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Blinken Says No Ukraine Cease-Fire Without A Peace Deal That Includes Russia's Withdrawal

Antony BlinkenU.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that there can be no cease-fire in the war in Ukraine unless it is part of a “just and lasting” peace deal that includes Russia’s military withdrawal.

Blinken said that “a cease-fire that simply freezes current lines in place” and allows Russian President Vladimir Putin “to consolidate control over the territory he has seized, and rest, rearm, and reattack — that is not a just and lasting peace.”

Russia must also pay a share of Ukraine’s reconstruction and be held accountable for launching its full-scale invasion of its neighbor in February 2022, Blinken said in a speech during a visit to Finland, which recently joined NATO and shares a long border with Russia.

Allowing Moscow to keep the one-fifth of Ukraine territory it has occupied would send the wrong message to Russia and to “other would-be aggressors around the world,” according to Blinken.


Passenger Trains Derail In India, Killing At Least 50 — Hundreds Trapped

Passenger trains derail in IndiaTwo passenger trains derailed in India on Friday, killing at least 50 people and trapping hundreds of others inside more than a dozen damaged coaches, officials said.

About 400 people were taken to hospitals after the accident, which happened in eastern India, about 137 miles southwest of Kolkata, officials said. The cause was under investigation.

Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde, the top administrator in the Balasore district, said at least 50 people were dead.

Nearly 500 police officers and rescue workers with 75 ambulances and buses responded to the accident, said Pradeep Jena, the top bureaucrat of the Odisha state.

Rescuers were attempting to free 200 people feared trapped in the wreckage, said D.B. Shinde, administrator of the state’s Balasore district.

Update: Death toll is at 207, with 900 people injured.



Sweden draws closer to NATO membership; Zelenskyy lobbies for Ukraine approval


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lobbied for financial and military assistance, his nation's peace plan and NATO membership at the European Political Community summit Thursday in neighboring Moldova.

Also Thursday, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO wants to bring Sweden into the fold by the time alliance leaders meet in Lithuania next month. Turkey’s government has balked, however, accusing Sweden of being too lenient on terrorist organizations such as Kurdish groups linked to a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.


North Korea says its attempt to launch its first spy satellite ended in failure

N Korea satellite launch failsNorth Korea's attempt to launch its first spy satellite fell flat on Wednesday when its rocket malfunctioned, sending the launch vehicle tumbling into the Yellow Sea. The North said it would try again as soon as possible.

The botched launch triggered false alarms in South Korea and Japan. Cell phones in Seoul blared out warnings to prepare to seek shelter, while alerts in Japan advised residents on the island of Okinawa to take cover. Both were later canceled when it became clear that the projectile posed no threat.

North Korean state media reported that the satellite was launched from the Sohae satellite launch site and flew south, off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula. But the rocket's engine was unstable, and its second stage malfunctioned.


‘Unprecedented’ Nova Scotia wildfires expected to worsen, officials warn

Nova Scotia wildfires

Officials in the province of Nova Scotia say unprecedented wildfires that have forced thousands from their homes will keep growing despite the “water, raw muscle power and air power” deployed by fire crews.

As of Wednesday, more than 20,000 hectares of the Maritime province were burning from 13 wildfires, including three fires that considered out of control. More than 18,000 people remain under evacuation order outside Halifax, the region’s largest city. More than 200 structures, the majority of which are homes, have been destroyed by the fire. No fatalities have been recorded.

Hot, dry and windy conditions have seen the fire near the community of Tantallon grow to 837 hectares. Temperatures are expected to hit more than 30C this week, giving little respite to fatigued crews.


Drone attacks hit Moscow, sparking fury at the Kremlin

Drones hit Russian apartment buildings

Drones struck Moscow on Tuesday but were neutralised, Russia said, in what one politician called the worst attack on the capital since World War II, while Kyiv was also hit from the air for the third time in 24 hours.

Since Russia invaded its neighbour in February last year, the war has largely been fought inside Ukraine, though Moscow has reported some attacks on its territory and blamed them on Ukraine, including an alleged assassination attempt against President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said two people were injured, but not seriously, while some residents in two lightly damaged apartment blocks were briefly evacuated.


Ukraine war: General Kyrylo Budanov promises revenge after latest Kyiv attack

Attacks on Kyiv

The head of Ukraine's military intelligence has warned of a swift response to a series of Russian missile strikes on Kyiv.

General Kyrylo Budanov said Monday's attacks failed to intimidate people in the capital who just got on with life.

All the missiles were shot down, officials said, and there were no reports of casualties.

However flaming debris from the intercepted missiles landed in residential areas in central Kyiv.

Monday's attack followed two nights of heavy drone strikes, the latest in some 16 air attacks on the Ukrainian capital this month.

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