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Diplomacy & Crisis News

U.S., Allies Impose Vast New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

Foreign Policy - Fri, 25/02/2022 - 00:03
New measures target Russia’s largest banks and political elite.

What the Russia-Ukraine Crisis Means for South Asia

Foreign Policy - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 23:53
Putin’s invasion puts some countries in a diplomatic and economic bind.

France violated rights of French children detained in Syrian camps

UN News Centre - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 22:12
France has violated the rights of French children detained for years in camps in northeast Syria by failing to repatriate them, the UN Child Rights Committee said in findings issued on Thursday. 

‘Political impasse’ hampering change and reform in Iraq

UN News Centre - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 21:43
Political leaders in Iraq must urgently overcome their divisions and work for the good of the people, the top UN official in the country told the Security Council on Thursday. 

Ukraine Crisis: Protecting civilians ‘Priority Number One’; Guterres releases $20M for humanitarian support

UN News Centre - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 20:01
Russian military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine “on a scale that Europe has not seen in decades, conflict directly with the United Nations Charter,” Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists on Thursday.

Senior UN official meets first person in US vaccinated against COVID

UN News Centre - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 18:10
The first American to be vaccinated against the COVID virus and a first-responder in New York City, Sandra Lindsay, met with Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly.

UN condemns brutal killing of eight polio workers in Afghanistan

UN News Centre - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 16:41
The United Nations has condemned the killing of eight polio vaccination workers in four locations in northern Afghanistan on Thursday, the first such attacks since nationwide immunization campaigns resumed last November. 

Ukraine: Humanitarians fear ‘devastating’ consequences  

UN News Centre - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 16:19
Amid reports on Thursday that people were fleeing en masse from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev following Russia’s so-called “special military operation,” UN humanitarians warned of the “devastating” consequences of military action. 

As Security Council meets on Ukraine crisis, Russia announces start of ‘special military operation’

UN News Centre - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 05:58
“President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine, give peace a chance,” Secretary-General António Guterres urged Wednesday evening at the start of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, the body's second late night session this week.

Rising incomes more harmful to environment than population growth

UN News Centre - Thu, 24/02/2022 - 02:33
Higher incomes contribute more to environmental degradation than population growth, a report by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has revealed. 

Israel-Palestine: No substitute for legitimate political process, UN envoy tells Security Council

UN News Centre - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 22:05
The destabilizing deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues in the absence of political solutions that would “reset the trajectory”, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said on Wednesday. 

Development finance institutions must include in investments, ‘right to remedy’

UN News Centre - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 22:04
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights launched on Wednesday a ground-breaking new report for development finance institutions to ensure that the projects they support do not harm people, and make effective remedy is readily available.

UN pledges more support for internally displaced persons in DR Congo’s Ituri province

UN News Centre - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 21:17
The United Nations will work together with the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as other partners, in ensuring security in the eastern part of the country, said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN’s top peacekeeping official. 

At dedicated Assembly session on Ukraine, UN chief calls for ‘restraint, reason and de-escalation’

UN News Centre - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 18:48
The world is facing “a moment of peril,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told a General Assembly session on Wednesday dedicated to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

Guterres strongly condemns arrest of UN personnel in Central African Republic

UN News Centre - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 16:50
Secretary-General António Guterres has called for the release of four members of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) who were arrested in the capital, Bangui, earlier this week, his spokesperson said on Wednesday. 

UN-backed report warns of rising wildfire threat

UN News Centre - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 07:55
Wildfires are projected to rise by 50 per cent by the end of the century due to the climate crisis and changes in land use, according to a report published on Wednesday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and GRID-Arendal, a non-profit environmental communications centre based in Norway. 

Russia Says 'Objective Needs' Will Determine When Troops Return From Belarus

The National Interest - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 02:00

Peter Suciu

Russia Military, Belarus

Around 30,000 Russian troops were deployed to Belarus for the joint Union Resolve 2022 exercises.

Even as reports suggest that a Russian invasion of Ukraine remains "imminent," Russian officials have claimed that its troops will return to their permanent bases. However, instead of providing any timetable, it now appears that Russia is taking a very direct and blunt stance: those forces will only return to their bases when Moscow is ready for them to do so.

And it isn't just Russia that is making the bold declaration.

On Monday, during a briefing with defense attaches, Major General Viktor Gulevich, Chief of the Belarusian General Staff, explained that Russia's forces will return back to their bases only when the need arises, according to a report from TASS.

"Russian troops will return to their permanent bases only when there is an objective need for that and we determine that ourselves. This is solely our internal matter," Gulevich stated. Gulevich emphasized that the timeframe for the return of the troops to Russia "will to a large extent depend on our Western colleagues."

Moscow has made several demands, including that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO, and Russian president Vladimir Putin has also called for NATO to return to its 1997 status, which would require the expulsion of fifteen current members.

However, those requests have been described as nonstarters by the United States and NATO. As the two sides remain at an impasse, Russia has continued its buildup of military forces, and Putin recently announced that Moscow would recognize the independence of Ukraine’s breakaway regions.

Union Resolve Exercises

Around 30,000 Russian troops had been deployed to Belarus to take part in the joint Union Resolve 2022 exercises. The drills were part of a combat readiness check of the Union State's response forces.

"The forces that have been deployed to Eastern Europe, including near the Belarusian state border, are one of the factors that influence any further developments," Gulevich stated.

Gulevich added that "given the growing military buildup near the borders of the Union State [of Belarus and Russia] and mounting tensions in Donbass, the presidents of Belarus and Russia have decided to continue the check of the Union State's response forces."

This has been seen as a shift in language from Moscow, which just last week had maintained that its forces would return to Russia at the completion of the joint exercises. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov even took aim at NATO for the alliance's deployments in Eastern Europe.

"Unlike the drills on its territory, which Russia performs, and after which the troops return to garrisons, the troops that are far from the territory of both the UK, the U.S., [and] Canada, are sent to Baltic states, to Black Sea states, those troops and arms usually never get back home," Lavrov said after talks with British foreign secretary Liz Truss on Thursday.

Now, it appears that Russia's forces could be staying in Belarus a while longer, at least if they are not sent to invade Ukraine.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Image: Reuters.

Can the Pentagon Ramp Up Its Hypersonic Weapons Programs?

The National Interest - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 01:00

Peter Suciu

Hypersonic Weapons,

A recent meeting between Secretary Austin and defense industry leaders shed light on what industry insiders believe might be causing delays in hypersonic weapons development.

Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with the CEOs of more than two dozen of America's largest defense contractors and called for accelerated efforts to develop hypersonic weapons. Austin’s call comes as China and Russia are making advancements in the development of the game-changing technology.

Top executives from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Leidos, Aerojet Rocketdyne, BAE Systems, L3Harris, and about a half dozen other defense companies were represented at the meeting, which was chaired by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

"We need to anticipate how [China is] going to evolve its capabilities. And we need to be out in front of that," Austin told attendees of the meeting.

Capable of reaching speeds of Mach 5 or faster, hypersonic weapons are incredibly difficult to detect, something that poses a significant challenge to missile defense systems. Hypersonic missiles can also maneuver and evade missile defense systems while in flight. In addition, hypersonic missiles can travel at a far lower trajectory than high-arching ballistic missiles, which are more easily detectable.

The United States’ effort to develop hypersonic weapons has suffered multiple setbacks in recent months. In October, the Pentagon said a test of a hypersonic glide body failed due to a problem with its rocket. In addition, a hypersonic missile failed to separate from a B-52H Stratofortress bomber during a test at Edwards Air Force Base last April. April’s test was the eighth test aimed at determining how to arm the Cold War-era bomber with the advanced AGM-182A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon.

Three military branches, as well as DARPA and the Missile Defense Agency, are now pursuing their own programs. The 2022 Department of Defense budget committed $3.8 billion to hypersonic research, an increase from the previous year's $3.2 billion. While funding has been increased, one issue will be determining how the Pentagon should allocate funding for those various programs.

"The meeting between industry heads and a Defense Secretary was a rare occurrence and serves to underscore that hypersonic development is a priority to the U.S. military," explained William Davies, an analyst at the international analytics firm GlobalData.

"Despite a concerted push by DoD officials to advance hypersonic weapon timelines, the ambition will not be realized unless the 2023 budget shows targeted funding for achieving deployment of ongoing programs," Davies added.

The meeting between Secretary Austin and the defense industry leaders shed light on what industry insiders believe might be causing delays in hypersonic weapons development. Several factors have been cited, including supply chain constraints, budget instability, and access to wind testing facilities.

Such complaints will likely have an impact on future budget priorities, which may also include increasing workforce development funds to ensure that the United States remains competitive with its adversaries, GlobaData suggested.

"The U.S. has expressed significant concern recently about the proliferation of hypersonic weapons amongst adversaries, and this meeting will likely serve to focus minds on what needs to be done to enable defense primes to bring weapons to market on schedule," Davies noted. "The U.S. is likely to prioritize testing infrastructure such as wind tunnels and missile test ranges in coming years, but whether this will be enough to speed up development remains to be seen."

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Image: Reuters.

Baby formula marketing ‘pervasive, misleading and aggressive’ – UN report

UN News Centre - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 00:50
Parents and pregnant women globally are exposed to aggressive marketing for baby formula milk, according to a report launched jointly by two UN agencies on Tuesday.

Ukraine crisis testing ‘entire international system’ – UN chief

UN News Centre - Wed, 23/02/2022 - 00:13
The latest developments in Ukraine are testing “the entire international system”, Secretary-General António Guterres said at a media stakeout on Tuesday, adding “we must pass this test.”

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