US fighter jets shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon over Atlantic – Newstrends
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US fighter jets shoots down suspected Chinese spy balloon over Atlantic

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The US has shot down a giant Chinese balloon that it says has been spying on key military sites across America.

The Department of Defense confirmed its fighter jets brought down the balloon over US territorial waters.

Three airports were shut and airspace was closed off the coast of North and South Carolina as the military carried out the operation on Saturday.

Footage on US TV networks showed the balloon falling to the sea after a small explosion.
An F-22 jet fighter engaged the high-altitude balloon with one missile – an AIM-9X Sidewinder – and it went down about six nautical miles off the US coast at 14:39 EST (19:39 GMT), a defence official told reporters.

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Defence officials told US media the debris landed in 47ft (14m) of water – shallower than they had expected – near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The military is now trying to recover debris which is spread over seven miles (11km). Two naval ships, including one with a heavy crane for recovery, are in the area.

US President Joe Biden had been under pressure to shoot the balloon down since defence officials first announced they were tracking it on Thursday.

After the balloon was shot down, Mr Biden said: “They successfully took it down, and I want to compliment our aviators who did it.”

The discovery of the balloon set off a diplomatic crisis, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately calling off this weekend’s trip to China over the “irresponsible act”.
The Chinese authorities have denied it is a spying aircraft, and instead said it was a weather ship blown astray.BBC

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Nearly 10,000 evacuated in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region after Russia attack

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Nearly 10,000 evacuated in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region after Russia attack

Nearly 10,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region since a ground attack launched by Russian forces on May 10, its governor said Saturday.

The assault may only be the first wave of a wider offensive, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told AFP.

Over a week after its launch, “a total of 9,907 people have been evacuated,” governor Oleg Synegubov said.

They were fleeing Russian soldiers who managed to advance between five to 10 kilometres (three to six miles) along the northeastern border before being stopped by Ukrainian forces.

Synegubov said Ukraine’s armed forces had repelled two attempts to break through defences overnight.

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The situation was “under control” with “defenders in certain areas conducting assault… and combing operations.”

Moscow has been attacking several settlements including Vovchansk, just five kilometres from the border.

“In the area of the city of Vovchansk, Ukrainian troops are reinforcing their defence,” Synegubov said.

There are about 100 people left in the city where “heavy fighting” is taking place, he added later.

Russian forces have taken 278 square kilometres (107 square miles) between May 9 and 15, their biggest gains since the end of 2022, AFP calculated using data from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Russia’s offensive “could consist in several waves. There was the first wave” in the Kharkiv region, Zelensky told AFP journalists.

Zelensky played down Russia’s gains in the offensive but added: “We have to be sober and understand that they are going deeper into our territory. Not vice versa. And that’s still their advantage.”

Speaking about the offensive during a visit to China on Friday, President Vladimir Putin said it was a response to Ukraine shelling Russian border regions.

Nearly 10,000 evacuated in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region after Russia attack

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Russia could increase Ukraine attacks, says Zelensky

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Russia could increase Ukraine attacks, says Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia could increase its attacks in Ukraine’s north east following its recent gains near the city of Kharkiv.

Russian troops have been trying to push forward as Ukraine’s outgunned forces attempt to shore up a weakened front line.

Mr Zelensky admitted that there were issues with military staffing and morale, saying a number of existing brigades were empty.

He also told the AFP news agency the country’s air fleet was lacking and renewed calls for allies to send more air defence and fighter jets.

“Today we have about 25% of what we need to defend Ukraine,” Mr Zelensky said of Ukraine’s air capabilities.

“So that Russia does not have air superiority, our fleet should have 120 to 130 modern aircraft.”

The US recently approved a new $61bn (£48bn) aid package for Ukraine, which includes military support.

Russian forces recently began a summer offensive, grabbing a number of villages on Ukraine’s north-eastern frontier near Kharkiv – the country’s second largest city.

Kharkiv’s regional governor Oleg Synegubov said on Saturday that nearly 10,000 people have been forced to leave in just over a week.

“The situation is controlled by defenders of Ukraine,” he added.

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Polish Prime Minster Donald Tusk, meanwhile, has announced the country will spend over €2.3bn (£1.9bn) to fortify its eastern border against “potential enemies”.

The border includes Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky also told AFP more soldiers were desperately needed at the frontlines.

“There are a serious number of brigades, existing brigades, which, a large number of them, are empty. We need to do this so that the guys have a normal rotation. Then their morale will be improved.”

A new mobilisation law aimed at addressing this came into force on Saturday.

Under the new rules, the age that people can be conscripted into the war has been lowered from 27 to 25 in an effort to boost recruit numbers.

The flood of volunteers Ukraine saw following Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022 has now dried up. Most of those who wanted to fight are either dead, injured or still stuck at the front waiting to be relieved by new recruits.

In February, Mr Zelensky announced that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed during Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Typically, Ukrainian officials do not make casualty figures public, and other estimates are much higher.

BBC Russian, in a joint project with the Mediazona website, has established the deaths of more than 50,000 Russian soldiers. But it estimates the total number to be greater than that.

Russia could increase Ukraine attacks, says Zelensky

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Palestinian envoy lambasts US for arresting protesters

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Palestinian envoy lambasts US for arresting protesters

The Palestinian Ambassador to Nigeria, Abdullahi Shawesh, on Thursday, May 16, lambasted the Western World for clamping down on student protesters who were expressing solidarity and sympathy with his country.

Shawesh said the clampdown is nothing but hypocrisy and double standards.

He stressed that the arrest and clampdown on protesters negates the Western world’s stand as promoters of freedom of speech.

He said: “When college students express their solidarity and sympathy with the Palestinians, it is labelled as hate speech and anti-Semitism. These students are beaten and harshly treated. Threatened with expulsion from universities, severe sanctions in the future, imprisonment, and facing trial.

“This is the exact meaning of hypocrisy and double standards.”

Shawesh who gave a review of the 223-day battle between the Israeli forces and Hamas, said no fewer than 45,091 Palestinians have been killed, including 15,103 children and 9,961 women.

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He also said the battle has consumed 142 journalists and 492 medical staff.

The envoy said no fewer than 10,000 persons have been declared missing.

He added: “78,404 wounded and injured, with 72% of the victims being children and women. 17,000 children live without one or both of their parents.”

Beside the human casualties, Shawesh also listed a number of destructions recorded, which include “243 mosques destroyed and 321 partially damaged. 3 Churches targeted and destroyed, 86,000 housing units completely destroyed and 294,000 partially damaged. 103 schools and universities destroyed. 206 archaeological and heritage sites destroyed, 75,000 tons of explosives materials dropped on Gaza.

“33 hospitals along with 54 health centres were taken out of service. A total of 160 health institutions and 126 ambulances were targeted by the Israeli occupation.”

He said the state of infrastructure devastation has forced 11,000 wounded people to travel for treatment to undergo operations.

He also said that no fewer than “10,000 cancer patients face death due to the lack of medical treatment. 1,095,000 are infected with infectious diseases as a result of displacement. 20,000 cases of viral hepatitis infection due to displacement. Tens of thousands of pregnant women are at risk due to a lack of access to healthcare. There have been 310 cases of health personnel being arrested.”

Palestinian envoy lambasts US for arresting protesters

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