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German Contender Wants Tougher Stance on China, Russia

A leading contender to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor this fall has called for “dialogue and toughness” toward China when it comes to defending democratic values and human rights.Annalena Baerbock, the environmentalist Greens’ candidate for chancellorship, told the weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that Europe should use its economic might to block Chinese goods made with forced labor and avoid communications technologies that endanger European security.”We are currently in a competition between systems: authoritarian powers versus liberal democracies,” she said in an interview published Sunday.Baerbock cited China’s investment in infrastructure and energy grids through Central Asia to Europe as “brutal power politics.””We Europeans mustn’t kid ourselves,” she said, adding that the 27-nation European Union needs to act accordingly to defend its values, such as by using a recent investment accord between Brussels and Beijing to address more strongly the issue of China putting its Uyghur minority into forced labor.Baerbock, a graduate in international law, also took aim at Russia, in particular its support for rebel groups in Ukraine and the recent massing of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border.She backed Ukraine’s right to apply for membership in NATO and the EU but said “the most important thing right now is to increase the pressure on Russia so that the Minsk accord is adhered to.” That accord seeks to peacefully end the conflict in eastern Ukraine with Russia-backed rebels that has left at least 14,000 dead since 2014.Against the backdrop of Moscow’s aggressive behavior, Baerbock criticized the German government’s support for an underwater pipeline bringing Russian natural gas to Germany.  “I would have long withdrawn political support for Nord Stream 2,” she said.The Greens have called for closer cooperation with the United States to defend liberal values worldwide, but Baerbock suggested that the goal of having NATO members spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defense should be revisited in light of the pressing need to invest large sums to curb climate change. She also suggested Europe’s defense contribution could also come in the form of a cybersecurity center.”A blanket 2% goal, on the other hand, won’t achieve greater security,” she said.The Greens emerged from the pacifist and environmental movements of the 1970s and 1980s, but in recent years have backed limited military deployments abroad, provided they are tied to U.N. resolutions.Baerbock said the future of U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in Europe could be raised again as part of the disarmament negotiations between Moscow and Washington.  A poll published Sunday by weekly Bild am Sonntag put the Greens narrowly ahead of Merkel’s center-right Union bloc.Germans will elect a new parliament September 26 that will then choose who should become the country’s next chancellor. Merkel is not running for a fifth term.The survey, conducted by polling firm Kantar, found 28% of respondents planned to vote for the Greens, against 27% for the Union bloc. The center-left Social Democrats are expected to receive about 13% support while the far-right Alternative for Germany would get 10%. The poll of 1,225 voters found the pro-business Free Democrats would receive 9% and the Left party would get 7% of the vote.
 

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NYT: болгарський бізнесмен визнав, що постачав в Україну озброєння після 2014 року

Гебрев визнав, що він зберігав боєприпаси на чеському складі зброї, який підірвали у 2014 році

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US Begins Winding Down Afghan Military Mission

The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan says the process of completely removing American troops from the conflict-torn country has already begun.
 
Gen. Scott Miller told local reporters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, Sunday that all of his troops “are now preparing to retrograde” under orders he had received.  
 
Miller spoke nearly two weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced the last remaining 3,000 or so U.S. troops will be withdrawn by September 11 — the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington. Biden said the military drawdown will start May 1 to close nearly 20 years of war, America’s longest.  
 
Miller commands both U.S. troops and NATO’s noncombatant Resolute Support military mission in the country.  
 
NATO allies have promised to match the action and withdraw around 7,000 of their forces, as well, in line with an agreement Washington negotiated with the Afghan Taliban insurgency a year ago.
 
“We will conduct an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan, and that means transitioning bases and equipment to the Afghan security forces,” the general said.FILE – U.S. Army General Scott Miller, center, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, is seen at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 6, 2018.The United States and its allies launched a military invasion of the country days after the deadly September 11, 2001, terror strikes to punish the then-Taliban rulers for harboring and allowing al-Qaida leaders to plot the carnage.  
 
The military action swiftly ousted the Islamist group from power in Kabul before the Taliban regrouped and launched a deadly insurgency against Afghan and U.S.-led international forces, reestablishing control over wide swathes of Afghanistan.
 
The February 2020 U.S.-Taliban agreement had required all foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 1, a week from now, but Biden cited logistical reasons for pushing back the deadline.  
 
The insurgents, who halted attacks on foreign troops after signing the agreement, denounced the delay as a violation of the mutually agreed upon deadline, and threatened to resume hostilities against U.S. forces as they withdraw from Afghanistan.
 
Miller said his forces continue to retain “the military means and capability to fully protect themselves during the ongoing retrograde and will support the Afghan security forces.”
He rejected allegations the United States had violated the deal and warned of a forceful response if the Taliban attacked foreign forces. FILE – U.S. soldiers load onto a Chinook helicopter to head out on a mission in Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2019. (1st Lt. Verniccia Ford/U.S. Army/Handout via Reuters)The American general, who was part of the U.S. team that negotiated the landmark pact with the insurgents, advised the Taliban to follow a political path to peace and desist from “senseless violence” to help bring an end to the years of hostilities.
“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Taliban members with the Taliban Political Commission, and I’ve told them a return to violence, an effort to force a military decision, would be a tragedy for Afghanistan and the Afghan people,” said Miller, who spoke at the U.S. military headquarters in Kabul.  
 
There are fears Afghan security forces will collapse in battles against the Taliban in the absence of U.S. assistance that could lead to more conflict and bloodshed.  
 
The U.S. general reminded the Taliban they are bound under the agreement to break ties with al-Qaida militants to ensure Afghanistan will never be used as a haven for terrorism.  
 
The United Nations reported this past January that there were about 500 al-Qaida operatives in Afghanistan and that the Taliban maintained close contacts with them. The Taliban denied an al-Qaida presence in the country and rejected charges they were in close contact.
 
The Afghan war to date has claimed an estimated 241,000 lives, including civilians and both local as well as combatants from international forces, and cost the U.S. at least $2.4 trillion, according to a new U.S. study published last week.  
 

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У Ростов-на-Дону вивезли вже понад пів сотні арештованих кримських татар – адвокат

«Десятки військових суддів, військові прокурори, шість прихованих свідків або навіть більше, експертизи, десятки томів кримінальних справ – це тільки те, що перебуває сьогодні в Ростові-на-Дону»

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Екзит-поли: на виборах в Албанії соціалісти здобувають 47% голосів, демократи – 43,5%

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Mariners Learn How Not to Get Stuck in the Suez Canal

In March, one of the world’s biggest container ships became stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, creating a commercial logjam and spikes in the cost of oil. At a training facility in France, mariners are learning how to avoid a similar predicament.  VOA’s Arash Arabasadi has more.

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Turkey Summons US Ambassador over Biden’s Armenian Genocide Declaration 

Turkey says it summoned the U.S. ambassador to Ankara to condemn President Joe Biden’s declaration that the World War I-era massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal told U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield late Saturday that Biden’s statement had no legal basis and that Ankara “rejected it, found it unacceptable and condemned [it] in the strongest terms.” The Ankara government said the United States, a NATO ally, had caused a “wound in ties that will be hard to repair.” Earlier Saturday, Biden became the first U.S. president to make the genocide declaration in connection with the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire — the predecessor to modern-day Turkey — between 1915 and 1923. Biden Recognizes Armenian Genocide a Century AgoHe’s first US president to recognize genocide committed against Armenians Armenians say they were purposely targeted for extermination through starvation, forced labor, deportation, death marches, and outright massacres. Turkey denies a genocide or any deliberate plan to wipe out the Armenians. It says many of the victims were casualties of the war or murdered by Russians. Turkey also says the number of Armenians killed was far fewer than the usually accepted figure of 1.5 million. Moments after Biden made his statement Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted, “Words cannot change or rewrite history. We will not take lessons from anyone on our history.” “Words cannot change or rewrite history.”
We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past. Political opportunism is the greatest betrayal to peace and justice.
We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism.#1915Events
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) Members of the Armenian diaspora rally in front of the Turkish Embassy after U.S. President Joe Biden recognized that the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide in Washington, Apr. 24, 2021.Cavusoglu said last week that Biden’s recognition of the killings as genocide would harm relations between the NATO allies.FILE – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 25, 2020.Cavusoglu said Saturday that Biden’s recognition “distorts the historical facts, will never be accepted in the conscience of the Turkish people, and will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship.” “We call on the U.S. president to correct this grave mistake, which serves no purpose other than to satisfy certain political circles, and to support the efforts aiming to establish a practice of peaceful coexistence in the region, especially among the Turkish and Armenian nations, instead of serving the agenda of those circles that try to foment enmity from history,” Cavusoglu added.  

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Футбол: «Динамо» достроково стало чемпіоном України

Київське «Динамо» достроково стало чемпіоном України з футболу.

У 23 турі змагань столична команда обіграла «Інгулець» з рахунком 5:0. На початку першого тайму забили Ілля Забарний та Артем Бєсєдін. У другому таймі дубль оформив Віктор Циганков, ще один гол забив Денис Попов.

У паралельному матчі донецький «Шахтар» поступається «Олександрії» з Кіровоградської області з рахунком 2:0. Забивали Дмитро Гречішкін та Дмитро Шастал.

За три тури до кінця змагань «Динамо» має 58 очок і на цей момент випереджає «Шахтар» на 12 залікових пунктів. Луганська «Зоря» відстає від «гірників» на чотири очки, але має гру в запасі.

Востаннє «Динамо» ставало чемпіоном України з футболу у 2016 році.