Connect with us

World

In Middle East, U.S. general hears concerns about American commitment

Published

on


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lieutenant General Michael Kurilla testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on his nomination to become Commander of Central Command during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/

By Phil Stewart

ABU DHABI (Reuters) – The new U.S. general overseeing American forces in the Middle East said allies were concerned about long-term U.S. commitment to the region, as he wrapped up a visit to the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

U.S. Army General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, who took over as head of Central Command last month, is compiling a 90-day assessment of the U.S. military’s efforts in a region once at the core of a foreign policy now more focused on China, Russia and the war in Ukraine.

Friday’s visit followed stops in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The tone in my engagements in Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and UAE was frank and stark; our partners are concerned about our long-term commitment to the region,” Kurilla told reporters traveling with him.

In the Gulf, Washington has stoked tension with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi by failing to satisfy their concerns about regional rival Iran, for ending its support for their war in Yemen and slapping conditions on U.S. weapons sales.

Over time, the United States has also significantly reduced the number of troops in the region, including naval forces.

Mistrust in the Middle East more broadly has built up since the 2011 Arab uprisings when Gulf rulers were shocked at how the administration of President Barack Obama abandoned the late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after a 30-year alliance, allowing him to fall and ignoring the concerns of Gulf rulers over the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Kurilla’s visit to Cairo came less than four months after President Joe Biden’s administration announced it would cut $130 million in military aid to Egypt over human rights concerns. It was a rare censure of a strategic ally that controls the Suez Canal.

Kurilla, who met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, stressed the United States was a dependable ally.

“I visited three countries with which we have strategic partnerships. My message in all three countries: the United States is a reliable partner here and this relationship is strong,” Kurilla said.

In the United Arab Emirates, Kurilla met with de facto ruler Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MbZ. Reuters has reported that Biden irked MbZ by not calling swiftly after the Houthis attacked UAE in January and by not responding more forcefully.

Kurilla said his assessment would include “gaps” in such relationships.

In Saudi Arabia, Kurilla held talks with military officials including Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister Khalid bin Salman. “The Kingdom is poised for the future and I look forward to a continued military partnership,” he said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was incensed by Biden’s refusal to deal directly with him as the kingdom’s de facto ruler because of the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A U.S. intelligence report implicated the prince, who denies any role.

World

More Ukraine fighters surrender in Mariupol, Russia says

Published

on


© Reuters. Buses carrying service members of Ukrainian forces who have surrendered after weeks holed up at Azovstal steel works drive away under escort of the pro-Russian military in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Mariupol, Ukraine May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Al

By Max Hunder

KYIV/MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) -Moscow said nearly 700 more Ukrainian fighters had surrendered in Russian-held Mariupol as it shored up a key gain in the south, while the United States became the latest Western country to reopen its embassy in Kyiv.

Ukraine has ordered its garrison in Mariupol to stand down, but the ultimate outcome of Europe’s bloodiest battle for decades remains unresolved.

Top commanders of Ukrainian fighters who had made their last stand at the Azovstal steelworks in the port city are still inside the plant, according to the leader of pro-Russian separatists in control of the area, Denis Pushilin, quoted by local news agency DNA on Wednesday.

Ukrainian officials have declined to comment publicly on the fate of the fighters.

“The state is making utmost efforts to carry out the rescue of our service personnel,” military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzaynik told a news conference. “Any information to the public could endanger that process.”

Ukraine confirmed the surrender of more than 250 fighters on Tuesday but did not say how many more were inside.

Russia said on Wednesday an additional 694 more fighters had surrendered, bringing the total number to 959. Its defence ministry posted videos of what it said were Ukrainian fighters receiving hospital treatment after surrendering at Azovstal.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Red Cross and the United Nations were involved in talks, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said, but gave no details.

Mariupol is the biggest city Russia has captured so far and allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to claim a rare victory in the invasion it began on Feb. 24.

Moscow has focussed on the southeast in recent offensives after pulling away from Kyiv, where, in a further sign of normalisation, the United States said it had resumed operations at its embassy on Wednesday.

The U.S. Senate approved veteran diplomat Bridget Brink as ambassador to Ukraine, filling a post that has been vacant for three years.

Canada, Britain and others have also recently resumed embassy operations.

Moscow says it is engaged in a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour. The West and Kyiv call that a false pretext for invasion.

DONBAS ATTACKS

On the battle front, Russian forces pressed on with their main offensive, trying to capture more territory in the eastern Donbas region which Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.

Ukraine’s general staff said in a statement on Thursday that Russia’s attacks were focused on the Donetsk region in the Donbas.

Around Slovyansk to the north of Donetsk, Russian forces “suffered significant losses” around the settlement of Velyka Komyshuvakha, it said.

Ukrainian forces shelled a border village in Russia’s western region of Kursk at dawn on Thursday, killing at least one civilian, regional Governor Roman Starovoit said.

Reuters was unable to verify the reports.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Ukrainian saboteurs had blown up railway tracks ahead of an armoured train carrying Russian troops in the occupied southern city of Melitopol.

“The partisans got it, although they did not blow up the armoured train itself,” he said in a video posted on social media, contradicting an earlier statement from Ukraine’s territorial defence force that the train had been blown up.

Arestovych said the incident showed that the partisan movement was actively disrupting Russian forces.

NATO APPLICATION

Finland and Sweden formally applied for NATO membership on Wednesday, a decision made in the wake of the Ukrainian invasion and the very kind of expansion that Putin cited as a reason for attacking Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith called for an expedited accession process that could be “done in a couple of months”, but NATO member Turkey said its approval depended on the return of “terrorists”, namely Kurdish militants and Fethullah Gulen followers.

Finland and Sweden were both militarily non-aligned throughout the Cold War.

Although Russia had threatened retaliation against the plans, Putin said on Monday their NATO membership would not be an issue unless the alliance sent more troops or weapons there.

Russia could, however, cut off gas supplies to Finland this week, Finland’s state-owned energy provider Gasum said.

The European Commission announced a 210 billion euro ($220 billion) plan for Europe to end its reliance on Russian oil, gas and coal by 2027.

Meanwhile, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) became the latest big Western company to pull out of Russia, saying its local unit had filed for bankruptcy and was forced to shut operations after its bank accounts were seized.

($1 = 0.9550 euros)

Continue Reading

World

More work to resume in Shanghai’s zero-COVID areas from June

Published

on

2/2

© Reuters. Women carry boxes of food on a street during lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shanghai, China, May 18, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song

2/2

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -The COVID-19-hit financial hub of Shanghai will start to allow more businesses in zero-COVID areas to resume normal operations from the beginning of June, a deputy mayor said on Thursday as the city looks forward to the end of lockdown.

Shanghai, fighting China’s biggest ever coronavirus outbreak, has been steadily allowing more businesses to reopen and letting larger numbers of residents leave their homes for the first time in nearly seven weeks.

The city was “striving to achieve a full resumption of work and production as soon as possible”, deputy mayor Zhang Wei told a media briefing.

“The rhythm of work resumption” would be based on the epidemic prevention situation, he said, adding that for the rest of May, many workers would remain in “closed loops”, which often involves staff living at their work places.

Shanghai’s stable energy, water and information infrastructure throughout the outbreak “guarantees that the city’s pulse has the strength to beat after the slowdown, and also supports the continuous recovery of the city’s economy”, he said.

After nearly two months of disruptions, cargo deliveries were gradually returning to normal, Zhang said, with daily container throughput at Shanghai’s ports now at about 90% of levels a year ago.

Pudong Airport cargo throughput had reached 70% of last year’s levels, while freight vehicles entering and leaving the city was back to two thirds.

Yu Fulin, an official with Shanghai’s transportation commission, told the briefing the city would start to restore main cross-district public transport on May 22. The priority would be reopening routes connecting the city’s airports, railway stations and hospitals, he said.

Continue Reading

World

U.S. Senate confirms Biden nominee to be Ukraine ambassador

Published

on


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bridget Brink, nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifies at her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved veteran diplomat Bridget Brink on Wednesday to be ambassador to Ukraine, filling a critical post that has been vacant for three years as Washington works to increase support for the government in Kyiv.

Brink was approved by unanimous voice vote.

Both President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats and Republicans had urged Brink’s quick confirmation. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Brink unanimously earlier on Wednesday, after holding her confirmation hearing just two weeks after Biden announced the nomination on April 25.

The quick action underscored the desire from both parties to send an ambassador to support Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as he faces Russia’s invasion. Brink’s Senate confirmation came on the same day that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv reopened after a three-month closure due to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

The Senate also is expected later this week to approve nearly $40 billion in military and humanitarian support for Kyiv, funding that has already passed the House of Representatives.

A Michigan native who speaks Russian, Brink is currently U.S. ambassador to Slovakia. A diplomat for 25 years, she has worked in Uzbekistan and Georgia as well as in several senior positions across the State Department and White House National Security Council.

Brink was also confirmed by unanimous voice vote in 2019, when former Republican President Donald Trump nominated her for the position in Bratislava.

There has not been a U.S. ambassador in Kyiv since May 2019, when Trump abruptly recalled then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Yovanovitch later testified as Trump faced impeachment on charges of withholding military aid to put pressure on Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, then seen as Trump’s most likely opponent in the 2020 election.

Continue Reading

News

Stock Markets17 mins ago

Analysis-Crypto crash leaves El Salvador with no easy exit from worsening crisis

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – A sign reading “Pay with Bitcoin here” is set in a furniture store in San...

Commodities17 mins ago

Gold Down, Weighed Down by Aggressive Fed

© Reuters. By Gina Lee Investing.com – Gold was down on Thursday morning in Asia, with a steady dollar and...

Stock Markets17 mins ago

Generali posts smaller-than-expected net profit drop after Russia impairments

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The emblem of Italy’s insurer Assicurazioni Generali is pictured in Rome, May 13, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini...

Economy18 mins ago

Sri Lanka central bank holds rates; reiterates need for political stability

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past the main entrance of the Sri Lanka’s Central Bank in Colombo, Sri Lanka...

Coronavirus47 mins ago

Some in Shanghai allowed out to shop; end of COVID lockdown in sight

4/4 © Reuters. Customers wearing face masks use self-checkout counters at a reopened Carrefour supermarket amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)...

Cryptocurrency47 mins ago

Analysts assess the aftermath of the Terra (LUNA) collapse | Cointelegraph interview

Analysts assess the aftermath of the Terra (LUNA) collapse | Cointelegraph interview Financial commentator Frances Coppola is convinced that algorithmic...

Stock Markets47 mins ago

Rogue trader, euro zone crisis and war, Socgen’s CEO ends ‘bumpy’ ride at top

2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French bank Societe Generale Chief Executive Officer Frederic Oudea attends a news conference to present...

Commodities47 mins ago

Oil Up as Economic Growth Worries Continue

© Reuters. By Gina Lee Investing.com – Oil was up on Thursday morning in Asia, recovering from early losses as...

Economy47 mins ago

Investors jolted as U.S. retailers show inflation hitting consumers

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Shoppers are seen wearing masks while shopping at a Walmart store, in North Brunswick, New Jersey,...

Commodities47 mins ago

Oil prices recoup early losses on China hopes, global supply fears

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Workers walk as oil pumps are seen in the background in the Uzen oil and gas...

Economic Indicators47 mins ago

Money for Ukraine to top G7 agenda; inflation, food a concern

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Service members of pro-Russian troops wait before the expected evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the...

Economy47 mins ago

Aussie jumps, safe-haven dollar and yen ease amid Shanghai reopening signs

2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. one dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken February 8, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration//File...

Economy47 mins ago

Deutsche Bank enters new era as chairman’s rocky decade ends

2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chairman of the board Paul Achleitner delivers his speech during the annual shareholder meeting of...

World48 mins ago

More Ukraine fighters surrender in Mariupol, Russia says

© Reuters. Buses carrying service members of Ukrainian forces who have surrendered after weeks holed up at Azovstal steel works...

Economy1 hour ago

A manual for grief: How to handle loss at work

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Buddhist monks from Dieu Ngu Temple in Westminster, California, chant during a candlelight vigil to mark...

Cryptocurrency1 hour ago

Russia will inevitably legalize crypto payments says trade minister

Russia will inevitably legalize crypto payments says trade minister Russia will legalize crypto payments “sooner or later” according to the...

Stock Markets1 hour ago

Citi promotes Asia-based banker Valderrabano as global wealth COO

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017....

Coronavirus1 hour ago

North Korea weapons threat casts shadow on Biden visit

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missiles take part in a nighttime military parade to mark the 90th anniversary...

Economy1 hour ago

China’s zero-COVID policy dashes global hopes for quick economic return to normal

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker in a protective suit walks on a closed bridge during lockdown, amid the coronavirus...

Stock Markets1 hour ago

Analysis-Rare double whammy hits investors: steep slumps for both stocks and bonds

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, New York,...

Stock Markets1 hour ago

Woodside shareholders approve BHP petroleum merger

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo for Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s top independent oil and gas company, adorns a promotional poster...

Forex2 hours ago

Dollar Down, but Investor Sentiment Remains Fragile Over Recession Fears

© Reuters. By Gina Lee Investing.com – The dollar was down on Thursday morning in Asia. Safe-haven currencies pressed paused...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

Singapore Airlines sees no big growth risk from Boeing 777X delays

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Singapore Airlines (SIA) logo at a ticketing booth at Changi airport...

Stock Markets2 hours ago

Guatemalan congress approves $500 million loan from World Bank

© Reuters. GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala’s congress approved on Wednesday a $500 million loan from the World Bank that...

Cryptocurrency2 hours ago

‘Grim Reapers’ financial crimes unit revived to investigate Terra collapse

‘Grim Reapers’ financial crimes unit revived to investigate Terra collapse Legal troubles are mounting for the co-founder of failed Terra...

Coronavirus2 hours ago

Biden visits Japan, South Korea carrying warning to China

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a virtual meeting with the U.S. President Joe Biden at...

Cryptocurrency2 hours ago

$3B flows to Metaverse and Web3 gaming this month as A16z’s tips in $600M

$3B flows to Metaverse and Web3 gaming this month as A16z’s tips in $600M Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)...

Cryptocurrency2 hours ago

Novogratz says LUNA tattoo is a constant reminder investing ‘requires humility’

Novogratz says LUNA tattoo is a constant reminder investing ‘requires humility’ Mike Novogratz, the billionaire founder of crypto asset management...

World2 hours ago

More work to resume in Shanghai’s zero-COVID areas from June

2/2 © Reuters. Women carry boxes of food on a street during lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in...

World3 hours ago

U.S. Senate confirms Biden nominee to be Ukraine ambassador

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bridget Brink, nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testifies at her Senate Foreign Relations Committee...

Trending