China denies allegations of propaganda

by Associated Press

BERLIN – Germany says it has sent nearly 10,000 metric tons of needed aid to Ukraine using trains that move back and forth between the two countries using a recently built “rail bridge”.

Transport Minister Volker Wissing told the Funke media group in an interview published on Thursday that the rail link was established two weeks ago to bring much-needed food, drink and hygiene products from Germany to Ukraine.

Speaking at the Berlin Cargo Terminal on Thursday, Wissing said that many of the items that were sent to Ukraine by train had been donated.

“We hope that this war will end soon and will do everything we can to ease the suffering,” he said.

The German rail company Deutsche Bahn has separately organized additional trains to bring refugees from the Polish-Ukrainian border to Germany.

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Major Developments in the Russo-Ukraine War:

– Ukraine’s President will pressure Biden, NATO for more support

– Biden, Western allies gather in Brussels as Ukraine enters second month of war

– Ukraine will vote at the United Nations on holding Russia responsible for the humanitarian crisis

– Russian stock market, crushed by war, partially reopened

— Visit here for more coverage

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Other Developments:

Prague – The Parliament of the Czech Republic has approved a plan to deploy 650 Czech service members to Slovakia as part of a multinational NATO force established in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The lower house of parliament approved the deployment on Thursday after it was cleared by the upper house last week.

The United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia will also contribute troops to the unit, which is expected to contain 2,100 soldiers.

The plan is part of NATO’s initiative to reassure member states on the eastern side of the alliance.

The coalition deployed troops to the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – and Poland after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. After Russia invaded Ukraine, NATO decided to increase its presence throughout the eastern side by deploying forces in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

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STOCKHOLM – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited Sweden to help rebuild his country as he marked a month of Russian aggression during an address to the Swedish parliament.

“It’s a month now,” Zelensky said Thursday during a speech by video link. “We haven’t seen destruction of this scale since World War II.”

“Just look at what the Russian military has done to our country … a month-long bombing like we’ve seen in Syria,” Zelensky said, “with 10 million people displaced.”

He called for “Swedish companies and the state to rebuild the country”.

Zelensky, speaking through an interpreter, also raised an alarm about the possibility of Russia’s use of nuclear and chemical weapons.

His speech was broadcast live to members of the 349-seat Riksdagen, which gave him a standing ovation.

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BEIJING — China is dismissing allegations of Washington’s involvement in Ukraine helping Russia spread misinformation, while reiterating Moscow’s baseless claims about secret US biological warfare laboratories in Ukraine.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing on Thursday that “accusing China of spreading propaganda against Ukraine is propaganda in itself.” He added that China “acted in an objective and just manner.”

Wang claimed that the international community has “serious concerns” about the US Biolab in Ukraine, despite denials from independent scientists.

“America cannot play with silence or claim that it is propaganda. Wang said that the US should give a serious explanation on whether this is propaganda or not.

The lab’s claims have also taken root in the US, uniting COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, QAnon followers and some supporters of former President Donald Trump.

China claims it is neutral in the conflict, although it maintains an unflinching friendship with Russia, which it calls its “most important strategic partner”. China has refused to criticize Russia over its invasion – or even refer to it as such – and Chinese state media repeatedly repeats Moscow’s false claims on the conflict.

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NEW YORK – The Russian stock market has resumed limited trading under heavy sanctions, nearly a month after prices plunged and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine closed the market. A limited number of shares, including energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft, traded under restrictions that are in place to prevent a repeat of the massive selling on February 24 in anticipation of Western economic sanctions. Foreigners cannot sell and traders are barred from short selling, or betting prices will drop. The benchmark MOEX index gained 8% in the first minutes of trading.

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Copenhagen, Denmark – Jens Stoltenberg has been extended his job as NATO Secretary General by a year, two Norwegian media reports say.

Stoltenberg’s term in NATO is set to end at the end of this year. Norwegian broadcaster TV2 and Dagens Naringsliv newspaper reported that there was complete unity within NATO for Stoltenberg to continue as Secretary General for another year. He did not provide a source for the report.

In February, Norway’s government announced the appointment of Stoltenberg as the head of the Scandinavian country’s central bank, saying it hoped he could begin his new role around 1 December.

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NEW YORK – The Russian stock market has resumed limited trading under heavy sanctions, nearly a month after prices plunged and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine closed the market. A limited number of shares, including energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft, traded under restrictions that are in place to prevent a repeat of the massive selling on February 24 in anticipation of Western economic sanctions. Foreigners cannot sell and traders are barred from short selling, or betting prices will drop. The benchmark MOEX index gained 8% in the first minutes of trading.

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BRUSSELS – US President Joe Biden and world leaders have embarked on the first of all three summits in Brussels focused on pressuring Russia to end its war in Ukraine.

Europe’s diplomatic capital is hosting an emergency NATO summit as well as a summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the 27 members of the European Union.

Biden is participating in all three meetings starting with NATO.

The president and leaders of other NATO countries met for a group photo recalling their immediate gathering before leaving for the meeting, which was expected to last several hours.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg began Thursday’s meeting by saying that the coalition is determined to reduce costs on Russia.

Biden arrived in Brussels on Wednesday hoping to instigate allies to impose new sanctions on Russia, which has already seen its economy crippled by a steady stream of sanctions, boycotts and penalties over the past four weeks.

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BRUSSELS – NATO leaders are refusing to retaliate against Russia if it should launch a chemical weapons attack on Ukraine – but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson thinks Moscow has already gone too far.

“The reality is that (President) Vladimir Putin has already crossed the red line in vandalism,” Johnson told reporters on Thursday for the NATO leaders’ summit.

Johnson says that “it is up to NATO to simultaneously consider the horrific crisis in Ukraine, the horrific suffering of the people of Ukraine, and to see what more we can do to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves.” Huh.”

As an organization, NATO is not providing weapons to Ukraine. The 30-nation coalition has refused to send troops to Ukraine for either war or peacekeeping, and has said it will not deploy aircraft to guard any no-fly zones to protect civilians or police.

But member states are providing weapons and other aid, either individually or in groups.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Cru has described Putin as “a Russian leader with no understanding of what is appropriate these days.”

De Crew warns that “if chemical weapons or anything else could be used, it would certainly have dire consequences.” No NATO leader has yet elaborated on what this could mean.

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PARIS – French carmaker Renault announced Wednesday night it was suspending “activities at the Renault Moscow plant” with immediate effect.

The move comes hours after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke virtually in French parliament, calling on Renault and other French companies with a Russian presence to stop supporting the war against Ukraine indirectly.

The Renault Group’s board of directors met on Wednesday to decide to halt production at the plant producing the Arkana, Kaptur, Duster and Nissan Terrano SUVs amid growing criticism of its foothold in the Russian Federation.

However, the lion’s share of the group’s Russian presence goes through its subsidiary AvtoVAZ, through which it sold about 500,000 vehicles in Russia in 2021.

Renault said AvtoVAZ is not withdrawing immediately, but it is “assessing available options, taking into account the current environment, while acting responsibly to its 45,000 employees in Russia.”

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Paris – France’s Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that the country has successfully test-fired a modernized version of its nuclear missile, the Air-Sol Moyen Portie.

In a statement, it said it was tested “without a military payload” and was fired from a Rafale twin-engine, multirole fighter aircraft that took off from Cazaux Air Force Base 120 in southwestern France.

The medium-range air-to-surface nuclear ASMP missile, developed by weapons manufacturer MBDA, represents part of the air component of the French nuclear deterrence. The announcement comes at the height of the war in Ukraine, as some observers fear the prospect of a military escalation by Russia.

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BRUSSELS – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says any Russian chemical attack on Ukraine would change the course of the war, but he is not saying whether NATO will take military action.

Asked whether chemical weapons attack is a red line for NATO, Stoltenberg said, “I would not speculate beyond the fact that NATO allies will defend, defend, and respond to any sort of attack.” NATO is always ready for.”

“Any use of chemical weapons would fundamentally change the nature of the conflict. It would be an open violation of international law and would have wide-ranging and dire consequences,” says Stoltenberg.

His remarks came on Thursday as he arrived at NATO headquarters in Brussels to chair a summit of 30 national leaders of the military organization, including US President Joe Biden.

NATO allies are concerned with Russian rhetoric and fear Moscow will seek to make excuses for using chemical weapons in Ukraine. The leaders are likely to agree to send equipment to help protect Ukraine from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

They stand ready to support a move to establish four new multinational battle groups in Eastern Europe to prevent Russia from attacking any NATO member.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s Navy on Thursday reported the destruction of Russia’s large landing ship, the Orsk, near the port city of Bardyansk.

A brief Facebook statement about the ship was accompanied by photos and videos of fire and thick plumes of smoke in the harbor.

The Russian military has not commented on what happened to the ship.

Berdyansk has been under Russian control since February 27.

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WASHINGTON – The US State Department says Russia has begun the process of evacuating more diplomats from the US embassy in Moscow.

The department said it received on Wednesday a list of diplomats who have been declared “personality non greta” by the Russian Foreign Ministry. It did not say how many diplomats were affected by the order, which usually results in the expulsion of those targeted within 72 hours.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan on Monday to protest President Joe Biden’s description of Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal” over the invasion of Ukraine. After that meeting, Russia warned that it was close to severing diplomatic ties with the United States, which would be unprecedented.

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