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Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 20:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

US Military Tracking 'Small Balloon' Over Western States

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 19:57
washington — U.S. fighter jets are tracking a balloon traveling at high altitudes over the western United States, but officials said there is no danger to anyone either on the ground or in the air.  The North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, described the object as a "small balloon" being pushed by the wind at an altitude of between 43,000 and 45,000 feet (about 13.72 kilometers).  Fighter jets were sent to intercept the balloon over the state of Utah and "determined it was not maneuverable and did not present a threat to national security," according to a NORAD statement.  NORAD said it will continue to track the balloon and that it is in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration "to ensure flight safety."  As of late Friday, the FAA "also determined the balloon posed no hazard" to passenger jets or other planes in the area, NORAD said.  The U.S. military has been watching the skies in and around the United States more closely following the discovery of a Chinese spy balloon that transited the country in February 2023.  Chinese officials said that balloon was designed to research weather and had "deviated from its planned course." But the Pentagon rejected those assertions, saying the balloon had been designed for surveillance.  The incident heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, and even caused U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a trip to Beijing to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other high-ranking officials.  The U.S. eventually shot down the Chinese balloon off the coast of South Carolina, after it had traveled across much of the continental United States.  Following the incident, the U.S. took steps to improve detection of objects in its airspace.   It also began work to establish an accessible and up-to-date inventory of unmanned, airborne objects, and updated rules and regulations for launching and maintaining unmanned objects. 

Hungary Buys Swedish Jets, Prepares to Approve Sweden's NATO Bid

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 19:17
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The prime ministers of Hungary and Sweden concluded a defense industry agreement Friday that will expand Budapest's fleet of Swedish-built fighter jets, paving the way for Hungary’s likely ratification of Sweden’s long-delayed NATO bid. The meeting in Budapest between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, came after months of heightened tensions between the two countries over Hungary's refusal to give its backing for Sweden to join NATO. Kristersson made the trip to Hungary after repeated invitations to do so by the Hungarian government, something Orban had hinted would be a precondition for his government's endorsement of Sweden's NATO bid. Friday's defense agreement appeared to be a decisive point of reconciliation between the two governments, and Orban has indicated that his party is ready to approve Sweden's bid Monday. In a news conference following their bilateral meeting, Kristersson said Sweden would sell four Swedish-made JAS 39 Gripen jets to Hungary, expanding its current fleet of 14 jets. Sweden will also extend support systems and service provision for the jets. “I strongly welcome this deepened cooperation on advanced fighting capabilities," Kristersson said, adding that the Gripen jets are “a pride of Sweden.” Orban said the additional fighters “will significantly increase our military capabilities and further strengthen our role abroad,” and will expand Hungary's ability to participate in joint NATO operations. The agreement paved the way for Hungary's likely ratification of Sweden's NATO bid Monday, when a vote on the matter is scheduled in parliament. Unanimous support among all NATO members is required to admit new countries, and Hungary is the last of the alliance's 31 members that has still not given its backing. During Hungary's more than 18 months of delays in scheduling a vote, Orban had said his government was in favor of bringing Sweden into NATO, but that lawmakers in his governing Fidesz party were unconvinced — offended by “blatant lies” from some Swedish politicians that he said had cast doubt on Hungary's democratic credentials. Hungary's allies in NATO and the European Union had put increasing pressure on Budapest to drop its opposition to Sweden's membership. Last weekend, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators visited Hungary and announced they would submit a joint resolution to Congress condemning alleged democratic backsliding and urging Orban's government to immediately lift its block on Sweden’s trans-Atlantic integration. Orban’s critics in the EU have alleged that he has stalled on Sweden’s NATO bid to extract concessions from the bloc, which has frozen billions in funding to Hungary over alleged breaches of rule-of-law and democracy standards. The EU has demanded that Budapest take steps to safeguard judicial independence and human rights and tackle corruption. Hungary’s government has railed against Swedish officials who supported freezing the funds and blamed them for a breakdown in trust between the two countries. On Friday, Orban said that while Hungary and Sweden don't agree on all issues, building trust was essential to his country's support for Sweden's admission to the alliance. “To be a member of NATO together with another country means we are ready to die for each other,” he said. “A deal on defense and military capacities helps to reconstruct the trust between the two countries.”

Outlining Postwar Gaza Principles, Netanyahu Continues to Defy Biden

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 19:08
washington — Postwar principles for Gaza outlined in a document Friday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand in stark contrast to Washington's vision for the war-torn territory, a sign of the deepening divide between his government and the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. The document, The Day After Hamas Principles, is the first official summary of Netanyahu's public positions on the war that Israel has waged in Gaza in response to Hamas' October 7 attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel and took more than 200 people hostage. It calls for civil governance by Israeli-appointed individuals in Gaza, bypassing any involvement from the Palestinian Authority and absent provisions for a pathway to Palestinian statehood. Without explicitly stating the role of the Israel Defense Forces, the plan potentially allows vast Israeli control over Gaza, including the establishment of an Israeli-controlled buffer zone along the border with Egypt, a move that would be seen by Palestinians as more occupation of their territory and could inflame tensions with Cairo. Speaking from Buenos Aires, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to specifically address Netanyahu's plan but underscored a core principle in the administration's vision for postwar Gaza. "There should be no Israeli reoccupation of Gaza," he said. "The size of Gaza's territory should not be reduced." The establishment of a buffer zone would in effect require an Israeli invasion of Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah, where most Gazans currently seek safety. "We wouldn't support those kinds of operations unless or until the Israelis had properly accounted for the safety and security of the more than 1 million people that are seeking refuge down there," national security communications adviser John Kirby told VOA during Friday's briefing, reiterating the administration's position on Israel's plans for a ground offensive in Rafah. 'Fundamentally at odds' What Netanyahu has outlined is "fundamentally at odds with what the Biden administration has been urging," said Thomas Warrick, a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council. Warrick said Netanyahu's plan "basically locks in the differences" he has had with President Joe Biden. "There needs to be further efforts to try to bridge this gap, perhaps with a different approach," he told VOA. Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, an American writer and political analyst from Gaza, said that Netanyahu's plan, if enacted, would amount to a permanent Israeli military occupation and create a series of "rump states" or cantons on remnants of Gaza's shrinking territory. Even if enough Palestinians in Gaza agree to take part in such administrations, they lack the means to do so without full Israeli support, he told VOA. "They'll be viewed as collaborators and subcontractors of the Israeli occupation, decimating any credibility or standing among the battered and beaten population and placing their lives and safety at grave risk." Hamas lambasted the proposal during a press conference in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. "Netanyahu is presenting ideas which he knows fully well will never succeed," spokesman Osama Hamdan said on Friday. After holding power for 17 years, Netanyahu faces plummeting popularity amid an angry population that blames him for the security failures that allowed the Hamas attack. His incumbency depends on keeping intact his coalition, the most right-wing and religiously conservative the country has ever seen. "The current plan does not necessarily reflect what the long-term Israeli policy will be, but rather showcases what Netanyahu thinks he needs to do in order to advance a primary goal of his — political survival," said Nimrod Goren, senior fellow for Israeli affairs at the Middle East Institute. Given widespread Israeli desire for new leadership, the eventual postwar plan may well be devised by the next government, he told VOA. Alkhatib said that the Israeli prime minister could also be biding his time until the U.S. presidential elections in November, which could fundamentally shift what's happening in Gaza. The world will see either a second Biden term where the U.S. will apply more pressure on Netanyahu, or a new Trump administration that would give Israel "complete free rein to do as it pleases in the Gaza Strip," Alkhatib predicted. Biden increasingly impatient Biden remains staunchly supportive of Israel, providing military and diplomatic aid. Last week, his administration vetoed an Arab-backed United Nations resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, the third veto since Israel's military offensive began. However, the U.S. submitted its own draft resolution, calling for a temporary cease-fire in Gaza after a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas is secured and opposing Israel's ground offensive into Rafah without adequate civilian protection. The U.S. draft shows Biden's increasing impatience with Netanyahu, said Richard Gowan, U.N. director of the International Crisis Group. "If I were looking at this from Israel's perspective, I would feel a little nervous because the signaling from the Biden administration is becoming marginally stronger," he told VOA. "It will continue to protect Israel at the U.N., but its patience is not limitless." Washington is hoping for a breakthrough in talks underway in Paris between top U.S., Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials aimed at securing a temporary cease-fire in return for the release of hostages held by Hamas. The U.S. is also working to defuse Israel-Hezbollah tensions along the Lebanese border to prevent escalation to a full-fledged war in the region. "The success of these efforts is very much needed and could be assisted by some pause in fighting in Gaza," Goren said. A cease-fire would bring welcome relief to Gaza, where more than 29,000 people have been killed in the bloodiest episode of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 19:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Biden Announces 500 New Sanctions on Russia

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 18:59
U.S. President Joe Biden has announced 500 new sanctions on Russia as the world marks two years since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Biden said the sanctions will target Russia's "war machine," including weapons procurement, and will also target individuals involved in the imprisonment and death of prominent Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny one week ago. VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

With Ukraine Aid in Limbo, Supporters Push for Fallback Options

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 18:35
washington — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have begun laying the groundwork for a potential bid to sidestep Republican Speaker Mike Johnson and force a vote on a $95 billion security assistance package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, House aides said Friday.  Representative Jim McGovern, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, filed legislation on February 15 that could be used as a vehicle for a discharge petition, a rarely used procedural tool that eventually could force a vote on the bill if at least 218 House members — a majority of the chamber's 435 voting members — sign it.  Under House rules, Ukraine backers could begin collecting signatures for the petition around March 1.  Months after Democratic President Joe Biden asked Congress to approve more foreign security assistance, the Senate last week approved the package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and to replenish U.S. weapons stocks by an overwhelming 70-30 vote. Twenty-two Republicans joined most Democrats in voting "aye."  But Johnson, a close ally of former Republican President Donald Trump who voted against assisting Ukraine before he became speaker, sent the House home for a two-week recess without bringing the measure up for a vote, leaving the aid in limbo as the war in Ukraine approached its second anniversary.  Trump, the front-runner to be his party's 2024 presidential nominee, has opposed aid to Kyiv.  Johnson told a party meeting on February 14 that House Republicans would not rubber-stamp the Senate bill. Party leaders are considering writing new bills, amending the Senate legislation or dividing it into separate parts.  House Democrats are also considering another, even rarer process, known as defeating the previous question, in which Ukraine backers could take control of the House floor before certain votes.  The exact number needed is not certain, because it would require only a simple majority of members present and voting.  So far, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries has said only that he is leaving every legislative option on the table. 

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 18:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

X Influencer Misleads Millions on US Domestic Spending Compared With China's

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 17:34
The New York City Subway budget is not dependent on U.S. aid to Ukraine and Israel. Undocumented immigrants in New York City get free emergency and prenatal health care; everything else is conditional.

Iran Denies Providing Ballistic Missiles to Russia

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 17:21
Dubai, united arab emirates — Iran denied on Friday that it had provided ballistic missiles to Russia, after the United States said there would be a severe international response to any such move. Earlier this week Reuters, citing six sources, reported that Iran had provided Russia with many powerful surface-to-surface ballistic weapons, deepening military cooperation between the two U.S.-sanctioned nations. The Biden administration warned Iran on Thursday of a "swift and severe" response from the international community if the Islamic Republic had provided ballistic missiles to Russia. "Despite no legal restrictions on ballistic missile sales, Iran is morally obligated to refrain from weapon transactions during the Russia-Ukraine conflict to prevent fueling the war," Iran's mission to the United Nations said on the X social media platform. "[That] is rooted in Iran's adherence to international law and the U.N. Charter," it added. U.N. Security Council restrictions on Iran's export of some missiles, drones and other technologies expired in October. However, the United States and the European Union retained sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program amid concerns over exports of weapons to its proxies in the Middle East and to Russia. Iran initially denied supplying drones to Russia but months later said it had provided a small number before Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

Chinese Companies Hit by US, EU Sanctions on Russia

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 17:07
London — U.S. and European Union sanctions announced Friday on hundreds of people and companies for supporting Russia's war in Ukraine included several companies from China. While most sanctions were against Russians and Russian firms, the U.S. and EU measures also included Chinese individuals and companies based in mainland China cities as well as Hong Kong for supplying the Russian military. The U.S. sanctions also targeted individuals and firms based in Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, while the EU also targeted individuals and entities based in India, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Turkey. They also included sanctions against Russian prison officials over the suspicious death last week in a Russian prison of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Russia’s foreign ministry denounced the sanctions as “illegal” and said it would respond by banning some EU citizens who provided military assistance to Ukraine from entering Russia. Chinese officials did not issue an immediate response to the sanctions. But, at a regular briefing Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning commented on the expected sanctions saying China follows an “objective and impartial position on the Ukraine crisis” and has “worked actively to promote peace talks.” She said they “have not sat idly by, still less exploited the situation for selfish gains.” Ukrainian officials and media reports have accused Chinese companies of supplying key electronics and dual-use technologies, including drone components, to Russia’s military since its invasion of Ukraine two years ago, which Beijing has denied. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday preempted Friday’s official announcement on social media, saying, "I welcome the agreement on our 13th sanctions package against Russia. We must keep degrading Putin's war machine. With 2000 listings in total, we keep the pressure high on the Kremlin. We are also further cutting Russia's access to drones." The sanctioned individuals and companies are banned from doing business with U.S. or European firms. But legal and political analysts disagree on the effectiveness of the sanctions. Lawyer Mark Handley, a partner at the Philadelphia-headquartered law firm Duane Morris LLP, said being sanctioned will certainly affect their international business. “Things like international insurance companies or shipping could get very complicated once they are on the sanctions list." However, Pieter Cleppe, editor-in-chief for BrusselsReport.eu, told VOA, "Historical research has shown that sanctions mostly fail, especially when prolonged, as is the case with Russia. The targeted country learns to cope with them.” He said, “While sanctions may impoverish ordinary Russians, they have failed to halt the Russian offensive, which should be the goal." The Yermak-McFaul International Working Group on Russian Sanctions and the Ukrainian think tank KSE Institute in January published a report showing sanctioned technology has still been reaching Russia’s military through third country intermediaries, which the EU and the U.S. hope the fresh measures will stop. Despite the historic sanctions, Russia’s economy has been resilient as it shifted from European trade to doing more business and selling more oil to Moscow-friendly nations such as India, Brazil and China. Junhua Zhang, senior assistant researcher at the Brussels-based European Institute for Asian Studies, said the EU's highest expectation “is for China to align with the EU in resisting Russia's aggression, which is unrealistic. The EU's minimum expectation is for Chinese companies not to work for Russia, but strictly speaking, only fools would have such an expectation.” “Just consider, [Chinese President] Xi Jinping sees Putin as his best friend, and those below him will act accordingly, a point that Europeans also recognize." Others argue that sanctions on Chinese firms could push Beijing to reconsider. Aliona Hlivco, a former Ukrainian lawmaker and managing director at the London-based think tank the Henry Jackson Society, said sanctions against Chinese companies could prove useful in deterring Russia's war on Ukraine. "China is currently attempting to improve relations with the West, so reinforcing China's compliance with international norms could be opportune." The EU is China's second-largest trading bloc partner after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. China Customs says China-EU bilateral trade value was $783 billion in 2023, a year-on-year decrease of 7.6%. In the same year, while Russia lost most of its European market due to sanctions, the bilateral trade between China and Russia hit a record high of $240 billion, a year-on-year increase of 26.3%.  Trade between the U.S. and China in 2023 fell for the first time since 2019, by 11% to $664 billion, according to customs data, and the Commerce Department says the United States imported more goods from Mexico than China for the first time in 20 years.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 17:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

X Remains Restricted in Pakistan a Week After Suspension

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 16:47
Islamabad — Access to social media platform X, formerly Twitter, remained restricted in Pakistan late Friday, a week after services were suspended following a high-level official’s declaration that he was involved in election rigging. Netblocks, a cybersecurity watchdog, recorded the seventh day of service suspension. The platform was accessible intermittently during the week. Since the beginning of the year, Pakistan’s nearly 128 million internet users have experienced service interruptions five times, according to Lithuania-based internet shutdown tracker Surfshark. The tracker recorded four restrictions last year and three in 2022. “Pakistan’s internet censorship efforts have been alarmingly increasing, and 2024 may be a record year for the country regarding internet restrictions,” the statement said, quoting Surfshark spokeswoman Lina Survila. Two of 2024’s five restrictions, targeting several major social media platforms like YouTube, X, Facebook and Instagram, came in January. The disruptions occurred as the PTI party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, facing a state-backed crackdown, started online election events. The other three restrictions were put in place as Pakistan held elections on February 8. Pakistan shut down mobile internet services across the country on Election Day and for several hours beyond. Authorities defended the highly controversial action as necessary to ensure election security. Suspension of X Facing the longest-running suspension of a social media platform in Pakistan this year, X became inaccessible across much of the country on February 17. This came soon after Liaqat Ali Chatha, the commissioner of the Rawalpindi region, announced he had overseen large-scale election rigging. Pakistan’s elections commission quickly rejected his assertion and the official later walked back his confession in court. Pakistan’s vote was marred by allegations of massive fraud. PTI, which won a plurality of parliament seats but fell well short of a majority, contends that its election mandate was stolen. Most other parties have also protested the results. The caretaker government has rejected calls by the United States, United Kingdom and United Nations to probe reported election irregularities. A pattern of restrictions Freedom House, a global civil liberties observer, ranks Pakistan as “not free” in terms of internet freedom. While X has only a few million users in Pakistan, the base is seen as politically active. The power to censor or control free expression always lay with governments until about 10 years ago, said Saroop Ejaz, senior counsel in the Asia Division at  Human Rights Watch. “I think we are looking at an amplified version of that [public debate]. Twitter [now X] is an amplified version of that … it seems those in power are troubled by this.” Many are skirting the restriction through virtual private networks that allow users to hide their identities and locations online. “In this day and age, the concept of blocking something is almost gone, because there are VPNs and other platforms that allow users to access content. Restriction just becomes a source of embarrassment. ... It creates a very negative image of Pakistan around the world,” said Asad Baig, founder of Islamabad-based  watchdog Media Matters for Democracy. Expressing concern about restrictions on freedom of expression, U.S. State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller called on Pakistan on Wednesday to restore access to any restricted social media. The provincial court in Pakistan's Sindh province also ordered the government to restore access to X, during a hearing on the Election Day internet outage. Surfshark, which also is a VPN provider, said that since February 18, new users of its circumvention services in Pakistan have increased up to four times compared with last month. Investigating online speech So far this year, Pakistani authorities have twice set up investigation teams to probe online speech. A joint investigation team, or JIT, that was formed this week, comprising intelligence officials among others, will probe the ”malicious social media campaign attempting to malign the image of civil servants/government officials in connection with Elections 2024,” according to a government notice. Speaking at a press briefing Thursday, Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said freedom of expression has limits. The constitution “does not allow making insulting remarks against judiciary, military and brother countries,” he said, adding that those inciting illegal activities will be dealt with according to the country’s law. Authorities arrested prominent Pakistani commentator Imran Riaz Khan late Thursday. Police sources told VOA's Urdu Service that Khan was arrested for spreading religious hate. He was later charged with corruption.  In the run-up to the elections, authorities formed a JIT in January to probe a “malicious campaign” against top judiciary on social media. The Federal Investigation Agency sent notices to more than 100 journalists, commentators, politicians and activists accused of “spreading defamatory and false information against state institutions” and called them in for questioning. The Supreme Court later stopped authorities from taking any action. Naveed Nasim and Zia Ur Rehman from VOA's Urdu Service contributed to this report.

Ukrainian Soccer Star Joins Armed Forces as Soldier, Paramedic 

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 16:34
Once a defender on the soccer field, Ukrainian athlete Vladyslav Vashchuk now defends his country. Vashchuk joined the National Guard of Ukraine in May 2022. Since then, he has worked as a soldier and paramedic. Anna Kosstutschenko reports.

Ukraine Looks to Rally Support at UN, Two Years Into Russia’s Invasion

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 16:13
United Nations — Ukraine’s foreign minister sought to rally international support Friday at the United Nations, two years after Russia launched a full-scale invasion and war with his country and as the world is distracted by other crises and conflicts and U.S. military aid is held up in Congress. “Moscow's aim is to destroy Ukraine, and they are quite outspoken about it,” Dmytro Kuleba told a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly to mark the somber anniversary that drew ministers from many nations. But he was eager to let the world know Ukraine wants peace. “No nation in the world wants peace more than Ukraine; our country suffers the most,” he said. “But we also know that peace must be just, be just and durable. Simply putting the war on hold and hoping that the aggressor will be merciful enough to eventually choose peace is not a realistic plan.” He said Ukraine wants to use President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace formula as a roadmap out of the conflict and to discuss it with the international community at a peace summit they are planning to hold in Switzerland. The plan, put forward in December 2022, calls for among other things, the withdrawal of Russian troops and an end to the fighting, nuclear security, the release of all prisoners and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Later he told reporters that two years ago, many experts and diplomats did not think Ukraine would survive Russia’s full-scale invasion and today those same people do not believe Ukraine can win the war. “Ukraine survived the invasion, and Ukraine will win the war,” he said. “If we act collectively and jointly, this will happen sooner rather than later.” Russia’s U.N. envoy repeated Kremlin claims that it was not responsible for the war and that it was simply protecting Russian-speaking populations who were discriminated against by Kyiv. “Russia did not start this war; it came to put an end to it,” Vassily Nebenzia said. “All the Kyiv authorities had to do was respect people’s rights, let them live in peace on their own territory, study in their own language, enjoy freedom of religion and freedom of thought.” He said the goals of Russia’s “special military operation” — what the Kremlin calls its invasion — would be met, and they were not against doing this through negotiations. But he dismissed Zelenskyy’s peace formula as an “ultimatum to Russia” and said countries should not waste their time with it.   “Unbreakable spirit” European countries and the United States expressed their continuing solidarity with Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield praised the “unbreakable spirit” of the Ukrainian people and said it should be an example for all people. “Ordinary, extraordinary people, vastly outnumbered, fiercely defending their communities,” she said. “Teachers transforming bunkers into classrooms. City workers finding ways to restore heat and electricity after bombardments. Families rationing food to feed their neighbors.” She said the world must speak in a unified voice to demand Russia end the war. “That means calling for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and uphold the basic principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Thomas-Greenfield said. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown his appetite for taking the territory of others — South Ossetia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014 — and unstopped, he came back for more in 2022. “Now, having tried and failed to conquer all of Ukraine, the lesson of this history is clear, if we do not stand up to Putin, he will be back for more,” Cameron said. He said he understands some in the international community are tired of the conflict and a compromise might be appealing. “But this is wrong,” Cameron said. “We must recognize the cost of giving up.” Luxembourg’s foreign minister echoed that sentiment, telling reporters that if Ukraine is abandoned, it would not be the end of Russia’s aggression. “Believe me, we don’t know who will be next,” Xavier Bettel said. He cautioned that Ukraine is in a weaker position now than earlier in the conflict, and that Russia would not negotiate as long as it is in a stronger position. “So, the support for Ukraine is also support for negotiations,” he said. Around 60 countries were expected to speak Friday at the session. The U.N. Security Council is also meeting Friday. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that in the two years since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, that there has been too much suffering and strains on global relations. "Enough," he said. "It is high time for peace — a just peace, based on the United Nations Charter, international law and General Assembly resolutions."

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 23, 2024 - 16:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.