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UAE Declares 40-Day Mourning As President Dies

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President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of United Arab Emirates (UAE) is dead.

The state news agency WAM reported this on Friday morning.

“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs condoles the people of the UAE and the Islamic world… on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on Friday, May 13,” WAM said.

Commenting on the tragic news, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said UAE lost a righteous son and leader.

The ministry announced 40 days of mourning with flags at half-mast from Friday, with work suspended in the public and private sector for the first three days.

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Sheikh Khalifa took over as the UAE’s second president in November 2004.

He succeeded his father as the 16th ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Under the constitution, vice-president and premier Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, would act as president until the federal council which groups the rulers of the seven emirates meets within 30 days to elect a new president.

Khalifa, born in 1948, had rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2014 and his half-brother Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MbZ, has been the de facto ruler of the U.S.-allied UAE, an OPEC oil producer.

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China Follows Biden Remarks by Announcing Taiwan Military Drills

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Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers assembling during military training at Pamir Mountains in Kashgar, northwestern China's Xinjiang region.

China followed President Joe Biden’s vow to defend Taiwan militarily by announcing it held military exercises close to the democratically ruled island, underscoring its anger over the US stance.

The air and sea “combat readiness patrol” was “a solemn warning about the recent collusion between the US and Taiwan,” Colonel Shi Yi said in a statement on Wednesday from the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army. The command, which is headquartered in the eastern city of Nanjing, didn’t say when exactly the exercises were conducted.

“On the Taiwan issue, the US side says one thing and does another, giving repeated encouragement to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces. This is hypocritical and futile, and will only lead the situation to a dangerous situation, and it will also face serious consequences,” Shi added.

The comments show how much Biden angered Beijing by answering “yes” when asked Monday in Tokyo if the US would act “militarily” to defend the island in the event of a Chinese attack. White House officials later said he was only promising US aid to help Taiwan defend itself in the event of hostilities.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also lashed out at the US at a regular press briefing Wednesday in Beijing, saying “it will incur irreparable consequences and unbearable cost” for supporting Taiwan.

China has a pattern of using the PLA to respond to what it sees as US provocations regarding Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory that must be brought under control by force if necessary. After a group of senior senators including Republican Lindsey Graham visited last month, China held air and naval training near the island.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen asserts Taiwan is already a de facto independent nation deserving wider international recognition. The Biden administration has stepped up its backing since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, partly to deter any attack across the Taiwan Strait.

China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, last week warned the US about its increased support for the government in Taipei, saying: “If the US side insists on playing the Taiwan card and goes further and further down the wrong road, it will certainly lead to a dangerous situation.”

Bloomberg

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Russian rockets hit eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk

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A local resident gathers up belongings from his heavily damaged house after a Russian strike in Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Two rockets struck the eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk, in the Donetsk region early Wednesday morning, causing at least four injuries. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The Russian rocket strikes came early in the morning in the eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk on Wednesday, shaking buildings, jolting people out of bed and sending chunks of concrete and jagged pieces of metal flying through the air.

One of the two rockets left a crater at least three meters deep, remnants of the projectile still smoldering as nearby residents picked through the debris of their homes, trying to salvage whatever they could.

A row of low terraced houses nearby suffered significant damage, with roofing tiles blown off, door frames ripped from the walls and pieces of brick, concrete and asphalt scattered on the ground.

Four civilians were wounded, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk military administration. At least one of them suffered a head wound and was ferried to the local hospital by ambulance, blood seeping through the bandages and trickling down the side of his neck

The strikes in Pokrovsk were among several over the past two days that have hit towns and villages as Russia pressed forward in its offensive in the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland.

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“There’s no place left to live in, everything is smashed,” said Viktoria Kurbonova, a mother-of-two who lived in one of the terraced houses. The windows had been blown out by an earlier strike about a month ago, and they had replaced them with plastic sheeting. That, she said, probably saved their lives as at least there was no glass flying around.

She had been asleep when the strike hit, just meters from her house.

“There was a really big flash and a lot of dust,” Kurbonova said, standing outside her home still in her pajamas, her legs and arms blackened by soot. Her 4-year-old son wandered around, clutching a toy train, while her 2-year-old daughter smiled in a stroller nearby.

“I was reaching for my child and I couldn’t find him in the dust,” she said. The boy had been sleeping in the same room as her, while her daughter had been in the next room with Kurbonova’s mother. They were all shaken, but none were hurt.

Kyrylenko said Russian strikes killed 12 civilians the previous day in the Donetsk region, and wounded another 10. Another strike on the city of Kramatorsk, northeast of Pokrovsk, hit a multi-story building under construction, damaging it and blowing out windows in nearby buildings but causing no casualties.

“Russians continue hitting the cities that are away from the front line,”Kyrylenko said on his Telegram channel. “They would like to kill as many civilians as possible and cause panic. That is why the only good choice is evacuation. Evacuation saves lives.”

The governor of the neighboring Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, said at least six civilians had been killed and eight wounded over the past 24 hours in shelling in the town of Sieverodonetsk, at the heart of the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Russian forces have been attempting to encircle Sieverodonetsk and cut off Ukrainian forces there. Haidai accused the Russians of deliberately targeting shelters where civilians were hiding.

Moscow-backed separatists have fought Ukrainian forces in the Donbas for eight years and hold large swaths of territory. Sievierodonetsk and neighboring cities are the only part of the Donbas’ Luhansk region still under Ukrainian government control.

AP

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Russia intensifies Donbas offensive as war enters fourth month

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Russian forces on Tuesday stepped up their offensive on the last pocket of resistance around Lugansk in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, as the conflict entered its fourth month.

Since Moscow’s invasion in late February, Western support has helped Ukraine hold off its neighbour’s advances in many areas — including the capital Kyiv — but Russia is now focused on securing and expanding its gains in Donbas and the southern coast

“The coming weeks of the war will be difficult, and we must be aware of that,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday in his nightly address after regional leaders and residents reported heavy bombardments.

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“The most difficult fighting situation today is in Donbas,” Zelensky said, singling out the worst-hit towns of Bakhmut, Popasna and Severodonetsk.

The governor of Lugansk, in Donbas, said that Russia has sent thousands of troops to capture his entire region and that Severodonetsk was under massive attack, warning residents that it was too late to evacuate.

“At this point I will not say: get out, evacuate. Now I will say: stay in a shelter,” Sergiy Gaidai said on Telegram. “Because such a density of shelling will not allow us to calmly gather people and come for them.”

Residents of Bakhmut, a crucial junction that serves as a command centre for much of the Ukrainian war effort, told AFP of the aerial onslaught they had suffered
AFP
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