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23 MARCH 2023



Ukraine's president posted a video on Wednesday showing what he said was a Russian missile slamming into an apartment building in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, after Russia launched exploding drones that killed at least four people at a student dormitory near Kyiv before dawn.

Just hours earlier, Japan's prime minister left the Ukrainian capital following a show of support for the country.

The same day, Chinese leader Xi Jinping left Moscow after discussing his proposal for ending the war, which has been rejected by the West as a non-starter.

The video posted by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Telegram appeared to be CCTV footage that captured the moment a missile hit the nine-story residential block by a busy road.

Ukrainian media carried pictures showing charred apartments on several stories of the affected buildings, and flames billowing from some of them. The number of causalities was unknown.

However, Vladimir Rogov, an official with the Moscow-appointed regional administration for the Russia-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, claimed the building was hit by a Ukrainian air defence missile that was launched to intercept a Russian missile.

He didn't cite offer any evidence to back up his claim.

Meanwhile, Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund have agreed on a $15.6 billion loan package aimed at shoring up government finances severely strained by Russia’s invasion. The programme will run for four years, with the first 12 to 18 months focusing on helping Ukraine close its massive budget deficit, IMF said.





The Federal Reserve has raised US interest rates for the ninth time in a row despite turmoil in the country's banking system. The central bank pressed ahead with a 0.25 percentage point rise in a bid to quash stubbornly-high inflation, despite ongoing problems for regional banks. The decision took the upper limit of US interest rates to 5pc, the highest level since 2007.

Jerome Powell, the Fed’s chairman, said policy makers had taken into account recent turbulence in the American banking system, including the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.

However, he stressed that policymakers had to prioritise tackling inflation.

He said: “We have to bring inflation down. There are real costs of bringing it down to 2pc but the costs of failing are much higher.”

Powell’s comments will pile more pressure on the Bank of England to raise rates again on Thursday, following a shock rise in inflation.





A combative Boris Johnson fought for his political career on Wednesday, as the former British prime minister said “hand on heart” he did not lie to parliament over COVID-19 lockdown parties at a hearing with lawmakers.

Parliament’s Committee of Privileges is investigating whether Johnson, who was ousted from Downing Street in September, intentionally or recklessly misled the House of Commons in a series of statements, where he said no rules were broken in the gatherings.

If the committee finds Johnson deliberately misled lawmakers, then he could be suspended. Any suspension longer than 10 days could prompt an election to remove him from his parliamentary seat and end his political career.

The former leader, who considered an audacious bid for a second stint as prime minister last year, launched a lengthy defence at the hearing, saying statements he made to parliament had been done in good faith.

“I’m here to say to you, hand on heart, that I did not lie to the House,” said Johnson, who has accused the committee of bias. “When those statements were made, they were made in good faith and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time.”

The partygate scandal contributed to the ultimate downfall of Johnson, after months of reports that he, alongside other senior government figures, had been present at alcohol-fuelled gatherings in Downing Street during 2020 and 2021 when much of the rest of Britain was forced to stay at home.





China and Russia on Wednesday unveiled a broad long-term blueprint for their deepening relations, pledging to work together to push back against the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy as well as attempts to “politicise” multilateral platforms.

A joint statement, released in Mandarin and Russian, following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow and talks with President Vladimir Putin, said both sides “firmly condemn the politicisation” of multilateral platforms and “attempts of certain countries to fill the agenda of multilateral platforms with unrelated issues and dilute the primary mission of the relevant mechanisms.”

This reference pointed to sharp divisions in the G20 ahead of this year’s summit to be hosted by India. China and Russia earlier this month opposed references to the Ukraine war leading to the failure of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi to issue a collective statement.

The lengthy joint statement also expressed “serious concern over NATO’s continued strengthening of military-security ties with Asia-Pacific countries” and said both sides “oppose the cobbling together of a closed and exclusive bloc structure in the Asia-Pacific region, creating bloc politics and camp confrontation”. Chinese officials have previously referred to the India-U.S.-Australia-Japan Quad as an “exclusive bloc”. The statement accused the U.S. of following “a Cold War mentality” and said its Indo-Pacific strategy “has a negative impact on peace and stability in the region.”

Instead, the joint statement said, China and Russia were “committed to building an equal, open and inclusive security system in the Asia-Pacific region that does not target third countries”, pointedly using the term “Asia-Pacific” and not Indo-Pacific.

The joint statement criticised the West over Ukraine, saying both sides “oppose the practice by any country or group of countries to seek advantages in the military, political and other areas to the detriment of the legitimate security interests of other countries.” It said the “Russian side welcomes China’s willingness to play a positive role for the political and diplomatic settlement of the Ukraine crisis”.





London: There is a heightened security presence and barricades have been erected outside the Indian High Commission here on Wednesday due to a planned demonstration called by some British Sikh groups.

Banners for a so-called “National Protest”, organised by groups such as the Federation of Sikh Organisations (FSO) and Sikh Youth Jathebandia, have been circulating on social media since before a protest on Sunday, which ended in violent disorder at the India House.

The Indian government registered a strong protest over the lack of security measures at its diplomatic mission, which ended in Khalistan flag-waving protesters smashing windows of the mission and attempting to pull down the tricolour.

Since the weekend, several uniformed officers have been patrolling the area in Aldwych and Metropolitan Police vans have been stationed at India Place.

Wednesday’s planned demonstration claims to be “in response to discriminatory actions of the Indian Police in Punjab”.

The Indian High Commission in London has been working to counter disinformation circulating around developments in Punjab, related to enforcement action against the separatist group ‘Waris Punjab De’.

“Let me assure all our friends here in the UK, especially brothers and sisters with relatives in Punjab, that there is no truth to the sensationalist lies being circulated on social media,” Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami said in a video posted on Twitter.

“The situation in your ancestral homeland is not what is being reported. The elected chief minister of the state and the local police authorities have put out detailed information, including interviews on television, please watch these. Do not believe the small handful of people putting out fiction and disinformation,” he said.





Sydney : The Solomon Islands has awarded a multi-milliondollar contract to a Chinese state company to upgrade an international port in Honiara in aproject funded by the Asian Development Bank, an official of the island nation said on Wednesday. The US and its allies, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan, have held concerns that China has ambitions to build a naval base in the region since the Solomon Islands struck a security pact with Beijing last year. China Civil Engineering Construction Company was awarded the contract after being the sole bidder in a competitive tender, said Mike Qaqara, an official at the Solomons’ infrastructure development ministry.





New York : The Manhattan grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump over hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign will not meet Wednesday despite that being one of the days each week when the panel ordinarily convenes, according to four people familiar with the matter. The grand jurors were told to be on standby for Thursday, another day when the panel has been meeting, three of the people said. The reason for the postponement was not immediately clear, but it would indicate that a vote on whether or not to indict Trump will be at least temporarily pushed back.

The development comes amid mounting signs that the grand jury, which is probing payments to silence a porn actor who says she had a sexual encounter with Trump, is nearing the completion of its work. Prosecutors had recently invited Trump himself to appear before the grand jury, and on Monday heard from a witness favourable to his case. Trump over the weekend stated that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday, though the day came and went without that happening.





New Zealand on Wednesday launched a campaign to help young Kiwis through painful break-ups, encouraging the heartbroken to “own the feels” and block their exes on social media. The government’s novel “Love Better” campaign offers advice and support about what to do when the romance ends, and will feature in podcasts and on platforms like Instagram. “Break-ups suck. . . but you can channel it for good. Own the feels,” says a soothing voiceover in the campaign ad. Six in ten New Zealanders aged 16-24 have been through a break-up, and a large majority of those have “experienced or perpetrated harmful impacts” as a result, according to data analysts Kantar. New Zealand also has one of the highest youth suicide rates in thedeveloped world, according to the UN agency Unicef. The new campaign bills itself as “a community of the freshly broken-up, helping the freshly broken-up to keep a little hurt from becoming a lotta hurt”. Priyanca Radhakrishnan, associate minister for social development, said the government was putting NZ$6. 4 million ($3. 9 million) into the campaign over three years.


Comments (0)

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