Russian media: Kremlin will deploy ballistic missiles close to Finnish border

Russian media say the country plans to deploy ballistic missiles close to its border with Finland. Analysts say it’s the latest in a series of military and hybrid threats that Russia has made against Finland since it joined NATO last year in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Henry Ridgwell reports.

Russia blocks press freedom group’s website 

Зеленський каже, що домовився з Байденом про постачання ATACMS

За словами Зеленського, «із Байденом було обговорено питання захисту України від російських атак»

«Не пов’язано конкретно з Україною»: конгресмени США пояснили затримку з ухваленням допомоги

Про підтримку України та пошуки двопартійного рішення члени Палати представників розповіли під час брифінгу у Києві

George Mallory’s final Everest letter gave ’50 to 1’ odds against reaching top

Допомога від США посилить ППО і далекобійні спроможності України – Зеленський після розмови з Байденом

Байден запевнив Зеленського, що в разі схвалення Сенатом негайно підпише закон про виділення допомоги Україні

International flotilla hopes to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza

A group of activists hopes to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza with a flotilla of vessels carrying aid. It is set to sail from Istanbul in the coming days. In a similar mission 14 years ago, Israeli forces intercepted a Turkish flotilla in a deadly raid that resulted in the deaths of 10 people. There are warnings this attempt may trigger a new crisis. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.

Підготовка безпекової угоди: Єрмак у Києві зустрівся із помічником державного секретаря США

«Також зосередилися на посиленні санкцій щодо банківського сектору, оборонного комплексу та використанні на користь України заморожених російських активів»

Компанія Knauf передасть свій бізнес у Росії місцевому менеджменту – медіа

«У світлі поточних подій Knauf Group вирішила відмовитися від свого бізнесу в Росії», заявили в компанії

Greek, Turkish officials meet in Athens as part of efforts to improve often strained ties

Athens — Delegations from Greece and Turkey were meeting in Athens on Monday as part of long-standing efforts to improve often tense relations between the two neighbors, days after Turkey voiced objections over Greece’s plans to create marine nature reserves in the Ionian and Aegean seas.

The two regional rivals are NATO allies but have been at odds for decades over a series of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean and drilling rights in the Mediterranean, and have come to the brink of war three times in the last 50 years. A dispute over energy exploration rights in 2020 led to the two countries’ warships facing off in the Mediterranean.

Monday’s meeting in the Defense Ministry in Athens was to discuss confidence-building measures, following a similar meeting in Ankara last November. The two countries have engaged in the confidence-building process on and off for years, trying to seek common ground on a series of lower-key issues as a means of improving ties.

The meeting comes ahead of planned talks in Ankara on May 13 between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Tense ties have improved significantly over the past year, with Erdogan visiting Athens in December and signing a raft of trade, energy and education deals.

But Mitsotakis’ announcement last week that Greece will create two marine parks for the protection of sea mammals and birds — one in the Ionian Sea in western Greece and one in the central Aegean — has angered Turkey.

Omer Celik, spokesman for Erdogan’s ruling party, said last week that Ankara considers the creation of the marine parks “a step that sabotages the normalization process” in relations, and said Turkey would “in no way allow actions toward the declaration of marine parks in the Aegean Sea.”

Mitsotakis, speaking last week after a meeting of European leaders in Brussels, expressed surprise at what he described as “Turkey’s totally unjustified reaction to an initiative which at the end of the day is of an environmental nature.”

The Greek prime minister said the recent improvement in relations between Greece and Turkey was “undeniable and measurable,” but that this did not mean Turkey had changed its positions on the delineation of maritime zones in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean.

“These positions remain positions which are deeply problematic for our country,” Mitsotakis said.

“But this does not prevent us from being able to talk, to create a general good climate and invest more in a positive agenda and less in the issues which divide us and over which we clearly disagree.”

Turkey’s delegation at Monday’s talks was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akcapar, while the Greek one was headed by Ambassador Theocharis Lalakos, Greece’s Defense Ministry said.

Мінцифри повідомляє про нові військові облігації в «Дії» – на честь Бахчисарая та Макіївки

«Українці вже придбали через Дію понад 4 мільйони облігацій і заробили на цьому більш ніж 94 мільйони гривень»

Norway’s reform-minded King Harald, 87, to cut back activity

OSLO — Norway’s 87-year-old King Harald will permanently reduce the number of official activities in which he takes part out of consideration for his age, the royal household said on Monday following the monarch’s recent bout of illness.

Europe’s oldest living monarch and Norway’s ceremonial head of state since 1991, Harald was hospitalized in February for an infection while on holiday in Malaysia and later received a pacemaker to help compensate for a low heart rate.

Harald resumed his duties as head of state on Monday after almost two months of sick leave. He has ruled out abdication, however, insisting his oath as king is for life.

“The king will make adjustments to his program in the future, out of consideration for his age. This will entail a permanent reduction in the number and scope of activities in which the king participates,” a palace statement said.

A great great grandchild of Britain’s Queen Victoria, the king ascended the throne in 1991 and slowly introduced modern touches that brought a ceremonial post seen mainly as a symbol of independence into the 21st century.

His marriage in 1968 to a commoner broke with tradition and followed a nine-year stand-off with his father that ended only after Harald threatened never to marry rather than give up the woman who became his wife, Sonja Haraldsen.

Harald once said in an interview that Europe’s royal families should not be tempted to reverse moves towards openness and retreat to their palace towers.

“If you’ve opened the gate it’s very difficult to close it again,” he told Reuters and a British newspaper. “I’m not sure I’d want to close it. So far so good, as far as I’m concerned.”

Harald struggled in his early years to replace his father, the extrovert Olav, known as the “People’s King” for his down-to-earth style and frequent interaction with the people.

But he has been successful in emulating his father’s approachable style, travelling to the scene of natural disasters, wearing rubber boots and a well-worn jacket, to meet those who had lost homes or loved ones in floods and storms.

Health scare

When right-wing anti-Islamic fanatic Anders Behring Breivik massacred 77 people in 2011, the king consoled the nation with a powerful televised speech, saying in a voice trembling with emotion that “freedom is stronger than fear.”

The royal household gradually modernized under Harald’s supervision, setting up an official website and publishing annual spending accounts.

As a man, Harald inherited the throne despite having two older sisters, a practice that also benefited his son Haakon, who also has an older sister.

But in 1990, a constitutional change eventually paved the way for women born from then on to inherit the throne, placing Haakon’s oldest child, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, in the line of succession when she was born in 2004.

Harald had a health scare in 2003 when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and another in 2005 when he underwent heart surgery, but made a full recovery from both.

In 1998, the king faced public criticism over press reports that he had accepted a 4-million-crown ($667,700) yacht from a group of industrialists as a birthday present, and that palace repairs had cost the government 500 million crowns.

Around the same time, his former deputy private secretary suggested Harald should abdicate at Norway’s normal retirement age of 67.

Opinion polls gave the king firm backing to stay on for life, however, and the criticism subsided. A year later, in another Reuters interview, Harald joked that he would remain on the throne for life unless he went mad.

Буданов: ситуація найближчим часом буде «досить важка», але «Армагеддон не відбудеться»

«Нас чекає досить важка, за нашою оцінкою, ситуація найближчим часом. Але вона не катастрофічна, це теж треба розуміти. Армагеддон не відбудеться, як багато хто зараз починає казати»

Ukraine reports downing 5 Russian drones as US Senate nears vote on aid bill

US House approves aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelming passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill on Saturday. The measure now heads to the U.S. Senate, which is expected to take up a vote early this week. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi reports.

Protesters in Paris take stand against racism, Islamophobia, violence

Ukraine’s salt mines become explorable in Minecraft game 

A Ukrainian version of the Minecraft game features Canadian actress Katheryn Winnick, U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly, and other celebrities from around the globe. The new game, called Minesalt, is based on Ukraine’s famous Soledar salt mines. Anna Kosstutschenko reports. Camera: Pavel Suhodolskiy.

Росія хоче до 9 травня захопити Часів Яр, а в червні почати контрнаступ – Зеленський

За словами Зеленського, «сьогодні українським бійцям, які тримають оборону на тому напрямку, не вистачає потрібного озброєння»

Допомога США збільшує шанси України на перемогу – Єрмак

Голова ОП подякував президенту США та його адміністрації за «докладені зусилля, а також усьому американському народу – за підтримку України»

Polish voters choose mayors in hundreds of cities in runoff election  

WARSAW — Polish voters are casting ballots Sunday to choose mayors in hundreds of cities and towns where no candidate won outright in the first round of local election voting two weeks ago. 

Mayors will be chosen in 748 places, including Krakow, Poznan, Rzeszow and Wroclaw. Those are places where no single candidate won at least 50% of the vote during the first round on April 7. 

The local and regional elections are being viewed as a test for the pro-European Union government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk four months after it took power at the national level. 

Tusk’s party did well in big cities including Warsaw, where his party’s candidate, Rafał Trzaskowski, easily won reelection as mayor two weeks ago. 

However, Tusk failed to win a decisive victory overall. The main opposition party, Law and Justice, which held power at the national level from 2015-23, won a greater percentage of votes in the provincial assemblies. 

Tusk’s socially liberal Civic Coalition has strong support in cities while the Law and Justice party has a stronger base in conservative rural areas, particularly in eastern Poland. 

In the election of the provincial assemblies, Law and Justice obtained 34.3% of the votes nationwide and Tusks’ Civic Coalition got 30.6%. 

Zelenskyy: More US weapons gives Ukraine ‘a chance’ to defeat Russia 

Mutiso Munyao gives Kenya another London Marathon win after tribute to Kiptum

London — Alexander Mutiso Munyao delivered another win for Kenya on a day the London Marathon remembered last year’s champion Kelvin Kiptum.

A race that started with a period of applause for Kiptum, who was killed in a car crash in Kenya in February, ended with his countryman and friend running alone down the final straight in front of Buckinhgam Palace to earn an impressive victory in his first major marathon.  

Mutiso Munyao said he spoke to Kiptum after his win in London last year and that the world-record holder is always on his mind when he’s competing.  

“He’s in my thoughts every time, because he was my great friend,” Mutiso Munyao said. “It was a good day for me.”

It was a Kenyan double on the day, with Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir pulling away late to win the women’s race and cement her status as the favorite to defend her gold in Paris.

With around 400 meters (yards) to go to, Jepchirchir left world-record holder Tigst Assefa and two other rivals behind to sprint alone down the final stretch. She finished in 2 hours, 16 minutes, 16 seconds, with Assefa in second and Joyciline Jepkosgei in third.

Her time was more than 4 minutes slower than Assefa’s world record set in Berlin last year, but it was the fastest time ever in a women-only marathon, beating the mark of 2:17:01 set by Mary Keitany in London in 2017. The elite women’s field in London started about 30 minutes ahead of the elite men.

For Jepchirchir, though, the main goal was to show Kenya’s selectors for the Olympic team that she should be on the team again in Paris.

“So I was trying to work extra hard to (be able to) defend my title in the Olympics,” she said.

Mutiso Munyao denied 41-year-old Kenenisa Bekele a first London Marathon victory by pulling away from the Ethiopian great with about 3 kilometers to go Sunday for his biggest career win.

Mutiso Munyao and Bekele were in a two-way fight for the win until the Kenyan made his move as they ran along the River Thames, quickly building a six-second gap that only grew as he ran toward the finish.

“At 40 kilometers, when my friend Bekele was left (behind), I had confidence that I can win this race,” the 27-year-old Mutiso Munyao said.

He finished in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 1 second, with Bekele finishing 14 seconds behind. Emile Cairess of Britain was third, 2:45 back.

Bekele, the Ethiopian former Olympic 10,000 and 5,000-meter champion, was also the runner-up in London in 2017 but has never won the race.

Mutiso Munyao is relatively unknown in marathon circles and said he wasn’t sure whether this win would be enough to make Kenya’s Olympic team for Paris.

“I hope for the best,” he said. “If they select me I will go and work for it.” 

Politico: США можуть надіслати в Україну додаткових військових радників

20 квітня Палата представників Конгресу США схвалила законопроєкт про національну безпеку, який передбачає військову допомогу Україні в розмірі близько 61 мільярда доларів

Блінкен попередить Китай про «каральні заходи» через постачання військових технологій до Росії

Після зустрічі міністрів закордонних справ країн «Групи семи» минулого тижня держсекретар США заявив, що Китай робить «основний внесок» у підтримку російської оборонно-промислової бази

Сенат США розгляне допомогу Україні 23 квітня – Шумер

Палата представників Конгресу США під час голосування 20 квітня підтримала виділення допомоги для України на суму майже 61 мільярд доларів

Once foreign aid bill signed, this is how US can rush weapons to Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon could get weapons moving to Ukraine within days once Congress passes a long-delayed aid bill. That’s because it has a network of storage sites in the U.S. and Europe that hold the ammunition and air defense components that Kyiv desperately needs.

Moving fast is critical, CIA Director Bill Burns said this past week, warning that without additional aid from the U.S., Ukraine could lose the war to Russia by the end of this year.

“We would like very much to be able to rush the security assistance in the volumes we think they need to be able to be successful,” Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said.

The House approved $61 billion in funding for the war-torn country Saturday. It still needs to clear the Senate and President Joe Biden’s signature.

Once that happens, “we have a very robust logistics network that enables us to move material very quickly,” Ryder told reporters this past week. “We can move within days.”

Ready to go

The Pentagon has had supplies ready to go for months but hasn’t moved them because it is out of money. It has spent the funding Congress previously provided to support Ukraine, sending more than $44 billion worth of weapons, maintenance, training and spare parts since Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

By December, the Pentagon was $10 billion in the hole, because it is going to cost more now to replace the systems it sent to the battlefield in Ukraine.

As a result, the Pentagon’s frequent aid packages for Ukraine dried up because there had been no guarantee that Congress would pass the additional funding needed to replenish the weapons the U.S. has been sending to Ukraine.

The lag in weapons deliveries has forced Ukrainian troops to spend months rationing their dwindling supply of munitions.

How US can quickly move weapons

When an aid package for Ukraine is announced, the weapons are either provided through presidential drawdown authority, which allows the military to immediately pull from its stockpiles, or through security assistance, which funds longer-term contracts with the defense industry to obtain the systems.

The presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, as it’s known, has allowed the military to send billions of dollars’ worth of ammunition, air defense missile launchers, tanks, vehicles and other equipment to Ukraine.

“In the past, we’ve seen weapons transferred via presidential drawdown authority arrive within a matter of days,” said Brad Bowman, director at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies center on military and political power.

Those stocks are pulled from bases or storage facilities in the U.S. or from European sites where the U.S. has surged weapons to cut down on the amount of time it will take to deliver them once the funding is approved.

Storage in US

The military has massive weapons storage facilities in the U.S. for millions of rounds of munitions of all sizes that would be ready to use in case of war.

For example, the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma sprawls across more than 16,000 hectares connected by rail and has a mission to surge as many as 435 shipping containers — each able to carry 15 tons worth of munitions — if ordered by the president.

The facility is also a major storage site for one of the most used munitions on Ukraine’s battlefield, 155 mm howitzer rounds.

The demand by Ukraine for that particular shell has put pressure on U.S. stockpiles and pushed the military to see where else it could get them. As a result, tens of thousands of 155 mm rounds have been shipped back from South Korea to McAlester to be retrofitted for Ukraine.

Storage in Europe

According to a U.S. military official, the U.S. would be able to send certain munitions “almost immediately” to Ukraine because storehouses exist in Europe.

Among the weapons that could go very quickly are the 155 mm rounds and other artillery, along with some air defense munitions. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss preparations not yet made public.

A host of sites across Germany, Poland and other European allies also are helping Ukraine maintain and train on systems sent to the front. For example, Germany set up a maintenance hub for Kyiv’s Leopard 2 tank fleet in Poland, near the Ukrainian border.

The nearby maintenance hubs hasten the turnaround time to get needed repairs done on the Western systems.