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Russia strikes arsenal at military airfield near Odessa: Defense Ministry

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(Last Updated On: May 2, 2022)

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Sunday that the Russian military struck a military airport near Odessa in Ukraine with high-precision missiles, destroying an arsenal that contained weapons and ammunition supplied by the U. S. and European countries, and damaging the airport runway.

The Ukrainian side said that Russian troops bombed the runway of Odessa airport on Saturday as they intensified their offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The Southern Ukrainian Combat Command said the sound of an explosion in Odessa came from a Russian drone shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft system. Ukraine said there are signs indicating that Russian forces are preparing to further intensify combat operations.

The governor of Russia’s western Kursk region said several shells were fired on Saturday at a checkpoint near its border from the direction of Ukraine.

Speaking in a video posted on his Telegram channel, governor Roman Starovoit said Russian border guards and troops quickly opened fire to suppress the fire from the Ukraine side and there were no casualties or damage.

The Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine has issued an order to close the ports of Berdiansk, Mariupol, Kherson and Skadovsk on Sunday until Ukraine’s control over them is regained.

As the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine rages on and the negotiations between the two sides are at an impasse, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres kicked off his mediation mission to end the Moscow-Kiev conflict on Tuesday. Just two days after the mediation visit of Guterres ending on Thursday, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Kiev.

Analysis said that the U.S. and some Western allies’ behavior of making inflammatory accusations will undoubtedly hinder the Russia-Ukraine negotiation process.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted on social platforms on Sunday that he had a meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kiev. Pelosi is the latest U.S. senior official to visit Ukraine following U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Before Pelosi’s unexpected visit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Ukraine has been used by the United States and NATO as a tool to contain and stimulate Russia.

Sunday marks a full month after Russia’s ruble settlement order went into effect. At that time, the decree was jointly boycotted by multiple European countries. After one month, however, many European countries are facing gas shortages.

On April 27, Russia announced that it had suspended gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, which are the first to be “suspended” after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the ruble settlement order on April 1. Since then, gas price hikes in the European market have hit as high as 20 percent. Analysis said that if Russia cuts the gas supply to more European countries, gas prices will rise further, which may even lead to natural gas rationing.

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US, South Korea, Japan hold missile defense exercise with eye on North Korea, China

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(Last Updated On: August 16, 2022)

The United States, South Korea and Japan participated in a ballistic missile defense exercise off Hawaii’s coast last week, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, reviving combined drills with an eye on North Korea as well as China.

It was the first time the three countries have held such drills since 2017, after relations between Seoul and Tokyo hit their lowest in years in 2019 amid renewed historical disputes dating to Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean Peninsula, Reuters reported.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, a conservative who took office in May, has vowed to improve relations with Japan and deepen the U.S. alliance to better deter North Korea, including by expanding or resuming joint drills.

The missile warning and ballistic missile search and tracking exercise took place Aug. 8-14 during the multinational Pacific Dragon drills, and demonstrated the three countries’ commitment to respond to challenges posed by North Korea, protect shared security and bolster the rules-based international order, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The participants shared tactical data link information in accordance with a trilateral information sharing agreement, the statement said.

U.S.-led joint missile defence measures have been a sore point with China, which retaliated economically against South Korea’s 2016 decision to host a U.S. military Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery.

Beijing says the THAAD radar can penetrate its territory and has called on Yoon to honour assurances made by his predecessor to not to increase THAAD deployments, participate in a U.S.-led global missile shield or create a trilateral military alliance involving Japan.

Yoon has said those do not represent formal agreements and that Seoul is not bound by them.

South Korea’s ministry of defense also confirmed on Tuesday that its troops would resume long-suspended live field training during their joint military drills with the United States to be held from Aug. 22 to Sept. 1.

The two sides have scaled back combined military drills in recent years due to COVID-19 and efforts to lower tensions with the North, which has accused the exercises of being a rehearsal for invasion.

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Putin says Russia and North Korea will expand bilateral relations

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(Last Updated On: August 15, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin told North Korean leader Kim Jong-un the two countries will “expand the comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations with common efforts,” Pyongyang’s state media reported on Monday.

In a letter to Kim for Korea’s liberation day, Putin said closer ties would be in both countries’ interests, and would help strengthen the security and stability of the Korean peninsula and the Northeastern Asian region, North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.

Kim also sent a letter to Putin saying Russian-North Korean friendship had been forged in World War II with victory over Japan, which had occupied the Korean peninsula, Reuters reported.

The “strategic and tactical co-operation, support and solidarity” between the two countries has since reached a new level is their common efforts to frustrate threats and provocations from hostile military forces, Kim said in the letter. KCNA did not identify the hostile forces, but it has typically used that term to refer to the United States and its allies.

Kim predicted co-operation between Russia and North Korea would grow based on an agreement signed in 2019 when he met with Putin.

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Author Salman Rushdie on ventilator after stabbing in New York

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born British author of a controversial book titled “The Satanic Verses” was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in New York on Friday.

Police said Rushdie was stabbed “at least once in the neck, and at least once in the abdomen” after an assailant rushed to the stage and lunged at the 75-year-old writer just as he was being introduced to the audience.

Rushdie was airlifted to hospital where he spent hours in surgery. On Friday evening, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak.

“The news is not good,” Andrew Wylie, his book agent, wrote in an email to Reuters news agency. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey.

Stacey Schlosser, who witnessed the attack, told The Associated Press that Rushdie was stabbed six to eight times before the attacker was restrained.

“Nobody knew what to do. Nobody knew how to react. I mean, there were tons of people that rushed the stage,” Schlosser said.

Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses, has been banned in several countries, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous.

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