Russia launches wave of missiles at Ukraine after Kyiv secures tanks

Update Russia launches wave of missiles at Ukraine after Kyiv secures tanks
An air raid alert wailed across the country as people were heading to work. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 January 2023

Russia launches wave of missiles at Ukraine after Kyiv secures tanks

Russia launches wave of missiles at Ukraine after Kyiv secures tanks
  • In the capital, people sheltered in a metro station
  • Overnight, the military said its anti-aircraft defenses had shot down all 24 drones sent by Russia

KYIV: Russia launched a rush-hour barrage of missiles toward Ukraine on Thursday, the day after Kyiv secured Western pledges of dozens of modern battlefield tanks to try to push back the Russian invasion.
Moscow had reacted with fury to the German and American announcements, and has in the past responded to apparent Ukrainian successes with air strikes that have left millions without light, heat or water.
The Ukrainian military said it had shot down all 24 drones sent overnight by Russia, including 15 around the capital, with no damage reported.
But soon afterwards, air raid alarms sounded across Ukraine as people were heading to work, and senior officials said air defenses were shooting down incoming missiles.
In the capital, crowds of people took cover in underground metro stations, and a loud explosion was heard.
DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy producer, said it was conducting emergency power shutdowns in Kyiv, the surrounding region and also the regions of Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk because of the imminent danger.
Kyiv’s military administration said more than 15 missiles fired at Kyiv had been shot down, but urged people to remain on shelters.
“Missiles are flying inside the territory of Ukraine. At least two northwest through Mykolaiv region,” Vitaly Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine, said on the Telegram messaging app.
An air force spokesman said impacts had been registered in the central Vinnytsia region.
Western analysts say the attacks on Ukraine’s cities are more an attempt to break morale than a strategic campaign.
Both sides are expected to mount new ground offensives come the spring, and Ukraine has been seeking hundreds of modern tanks in the hope of using them to break Russian defensive lines and recapture occupied territory in the south and east.
Both Ukraine and Russia have so far relied primarily on Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
“The key now is speed and volumes. Speed in training our forces, speed in supplying tanks to Ukraine. The numbers in tank support,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Wednesday.
“We have to form such a ‘tank fist’, such a ‘fist of freedom’.”
Drumbeat of requests
Maintaining Kyiv’s drumbeat of requests, Zelensky said he had spoken to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and asked for long-range missiles and aircraft.
Ukraine’s allies have already provided billions of dollars worth of military support, including sophisticated US missile systems that have helped turn the tide of the war in the last six months.
The United States has been wary of deploying the difficult-to-maintain Abrams but had to change tack to persuade Germany to send to Ukraine its more easily operated German-built Leopards.
Germany will send an initial company of 14 tanks from its stocks, which it said could be operational in three or four months, and approve shipments by allied European states with the aim of equipping two battalions — in the region of 100 tanks.
The Leopard is a system that any NATO member can service, and crews and mechanics can be trained together on a single model, Ukrainian military expert Viktor Kevlyuk told Espreso TV.
“If we have been brought into this club by providing us with these vehicles, I would say our prospects look good.”
US President Joe Biden said the 31 M1 Abrams tanks that Washington will provide posed “no offensive threat” to Russia.
But Sergei Nechayev, Russia’s ambassador to Germany, on Wednesday called Berlin’s decision “extremely dangerous,” saying that it “takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation.”
Since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year, Russia has shifted its publicly stated goals from “denazifying” and “demilitarising” its neighbor to confronting a purportedly aggressive and expansionist US-led NATO alliance.
The Russian invasion has killed thousands of civilians, forced millions from their homes and reduced entire cities to rubble.
The heaviest fighting for now is around Bakhmut, a town in eastern Ukraine with a pre-war population of 70,000 that has seen some of the most brutal fighting of the war.
Ukraine’s military said Russia was attacking “with the aim of capturing the entire Donetsk region and regardless of its own casualties.”
The Russian-installed governor of Donetsk said on Wednesday that units of Russia’s Wagner contract militia were moving forward inside Bakhmut, with fighting on the outskirts and in neighborhoods recently held by Ukraine.
Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.


Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine: White House

Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine: White House
Updated 43 min 23 sec ago

Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine: White House

Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine: White House
  • Washington says drones were built in Iran, shipped across Caspian Sea then used by Russian forces against Ukraine

WASHINGTON D.C.: The White House said on Friday that Russia appeared to be deepening its defense cooperation with Iran and had received hundreds of one-way attack drones that it is using to strike Ukraine.
Citing newly declassified information, the White House said the drones, or Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), were built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea and then used by Russian forces against Ukraine.
“Russia has been using Iranian UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorize the Ukrainian population, and the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” White House spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
“We are also concerned that Russia is working with Iran to produce Iranian UAVs from inside Russia.”
Kirby said the US had information that Russia was receiving materials from Iran required to build a drone manufacturing plant that could be fully operational early next year.
“We are releasing satellite imagery of the planned location of this UAV manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone,” he said.
The US has previously sanctioned Iranian executives at a defense manufacturer over drone supplies to Russia. Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia but said in they past they were sent before Russia’s February invasion. Moscow has denied its forces used Iranian drones in Ukraine.
Support between Iran and Russia was flowing both ways, Kirby said, with Iran seeking billions of dollars worth of military equipment from Russia including helicopters and radars.
“Russia has been offering Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defense,” he said.
“This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the international community. We are continuing to use all the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities including by sharing this with the public – and we are prepared to do more.”
Kirby said the transfers of drones constituted a violation of United Nations rules and the United States would seek to hold the two countries accountable.
Britain, France, Germany, the US and Ukraine say the supply of Iranian-made drones to Russia violates a 2015 UN Security Council resolution enshrining the Iran nuclear deal.
Under the 2015 UN resolution, a conventional arms embargo on Iran was in place until October 2020.
Ukraine and Western powers argue that the resolution includes restrictions on missiles and related technologies until October 2023 and can encompass the export and purchase of advanced military systems such as drones.
The Iranian and Russian missions to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the US accusations.
“We will continue to impose sanctions on the actors involved in the transfer of Iranian military equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine,” Kirby said.
He said a new US advisory issued on Friday aimed “to help businesses and other governments better understand the risks posed by Iran’s UAV program and the illicit practices Iran uses to procure components for it.”
The advisory highlighted key items sought by Iran for its development of drones, including electronics such as processors and controllers.


UK commits to anti-Daesh funding at Saudi meeting

UK commits to anti-Daesh funding at Saudi meeting
Updated 09 June 2023

UK commits to anti-Daesh funding at Saudi meeting

UK commits to anti-Daesh funding at Saudi meeting
  • Global Coalition Against Daesh convenes in Riyadh at invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan
  • Efforts turn to humanitarian drive across liberated northeast Syria, Iraq

LONDON: The UK’s minister for the Middle East attended the Saudi-hosted Global Coalition Against Daesh ministerial-level meeting in Riyadh on June 8, and pledged funding for anti-terrorism and humanitarian efforts in Iraq and Syria.
Lord Ahmad, minister of state for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and UN, also highlighted the UK’s commitment to the coalition’s strategy of returning and reintegrating Iraqis displaced by Daesh violence.
The 86-member coalition met in Riyadh at the invitation of Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
Following the collapse of Daesh, the coalition’s efforts are now aimed at reintegrating internally displaced people through job training and anti-extremism drives, as well as meeting humanitarian challenges in Syria through direct funding.
Lord Ahmad outlined the UK’s commitment of £87.8 million ($110 million) toward countering Daesh over the next five years in northeast Syria and Iraq. The funding will support counterterrorism, stabilization and socioeconomic development in the region, a press release said.
As part of the UK’s efforts, the International Organization for Migration and the UN Development Program will both be supported in easing barriers to return for internally displaced Iraqis, including those in Syria’s Al-Hol camp.
Over the next two years, the UK will also provide £16 million to address the humanitarian disaster in northeast Syria, providing more than 75,000 people with aid, social support and programs to grant women access to education and jobs.
Lord Ahmad said: “Though territorially defeated, Daesh is a threat that continues to destroy lives — not only in liberated areas of Iraq and Syria, but also in Afghanistan and parts of Africa where its affiliates are active.
“I am proud of the UK’s continuing role in eradicating Daesh, including rebuilding communities affected by its terrorism, and leading global efforts against its poisonous propaganda.”
In a joint statement released by Prince Faisal and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the coalition highlighted its support for a lasting political settlement in Syria.
As part of maintaining stability in areas liberated from Daesh, “durable solutions” for former Daesh fighters detained in the Al-Hol and Roj camps must include humanitarian access and aid, the coalition added.
The UK’s funding commitment is part of a pledge drive launched by ministers targeting a goal of $601 million for liberated areas in Iraq and Syria.
Following the Riyadh meeting, Lord Ahmad will travel to Turkiye for a global diplomacy conference, marking the first UK ministerial visit to the country since the reelection of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 28.
The event in Turkiye will be chaired by Lord Ahmad’s counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akcapar, and will include discussions on Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Ukraine.
Lord Ahmad said: “I look forward to visiting Istanbul to strengthen the UK’s important partnership with Turkiye and to discuss a broad range of foreign-policy issues.”


France hails ‘hero with a rucksack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children

France hails ‘hero with a rucksack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children
Updated 09 June 2023

France hails ‘hero with a rucksack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children

France hails ‘hero with a rucksack’ who intervened in knife attack on very young children
  • French media hailed Henri as “the hero with a rucksack” Friday after he was shown in a video grappling with the assailant and charging after him during the knife attack
  • Henri had a heavy rucksack on his back and was holding another in his hand when the attacker slashed at him

LE PECQ, France: The attacker slashed at the 24-year-old man with the knife that he used to savagely stab one young child after another. But rather than run, Henri held his ground — using a weighty backpack he was carrying to swing at the assailant and parry his blade.
French media hailed Henri as “the hero with a rucksack” Friday after he was shown in a video grappling with the assailant and charging after him during the knife attack that critically wounded four children between the ages of 22 months and 3 years old, and also injured two adults.
Henri had a heavy rucksack on his back and was holding another in his hand when the attacker slashed at him. Even after being slashed at, Henri still continued to harass the attacker by pursuing him inside a playground — where the man repeatedly stabbed a child in a stroller — and then out of the park again, carrying his rucksacks all the while. He appeared to hurl one of the sacks at the assailant at one point and then pick it up again to take another swing.
Henri’s father, François, said he believed that his son’s dogged pursuit helped dissuade the attacker from stabbing more victims before police wrestled him to the ground.
“He took a lot of risks – when he wasn’t armed, with just his rucksacks,” the father told The Associated Press. “He didn’t stop running after him for many minutes, to stop him from coming back and massacring the kids even more. I think he prevented carnage by scaring him off. Really very courageous.”
François asked that their last name not be published, expressing concerns about their family being thrust suddenly and inadvertently into the public eye at a time of shock and outrage in France provoked by the viciousness of Thursday’s attack and the helplessness of its young victims.
The profile of the suspected attacker, a 31-year-old Syrian refugee, also fueled renewed political debate about French migration policies. Critics on the right and far-right of French politics quickly dusted off their arguments that French migration controls are too lax.
For his part, Henri shied away from the “hero” label. He said he “tried to act as all French people should act, or would act.”
“In that moment, you unplug your brain and react a bit like an animal by instinct,” he told broadcaster BFMTV. “It was impossible for me to witness that without reacting.”
“I am far from alone in having reacted. Many other people around started, like me, to run after him to try to scare him, push him away. And other people immediately went over to the children to take care of the injured.”
“I remember there was also a municipal worker who arrived from the right with a large plastic shovel to try to hit him,” Henri said.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Friday that all four children underwent surgery for their life-threatening knife wounds and “are under constant medical surveillance.”
“Their situation is stable,” she said.
Government spokesman Olivier Veran, a medical doctor by training, said that two of the children remain in critical condition.
President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte traveled to a hospital treating three of the four children. Motives for the attack in and around a children’s lakeside playground in the Alpine town of Annecy remained unexplained. The suspect, who has refugee status in Sweden, remains in custody. Psychiatrists are evaluating him, Veran said.
Henri’s father said that in phone conversation after the attack, his son “told me that the Syrian was incoherent, saying lots of strange things in different languages, invoking his father, his mother, all the Gods.”
“In short, he was possessed by who knows what, but possessed by folly, that’s certain,” the father told the AP.
He said he did not show the disturbing video of the attack to his other children and his wife, and added that he and his wife had trouble sleeping even after learning that Henri was safe.
“We thanked providence and his guardian angels.,” he said.
Most of the children were rushed to a hospital in the French Alpine city of Grenoble — the first stop for Macron and his wife on Friday morning. They didn’t speak to reporters as they went inside.
The fourth wounded child was being treated in Geneva, in neighboring Switzerland.
Two of the four children are French and the other two were tourists — one British, the other Dutch.
Two adults also suffered knife wounds — life-threatening for one them, authorities said. One of the adults was injured both with a knife and by a shot fired by police as they were detaining the suspected attacker.
Portugal’s foreign ministry said that a Portuguese citizen was one of the two adults wounded.
“In the course of the tragic event, a Portuguese citizen, while trying to stop the attacker from fleeing from the police, was seriously injured and is now out of danger. For this act of courage and bravery, we thank him profoundly,” the ministry said.
French authorities said the suspect had recently been refused asylum in France, because Sweden had already granted him permanent residency and refugee status a decade ago.
Lead prosecutor Line Bonnet-Mathis said the man’s motives were unknown, but didn’t appear to be terrorism-related. He was armed with a folding knife, she said.


Russia says ‘repelled’ several Ukrainian attacks

Russia says ‘repelled’ several Ukrainian attacks
Updated 09 June 2023

Russia says ‘repelled’ several Ukrainian attacks

Russia says ‘repelled’ several Ukrainian attacks
  • The statement came after Russian war correspondents had reported "active combat" in the southern Zaporizhzhia region
  • The Russian army said it had repelled four attacks "carried out by forces of up to two battalion tactical groups, reinforced with tanks" near the village of Levadnoye

MOSCOW: The Russian army on Friday said it had repelled several attacks on the southern Ukrainian front, where fighting sharply intensified this week amid expectations of a major Kyiv offensive.
The statement came after Russian war correspondents had reported “active combat” in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.
“Over the past day, the armed forces of Ukraine continued attempts to conduct offensive operations in the South-Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia directions,” the Russian army said.
It said they were “decisively” pushed back by Russian troops and planes.
The Russian army said it had repelled four attacks “carried out by forces of up to two battalion tactical groups, reinforced with tanks” near the village of Levadnoye in the Zaporizhzhia region and in Novosleka village in the Donetsk region.
The other two attacks were near the Novodanilovka and Malaya Tokmachka in Zaporizhzhia.
There are expectations of a major Ukrainian offensive, with some analysts saying it has already begun.
“At the moment, active combat is ongoing in the region between Orekhovo and Tokmak,” Vladimir Rogov, an official with Russian occupation authorities, wrote on the Telegram messaging service, referring to a locality known in Ukrainian as Orikhiv.
Alexander Sladkov, a Russian war correspondent, wrote on Telegram of “intense fighting” in the area.
“The enemy is undertaking incredible efforts, attacks. In vain. Our forces are holding on. The front line is stable,” he wrote.
This could not be independently verified.
The Ukrainian army meanwhile said only “the adversary remains on the defensive” in Zaporizhzhia.
It said it destroyed four missiles and 10 drones, out of some 20 that Russia had fired at “military installations and critical infrastructure.”


UAE Foreign Minister meets Japan Prime Minister, seeks stronger ties

UAE Foreign Minister meets Japan Prime Minister, seeks stronger ties
Updated 09 June 2023

UAE Foreign Minister meets Japan Prime Minister, seeks stronger ties

UAE Foreign Minister meets Japan Prime Minister, seeks stronger ties
  • Prime Minister Kishida said that he is looking forward to working closely with the UAE
  • Sheikh Abdullah stated that the UAE attaches importance to the rule of law and would like to work together with Japan on various matters

TOKYO: United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan paid a courtesy call on Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on Friday and expressed his hopes for strengthening bilateral ties with Japan.
Prime Minister Kishida said that he is looking forward to working closely with the UAE, the foreign ministry said.
Kishida also stated that at the recent G7 Summit in Hiroshima, the leaders of the G7, and various invited countries shared a basic understanding on the rule of law and the non-permissibility of unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force.
Sheikh Abdullah stated that the UAE attaches importance to the rule of law and would like to work together with Japan on various matters, including cooperation in the UN Security Council.
Kishida said he was delighted to meet Sheikh Abdullah for the first time in six years. He added that Japan would like to further strengthen cooperation with the UAE in various fields under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative.