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‘War Will End With Our Victory’: Zelenskyy Official Says Win Will Come Sooner With More Heavy Weapons

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When Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of 24 February, the first foreign leader Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called was Britain’s Boris Johnson.

Asked why the UK prime minister was number one on the list, the president’s top security official told Sky News: “They are friends. Britain is our friend.”

Oleksiy Danilov has been by Mr Zelenskyy’s side in the capital Kyiv for the past eight weeks of war as Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine.

He revealed how he had spoken to his boss at the start of Russia‘s offensive – aimed at toppling Ukraine’s government – about the risk of remaining in Kyiv, saying the advice from western intelligence agencies had been for the president to leave.

“He told me: ‘I will not go. What happens will happen. We will fight’… You need to be brave to say those words in that moment.”

Live updates on the war in Ukraine

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A Ukrainian service member walks near an abandoned Russian tank near Kyiv (5 April, 2022)

Other key developments:

o US President Joe Biden convened military leaders at White House after planning more weapons assistance to Ukraine
o The food security crisis caused by the war could last into next year, the World Bank warned
o Boris Johnson said peace talks with Russia are likely to fail and compared holding talks with Putin to negotiating with a crocodile
o Wimbledon has barred all Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tennis championships

Mr Danilov, wearing a green band on his right arm – a marker worn by all Ukrainian defenders – said he was confident his country would defeat Russia. But he said victory would come “much faster” if western allies deliver promised weapons as soon as possible.

‘War will finish with our victory’

“Now we need heavy weapons, we need armoured vehicles. We need long range artillery… It is very, very necessary to us,” Mr Danilov said in an interview on Thursday, noting that the speed of delivery of weapons had increased over the past fortnight.

Asked how the war will end, he said: “It will finish with our victory… If those weapons which our partners promised to us will be delivered as soon as possible it can be much faster.”

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0:27

Zelenskyy’s call for ‘comparable weapons’

Speaking candidly, he acknowledged Ukraine’s military would not have defended Kyiv as successfully as it did in the first phase of the invasion without western weapons, such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.

“I say honestly no,” Mr Danilov said when asked directly if the defence of the capital would have gone as well without British, US and other allied nations’ lethal aid.

Read more: Ukraine war: Russia will seize Mariupol today, Putin’s ally claims

“We would resist but that would have been very, very difficult… Thanks to the effectiveness of these weapons and the braveness of our soldiers we pushed them out of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions. And if they [Russia] is saying they withdrew by choice – that is not true.”

After the Battle for Kyiv, Russian forces retreated from the north, regrouped, and this week began a new offensive in the east, dubbed the Battle for Donbas.

It spans the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where Ukrainian troops have been fighting Russia-backed separatists since 2014. The eastern region of Kharkiv is also on the frontline.

Analysts have speculated that President Vladimir Putin may want to declare a win in Ukraine by Russia’s annual Victory Day on 9 May. It is the most important military day in the Russian calendar, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

Mr Danilov said the Kremlin would fail to achieve any kind of successes by that time if western allies keep up the flow of weapons to Ukraine.

“If this help continues, Putin will have nothing by 9 May,” he said. “There could be mourning instead in Moscow.”

In other comments, the top Ukrainian security official said Syrians hired by Russia to join the war in Ukraine have started to appear – and be killed – on the battlefield.

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4:12

Ukraine war: What happened on day 56?

Mr Danilov shared photographs that showed three dead fighters in military-style fatigues, with their faces clearly visible, along with a number of other indistinguishable bodies.

He said they were foreign fighters who had been killed in the Luhansk region.

An aide to Mr Danilov said the fighters were from Syria and Libya.

“There are a lot of them there and they continue to gather from all over the world,” Mr Danilov said.

Read more: The key battlegrounds in the Battle of the Donbas, Russia’s attempt to take east Ukraine

It was not possible independently to verify the claim, but Kremlin officials have previously announced plans to recruit up to 16,000 “volunteers” from the Middle East to join its war.

As for how many Syrians had been killed, Mr Danilov said: “It is difficult to say. We don’t count them. We don’t have enough time to count them… No matter how many they send here, they will all be killed.”

The security official said he did not feel fear in the face of the Russian threat – a fact he planned to tell his youngest of nine grandchildren, who was born this year.

“He will grow up and ask me: ‘Grandpa, when the war was happening were you scared?’ What should I answer? That I was afraid? No. They [Russia] should be afraid.”

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Mr Danilov is also not afraid to show emotion.

Asked how he was still able to smile despite the pressure of being at war, he said: “Listen, what am I supposed to do, lay down and die? Life goes on.

“Yes we have some difficult times. You need to understand I am crying. I went to Chernihiv, to the border with Russia. The border point was totally destroyed. I cried there…

“We brought a new flag because the previous one was destroyed. Border soldiers who survived put the flag back up and they started to sing the anthem. People who survived that meat grinder, the first thing that they did was to sing the national anthem.”

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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.

Image:
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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