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Russia warns West over risk of conflict with NATO

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, attends a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2022. S

LONDON (Reuters) – One of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned the West on Thursday that the increasing military support given to Ukraine by the United States and its allies risked triggering a conflict between Russia and the NATO military alliance.

Former president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, said such a conflict with NATO always carried the risk of turning into a full blown nuclear war.

Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people, laid waste to swathes of its former Soviet neighbour and raised fears of the gravest confrontation between Russia and the United States since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

“NATO countries pumping weapons into Ukraine, training troops to use Western equipment, sending in mercenaries and the exercises of Alliance countries near our borders increase the likelihood of a direct and open conflict between NATO and Russia,” Medvedev said in a Telegram post.

“Such a conflict always has the risk of turning into a full-fledged nuclear war,” Medvedev said. “This will be a disastrous scenario for everyone.”

Russia and the United States are by far the world’s biggest nuclear powers: Russia has some 6,257 nuclear warheads while NATO’s three nuclear powers – the United States, United Kingdom and France – have about 6,065 warheads combined, according to the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

Putin says the “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary because the United States was using Ukraine to threaten Russia and Moscow had to defend against the persecution of Russian-speaking people.

Putin, who says Ukraine and Russia are essentially one people, casts the war as an inevitable confrontation with the United States, which he accuses of threatening Russia by meddling in its backyard through NATO eastward enlargement.

Ukraine says it is fighting an imperial-style land grab and that Putin’s claims of genocide are nonsense. Kyiv says Putin’s invasion has only strengthened the Ukrainian people’s wish to turn westwards out of Russia’s orbit.

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Trump’s sway faces biggest midterm test in Georgia’s Republican races

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© Reuters. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp waves to the crowd following a rally ahead of the state’s Republican primary, in Kennesaw, Georgia, U.S. May 23, 2022. REUTERS/Alyssa Pointer

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By Alexandra Ulmer

ATLANTA (Reuters) -Donald Trump’s campaign to play kingmaker in this year’s midterm elections faced its biggest test yet in Georgia on Tuesday as Republican voters decide whether to heed his demands to oust Governor Brian Kemp.

Trump has backed former U.S. Senator David Perdue’s primary challenge against Kemp, who angered the former president by refusing to try to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.

While opinion polls show Kemp holding a wide lead over Perdue, another Trump-endorsed candidate, former football star Herschel Walker, is favored to snag the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate — though some party leaders are worried he could prove to be a flawed general election candidate.

Trump’s obsession over his loss in Georgia to Democrat Joe Biden has extended to other Republican statewide races, including for secretary of state, the state’s top election official.

Incumbent Brad Raffensperger, who rejected Trump’s plea to “find” enough votes to alter the outcome, faces U.S. Representative Jody Hice, who earned Trump’s endorsement and has echoed his fraud claims, in a race that polls suggest is tight.

Trump has made more than 190 endorsements since leaving office, mostly for incumbent Republicans who face no serious primary opposition.

He has amassed a mixed record in competitive contests; most recently, his nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, the television host Dr. Mehmet Oz, is in a race still too close to call a week after voting.

Republicans are favored to win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 8, though analysts say Democrats have a better chance of holding onto control of the Senate.

The loss of either chamber would bring Democratic President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda to a halt and give Republicans the power to launch distracting and potentially politically damaging investigations.

KEMP POISED FOR VICTORY

Opinion polls show Georgia incumbent Kemp well above the 50% threshold required to win the nomination outright and avoid a run-off against Perdue, who has repeated Trump’s falsehoods about losing Georgia due to widespread voter fraud.

In a radio interview on Monday, Perdue criticized Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is expected to face off against Kemp in a rematch of the 2018 election, after she decried Georgia’s high incarceration and maternal mortality rates.

“She ain’t from here. Let her go back where she came from if she doesn’t like it here,” he said. Abrams, who is Black, was born in Wisconsin and moved to Georgia with her family as a child.

Kemp’s surging campaign has drawn support from some high-profile Republicans who have themselves been targets for Trump’s ire, including Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence.

“Elections are about the future. There are those who want to make this election about the past,” Pence said at an election-eve rally for Kemp in Kennesaw on Monday night.

Echoing other Kemp supporters, retired tech sales executive Brian Seifried, 52, said in an interview in Atlanta that he liked Kemp’s pro-business policies, his hard line on immigration and his move to enact a sweeping set of voting restrictions after the 2020 election.

“President Trump’s endorsement did not have any sway over what I think is best for Georgia,” Seifried said.

Four other states – Alabama, Texas, Arkansas and Minnesota – were also holding primary elections on Tuesday.

In Alabama, U.S. Representative Mo Brooks, who lost Trump’s endorsement after saying it was time to move on from the 2020 election, is among those battling for a Senate seat. Trump-era White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders is favored to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Arkansas.

In Texas, a Democrat-on-Democrat congressional runoff election pits Henry Cuellar, the only House Democrat who opposes abortion rights, against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.

Herschel Walker, a former star running back at the University of Georgia and in the National Football League, has held a comfortable lead in opinion polls and would face incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in November.

FACTBOX-Seven races to watch in Georgia, Alabama midterm primaries, Texas run-offsFACTBOX-Power of Trump’s endorsements faces test in 12 U.S. midterm primariesTexas AG Paxton squares off against Bush in Republican run-off

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Tedros re-elected as head of World Health Organization

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addresses the 75th World Health Assembly at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, May 22, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) -The World Health Organization’s (WHO) members re-elected Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as Director General by a strong majority for another five years, the president of the World Health Assembly said on Tuesday.

The vote by secret ballot, announced by Ahmed Robleh Abdilleh from Djibouti at a major annual meeting, was seen as a formality since Tedros was the only candidate running.

Ministers and delegates took turns to shake hands and hug Tedros, a former health minister from Ethiopia, who has steered the UN agency through a turbulent period dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The president had to use a gavel several times to interrupt the applause.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach tweeted on Tuesday: “Just re-elected as ⁦Director General of #WHO: @DrTedros⁩. 155/160 votes, spectacular result. Congratulations, fully deserved. Germany recently overtook the United States as the UN health agency’s top donor.

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U.S. Senate candidate sues over mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania midterms primary

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Republican Party U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick speaks to reporters after voting in the primary election at a polling station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Quinn Glabicki/File Photo

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(Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick (NYSE:MKC) has filed a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania court to compel counties to count undated mail-in ballots in his primary race against TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, whom he trails by less than 1,000 votes.

The race between McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, and Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, for the Republican party nomination is close enough to trigger an automatic recount under Pennsylvania state law.

While McCormick is slightly behind Oz after the May 17 vote, he is well ahead of his opponent in absentee ballots, according to polling firm Edison Research. McCormick has received 45,794 mail-in votes, compared with Oz, who has 32,944.

In a statement, McCormick’s campaign said it sued on Monday in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court “to compel the counties to follow the Republican-leaning (Third Circuit Court) order from last week stating that undated ballots returned on time be counted.”

The statement added that the ballots “are postmarked upon arrival to county boards of elections and, therefore, already dated and proven to be timely.”

It was not clear how many mail-in ballots lack a handwritten date, and whether counting them could help McCormick or make a recount less likely. State election officials expect to know this week whether a recount will be needed.

Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which oversees elections, said it agreed that undated ballots must be counted in the May 17 race, but advised they be “segregated” and “appropriately logged pending litigation.”

“A determination on whether the segregated tabulations will be used in certifying elections has not yet been made, given the ongoing litigation,” it said.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) that they “absolutely object to the counting of mail-in ballots. Pennsylvania law and our courts have been very clear that undated ballots are not to be counted.”

In a statement on Twitter, Oz called McCormick’s lawsuit “a tactic that could have long-term harmful consequences for elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

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