Russian ship damaged in Ukrainian strike on shipyard in Crimea

Russian ship damaged in Ukrainian strike on shipyard in Crimea
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with workers during a ceremony to mark the formal beginning of construction of Russian warships at Kerch's Zaliv shipyard on July 20, 2020. (Sputnik via AFP/File)
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Updated 05 November 2023
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Russian ship damaged in Ukrainian strike on shipyard in Crimea

Russian ship damaged in Ukrainian strike on shipyard in Crimea
  • Russian officials confirmed the attack damaged one ship but there were no casualties
  • The Zalyv shipyard is in the city of Kerch in Crimea, which Russia annexed years ago

Ukraine’s armed forces said they hit marine and port infrastructure at a shipyard in the port city of Kerch in Russian-occupied Crimea on Saturday, in an attack confirmed by the Russian defense ministry.

“The evening of Nov. 4 Armed Forces of Ukraine implemented successful strikes on marine and port infrastructure of the ‘Zalyv’ factory in the temporarily-occupied city of Kerch,” the Department for Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a Telegram post, giving no further details.

“I hope another ship has followed the Moskva!” Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of Ukraine’s air force, said in a Telegram post, referring to the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship sunk by Ukrainian missiles on April 14, 2022.

Oleshchuk said cruise missiles struck the infrastructure at Zalyv — which is now named B.E. Butoma — “where one of the most modern Russian Navy ships was stationed, a Kalibr cruise missile carrier.” He said he was “awaiting official confirmation of the results.”

In a statement carried by Russian news agencies, Russia's defense ministry said the Ukrainian attack involving 15 cruise missiles damaged one ship. Air defense systems destroyed 13 of the Ukraine-launched missiles, said the statement.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed head of Crimea, said downed missile fragments had hit a dry dock and that there were no casualties. He also said air defense systems had been in action around a Kerch shipyard named after B.E. Butoma.

Military analyst and journalist Andriy Tsaplienko said in a Telegram post that one of Russia’s most modern ships, a small cruise missile carrier launched in 2021, the Askold, was damaged in the attack, according to what he described as preliminary information.


South Korea orders doctors to return to work amid prolonged strike

South Korea orders doctors to return to work amid prolonged strike
Updated 4 sec ago
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South Korea orders doctors to return to work amid prolonged strike

South Korea orders doctors to return to work amid prolonged strike
  • Around four percent of some 36,000 private clinics have notified the government of plans to be closed on Tuesday to take part in the protest
  • The government previously issued a return-to-work order to striking trainee doctors before withdrawing it earlier this month
SEOUL: The South Korean government issued a return-to-work order for private practitioners on Tuesday as more doctors including medical professors join the months-long strike to protest increasing medical school admissions.
Around four percent of some 36,000 private clinics have notified the government of plans to be closed on Tuesday to take part in the protest, Health Minister Cho Kyoo-hong said.
“To minimize the medical gap, the return-to-work order will be issued at 9 a.m. today,” Cho told a briefing.
The government previously issued a return-to-work order to striking trainee doctors before withdrawing it earlier this month as an olive branch.
Under the law, doctors defying the return-to-work order can face suspension of their licenses or other legal repercussions.
President Yoon Suk Yeol said the doctors’ strike was “regretful and disappointing.”
“(The government) has no choice but to sternly deal with the illegal acts neglecting patients,” Yoon said during a cabinet meeting, while offering to work together if the doctors return to work.
The Korea Medical Association, a critic of the government’s reforms, was leading Tuesday’s strike. The group also staged a protest in Seoul on the same day, calling for reconsideration of increasing medical school admissions.
“The government should respect...all doctors in this land as life-saving experts, not slaves, and listen to their voices,” Association President Lim Hyun-taek said.
At least some 10,000 people showed up for the protest, according to a Reuters witness, with protesters wearing a makeshift hat saying: “Prevent medical collapse.”
According to a survey by local pollster nownsurvey conducted last week, nearly eight in 10 South Koreans oppose the doctors’ strike.
Some doctors and medical staff have openly criticized the collective action in response to the government’s push for an increase in medical school admissions to address the shortage of doctors in the country.
Others have argued that increasing the number of doctors alone will do little to shore up essential services and rural areas grappling with a deepening shortage of doctors.
More than half of medical professors at Seoul National University hospitals on Monday went on indefinite strike, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Taiwan keeping watch after Chinese submarine surfaces in Taiwan Strait

Taiwan keeping watch after Chinese submarine surfaces in Taiwan Strait
Updated 38 min 53 sec ago
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Taiwan keeping watch after Chinese submarine surfaces in Taiwan Strait

Taiwan keeping watch after Chinese submarine surfaces in Taiwan Strait
  • The narrow strait that separates Taiwan from China is a frequent source of tension
  • Published pictures of the surfaced craft appears to be a nuclear-armed Jin class ballistic missile submarine

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s defense minister said on Tuesday that they have a “grasp” of the situation after pictures appeared online of a Chinese nuclear submarine surfacing in the sensitive Taiwan Strait near Taiwanese fishermen.
The narrow strait that separates Taiwan from China is a frequent source of tension. Taiwan reports Chinese warplanes and warships operating there on a daily basis, as Beijing seeks to assert its sovereignty claims against the democratically governed island.
Taiwanese media published the pictures of the surfaced craft, which appears to be a nuclear-armed Jin class ballistic missile submarine, taken by a Taiwanese fishing boat in the strait as dawn broke on Tuesday, about 200 km (125 miles) from Taiwan’s western coast.
Asked about the submarine, Taiwan Defense Minister Wellington Koo said they have a “grasp” of the intelligence situation, but declined to say how they were monitoring it or give details.
China’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nuclear-powered submarines can operate underwater for months at a time, and ballistic-missile boats’ secretive mission means they rarely surface.
A security source familiar with the situation said that the submarine was most likely returning to its home port in Qingdao from the South China Sea. The source said Tuesday’s incident might have been because it experienced a malfunction and was forced to surface.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.
Military experts say the strategic waters off Taiwan’s southwestern shores, where the largely shallow Taiwan Strait descends in depth, provide submarines a location for an ambush, making it a hot spot for militaries including China, Taiwan and the United States.
Ballistic missile submarines are not designed to attack ships, but to launch ballistic missiles at targets on land.
Taiwan’s fleet of P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft are based at the Pingtung air base in southern Taiwan, giving easy access to the southern part of the strait.
Taiwan has complained in recent years that China has been using so-called grey zone warfare designed to exhaust a foe without resorting to open combat, such as flying surveillance balloons over the island.
“We must be fully alert to China’s continued military harassment and grey zone threats and must always understand China’s constant salami-slicing attempts to unilaterally change the status quo,” Koo said.
“We must be alert at all times, but not panic nor be apathetic, and calmly deal with the situation in the strait,” he added. “We won’t be the one provoking, and call on China not to be a troublemaker.”
Taiwan detected 20 Chinese military planes and seven vessels around the island in the past 24 hours, Taiwan’s defense ministry said in its daily report on Chinese military activities on Tuesday morning.


Thaksin granted bail, media reports, as Thai court cases raise risk of political crisis

Thaksin granted bail, media reports, as Thai court cases raise risk of political crisis
Updated 18 June 2024
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Thaksin granted bail, media reports, as Thai court cases raise risk of political crisis

Thaksin granted bail, media reports, as Thai court cases raise risk of political crisis
  • Thaksin’s is the first of four high-profile cases involving key political players that are before the courts on Tuesday
  • The cases involve some of Thailand’s most powerful politicians, including its current prime minister

BANGKOK: Influential former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a powerful backer of the ruling government, was granted bail on Tuesday, local media reported, avoiding pre-trial detention for allegedly insulting the monarchy in a 2015 interview.
Thaksin’s is the first of four high-profile cases involving key political players that are before the courts on Tuesday, in the latest legal wrangling that could see Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy plunged into a new period of uncertainty.
The cases involve some of Thailand’s most powerful politicians, including its current prime minister, and could deepen a decades-old rift between the conservative-royalist establishment and its opponents, such as the populist ruling Pheu Thai party and the opposition Move Forward party.
Thaksin sought bail from a court in Bangkok shortly after the Attorney General formally indicted the 74-year-old billionaire for an offense that carries a maximum jail sentence of up to 15 years for each perceived royal insult.
Public broadcaster ThaiPBS and other local media reported the court had accepted 500,000 baht ($13,600) bail.
Separately, the Constitutional Court will conduct a hearing in a case lodged by a group of senators that could potentially see Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin dismissed from office for breaching the law in appointing a lawyer with a conviction record to his cabinet.
The same court will also hear a case seeking to disband the popular opposition Move Forward Party for their campaign to amend the country’s royal insult law, following a complaint by the Election Commission.
The court is expected to announce the next hearing or verdict date for cases involving Srettha and Move Forward on Tuesday.
The Constitutional Court will also rule whether the ongoing selection process for a new upper house, which started earlier this month and is scheduled to conclude in early July, is lawful.
If the court cancels or delays the process, it would temporarily extend the term of military-appointed senators who have a played crucial role in the formation of the previous government.
POWERFUL COURTS, RATTLED MARKETS
“The political parties and representatives that voters have chosen are being systematically and repeatedly stymied,” Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, told Reuters.
A single petition can bring down a sitting, elected government or oust a prime minister, he said, outlining the power of the country’s courts.
“There’s a judicial assertiveness that has been damaging to Thailand, subverting popular will and popular mandates.”
Such tensions have previously triggered violent street protests, dissolutions of political parties, airport closures and military coups that have hamstrung the economy.
Thai stock markets have been rattled by the spectre of a political crisis. The main stock index dropped to its lowest level since November 2020 on Monday, but was up more than 1 percent on Tuesday morning.


South Korean soldiers fire warning shots after North Korean troops intrude for second time this month

South Korean soldiers fire warning shots after North Korean troops intrude for second time this month
Updated 18 June 2024
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South Korean soldiers fire warning shots after North Korean troops intrude for second time this month

South Korean soldiers fire warning shots after North Korean troops intrude for second time this month
  • Around 20 to 30 North Korean soldiers, while engaging in unspecified construction work on the northern side of the border, briefly crossed the military demarcation line

SEOUL: South Korean soldiers fired warning shots to repel North Korean soldiers who temporarily crossed the rivals’ land border Tuesday for the second time this month, South Korea’s military said.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said around 20 to 30 North Korean soldiers, while engaging in unspecified construction work on the northern side of the border, briefly crossed the military demarcation line that bisects the countries as of 8:30 a.m. It said the North Korean soldiers retreated after the South broadcasts warnings and fired warning shots and the South’s military didn’t spot any suspicious activities after that.
The South also fired warning shots on June 11 after another group of North Korean soldiers briefly crossed the MDL. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said that Tuesday’s incident occurred in a different area along the central frontline region. It said it doesn’t believe the North Korean soldiers intruded the border intentionally and that the North did not return fire.
The South’s military said North Korean has been increasing construction activity in frontline border areas, such as installing suspected anti-tank barriers, reinforcing roads and planting land mines.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff also said it recently observed several explosions suspected to have been caused by mines in areas where North Korean soldiers were deployed for construction work, but that the activities continued despite an unspecified number of injuries or deaths.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it anticipates North Korea will expand its border construction activities, which it said could be aimed at making it harder for North Korean civilians or soldiers to escape to the South as Pyongyang’s leadership attempts to strengthen its control over its people.
The border intrusions come as tensions rise between the war-divided rivals, who in recent weeks have engaged in Cold War-style psychological warfare and made it clear they are no longer bound by their landmark military agreement in 2018 to reduce tensions.
The Koreas’ heavily fortified border, referred to as the Demilitarized Zone, has occasionally been a site of bloodshed and violent confrontations between the rivals. An estimated 2 million mines are peppered inside and near 248-kilometer-long border, which is also guarded by barbed wire fences, tank traps and combat troops on both sides. It’s a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.


White House slams ‘cheapfake’ clips portraying Biden ‘freezing’

White House slams ‘cheapfake’ clips portraying Biden ‘freezing’
Updated 18 June 2024
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White House slams ‘cheapfake’ clips portraying Biden ‘freezing’

White House slams ‘cheapfake’ clips portraying Biden ‘freezing’
  • In one video, an apparently disoriented Biden appears to wander away from fellow world leaders while watching a skydiving display during a G7 summit in Italy last week

WASHINGTON: The White House on Monday criticized Republicans for spreading videos purported to show President Joe Biden’s mental and physical decline, saying the images had been deceptively cut and manipulated.
“It tells you everything that we need to know about how desperate Republicans are here,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, branding the clips as “cheapfake” videos.
Outlets including the New York Post and an official Republican social media account have shared several seemingly damning short videos in recent days of the 81-year-old president.
In one video, an apparently disoriented Biden appears to wander away from fellow world leaders while watching a skydiving display during a G7 summit in Italy last week.
But Jean-Pierre said the footage was misleadingly edited, and Biden instead was moving to give a thumbs up to the parachutists.
“This was widely fact checked ... including by conservative media,” she said at a media briefing, adding “if you run that tape a little bit longer than you’d see ... what was happening.”
Earlier in the week NBC also debunked the claim, posting footage caught by its own cameras from another angle online which showed Biden interacting with the parachutists just a few feet away.
Another widely-shared clip was a close-up shot of Biden standing still as world leaders danced close to him during a concert at the White House — which opponents said showed a state of confusion.
“The president stood there listening to the music, and he didn’t dance. Excuse me. I did not know not dancing was (...) a health issue,” Jean-Pierre said of the video.
And on the weekend, the New York Post again shared a video appearing to show Biden getting lost on stage during a fundraising event in California, before being pointed to an exit by former president Barack Obama.
Andrew Bates, another White House spokesman, said on X that Biden was instead waiting on the stage to appreciate the applause from his supporters.
And Eric Schultz, a senior Obama adviser, posted a link to the Post article on X, writing: “this did not happen.”
Biden’s main rival in the November election, Republican Donald Trump, has made Biden’s advancing age one of his main campaign rallying points, trying to position himself as an energetic alternative — despite being, at 78, just three years younger.
Whoever wins the vote will set a new age record.
Biden is already the oldest man to hold the office and would continue to be so, while if Trump wins, he would become the oldest ever at an inauguration.