Russia’s Wagner Group, a non-public navy mercenary drive, has seen every of its fighters reportedly burn a median of two,000 rounds of ammunition per day in an try and combat off a fierce Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Wagner Group fighters making an attempt to carry onto beneficial properties in Ukraine’s Donbas area have confronted an onslaught of assaults by Ukrainian forces seeking to take again misplaced grounds, and heavy preventing is depleting ammunition at an alarming price, in accordance with an Institute for the Research of Warfare evaluation launched Wednesday.
The U.S.-based suppose tank’s report detailed the preventing across the metropolis of Bakhmut, with Ukrainian forces making an attempt to retake positions south of the town and Russian forces mounting an assault on the town itself that was repelled by Ukraine.
RUSSIAN MILITARY GEAR INSUFFICIENT FOR HARSH WINTERS, LEADS TO SOLDIERS DYING FROM HYPOTHERMIA
Heavy preventing has additionally been reported close to Kherson Oblast, the place Ukrainian forces have persistently attacked Russian positions across the metropolis.
The heavy preventing has taken a toll on each side, although the fierce Ukrainian resistance has labored to stall Russian President Vladimir Putin’s struggle goals and prompted him to acknowledge the battle could also be drawn out for a while.
Russian forces will even now be compelled to fight Ukraine’s winter local weather, one other potential roadblock amid experiences earlier this week that the nation’s navy lacks adequate clothes and equipment to fight the weather.
PUTIN OPEN TO UKRAINE TALKS AFTER BIDEN SIGNALS WILLINGNESS IF RUSSIA SERIOUS ABOUT ENDING WAR
“What is evident is that there’s a massacre occurring in Japanese Ukraine, and the Russian navy aren’t correctly outfitted for winter fight,” Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and the writer of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” instructed Fox Information Digital. “Some are dying from hyperthermia as a result of the uniform shouldn’t be heat sufficient to outlive in excessive situations.”
Koffler believes the climate could trigger Putin to decelerate over the subsequent few months, although she expects Russian forces to try to ramp up their exercise once more within the spring.
“Putin introduced yesterday that Russia is on this combat for an extended haul, which is nearly actually correct. However we will anticipate the energetic fight part to decelerate now that winter has arrived. In any other case, extra troopers will freeze to loss of life than from wounds,” Koffler stated. “Putin will doubtless resume main assault operations in early spring.”
Survivors and families of 94 migrants who died in shipwreck off Italy call for truth a year later
CROTONE, Italy (AP) — Survivors and family members of victims of a tragic shipwreck a year ago that killed 94 migrants, including 35 minors, just a few meters off Italy’s southern coast, returned for three days of commemorations ending Monday, calling for truth and justice.
A torchlight vigil, a photo exhibition and a protest march were among events at the nearby town of Crotone organized by a group of activists named Network Feb. 26 after the date of the tragedy. Most of the dead hailed from countries in the Middle East or South Asia.
“One year after the carnage, their right to the truth, to justice and to be reunited with their families has not been guaranteed yet,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.
On Feb. 26 last year, a wooden boat departed from Turkey carrying about 200 migrants and sank just a few meters (yards) off the coast of southern Calabria while trying to land on the seaside resort beach of Steccato di Cutro.
Network Feb. 26 includes over 400 associations that have repeatedly asked the Italian government to seek the truth about one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks in the Mediterranean.
The group has denounced repeated policy failures and alleged violations of human rights by Italian and EU authorities, seen as the main cause behind the long string of deaths of migrants who face risky trips to reach European coasts in their search for a better life.
Activists have also complained that some of the relatives and survivors were denied the right to return to Crotone for the anniversary of the shipwreck, due to difficulties in obtaining proper documents.
“When we met (Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni ) in Rome after the tragedy, (she) promised that her staff would (work) to reunite us and our families, but that has never happened,” said Haroon Mohammadi, 24, a survivor from Herat, Afghanistan, who lost some of his friends in the shipwreck.
Mohammadi now lives in Hamburg, Germany, where he has obtained a one-year residence permit, and hopes to continue to study economics at a university there.
“It’s very difficult for me to be back here, but I came to honor friends and relatives we’ve lost. … We became like a family following that day,” he told The Associated Press.
Many of the dead and survivors had fled Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Syria, hoping to join family members in Italy and other Western European countries.
After the shipwreck, the right-wing government of Meloni approved a decree establishing a new crime — people smuggling that causes the death of migrants — punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and pledged to further toughen its battle against illegal immigration.
On Sunday, hundreds of people, including a group of about 50 survivors and relatives of the victims, marched in Crotone despite heavy rain with a banner asking to “stop deaths at sea.” Demonstrators also stopped to pay homage in front of PalaMilone, a sports complex that hosted the victims’ caskets.
On Saturday, Crotone’s Pitagora Museum inaugurated a photo exhibit titled “Dreams Cross the Sea,” featuring 94 photographs, one for each of the victims.
In the early hours of Feb. 26, the boat named Summer Love sank just a few meters (yards) from the coast of the southern Calabria region, while trying to land on the nearby beach. Authorities say the shipwreck resulted in the deaths of at least 94 of the 200 on board. Eighty passengers survived and about 10 were considered missing. Dozens of young children were onboard and almost none survived.
The shocking accident raised several questions over how EU border agency Frontex and the Italian coastguard responded to it.
Six days after the tragedy, Meloni told journalists that “no emergency communication from Frontex reached Italian authorities,” who she said were not warned that the vessel was in danger of sinking.
However, a Frontex incident report later indicated that Italian authorities told the EU agency at the time of the sighting that the case was not considered an emergency.
The Cutro shipwreck soon became a stark illustration of the fatal dangers faced by migrants as they try to reach European coasts on overcrowded and fragile boats, after paying smugglers for costly trips.
A total of 2,571 migrants died at sea in 2023, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration. Nearly 100 people have been reported missing or dead in the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2024, more than double the toll recorded last year during the same period, the IOM said.
RAGE AND HOPE
Over the past year, Cutro survivors and relatives of the victims have voiced their rage, stressing that the tragedy could have been avoided if authorities reacted earlier to the migrants’ desperate calls for help.
Their testimonies on the tragedy have challenged both the Italian government and the international community to find new solutions to the migration crisis.
Meanwhile, the local community, which offered burial niches for some of the victims, expressed a deep solidarity and commitment to helping survivors and honoring the lost.
“My name is Mojtaba. I was born on Feb. 26, 2023. I feel I’m 1 year old today,” said survivor Mojtaba Rezapour Moghaddam, a 47-year-old Iranian who is building a new life in Crotone with the help of locals and aid groups.
Moghaddam fears the smugglers on board the Summer Love — after being arrested and sentenced — will be able go to back to Turkey and restart their illegal trafficking activities.
His almost-deadly trip to Italy costed him about 9,000 euros, but he recalled that others on the boat had paid even more.
Earlier in February, a Crotone magistrate sentenced Gun Ufuk, a 29-year-old Turkish citizen accused of being one of the people smugglers on the vessel, to 20 years in prison and a 3 million euro fine. Ufuk was arrested in March last year after being identified in Austria, to where he had managed to escape.
Ufuk chose a fast-track trial, while the other three alleged smugglers who survived the shipwreck are undergoing ordinary procedures, which may last several months, if not years.
Their trial was recently adjourned to April 10 to enable testimony from three survivors who are in Hamburg and will testify via videoconference.
Meanwhile, a second investigation launched by prosecutors in Crotone into alleged delays in the rescue operations is expected to wrap up in a month’s time. That probe involves three police officers from the Italian tax and border police and an additional three people whose identities are unknown.
Zampano reported from Rome.
Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration
Houthis nearly strike oil tanker in Gulf of Aden; US, coalition forces take out more one-way attack drones
U.S. Central Command said Sunday that Houthis launched an anti-ballistic missile toward a tanker ship that carries oil and chemicals in the Gulf of Aiden on Saturday, though it struck the water and did not cause damage to the ship or injuries to those on board.
In a post on X, U.S. Central Command said the Iranian-backed Houthis were likely targeting the M/V Torm Thor, which is flagged and owned by a U.S. company. The ship was sailing in the Gulf of Aden at the time of the incident, which was reportedly at 11:45 p.m. local time.
At about 9 p.m. that evening, U.S. Central Command forces shot down two one-way unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over the Red Sea in self-defense.
Central Command said a third UAV was also heading toward the area and crashed from what appeared to be an in-flight failure.
US, COALITION FORCES DESTROY 6 HOUTHI ONE-WAY ATTACK DRONES
“CENTCOM forces identified the UAVs and determined they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the U.S. Navy ships in the region,” Central Command said. “These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels.”
Houthi attacks continue to take place in the region, despite efforts from the U.S. and allies to protect merchant ships.
On Thursday, Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles from southern Yemen into the Gulf of Aden, but that time, the missiles impacted the MV Islander, a Palau-flagged, U.K.-owned, cargo carrier causing one minor injury and damage.
GREEK-FLAGGED M/V SEA CHAMPION SUSTAINS MINOR DAMAGE IN HOUTHI MISSILE ATTACK
The attack came after the Pentagon confirmed the Houthis shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone off the coast of Yemen on Monday, marking the second such attack since November 2023.
Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists also fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at a Greek-flagged ship headed to Yemen to deliver grain on Monday, causing minor damage, according to U.S. Central Command.
CARGO SHIP ‘TAKING IN WATER’ FOLLOWING ATTACK BY HOUTHIS IN GULF OF ADEN
Despite the minor damage on the U.S.-owned M/V Sea Champion, the ship continued on course to Aden in Yemen, where it ultimately delivered the grain for the benefit of the Yemeni people.
Central Command said the M/V Sea Champion has delivered humanitarian aid to the country 11 times over the past five years.
Fox News’ Greg Norman and Liz Friden contributed to this report.
Brussels to unblock €137 billion in EU funds for Poland
The European Commission is preparing to unblock up to €137 billion in cohesion and recovery funds for Poland, which until now has been unable to access the cash over rule-of-law concerns.
The announcement was made by President Ursula von der Leyen during a trip to Poland on Friday, where she spoke next to Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
The breakthrough comes days after Polish officials travelled to Brussels to present an “action plan” of nine draft bills aimed at restoring judicial independence from the country’s highest tribunal to the lower courts.
“We are impressed by your efforts and those of the Polish people to restore the rule of law as the backbone of your society. A society where everyone plays by the rules. A society where people and businesses can trust the institutions and can hold authorities to account,” von der Leyen said after meeting the premier.
“Based on the reforms you have launched and the number of immediate steps you have taken on judicial independence, I have good news: next week the College (of Commissioners) will come forward with two decisions on European funds that are currently blocked for Poland. These decisions will free up to €137 billion for Poland.”
The spending will be overseen by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), which Poland recently decided to join. “This is great news for the Polish people and for Europe. And this is your achievement,” von der Leyen said.
Brussels denied the previous hard-right Polish government of Law and Justice (PiS) access to €76.5 billion in cohesion funds allocated for the 2021-2027 period over a range of rule-of-law deficiencies, mostly centred on a persistent decline of judicial independence and growing political interference in the courts.
The concerns also hindered Poland’s ability to fully utilise its post-COVID-19 recovery and resilience plan, which combines €34.5 billion in low-interest loans and €25.3 billion in grants. Only €5.1 billion in “pre-financing” has been released so far.
Upon coming into power in mid-December, Tusk vowed to reset the relations between Brussels and Warsaw, restore democracy and release the frozen funds, which the country urgently needs to pay for development projects to accelerate the green and digital transitions.
Poland moved quickly to request a first payment of €6.3 billion in grants and loans from the recovery plan and submit a self-assessment for the cohesion funds. This triggered the Commission’s internal process to verify the fulfilment of judicial conditions.
“We got really what we wanted. This is a very crucial day for us because we’ve done a lot. A huge effort has been done. Polish citizens chose democracy and the rule of law on the 15th of October and they are the real heroes of Polish history,” Tusk said, referring to the last elections. “This is a lot of money. And we will use it to tackle those important challenges that we are dealing with now.”
Even if the Commission adopts the decisions next week, the disbursements will not be immediate nor absolute. Cohesion funds are paid out gradually according to the evolution of projects on the ground.
Meanwhile, recovery funds are split into tranches and are strictly attached to the completion of reforms and investments. Member states have until August 2026 to carry out their commitments.
Both envelopes of money are linked to the restoration of judicial independence and compel the Polish government to undo the effects of the controversial changes introduced by PiS, particularly regarding the disciplinary chamber of the Supreme Court, which was empowered to punish magistrates according to their rulings.
Last year, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) unambiguously struck down the judicial overhaul, arguing it was “incompatible with the guarantees of access to an independent and impartial tribunal.”
This article has been updated with more information.
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