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Wallace Supports Truss and Says Russia Should Be Pushed Out of ‘the Whole of Ukraine’




Ben Wallace has reinforced Liz Truss’ view that Russian forces must be pushed out of “the whole of Ukraine” – and suggested this should include Crimea.

Speaking at an event at Mansion House on Wednesday evening, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Western allies, including the UK, must “double down” and “keep going further and faster” to “push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine“.

Asked on Sky News if Ms Truss was referring to Crimea, which was invaded and annexed by Russia back in 2014, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace replied: “Well, the international community believes Russia should leave Ukraine.

“The international community has condemned Russia for its invasion of Crimea, which was illegal in 2014. Its invasion of Donetsk, recognising it is illegal, is somewhat different.

“We don’t recognise it and we’ve constantly said that Russia should leave sovereign territory. So that hasn’t changed.”

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Pressed on how far the West will support Ukraine in expelling Russian forces, Mr Wallace added that there is a “long way to go” before there is the prospect of Ukraine taking back control of Crimea.

“There’s a long way to go before Ukraine pushes into Crimea,” he told Sky News.

“I think what I would certainly say is, we are supporting Ukraine’s sovereign integrity. We’ve done that all along. That, of course, includes Crimea.

“But you know, first and foremost, let’s get Russia out of where they are now in its invasion plans and help Ukraine resolve and actually remember the Minsk agreement, which Russia has basically ripped up, was all about trying to resolve those two occupied territories.

“But the key thing is to continue to support Ukraine’s sovereign integrity and their ability to defend themselves”.

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Sky’s Alex Rossi and crew run from a village being attacked by Russian forces in Oleksandrivka

Both Ms Truss and Mr Wallace’s remarks imply that the UK government believes Russian forces must leave not just the territory occupied since the current invasion at the end of February, but also areas they occupied and annexed previously including Crimea and parts of the eastern Donbas region.

Truss: China must ‘play by the rules’

In her speech on Wednesday evening, the foreign secretary also singled out China for its silence on the war in Ukraine, warning the country to “play by the rules”.

China voted to keep Russia as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council earlier this month and previously abstained from a Security Council vote condemning the invasion at the outset of the conflict.

“China is not impervious. They will not continue to rise if they do not play by the rules,” Ms Truss said.

“China needs trade with the G7. We represent around half of the global economy. And we have choices.

“We have shown with Russia the kind of choices that we’re prepared to make when international rules are violated.”

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Liz Truss addresses the Russian invasion of Ukraine during her speech at Mansion House

Read more: Vladimir Putin warns interfering countries of ‘lightning-fast’ reaction

Addressing the UK’s allies in the keynote foreign policy speech, the foreign secretary also declared that the war in Ukraine “is everyone’s war because Ukraine’s victory is a strategic imperative for all of us”.

Her speech came after a 63rd day of fighting, which saw Kherson particularly badly hit.

At one point, Russian television channels were knocked off-air following a series of explosions in the southern city which has been occupied by Russian troops since early in the war.

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In key developments:
o UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrives in Ukrainian capital Kyiv ahead of talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
o Russian missiles have struck an arms depot housing weapons from the US and European countries, Moscow has claimed
o The commander holed up inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steel works calls for a Dunkirk-style evacuation, saying the situation there is dire
o The frontline Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk has become a key target for Russian forces
o The UK has now sent more than 5,000 anti-tank missiles to Ukraine – MoD
o Russia expels eight Japanese and three Norwegian diplomats
o Russia cut off natural gas to NATO members Poland and Bulgaria – and threatened to do the same to other countries

Putin: Goals of Ukraine military operation will be achieved

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin warned of “lightning fast” retaliation against any country that interferes in the conflict.

In an address to the Council of Legislators in St Petersburg, the Russian leader said “all the objectives will definitely be carried out” in the Ukraine war.

He said: “If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside they must know that constitutes an unacceptable strategic threat to Russia.

“They must know that our response to counter-strikes will be lightning-fast.”

He also vowed the goals of his military operation in Ukraine will be achieved.

Read more: The city that’s been attacked since day one

There are growing concerns for some 100,000 civilians still living in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Following a meeting between UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President Putin it has been agreed in principle that the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross should be involved in the evacuation of civilians from a besieged steel plant in the southeastern city.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

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.


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.

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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