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Zelensky arrives in Britain seeking more arms against Russia

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Zelensky arrives in Britain seeking more arms against Russia

Britain announced an immediate surge of military deliveries to Ukraine to help it fend off an intensifying Russian offensive and pledged to train its pilots as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in London on a rare visit abroad.

Zelensky was due to travel onto Brussels on Thursday where the European Union is holding a summit, according to an EU diplomat. London was his first stop on only his second trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 after a visit to the United States in December.

In Britain, he will meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles and address parliament.

“The United Kingdom was one of the first to come to Ukraine’s aid. And today I’m in London to personally thank the British people for their support and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his leadership,” Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram, under a photo of him and Sunak at the airport.

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Britain, which has been training Ukrainian troops, said the extra training would ensure Ukrainian pilots were able to fly “sophisticated NATO-standard fighter jets in the future”, adding the move was “part of long-term investment in their military”.

The wording seemed to suggest that Britain had not yet changed its mind on whether to provide Kyiv with the fighter jets it has asked for – something the government has said is not the right approach for now.

Sunak said the visit was a testament “to his country’s courage, determination and fight and … to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries”.

“I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future.”

Zelenskiy will meet King Charles later on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said. Charles, who has visited several organisations who help Ukrainians in Britain, has called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “brutal aggression”.

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Britain also set out further sanctions to target those who have helped Russian President Vladimir Putin, including manufacturers of military equipment and eight individuals who helped “maintain wealth and power amongst Kremlin elites”.

SUNAK PLEDGES MORE SUPPORT

Zelenskiy, who had close ties with ex-prime minister Boris Johnson, visits Britain at a time when Russia is bringing tens of thousands of recently mobilised troops to the battlefield to try to break through Ukrainian defences in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s allies have promised hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles to help Kyiv resist the assault and recapture territory, but have said it will take time to train Ukrainian forces to use them effectively.

Since Johnson resigned last year, Sunak has pledged to continue to support Ukraine, visiting Kyiv in November to tell the Ukrainian leader: “We are with you all the way.”

In London, he is expected to tell Zelenskiy he will accelerate the delivery of military equipment to Ukraine.

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Britain has trained 10,000 Ukrainian troops brought to battle readiness in the last six months and will train a further 20,000 soldiers this year, the government said.

Last week, Ukrainian troops arrived in Britain to learn how to command Challenger 2 tanks and Sunak will offer to provide Ukraine with longer range capabilities, the statement said.
London has so far refused to deliver fighter jets, saying it was not “the right approach” for now. But defence minister Ben Wallace has suggested that stance could change.

Sunak’s spokesman said last week that the quickest a pilot could learn to fly a British fighter jet was 35 months. “We will continue listening to the Ukrainians and consider what is right for the long term,” he said.

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US Coast Guard boards Chinese fishing boats near Kiribati, official says

US Coast Guard boards Chinese fishing boats near Kiribati, official says

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US Coast Guard boards Chinese fishing boats near Kiribati, official says

The US Coast Guard and Kiribati police boarded two Chinese fishing boats during a patrol against illegal fishing in the Pacific Islands nation’s vast exclusive economic zone this month but found no issues aboard, a coast guard official said.

The United States is seeking a bigger role for its coast guard in helping remote Pacific Islands nations monitor millions of kilometres of ocean – a rich tuna fishing ground – a move that also boosts surveillance as a rivalry with China over security ties in the region intensifies.

Reuters reported on Friday that Chinese police are working in Kiribati, with uniformed officers involved in community policing and a crime database program.

Kiribati, a nation of 115,000 residents, is considered strategic despite being small, as it is relatively close to Hawaii and controls a 3.5 million square kilometre (1.35 million square mile) exclusive economic zone. It is also host to a Japanese satellite tracking station.

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Washington has flagged plans to build an embassy in Kiribati to compete with China, but has not yet done so.

Kiribati police officers were on patrol with the US Coast Guard as “ship riders” for the first time in almost a decade, between Feb. 11-16, a US Coast Guard Guam spokeswoman said.

“The two People’s Republic of China (PRC) flagged fishing vessels were boarded as part of routine maritime law enforcement activities to ensure compliance with regulations within the Kiribati Exclusive Economic Zone,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed comments.

No concerns were reported during the boardings, she said.

“Both Kiribati officers from the Kiribati Police Maritime Unit and US Coast Guard officers were involved in the boarding operations. This collaboration underscores the partnership between the two nations in upholding maritime law and good governance,” she added.

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The Kiribati president’s office and Chinese embassy did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Kiribati’s acting police commissioner, Eeri Aritiera, told Reuters last week that Chinese police on the island work with local police.

China built a large embassy on the main island, Tarawa, after Kiribati switched ties from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019. 

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Ukraine downs nine Russian drones, three missiles, air force says

Ukraine downs nine Russian drones, three missiles, air force says

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Ukraine downs nine Russian drones, three missiles, air force says

Russia launched 14 attack drones and a barrage of missiles at Ukraine overnight, with air defence systems destroying nine drones as well as three guided missiles over the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, Ukraine’s air force said on Monday.

Russia also launched two S-300 missiles from anti-aircraft missile systems and one air-to-surface Kh-31P missile, the air force said on the Telegram messaging app.

It was not clear what happened to the missiles and drones that were not downed. 

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Taiwan ally Tuvalu names Feleti Teo as new prime minister

Taiwan ally Tuvalu names Feleti Teo as new prime minister

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Taiwan ally Tuvalu names Feleti Teo as new prime minister

Tuvalu on Monday announced former attorney general and fisheries official Feleti Teo as its new prime minister, after he was elected unopposed by lawmakers in the Pacific Islands nation, officials said.

Former Prime Minister Kausea Natano lost his seat in a general election on Jan. 26 closely watched by Taiwan, China, the US and Australia, amid a geopolitical tussle for influence in the South Pacific.

Tuvalu, with a population of about 11,200 spread across nine islands, is one of three remaining Pacific allies of Taiwan, after Nauru cut ties last month and switched to Beijing, which had promised more development help.

Teo received unanimous support from the 16 lawmakers, two lawmakers told Reuters on Monday.

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Teo, who was educated in New Zealand and Australia, was Tuvalu’s first attorney general. He has decades of experience as a senior official in the regional fisheries organisation and has worked with the Pacific Islands Forum, the region’s major political and economic group. Fishing is a major source of revenue in the Pacific islands.

“Feleti Teo was declared by the Governor General as Prime Minister for Tuvalu,” Tuvalu’s government secretary, Tufoua Panapa, said in an emailed statement.

Tuvalu lawmaker Simon Kofe congratulated Teo in a social media post.

“It is the first time in our history that a Prime Minister has been nominated unopposed,” he said.

The election result in Tuvalu had been delayed by a month as dangerous weather stopped boats from bringing new lawmakers to the capital to vote for prime minister, highlighting why climate change is the top political issue in the Pacific Islands nation.

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Taiwan’s foreign ministry said its ambassador to Tuvalu, Andrew Lin, expressed Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s congratulations to Teo, adding that deputy foreign minister Tien Chung-kwang will visit Tuvalu in the near future.

Teo is a friend of Taiwan’s and has visited many times, and has said relations are stable and that maintaining ties is the widespread consensus in Tuvalu, the ministry added.

Taiwan previously said it was paying close attention to the election after Tuvalu’s finance minister in the previous government, Seve Paeniu, said the issue of diplomatic recognition of Taiwan or China should be debated by the new government.

There had also been calls by some lawmakers to review a wide-ranging deal signed with Australia in November, that allows Canberra to vet Tuvalu’s police, port and telecommunication cooperation with other nations, in return for a defence guarantee and allowing citizens threatened by rising seas to migrate.

The deal was seen as an effort to curb China’s rising influence as an infrastructure provider in the Pacific Islands.

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Teo’s position on Taiwan ties, and the Australian security and migration pact, have not been made public.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on social media he looked forward to working with Teo.

“Australia deeply values our relationship with Tuvalu, in the spirit of the Falepili Union,” he wrote, referring to the migration pact.

Tuvalu’s ministry would be announced at an oath taking ceremony for the new government later this week, Panapa said.

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