NATO’s secretary-general meets with Zelensky to discuss battlefield and ammunition needs in Ukraine

NATO’s secretary-general meets with Zelensky to discuss battlefield and ammunition needs in Ukraine
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attend their press conference in Kyiv on Sept. 28, 2023. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 28 September 2023
Follow

NATO’s secretary-general meets with Zelensky to discuss battlefield and ammunition needs in Ukraine

NATO’s secretary-general meets with Zelensky to discuss battlefield and ammunition needs in Ukraine
  • Zelensky said that Stoltenberg agreed to make efforts to get NATO members to help provide additional air defense systems to protect Ukraine’s power plants
  • Stoltenberg said that NATO has contracts for $2.5 billion in ammunition for Ukraine

KYIV: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met with President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the status of the war and needs of troops on Thursday, the day after Russia accused Ukraine’s Western allies of helping plan and conduct last week’s missile strike on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters on the annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Zelensky said that Stoltenberg agreed to make efforts to get NATO members to help provide additional air defense systems to protect Ukraine’s power plants and energy infrastructure that were badly damaged in relentless and deadly attacks by Russia last winter. He also reminded the secretary-general of the persistent attacks that often strike civilian areas, including 40 drone attacks overnight.
“In the face of such intense attacks against Ukrainians, against our cities, our ports, which are crucial for global food security, we need a corresponding intensity of pressure on Russia and a strengthening of our air defense,” Zelensky said. “The world must see how Russia is losing dearly so that our shared values ultimately prevail.”
Stoltenberg said that NATO has contracts for 2.4 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in ammunition for Ukraine, including 155 mm Howitzer shells, anti-tank guided missiles and tank ammunition.
“The stronger Ukraine becomes, the closer we become to ending Russia’s aggression,” Stoltenberg said. “Russia could lay down arms and end its war today. Ukraine doesn’t have that option. Ukraine’s surrender would not mean peace. It would mean brutal Russian occupation. Peace at any price would be no peace at all.”
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had said the attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Crimea had been coordinated with the help of US and UK security agencies, and that NATO satellites and reconnaissance planes also played a role.
Ukraine said without providing supporting evidence that the attack had killed 34 officers and wounded 105 others. But it also claimed to have killed the fleet’s commander, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, who was shown on Russian state television on Wednesday speaking with reporters in the Black Sea city of Sevastopol.
Unconfirmed news reports said Storm Shadow missiles provided to Ukraine by the UK and France were used in the attack on the Russian navy installation. The UK Ministry of Defense, which in the past has declined to discuss intelligence-related matters, didn’t comment on Zakharova’s remarks.
The meeting with Stoltenberg came the same day the French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu visited the memorial wall that honors fallen soldiers in Kyiv and the day after UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps met with Zelensky to reaffirm the UK’s support for Ukraine and pledged to provide more ammunition as Kyiv’s counteroffensive plods forward toward the season when damp and cold weather could slow progress.
Shapps, who hosted a Ukrainian family in his home for a year, said that he was personally aggrieved by what the country had endured.
“Our support for you, for Ukraine remains absolutely undented,” Shapps said in a video posted by Zelensky. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with you. We feel your pain of what’s happened and we want to see a resolution, which is the resolution that you want and require.”
Zelensky has pushed for Ukraine to join NATO, but at the organization’s annual summit this summer in Lithuania, members of the trans-Atlantic military alliance pledged more support for Ukraine but stopped short of extending an invitation for the country to join the alliance.
NATO leaders said during the summit that they would allow Ukraine to join the alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met.” They also decided to remove obstacles on Ukraine’s membership path so that it can join more quickly once the war with Russia is over.
Zelensky said Thursday that Ukraine is working on a plan that will outline practical steps for Ukraine to align with the principles and standards of NATO.
“And it is very important that the allies have agreed that Ukraine does not need an action plan for NATO membership,” Zelensky said.


Republican seeks to bar party from paying Trump’s legal bills

Republican seeks to bar party from paying Trump’s legal bills
Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

Republican seeks to bar party from paying Trump’s legal bills

Republican seeks to bar party from paying Trump’s legal bills
  • The former president faces four criminal trials and was recently ordered to pay about $540 million in judgments in two civil cases
  • “The RNC’s job is to win elections. It’s not to pay the legal bills for any leading candidate,” says the Republican National Committee member

NEW YORK: A Republican National Committee member has submitted resolutions that would prohibit the party from paying presidential candidate Donald Trump’s legal bills, according to a draft, but the measures must get more backers soon to move forward.

Mississippi RNC committeeman Henry Barbor drafted the resolution on Trump’s legal expenses and another requiring the party committee to stay neutral in the presidential race until he receives enough delegates to secure the nomination.
“The RNC’s job is to win elections. It’s not to pay the legal bills for any leading candidate. He’s got to fight his own legal fight,” Barbor told Reuters on Saturday.
Barbor needs to get two cosponsors from 10 states to join the effort by Tuesday for the resolutions to proceed to a full vote by the RNC’s 168 committee members. That vote could come in March and would require a simple majority to pass. But Barbor predicted they would be defeated if they reach that point.
Former President Trump, who denies all wrongdoing, faces four criminal trials and was recently ordered to pay about $540 million in judgments in two civil cases.
A Trump super PAC reported paying more than $47 million in legal expenses for him in 2023.
Trump is seeking to cement his status as Republican presidential nominee and gain more control over the RNC, including by nominating daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair.
Lara Trump has said it is “a big interest to people” to pay fees for her father-in-law’s criminal and civil cases.
Barbor said pro-Trump forces were “jumping the gun” by seeking to declare Trump the party’s presidential nominee while longshot challenger Nikki Haley remains in the race for the Republican nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the November election. Trump is on course for another easy win in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday.
The resolutions were first reported by The Dispatch. Trump campaign co-manager Chris LaCivita, who Trump has proposed serve as the RNC’s chief operating officer, on Saturday said in a statement that it is “the RNC’s sole responsibility to defeat Joe Biden and win back the White House.”
On Friday, he said the RNC would not use raised funds to pay for Trump’s legal bills.


British PM Sunak says West should be bolder about seizing Russian assets

British PM Sunak says West should be bolder about seizing Russian assets
Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

British PM Sunak says West should be bolder about seizing Russian assets

British PM Sunak says West should be bolder about seizing Russian assets
  • The European Union, US, Japan and Canada froze some $300 billion of Russian central bank assets in 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine
  • Sunak also urged the US to continue to provide financial and military support for Ukraine

LONDON: Western nations should be bolder about confiscating Russian assets which they froze after the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
Sunak, in an article in an early edition of the Sunday Times to mark two years since the start of the conflict, said Ukraine continued to need more long-range weapons, drones and munitions, as well as other assistance.
“We must be bolder in hitting the Russian war economy .... And we must be bolder in seizing the hundreds of billions of frozen Russian assets,” he said .
Last month British Investment Minister Dominic Johnson met US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo to discuss the seizure of frozen Russian assets, but stressed this needed to be done in accordance with international law.
The European Union, US, Japan and Canada froze some $300 billion of Russian central bank assets in 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Group of Seven countries have been studying a possible seizure of the assets as a way to have Russia pay for the damage its invasion caused in Ukraine.
Sunak also urged the US to continue to provide financial and military support for Ukraine.
“We should never underestimate what America has done for Ukraine and for Euro-Atlantic security. I urge them to continue that support, and I am confident they will,” he wrote in the article.
Britain’s defense ministry announced 245 million pounds ($311 million) of aid to fund Ukrainian artillery ammunition on Saturday.


Trump notches easy win over Haley in march to Republican nomination

Trump notches easy win over Haley in march to Republican nomination
Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

Trump notches easy win over Haley in march to Republican nomination

Trump notches easy win over Haley in march to Republican nomination
  • Haley vows ‘not giving up,’ saying while Trump is strong within the party, he cannot win a general election
  • Poll says 32 percent of voters in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary contest think Trump would not be fit for the presidency if he were convicted of a crime

CHARLESTON, United States: Donald Trump cruised to a decisive victory Saturday in the South Carolina Republican primary, blitzing rival Nikki Haley in her home state and continuing his march to the nomination and a White House rematch with Joe Biden.

Nonetheless, Haley vowed to fight on Trump may have strong support for the Republican nomination, she has better chances of winning in the presidential race than Trump.

“I said earlier this week that no matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run... I’m a woman of my word. I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she said.

Trump completed a sweep of the first four major nominating contests, converting a year of blockbuster polls into a likely insurmountable lead going into the “Super Tuesday” 15-state voting bonanza in 10 days.

While Haley repeatedly questioned the 77-year-old former president’s mental fitness and warned another Trump presidency would bring “chaos,” her efforts appeared to do little to damage his standing among Republicans.

The margin of victory was not immediately clear but it was expected to be significant, with major US networks calling the race within seconds of the polls closing.

Haley, a popular governor of South Carolina in the 2010s and the only woman to have entered the Republican contest, was looking to outperform expectations in her own backyard and ride into Super Tuesday with wind her sails.

But she was never able to compete in a battleground that preferred Trump’s brand of right-wing “America first” populism and personal grievance over the four indictments and multiple civil lawsuits he faces.

Meanwhile, some 32 percent of voters in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary contest think Trump would not be fit for the presidency if he were convicted of a crime, according to the preliminary results of an exit poll conducted on Saturday by Edison Research.
The poll gathered responses from 1,508 voters in the Republican contest. Updated results will be available as more responses are gathered.

Trump had already won Iowa by 30 points and New Hampshire by 10, while a dispute in Nevada led to the real estate tycoon running unopposed in the official contest.

The margin of Trump’s victory was always the main question in South Carolina, with analysts arguing that Haley managing to whittle the gap to 15 points or less would have counted as a good night.
Trump aides have been clear however that they want to see off Haley long before the Republican National Convention in July — and are expecting the party to coalesce around the front-runner ahead of the first of his criminal trials on March 25.

Trump made clear Saturday that he is looking beyond Haley to a likely November contest against Biden.
Speaking ahead of voting booths closing to the Conservative Political Action Committee conference — a must-stop for Republican politicians — Trump spent much of his time bashing Biden, not Haley.
Haley — a traditional conservative who espouses limited government and a muscular foreign policy — has argued that a Trump presidency would be mired in scandal from day one.
The 52-year-old former UN ambassador underscored the point Saturday by describing as “disgusting” comments Trump had made to Black conservatives on the campaign trail.

“It’s disgusting. But that’s what happens when he goes off the teleprompter. That’s the chaos that comes with Donald Trump,” Haley said at a polling station in her home state.
“That’s the offensiveness that’s going to happen every day between now and the general election, which is why I continue to say Donald Trump cannot win a general election,” she added.
Trump made the comments Friday evening in a speech to Black conservatives.
Nodding to his multiple indictments, Trump said that “Black people like me because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against.”
Haley has also blasted Trump’s reaction to the death of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny — he avoided criticizing President Vladimir Putin — and his threat to encourage Moscow to attack NATO nations not meeting their financial obligations.
Her central argument — that polling shows her performing better than Trump in hypothetical matchups with Biden — may have fallen on deaf ears but she has vowed to stay in the race through Super Tuesday.
Analysts say she is building her profile for a potential 2028 run — and is poised to step in should legal or health problems knock Trump out of the race.
“Nikki Haley’s an incredible role model,” said one Republican voter, Julie Taylor. “She’s not giving up, she’s showing strength and grace and courage.”

One third of South Carolina Republicans would spurn Trump if he were convicted-exit poll
Some 32 percent of voters in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary contest think Donald Trump would not be fit for the presidency if he were convicted of a crime, according to the preliminary results of an exit poll conducted on Saturday by Edison Research.
The poll gathered responses from 1,508 voters in the Republican contest. Updated results will be available as more responses are gathered.

 


G7 pledges more Russia sanctions after virtual talks on Ukraine

G7 pledges more Russia sanctions after virtual talks on Ukraine
Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

G7 pledges more Russia sanctions after virtual talks on Ukraine

G7 pledges more Russia sanctions after virtual talks on Ukraine
  • Finally, the G7 leaders demanded that Russia “fully clarify the circumstances” around the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny

ROME: The G7 countries pledged support for Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia after a virtual meeting Saturday on the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion.
In a statement after the meeting, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also attended, the leaders vowed to “raise the cost” of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The G7 leaders didn’t make any public statement about further military aid to Ukraine, but urged “the approval of additional support to close Ukraine’s remaining budget gap for 2024.”
“We will continue to raise the cost of Russia’s war, degrade Russia’s sources of revenue and impede its efforts to build its war machine,” said the group, which includes the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.
They called on Iran to stop helping Russia’s military and expressed concern about the transfer by Chinese businesses of weapon components, military equipment and dual-use materials to Moscow.
Finally, the G7 leaders demanded that Russia “fully clarify the circumstances” around the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died in an Arctic prison last week.
After a week-long stand-off, his body was finally handed over to his mother on Saturday, according to his team.
Zelensky used the meeting to plead for more support for his embattled military forces.
“You know very well all we need to keep our sky protected, to strengthen our military on the land, and you know all we need to sustain and continue our success in the sea,” he said.
“And you know perfectly well that we need all this in time, and we count on you.”
The meeting was hosted from Kyiv by Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy, which holds the rotating G7 presidency.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen were also in Kyiv Saturday for the anniversary and attended the session in person.
It was the first meeting of the G7 under the Italian presidency.
Meloni flew to Poland, which borders Ukraine, and then took the train to Kyiv.
She explained her reasons for going to Kyiv in an interview with Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper published Saturday.
“Italy, Europe and the West must continue to back Kyiv because defending Ukraine means... keeping war at bay, protecting our national interests and preventing the international order based on rules from breaking down,” she said.
“We believe in Ukraine’s European future,” she said, referring to Kyiv’s frantic efforts to join the European Union.
 


Bangkok’s Little Arab Town: A cultural hub but an intellectual property minefield

Bangkok’s Little Arab Town: A cultural hub but an intellectual property minefield
Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

Bangkok’s Little Arab Town: A cultural hub but an intellectual property minefield

Bangkok’s Little Arab Town: A cultural hub but an intellectual property minefield
  • For many Arabs living in or visiting Bangkok, the area, locally known as Soi Arab, serves as a home away from home

BANGKOK: In the bustling streets of Bangkok lies a vibrant enclave known as Little Arab Town, where the sights, sounds and flavors of the Arab world converge.

Nestled within this cultural hub are a plethora of restaurants offering authentic Arab cuisine, drawing in patrons from across the diaspora.

Arabic script adorns storefronts, and the air is filled with the tantalizing aromas of shawarma, falafel and freshly baked bread.

Amidst the hustle and bustle, one can hear the melodic cadence of Arabic conversations, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the streets of Riyadh, Dubai or Cairo.

For many Arabs living in or visiting Bangkok, this area, locally known as Soi Arab, serves as a home away from home — a place where they can reconnect with their culture through food, language and community.

Hamad Al-Badr, a Qatari citizen who came to Bangkok with his Saudi wife, said he knew about the area from his friends and wanted to explore it.

“On my first day in this locale, I utilized Google to familiarize myself with the area before embarking on a tuk-tuk journey to reach my destination,” he told Arab News.

“The prevalence of Arabic speakers here proves advantageous, minimizing any potential language barriers.”

Saleh Al-Yafie, a Yemeni investor who owns restaurants in Indonesia, came to Bangkok with ambitions to grow his business. However, he was surprised by the “extremely high” rental prices for shops in the area.

“I’ve spoken to some of the owners of these shops around here, and they informed me that renting a 100 sq. meter shop could cost up to SR70,000 (over $18,600) per month,” he told Arab News.

However, amidst the charm of this cultural haven lurks a troubling issue. Some stores in the area have adopted the names and branding of renowned Arab restaurants and shops, such Al-Saddah restaurants and AlBaik, a Saudi fast-food chain.

The Bangkok-located Al.Baik restaurant, reportedly owned by a South Asian national, not only replicates the logo and visual identity of the Saudi chain, but also leverages its widespread popularity to draw in customers.

This practice not only raises questions of intellectual property rights, but also risks tarnishing the reputation of established brands.

“A perfume and oud store in the vicinity appears to emulate a renowned brand prevalent across the Arab world,” said Al-Badr.

“Notably, the Thai counterpart distinguishes itself by offering footwear alongside its selection of oud and perfumes.”

Al-Badr said he would not buy from these stores, preferring instead to get oud and perfumes from his home country’s original shops.

Visitors to Little Arab Town may unwittingly patronize these imitation stores, only to be disappointed by the lack of authenticity and quality they offer.

Arab tourists are divided on whether to dine in these imitation restaurants. Some prioritize the quality of the food above all else, while others prioritize respect for intellectual property.

Saudi tourist Yazeed Bamarouf told Arab News that “I don’t support those who mimic popular brands,” which is why he has never been to Al.Baik.

Omani tourist Wisam Al-Furqani said the allure of the AlBaik name drew him and his friends in.

“We soon realized it wasn’t the authentic restaurant,” he told Arab News. “The food was satisfactory, but it lacked the distinct flavor of the original restaurant. Additionally, the menu differed.”

Despite his disapproval of unauthorized imitation, Al-Furqani said he would not hesitate to revisit the restaurant as long as it served good food in a clean environment.

Emirati Saeed Al-Marri, who has been frequently visiting Thailand for nearly 10 years, told Arab News: “Certain Thai restaurants now provide Gulf cuisine … given the substantial number of Gulf tourists frequenting this locality.”

Regarding the imitation of brand names, he said when he encounters a branded restaurant, he assumes it is a branch of the original chain.

“People typically accept what seems to be true at face value without delving into the specifics. Ultimately, people seek excellent service regardless of the brand name,” he added.

“Individuals often adhere to established habits and regular patterns. For example, when I travel to a new country, I seek out familiar foods and locations.”