Poland calls on West to rally around Ukraine in Kyiv visit

Poland calls on West to rally around Ukraine in Kyiv visit
In this handout photograph released by Ukrainian Presidential press-service on Dec. 22, 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hands with Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Radoslaw Sikorski in Kyiv. (AFP)
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Updated 23 December 2023
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Poland calls on West to rally around Ukraine in Kyiv visit

Poland calls on West to rally around Ukraine in Kyiv visit
  • Ukraine in turn expressed hope for a quick resolution to a blockade from Polish truckers
  • “If the West mobilizes, I have no doubt who will win, but it must finally start mobilizing,” Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said

KYIV: Poland’s new foreign minister on Friday urged the West to rally around Ukraine, choosing the war-torn country for his first visit abroad in a sign of support as other allies waver on aid.
Ukraine in turn expressed hope for a quick resolution to a blockade from Polish truckers and said the visit marked a “new page” in the two countries’ relations that became strained under the previous administration.
Air alarms sounded during the meeting, warning of a potential new raid from Russia, which has intensified air attacks in the past weeks.
“If the West mobilizes, I have no doubt who will win, but it must finally start mobilizing,” Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in a press conference wrapping up his trip.
He said Western economies were “twenty times wealthier than Russia” but that Moscow “has switched its economy to a war mode.”
“We cannot allow Russia to produce more on the basis of a much smaller economy. Because wars are not won by tactical battles, wars are won by production,” he said.
His visit comes as fatigue builds among Kyiv’s allies nearly two years into the war despite Ukrainian officials’ efforts.
In the US, Senate leaders said Tuesday that Washington would not be able to approve new aid for Ukraine before the year’s end.
Hungary blocked a 50-billion-euro European Union aid package for Ukraine, though Ukraine did win a symbolic victory when the bloc opened formal membership negotiations with Ukraine — but any actual accession is years away.
Sikorski’s visit aimed to reassure Kyiv and to resolve a month-long blockade at the Ukraine border by Polish hauliers was top of the agenda.
When the war began in February 2022, the EU waived restrictions for Ukrainian road carriers to enter the bloc to ease the cargo traffic in and out the war-torn country.
But Polish truckers say the move undercut their earnings and have been blocking the border with Ukraine — which heavily relies on the route for its exports and imports.
Earlier the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed the issue.
“The first thing to do is to unblock the border, because the situation in which our friendly relations find themselves — in the shadow of the blocked border — is unacceptable and harmful,” Kuleba told his Polish counterpart.
“We hope that this problem will be solved by Christmas, before the end of this year,” Polish deputy infrastructure minister Pawel Gancarz said at a briefing later on, speaking alongside Sikorski in Kyiv.
The blockade has been a thorn in the relations between Warsaw and Kyiv.
Poland had been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies since Russia invaded in February 2022.
But ahead of Polish elections in October, the then-governing Law and Justice party lobbied for votes by leveraging fatigue over the conflict.
Poland became embroiled in a row with Ukraine over grain imports, and the outgoing government said it would restrict arms deliveries to Kyiv.
But the administration led by former European Council president Donald Tusk that took office this month has pledged to double down on support for Ukraine.
A promise reinforced by his foreign minister’s visit to Kyiv, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised.
“We hope for the opening of a new page in our relations. We are very strong neighbors with a shared history,” Zelensky said after meeting Sikorski.
Air raid alerts sounded earlier during the top diplomat’s visit.
“These air sirens that we hear now is the reason why I am here,” Sikorski said.
“It’s completely unacceptable for a country to attack its neighbor and bomb cities, destroy entire provinces, deport children... In this titanic fight, minister, Poland is on your side,” he said.
Sirens are frequently heard all across Ukraine, which is the target of daily aerial attacks from Russia.
In the latest barrage, Ukrainian armed forces said they downed 24 out of 28 Iranian-made drones, including on the capital Kyiv.
Russian missiles and drones frequently target the Ukrainian capital and are usually shot down by air defense systems, bolstered by Western weapons.
But on Thursday night “a residential building in Kyiv (was hit) by a Shahed,” Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram.
Two residents were wounded in the drone attack, according to local authorities.
Ukrainian officials said Friday that police had arrested a senior defense official suspected of embezzling 36 million euros during the purchase of much-needed artillery shells.


Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
Updated 28 May 2024
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Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
  • Labour, if elected, would recognize Palestinian statehood, says Angela Rayner

LONDON: Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has promised that her party will do everything in its power to ease the suffering in Gaza as it bids to regain Muslim voters’ support, a leaked video surfacing on social media has revealed.

The footage was first reported by the political blog Guido Fawkes, which claimed to have obtained the leaked tape from a meeting in Ashton-under-Lyne, Rayner’s constituency.

The MP is seen appealing to voters upset with the party’s stance on Israel’s assault on Gaza, The Telegraph reported.

Rayner — claiming she worked “day and night” to get three British doctors out of Rafah and is now attempting to secure aid for the enclave — said: “I promise you, the Labour Party, including myself, is doing everything we can, because nobody wants to see what’s happening.”

She acknowledged the party’s current inability to halt the fighting, admitting that Labour’s influence would be “limited,” even if it came to power after July’s general election.

Rayner added: “Only last week the Labour Party were supporting the ICC (International Criminal Court). The Conservatives didn’t support the ICC, so with this general election on that issue, we can’t affect anything when we’re not in government.

“And I’ll be honest with you, if Labour gets into government, we are limited. I will be honest. I’m not going to promise you … because (Joe) Biden, who’s the US (president), who has way more influence, has only got limited influence in that.

“And Qatar, Saudi Arabia, all of these people, we are all working to stop what’s happening at the moment; we want to see that. So I promise you, that’s what we want to see.”

Rayner also promised that, if Labour was elected, the party would recognize Palestinian statehood.

She added: “If Labour gets into power, we will recognize Palestine. I will push not only to recognize … there is nothing to recognize at the moment, sadly. It’s decimated.

“We have to rebuild Palestine; we have to rebuild Gaza. That takes more than just recognizing it.”

Gaza has been a divisive issue for Labour since Oct. 7, with reports revealing that Muslim voters have abandoned the party as a result of what they perceive as its politicians enabling the war.

The Telegraph found that Labour’s support had dropped in local elections in areas with large Muslim populations, including Oldham in Greater Manchester, where the party lost control of the council in a surprise defeat.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has expressed his determination to re-establish trust among those who have abandoned his party due to his handling of the Gaza war.

However, when probed on particular commitments, he remained vague.

Rayner said in the video: “I know that people are angry about what’s happening in the Middle East.

“If my resignation as an MP now would bring a ceasefire, I would do it. I would do it if I could effect change.”

However, she said such an eventuality was not “in my gift” due to the “failure of the international community.”

In response to the footage, Nigel Farage, Reform UK’s honorary president, accused Rayner of “begging” for the Muslim vote, The Telegraph reported.


12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
Updated 28 May 2024
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12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
  • Several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides, and all schools were shut
  • India’s weather office warned of extremely heavy rains in northeastern states on Tuesday

Guwahati: Torrential rains in the wake of a powerful cyclone caused the collapse of a quarry in India’s Mizoram state killing 12 people, government officials said Tuesday.

“So far 12 bodies have been found, we are looking for more,” deputy commissioner of Aizawl district Nazuk Kumar told AFP.

Rescue efforts in the quarry were being hampered by “heavy rains,” police director general Anil Shukla said, NDTV news network reported.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma offered compensation to families of the victims of the “landslide due to Cyclone Remal.”

“I pray for the success of rescue and relief operations and wish a speedy recovery of the injured,” India’s President Droupadi Murmu said on social media.

In Mizoram, several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides. All schools were shut and government employees asked to work from home.

India’s weather office has issued warnings of extremely heavy rainfall across Mizoram and other northeastern states on Tuesday.

In India’s neighboring Assam state, one person was killed and heavy rains had cut the power supply, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a statement.

The cyclone made landfall in low-lying Bangladesh and neighboring India on Sunday evening with fierce gales and crashing waves.

Overall, at least 38 people died in the cyclone or storms in its wake.

In India, eight people died in West Bengal state, officials said Tuesday, updating an earlier toll of six, taking the total killed in the country to at least 21.

In neighboring Bangladesh, which bore the brunt of the cyclone that made landfall on Sunday, at least 17 people died, according to the disaster management office and police.


Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
Updated 28 May 2024
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Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
  • Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily
  • “We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do”

WARSAW: Poland’s foreign minister says the NATO nation should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and should keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in suspense over whether such a decision would ever be made.
Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
“We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do,” Sikorski said when asked whether he would send Polish troops to Ukraine.
Sikorski said he has gone to Ukraine with his family to deliver humanitarian aid.
But a spokesperson for Poland’s Defense Ministry, Janusz Sejmej, told Polish media on Tuesday he had “no knowledge of that” when asked about a report in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggesting Poland might send troops to Ukraine.
The idea of sending foreign soldiers to Ukraine, which is battling Russian military aggression, was floated earlier this year in France, but no country, including Poland, has publicly embraced it.
Poland supports neighboring Ukraine politically and by providing military equipment and humanitarian aid.


Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
Updated 28 May 2024
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Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
  • The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia
  • SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The body of a five-month-old baby was found on Tuesday when some 85 migrants heading for Italy from Tunisia were rescued from distress at sea, according to a Reuters witness.
The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia two days earlier bound for Italy, according to charity group SOS Humanity.
SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted and suffering from seasickness and fuel burns as they were rescued before dawn on Tuesday, the group said in a statement.
Some 185 migrants rescued in separate operations this week, including the stricken boat overnight, were being taken aboard “Humanity 1” to the port of Livorno in northwest Italy. Another 120 migrants were transferred by coast guard boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the southern Mediterranean.
Tunisia is grappling with a migrant crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict further south in Africa as well as the Middle East in hopes of a better life in Europe.
Italy has sought to curb migrant arrivals from Africa, making it harder charity ships to operate in the Mediterranean, limiting the number of rescues they can carry out and often forcing them to make huge detours to bring migrants ashore.


Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
Updated 28 May 2024
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Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election

Putin says Ukraine should hold presidential election
  • Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Ukraine should hold a presidential election following the expiry of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s five-year term.
Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term, something he and Kyiv’s allies deem the right decision in wartime. Putin said the only legitimate authority in Ukraine now was parliament, and that its head should be given power.