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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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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

 The African National Congress and its largest rival, the white-led, pro-business Democratic Alliance, agreed on Friday to work together in South Africa’s new government of national unity, a step change after 30 years of ANC majority rule.

Once unthinkable, the deal between two sharply antagonistic parties is the most momentous political shift in South Africa since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the 1994 elections that marked the end of apartheid.

“Today, South Africa is a better country than it was yesterday. For the first time since 1994, we’ve embarked on a peaceful and democratic transfer of power to a new government that will be different from the previous one,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said in a televised address.

“From today, the DA will co-govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration,” he said, adding that multi-party government was the “new normal”.

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The ANC lost its majority for the first time in an election on May 29 and has spent two weeks locked in intensive behind-the-scenes talks with other parties, which came down to the wire on Friday morning as the new parliament was convening.

The DA’s entry into national government is a big moment for a country still processing the legacy of the racist colonial and apartheid regimes. The party has struggled to shake off its image as a defender of rich white people and convince a broad spectrum of South Africans that it reflects their aspirations.

Two smaller parties, the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party and the right-wing Patriotic Alliance, will also take part in the unity government, they said. 

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Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

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Hamas' armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said on Friday that two Israeli hostages held in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah a few days ago.

The group, in a video posted on its Telegram channel, did not release the names of those said to have been killed or provide any evidence.

The Israeli government “does not want your hostages to return, except in coffins,” the al-Qassam Brigades statement said.

Israel rescued four hostages held by Hamas in a hostage-freeing operation in central Gaza’s al-Nuseirat on June 8. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said more than 250 Palestinians were killed in the raid.

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The war in Gaza erupted when Hamas militants stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. 

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

A Canadian navy patrol ship sailed into Havana early on Friday, just hours after the United States announced a fast-attack submarine had docked at its Guantanamo naval base on Cuba, both vessels on the heels of Russian warships that arrived on the island earlier this week.

The confluence of Russian, Canadian and U.S. vessels in Cuba – a Communist-ruled island nation just 160 km (100 miles) from Florida – served up a reminder of old Cold War tensions and of current fraught ties between Russia and Western nations over the Ukraine war.

However, both the U.S. and Cuba have said the Russian warships pose no threat to the region. Russia has also characterized the arrival of its warships in allied Cuba as routine.

The Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, half submerged with its crew on deck, sailed into Havana harbor on Wednesday after conducting “high-precision missile weapons” training in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Canada`s Margaret Brooke patrol vessel began maneuvers early on Friday to enter Havana harbor, part of what the Canadian Joint Operations Command called “a port visit…in recognition of the long-standing bilateral relationship between Canada and Cuba.”

A Canadian diplomat characterized the Margaret Brooke`s arrival as “routine and part of long-standing cooperation between our two countries”, adding it was “unrelated to the presence of the Russian ships.”

Russia and Cuba were close allies under the former Soviet Union and tensions with Washington over Communism in its “backyard” peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Moscow, which has maintained ties with Havana, has questioned the apparent nervousness of the West over the warships this week. 

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