Categories
-Top News Europe UK News

Sunak vows to maintain military aid to Ukraine

On Ukraine, Sunak indicated no change with the policy pursued by Johnson and Truss…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak plans to promise on Monday to maintain or increase military aid to Ukraine next year, and to confront international competitors “not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism”.

British government support for Ukraine has remained unchanged, despite turmoil in recent months as Boris Johnson was succeeded as prime minister by Liz Truss and then Sunak.

However, some Conservatives view Sunak as less hawkish on China than Truss – although a planned meeting between Sunak and China’s President Xi Jinping at this month’s G20 summit in Bali fell through and last week London banned Chinese-made security cameras from sensitive government buildings.

“Under my leadership we won’t choose the status quo. We will do things differently,” Sunak said in an extract released by his office of his first major foreign policy speech, which he plans to deliver on Monday in London’s financial district.

Sunak said his priorities would be “freedom, openness and the rule of law”.

European Union officials have questioned whether Britain under Johnson was genuinely committed to its Brexit legal agreements, especially regarding Northern Ireland.

On Ukraine, Sunak indicated no change with the policy pursued by Johnson and Truss.

“We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will maintain or increase our military aid next year. And we will provide new support for air defence,” he said.

In September Britain said it was the second largest military donor to Ukraine after the United States, providing 2.3 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) of aid this year.

Sunak said Britain needed to take the same long-term approach as its adversaries and competitors, who he did not name directly in the speech extracts, and that Britain should make “an evolutionary leap” in its approach to foreign policy.

“It means delivering a stronger economy at home – because it is the foundation of our strength abroad. And it means standing up to our competitors, not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism,” he said.

Sunak has previously described China as a “systemic challenge” and “the single biggest state threat to our economic security”.

ALSO READ-Sunak’s curbs on foreign students could meet resistance

Categories
-Top News Europe USA

US-France competition heats up for jets on INS Vikrant

INS Vikrant has been built with high degree of automation for machinery operation, ship navigation and survivability, and has been designed to accommodate an assortment of fixed wing and rotary aircraft…reports Asian Lite News

The intense competition between US aerospace giant Boeing and French major Dassault Aviation to deck their fighter jets on India’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant seems to have heated up.

On Sunday, French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu will begin his first official visit to India by boarding INS Vikrant in Kochi to “highlight the importance” of Indo-French naval cooperation for security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

France is offering Dassault Aviation’s Rafale maritime fighter for carrier operations on the largest ship ever built in the maritime history of India.

Rafale-M carrier-borne fighters also currently operate from the flight deck of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, the flagship of the French Navy Marine Nationale.

On the other hand, Washington is pitching Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III to the Indian Navy calling it as the most advanced, combat-proven, multi-role frontline naval fighter.

Only last week, spotlighting that the US-India defence partnership remains a pillar of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, US Secretary of Navy Carlos Del Toro landed in Kochi to visit the Indian Navy’s Southern Naval Command and tour the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC).

Having got “incredibly impressed” with the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier, the top US official said that it enables India to join the elite group of five nations to have built an aircraft carrier and demonstrates a continued commitment to improve sea control capabilities.

“I am looking forward to our US Navy ships operating with Vikrant in the foreseeable future where we will we continue to leverage a foundation of shared values and mutual interests in order to maintain the international norms that ensure not only Indian and U.S. national security, but our economic security,” he said in a statement issued after returning home.

INS Vikrant has been built with high degree of automation for machinery operation, ship navigation and survivability, and has been designed to accommodate an assortment of fixed wing and rotary aircraft.

The warship would be capable of operating air wing consisting of 30 aircraft comprising of MIG-29K fighter jets, Kamov-31, MH-60R multi-role helicopters, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Navy).

Using a novel aircraft operation mode known as STOBAR (Short Take-Off but Arrested Landing), the IAC is equipped with a ski- jump for launching aircraft, and a set of ‘arrester wires’ for their recovery onboard.

According to Boeing, designed from its inception for carrier operations, the Super Hornet can operate from Indian Navy aircraft carriers and meets STOBAR performance requirements.

As the US Navy’s frontline fighter with over 800 aircraft delivered around the world, the Block III Super Hornet is already being deployed to the US Navy. The company says that work is underway to upgrade over 500 Super Hornets to the latest Block III variant, which offers opportunities for cooperation in naval aviation between the United States and Indian navies, acting as a force multiplier for the Indian Navy as it interfaces with assets such as the P-8I.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet, says Boeing, is fully compliant with INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant aircraft carrier and will be able to operate on the deck, in the hangar and on the lifts of the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers.

As the Indian Air Force (IAF) adds the 36th fighter jet to its Rafale fleet next month completing the acquisition, Paris too is ready to enhance bilateral defence cooperation in the military aeronautical sector with New Delhi while highlighting the operational performance, technological quality and competitiveness of its aerospace industry.

Showcasing its ability to carry out operations from the Indian aircraft carriers, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale-M had flown from the Shore-based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa’s Hansa naval air station, in January earlier this year.

In line with Atmanirbhar Bharat policy, France is also working towards establishing a full-fledged aero-defence manufacturing eco-system in India with the setting up of a manufacturing facility in the Mihan SEZ adjoining Nagpur International Airport.

Interestingly, the Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006.

Just like Del Toro, Lecornu too would participate in high-level meetings in New Delhi, calling on National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

“The Armed Forces Minister’s visit to India reaffirms France’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific and India’s centrality in the French strategy for the region,” said the French Defence Ministry on Friday.

“It comes in a year that has seen an acceleration of the French and Indian armed forces’ endeavours towards even greater interoperability through joint air, navy, and army exercises, such as IMEX 22 (March), Varuna (March-April), and the recently-concluded Garuda (October-November),” it added.

ALSO READ-USAID urges China to assist Lanka’s debt restructuring

Categories
-Top News Europe

Moscow preparing new strikes, warns Zelensky

The President noted that the situation at the front remains “very difficult”, especially in the Donetsk region….reports Asian Lite News

After last week’s large-scale Russian attack that disconnected Ukraine’s all four nuclear power plants and other major power facilities from the grid, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow is “preparing new strikes” and the coming days “may be difficult”.

In his nightly video address to the nation on Sunday, he said: “We understand that terrorists are preparing new strikes and as long as they have missiles, they won’t stop.

“The upcoming week can be as hard as the one that passes. Our Defence Forces are preparing. The whole state is preparing. We work out all scenarios, including with partners.”

Zelensky also urged the people to “please pay attention to the air alerts during the week”.

He further as of Sunday evening, most regions in Ukraine were having only rolling power cuts, adding that “the situation is under the control of the energy authorities”.

The President noted that the situation at the front remains “very difficult”, especially in the Donetsk region.

UK PM Rishi Sunak,Volodymyr Zelensky

The latest warning comes days after Russia launched another large-scale missile attack on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure on November 23, which also led to the deaths of 10 people.

Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defence systems shot down 51 out of 70 Russian cruise missiles and five kamikaze drones, Ukrayinska Pravda reported.

The attack resulted in temporary power outages at all nuclear power plants and most thermal and hydroelectric power plants, while power transmission facilities were also damaged.

Due to the widespread power outage, water and heat supply to households was also interrupted.

The continued Russian attacks have damaged almost half of Ukraine’s energy system and millions of people are without power as temperatures drop for winter.

Blackouts, both scheduled and unscheduled, have become common in many parts of Ukraine, as Russia aims regular waves of missile attacks at parts of the energy infrastructure.

At least seven people were killed and more than 20 million others were left without electricity on November 8 when Russia carried out over a 100 missile strikes in what is believed to be Moscow’s biggest wave of missile strikes since the invasion began on February 24.

ALSO READ: Putin’s ally says Russia will ‘send Ukraine to the 18th century’

Categories
-Top News Europe

Egypt President to be chief guest on India’s Republic Day

Egypt has been one of India’s largest trading partners in Africa and India-Egypt bilateral agreement has been in operation since 1978, according to MEA…reports Asian Lite News

India has invited Egyptian President General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day Parade in 2023. It is the first time that an Egyptian President will be the chief guest on India’s Republic Day.
“At the invitation of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, will be the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2023.

This is the first time that the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt will be the Chief Guest at our Republic Day,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in the press release. In the press release, the Ministry of External Affairs noted that India and Egypt have “warm and friendly relations” based on civilizational and deep-rooted people-to-people ties. This year, India and Egypt will be marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. The MEA in the release stated that India has invited Egypt as the ‘guest country’ during India’s G20 presidency in 2022-2023. Notably, India will assume the G20 Presidency on December 1.

Notably, Egypt has been one of India’s largest trading partners in Africa and India-Egypt bilateral agreement has been in operation since 1978, according to MEA. Earlier in October, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar visited Egypt to review bilateral ties between the two nations.

During his visit, Jaishankar held a meeting with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry and said that both of them discussed the Ukraine conflict and Indo-Pacific and also invited Egypt to the G20 summit to be chaired by New Delhi.

In the opening remarks at the joint conference, Jaishankar said, “We discussed the Ukraine conflict and its repercussions and also about fertilizers, food and energy security. We shared our views on the Indo-Pacific and had an exchange of views on Palestine issues as well. Our Chairmanship of G20 starts this year, and we have invited Egypt to be a guest.”

Jaishankar further said, “Last year was our highest-ever trade in excess of USD 7.2 billion. Today we reviewed that and agreed that there are possibilities for more growth. Investments have also been very positive. Indian companies today have a reported investment of more than $3 billion.” He noted that the Indian Air Force with the Egyptian Air Force had important exercises and had regular ship visits to Egypt. (ANI)

ALSO READ-India invites UAE as ‘guest Country’ at G-20

Categories
-Top News Europe

Botswana, EU launch cooperation program

The EU will provide 16 million euros to fund actions between 2021 and 2024. Another financial allocation for the period 2025-2027 will be determined after a review in 2024…reports Asian Lite News

Botswana government and the European Union (EU) launched the Multi-Annual Indicative Program (MIP) on Tuesday, covering the period of 2021 to 2027 with an initial grant of 16 million euros.

Speaking during the launch in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, Botswana’s Minister of Finance, Peggy Serame, stated that the priorities of MIP set out two priority areas: green transformation and economic diversification.

The EU will provide 16 million euros to fund actions between 2021 and 2024. Another financial allocation for the period 2025-2027 will be determined after a review in 2024.

Serame said despite the country’s middle-income status, the southern African nation still faces numerous challenges, including unemployment, particularly among graduates, and the need to diversify the economy.

Ambassador of the European Union to Botswana and Southern African Development Community (SADC), Petra Pereyra stated that the purpose of this cooperation program is to help Botswana transition from a natural resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.

“Botswana has enormous potential for renewable energy, in particular by developing solar energy. It has enormous potential if it invests in its youth to make them the driving force behind the diversification and development of the economy, and the country,” said Pereyra.

ALSO READ-Jaishankar, Botswana FM discuss health, trade and investment

Categories
-Top News EU News Europe

Putin’s ally says Russia will ‘send Ukraine to the 18th century’

“The infrastructure of Ukraine will be destroyed, and Ukraine will be sent back to the 18th century,” the member of Putin’s United Russia party declared…reports Asian Lite News

Vladimir Putin will “send Ukraine back to the 18th century” by pushing ahead with attacks on the country’s energy facilities, one of his top allies has claimed, said a media report.

Pyotr Tolstoy, the deputy speaker of the Duma, warned that there would be no let-up in the Russian strikes on Ukrainian power stations ahead of winter, Daily Mail reported.

“The infrastructure of Ukraine will be destroyed, and Ukraine will be sent back to the 18th century,” the member of Putin’s United Russia party declared, Daily Mail reported.

In a tirade on French broadcaster BFM, the MP from Russia rubber-stamp parliament, who has been sanctioned by the US, the EU and Britain, warned that Ukraine’s allies “will pay the price.”

Russia plans induction of 300,000 reservists, ramping up arsenal to counter Ukraine.(photo:IN)

He added that the West should “prepare itself for a war that will last years.” But Tolstoy’s bizarre intervention appears to be at odds with a statement made by the Russian defence ministry on Thursday.

Officials in Moscow made the baseless claim that the damage to the Ukrainian capital’s critical infrastructure had been caused by “foreign and Ukrainian” air defence missiles.

“Not a single strike was made on targets within the city of Kyiv,” the Russian defence ministry said, although it failed to address similar attacks that knocked out power elsewhere.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said Ukraine could “end the suffering” by backing down in “such a way as to fulfil the requirement of the Russian side”.

“The leadership of Ukraine has every opportunity to bring the situation back to normal,” Peskov, Putin’s long-serving propagandist, said, Daily Mail reported.

Moscow has repeatedly rejected Ukraine’s demand that they pull out of the country before peace talks can begin.

Since the start of October, Russia has fired a barrage of missiles and sent Iranian-made drones towards energy targets across Ukraine to cripple its power grid as temperatures plummet below freezing.

ALSO READ: Swedes may face ‘even worse’ energy situation next winter
Categories
-Top News Europe

Swedes may face ‘even worse’ energy situation next winter

As a consequence of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Europe is trying to minimise its energy dependency on Russia…reports Asian Lite News

The energy situation will be even worse next winter in Sweden, an expert from the Swedish Energy Agency warned.

Swedes, who already experienced exceptionally high energy prices, can expect even higher prices next winter, reported Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, quoting Anders Wallinder, Head of security of supply at the agency, on Saturday.

As a consequence of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Europe is trying to minimise its energy dependency on Russia. Before the conflict, 40 per cent of the natural gas consumed in Europe was imported from Russia, Xinhua news agency reported.

Before winter 2023/2024, Europe will therefore be dependent on liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments from the US and the Middle East. Besides being considerably more expensive than natural gas, there are practical challenges, such as the fact that the current system is mainly based on import from the east which would have to be replaced by terminals for shipments coming from the other direction, DN reported.

“This will be solved, but it will not be without problems,” Wallinder said.

Unlike many other European countries, Sweden’s reliance on gas is very small, according to the Swedish Energy Agency. Natural gas only accounts for 3 per cent of the total energy used. However, since the Swedish energy grid is connected with the rest of Europe, Sweden, especially the country’s southern regions, is also affected by high energy prices, according to DN report.

ALSO READ: European lawmakers declare Russia ‘state sponsor of terror’

Categories
-Top News Europe

Belarus Foreign Minister passes away

Fluent in both German and English, Vladimir Makei took hold of the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus since 2012…reports Asian Lite News

Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei passed away at the age of 64, the Foreign Ministry of the country announced on Saturday.
“The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei has passed away, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus wrote on Twitter. Details regarding the ‘sudden’ demise of the foreign minister yet remain unknown.

The president of Belarus also expressed grief over the death of Foreign Minister Makei on Saturday to the family and friends of Makei, CNN reported citing the statement published on the presidential website.
Makei was born in 1958 in Grodno Region of Belarus and graduated from the Minsk State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages in 1980 and Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria in 1993, according to his official bio on the foreign ministry’s website.

Fluent in both German and English, Vladimir Makei took hold of the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus since 2012.

He held the diplomatic rank of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Prior to becoming the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus, he was an assistant to the President of the Republic of Belarus from 2000-2008.

From 2008-2012, Makei was the head of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Belarus, according to his official bio on the foreign ministry’s website. (ANI). Belarus’ Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei visited New Delhi in early November and discussed several issues including bilateral economic ties, the Ukraine conflict and multilateral cooperation with EAM Dr S Jaishankar. Notably, Belarus is among the few countries, which is reportedly supporting the Russian military amid the Ukraine conflict. (ANI)

ALSO READ-Jaishankar, Belarus’s FM discuss Ukraine conflict

Categories
-Top News Europe

Argentina’s World Cup hope alive with crucial victory

Both Argentina and Mexico meant business right from kick-off but could not create scoring chances and it was left to the brilliance of Messi to open the floodgates of the Mexico defence…reports Armstrong Vaz

Two-time winners Argentina kept their FIFA World Cup knockout stage qualification on course with a 2-0 win over Latin American rivals Mexico at Lusail Stadium in Qatar.

On Saturday, in the last match of the day, Argentina, which lost their first match to Saudi Arabia, scored in the 64th minute through Lionel Messi to register their first win and three points.

La Albiceleste struck a second time in the match through a gem of a goal from Endo Fernandez with three minutes left for the normal period of play to end.

Argentina now have three points after two matches and now are second in Group C with three points, tied with Saudi Arabia and one point behind leaders Poland, who beat the Saudis 2-0 in the earlier game.

Both Argentina and Mexico meant business right from kick-off but could not create scoring chances and it was left to the brilliance of Messi to open the floodgates of the Mexico defence.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner broke the deadlock with a powerful left footer drive which eluded the outstretched Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa after being set up by Angel Di Maria from outside the box.

Ochoa was hitherto unbeaten in Qatar. The strike, then, needed to be true and accurate — and Messi’s crisp shot met both criteria, scooting inside Ochoa’s left post. The unthinkable prospect of Messi’s attempt to win a first World Cup going south after two matches was banished with one swipe of the most famous left foot on the planet.

It was Messi’s eight goal in the World Cup, having netted one in the first match against Saudi Arabia in the 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia. Messi’s eight goals equaled Diego Mardonna’s record of eight goals and only Gabriel Batistuta with 10 goals remains ahead of him in the all-time leading goal scorers for Argentina.

Messi had a hand in the second goal too as the flag kick taken by him ended up with Fernandez, who curled his effort into the top corner for a stunning goal in the 87th minute. The 21-year-old striker who plays club football for Portuguese side Benifica and who came as a second half substitute ‘labelled’ as talented by Messi showed why he is so and why he is on the shopping list of English Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester United at a transfer fee of 15 million pounds.

Earlier, Messi was in the thick of the action when the 35-year-old genius sent a 22-yard free-kick over the bar six minutes after half-time which added to the anxiety of the Argentinian fans.

ALSO READ-Stoppage time goals help Iran defeat Wales 2-0

Categories
-Top News Europe USA

US fearful Putin will use unconventional weapons

According to the reports President Joe Biden’s administration is working to ensure its western allies are prepared for such an attack….reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin could resort to using Novichok in mass chemical weapon attacks in Ukraine if his troops continue to lose ground, US officials fear, according to a media report.

As the progress of the war has gone increasingly in Kiev’s favour, fears that Russia could take extreme measures to force Ukraine to surrender – such as launching a nuclear strike or a dirty bomb attack – have been rising, Daily Mail reported.

But according to six people with knowledge of the matter, Putin is prepared to use chemical weapons in a mass-casualty event before resorting to a nuclear confrontation with NATO.

According to the sources, cited by Politico, President Joe Biden’s administration is working to ensure its western allies are prepared for such an attack.



The sources said that Washington predicts Russia will use chemical weapons in the event of further losses on the battlefield, or a total collapse of Putin’s army.

Top US officials strategising for such an attack believe Moscow could deploy chemical weapons Russia has been known to use in the past – including those used in the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny (on a flight to Moscow) and former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal (in Salisbury, Britain), Daily Mail reported.

Both were poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent and were hospitalised in a critical condition. Against the odds, they both survived the attack.

While in the past, the nerve agent has been used by Russia to target individuals, US officials have said it can also be used to carry out a mass-casualty event.

Some chemicals can be turned into an aerosol or delivered using munitions to inflict devastating damage on a large area, and a large group of people.

ALSO READ: Putin, Erdogan discuss gas hub, grain export deal