High Alert: NATO Sends Troops, Warplanes East to Counter Russian Threat

Several NATO member states are sending troops and hardware to allies in Eastern Europe as tensions with Russia escalate. The United States has put several thousand troops on alert. Moscow has over 100,000 troops amassed on the Ukraine border, and the West fears an imminent Russian invasion, which the Kremlin denies. Henry Ridgwell looks at what NATO’s military response means.   Camera: Henry Ridgwell …

High Alert: NATO Sends Troops, Warplanes East to Counter Russian Threat 

NATO member states are sending thousands of troops, warplanes and ships to allies in eastern Europe as tensions with Russia escalate over Moscow’s deployment of more than 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine. The West fears an imminent Russian invasion, which the Kremlin denies. Four Danish F-16 fighter jets landed in Lithuania last week to bolster NATO’s air policing mission in the Baltic. Since Russia’s 2014 forceful annexation of Crimea, NATO has deployed between 4,000 and 5,000 troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in what the alliance terms an “enhanced forward presence.” US troops  The United States has put 8,500 troops on standby. “I’ll be moving U.S. troops to eastern Europe and NATO countries in the near term,” U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters Friday.  The U.S. already …

Mali Orders Expulsion of French Ambassador

Mali said it is expelling the French ambassador because of “hostile and outrageous” comments by former colonial power France about Mali’s transitional government. A statement read on national television Monday said French Ambassador Joel Meyer has been given 72 hours to leave the country.  “This measure follows the hostile and outrageous comments made recently by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the recurrence of such comments by the French authorities with regard to the Malian authorities, despite repeated protests,” the statement said.  French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said last week that Mali’s junta was “illegitimate and takes irresponsible measures.” He also described the junta as “out of control.”  The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday that it would recall Meyer from Mali.  Relations between …

UK’s Johnson Apologizes Following Release of ‘Partygate’ Report

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologized before Parliament Monday following the release of a report concluding that parties held at the prime minister’s official residence during the country’s COVID-19 lockdown represented “serious failures” to observe the standards set by the government. The report, conducted by senior civil servant Sue Gray, examined a series of gatherings that had been held at No. 10 Downing St. in 2020 and 2021 when much of Britain was under strict pandemic restrictions. “The gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of government, but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time,” Gray said in the report. She also made note of “excessive consumption of alcohol” at …

Biden, Qatari Leader Discussing Energy Supply to Europe

U.S. President Joe Biden and Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani are meeting at the White House on Monday, with discussions about Qatar supplying natural gas to Europe in the event of a Russian attack on Ukraine at the forefront of their talks.  The emir is the first Persian Gulf leader to meet with Biden in Washington during his year-old presidency.  The meeting’s timing is not coincidental, as the U.S. and Western allies worry that if they impose severe economic sanctions on Moscow in the event it invades its former Soviet republic, Russian President Vladimir Putin could retaliate by cutting off energy supplies to Western European countries. Russia supplies about a third of Western Europe’s energy needs. Qatar, a country of about 2.9 million people, is the world’s second …

Britain Promises to Target Assets of ‘Putin’s Oligarchs’ 

President Joe Biden and other Western leaders have repeatedly warned they will impose swift and punitive economic sanctions against Moscow in the event Vladimir Putin orders an invasion of Ukraine. British ministers announced Sunday they plan new legislation to make it easier to impose sanctions on “Putin’s oligarchs” and Russian officials who have investments and assets in Britain. Russians have invested about an estimated $2 billion in the London property market alone, according to Transparency International, an anti-corruption lobbying and research organization in Berlin. And the House of Commons’ own research library noted in a report last year: “For some time the UK has been accused of being a hub for dirty money — especially London’s prime property market.” The British move is in response to frustration in Washington, where …

Turkey Orders TV Programs to Protect Family Values

Turkey’s president has ordered that steps be taken against media like TV programs that are deemed contrary to Turkey’s “fundamental values.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a circular posted Saturday on the Official Gazette, said the decision aims to eliminate the harmful effects of television programs with foreign content that have been adapted in Turkey and to protect Turkish culture. All precautions would be taken against productions that negatively affect the family, children and youth, through Turkish laws and the constitution. Children and youth will be protected from “messages conveyed through certain symbols,” the decision stated, without elaborating. Turkey’s media watchdog, the Supreme Council of Radio and Television, already has wide-ranging powers, and can fine media or order temporary blackouts for television channels that are mostly critical of the …

Holocaust-Era Letters Prompt Writer to Dive Into Family’s History

Eleanor Reissa’s mother and father survived the Nazi Holocaust in Europe during the 1940’s. After the war but before they were married, they wrote letters to each other. Those letters led Eleanor on a journey to learn about her parents’ past. The result of that journey was just released in book form. Victoria Kupchinetsky has the story from Cold Spring, New York. Camera – Michael Eckels. …

2 German Police Officers Shot Dead Following Traffic Stop

Police in western Germany report two officers were shot and killed Monday during a pre-dawn traffic stop. Rhineland-Palatinate district police spokesman Bernhard Christian Erfort said the two officers reported via radio they were carrying out a traffic stop at 4:20 a.m. local time between Ulmet and Mayweilerhof in the west central Kusel district. A short time later, they reported in again, saying that shots were being fired, and the radio connection was lost.   The spokesman said officers were dispatched to the scene where they found the officers – a 24-year-old female and 29-year-old male – had been shot. One of the officers was still alive when the second team arrived but died shortly thereafter at the scene.    The police spokesman said they believe more than one suspect was …

Ukraine: What We Know   

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine:        The U.S. plans to confront Russia over its actions along Ukraine’s border at a Monday meeting of the United Nations Security Council.     NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday the Western military alliance has no intention of sending troops to Ukraine if Russia invades its former Soviet republic.     Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told the “Fox News Sunday” show that a Russian invasion “could happen, really, at any time.”   The West is demanding that Russia pull its troops and weapons from the Ukraine border, while Moscow is pushing for NATO to curtail its operations in Eastern and Central Europe. Russia also insists the Western defensive alliance reject Ukraine’s membership bid, a move the United States calls a “non-starter.”    * According to U.S. and Ukrainian estimates, Russia …

UN Security Council to Discuss Russia-Ukraine Crisis

The United Nations Security Council is due to discuss the crisis along the Russia-Ukraine border Monday in a session the United States called to address Russia’s deployment of more than 100,000 soldiers in the region and “other destabilizing acts aimed at Ukraine.”  The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on ABC’s “This Week” show Sunday that the council will press Russia to justify its massing of troops. “Our voices are unified in calling for the Russians to explain themselves,” she said.   Russia has dismissed the U.S. move, with its Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy calling the session a public relations “stunt.”  Russia is one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and can use its veto power to block any punitive action by the council …

Macron Tells Iran’s Raisi Nuclear Talks Need to Speed Up

French President Emmanuel Macron has told his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi that a deal lifting sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear activities is still possible but talks need to accelerate, Macron’s office said on Sunday. France, Germany and Britain, known as the E3, and the United States are trying to save the 2015 Vienna agreement with Iran, but Western diplomats have said negotiations, which have been in their eighth round since Dec. 27, were moving too slowly. Iran has rejected any deadline imposed by Western powers. “The President of the Republic reiterated his conviction that a diplomatic solution is possible and imperative, and stressed that any agreement will require clear and sufficient commitments from all the parties,” the Elysee palace said in a statement after a …

Manchester United’s Greenwood Held on Suspicion of Rape, Assault

Manchester United player Mason Greenwood was arrested on suspicion of rape and assault on Sunday after a woman posted visual and audio allegations on social media of an incident. United said the 20-year-old forward “will not return to training or play matches until further notice.” The police did not name Greenwood but the statement about the investigation was provided after inquiries about the footballer. “Greater Manchester Police were made aware earlier today of online social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence,” the force said in a statement. “An investigation was launched and following enquiries we can confirm a man in his 20s has since been arrested on suspicion of rape and assault.   “He remains in custody for questioning. Enquiries are ongoing.”   …

Portuguese Vote in Election Marked by COVID, Uncertainty

Portuguese voters went to the polls Sunday in a parliamentary election with no clear winner in sight and uncertainty increased by potentially low turnout amid record coronavirus infections. Polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0800 GMT). At the University of Lisbon, staff outnumbered mostly elderly voters, with signs on the walls asking people to wear a mask, observe social distancing and to use their own pen. Some even wore gloves for extra protection. “I have been vaccinated, and I haven’t had COVID yet … But I felt very safe,” said Maria Odete, 73, adding that the election race appeared too close to produce a stable government capable of bringing positive change. The government has allowed those infected to leave isolation and cast ballots in person, recommending that they do so …

‘No justice’: N. Ireland Marks ‘Bloody Sunday’ Amid Brexit Backdrop

The Northern Irish city of Londonderry began commemorations Sunday of one of the darkest days in modern UK history when, 50 years ago, British troops without provocation killed 13 unarmed civil rights protesters.  The anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” comes with Northern Ireland’s fragile peace destabilized by Brexit, and with families of the victims despondent over whether the soldiers involved will ever face trial.  Charlie Nash saw his 19-year-old cousin William Nash killed as members of the British Parachute Regiment fired more than 100 high-velocity rounds on January 30, 1972, at the demonstrators in Londonderry, known as Derry to pro-Irish nationalists.  “We thought there might be rioting, but nothing, nothing like what happened. We thought at first they were rubber bullets,” Nash, now 73, told AFP.  “But then we saw Hugh …

NATO Chief: No plans to Send Combat Troops to Ukraine if Russia Invades 

NATO has no plans to deploy combat troops to non-NATO member Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday.  Asked on BBC Television whether he would rule out putting NATO troops in Ukraine if Russia does invade, Stoltenberg said: “We have no plans to deploy NATO combat troops to Ukraine … we are focusing on providing support.”  “There is a difference between being a NATO member and being a strong and highly valued partner as Ukraine. There’s no doubt about that.”  …

Britain Considering Major NATO Deployment Amid Ukraine Crisis

Britain is considering making a major NATO deployment as part of a plan to strengthen Europe’s borders in response to Russia massing troops on the border with Ukraine, the government said Saturday. Britain has said that any Russian incursion into Ukraine would be met with swift sanctions and would be devastating for both sides. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to visit the region next week, and also will speak to Vladimir Putin by phone. Johnson is considering the biggest possible offer to members of the NATO defense pact in the Nordics and Baltics, which would double troop numbers and send defensive weapons to Estonia, his office said. “This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin “we will not tolerate their destabilizing activity, and we will always stand …

‘Bloody Sunday’ Still Scars Northern Ireland 50 Years On

Five decades after British soldiers killed 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers on one of the defining days of the Northern Ireland conflict, relatives are still searching for the justice they believe is needed for a scarred society to heal. Family and friends of the 13 Catholics who died in Londonderry on “Bloody Sunday,” Jan. 30, 1972 – and of a 14th who died later of his wounds – gathered this week for a series of commemorations to mark the event that helped fuel three decades of bitter sectarian and political violence. While a judicial inquiry found in 2010 that the victims were innocent and had posed no threat to the military, the commemorations come just months after prosecutors announced that the only British soldier charged with murder will not …