Daily: 25/01/2023

France to Pull Troops From Burkina Faso Within a Month: Ministry

France has received a request from junta-ruled Burkina Faso to withdraw its troops from the Sahel country and will do so within a month, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

“On Tuesday … we formally received notice from the Burkinabe government of the termination of the 2018 agreement on the status of French armed forces present in the country,” a ministry spokeswoman said.

“According to the terms of the accord, the termination takes effect a month after reception of written notification. We will respect the terms of the agreement by honoring this request.”

About 400 French special forces are currently based in Burkina Faso in a deployment dubbed “Sabre,” part of a broader military presence to fight jihadists across the Sahel region.

But the country has followed a similar course to neighboring Mali, falling out with Paris after a military coup brought a junta to power and the French presence became increasingly unpopular among the public.

The Burkinabe government has assured Paris it will not follow Mali by turning to Russia’s Wagner to back up its army—although a liaison team from the mercenary group has already visited.

A source familiar with French military plans told AFP that while the troops would be gone by the end of February, their equipment would be picked up by late April.

Paris asked for clarification from Ouagadougou’s transitional president Ibrahim Traore on Monday after the government had said it was asking French forces to leave.

“This does not mean the end of diplomatic relations between Burkina Faso and France,” government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo told broadcaster RTV following the announcement.

In addition, the government has requested that Paris replace its ambassador after incumbent Luc Hallade commented publicly on the worsening security situation in the country.

The landlocked state, a former French colony, is one of the poorest and most volatile in Africa.

Thousands of troops, police and civilians have been killed and about 2 million people have fled their homes since jihadists launched an insurgency from neighboring Mali in 2015.

More than a third of the country lies beyond the control of the government, and frustration within the army at the mounting toll triggered two coups last year.

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UK Reviews Rules After Row Over Wagner Lawsuit Against Journalist

The U.K. said Wednesday it was reviewing how sanctioned individuals are permitted to use the country’s legal services, after reports the government helped the head of Russian mercenary group Wagner sue a British journalist.

The finance ministry currently grants licenses allowing sanctioned people to circumvent restrictions so as to hire U.K. lawyers and pay their fees for lawsuits filed in British courts.

It reportedly allowed Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin — who was sanctioned by Britain and others in 2020 — to launch a libel suit against Eliot Higgins, a journalist for investigative outlet Bellingcat.

The Netherlands-based site had reported extensively on Wagner’s previously shadowy operations, which have been on more public display in the war in Ukraine.

U.K.-based investigative website openDemocracy reported this week that the ministry’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) had granted licenses for a U.K. law firm to work on the case.

The office also approved those lawyers flying business class to Russia to meet Prigozhin’s legal representatives there face-to-face and allowed payments from him by wire transfer into U.K. bank accounts, openDemocracy said.

The revelations are based on a cache of hacked emails and documents from one of Russia’s biggest law firms. Although the lawsuit eventually failed, the revelations have sparked an outcry in Britain.

Government ‘complacent’

Responding to an urgent question on the case in parliament, junior finance minister James Cartlidge refused to comment on the specific case. But he did say OFSI processes were now under review.

“The Treasury is now considering whether this approach is the right one and if changes can be made without the Treasury assuming unacceptable legal risk and ensuring that we adhere to the rule of law,” he told lawmakers.

Such decisions had been taken by officials, rather than ministers, using a pre-established framework, said Cartlidge. “The issuance of licenses for legal fees are not and should not be political,” he added.

The main opposition Labour party, which has persistently criticized the ruling Conservatives for failing to deliver on promises to curb illicit Russian money entering the U.K., called the government “complacent.”

“The government appears to have granted a waiver for a warlord that enabled him to launch a legal attack on a British journalist,” Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman David Lammy said.

Prigozhin’s libel suit, which collapsed last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, was the “perfect example” of trying “to silence critics through financial intimidation,” he said.

The government last year promised a “crackdown on corrupt elites” abusing the U.K. legal system, which would target so-called “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).” SLAPP suits are aimed at intimidating and silencing critics with burdensome legal action.

But the government has not yet introduced any legislation reforming the legal system.

Asked when a draft law could be expected, Cartlidge told lawmakers that was “above my paygrade.”

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У Білому домі повідомили, коли українські військові розпочнуть навчання на танках M1 Abrams

Сам процес такого навчання може тривати кілька місяців – Кірбі

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Резніков розповів CNN про «список побажань» України щодо західної зброї

25 січня Німеччина і Сполучені Штати оголосили про рішення надати Україні танки Leopard і Abrams відповідно

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Olive Pits Fuel Flights in Spain

The war in Ukraine has exposed Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and is spurring the development of new, cleaner-burning biofuels. Spain is emerging as a leader in this effort, with the introduction late last year of airplane fuel made from olive pits. Marcus Harton narrates this report from Alfonso Beato in Seville.

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США нададуть Україні 31 танк Abrams – Байден

Джо Байден повідомив, що США також нададуть необхідні запчастини

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«Далі – танкова коаліція»: в ОПУ прокоментували рішення Німеччини надати Україні танки Leopard 2

25 січня уряд Німеччинипогодився надати Україні бойові танки Leopard 2 для двох батальйонів. В якості першого кроку Німеччина надасть 14 танків зі складів Бундесверу

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Pope Francis: Homosexuality Not a Crime 

Pope Francis criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust,” saying God loves all his children just as they are and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church.

“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” Francis said during an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and he himself referred to the issue in terms of “sin.” But he attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds, and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.

“These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he said, adding that they should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”

Some 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or do impose the death penalty, according to The Human Dignity Trust, which works to end such laws. Experts say even where the laws are not enforced, they contribute to harassment, stigmatization and violence against LGBTQ people.

In the U.S., more than a dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, despite a 2003 Supreme Court ruling declaring them unconstitutional. Gay rights advocates say the antiquated laws are used to harass homosexuals, and point to new legislation, such as the “Don’t say gay” law in Florida, which forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as evidence of continued efforts to marginalize LGBTQ people.

The United Nations has repeatedly called for an end to laws criminalizing homosexuality outright, saying they violate rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination and are a breach of countries’ obligations under international law to protect the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Declaring such laws “unjust,” Francis said the Catholic Church can and should work to put an end to them. “It must do this. It must do this,” he said.

Francis quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church in saying gay people must be welcomed and respected, and should not be marginalized or discriminated against.

“We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity,” Francis said, speaking to the AP in the Vatican hotel where he lives.

Such laws are common in Africa and the Middle East and date from British colonial times or are inspired by Islamic law. Some Catholic bishops have strongly upheld them as consistent with Vatican teaching that considers homosexual activity “intrinsically disordered,” while others have called for them to be overturned as a violation of basic human dignity.

In 2019, Francis had been expected to issue a statement opposing criminalization of homosexuality during a meeting with human rights groups that conducted research into the effects of such laws and so-called “conversion therapies.”

In the end, the pope did not meet with the groups, which instead met with the Vatican No. 2, who reaffirmed “the dignity of every human person and against every form of violence.”

On Tuesday, Francis said there needed to be a distinction between a crime and a sin with regard to homosexuality.

“Being homosexual is not a crime,” he said. “It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.”

“It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another,” he added.

Catholic teaching holds that while gay people must be treated with respect, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” Francis has not changed that teaching, but he has made reaching out to the LGBTQ community a hallmark of his papacy.

Starting with his famous 2013 declaration, “Who am I to judge?” when he was asked about a purportedly gay priest, Francis has gone on to minister repeatedly and publicly to the gay and trans community. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he favored granting legal protections to same-sex couples as an alternative to endorsing gay marriage, which Catholic doctrine forbids.

Despite such outreach, Francis was criticized by the Catholic LGBTQ community for a 2021 decree from the Vatican’s doctrine office that the church cannot bless same-sex unions “because God cannot bless sin.”

The Vatican in 2008 declined to sign onto a U.N. declaration that called for the decriminalization of homosexuality, complaining the text went beyond the original scope and also included language about “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” it found problematic. In a statement at the time, the Vatican urged countries to avoid “unjust discrimination” against gay people and end penalties against them.

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Зеленський обговорив із Шольцом подальше розширення оборонної підтримки Німеччини

Сторони обговорили також розширення тренувальних місій і «зелене світло партнерам на постачання аналогічної зброї»

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У РФ дозволили депутатам не оприлюднювати дані про свої доходи та майно

Закон набирає чинності з 1 березня

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NYT: усемеро за два місяці побільшало могил на кладовищі «ПВК Вагнера» у Краснодарському краї РФ

Кількість могил на кладовищі в станиці Бакинській Краснодарського краю РФ, що належить «ПВК Вагнера», збільшилася усемеро за останні два місяці, повідомляє видання The New York Times.

За даними з супутникових знімків від 24 січня, журналісти встановили, що на цвинтарі налічується 170 могил. Тоді як на знімках, датованих 24 листопада минулого року, їх було у сім разів менше.

Крім могил, журналісти The New York Times нарахували на одному з відео із керівником «вагнерівців» Євгеном Пригожиним біля каплиці поблизу бази 21-у стіну-колумбарій із 42-ма нішами в кожній.

«Що дає підстави припустити, що сотні загиблих бійців «Вагнера» або поховані там, або щонайменше там увічнена їхня пам’ять. Чи всі вони були вбиті в Україні, чи деінде, незрозуміло, але відео у будь-якому випадку показує масштаб втрат «ПВК Вагнера», – пише газета.

Наприкінці грудня минулого року власник «ПВК Вагнера» Євген Пригожин підтвердив, що нещодавно створений цвинтар у станиці Бакинській Краснодарського краю належить його приватній військовій компанії.

Цвинтар у станиці Бакинській, як і раніше виявлений невеликий колумбарій біля каплиці в Гарячому Ключі (між двома цвинтарями близько 10 км), розташований неподалік бази спецназу ГРУ в Молькині: там, за даними ЗМІ, дислокується центр підготовки найманців «ПВК Вагнера». За повідомленнями, у Гарячому Ключі розташована закрита для сторонніх невелика культова споруда, а навколо неї стоять схожі на колумбарій бокси.

20 січня у британській розвідці заявили, що «майже напевно» зараз «ПВК Вагнера» командує близько 50 тисячами бійців в Україні і стала ключовим компонентом у війні РФ проти України.

Відомо, що «ПВК Вагнера» вербує та відправляє на війну в Україну в’язнів із російських тюрем. Вербуванням займається особисто близький до російського президента власник компанії Євген Пригожин.

«ПВК Вагнера» – російський неофіційний військовий підрозділ, який бере участь у наземних операціях у Сирії, Африці, Латинській Америці та у війні з Україною. Організацію підозрюють у численних воєнних злочинах як в Україні, так і в інших країнах, де вона діє.

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Резніков повідомив комітету Ради про звільнення відповідального за закупівлі в Міноборони – депутати

«Міністр не має юридичних претензій до автора журналістського розслідування. Натомість, звільнено директора департаменту закупівель»

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Керівників п’ятьох обласних прокуратур звільнено з посад – ОГП

Посад позбулися керівники Запорізької, Кіровоградської, Полтавської, Сумської та Чернігівської обласних прокуратур

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Стрілки Годинника Судного дня перевели вперед, ближче до півночі

Тепер Годинник Судного дня показує 23:58:30

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США вшестеро збільшать випуск снарядів для допомоги Україні – ЗМІ

Планується виробництво 90 тисяч снарядів на місяць

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Президент підписав закон, який посилює відповідальність для військових

Про це свідчать дані з картки документу на сайті парламенту. Там вказано, що 24 січня закон був повернутий до Верховної Ради із підписом голови держави

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«Відповідні кроки будуть і надалі» – Зеленський про кадрові рішення

За словами Зеленського, 24 січня своїм указом він ввів у дію ще одне рішення РНБО. Подробиці цього рішення він пообіцяв надати згодом

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Hundreds Attend Funeral for Zambian Killed Fighting for Russia in Ukraine

Hundreds of people attended a memorial service in Lusaka on Tuesday for a Zambian student who died fighting for Russia in Ukraine as Tanzania confirmed the death of another student who was also recruited in a Russian jail.

Family members broke down as they filed past the coffin of Lemekani Nyirenda at Lusaka Baptist Church, where the 23-year-old was a regular worshipper before moving to Russia to study nuclear engineering.

Nyirenda was recruited by Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group last year while serving a nine-and-a-half year jail term for a drug offense and sent to fight in Ukraine.

His death in September sparked a diplomatic spat, with Zambia demanding an urgent explanation from the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, Tanzania on Tuesday confirmed that another student, Nemes Tarimo, had been killed after also being recruited in jail by Wagner.

“When Tarimo was serving jail, he was given an opportunity to join the Russian army group called Wagner for payment and the promise that he would be freed after the war,” Tanzanian Foreign Minister Stergomena Tax said.

“Tarimo agreed, and he was taken to Ukraine where he was killed on October 24.”

In recent months, men have been recruited from Russian prisons to fight on the front lines in Ukraine with the promise of reduced sentences and attractive fees.

Tarimo, who had been studying in Russia since 2020, was arrested in March 2022 and sentenced to a seven-year jail term for undisclosed reasons.

“It’s illegal for a Tanzanian national to join any foreign army,” added the foreign minister.

On Tuesday, Nyirenda’s father paid tribute to his son, saying he was a hard worker who helped set up a beehive business for the family.

Edwin Nyirenda told mourners his son had sought a part-time job and “started working as a courier” after posting an advertisement online when he got into trouble.

The two were last in touch at the end of August when Nyirenda told his father he would return home after going to fight in Ukraine.

Nyirenda’s body was repatriated in December and will be laid to rest in a private ceremony in Rufunsa, east of Lusaka, on Wednesday.

Funerals were delayed after some family members raised concerns that the remains might not belong to the student.

But doubts were dispelled by a DNA test, said family spokesman Ian Banda.

“There may be some parts missing but by and large, we have the remains of Lemekhani,” Banda told journalists after the service.

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US-Made Tanks Likely Headed to Ukraine; Timing Uncertain

Pleas by Ukrainian officials for more tanks, and more advanced tanks, to use in their fight against Russia have begun to resonate in Washington with the United States now preparing to send Kyiv dozens of its top-of-the-line battle tank.

A U.S. official familiar with the deliberations told VOA on Tuesday that the White House is working to finalize a plan to get Ukraine the coveted M1 Abrams tanks, though it could be some time before Ukraine would be able to take delivery and insert them onto the battlefield.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the plans, said the tanks would likely be provided through the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). The fund allows the Defense Department to purchase weapons and systems either from defense manufacturers or from other sources, rather than draw them directly from U.S. stocks.

In this case, the official said the U.S. might seek to purchase the M1 Abrams tanks from other countries and refurbish them before sending them to Ukraine.

The decision to send the M1 Abrams to Ukraine, as part of a diplomatic understanding with Germany regarding provision of some of its tanks to Ukraine, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The move to provide Kyiv with the tanks would represent an about-face for U.S. officials, many of whom have dismissed the idea of sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine, warning that while Abrams tanks are very capable, they are difficult to maintain and require more fuel than Kyiv can spare.

“We should not be providing the Ukrainians systems they can’t repair, they can’t sustain, and that they, over the long term, can’t afford, because it’s not helpful,” Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told reporters last week.

Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder echoed those concerns Tuesday.

“Our focus has been on providing Ukraine with capabilities it can employ right now on the battlefield,” he said. “The M1 [Abrams tank] is a complex weapon system that is challenging to maintain. … That was true yesterday. It is true today. It will be true in the future.”

The shift in the U.S. position on sending Ukraine the M1 Abrams tanks came as multiple German news outlets reported that Germany had decided to send some of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in addition to clearing the way for other countries to send their German-made Leopard tanks to Kyiv.

Earlier, following a meeting in Berlin, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Germany’s decision to allow allies, led by Poland, to send Ukraine the coveted German-made tanks.

“At this pivotal moment in the war, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems to Ukraine, and we must do it faster,” Stoltenberg said.

He added that providing battle tanks to Ukrainian forces is important in order to both repel Russian advances and to help Ukraine retake its territory.

Ukrainian officials have said Western battle tanks, like the Leopard and the Abrams, will allow their forces to maneuver more effectively, with greater firepower and protection, as they seek to push back Russian forces occupying their country.

“A few hundred tanks for our tank crews — the best tank crews in the world. This is what is going to become a real punching fist of democracy against the autocracy from the bog,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, wrote on Telegram Tuesday.

In the meantime, the U.S. signaled that despite an initial reluctance to provide Ukraine with some weapon systems, it remains willing to shift gears as conditions on the ground change.

“We have not taken capabilities off the table,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Tuesday. “This is a conversation based on what our Ukrainian partners need, where they need it, when they need it.”

Ukraine corruption

Several senior Ukrainian officials announced their resignations Tuesday amid what Zelenskyy said would be some personnel changes in his government.

Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov, who was in charge of logistical support for Ukraine’s forces, stepped down from his post, citing allegations about a food procurement scandal that he denies.

Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko and the deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, also resigned without giving reasons for their departures.

“There are already personnel decisions — some today, some tomorrow — regarding officials at various levels in ministries and other central government structures, as well as in the regions and in law enforcement,” Zelenskyy said in his evening address Monday.

U.S. officials on Tuesday said there appear to be no indications that the corruption issues have affected U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.

“We’re not aware of any type of widespread issues regarding corruption that would negatively impact the fight,” said the Pentagon’s Ryder.

Nike Ching, Cindy Saine and Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report. Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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У Росії мобілізовані, які скаржилися на командирів через звинувачення у дезертирстві, перестали виходити на зв’язок

Родич Анни (її ім’я змінено) не виходив на зв’язок від минулого тижня. Вона припускає, що мобілізованих, які записали відео, позбавили засобів зв’язку і розподілили по різних частинах

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