed to send longer-range bombs to Ukraine after months of agonizing, as Kyiv prepares to launch a spring offensive to retake territory Russia captured last year, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The new weapons will roughly have double the range of any other offensive weapon provided by America, officials confirmed.
The U.S. will provide ground-launched small diameter bombs as part of a $2.17 billion aid package it is expected to announce on Friday, several U.S. officials said.
The package also for the first time includes equipment to connect the different air defense systems Western allies have rushed to the battlefield, and integrate them into Kviv’s own air defenses to help them better defend against Russia’s continued missile attacks.
For months, U.S. officials have hesitated to send longer-range systems to Ukraine out of concern that they would be used to target inside Russia, escalating the conflict and drawing the U.S. deeper in.
The longer-range bombs are the latest advanced system, such as Abrams tanks and the Patriot missile defense system, that the U.S. has eventually agreed to provide Ukraine after refusing initially. U.S. officials, though, have continued to reject Ukraine’s requests for fighter jets.
Ukrainian leaders have urgently pressed for longer-range munitions and on Thursday, officials said the U.S. will send an undisclosed number of the ground-launched, small diameter bombs, which have a range of about 95 miles (150 kilometers). The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the aid package not yet made public.
To date, the longest-range missile provided by the U.S. is about 50 miles (80 kilometers). The funding in the aid package is for longer-term purchases, so it was not clear on Thursday as to how long it will take to get the bomb to the battlefield in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s defense minister Oleskii Reznikov said on Thursday the country is prepared to offer guarantees to its Western partners that their weapons will not be used to strike inside Russian territory, adding that Kyiv needs weapons with the range of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) to expel Russian forces.
“If we could strike at a distance of up to 300 kilometers, the Russian army wouldn’t be able to mount a defense and will have to withdraw. Ukraine is ready to provide guarantees that your weapons will not be involved in attacks on the Russian territory. We have enough targets in the occupied areas of Ukraine, and we’re prepared to coordinate on (these) targets with our partners,” Reznikov said at a meeting with EU officials.
The U.S. aid package includes $425 million in ammunition and support equipment that will be pulled from existing Pentagon stockpiles and $1.75 billion in new funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which is used to purchase new weapons from industry.
The USAI, which will pay for the longer-range bombs and the air defense system integration, also funds two HAWK air defense systems, anti-aircraft guns and ammunition, and counter-drone systems.
Since Russia’s invasion last February, Western allies have pledged a myriad of air defense systems to Ukraine to bolster Kyiv’s own Soviet-made S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems, and the latest aid package aims to provide the capability to integrate them all, which could improve Ukraine’s ability to protect itself against incoming Russian attacks.
The U.S. has pledged medium to long-range National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, and truck-launched short-range Avenger air defense systems; the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. are sending Patriot missile defense systems; Germany is sending medium-range IRIS-T air defense systems; and Spain is sending Aspide anti-aircraft air defense systems.
The addition of longer-range bombs into the latest aid package was first reported by Reuters.
Ukraine is still seeking F-16 fighter jets, which U.S. President Joe Biden has opposed sending since the beginning of the war. Asked on Monday if his administration was considering sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, Biden responded, “No.”
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov was asked if Biden’s “no” to F-16s was the final word.
“All types of help first passed through the ‘no’ stage, which only means ‘no’ at today’s given moment. The second stage is, ‘Let’s talk and study technical possibilities.’ The third stage is, ‘Let’s get your personnel trained.’ And the fourth stage is the transfer (of equipment),” Reznikov underlined
The Foreign Ministry summoned the Norwegian ambassador to Ankara on Thursday. A statement by the ministry said the envoy was summoned upon learning that a Quran burning would take place in the Nordic country on Friday.
“It was emphasized to the ambassador that we strongly condemn Norway’s approach not to prevent the planned provocative act, which is clearly a hate crime, this attitude is unacceptable and we expect this act not to be allowed,” the diplomatic sources told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu later told reporters that upon their warning to the country, Norway rescinded the permit for the act.
Quran burning demonstrations by Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan in Sweden and Denmark prompted global protests by Muslims in recent weeks. Norway is no stranger to such acts. Lars Thorsen, a well-known anti-Muslim extremist, burned a copy of the Quran in the country last year.
Although Türkiye repeatedly condemned such acts, Paludan’s provocation came at a time of tensions between Türkiye and Sweden over the latter’s NATO membership bid that needs to be ratified by Ankara. Paludan’s act was apparently in response to Türkiye’s opposition to Sweden’s NATO bid without desisting from harboring terrorists, namely those from the PKK and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), as the Danish politician chose a venue outside the Turkish Embassy to burn the Quran.
Iranian authorities reported an “unsuccessful” drone attack late Saturday night that targeted a defense ministry “workshop complex” in the central Isfahan province, home to the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.
An anti-aircraft system destroyed one drone and two others exploded, the defense ministry said, adding that there were no casualties and only minor damage to the site.
Dramatic video footage widely shared on social media and published by Iranian state media showed a fireball lighting up the night sky, with people outside seen running and emergency service vehicles speeding towards the site.
Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Iran of supplying military drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine, a claim that is denied by Tehran
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Monday said that the country’s military will spend nearly $550 million on drones in 2023 and 16 supply deals have already been signed with Ukrainian manufacturers.
Both Ukrainian and Russian forces have used a wide array of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, for reconnaissance and assault purposes during 11 months of the war.
“In 2023, we are increasing the procurement of UAVs for the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Reznikov wrote on Facebook. “We plan to allocate about 20 billion hryvnias ($547.05 million) to this segment.”
Ukraine has received significant supplies of UAVs from its partners, from Türkiye’s missile-equipped Bayraktar TB2 to the Norwegian-made Black Hornet reconnaissance drone, which weighs less than 33 grams (0.07 pounds).
Kyiv is now seeking to boost domestic production to build what officials cast as an “army of drones.”
“The independence of the military-industrial complex is one of the factors of the country’s defense capability,” Reznikov wrote.
Ukraine’s military announced last week it would begin creating assault drone companies within its armed forces, and Reznikov said the Defense Ministry had received applications proposing 75 different Ukrainian-made drones.
“After consultations with the General Staff of the Armed Forces, after tests, the Ministry of Defence has already concluded 16 state contracts with Ukrainian UAV manufacturers,” he wrote
Parents and nurseries in the U.K. are struggling to provide nutritious meals for children as food costs rise, according to a survey of over 500 childcare providers.
The Early Years Alliance and the London Early Years Foundation shared with the British daily The Guardian that nearly one in 10 childcare providers said they had turned to food charities for help. Nearly 62% said they had been forced to use cheaper ingredients in their meals.
As the cost of living crisis affects the affordability of childcare for many families, 56% of providers said they had had to pass on the costs to parents, while 49% of providers also said they had seen signs of food insecurity among families in their settings.
Parents in the U.K. pay more for nursery fees than for their mortgages or rent, with the average cost of a full-time nursery place for a child under 2 being 14,000 pounds ($17,327).
Although some poorer households in England receive 15 hours of free childcare for 2-year-olds and all households receive 15 hours for 3- and 4-year-olds, the rates given for free hours are deemed insufficient by providers.
The survey also found that children or families in about half of the settings were showing signs of food insecurity.
“It’s strange that this debate is being held,” he said during a press conference in Santiago de Chile on Sunday evening, while on a four-day trip to South America.
A serious debate was now necessary and not “a bidding competition … in which perhaps domestic political motives play a bigger role than support for Ukraine,” Scholz said.
A debate on an issue as important as arms deliveries had to focus on the matter at hand as well as rational considerations, the German chancellor stressed.
Scholz and U.S. President Joe Biden had ruled out no-fly zones over Ukraine shortly after the beginning of the Russian invasion of its neighbor, Scholz pointed out because that would have lead to a conflict between Russia and NATO.
Asked whether she would rule out the delivery of combat aircraft, SPD leader Saskia Esken told German broadcaster ARD that Germany is not a party to the war, and the government wants to “avoid this in the future.”
“The decisive factor is that Germany and NATO are not party to this war,” which is why the German government is in very close consultation with US counterparts on these issues, said Esken, whose party leads a coalition government under Scholz.
At the same time, it was important for Germany to make it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin with every decision “that we reject Russian aggression.”
The comments come after the German government promised Ukraine a delivery of 14 Leopard 2 tanks from Bundeswehr stocks on Wednesday, after a long period of waiting for a similar commitment from the U.S.
Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, has urged South Korea to “step up” military support for Ukraine, citing other governments that have changed their policies on exporting weapons to countries in conflict following the Russian invasion.
Stoltenberg made the appeal in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Monday.
He is in the city on the first leg of an Asia trip that will also include stops in Japan and is aimed at boosting ties with the region’s democratic allies in the face of the war in Ukraine and rising competition with China.
In meetings with senior South Korean officials, Stoltenberg argued that events in Europe and North America are interconnected with other regions, and that the alliance wants to help manage global threats by increasing partnerships in Asia.
Speaking at the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies in Seoul, he thanked South Korea for its nonlethal aid to Ukraine but urged it to do more, adding there was an “urgent need” for ammunition. Russia calls the invasion a “special operation”.
He pointed to countries like Germany and Norway that had “longstanding policies not to export weapons to countries in conflict” that were revised after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
“If we believe in freedom, democracy, if we don’t want autocracy and totalitarian to win then they need weapons,” he said.
South Korea is an increasingly important global arms exporter and has recently signed deals to sell hundreds of tanks to European countries, including NATO-member Poland. But South Korean law bans the export of weapons to countries in active conflict, which Seoul has said makes it difficult to provide arms directly to Kyiv.
South Korea opened its first diplomatic mission to NATO last year.
Stoltenberg said it was unclear when the conflict in Ukraine would end, saying Putin was preparing for “more war” and actively acquiring weapons from countries, including North Korea.
In a statement carried by state media on Monday, North Korea called Stoltenberg’s visit a “prelude to confrontation and war as it brings the dark clouds of a ‘new Cold War’ to the Asia-Pacific region”.
Pyongyang on Sunday denied sending weapons to Moscow, accusing the United States of spreading a “groundless rumor”.
“Trying to tarnish the image of [North Korea] by fabricating a non-existent thing is a grave provocation that can never be allowed and that cannot but trigger its reaction,” said Kwon Jong Gun, director general of North Korea’s Department of US Affairs.
He also called it “a foolish attempt to justify its offer of weapons to Ukraine”.
Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden promised 31 Abrams tanks, one of the most powerful and sophisticated weapons in the US army, to help Kyiv fight off Moscow’s invasion
Retired NATO general and former Czech army chief Petr Pavel, a pro-Western candidate who backs aid for Ukraine, beat former prime minister and billionaire Andrej Babis, one of the country’s richest men, according to interim results.
Pavel, a former paratrooper, won 57% of votes while Babis scored 42%, with over 95% of the vote counted, according to the Czech Statistical Office.
Babis, 68, a combative business magnate who had been prime minister since 2017, has sought to attract voters struggling with soaring prices and has vowed to push the government to do more to help them.
Betting agencies say Pavel is 10 times more likely to win than Babis, and he led final opinion polls by double-digit margins.
Pavel said on Friday after casting his ballot that his motto was decency and cooperation.
“(I would be) a president who will hold office with dignity,” he said, and someone who “will not paint castles in the sky, but will describe reality as it is.”
Czech presidents do not have many day-to-day duties but they pick prime ministers and central bank heads, have a say in foreign policy, are powerful opinion makers and can push the government on policies.
Pavel has backed keeping the central European country of 10.5 million firmly in the European Union and NATO military alliance and supports the government’s continued aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded it last year.
“I believe it will be important to continue to explain to people why it is important to support Ukraine,” he said on Friday.
He favors adopting the euro, a long-dormant topic under numerous governments, and progressive policies such as gay marriage.
A career soldier, Pavel joined the army in Communist times, was decorated with a French military cross for valor during peacekeeping in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and later rose to lead the Czech general staff and become chairman of NATO’s military committee for three years before retiring in 2018.
Babis heads the biggest opposition party in parliament and has attacked Pavel for being the government’s candidate since the two emerged from the first round of the election with around 35% of the vote each.
He has labeled the election as a referendum on himself, saying people should support him if they felt “worse off” now than under his former government. “I would be their voice,” he said on Friday.
He campaigned on fears of the war in Ukraine spreading, and sought to offer to broker peace talks. He also suggested that as a former soldier, Pavel could drag the Czechs into a war, a claim Pavel has rejected as warmongering.
Babis also has the support of outgoing President Milos Zeman, a divisive figure over his 10 years in office who pushed for closer ties with Beijing and – until Russia invaded Ukraine – Moscow, as well as fringe forces including the pro-Russian Communist Party
Ukrainian missile strikes on a hospital in the Luhansk region killed 14 people and injured 24 others on Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
The ministry said that a U.S. Himars-type multiple rocket launcher shelled the hospital in Novoaydar.
The ministry’s statement came some 10 hours after it said the attack occurred. However, the ministry shared no videos or photos of the incident, and the information could not be independently verified.
The hospital has provided “necessary medical assistance to the local population and military personnel for many months.”
The Luhansk region is occupied mainly by Russia.
The ministry accused Ukrainian forces of a “deliberate missile strike” against the civilian hospital, saying it was a “serious war crime committed by the Kyiv regime.” The statement said those responsible would be found and held accountable.
Russian state television released unverifiable images showing a destroyed building. A board showing the clinic’s opening hours were overlayed. No people or ambulances were visible in the footage.
A man has been confirmed dead after he got trapped underneath a urinal in central London.
The workman had been operating on a “telescopic urinal” at Cambridge Circus, outside the Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue ton Friday afternoon, Jan. 27, when he suffered “crush injuries”, police said.
Efforts to rescue him from the structure went on for more than an hour-and-a-half. Sadly, he didn’t survive.
This model of hydraulic urinal, designed to stop public urination, is stored beneath the pavement during the day and lifted up to street level for people visiting at night.
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Twitter: “We’re sorry to have to update that, despite the efforts of emergency services, the man who was critically injured in Cambridge Circus was pronounced dead at the scene.
“His next of kin have been informed. Cordons remain in place at the location.”
Finland has issued the first commercial export license for military material to Türkiye since 2019, a key demand for Ankara to approve Helsinki’s NATO bid, the country’s defense ministry said Wednesday.
Riikka Pitkanen, a special adviser at Finland’s defense ministry, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the export license granted concerned steel that would be used for armor.
The move comes amid a spat that saw Türkiye on Tuesday indefinitely postponing upcoming talks with Finland and Sweden on their application to join the military alliance after a weekend protest in Stockholm that drew condemnation from Ankara.
The three nations reached an agreement on how to proceed in Madrid last June, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Sweden, in particular, is not keeping its side of the bargain.
On Monday, Erdoğan said that Sweden should not expect Türkiye’s support for its NATO membership after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on the weekend including the burning of the Quran.
Of NATO’s 30 members, only the parliaments of Türkiye and Hungary have not ratified entry for Sweden and Finland.
The two countries formally applied to join NATO last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, abandoning decades of military non-alignment.
Türkiye has voiced objections due to the two countries’ tolerance and support for terrorist groups.
Ankara also requested the lifting of the arms export restrictions that Sweden and Finland imposed after Türkiye’s military operation seeking to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of the PKK terrorist group and its Syrian offshoot YPG in 2019.
Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen previously said that they would consider resuming arms exports to Türkiye.
Swedish authorities in September last year authorized the resumption of exports of military equipment to Türkiye.
“Since October 2019, no commercial export licenses have been issued to Turkey,” Pitkanen said.
The Kremlin Tuesday said it is continuing efforts to resolve a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Lachin corridor, a mountainous road linking Armenia to Karabakh where Russian peacekeepers are stationed.
“The Russian Federation … continues its painstaking work in this direction,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denies that the corridor is subject to a blockade and says activists protesting illegal mining activity are the main reason for the disruption to traffic.
Russia is an ally of Armenia through a mutual self-defense pact, but tries to maintain warm relations with Azerbaijan and has rejected calls by Yerevan to provide military support.
The standoff is a test of Russia’s authority as the main security guarantor in the region at a time when its struggles in the war in Ukraine risk undermining its primary status among former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus and Central Asia.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military illegally occupied Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
The clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, with the Armenian Army attacking civilians and Azerbaijani forces, violating several humanitarian cease-fire agreements. During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and around 300 settlements and villages that had been occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
The fighting ended with a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10, 2020, which was seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia.
However, the cease-fire has been broken several times since then.
Since mid-December, a group of Azerbaijani activists have been protesting illegal mining that has been causing environmental damage in the region. The protests erupted after representatives of Azerbaijan attempting to visit the areas where mineral resources are being illegally exploited were barred access to the area.
Yerevan has been accusing Azerbaijan of creating a “humanitarian catastrophe” by purposefully blocking the only road linking Armenia to the region, which houses thousands of Armenians. It also slammed the Russian peacekeeping contingent claiming it is “failing to fulfill its purpose of clearing the corridor.”
Baku has consistently rejected Yerevan’s accusations, with Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov stressing that obstacles to the use of the road are created by people who introduced themselves as “the leaders of local Armenians” and claims that the protests on the Lachin road posed the threat of a humanitarian crisis to the local Armenian population are baseless.
Last week, the country also filed a lawsuit against Armenia over its “extensive destruction and deforestation” of the environment throughout its three-decade occupation.
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Aliyev to ramp up efforts in bilateral peace discussions with Armenia and urged “an immediate reopening of the Lachin corridor to commercial traffic.”
Blinken also spoke to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian the week prior and voiced “deep concern for the worsening humanitarian situation” in Karabakh due to the blockage of the corridor.
The U.S. diplomat has been active in mediating between the two former Soviet republics, increasing U.S. influence on an issue long dominated by Russia at a time Yerevan has grown increasingly wary of Russia – formally an ally through a mutual self-defense treaty – for not doing more to end the blockade, especially since Russian peacekeepers are deployed in the corridor.
On Tuesday, another move to contribute to stability and normalization in the region came from the European Council, which deployed the European Union Mission in Armenia (EUMA), a civilian mission, on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.
The deployment followed Russia’s warnings a week before against a “civil monitoring mission” on the border with Azerbaijan without Baku’s consent.
“This is the border with Azerbaijan, so if this mission unfolds without the consent of Azerbaijan, it may simply be counterproductive. Instead of building trust at the border, it can create additional irritants,” Lavrov said.
Stressing that the mission must take into account its legitimate interests in the region, Baku responded it remains of the “firm position that such an engagement must not be exploited for derailing the normalization process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, including in the context of border delimitation process that should be carried out exclusively on a bilateral basis.”
The EUMA will conduct routine patrols and report on the situation, as well as contribute to mediation efforts. It will have an initial mandate of two years and its operational headquarters will be in Armenia.
She said it was “shameful” that the German government was “making deals and compromises with fossil fuel companies”.
On Monday, the last two climate activists occupying the hamlet to stop it being razed left their underground hideout, marking the end of the police operation to evict them.
Around 300 activists had occupied the village, staking out emptied buildings and constructing positions in the trees, to try to prevent the expansion of the adjacent Garzweiler open-cast coal mine.
‘Stop coal’ Luetzerath has been deserted for some time by its original inhabitants, as plans move forward for the expansion of the open-cast mine, one of the largest in Europe, operated by energy firm RWE.
Police launched an operation last week to clear the protest camp, making quicker progress than expected, and by Sunday had succeeded in removed all but the last two, holed up in a self-built tunnel under the settlement.
The end of the operation came despite Saturday’sa demonstration, which was attended by thousands, with protesters holding banners with slogans including “Stop coal” and “Luetzerath lives!”
Protest planners accused authorities of “violence” after clashes between police and participants, which resulted in injuries on both sides.
RWE has permission for the expansion of the mine under a compromise agreement signed with the government, led by Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“They know that we mean business. They know that you are prepared to take action to protect your jobs, to protect your pay and costs and to protect your ability to remain in the profession,” added fellow joint general secretary Mary Bousted.
This week nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were also due to resume strike action on Wednesday and Thursday.
Paramedics and ambulance workers are set to decide this week on further strike action, heaping pressure on the state-run National Health Service as it battles to recover from Covid delays to treatment and a staffing crisis
Türkiye is ready to undertake the role of a mediator between Russia and Ukraine to facilitate permanent peace between the two countries, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Monday.
According to the Presidential Communications Directorate, Erdoğan told Putin that Ankara is ready for moderation and mediation between the two warring neighbors for permanent peace.
The two leaders confirmed cooperation, with priorities including Russian gas supplies and the creation of a regional gas hub in Türkiye, the Kremlin said.
“The exchange of views on the situation around Ukraine continued,” the statement said.
“Vladimir Putin drew attention to the destructive line of the Kyiv regime, which relies on the intensification of hostilities with the support of Western sponsors, increasing the volume of transferred weapons and military equipment,” the Kremlin said in its readout of the call.
Most recently, Türkiye enabled a prisoner swap between the warring countries. Also, Turkish mediation proved vital in facilitating the signing of a deal between Türkiye, the United Nations, Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul to reopen certain Ukrainian ports to release grain that had been stuck for months because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war – a development that has been crucial in responding to a growing global food crisis.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, underlining its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While Ankara has opposed international sanctions designed to isolate Moscow, it also closed its straits to prevent some Russian vessels from crossing through them.
Germany’s second liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Lubmin in the north-eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was opened on Saturday in the presence of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
“We are pleased today we are taking another step toward energy security in Germany,” said Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s state premier Manuela Schwesig.
The state’s environment minister, Till Backhaus, had previously handed over the operating license to Ingo Wagner, managing director of operator Deutsche Regas.
Afterward, Scholz visited the floating terminal.
After Wilhelmshaven in Lower Saxony, where a terminal was officially opened in December, Lubmin on the Baltic coast is the second German location where an LNG terminal has started operations.
Gas has already been injected into the grid since the beginning of the week as part of a test operation.
The Lubmin site is a vital part of Germany’s strategy to turn away from Russian fossil fuels to other energy sources. Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Russia has stopped delivering gas via an undersea pipeline to Germany.
Germany is rapidly building up its gas import infrastructure. Within months, the two terminals now in operation were planned, approved, and built.
Another terminal in Brunsbüttel on the North Sea coast will start up shortly.
LNG is delivered by ship from several regions of the world, converted back into a gas, and fed into the gas grid. In addition to increased purchases of pipeline gas from Norway, for example, LNG is intended to replace missing Russian supplies.
The floating terminals are already deployed or planned to have a feed-in capacity of around 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, depending on local conditions.
By comparison, nearly 60 billion cubic meters came through the now-defunct Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 1 pipeline in 2021.
Germany aims to cover about one-third of its current gas demand via the floating LNG terminals in the winter of 2023-24.
While there were warnings of a gas shortage this winter, this scenario seems unlikely. Most recently, gas storage facilities in Germany were still more than 90% complete after private households and industry reduced their consumption.
According to the operator, the Lubmin terminal is Germany’s only privately financed airport. Deutsche Regas put the costs at €100 million ($108 million).
Robert Habeck, the minister for economic affairs and climate protection, had also planned to attend Lubmin on Saturday but fell ill.
“We will be summoning the Iranian Charge d’Affaires to make clear our disgust at Iran’s actions. Our thoughts are with Akbari’s family,” he said shortly before the top Iranian diplomat in Britain was summoned.
According to Iran’s Mizan News Agency, Akbari has executed corruption charges and “extensive acts against the country’s internal and external security.”
U.S. condemns Iran’s execution On Saturday, the U.S. ambassador to London said the United States condemned the execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari, describing it as “appalling.”
“The execution of British-Iranian citizen Alireza Akbari in Iran is appalling and sickening,” Ambassador Jane Hartley said on Twitter. “The United States joins with the U.K. in condemning this barbaric act. My thoughts are with Alireza’s family.”
Germany calls execution ‘another inhumane act’ by Iran The German Foreign Office expressed solidarity with the U.K., calling the execution “another inhumane act” by Tehran.
“The execution of Alireza Akbari is yet another inhumane act by the Iranian regime,” the office said on Twitter. “We stand with our British friends and will continue to closely coordinate our measures vis-a-vis the regime and our support for Iran’s people.”
French President Macron: Iran’s latest execution is a heinous and barbaric act The execution of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari is a heinous and barbaric act, French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday.
Macron said he stood in solidarity with Britain, which has condemned the execution and defied British and U.S. calls for the 61-year-old Akbari’s release after he was handed a death sentence on charges of spying for Britain