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World faces ‘dangerous decade’ as instability, military spending rise: report

World faces ‘dangerous decade’ as instability, military spending rise: report

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World faces 'dangerous decade' as instability, military spending rise: report

The world has entered an era of increasing instability as countries around the globe boost military spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Hamas attack on Israel and China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea.

That’s the conclusion of a new report Tuesday from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which also highlighted rising tensions in the Arctic, North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the rise of military regimes in the Sahel region of Africa as contributing to a “deteriorating security environment.” The London-based think tank has compiled its annual estimate of the global military situation for the past 65 years.

“The current military-security situation heralds what is likely to be a more dangerous decade, characterized by the brazen application by some of military power to pursue claims — evoking a ‘might is right’ approach — as well as the desire among like-minded democracies for stronger bilateral and multilateral defense ties in response,’’ the report said.

Global defense spending rose 9% to $2.2 trillion last year as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, now entering its third year, heightened concerns that China and other militarily powerful states may try to impose their will on neighbors, the IISS said.

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The increase was even steeper in NATO, which has supported Ukraine as a bulwark against further Russian incursions into Europe. The alliance’s non-U.S. members have boosted military spending by 32% since Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, the institute found. Ten European members reached the alliance’s goal of spending 2% of economic output on defense last year, up from just two in 2014.

European defense spending received renewed attention in recent days after former U.S. President Donald Trump told a campaign rally that when he was president he told an unidentified NATO state he would “encourage” Russia to attack alliance members that didn’t meet their funding commitments.

“‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’” Trump recounted himself as saying. “‘No I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.’”

Trump’s remarks caused deep concern among alliance members such as Poland, where anxieties are high over the war Russia is waging in neighboring Ukraine.

One of the report’s key findings is that Russia has lost some 3,000 main battle tanks during the fighting in Ukraine, or roughly as many as Moscow had in its active inventory before the full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

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While Russia has replenished its forces by pulling 2,000 older tanks out of storage, the Ukrainian government in Kyiv is relying on Western nations to provide the ammunition and weaponry it needs to hold off its bigger neighbor.

“But Kyiv also continued to demonstrate its ingenuity in other ways, using Western and indigenously developed systems to put Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on the back foot,’’ the think tank said, citing Ukraine’s use of unmanned “maritime vehicles.”

Lessons learned from the war in Ukraine are starting to influence military planning in other countries, the IISS said. In particular, many countries have recognized that they need to increase production of military hardware and build up bigger stockpiles of materiel in case they are forced to fight a protracted war.

“A just-in-time mindset that has persisted for almost three decades is giving way to a just-in-case approach, though delivering on these ambitions is challenging,” the report said.

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Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM’s removal over minister’s appointment

Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM’s removal over minister’s appointment

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Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM's removal over minister's appointment

Thailand’s Constitutional Court accepted a complaint on Thursday seeking to remove Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin over his cabinet appointment of a lawyer who served jail time, in a new legal setback for the government.

The decision comes after three ministers quit in recent weeks as the government battles to jumpstart an underperforming economy and find funds to deliver on a delayed election promise of cash handouts for 50 million people.

The court chose not to suspend Srettha from duty pending a verdict, as was sought by 40 senators who had complained Pichit Chuenban fell short of moral and ethical standards for ministers set out in the constitution.

Srettha has 15 days to file his defence in court. “The prime minister is focused and determined, this will not affect his work,” said government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke.

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Pichit’s qualifications prior to becoming a minister in the prime minister’s office had been carefully vetted and the appointment was in line with the law, he added.

For decades a close aide of the politically influential Shinawatra family, Pichit resigned on Tuesday in an effort to insulate Srettha from the court case.

He had been jailed for six months in 2008 for contempt of court after being accused of a bid to bribe court officials with 2 million baht ($55,218) placed in a grocery paper bag, which he denied. His law license was suspended for five years.

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As a lawyer, Pichit fought, and lost, big court cases against former premiers Yingluck Shinawatra and billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been a towering figure in Thailand for more than two decades.

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Thaksin is a close ally of Srettha and founder of his ruling Pheu Thai party, which together with its predecessors has won all but one Thai election since 2001.

The court gave no timeframe for a decision in the case.

If it dismisses Srettha, a new government must be formed and Pheu Thai would need to put forward a new candidate for premier to be voted on by a parliament in which it is not the biggest party.

VReal estate mogul Srettha was elected by the legislature in August last year after weeks of political deadlock, following a deal with parties and lawmakers allied with the royalist military, which staged coups against Shinawatra-backed governments in 2006 and 2014.

Government critics say Pichit got the job thanks to his close ties with Thaksin. The tycoon still holds significant sway in politics, despite officially being retired and having spent 15 years in self-imposed exile until his return last year.

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The government has said Pichit was picked because he was suitable.

Thaksin, who was convicted of conflicts of interest and abuse of power and was released from detention on parole in February, will learn next week if he is to be prosecuted for an alleged insult to the powerful monarchy.

He has denied wrongdoing in the case over comments made in an interview a decade ago.

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Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

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Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

 Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold wide-ranging talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Thursday and Friday, the Kremlin said.

Russia and Belarus are close allies, with Minsk set to take part in exercises aimed at simulating preparations for the launch of tactical nuclear weapons this month.

Belarus has offered Russia logistical support during its conflict with Ukraine, with Russian forces entering Ukraine from Belarusian territory during their initial offensive against Kyiv in February 2022.

Separately, Belarusian state news agency Belta reported on Thursday that Lukashenko had appointed Pavel Muraveyko as the new chief of the Belarusian army’s general staff. 

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Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

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Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Twenty people who were aboard a Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence and diverted to Bangkok for an emergency landing on Tuesday remain in intensive care, a hospital official said on Thursday.

Of the 40 people on the flight still under treatment, 22 patients have spinal cord injuries and six have brain and skull injuries, Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, Director of Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital told reporters.

Adinun had said 41 people were still under treatment, but later said one person had been discharged. One passenger died of a suspected heart attack and dozens were injured after Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 encountered what the airline described as sudden, extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar on Tuesday. 

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