Ukraine can “absolutely” win the war against Russia as Moscow continues to struggle to make key breakthroughs, the Pentagon has said.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin “has achieved zero of his strategic goals” and is “really only taking control of a small number of population centres”, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
It comes as US officials say at least 24,000 Russian troops have completed their withdrawal from around Kyiv, but fears remain that they are now refitting and resupplying in preparation for a future deployment in Ukraine.
“The threat of (a) ground invasion (of Kyiv) is clearly gone for the moment… but it’s not clear what their longer-range goals are,” a US defence official said on condition of anonymity.
“The troops leaving the area were withdrawing to Belarus and Russia to reconsolidate, but it was not clear how many would eventually be sent back to Ukraine,” they added.
Chernihiv can be seen in the north of the country close to Belarus
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Speaking hours after the US announced sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Ukraine’s resistance remained strong.
“Of course [Ukraine] can win this,” he said.
“If you look at what they have been able to do so far, Mr Putin has achieved exactly zero of his strategic objectives inside Ukraine.
“He didn’t take Kyiv, he didn’t topple the government, he didn’t remove Ukraine as a nation state.
The town of Borodyanka, near Kyiv, continues to be pounded with Russian shelling. Pic: AP
“He’s really only taken control of a small number of population centres and even they aren’t the ones he was going after.”
“The proof is literally in the outcomes that you’re seeing every day,” Mr Kirby added.
“Absolutely [Ukraine] can win.”
Sky’s Mark Austin will interview Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov this evening
Fighting in April could be ‘rather intense’
The mayor of Dnipro in eastern Ukraine, which has a population of almost one million people, is urging women, children and the elderly to leave the city because it is in an area where the fighting is expected to intensify.
“All those who have the ability should leave,” Borys Filatov said in an online address. “This involves women, children, the elderly, those who are not… directly integrated into the economy.”
There have been similar recommendations in the Luhansk region, east of Dnipro.
On Wednesday, the regional governor of Luhansk urged all residents to move away while it was still possible to do so in relative safety.
Russian troops are regrouping and preparing for a new offensive in the Donbas area, which includes both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the Kyiv government has been warning.
“The situation in the Donbas is gradually heating up, and we understand that April will be rather intense,” Mr Filatov added.
Russia hit by more sanctions
In addition to sanctioning Mr Putin’s two daughters, the US toughened penalties against Russian banks and banned new US investment in Russia on Wednesday.
In tandem, the UK imposed an asset freeze on Russia’s largest bank, placed sanctions on eight more oligarchs and vowed to end imports of Russian oil and coal by the end of the year.
The EU had planned to announce an embargo on coal and a ban on Russian ships and road operators, but diplomats failed to approve the measures on Wednesday as technical issues need to be addressed.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Western leaders to ban Russian oil imports ‘quickly and in a principled fashion’. Pic: AP
Zelenskyy calls on Western leaders to ‘borrow a little determination’
In his nightly address, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the range of new sanctions had a “spectacular look… but this is not enough”.
While welcoming moves to hit Russian banks, he said he would not rest until there is a “complete blockade of the Russian banking system from international finance”.
Bodies are identified in Bucha, before being sent to a morgue. Pic: AP
And he demanded quicker action on an oil embargo from the EU, whose leaders have not yet been able to reach an agreement.
Germany is said to lead resistance to an outright ban as it relies heavily on oil imports from Russia.
Meanwhile, Hungary said it was prepared to break ranks with the rest of the EU and agree to a Russian demand to pay for its gas with roubles.
“Some politicians are still unable to decide how to limit the flow of dollars and euros to Russia from the oil trade, so as not to jeopardize their own economies,” Mr Zelenskyy said.
A family walks past destroyed Russian tanks in the town of Bucha. Pic: AP
“But that’s why people go into politics. To solve such problems, difficult tasks. To solve them quickly and in a principled fashion. If you are not capable, then you shouldn’t have started political activity.
“The embargo on Russian oil supplies will be applied anyway. The format will be found.
“The only question is how many more Ukrainian men and women the Russian military will have time to kill, so that you, some politicians – and we know you, can borrow a little determination somewhere.”
Original Source: news.sky.com
WHO Estimates 15m People Have Died Directly or Indirectly From COVID – More Than Double Official Death Toll
The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million people worldwide have now died of coronavirus – or as a result of its impact on health services.
WHO data shows the number of excess COVID mortalities to be somewhere between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021. This is more than double the official death toll of around six million.
Excess mortality refers to the number of people who have died of the virus either directly or indirectly by being unable to access health services for other conditions.
The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling, the WHO said.
There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.
Most excess COVID deaths (86%) happened in Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to the figures.
Middle-income countries accounted for 81% of deaths, with 28% occurring in upper-middle-income countries and 4% in low-income ones.
Some 68% of all excess deaths worldwide happened in just 10 countries.
There was a higher rate for men (57%) than there was for women (43%), with more excess deaths among the elderly than younger generations.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems.
“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”
Original Source: news.sky.com
Pope Francis Seen Using Wheelchair for the First Time for Mobility Reasons
The Pope has been pictured using a wheelchair – the first time he’s used one in public due to the knee pain that’s made it hard for him to walk and stand.
Francis, 85, was wheeled on stage and helped into a seat during an audience with a group of nuns and religious superiors from around the world at the Vatican.
He appears to be having a flare-up of sciatica, a nerve condition he suffers with that he’s called his “troublesome guest”.
The Pope has had to cancel or cut short activities several times in the last month because of pain in his right knee.
He was pictured in a wheelchair last July after major intestinal surgery, but this is believed to be the first time he’s used one in public due to his mobility problems.
Before Thursday’s event, he was able to walk the roughly 10 metres or so from the side entrance of the stage to his seat with some help.
He recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain but has continued to struggle.
His impaired movement was apparent over Easter when he attended but did not take charge of masses at St Peter’s Basilica, instead delegating a cardinal or archbishop to preside.
During a trip to Malta in April he was also pictured using an elevator platform to get on and off the plane.
Original Article: news.sky.com
Woman Pulled Alive From Rubble Six Days After Building Collapsed
A woman has been found alive in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed almost six days earlier, Chinese state media has said.
The unidentified woman has become the 10th survivor and was rescued shortly after midnight today, about 132 hours after the rear of the six-storey building suddenly caved in, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported.
The woman was conscious and told rescuers how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua added.
Teams had used dogs and hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.
All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital and it is thought intermittent rain showers over the last few days may have helped their chances of survival without food or water.
At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building”.
This includes its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.
Three people in charge of design and construction were also held, along with five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.
The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.
An aerial photo shows the site of the collapsed residential building in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province
There has been increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.
Following the building collapse at the weekend, he urged for more victims to be found in the rubble “at all costs”.
Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for similar disasters.
China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.
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