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UK advises Ukraine to go on defensive in east, continue targeting Crimea

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UK advises Ukraine to go on defensive in east, continue targeting Crimea

Kiev, March 17 (IANS) During a visit to Ukraine, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Army Commander Antony Radakin have advised Ukraine’s senior leadership and military commanders on war strategy against the Russia as quoted by media reports.

Shapps and Radakin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Defence Minister Rustem Umierov, and the new Commander-in-Chief, Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

According to the media, Radakin was concerned that Syrskyi would become overly focused on ground battles, while the UK Commander spent two years attempting to develop a Ukrainian strategy based on Western military doctrine and the need to advance on land, in the air, and at sea.

Radakin, in particular, is actively involved in the development of a new Ukrainian Navy that meets NATO standards. He advised paying attention to the Iranian-style fleet, which consists of lighter, more manoeuvrable ships and drones capable of restraining Russia in the Black Sea while also protecting vital shipping routes for Ukrainian exports.

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According to a news article, during a meeting at the Mariinsky Palace, Shapps and Radakin advised abandoning plans for a frontline offensive in favour of maintaining defence on the northern and eastern fronts and, if necessary, retreating to more advantageous positions to hold off the Russian Army, Ukrainska Pravda reported.

The UK officials hope that this will allow the Ukrainians to concentrate their efforts on the Black Sea and Crimea, where they have inflicted significant blows with the help of Western long-range missiles over the last six months.

According to media sources, Zelensky was enthusiastic and upbeat as well as willing to consider their proposals.

According to the news article, Ukraine recently achieved significant results against the Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, destroying several ships.

The UK Defence Ministry believes that for the first time since the Crimean War, Russia cannot operate freely in the Black Sea region.

According to sources, Radakin believes that the key to Ukraine’s success in 2024 lies in attacks on Crimea and the Russian fleet, and that attacks on Crimea and the destruction of Russian warships, particularly submarines, hit at the very core of the “Russian mentality”.

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Shapps emphasised the importance of Putin understanding that he is losing Crimea and the Black Sea.

He said that for nearly 200 years, the Black Sea Fleet had the opportunity to conduct exercises in the Black Sea. However, following a series of successful attacks by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, there are currently no warships in the Black Sea.

Shapps believes that this demonstrates the scale of Ukrainian success in Crimea.

According to the article, Grant Shapps was forced to cancel a visit to Odesa due to intelligence warnings about the present missile threat from Russia.

–IANS

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International

Romania tightens ad restrictions on e-cigarettes, tobacco products

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Romania tightens ad restrictions on e-cigarettes, tobacco products

Romania tightens ad restrictions on e-cigarettes, tobacco products

Bucharest, July 20 (IANS) Romanian President Klaus Iohannis signed into law new regulations that tighten advertising restrictions on e-cigarettes, including vape devices and heated tobacco products.

The new legislation expanded the existing prohibitions on explicit advertising for tobacco products, Xinhua news agency reported.

The updated law includes e-cigarettes, vape devices, heated tobacco devices, products intended for inhalation without burning from tobacco substitutes, and nicotine pouches for oral use.

Explicit advertising for these products is now banned on radio and television broadcasts and public transportation tickets.

Furthermore, the legislation prohibits advertising for these products within educational and healthcare institutions or 200 meters of their entrances.

It also restricts advertising in publications primarily targeting minors and in theatres before, during, and after performances intended for children.

–IANS

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Two killed, 7 missing in rain-triggered disasters in China

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Two killed, 7 missing in rain-triggered disasters in China

Two killed, 7 missing in rain-triggered disasters in China

Beijing, July 20 (IANS) Two people were killed and seven others went missing in rain-triggered geological disasters in the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, according to local authorities.

Two people were found dead, and the search for others is underway, the local authorities said on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Heavy downpours since July 13 have caused landslides in herding summer pasture settlements, leading to some of the casualties and reports of missing people.

Residents have also reported that contact has been lost with a vehicle carrying five people.

Local authorities have mobilised 150 personnel to search for those reported missing. Relevant government departments have carried out evacuation work, as well as emergency repairs of road, power, communication and water facilities.

–IANS

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Hezbollah member killed in Israeli airstrike in Lebanon

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Hezbollah member killed in Israeli airstrike in Lebanon

Hezbollah member killed in Israeli airstrike in Lebanon

Beirut, July 20 (IANS) A Hezbollah member was killed in an Israeli airstrike on the village of Aitaroun in southern Lebanon, according to Lebanese military sources.

The sources said, on condition of anonymity, that Israeli warplanes carried out seven strikes across four villages and towns in the border region, destroying five houses and damaging 13 others on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Hezbollah responded with drone and missile attacks targeting several Israeli positions.

In a statement, the group said its “Islamic Resistance” unit used a new, short-range, heavy missile called the Wabel to target Israeli targets.

Hezbollah claimed the Wabel has “high destructive power and achieves precise hits.”

The Israeli military has not commented on the airstrike in Aitaroun.

Tensions have escalated along the Lebanon-Israel border since October 2023, following a Hezbollah rocket attack in solidarity with Hamas and subsequent Israeli retaliation.

–IANS

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Africa faces shortage of 15 million teachers: African Union official

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Africa faces shortage of 15 million teachers: African Union official

Africa faces shortage of 15 million teachers: African Union official

Accra, July 20 (IANS) Africa faces a deficit of 15 million in the supply of teachers, which hinders the continent’s development, a senior African Union (AU) official said.

Mohammed Belhocine, the AU commissioner for education, science, technology and innovation, made the remarks at a press briefing at the ongoing 45th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, warning that this deficit has a negative impact on the continent’s ability to meet its education and development aspirations, Xinhua news agency reported.

The commissioner, therefore, called on the continent to take steps to bridge this gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in education by 2030 set by the United Nations.

“This teacher deficit is huge, and we need strong efforts to bridge the gap and make the best use of what we are already investing in our educational systems,” Belhocine said.

Africa needs an investment of about $90 billion to bridge the gap, improve infrastructure in education, and meet the SDGs on schedule, observed the commissioner.

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The situation in Africa is due to the diminishing social status of the teaching profession, according to Belhocine. “Today, it is more flamboyant to be a businessman than to be a teacher. This is what is creating the gap in the supply of teachers.”

He urged the rebranding of the teaching profession to motivate more competent people to embrace the profession.

“The other solution is to use digitalisation as a shortcut so that with digital infrastructure in place, one teacher can reach more children at the same time using the electronic platform and reduce the burden of the deficit,” Belhocine said, adding that information and communications technology proficiency should be part of teacher training for this solution to succeed.

He also called for global support for improving educational systems in Africa to achieve better outcomes, because the entire world might need to depend on African youth in the next 20 years due to the low population growth in other parts of the world.

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The AU Executive Council’s 45th Ordinary Session, a meeting of foreign ministers of AU members, is a prelude to the 6th Mid-Year Coordination Meetings of the heads of state of AU members.

–IANS

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UN calls for global support as half of Namibians face hunger crisis

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UN calls for global support as half of Namibians face hunger crisis

UN calls for global support as half of Namibians face hunger crisis

Windhoek, July 20 (IANS) The United Nations has called for immediate international support as nearly half of Namibia’s population faces severe food insecurity due to a drought caused by El Nino.

Speaking at a press briefing in the Namibian capital of Windhoek on Friday, Reena Ghelani, UN assistant secretary-general and climate crisis coordinator for the El Nino/La Nina response, reported alarming conditions after visiting Namibia’s eastern region of Omaheke, a malnutrition hotspot, Xinhua news agency reported.

“They lost all their crops and are on the verge of losing their livestock. Aid must be scaled up immediately,” she added.

A recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis shows that 1.4 million Namibians, or 48 per cent of the population, are experiencing acute food insecurity.

According to the analysis, this figure has doubled from last year, affecting all 14 regions, with the semi-arid country recording a 53 per cent decline in cereal production and a nearly 70 per cent reduction in dam water levels.

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Namibian President Nangolo Mbumba declared a national state of emergency on May 22, and the government scaled up its drought relief program, targeting 340,000 households with food distributions, water provision, livestock support, and seed programs, but resources are overstretched.

“The impacts of climate change are with us for a while, so how we work with communities to prepare and respond is crucial,” said Hopolang Phororo, UN resident coordinator in Namibia.

–IANS

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