Biden meets with Ukrainian officials in Poland as he starts final day of high-stakes foreign trip

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Biden’s visit to Europe has been entirely focused on the war. But the talks with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov were the first time Biden was able to meet face-to-face with officials from Ukraine during his tour.

As the meeting got underway, Kuleba described an arduous journey from Kyiv to Warsaw that included a train and three hours in a car.

“It’s like flying from Kyiv to Washington with a connecting flight in Istanbul,” Kuleba said. “The good thing is that since the beginning of the war I’ve learned how to sleep under any conditions. So I slept on the train, I slept in the car.”

Biden, on hearing how the ministers had traveled, relayed that he, too, had made many journeys by train.

“You’re looking at a fellow who’s traveled over a million, 200,000 miles on a train. Literally,” Biden said. Biden commuted from his home in Delaware to Washington as a senator and vice president on Amtrak trains.

The group meeting at a hotel in Warsaw, which also included Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, was likely to delve into more substantive issues later. Ukraine has been pressuring the US and NATO to increase the military assistance they are providing to Ukraine, including calls from President Volodymyr Zelensky to establish a no-fly zone.

After talks in Brussels this week, during which Zelensky appeared virtually, it did not appear NATO members had warmed to the idea. Biden has said becoming more directly involved in the conflict could usher in World War III.

That left Ukraine’s leaders dismayed. “We are very disappointed, in all honesty. We expect more bravery. Expected some some bold decisions. The alliance has taken decisions as if there’s no war,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, in a live interview with the Atlantic Council on Friday.

In Warsaw, Biden is holding a bilateral meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss how the US and its allies are responding to the refugee crisis that has ensued as a result of the war and he will meet with Ukrainian refugees. Before returning to Washington, the President will also deliver a speech billed by the White House as a “major address.”
The post-Cold War era is over. Biden's Europe trip will shape what comes next

The speech, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a preview on Friday, “will speak to the stakes of this moment, the urgency of the challenge that lies ahead, what the conflict in Ukraine means for the world, and why it is so important that the free world sustain unity and resolve in the face of Russian aggression.”

Biden’s multi-day swing through Europe began in Brussels, where he conferred with major US allies on the global response to the war. The trip is set to end in a nation bordering Ukraine — where the regional security issues and the humanitarian crisis underway will be front and center.
During snap summits in Brussels, Biden announced new sanctions against Russian parliament members, revealed the US’ intent to take in 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine and conferred with leaders on how the world will respond if Russia deploys a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon during the war.

On Friday, Biden also announced a new initiative intended to deprive Russian President Vladimir Putin of European energy profits that Biden says are used to fuel Russia’s war in Ukraine. And later that day, following his arrival some 65 miles from Poland’s border with Ukraine, the President met with aid workers to hear their accounts of helping alleviate the humanitarian crisis and members of the 82nd Airborne Division, who have been deployed along NATO’s eastern edge to deter potential Russian aggression.

Biden told the service members on Friday, “What you’re engaged in is much more than whether or not we can alleviate the suffering of Ukraine.”

“We’re in a new phase, your generation. We’re at an inflection point,” he said. And he told the troops that their mission was more than simply sending a message to Russia. Instead, he said, they were acting as a signal to all the world’s autocrats.

While Biden will meet with refugees in Warsaw, he said on Friday that he would have preferred to see the crisis from an even closer perspective.

“They will not let me — understandably, I guess — cross the border and take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine,” he said. The White House has said it did not explore a visit to Ukraine.

The visit to Ukraine’s western neighbor comes as Poland has, on several fronts, urged the US to do more in the war.

For example, Duda has asked the US to speed up and simplify the procedures allowing Ukrainians with family in the US to come to the country.

Russia invades Ukraine

More than 3.5 million refugees have now fled Ukraine, according to data from the United Nations refugee agency released on Tuesday. A vast majority of those refugees have fled to Ukraine’s western neighbors across Europe.

Poland, which borders Ukraine to the west, has registered more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees crossing into the country, though not all refugees who have entered Poland remain there.

Additionally, the US has continued to reject Poland’s proposal to facilitate the transfer of its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. And the Polish President has called for a more permanent NATO defense posture in the country along with an international peacekeeping force in Ukraine.

US officials have not warmed to the peacekeeping proposition, suggesting it could violate Biden’s red line of keeping US troops out of the conflict.

During Friday’s meeting with humanitarian workers, Duda said Biden’s “presence here sends a great signal and evidence of unity — unity within NATO.”

The Polish President added that Biden’s visit “demonstrates a huge support and also a big significance attached by the United States to the stability and world peace, to reinstating the peace where difficult situations are happening in places where somebody resorts to acts of aggression against other democratic and free nations — as it is happening today against Ukraine where the Russian aggression, unfortunately, happening for a month now is effect.”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Sam Fossum contributed to this report.

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Russia says main goal is Donbass, suggesting scaled-back ambitions in Ukraine

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  • Russian forces halted for weeks outside Kyiv
  • ‘We insist, first of all, on a ceasefire,’ says Ukraine
  • China’s Sinopec halts discussion on investments

BUCHA/LVIV, Ukraine, March 25 (Reuters) – Moscow signalled on Friday it was scaling back its ambitions in Ukraine to focus on territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists in the east as Ukrainian forces went on the offensive to recapture towns outside the capital Kyiv.

In the first big sign that Western sanctions on Moscow were impacting investment from China, sources said state-run Sinopec Group, Asia’s biggest oil refiner, halted talks on a petrochemical investment and a venture to market Russian gas. read more

In the month since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops have met stiff resistance and failed to capture any major city.

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They have instead been bombarding and encircling cities, laying waste to residential areas and driving around a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes.

More than 3.7 million of them have fled abroad, half to neighbouring Poland, where U.S. President Joe Biden met soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division bolstering the NATO alliance’s eastern flank. read more

“Hundreds of thousands of people are being cut off from help by Russian forces and are besieged in places like Mariupol,” Biden said, referring to the besieged southeastern port.

“It’s like something out of a science fiction movie.”

Battlelines near Kyiv have been frozen for weeks with two main Russian armoured columns stuck northwest and east of the capital. A British intelligence report described a Ukrainian counter-offensive that had pushed Russians back in the east.

“Ukrainian counter-attacks, and Russian forces falling back on overextended supply lines, have allowed Ukraine to reoccupy towns and defensive positions up to 35 km east of Kyiv,” the report said. Britain has given Ukraine arms and military training.

In an announcement that appeared to indicate more limited goals, the Russian Defence Ministry said a first phase of its operation was mostly complete and it would now focus on “liberating” the breakaway eastern Donbass region. read more

“The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which … makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbass,” said Sergei Rudskoi, head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate.

‘UNPREPARED TROOPS’

Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war.

Russia’s defence ministry said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed 3,825 wounded, the Interfax news agency reported. Ukraine says 15,000 Russian soldiers have died.

Volodymyr Borysenko, mayor of Boryspol, an eastern suburb where Kyiv’s main airport is located, said 20,000 civilians had evacuated the area, answering a call to clear out so Ukrainian troops could counter-attack. Ukrainian forces recaptured a nearby village the previous day and would have pushed on but halted to avoid putting civilians in danger, he said.

On the other main front outside Kyiv, to the capital’s northwest, Ukrainian forces have been trying to encircle Russian troops in the suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, reduced to ruins by heavy fighting.

In Bucha, 25 km (15 miles) northwest of Kyiv, a small group of Ukrainian troops armed with anti-tank missiles was digging foxholes. A Ukrainian soldier who identified himself only as Andriy told Reuters he enlisted as soon as the invasion began.

“I told my wife to grab the children and to hide in the basement, and I went to the drafting station and joined my unit straight away,” he said.

The United Nations said it had confirmed 1,081 civilian deaths and 1,707 injuries in Ukraine since the Feb. 24 invasion, adding that the real toll was likely higher.

Mariupol, a city of 400,000 before the war, has been among the worst hit by the Russian bombardment. Tens of thousands of people are still believed to be trapped with little access to food, power or heat.

Local officials, citing witness accounts, said they estimated that 300 people were killed in the bombing of a theatre in Mariupol on March 16. The city council had not previously provided a toll and made clear it was not possible to determine an exact figure after the incident. Russia has denied bombing the theatre. read more

The governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said Ukrainian forces still controlled Mariupol. Around 65,000 people had fled but efforts to organise mass evacuations under ceasefires had mostly failed. read more

The cities of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy in the east have also endured devastating bombardment. Chernihiv was effectively surrounded by Russian forces, its governor said.

CULTURE WAR?

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said peace negotiations with Russia were difficult.

“The Ukrainian delegation has taken a strong position and does not relinquish its demands,” he said. “We insist, first of all, on a ceasefire, security guarantees and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Western sanctions have isolated Russia from global trade. President Vladimir Putin accused the West of trying to “cancel” Russian culture, including composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninov, comparing it to actions by Nazi Germany in the 1930s. read more

China is the biggest power not to have condemned the Russian invasion and has repeatedly voiced opposition to the sanctions.

The Reuters report that Sinopec had suspended discussions about investments potentially worth $500 million was the first concrete sign that sanctions are affecting trade between Moscow and Beijing.

“Companies will rigidly follow Beijing’s foreign policy in this crisis,” said an executive at a Chinese state oil company. “There’s no room whatsoever for companies to take any initiatives in terms of new investment.”

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Reporting by a Reuters journalist in Mariupol, Natalia Zinets in Lviv and Reuters bureaus worldwide
Writing by Peter Graff and Nick Macfie
Editing by Angus MacSwan, Andrew Cawthorne and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Biden, Western allies gather at tense moment in Ukraine war

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BRUSSELS (AP) — As the war in Ukraine grinds into a second month, President Joe Biden and Western allies are gathering to chart a path to ramp up pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin while tending to the economic and security fallout that’s spreading across Europe and the world.

Over the course of a half-day Thursday, the European diplomatic capital will host an emergency NATO summit as well as a gathering of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and a summit of the 27 members of the European Union. Biden will attend all three meetings and plans to hold a news conference at the end of the day.

Biden arrived here late Wednesday with the hopes of nudging allies to enact new sanctions on Russia, which has already seen its economy crippled by a steady stream of bans, boycotts and penalties over the last four weeks.

While the West has been largely unified in confronting Russia after it invaded Ukraine, there’s wide acknowledgement that unity will be tested as the costs of war chip at the global economy.

“What we would like to hear is that the resolve and unity that we’ve seen for the past month will endure for as long as it takes,” Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters on Air Force One en route to Brussels.

The energy crisis exacerbated by the war will be a particularly hot topic at the European Council summit, where leaders from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece are hoping for an urgent, coordinated bloc-wide response. EU officials have said they will seek U.S. help on a plan to top up natural gas storage facilities for next winter, and they also want the bloc to jointly purchase gas.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has dismissed calls to boycott Russian energy supplies, saying it would cause significant damage to his country’s economy. Scholz is facing pressure from environmental activists to quickly wean Germany off Russian energy, but he said the process will have to be gradual.

“To do so from one day to the next would mean plunging our country and all of Europe into recession,” Scholz said Wednesday.

Poland and other eastern flank NATO countries will also be looking for clarity on how the United States and fellow European nations can assist in dealing with their growing concerns about Russian aggression as well as a spiraling refugee crisis. More than 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine in recent weeks, including more than 2 million to Poland.

Biden is scheduled to travel to Poland on Friday, where both issues are expected to be at the center of talks with President Andrzej Duda. Another significant moment could come shortly before Biden returns to Washington on Saturday. The White House said he plans to “deliver remarks on the united efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and defend a future that is rooted in democratic principles.”

Sullivan said that Biden and fellow leaders would aim to “set out a longer-term game plan” for what forces and capabilities are going to be required for the alliance’s eastern flank countries.

NATO leaders have agreed to station more forces in Eastern Europe to deter Russia from invading any member of their ranks and to send equipment to Ukraine to help it defend against chemical or biological attacks.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said four new battlegroups, which usually number between 1,000-1,500 troops, are being set up in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

“Along with our existing forces in the Baltic countries and Poland, this means that we will have eight multinational NATO battlegroups all along the eastern flank, from the Baltic to the Black Sea,” Stoltenberg said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is expected to address the NATO summit by video, said late Wednesday that he wants the alliance to “declare that it will fully assist Ukraine to win this war” by supplying any weapons necessary.

All the while, national security officials from Washington to Warsaw are increasingly worried that Putin might deploy chemical, biological or even nuclear weaponry. Sullivan said the allies would consult on how to respond to “potential contingencies” of that sort, including “this whole question of the potential use of nuclear weapons.”

Biden, before departing for Brussels on Wednesday, told reporters that he believed the possibility of Russia deploying chemical weapons was a “real threat.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a CNN interview this week said that Russia could consider using its nuclear weapons if it felt there was “an existential threat for our country.”

The head of the European Union’s executive arm said she wanted to discuss with Biden the possibility of securing extra deliveries of liquefied natural gas from the United States for the 27-nation bloc.

Speaking at the European Parliament ahead of Biden’s visit, Ursula von der Leyen said the EU was seeking a a commitment for additional LNG supplies from the U.S. “for the next two winters.”

The EU imports 90% of the natural gas used to generate electricity, heat homes and supply industry, with Russia supplying almost 40% of EU gas and a quarter of its oil. The bloc is looking at ways to reduce its dependence on Russian gas by diversifying suppliers.

Sullivan said the United States was looking for ways to “surge” LNG supplies to Europe to help make up for supply disruptions.

Biden, for his part, was expected to detail plans for new sanctions against Russia and humanitarian assistance for the region.

One new sanctions option that Biden is weighing is to target members of the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, according to a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. The official added that a final decision hadn’t been made and that the new sanctions would be rolled out in coordination with Western allies.

Biden arrived in Brussels with Americans increasingly accepting of the need for the U.S. to play a role in stopping in Putin, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

But even as concern among Americans has swelled and and support for a major U.S. role in the conflict strengthened in the last month, Biden’s negative approval rating has not budged, the AP-NORC poll found. Few are very confident that he can handle a crisis, and a majority thinks he lacks toughness in dealing with Russia.

Biden promised voters that he had the experience to navigate a complicated international emergency like the one unfolding in Europe now, and his trip will be the latest test of that proposition as he tries to maintain unity among Western allies and brace for potentially even bigger challenges.

At a time when it is essential to avoid fissures in what’s been a largely unified Western response to Russia, the U.S. president will look to press important allies like Poland to dial back the idea of deploying a Western peacekeeping mission to Ukraine. It’s an idea that the U.S. and some other NATO members see as too risky as they seek to deny Russia any pretext to broaden the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.

For his domestic audience, Biden is expected to once again underscore the heroics of the Ukrainian military and volunteers who have managed to hold off an imposing Russian military. He will highlight those remarkable efforts — as well as the generosity of the Poles and other allies at the front lines of the humanitarian crisis — as he redoubles his calls for Americans to stand firm against a Russian war that is spurring gas price hikes and adding to inflationary pressures in the U.S.

___

Madhani reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Hannah Fingerhut and Darlene Superville in Washington and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.

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PM vows strong response to terror after Beersheba attack; forces on ‘maximum alert’

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Israeli leaders vowed on Tuesday to act firmly against terror after an Arab Israeli man killed four people and wounded several others in a stabbing and ramming attack in the southern city of Beersheba.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said security forces would track down any accomplices. He praised the quick action of armed civilians who shot the terrorist, preventing anyone else from being harmed.

“I send my deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the horrific attack in Beersheba and pray for the safety of the wounded,” Bennett tweeted. “The civilians who shot the terrorist showed determination and courage, and prevented further victims.

“We will act with a strong hand against those who carry out terror,” Bennett wrote. “We will hunt and reach those who help them.”

He said security forces were at “maximum alert.”

Bennett’s spokesperson said the prime minister was being briefed on the terror attack in Beersheba and was in touch with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai.

Security officials are concerned that Monday’s attack could prompt so-called “copycat” attacks, leading to a widespread escalation, Hebrew media reports said. Security forces were already bracing for a feared rise in violence toward the start of Ramadan in 10 days’ time.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on March 20, 2022. (Marc Israel Sellem/pool/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also sent condolences to the victims’ families.

“The IDF and security forces will use all means to prevent terrorist incidents, as much as possible. We are on high alert against all threats in all areas,” Gantz said.

“We will make sure that anyone who encourages or supports the latest attacks will pay a price,” he added while touring the military’s northern command.

The four victims of a terror attack in Beersheba on March 22, 2022: Laura Yitzhak, top left; Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky, top right; Doris Yahbas, bottom left; Menahem Yehezkel, bottom right. (Social media/courtesy)

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said the attack was carried out by a “cursed terrorist,” lamenting the assailant’s release from prison in 2019 after a prior terrorism conviction.

“We will not rest until we eradicate nationalist terrorism, hunt down and push back the terrorists wherever they are,” Barlev said.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted his condolences to the bereaved families and wished a full recovery to those injured.

“Anyone who tries to harm innocent civilians needs to know that Israel will lay hands on them and bring them to justice,” Lapid said.

The scene of a deadly terror attack outside the BIG shopping center in Beersheba, southern Israel, on March 22, 2022. (Flash90)

Other ministers also offered their condolences, as well as messages of determination to maintain law and order in the south, where local residents for years have complained of a general lawlessness that includes violent crime and firearms offenses.

“A difficult and painful evening,” wrote Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar. “The criminal attack demonstrates our duty to strengthen governance in the Negev. In the face of the phenomenon of radicalization, it is necessary to act firmly and preserve the sovereignty of the state throughout its territory.”

“We will continue to act with all means at our disposal to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens,” tweeted Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar leads a New Hope faction meeting at the Knesset on February 7, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked offered her condolences to the bereaved families and speedy recovery for those injured, while saying she “salutes the brave citizens who prevented the murder of additional people.”

“Citizens who acted with great courage should be recognized for their actions,” she tweeted.

Labor Minister Merav Michaeli said, “The struggle to lead safe lives in our land is not over, and we need to do everything that will achieve it.”

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack “demands immediate action to catch all those who were responsible for it and to bring them to justice.”

Volunteers from ZAKA, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish emergency response team, clean up blood stains at the scene of a deadly terrorist attack outside a shopping centre in the southern city of Beersheba, on March 22, 2022. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Bennett and Lapid, he said, “must disregard all political considerations and immediately see to the apprehension of the terrorists and restoration of security to the residents of Beersheba and the south.” In his comments on political considerations, he was apparently alluding to coalition partner Ra’am, an Arab Islamist party that has campaigned for the rights of the Bedouin population, at times clashing with other members of the government.

In a tweet, Netanyahu wrote that “Bennett and Lapid’s weakness is costing lives,” and accused them of “abandoning the lives of residents of the Negev to bloodthirsty Islamic terrorists.”

Numerous other right-wing opposition MKs criticized the government over the attack, suggesting it was due to government weakness in the Negev.

“The nationalist radicalization among Israeli Arabs is a ticking time bomb,” MK Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, wrote on Twitter. “It needs to recognized, called by its name and ripped out with zero tolerance.”

“It starts with the leadership, goes through the security services and prosecution to the courts,” he said.

Smotrich’s fellow Religious Zionism MK Ofir Sofer also hit out at the government and was more explicit than Netanyahu in drawing a link to Ra’am.

“When the Israeli government is held at the neck by the Muslim Brotherhood movement… this murderous and painful terror attack is the first symptom,” he said.

Ra’am issued a statement condemning the “despicable attack in Beersheba,” and sending condolences to the families of those killed.

“Ra’am calls on all citizens to preserve the common, fragile social fabric, to be responsible and advance a discourse of tolerance in this difficult hour,” the party said.

A suspected assailant being shot in Beersheba on March 22, 2022. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Joint List lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman, also in the opposition, condemned the attack ”on innocent civilians in Beersheba.”

“I send my prayers for the recovery of the wounded and condolences to the families of those killed,” Touma-Sliman said in a statement.

Touma-Sliman warned the attack may lead to “racist incitement” against Bedouins living in Israel’s southern Negev desert.

”This is not the way of the Arab community generally, and in the Negev in particular, in its just struggle against ongoing dispossession and oppression,” Touma-Sliman said.

Arab Joint List MK Aida Touma-Suleiman. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Joint List leader MK Atman Odeh later tweeted that he “read with shock about the murderous incident in Beersheba.” Offering condolences for the victims families and wishes of recovery to those injured, he added, “Violence is not our way and we must strongly condemn it.”

The Bedouin town of Hura, where the assailant was from, “condemned in every way possible the deadly attack.”

“Attacking innocent civilians is a criminal and despicable act of terrorism,” the Hura local council said in a statement. “The council calls on both Arabs and Jews of the Negev to maintain the neighborly relations between the two sides that there has been until now.”

The stabber was identified as 34-year-old Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, a terror convict who was released from prison in 2019.

According to the Zaka emergency service, Abu al-Qi’an died of his wounds.

The Shin Bet said it was investigating the attack.

The Hamas terror group praised the stabbing attack, saying it “salutes the executor of the heroic operation in occupied Beersheba.”

“The occupation’s crimes shall be met with heroic operations: stabbings, rammings and shootings,” Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou told official Hamas radio.

The terror group did not claim the stabber as a member.



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Nintendo Switch System Update 14.0.0 Is Now Live, Here Are The Full Patch Notes

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Nintendo Switch OLED
Image: Nintendo

Nintendo has just released a new firmware update for the Switch. It bumps the system up to version 14.0.0 and while it’s not an overly large update, it does add one significant and long-requested feature.

After five years, users now have the ability to create groups of software. This is basically the folder update, which means you can organise your library of games in all sorts of categories. There’s a limit of up to 100 groups, with a maximum of 200 titles per group.

So – there you go, you can finally clean up your Switch home menu. In addition to this, Nintendo has changed the volume behaviour of Bluetooth Audio, further enhancing the user experience.

Below are the full patch notes, courtesy of Nintendo’s official support page:

Ver. 14.0.0 (Released March 21, 2022)

“Groups” feature was added to the All Software menu.

  • You can now create groups of software to help organize your software titles.
  • Making groups for different game genres, developers, or whatever you’d like to organize by may make it easier to find the application you want.
    • Up to 100 groups can be created with a max of 200 titles per group.
  • The button to proceed to the “All Software” screen is displayed only when there are 13 or more software title icons on the system.
  • For more information, see How to Create Groups of Software.

Bluetooth® Audio volume behavior was changed.

  • You can now adjust the volume of Bluetooth audio devices using either the Nintendo Switch™ console or through volume control buttons on the Bluetooth audio device.
    • The Bluetooth audio device must support AVRCP profiles for these changes to work.
  • The volume displayed on the console will reflect the Bluetooth audio volume when using the device’s control buttons.
  • The maximum volume output for some Bluetooth audio devices has been increased.
Nintendo Switch
Image: Nintendo

Have you downloaded the latest Switch firmware update yet? Notice anything else? Leave a comment down below.



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Chinese Boeing jet crashes in mountains with 132 on board, no sign of survivors

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The logo of China Eastern Airlines at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China March 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wangvv

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BEIJING, March 21 (Reuters) – A China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in mountains in southern China on a domestic flight on Monday after a sudden descent from cruising altitude. Media said there were no signs of survivors.

The airline said it deeply mourned the loss of passengers and crew, without specifying how many people had been killed.

Chinese media showed brief highway video footage from a vehicle’s dashcam apparently showing a jet diving to the ground behind trees at an angle of about 35 degrees off vertical. Reuters could not immediately verify the footage.

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The plane was en route from the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong, when it crashed.

Reuters Graphics

China Eastern said the cause of the crash, in which the plane descended at 31,000 feet a minute according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24, was under investigation.

The airline said it had provided a hotline for relatives of those on board and sent a working group to the site. There were no foreigners on the flight, Chinese state television reported, citing China Eastern.

Media cited a rescue official as saying the plane had disintegrated and caused a fire destroying bamboo trees. The People’s Daily quoted a provincial firefighting department official as saying there was no sign of life among the debris.

State media showed a piece of the plane on a scarred, earthen hillside. There was no sign of a fire or personal belongings.

The aircraft, with 123 passengers and nine crew on board, lost contact over the city of Wuzhou, China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the airline said.

The flight left Kunming at 1:11 p.m. (0511 GMT), FlightRadar24 data showed, and had been due to land in Guangzhou at 3:05 p.m. (0705 GMT).

The plane, which Flightradar24 said was six years old, had been cruising at 29,100 feet at 0620 GMT. Just over two minutes and 15 seconds later, data showed it had descended to 9,075 feet.

Twenty seconds later, its last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet.

Crashes during the cruise phase of flights are relatively rare even though this phase accounts for the majority of flight time. Boeing said last year only 13% of fatal commercial accidents globally between 2011 and 2020 occurred during the cruise phase, whereas 28% occurred on final approach and 26% on landing.

“Usually the plane is on auto-pilot during cruise stage. So it is very hard to fathom what happened,” said Li Xiaojin, a Chinese aviation expert.

Online weather data showed partly cloudy conditions with good visibility in Wuzhou at the time of the crash.

President Xi Jinping called for investigators to determine the cause of the crash as soon as possible, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

A Boeing spokesperson said: “We are aware of the initial media reports and are working to gather more information.”

Shares of Boeing Co (BA.N) were down 6.4% at $180.44 in premarket trade.

Shares in China Eastern Airlines in Hong Kong closed down 6.5% after news of the crash emerged, while its U.S.-listed shares slumped 17% in premarket trading.

China Eastern grounded its fleet of 737-800 planes after the crash, state media reported. China Eastern has 109 of the aircraft in its fleet, according to FlightRadar24.

The plane crashed during its cruise phase. Five fatal incidents have occurred during the cruise phase in the 10 years from 2010 through 2020, according to data examining global commercial jet airplane accidents compiled by Boeing.

‘GOOD RECORD’

Aviation data provider OAG said this month that state-owned China Eastern Airlines was the world’s sixth-largest carrier by scheduled weekly seat capacity.

The 737-800 has a good safety record and is the predecessor to the 737 MAX model that has been grounded in China for more than three years after fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

China’s airline safety record has been among the best in the world for a decade.

“The CAAC has very rigid safety regulations and we will just need to wait for more details,” said Shukor Yusof, head of Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.

​ Investigators will search for the plane’s black boxes – the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder – to shed light on the crash.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was ready to assist with China’s investigation if asked.

China’s aviation safety record, while good, is less transparent than in countries like the United States and Australia where regulators release detailed reports on non-fatal incidents, said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at industry publication Flightglobal.

“There have been concerns that there is some underreporting of safety lapses on the mainland,” he said.

According to Aviation Safety Network, China’s last fatal jet accident was in 2010, when 44 of 96 people on board were killed when an Embraer E-190 regional jet flown by Henan Airlines crashed on approach to Yichun airport.

In 1994 a China Northwest Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 flying from Xian to Guangzhou crashed, killing all 160 on board in China’s worst-ever air disaster, according to Aviation Safety Network.

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Reporting by Beijing and Shanghai newsrooms and Jamie Freed in Sydney; additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Nick Macfie and Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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“I’m ready for negotiations” with Putin, but if they fail, it could mean “a third World War”

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Ukrainian officials say that another Russian commander has died during fighting, which they say would be the fifth Russian general to have been killed since the invasion on February 24.

Gen. Oleg Mityaev, of Russia’s 150th Motorized Rifle Division, and members of his unit were killed by Ukrainian forces near Mariupol last week, according to a Telegram post shared by Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, on Tuesday.

The Russian Ministry of Defense nor Russian state media have issued any statements on his death.

Mityaev was part of a small group sent to Mariupol, Aleksei Arestovich, an adviser to the head of the president’s office, told Ukraine’s NV News.

He said Mityaev “most likely went to show, by example, how to fight. Because his soldiers refused to fight.

“Usually, the general is killed in close combat only if he personally comes to lead on the spot.” 

CNN cannot independently verify the Ukrainian claims.

The official Facebook page of the Strategic Communications Department of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU StratCom) also confirmed Mityaev’s death via a Facebook post. 

In 2016, Mityaev was appointed commander of Russia’s 201st military base in Tajikistan, according to Russian state media.

The 201st military base is the largest Russian military facility located outside of its borders. Most recently, he was stationed as the deputy commander of the Russian military grouping at Hmeimim Air Base in Syria, according to Russian state media.

The Azov Battalion, an ultra-nationalist militia that has since been integrated into the Ukrainian armed forces, was the first to share a photo of the General’s body on their Telegram account. 

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