Lavrov: No justification for collective punishment of Palestinian people

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. (AP)
Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. (AP)
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Updated 10 December 2023
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Lavrov: No justification for collective punishment of Palestinian people

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. (AP)

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Sunday said it was not acceptable for Israel to use the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 as justification for the collective punishment of the Palestinian people and called for international monitoring on the ground in Gaza.
Israeli tanks battled their way to the center of Khan Younis on Sunday in a major new push into the heart of the central city in the southern Gaza Strip.
President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly blamed the war between Israel and Hamas on the failure of years of US diplomacy in the Middle East, while aiming to position Russia as an important player with ties to all the
major actors in the region.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday voiced Israel’s “dissatisfaction” to President Putin over Russia’s vote in favor of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire.
“The prime minister expressed his dissatisfaction with the positions expressed against Israel by Russian representatives at the UN and in other forums” when he spoke with Putin on Sunday, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
“Any country that had been struck with a criminal terrorist assault such as Israel experienced would have reacted with no less force than Israel is using,” he told Putin.
The US vetoed Friday’s Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza war.
Netanyahu’s office said on Sunday Israel helped Cyprus foil an Iranian-ordered attack against Israelis and Jews on the island, claiming that such plots were on the rise since the Gaza
war erupted.
Netanyahu’s office said in the statement on behalf of the Mossad intelligence service that Israel was “troubled” by what it saw as Iranian use of Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus “both for terrorism objectives and as an operational and transit area.”
Earlier on Sunday, a Greek Cypriot newspaper in Cyprus’s government-controlled south reported authorities had detained two Iranians for questioning over suspected planning of attacks on Israeli citizens living in Cyprus.
The two individuals were believed to be in the early stages of gathering intelligence on potential Israeli targets, the Kathimerini Cyprus newspaper said without citing sources. Those individuals had crossed from the north, it said.
Barely a 40-minute flight from Israel, both sides of Cyprus are a popular holiday and investment destination for thousands of Israelis.

 


China disappointed over US veto on Israel-Hamas ceasefire vote, Xinhua reports

China disappointed over US veto on Israel-Hamas ceasefire vote, Xinhua reports
Updated 19 sec ago
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China disappointed over US veto on Israel-Hamas ceasefire vote, Xinhua reports

China disappointed over US veto on Israel-Hamas ceasefire vote, Xinhua reports
  • “China expresses its strong disappointment at and dissatisfaction with the US veto,” Xinhua reported Zhang Jun as saying

BEIJING: China expressed “strong disappointment” over the United States blocking a draft United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, Xinhua reported on Wednesday, citing China’s permanent representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun.
The United States on Tuesday vetoed for the third time a draft United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution, blocking a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire as it instead pushes the 15-member body to call for a temporary ceasefire linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas.
“China expresses its strong disappointment at and dissatisfaction with the US veto,” Xinhua reported Zhang Jun as saying.
“The US veto sends a wrong message, pushing the situation in Gaza into a more dangerous one,” Zhang said, adding that objection to ceasefire in Gaza is “nothing different from giving the green light to the continued slaughter.”

 

 


Brazil foreign minister says Israeli counterpart ‘lying’ in Gaza spat

Brazil foreign minister says Israeli counterpart ‘lying’ in Gaza spat
Updated 52 min 54 sec ago
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Brazil foreign minister says Israeli counterpart ‘lying’ in Gaza spat

Brazil foreign minister says Israeli counterpart ‘lying’ in Gaza spat
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Lula had “crossed a red line,” and Katz declared the Brazilian leader “persona non grata in the state of Israel so long as he doesn’t retract his remarks and apologize”

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s foreign minister on Tuesday accused his Israeli counterpart of “lying” as a diplomatic spat escalated over President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s comparison of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza to the Holocaust.
Mauro Vieira, whose country is hosting a G20 foreign ministers meeting this week, said statements by Israel Katz were “unacceptable in their nature and lying in their content” as well as “outrageous.”
Israel has reacted furiously after Lula said the conflict in the Gaza Strip “isn’t a war, it’s a genocide,” and compared it to “when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Lula had “crossed a red line,” and Katz declared the Brazilian leader “persona non grata in the state of Israel so long as he doesn’t retract his remarks and apologize.”
Katz summoned Brazil’s ambassador Frederico Meyer for a meeting Monday at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem.
In a tit-for-tat move, the Brazilian foreign ministry then summoned the Israeli ambassador to Brazil, Daniel Zonshinem, and recalled Meyer from Tel Aviv for consultations.
On Tuesday, Katz took to X to describe Lula’s comparison as “delusional.”
 

 

 


DR Congo, Rwanda ‘must walk back from brink of war’: US

DR Congo, Rwanda ‘must walk back from brink of war’: US
Updated 21 February 2024
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DR Congo, Rwanda ‘must walk back from brink of war’: US

DR Congo, Rwanda ‘must walk back from brink of war’: US
  • After several months of relative calm, intense fighting resumed last month around the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The United States warned Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the UN on Tuesday that they “must walk back from the brink of war,” as tensions rise between the neighbors.
Kinshasa, the United Nations and Western countries say Rwanda is supporting a rebel group active in eastern DRC in a bid to control vast mineral resources in the region, an allegation Kigali denies.
After several months of relative calm, intense fighting resumed last month around the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
“Parties to the conflict and regional actors should immediately resume (peace) processes — diplomatic efforts, not military conflict, are the only path for a negotiated solution and a sustainable peace,” said Robert Wood, an American envoy to the UN, at an emergency meeting concerning the DRC.
Kigali “must also withdraw Rwandan forces from Congolese territory and immediately remove any and all of its surface to air missile systems, which credible reporting indicates they’ve been responsible for intentionally firing on the aerial assets of MONUSCO,” the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, Wood added.
After years of dormancy, the M23 (March 23 Movement) took up arms again in late 2021 and has since seized vast swathes of North Kivu province.
Since early February, Goma, which stands between Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border, has been practically cut off from the country’s interior.
Demonstrators rallied in Goma on Monday in protest at what they said was inaction by the international community in the face of the swirling violence.
The DRC’s military is supported by myriad local armed groups, two foreign private military companies and the presence of UN peacekeepers and troops from the Southern African Development Community.
Rwanda warned against the “externalization” of the conflict into Rwanda.
“The recent escalation of the conflict in eastern DRC comes in the context of... public declarations by the presidents of DRC and Burundi who support regime change in Rwanda and heightened ethnic tension in the region,” said Rwanda’s envoy to the UN Ernest Rwamucyo.
The head of MONUSCO in DRC, Bintou Keita, warned about the possible spread of the conflict, as well as the dire humanitarian situation on the ground.
On Tuesday the UN called for $2.6 billion in aid to “provide live-saving assistance and protection to 8.7 million people,” according to its humanitarian response plan for the year.
“More than 25 million people are food-insecure, while acute malnutrition affects more than 8 million people, mainly children under the age of five,” the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA said in a statement.


Jailed Russian activist Yashin to keep ‘fighting tyranny’ after Navalny death

Jailed Russian activist Yashin to keep ‘fighting tyranny’ after Navalny death
Updated 21 February 2024
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Jailed Russian activist Yashin to keep ‘fighting tyranny’ after Navalny death

Jailed Russian activist Yashin to keep ‘fighting tyranny’ after Navalny death
  • Yashin was jailed for eight and a half years in December 2022, for spreading “false” information about the Russian army, under legislation criminalizing criticism of the Ukraine offensive

MOSCOW: Jailed Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin vowed on Tuesday to continue fighting for democracy in Russia after learning his friend and colleague, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, had died in prison.
The death of President Vladimir Putin’s top enemy last week triggered a flurry of outrage and raised fears for Navalny allies and other Kremlin critics imprisoned in Russia.
“As long as my heart beats in my chest, I will fight tyranny. As long as I live, I will fear no evil,” Yashin said in a post on social media, communicated through his lawyer.
Yashin was jailed for eight and a half years in December 2022, for spreading “false” information about the Russian army, under legislation criminalizing criticism of the Ukraine offensive.
“Of course, I understand the risks I face. I’m behind bars. My life is in Putin’s hands and it’s in danger,” he said.
Yashin was an ally of Navalny’s and close to Boris Nemtsov, another opposition politician who was killed near the Kremlin in 2015.
“We shared a common cause and dedicated our lives to making Russia peaceful, free and happy. Now both my friends are dead,” Yashin said.
He said he learned the news of Navalny’s death in his prison near Smolensk in western Russia and — like much of the opposition — laid blame on the Kremlin.
“In Putin’s understanding, this is how power is asserted — through murder, cruelty and demonstrative revenge,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to say how Putin — who has not commented on the death — reacted to his main opponent dying.
Peskov also said an investigation into Navalny’s death was ongoing and its findings were yet to be released.
 

 


Putin says Russia will push further into Ukraine after ‘chaotic’ fall of Avdiivka

Putin says Russia will push further into Ukraine after ‘chaotic’ fall of Avdiivka
Updated 21 February 2024
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Putin says Russia will push further into Ukraine after ‘chaotic’ fall of Avdiivka

Putin says Russia will push further into Ukraine after ‘chaotic’ fall of Avdiivka
  • Avdiivka, called Avdeyevka by Russians, has endured a decade of conflict

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Russian troops would push further into Ukraine to build on their success on the battlefield after the fall of the town of Avdiivka where he said Ukrainian troops had been forced to flee in chaos.
The town, which once had a population of 32,000, fell to Russia on Saturday, Putin’s biggest battlefield victory since Russian forces captured the city of Bakhmut in May 2023.
Television footage released by Russia’s defense ministry showed that almost every house in Avdiivka had been branded with war.
Putin said on Tuesday the Ukrainian order to withdraw from the town had been announced after Ukrainian troops had already begun to flee in chaos. He said that all captured Ukrainian soldiers should be accorded their rights under international conventions on prisoners.
“As for the overall situation in Avdiivka, this is an absolute success, I congratulate you. It needs to be built on,” Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Kremlin.
“But that development must be well-prepared, provided with personnel, weapons, equipment and ammunition,” Putin said. “It seems to be self-evident, but nevertheless I draw your attention to it.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN that Avdiivka would not have fallen had Kyiv received weapons held up by the US Congress’ failure to approve a large aid package.
“We wouldn’t (have lost) Avdiivka if we had all the artillery ammunition that we needed to defend it. Russia does not intend to pause or withdraw...Once Avdiivka is under their control, they undoubtedly will choose another city and begin to storm it,” Kuleba said.
Ukrainian troops, he said, were “making miracles...but the reason they have to sacrifice themselves and die is that someone is still debating a decision. I want everyone to remember that every day of debate in one place means another death in another place.”
The US Senate this month passed a $95 billion aid package that includes funds for Ukraine, but House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson has declined to bring it up for a vote on the floor of the House.

MONTHS OF FIGHTING
Ukraine said it withdrew its soldiers to save them from being fully surrounded after months of fierce fighting. The Ukrainian military said there had been casualties, but that the situation had stabilized somewhat after the retreat.
Each side said the other had suffered huge losses.
After the failure of Ukraine to pierce Russian front lines in the east and south last year, Moscow has been trying to grind down Ukrainian forces just as Kyiv ponders a major new mobilization.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed a new commander last week to run the war.
Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, triggering full-scale war after eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces on one side and pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russian proxies on the other.
Avdiivka, called Avdeyevka by Russians, has endured a decade of conflict. It holds particular symbolism for Russia as it was briefly taken in 2014 by Moscow-backed separatists who seized a swathe of eastern Ukraine, but was then recaptured by Ukrainian troops who built extensive fortifications.
Avdiivka sits in the industrial Donbas region, 15 km (9 miles) north of the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Before the war, Avdiivka’s Soviet-era coke plant was one of Europe’s biggest.
Shoigu said Russian forces had also taken control of the village of Krynky in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region. Ukraine’s southern military command said its troops had held their positions on the left bank of the River Dnipro and that Russian attacks were unsuccessful.
Neither side gives death tolls for the war.