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Russia-Ukraine live news: Thousands flee via evacuation corridors | Russia-Ukraine war News

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  • Ukraine says more than 5,500 people were evacuated from front-line cities on Sunday.
  • Ukraine and Russia will hold a new round of talks by videoconference on Monday, officials say.
  • The ICRC warns residents of Mariupol face a “worst-case scenario” unless Russia and Ukraine reach an agreement to ensure humanitarian access.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again urges NATO to impose a no-fly zone.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL_DAY18_MARCH13_2022

Here are the latest updates:

Zelenskyy renews call for no-fly zone

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country or see its member states attacked by Russia.

“If you don’t close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian rockets fall on your territory, on NATO territory,” Zelenskyy said in a video address.


Chechen leader Kadyrov says he travelled to Ukraine

Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region, has said that he travelled into Ukraine to meet Chechen troops attacking Kyiv, the Reuters news agency has reported.

Reuters said it could not independently verify whether he was in Ukraine or had travelled there during the conflict.

Chechen state television channel Grozny posted a video on its Telegram social media channel that showed Kadyrov in a darkened room discussing with Chechen troops a military operation they said took place 7km (4 miles) from the Ukrainian capital, Reuters reported.

Head of the Chechen Republic Kadyrov meets with Russia''s President Putin near Moscow
Kadyrov is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin  [Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters]

Bermuda revokes licences for Russian-operated planes

Bermuda’s aviation regulator has said it is suspending certification of all Russian-operated aircraft registered in the British overseas territory due to international sanctions over the war in Ukraine, in a move expected to affect more than 700 planes.

The regulator said it was unable to confidently approve the planes as airworthy due to the effect of sanctions on its ability to conduct safety oversight.

Manufacturers are no longer providing parts to Russian airlines as part of the sanctions.


US condemns attack on base near Polish border

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has condemned a Russian attack on a large Ukrainian base near the border with NATO member Poland, which killed 35 people and wounded 134, according to a local official.

“We condemn the Russian Federation’s missile attack on the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security in Yavoriv, close to Ukraine’s border with Poland,” Blinken wrote on Twitter. “The brutality must stop.”


Russia-Ukraine war military dispatch: March 13

Military Dispatch Day 18

  • Russian air raids hit a Ukrainian military training base near Lviv.
  • Ukrainian officials have said there was an increase in civilian evacuations.
  • Russian troops have cracked down on protesters in the Russian-controlled southern city of Kherson, Ukraine.
  • A US journalist was killed by Russian troops near Kyiv.

Here is a round-up of all the key military developments from Sunday – day 18 of the Russian invasion.


Russian default no longer ‘improbable’

Russia may default on its debts in the wake of unprecedented sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, but that would not trigger a global financial crisis, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has said.

Georgieva told CBS’s “Face the Nation” programme that sanctions imposed by the United States and other democracies were already having a “severe” effect on the Russian economy and would trigger a deep recession there this year.

The sanctions were limiting Russia’s ability to access its resources and service its debts, which meant a default was no longer viewed as “improbable,” the IMF official said.

Asked if such a default could trigger a financial crisis around the world, she said, “For now, no.”


Zelenskyy urges software giants to stop supporting their products in Russia

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on US software firms Microsoft and Oracle, and German business software group SAP to halt support services for their products in Russia.

“Stop supporting your products in Russia, stop the war!,” he wrote on Twitter.


‘Never heard of that’: China responds to reports Russia sought military help

The spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington has responded to media reports that Moscow had asked Beijing for military equipment since launching its invasion of Ukraine by saying, “I’ve never heard of that.”

The spokesperson, Liu Pengyu, said China’s priority was to prevent the tense situation in Ukraine from getting out of control.

“The current situation in Ukraine is indeed disconcerting,” he said in an emailed response to an inquiry from the Reuters news agency.

“The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control.”


Ukraine, Russia to resume talks

Ukraine and Russia will hold a new round of talks on Monday, officials have said.

Talks would resume by videoconference, Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Zelenskyy and part of the negotiating team, has said.

His statement on Twitter confirmed an earlier statement by Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Russian presidency.


Ukraine says thousands evacuated from front-line cities

Ukraine was able to evacuate more than 5,550 people from front-line cities on Sunday via nine humanitarian corridors, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.

She said 3,950 people were evacuated from towns and cities in the Kyiv region.


Fatigued staff ‘stop safety-related repairs’ at Chernobyl

Staff operating radioactive waste facilities at the Chernobyl nuclear plant have stopped carrying out safety-related repairs due to exhaustion, as they have not been relieved since Russia seized the site last month, Ukraine has told the UN nuclear watchdog.

“The Ukrainian regulator informed the IAEA that staff at [Chernobyl] were no longer carrying out repair and maintenance of safety-related equipment, in part due to their physical and psychological fatigue after working non-stop for nearly three weeks,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

A general view shows the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine
Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in late February [File: Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

ICRC issues stark Mariupol warning

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that residents of the besieged port city of Mariupol face a “worst-case scenario” unless Russia and Ukraine reach an agreement to ensure their immediate safety and access to humanitarian aid.

Ukrainian authorities say the city has been subject to relentless bombardment since Russian troops surrounded it on March 2. Read the full story here.

 


Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Sunday, March 13 here.





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Can renewable energy help close power gap in India’s hot summer? | Business and Economy News

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New Delhi, India — As temperatures soar beyond 40 degrees Celsius in Hasanganj village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the nearly 14-hour power cuts in the area mean that the bananas that Ramesh, a fruit vendor who goes by one name, sells are rotting faster than normal with no fans to keep them cool. As sales dip, tempers fray at home, and his children can neither sleep nor study in the searing heat.

The power outages have “aggravated” their problems, Ramesh told Al Jazeera.

As a heatwave rippled through parts of northern India from late March through early May, demand for power shot up, loading power lines and leading to massive outages in several parts of the country as thermal plants ran low on coal.

The spate of events, especially as summer has set in sooner and hotter than expected, has renewed a call to dig and import more coal even as India’s coal production has continued to steadily rise. Global coal prices have shot up since the start of the Ukraine war, hiking India’s import costs anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent, at a time when the rupee has tumbled to record lows, making imports even more expensive.

As a result, on May 7 the environment ministry allowed certain coal mines to expand production up to 50 percent, from the current 40 percent, without seeking the environmental clearances that would normally be mandatory.

A day earlier, the power ministry ordered all power plants that run on imported coal to operate at full capacity and allowed the power producers to pass the hike in tariffs on to consumers.

“The response in the short term is that no matter what, you’ve got to pay the cost to keep the lights on, especially in the middle of a heatwave that will kill people,” said Tim Buckley, the director of Climate Energy Finance, a think-tank in Australia. “But there’s a massive, massive cost to the Indian people.”

One basic cost that Buckley is referring to is the actual price of electricity. While most thermal and renewable electricity in India is sold through long-term contracts, there is still a price difference creeping in for coal power, he says, especially for the 3 to 4 percent that is traded on the exchanges. For instance, of late, while power from domestic coal is being sold at 4-5 rupees/kwh ($0.05-0.06), that goes up to 5-8 rupees/kwh ($0.05-0.10) for power from imported coal (and went up to as high as 12 rupees/kwh or $0.15 on the spot market one day last week). Power from wind and solar, in the meanwhile, is at 3 rupees and 2.5 rupees ($0.03 and $0.04), respectively.

More importantly, adds Buckley, “50-degree heat shows that infrastructure doesn’t work. Coal power plants can’t run above 50 degrees. They break just when you need them.”

Experts say that it’s actually a reminder that India should invest more in its renewable energy to better secure its energy needs.

In fact, late last month as power companies scrambled for coal to burn as demand for fans, coolers and air conditioning rocketed, it was energy from wind plants that came to the rescue as that comes on the grid from late April and runs through August, petering off by mid-September.

“Every unit [of electricity] that wind provides, you generate that much less from coal and that ensures that you’re not in a scarcity mode anymore,” says Karthik Ganesan, a fellow and director in research coordination at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi think-tank.

INTERACTIVE_India_Coal_Shortage_1_17-05-2022-02

‘Fundamental problems’

India gets around 74.4 percent of its electricity from coal-fuelled power plants. Coal shortages are not new to the country – it faced a similar dearth last year – and are more on account of poor planning than any other reason. For instance, last year even though the coal had been dug out of the ground, it lay at the mine mouth and was then flooded under with rains just as demand for it shot up in other parts of the country. Another common problem is the fact that cash-strapped state-run power companies often don’t place coal orders in advance, leading to complaints of shortages when demand soars.

Some of these troubles arise from the fact that in India, electricity is used as political capital – political parties have over the decades offered free, or dirt-cheap, electricity to voters. But ultimately, the cost of that is being borne by the distributing companies as years of unpaid bills mount, leaving them no means to invest to upgrade infrastructure or place coal orders, among other things.

“Sooner or later the government needs to fix the more fundamental problems in the system,” said Ganesan. “Everyone is coughing up dollars [to import coal] because there’s no other option right now and we literally have to throw money at the problem … But instead of fixing the problem, we’re perpetuating it by throwing good money after bad.”

That said, the call to end coal cannot be one to say to stop investing in mining any coal at all. “We don’t want to transition to renewables in a disruptive way that we send people back 30 years…. Climate change is a reality and its impact – high temperatures and a need for air-conditioning – is also a reality,” Ganesan added.

India also needs to step up its renewables game, especially if it truly wants to pare its reliance on coal. As of April, it had 158.12GW of installed renewable energy – which it plans to ratchet up to 500GW by the end of the current decade, a questionable goal as it would need to add around 30GW of renewable power a year, double what it did last year.

INTERACTIVE_India_Coal_Shortage_1_17-05-2022-01

For now, it’s the privately run power companies – the ones that have been allowed to pass on the hike in tariffs to consumers – that are smiling their way to the bank, even after accounting for the increase in their costs of importing the coal.

Tata Power, for instance, will run at full capacity its 4,000MW ultra-mega power plant in Mundra in Gujarat – a plant that relies fully on imported coal. Similarly, Adani Power – a part of the diversified Adani Group, which is owned by Asia’s richest man, Gautam Adani – also has a 4,620MW plant in the same region that relies fully on imported coal. (Both companies have investments in renewable power and the latter has announced commitments of $70bn in it.) And even though the state-run distribution companies – the ones that will buy the electricity from these plants – are notorious for not paying on time, or even in full, the companies are still expected to see a boost in profits.

None of that makes any difference to Ishmail Mohammad, who runs a welding business in Hasanganj village. The first couple years of the COVID-19 pandemic devastated his business as many of the local residents – who earned their living by working on construction sites in big cities – had no income to pay him to install metal grills and gates as India implemented multiple lockdowns. Now the nearly 14-hour-long power cuts are just accentuating the pain, especially as prices for the diesel that he runs his generator on, too, have shot up.

“I just can’t work,” he told Al Jazeera. “I can’t even meet my expenses. What is one supposed to do?”





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Israeli court questions ban on Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa compound | Israel-Palestine conflict News

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Court overturns a police order barring three Jews from holy site after they prayed there in violation of the status quo.

A lower Israeli court has overturned a police order barring three Jews from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after they prayed there in violation of understandings with Muslim authorities, questioning the legal basis of such enforcement.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, located in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City and housing Islam’s third-holiest site, is referred to as al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, by Muslims. According to an agreement in place since 1967, non-Muslims are allowed onto the site during visiting hours, but they are barred from praying there.

Jews believe the 35-acre compound is where the Biblical Jewish temples once stood.

Israel allows Jews to visit on condition they refrain from religious rites. But the increasing number of such visits, including over the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan that coincided this year with the Jewish Passover festival, has stoked the fears of Palestinians, who see this as Israeli attempts to change the holy site’s sensitive status quo.

‘A grave assault’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement calling Sunday’s ruling “a grave assault against the historic status quo … and a flagrant challenge to international law”.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled in favour of three appellants who had been banned from the Old City for 15 days for prostrating themselves and intoning a core Jewish prayer at the compound. The ruling quoted police as saying those actions disrupted its officers’ duties and threatened public order.

Removing the ban, Judge Zion Saharai said that while he had no intention of interfering in law enforcement at the site, “the appellants’ conduct does not raise worry of harm befalling national security, public safety or individual security”.

Police had no comment. Eran Schwarz, a lawyer whose firm represented the appellants, said he expected police to contest the ruling. Magistrate’s courts can be overturned by district courts, with Israel’s Supreme Court a final course of appeal.

The ruling came a week before far-right Israelis are due to hold an annual flag march through the Old City, marking its capture by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel later annexed occupied East Jerusalem, a move not recognised by most of the international community. The event is resented by Palestinians, who want the Old City and other parts of occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for future state.

Hamas, a Palestinian group that fought a Gaza war with Israel last year that was partly stoked by tensions in occupied East Jerusalem, described the flag march’s planned route through a Muslim quarter of the Old City as “adding fuel to the fire”.

“I warn the enemy against carrying out such crimes,” Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised address.

Jordan, a United States-backed Israeli security partner that serves as custodian of Al-Aqsa, has also voiced concern about the Jewish visits to the compound.



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Will Labor govt in Australia put climate change at the forefront? | Climate Crisis

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Video Duration 25 minutes 00 seconds

From: Inside Story

Australia’s conservative coalition has been voted out of office after nearly a decade in power.

Australia has seen unprecedented bushfires and flooding in recent years.

Extreme weather has brought climate change to the top of the agenda for voters.

And Greens and climate-focused independents made big gains in Saturday’s election, at the expense of the conservative coalition.

Australia is a major exporter of fossil fuels, and the outgoing government often objected to plans to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Neighbouring Pacific Islands say Australia is blocking climate action, even as their territories are under threat of sinking.

Uneasy ties with the island nations are spilling into security, as concerns mount in Australia and the United States about China’s recent deal with the Solomon Islands.

How will Australia’s new government tackle China’s growing influence in the Pacific?

Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra

Guests:

Carlyle Thayer – Emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales and director of Thayer Consultancy

Anna Skarbek – CEO of Climateworks Centre

Gregory Melleuish – Professor of history and politics at the University of Wollongong



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