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‘Unforgivable’: Russia Attacks Biden for Calling Putin a ‘war Criminal’

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The Kremlin has said Joe Biden’s “war criminal” comment is “unforgiveable” – and has accused the West of behaving in a “disgusting” way.

Insisting it is putting “colossal energy” into peace talks, Russia also accused Ukraine of “dragging out” the negotiations and said its conditions for ending the conflict are “absolutely clear”.

The comments come after Vladimir Putin hit back at US President Joe Biden after he called him a “war criminal” as the conflict in Ukraine enters its 21st day.

The Kremlin added that the remarks made by Joe Biden were “unacceptable”.

Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians.

Russia’s invasion ‘has largely stalled on all fronts’ – live updates

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Biden calls Putin ‘a war criminal’

Despite scepticism from the White House over progress, Russia said yesterday that some parts of a possible peace deal with Ukraine were close to being agreed.

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Joe Biden is set to hold a call with China’s president Xi Jinping tomorrow and will discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House has said.

Former president Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy secretary of Russia’s security council, accused the West of acting in a “disgusting, criminal” way towards the country.

He described the behaviour of the West as “amoral” and accused it of stoking Russophobia to try and rip Russia apart, adding that Russia “has the might to put all of our brash enemies in their place”.

Analysis by Sky News correspondent Alistair Bunkall

The prospect of Ukrainian neutrality has been put forward as a possible agreement to pave way to a peace deal. But what would that mean?

Ukraine’s ambitions to join NATO – enshrined in its constitution since 2019 – were aspirational but never going to happen soon.

The alliance never put Ukraine on a firm path to membership, despite what Putin or Ukraine might claim.

NATO requires prospective members to resolve any territorial disputes, therefore Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region would have precluded immediate accession.

Nevertheless, the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, however remote, was anathema to Putin and enough in his eyes to justify an invasion.

Examples of neutral states include Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Finland and Sweden. Under international law, neutrality prohibits states from interfering in conflicts or territorial disputes.

If Ukraine were to accept neutrality, it would still require security guarantees, albeit it no longer from NATO.

These guarantees could come from specific agreements with the US, UK or France but it is unlikely Moscow would accept that unless Russia were also a named guarantor. And how would that work, in the current climate?

It’s a route to peace, but not a straightforward one.

In a speech yesterday, Putin also took aim at Russians who do not support the invasion, saying Russia “will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths”.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West has placed heavy sanctions on individuals, with some companies pulling out from the country and suspending their services.

The UK has sanctioned more than 1,000 of Russia and Belarus’ most significant and high-value individuals, entities, and subsidiaries.

Boris Johnson has vowed a further crackdown on oligarchs by promising to curb their abuse of the UK legal system to stifle public criticism.

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Six nations have called for a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine this afternoon, ahead of an expected Friday vote on a resolution demanding protection for Ukrainian civilians “in vulnerable situations”.

With the invasion, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has continued to urge for a no-fly zone from the West to protect the country’s sky.

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He addressed the German parliament and criticised Western leaders – saying “they acted too slowly” and “did not go far enough” taking action against Russia.

The latest Ministry of Defence update suggests Russian forces have made “minimal progress” on land, sea and air in recent days as Russia continues its invasion.

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Article: news.sky.com

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WHO Estimates 15m People Have Died Directly or Indirectly From COVID – More Than Double Official Death Toll

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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.

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The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling, the WHO said.

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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.

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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.”

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Original Source: news.sky.com

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Pope Francis Seen Using Wheelchair for the First Time for Mobility Reasons

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Original Article: news.sky.com

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Woman Pulled Alive From Rubble Six Days After Building Collapsed

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A woman has been found alive in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed almost six days earlier, Chinese state media has said.

At least five people are confirmed to have died and possibly dozens are still missing following the disaster in the city of Changsha, in central China‘s Hunan Province, on 29 April.

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.

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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”.

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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.

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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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Source: news.sky.com

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