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Showing posts with label Local News. Show all posts

China Backs Russia Against Ukraine and NATO

 China has thrown its considerable political weight behind Russia in President Vladimir Putin's standoff with Ukraine, describing NATO as outdated and calling on the West to consider Moscow's "legitimate security concerns."

President Vladimir Putin (L) greets President Xi Jinping (R) during a bilateral meeting


At a press briefing on Wednesday, China's state news service Xinhua asked Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian about remarks by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who said Russia's demand that the alliance not expand its membership was a "non-starter."


Speaking on January 10, after unsuccessful NATO-Russia Council talks in Geneva, Sherman said: "We will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO's open-door policy."


In Beijing, Zhao spoke disparagingly of the alliance as a "Cold War remnant."


He said: "As the world's largest military alliance, NATO should abandon the outdated Cold War mentality and ideological bias, and do things that are conducive to upholding peace and stability."


"China firmly opposes all kinds of small cliques," he added, before calling on parties to "fully consider each other's legitimate security concerns, avoid antagonism and confrontation, and properly address differences and disputes through equal consultation on the basis of mutual respect."


Beijing's decision to take a side publicly comes as some 100,000 Russian troops and heavy armor are massed on Ukraine's eastern border. Moscow says it does not intend to invade; Kyiv says Russia's current force posture is insufficient for a full-scale invasion.


This Statista chart compares Russian and Ukrainian military forces.

Just three weeks ago, China's President Xi Jinping exchanged pleasantries with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, on the 30th anniversary of official bilateral relations. The two leaders sent each other congratulatory telegrams on January 4, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.


Amid tensions in Eastern Europe, Xi told Zelensky their two countries enjoyed "deepening political mutual trust." He added: "I attach great importance to the development of China-Ukraine strategic partnership."


In hindsight, this might appear to be a kick in the teeth for Zelensky. It also fell short of Beijing's description of China-Russia relations this week as "mature, stable and resilient."


Despite the budding quasi-alliance between China and Russia, Beijing has not always openly sided with Moscow on its territorial expansion.


On March 15, 2014, the day before a referendum on the status of Crimea was due to take place, 13 members of the United Nations Security Council sought to declare the vote invalid—because of the presence of Russian forces in Crimea. Russia vetoed the U.N. resolution but China abstained. Beijing was similarly reluctant to back Moscow during the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.


Chinese scholars cited a policy of non-interference to explain the decision on Crimea, but researchers in the West said publicly supporting Russia would have set a dangerous precedent for China's independence-minded territories including Tibet and Xinjiang—and perhaps including self-ruled Taiwan.



On the day of the Crimea referendum, China's then Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang—now the country's top envoy in Washington—expressed Beijing's longstanding respect for "sovereignty and territorial integrity."


"We also believe that the situation in Ukraine has complex historical constituents and contemporary factors, which need to be comprehensively weighed and considered," Qin said. "China urges all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and avoid a further escalation of tensions."


On Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao denied a Bloomberg report that Beijing had asked Moscow not to invade Ukraine this year.

Former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has declared his intention to run for president in 2023.

Former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has declared his intention to run for president in 2023.


Saraki, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, made this known via his official Facebook page.


He wrote: [quote]Earlier today, I replied to a follower of mine on Twitter who, like thousands of you, has been clamouring for a united front to #RescueNigeria.


“As we prepare for the journey ahead, I hope we can all join hands to get the ticket of our great party, PDP, and build a nation that works for all of us.


“Join me to make our communities safer and provide real opportunities for you and your families. I have a strong record of delivering and experience in making tough decisions.


Let’s build a new Nigeria that works for EVERYONE! #GrowNigeria




Russia and Ukraine Crisis a showdown of two world views

 The crisis in Ukraine is hardly going away — a showdown of two world views that could upend Europe. It carries echoes of the Cold War and resurrects an idea left over from the 1945 Yalta Conference: that the West should respect a Russian sphere of influence in Central and Eastern Europe.


Since coming to power in 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin has worked steadily and systematically to reverse what he views as the humiliating breakup of the Soviet Union 30 years ago.


While massing troops along Ukraine’s border and holding war games in Belarus, close to the borders of NATO members Poland and Lithuania, Putin is demanding that Ukraine be permanently barred from exercising its sovereign right to join the Western alliance, and that other NATO actions, such as stationing troops in former Soviet bloc countries, be curtailed.


NATO has said the demands are unacceptable and that joining the alliance is a right of any country and does not threaten Russia. Putin’s critics argue that what he really fears is not NATO, but the emergence of a democratic, prospering Ukraine that could offer an alternative to Putin’s increasingly autocratic rule, which Russians might find appealing.


Russia’s present demands are based on Putin’s long sense of grievance and his rejection of Ukraine and Belarus as truly separate, sovereign countries, but rather as part of a historic Russian linguistic and Orthodox motherland.


In a millennium-spanning treatise last summer titled, “The Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” Putin tipped his hand. He insisted that the separation of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus into separate states today is artificial, due largely to political mistakes during the Soviet period and, in the case of Ukraine, driven by a malevolent “anti-Russia project” supported by Washington since 2014.


His Russo-centric view of the region poses a crucial test for U.S. President Joe Biden, who already is grappling with crises on multiple domestic fronts — the coronavirus pandemic, resurgence of inflation, a divided nation in which a large segment of the electorate refuses to acknowledge his presidency and a Congress that has blocked many of his social and climate goals.


Biden has ruled out military intervention to support Ukraine, and instead has employed intense diplomacy and rallied Western allies to support what he promises will be severe and painful sanctions against Russia if it dares to invade Ukraine. But depending on how the situation plays out, he has admitted he could have trouble keeping all the allies on board.


Crowdsignal

The Russian leader has already invaded Ukraine once, with little reaction. Russia took Crimea back from Ukraine in 2014 and has supported pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists fighting the Kyiv government in the Donbass region, a quiet war that has killed 14,000 people, more than 3,000 of them civilians.


Putin’s strategy has been to try to recreate the power and a defined sphere of influence that Russia lost with the fall of the Berlin Wall, at least in the area of the former Soviet Union. He has bristled at what he sees as Western encroachment into the countries of the former Warsaw Pact -- which had once formed a pro-Soviet buffer between the USSR and NATO.


Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were allowed to join NATO in 1999, followed in 2004 by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia.


Subjected to post-World War II Soviet domination, the countries were eager to join the Western defensive alliance and the Western free-market system to secure independence and prosperity after the fall of the Iron Curtain.


For similar reasons, both Ukraine and Georgia also want in, and have been recognized by NATO as aspiring members of the alliance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked Western leaders to take on Ukraine’s request for membership with greater urgency as a signal to Moscow that the West will defend Ukraine’s independence.


Russia contends that NATO expansion violates commitments made to it after the Berlin Wall’s collapse in exchange for Moscow’s acceptance of the reunification of Germany. U.S. officials deny any such promises were made.


Early in his presidency, Putin did not show adamant opposition to NATO. He suggested in a 2000 BBC interview that Russia might even be interested in joining; years later, he said he had raised that prospect with U.S. President Bill Clinton before Clinton left office in 2001.


Now, however, Putin sees the alliance as threatening Russia’s security.


But the newer NATO countries take the opposite view. They regard Russia, which boasts the region’s largest military and a vast nuclear arsenal, as the real threat, which is why they rushed to join NATO — afraid that a strengthened Russia might someday try to reimpose its dominance.


A disputed election in Belarus led to months-long mass demonstrations against longtime Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Alienated from his own people and unrecognized as a legitimate president in the West, Lukashenko has been driven closer into Putin’s protective embrace.


Similarly, after civil unrest in Kazakhstan just weeks ago, Russia sent in troops to help that former Soviet republic’s president restore order as part of a peacekeeping mission of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization alliance. The troops have since departed the country.


Putin’s aim has been to reimpose ties with Russia’s former Soviet neighbors, while challenging and dividing the West. Rather than leading Russia in a more democratic direction, he appears to now reject the very idea of liberal democracy as a sustainable model, seeing it rather as a conceit the West uses to pursue its own aims and humiliate its foes.


He came to power vowing to restore to Russia a sense of greatness. He seized back economic control from the oligarchs, crushed rebels in Chechnya, gradually strangled independent media and upped investment in the military. More recently, he has banned Russia’s few remaining human rights organizations.


Beyond Russia’s borders, his secret services have overseen the assassinations of critics and meddled in foreign elections, including offering clandestine support to the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the pro-Brexit campaign in Britain and various right-wing European parties that oppose European integration.


He told an interviewer in 2019 that “liberalism is obsolete,” implying that the dominant Western ideal of liberal democracy no longer has a place in the world. The idea that Ukrainians are independent and could be freely choosing their own alliances is to him a charade.


Crowdsignal

“All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country,” he wrote in his essay last summer.


“I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.”


The challenge for Biden, NATO and the European Union is whether their collective resolve and solidarity can protect Ukraine’s vision of itself as part of the West, and whether Putin’s Russian nationalist ambitions in the region will succeed or fail.





Source: AP News

Reset Nigeria calls for President of Southern extraction, threatens to vote against PDP if they zone presidency to North

Reset Nigeria calls for President of Southern extraction, threatens to vote against PDP if they zone presidency to North[/b]1


The Reset Nigeria group has called on the people of Southern Nigeria to resist the attempt by the main opposition, People’s Democratic Party, to zone their presidential candidate to Northern Nigeria in 2023.


The group called on the Party to allow fairness, equity and natural justice to prevail by allowing a president of southern extraction to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.


The spokesperson of the group, Mallam Ibrahim Mustapha in a press statement made available to newsmen said, it is imperative that power is returned to Southern Nigeria in 2023 as it has always been the tradition of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, the PDP to allow equity and Justice to prevail.


The group recalled that in 1999, both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) fielded Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Olu Falae, respectively owing to a consensus among the ruling elite then that power should be returned to the South in 1999, apparently to calm frayed nerves among the Yoruba people who felt that they were shortchanged by the annulment of the 1993 presidential election won by Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.


The group frowns at any attempt by the main opposition, PDP to deny the South, a president of Southern extraction.


“The South is not bereft of competent and politically savvy Patriots to govern the country. Why should they be denied the opportunity to produce a president in 2023?”


The group threatened that if the main opposition PDP goes ahead to deny the region a southern candidate in 2023, they’ll mobilize over five million of their members to vote against the party in 2023.


The PDP entrenched the zoning formula, though not in the nation’s constitution for the purpose of equity, fairness and justice and as such, the current leadership should not truncate the gentleman agreement that the founding fathers entrenched in the party.


“The goal is to move the country forward and no nation thrives where there is no peace, equity and justice”.


The group is one of many groups that has threatened to vote against any party that goes north in picking who represents them. Also, youth groups, nationalists and statesmen have joined in that same call.




Burkina Faso's military seizes power in a coup, dissolves government

 Burkina Faso's army said it took control of the country on Monday, deposing President Roch Kabore, dissolving the government and parliament, suspending the constitution and shuttering its borders.




The coup was announced on state television by Captain Sidsore Kader Ouedraogo, who said the military had seized power in response to the "ongoing degradation of the security situation" in the country and the "incapacity of the government" to unite the population.


Sitting alongside him dressed in military fatigues and a red beret was Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, a senior military officer who was introduced to the people of Burkina Faso as their new leader.


Damiba was promoted in December by Kabore to commander of the country's third military region, which is responsible for security in the capital Ouagadougou, according to Reuters. He studied at a military academy in Paris, and recently authored a book titled "West African Armies and Terrorism: Uncertain Responses?"


There was no mention made in the televised statement about Kabore's whereabouts. The president has not been seen in public since fighting broke out on Sunday around the presidential palace in Ouagadougou.


One of the coup leaders told CNN that Kabore was detained early Monday by soldiers that had taken control of a military base before storming the palace grounds and firing shots near the president's home. The same source said that Kabore signed his resignation and is being kept in a "safe place" in the West African country.



But Kabore's exact location remains unknown; on Monday afternoon, a message was posted from his Twitter account asking those involved in the insurrection to lower their arms.


"Our nation is going through difficult times," the tweet said. "We must in this precise moment, preserve our democratic achievements. I invite those who took arms to lower them in the superior interest of the nation. It is through dialogue and listening that we must resolve our contradictions."


The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is concerned about the whereabouts of President Kabore and is following developments in Burkina Faso closely, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a Monday statement.


Pictures from Ouagadougou on Monday showed armed vehicles and soldiers parked outside the headquarters of the state broadcaster, Radio Télévision du Burkina (RTB).




Plans for the military coup have been underway since August, hatched in encrypted messaging apps and countless secret meetings held outside the capital, one of the coup leaders told CNN, adding that the soldiers are angry at the government's handling of jihadist attacks in the country, and believe Burkina Faso is better off under military rule right now.


Civilians gathered on the streets honking car horns and cheering in support of the military following Monday's announcement.



"People are fleeing their homes and people are dying everywhere because of terrorism. The situation is not solved. If the army takes the lead I think things will go back to normal," said Oumar Junior Bahoro, who was protesting in downtown Ouagadougou.


The Economic Community for West Africa States (ECOWAS) posted a statement on Facebook Monday saying it was watching "with great concern the political and security situation in Burkina Faso, following an attempted coup d'état."



ECOWAS demanded that the "soldiers return to the barracks, maintain a Republican situation and favor dialogue with the authorities to resolve problems," adding that it held the military responsible for Kabore's wellbeing


On Monday, the French embassy in Burkina Faso posted a message on its website warning its citizens in the country that the situation "remains rather confusing."


"In the wait for a clarification, we recommend that you avoid non-essential movements during the day and do not go out at night," the message said.


Two Air France flights scheduled for Monday evening were also canceled, according to the embassy.



'Mounting dissatisfaction'

Burkina Faso has been wracked with violence linked to the Islamic State and al Qaeda that has killed thousands and displaced 1.5 million people, according to UNHCR. The military has been hard hit; last month at least 50 security forces were killed in the Sahel.


Anger has been mounting across the country for weeks. The coup comes one day after a protest in the capital demanding the president's resignation.


"This coup attempt isn't coming out of nowhere. It's building on mounting dissatisfaction within the population and security forces with the government's handling of the security crisis," said Constantin Gouvy, a Burkina Faso researcher who works for the Netherlands-based Clingendael Institute. Kabore has championed a military-first approach since being first elected in 2015 and it's not been successful, he said.


Reuters reported that sustained gunfire rang out from military camps in the West African country on Sunday, as soldiers demanded more support for their fight against Islamist militants.



Protesters came out to support the mutineers on Sunday and ransacked the headquarters of Kaboré's political party, according to the news agency.


The government declared a curfew until further notice and closed schools for two days.


The turmoil in Burkina Faso comes after successful military putsches over the past 18 months in its West African neighbors Mali and Guinea, where the army removed President Alpha Conde last September.


West Africa, which until recently appeared to have shed its reputation as Africa's "coup belt," remains susceptible to unrest.


The military also took over in Chad last year after President Idriss Deby died on the battlefield there.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in West Africa -- despite being a gold producer.


Its army has suffered heavy losses at the hands of Islamist militants, who control swathes of the country and have forced residents in those areas to abide by their harsh version of Islamic law, Reuters reports.


Sources: CNN

China Backs Russia Against Ukraine and NATO

 China has thrown its considerable political weight behind Russia in President Vladimir Putin's standoff with Ukraine, describing NATO a...

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