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Ukraine says it destroyed Russian landing warship in Black Sea

Ukraine says it destroyed Russian landing warship in Black Sea

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Ukraine says it destroyed Russian landing warship in Black Sea

Ukraine destroyed a Russian landing warship off the coast of occupied Crimea in an operation with naval drones that breached the vessel’s port side on Wednesday and caused it to start sinking, Kyiv’s military spy agency and armed forces said.

There was no immediate comment from Russia, which said earlier that it had destroyed six drones in the Black Sea. The Kremlin declined to comment.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces, together with the Defence Ministry’s intelligence unit, destroyed the Tsezar Kunikov large landing ship. It was in Ukraine’s territorial waters near Alupka at the time of the hit,” the military said on Telegram messenger.

The Black Sea resort town of Alupka lies not far from Yalta on the southern edge of Crimea, which Russian forces seized and annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

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Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence agency published grainy footage on Telegram purporting to show several naval drones approaching a large vessel at night and at least one large explosion.

Reuters was able to verify the ship in the video as the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Tsezar Kunikov based on its main mast, antenna, bridge and deck. The location and date the footage was filmed could not be independently verified.

Some of the footage at the end appeared to show major damage with the vessel listing heavily to one side.

“In summary, Tsezar Kunikov received a critical breach on the port side and started sinking,” the GUR agency said in a statement.

The Project 775 warship, one of Russia’s newest vessels, has a crew of 87 and took part in wars in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine, GUR said in its statement.

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A Ukrainian news outlet published several videos showing a column of smoke rising over the sea off the southern coast of Crimea with helicopters flying overhead.

Ukraine has used uncrewed navy drones packed with explosives to attack Russian warships to try to drive them out of parts of the Black Sea, making it possible for Ukraine to open a shipping corridor along a traditionally key export route.

Ukraine has no large naval ships left and deliberately scuttled its own flagship at the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion to prevent it falling into Russian hands.

Newly developed naval drones have been vital for Ukraine as it tries to narrow the vast gap in its naval capabilities with Russia which has a powerful Black Sea Fleet that Kyiv has been trying to degrade.

A senior Ukrainian security official said in December that it had already destroyed 20% of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

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That month, Ukrainian cruise missiles struck another large Russian landing warship in Crimea. 

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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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