Ukraine has insisted it still wants to be a member of NATO following confusion it might drop its calls in exchange for peace with Russia.
Over the weekend, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK said Kyiv was willing to be “flexible” over its goal to join the military alliance.
Its insistence on wanting to be part of NATO has prompted Russia to amass more than 130,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, with the UK and US warning it could invade the former Soviet republic this week.
‘We want to be NATO members’
But Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko told Sky News “we are not looking at that” when asked if Ukraine wants to pull its call for NATO membership to halt an invasion.
Mr Prystaiko said pursuing membership is “enshrined in our constitution and more than 50% of Ukrainians believe we have no other way but to go to NATO” to ensure Ukraine’s security.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also told a joint news conference with the German chancellor: “Of course, we’d like to become members of NATO, it’s stipulated in Ukraine’s constitution.”
He said he thinks reporters “misunderstood” Mr Prystaiko’s comments and it was more a question of dealing with the situation now because they do not know when they will become NATO members.
“How long will it take Ukraine to go and reach the end of this path to reach NATO?” he added.
Mr Zelenskiy added that some NATO leaders have hinted Ukraine should not talk so much about its ambitions to join NATO but said: “This decision is our decision.”
He added that he will not be evacuating his family from Ukraine, saying he and the first lady need to set a patriotic “example” for his citizens.
Russian invasion imminent
Over the weekend, the US warned it had intelligence showing Russia could invade Ukraine on Wednesday, something the Ukrainian ambassador defended, saying the US may have stopped the invasion in its tracks.
On Monday, Boris Johnson warned of a “very, very dangerous and difficult situation” as he said the threat of a Russian invasion leaves the world “on the edge of a precipice”.
He said there was “pretty clear” evidence Russia is planning an invasion of its neighbour.
British foreign secretary Liz Truss, who was in Moscow for talks last week, added that the latest information suggests Russia “could invade at any moment and we urge the Kremlin to de-escalate”.
Germany steps up support after criticism
Germany has been criticised for refusing to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine or spell out sanctions, or halt the use of a gas pipeline from Russia, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz sought to allay those fears during a two-hour meeting with Mr Zelenskiy on Monday in Kyiv.
During a news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Mr Scholz said he will emphasise to Vladimir Putin when he sees him in Moscow this week there will be “heavy economic consequences” if Russia invades.
He announced a further EUR150 million for Ukraine, on top of the same amount already set aside. He also said Germany, along with Estonia and Italy, has made hospitals available for troops and civilians.
Mr Scholz added that there was “no reasonable justification” for the build-up of troops by Russia as NATO accession talks are not on the agenda at the moment, so it was “strange” Russia would raise it.
Source Here: 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.
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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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