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Ukraine claims Russian forces pushed back in East in fierce fighting

"The situation is getting worse"

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Ukraine claims Russian forces pushed back in East in fierce fighting
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Kyiv: Russian artillery slammed Ukraine's eastern Donbas region with fierce fighting over the city of Severodonetsk, but the local governor said there was some progress in pushing back invading forces.

More than 100 days since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine, thousands of people have been killed, millions sent fleeing and towns turned into rubble.

The advance of Russian forces has been slowed by stiff Ukrainian resistance, repelling them from around the capital Kyiv and forcing Moscow to focus on capturing the east, including the Donbas.

Some of the fiercest fighting has been centred on Severodonetsk, where Ukrainian troops are resisting a complete takeover.

"They (Russians) didn't seize it fully," Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said Friday, saying the invading forces had been pushed back "20 percent".

"As soon as we get a big amount of Western long-range weapons, we will push their artillery back... and then Russian infantry will run."

Ukrainian troops were still holding an industrial zone in Severodonetsk, Gaiday had said, a scenario reminiscent of Mariupol, where a steelworks was the port city's last holdout.

The situation in Lysychansk -- Severodonetsk's twin city, which sits just across a river -- looked increasingly dire.

About 60 percent of infrastructure and housing had been destroyed, while internet, mobile networks and gas services had been knocked out, said its mayor Oleksandr Zaika.

In the city of Sloviansk, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Severodonetsk, the mayor has urged residents to evacuate in the face of intense bombardment, with water and electricity cut off.

"The situation is getting worse," student Gulnara Evgaripova told AFP as she boarded a minibus to leave the city.

Ekaterina Perednenko, a paramedic, said: "I am scared that there will be nothing to come back to."

- 'Shame and hatred' -

Russian troops now occupy a fifth of Ukraine's territory and Moscow has imposed a blockade on its Black Sea ports.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was defiant on Friday.

"Victory will be ours," he said in a video speech.

Later, in his nightly address, he dismissed the Russian army. 

"At first it looked threatening. Then dangerous... And now probably just a bitter smile," he said.

"Because what's left of it? ... War crimes, shame and hatred."

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "certain results have been achieved", pointing to the "liberation" of some areas from what he called the "pro-Nazi armed forces of Ukraine".

The West has sent ever-more potent weapons to Ukraine and piled on ever more stringent sanctions against Moscow, with the European Union on Friday formally adopting a ban on most Russian oil imports.

Putin's alleged girlfriend, former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, was also added to an assets freeze and visa-ban blacklist.

- Food crisis -

The war has sparked fears of a global food crisis -- Ukraine and Russia are among the top wheat exporters in the world.

The United Nations said it was leading intense negotiations with Russia to allow Ukraine's grain harvest to leave the country.

Putin in a televised interview Friday said there was "no problem" to export grain from Ukraine, via Kyiv- or Moscow-controlled ports or even through central Europe.

The UN has warned that African countries, which imported more than half of their wheat consumption from Ukraine and Russia, face an "unprecedented" crisis.

Food prices in Africa have already exceeded those in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and the 2008 food riots.

On Friday, Putin met the head of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, at his Black Sea residence in Sochi.

After the meeting, Sall said he was "very reassured", adding that Putin was "committed and aware that the crisis and sanctions create serious problems for weak economies".

French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, said Putin had made a "historic" error in starting the war.

But he said the Russian leader should not be "humiliated", and to leave room for diplomacy.

- Media driver killed -

A driver transporting two Reuters journalists in eastern Ukraine was killed and the two reporters were lightly wounded, a spokesman for the international news agency said.

A French volunteer fighter in Ukraine was also killed in combat, the French foreign ministry said Friday.

In areas around the capital Kyiv, which Russian troops retreated from at the end of March, some residents remain in desperate need of assistance.

At an aid distribution point in Horenka, northwest of Kyiv, a tearful Hanna Viniychuk, 67, said she had come for some basic necessities after losing her home to Russian bombardment.

"I'm grateful for this help," she said.

SOURCE: AFP

 

Technology

NASA's new rocket on launchpad for trip to Moon

The SLS rocket is 98 meters (322 feet) tall

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NASA's new rocket on launchpad for trip to Moon

Washington: NASA's giant new SLS rocket arrived at its launchpad Wednesday in Cape Canaveral ahead of a planned flight to the Moon in less than two weeks.

It will be the maiden voyage of the Artemis program -- America's quest to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

The Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed test flight, will feature the first blastoff of the Space Launch System rocket, which will be the most powerful in the world.

It will propel the Orion crew capsule into orbit around the Moon, and the spacecraft will remain in space for 42 days before returning to Earth.

Starting in 2024, astronauts will travel aboard Orion for the same trip, and the following year, at the earliest, Americans will once again set foot on the Moon.

The SLS rocket, in development for more than a decade, is 98 meters (322 feet) tall.

On Wednesday it stood at historic launch complex 39B, after a 10-hour overnight crawl from the assembly building.

"To all of us that gaze up at the Moon, dreaming of the day humankind returns to the lunar surface, folks, we're here. We are going back," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said earlier this month.

The Orion capsule will fly to the Moon and 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) beyond it -- further than any previous crewed spacecraft.

On the way back through Earth's atmosphere, traveling at 40,000 km per hour (25,000 mph), Orion's thermal shield will have to withstand a temperature that is half that of the surface of the sun.

Liftoff for the Artemis 1 mission is scheduled for August 29 at 8:33 am (1233 GMT). If it has to be postponed due to bad weather, the backup dates are September 2 and 5.

After the 42-day trip, the capsule is supposed to splash down in the Pacific and be picked up by a US Navy vessel.

In 2024, an Artemis 2 mission is scheduled to take astronauts up to orbit the Moon but without landing on it. That honor is reserved for Artemis 3, a mission scheduled for 2025 at the earliest.

The last time people walked on the Moon was with the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

While the Apollo program featured only white male astronauts, NASA says the Artemis missions will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.

The hope is to use the Moon as a staging ground to develop technologies for sending humans to Mars.

SOURCE: AFP

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Pakistan

Rain-wind, thundershower expected in most parts of country

Heavy falls are also likely at scattered places in Sindh, eastern Balochistan and Punjab

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Rain-wind, thundershower expected in most parts of country

Islamabad: Rain-wind/thundershower is expected in Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan during the next twelve hours.

Heavy falls are also likely at scattered places in Sindh, eastern Balochistan, South Punjab and Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the period.

Temperature of some major cities recorded this morning:  

Islamabad and Peshawar twenty-five degree centigrade, Lahore twenty-eight, Karachi twenty-seven, Quetta twenty-one, Gilgit twenty, Murree seventeen and  Muzaffarabad twenty-two degree centigrade.   

According to Met Office forecast for Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, partly cloudy/chances of rain-wind and thundershower in Srinagar, Jammu, leh, Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Baramula.

Temperature recorded this morning:          

Srinagar, Anantnag and Shopian nineteen degree centigrade, Jammu twenty-eight, Leh fourteen, Pulwama and Baramula twenty degree centigrade.    

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Pakistan

PM directs to speed-up relief operations in flood-affected areas immediately

"50000 rupees should be provided immediately to each victim's family"

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PM directs to speed-up relief operations in flood-affected areas immediately

Islamabad: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has directed NDMA, PDMA, and the provincial government to speed up relief operations in the flood-affected areas immediately.

According to PM Office, Shehbaz Sharif said the first priority in a flood situation is the rescue of the affected people and their immediate assistance.

He also directed that 50000 rupees should be provided immediately to each victim's family.

The Prime Minister directed for immediate provision of accommodation, medical facilities, food, and clean drinking water to the victims.

He expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives and properties due to floods in southern Sindh.

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