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Ukraine thwarts Russian forces at river, sees long fight ahead – India Today

Ukrainian forces destroyed parts of a Russian armoured column as it tried to cross a river in the Donbas region, video from Ukraine’s military showed on Friday, as the Ukrainian defence minister predicted many weeks of grinding fighting ahead.

Ukrainian forces have driven Russia from the second-largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in their fastest advance since Kremlin troops pulled away from Kyiv and the northeast over a month ago to focus their offensive on the Donbas region bordering Russia.

The city, which had been under fierce bombardment, has been quiet for at least two weeks and Reuters journalists have confirmed Ukraine now controls territory stretching to the Siverskyi Donets River, around 40 km (25 miles) to the east.

However, Moscow is still bombarding villages north of Kharkiv.

Some 10 km (six miles) north of the city, firefighters doused smouldering wreckage in Dergachi after what local officials said was an overnight Russian missile attack on the House of Culture, used to distribute aid. Volunteers inside were trying to salvage packages of baby diapers and formula.

“I can’t call it anything but a terrorist act,” the mayor, Vyacheslav Zadorenko, told Reuters. “They wanted to hit the base where we store provisions and create a humanitarian catastrophe.” read more

Another missile had slammed into the building on Thursday and Russian shelling had wounded a staff member at a clinic and killed a young couple in their home, he said.

Russia, which denies targeting civilians, said its forces had shot down a Ukrainian Su-27 aircraft in the Kharkiv region and disabled the Kremenchuk oil refinery in central Ukraine.

It was not immediately possible to verify the reports.

Southeast of Kharkiv, Britain said Ukraine had stopped Russian forces crossing the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk. Footage released by Ukrainian Airborne Forces Command appeared to show several burnt out military vehicles near segments of a partially submerged bridge and many other damaged or abandoned vehicles, including tanks, nearby.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report, or when or where the clash took place.

The Kremlin calls its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarise a neighbour threatening its security. Ukraine says it poses no threat to Russia and that the deaths of thousands of civilians and destruction of cities and towns show Russia is waging a war of aggression.

“We are entering a new, long phase of the war,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post, predicting “extremely tough weeks” ahead during which he said Ukraine would largely be alone against an “enraged aggressor”.

In their first conversation since the invasion, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by telephone on Friday with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, seeking an immediate ceasefire and stressing the importance of open lines of communication.

KYIV SAYS CHILDREN DEPORTED

Ukraine accused Russia of forcibly deporting more than 210,000 children since its invasion, saying they were among 1.2 million Ukrainians transferred against their will. The Kremlin says people have come to Russia to escape fighting.

In Kyiv, a court began hearing the first case of what Ukraine says are more than 10,000 possible war crimes. A Russian soldier is accused of murdering a civilian. Moscow has accused Kyiv of staging such crimes. read more

In the southern port of Mariupol, Russian forces intensified their bombardment of the Azovstal steelworks, the last bastion of Ukrainian defenders in a city almost completely controlled by Russia after a siege of more than two months.

Some of the civilians evacuated recently from tunnels under the plant where they sheltered described terrifying conditions.

“Every second was hellish,” 51-year-old nurse Valentyna Demyanchuk told Reuters.

Around Snake Island, which Ukrainian military intelligence said allows control of civilian shipping, renewed fighting could help Kyiv resume grain exports vital to world supplies.

Ukraine said it had damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near Snake Island. Russia’s defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Satellite imagery from Maxar, a private U.S.-based company, showed the aftermath of what it called probable missile attacks on a Russian landing craft near the island.

NATO EXPANSION

Meeting in Germany, foreign ministers from the G7 group of rich nations backed giving Ukraine more aid and arms and the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced a further 500 million euros ($520 million) worth of military support that should be approved next week by EU members. He voiced confidence the bloc will agree an embargo on Russian oil.

Ukraine’s foreign minister told the meeting he hoped EU holdout Hungary would agree to the oil embargo. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation before agreeing to a ban.

In a late night video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Russian invasion could cause famine in dozens of countries, triggering political instability and migration.

“How much would you then have to spend to overcome the consequences? These are the questions which should be answered by those who are dragging their feet on sanctions against Russia or are trying to delay aid for Ukraine,” he said.

A day after Finland committed to applying to join NATO, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said membership for her country would bring stability and benefit countries around the Baltic sea.

Joining the 30-nation Western military alliance would end the neutrality the two states maintained during the Cold War and further expand NATO, something Russian President Vladimir Putin said his invasion of Ukraine aimed to prevent.

Moscow has called Finland’s announcement hostile and threatened retaliation but said a newspaper report the Kremlin might cut gas supplies to Finland was mostly likely a “hoax”.

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WHO chief Tedros reappointed to second five-year term – India Today

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was reappointed to a second five-year term on Tuesday by the UN health agency’s member countries.

No other candidate challenged Tedros for the post amid the ongoing difficulties of responding to the devastating coronavirus pandemic.

“This is overwhelming,” Tedros said, after another World Health Organisation official asked everyone in the room to stand and applaud him.

Fighting back tears, Tedros described himself as “a child of war” after signing the contract for his extension. He said that after witnessing his younger brother’s death at an early age, it was “luck (that) brought me all the way here.”

Tedros, a former government minister from Ethiopia, has directed WHO throughout its management of the global response to COVID-19 and withstood occasionally withering criticism over its multiple missteps.

He is the first African to lead the agency and the only director-general not qualified as a medical doctor.

He is also the first WHO leader not to be supported by their home country; Ethiopia has previously accused Tedros of “ misconduct ” after his sharp criticism of the war and humanitarian crisis there and raised concerns about his leadership on Tuesday.

Under Tedros, the U.N. health agency failed to call out countries including China for blunders that WHO officials grumbled about privately, advised against mask-wearing for months, and said initially that the coronavirus wasn’t likely to mutate rapidly.

Scientists drafted by WHO to investigate the coronavirus’ origins in China said the critical probe was “ stalled ” last year, after issuing a report that even Tedros acknowledged had prematurely ruled out the possibility of a laboratory leak.

“There have been some mishaps, but Tedros has also been a steady voice throughout the pandemic, advocating for an equitable response,” said Javier Guzman, director of global health policy at the Center for Global Development in Washington.

He said despite reservations about Tedros’ leadership, some countries weren’t willing to push for change.

“We are in the middle of the pandemic and there is some pressure for consistent leadership to take us through this difficult moment,” Guzman said.

Tedros has frequently railed against rich countries for hoarding the world’s limited supply of vaccines and insisted that pharmaceuticals aren’t doing enough to make their medicines available to the poor.

Amid the near-universal focus on Ukraine after the Russian invasion, Tedros slammed the global community for not doing enough to solve crises elsewhere, including Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan, arguing that it was possibly because those suffering weren’t white.

Still, critics say Tedros has failed on some fundamental issues, like holding staff accountable after allegations that dozens of outbreak workers managed by WHO sexually abused young women in Congo during an Ebola outbreak that began in 2018, in one of the biggest sex scandals in UN history.

None of the senior WHO managers alerted to the abuse allegations and who did little to stop the exploitation, have been fired.

In January, The Associated Press reported that staffers in WHO’s Western Pacific office filed an internal complaint accusing regional director Dr. Takeshi Kasai of abusive, racist and other misconduct, undermining efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19. In response, Tedros said an investigation into the allegations had been launched and promised to act “with urgency.”

But last week, several WHO staffers wrote to the agency’s Executive Board complaining that Kasai “has been able to continue his unethical, abusive and racist conduct without any form of restriction.” In an email to staff, Kasai disputed the charges.

Public health expert Guzman said the apparent culture of impunity at WHO was problematic.

“We do need to see a stronger (WHO) director-general going forward, where misconduct is not tolerated,” he said, calling for extensive reforms to make the agency accountable.

As Tedros begins his second term, some experts have also raised concerns that WHO isn’t fulfilling its primary role as a technical agency providing science-based guidance to countries.

Dr. David Tomlinson, a cardiologist who has campaigned for better protective equipment for health workers in Britain’s health system, says he has been appalled by WHO advice, most notably their reluctance to acknowledge that COVID-19 is widely spread in the air.

In July 2020, more than 230 scientists published a paper appealing to WHO to recognise the coronavirus was airborne; that later prompted the organisation to alter some of its recommendations.

Tomlinson and others say Tedros should ensure WHO’s top priority during future health emergencies is evaluating the science.

“They have perpetuated untruths that have ultimately led to the deaths of millions of people,” he said, citing the estimated 15 million people who have died during the pandemic.

“We need an agency that’s unafraid to tell the truth, but that’s unfortunately not what we have.”

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Russia's war in Ukraine: Live Updates – CNN

David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, during a panel session on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on May 23.
David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, during a panel session on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on May 23. (Hollie Adams/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The head of the UN World Food Programme called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to reopen ports in Ukraine to prevent children around the world from starving.

Speaking to CNN’s Julia Chatterley at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, David Beasley called on the Russian leader to “have a heart.”

The growing food crisis has been a major issue at the forum, with Beasley being one of the leading voices calling for action. He warned that the Ukraine war has meant that “the breadbasket of the world was becoming the bread line of the world.”

Some background: Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for almost 30% of global trade, and Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of corn and the fifth-largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department. 

Beasley said that 325 million people around the world are facing starvation, with 49 million people in 43 countries now “knocking on famine’s door.”

“The world is facing a food security crisis. It is immediate and long term. If we are struggling now to feed 7.7 billion, what is going to happen when we have 10, 12, 13 billion? That is on top of climate impact. It’s going to be resonating around the world,” he added.

He also said that renewed focus on the food crisis was a good thing, with world leaders recognizing the size of the problem, with solutions to solve issues.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier today accused Putin of “weaponizing” food supplies in his invasion of Ukraine. The Russian army is confiscating grain suppliers and machinery in areas of Ukraine and blocking exports from ports in the Black Sea, von der Leyen said.

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Ukraine should give up territory to reach peace deal with Russia, says former US secretary of state – India Today

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has said it would be ‘fatal’ for the West to get swept up in the ‘mood of the moment’ and forget Russia’s position of power within Europe and suggested Ukraine should give up territory, reported Daily Mail.

Kissinger, 98, was speaking during the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland.

Kissinger said Ukraine should begin negotiations before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easy to overcome.

“Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point will not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself,” he told the conference on Monday.

These statements come after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s opening speech at this week’s Davos summit.

Zelensky had said that brute force will once again rule the world if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is allowed to go unanswered.

He told delegates that their summit would become pointless if Putin was allowed to win the war.

According to The Telegraph, he explained that Russia was an ‘essential part of Europe’ for over 400 years, noting that European leaders must ‘not lose sight of the longer-term relationship’ or otherwise risk putting Russia in a permanent alliance with China.

He also said, “I hope the Ukrainians will match the heroism they have shown with wisdom.”

Zelensky’s speech came at the start of the four days of talks during which Ukraine is expected to launch a global charm offensive to secure economic and military backing to ensure survival.

This year, Russia will take part in the Davos meeting as the organisers had banned Moscow from sending a delegation.

“The theme for this year’s summit is, ‘history at a turning point’,” Zelensky told a packed auditorium on Monday morning.

“This year, the words, turning, and point, are more than a rhetorical talking point. This year is the year when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,” he said.

“If so, the powerful are not interested in our thoughts and there is no further use for meeting in Davos,” he said.

Zelensky said, “The Brute force seeks nothing but the subjugation of those who it seeks to subdue and it does not talk, it kills, as Russia does in Ukraine, just as we speak today.”

Recalling the horrors of Russia’s invasion, Zelensky said, “Instead of peaceful cities there are only black ruins, instead of normal trade, seas full of mines and blocked ports, instead of tourists, closed skies and the sound of Russian bombs and cruise missiles.”

“This is what the world will look like if that turning moment does not have a proper response from humanity, it would resemble a large set of war crimes,” he said.

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