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US accuses North Korea of ​​trying to hide weapons supplies to Russia

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According to recently released information, the United States accuses North Korea of ​​secretly supplying artillery materials to Russia for the war with Ukraine, hiding the place of their transportation.

U.S. officials believe North Korea’s clandestine shipments, along with drones and other weapons Russia has acquired from Iran, are further evidence that even Moscow’s conventional artillery arsenals have dwindled in eight months of fighting. US intelligence claims that North Korea is trying to hide the shipments, implying that the munitions are sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa.

This latest information comes about two months after US intelligence said Russia was buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use on the battlefield, as reported by CNN and other media at the time.

“In September, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) publicly denied that it intended to supply munitions to Russia,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said in a statement to CNN. “However, our information indicates that the DPRK is secretly supplying a significant number of artillery pieces for the Russian war in Ukraine, while the true destination of the arms shipments is kept silent, giving the impression that they are destined for the countries of the Middle East or North Africa. “.

The authorities did not provide evidence to support the new allegations. The information released also did not include details on the number of weapons in the shipments or how they would be paid for.

“We will continue to monitor the situation to see if these supplies are coming in,” Kirby said, noting that Russia continues to turn to players such as North Korea and Iran to continue its war of aggression in Ukraine “amid supply shortages and restrictions.” effectiveness of international sanctions”.

Efforts are ongoing to resupply Russian artillery.

However, US government officials have publicly cited the alleged agreement as evidence that Russia is running out of weapons to continue the war.

Just two weeks ago, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haynes said that “export controls are forcing Russia to turn to countries like Iran and North Korea for supplies, including UAVs, artillery and missiles.”

Kirby said on Wednesday that support from Iran and North Korea “will not change the course of the war” as the US remains committed to providing ongoing security assistance to Ukraine.

But now the supplies could help Russia support an important part of its war effort: harrowing artillery battles on the front lines.

“This could be a significant development because one of the challenges for Russia was keeping artillery in action,” explained Michael Kofman, director of the Russian Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analysis, stressing that he knows nothing about basic intelligence. The Russian army has probably used up millions of rounds of ammunition by now.”

Russia “made up for a labor shortage with much higher fire production,” Kofman said, a strategy he said was “probably too costly to supply ammunition” and left Russia behind. artillery of Soviet caliber compatible with their systems to endure the war.

In the weeks before this new information became known, some military and intelligence officials began to believe that North Korea was abandoning its arms deal with Russia, several US government sources told CNN.

Some organizations have begun to believe in the victory of the Biden administration’s strategy of selectively disclosing and divulging some sensitive information about Russia’s continuation of the war, believing that when the United States made the agreement public, it drew unwanted attention to a deal that Pyongyang did not make. I want publicity.

But now US officials say that while North Korea denies it, they believe the disloyal regime has moved forward with Moscow’s backing as the war appears to be in its second year.

US officials have publicly said that Russia was forced to turn to North Korea and Iran for arms because it burned its stockpiles in a conflict that lasted many more months than anticipated, and because American and Western exports made the task more difficult. so that Russia can acquire the technological components it needs to rebuild its stocks on its own.

US officials said they would work to identify and counter shipments to Russia from Iran and North Korea, as well as networks that allow such shipments, but did not specify how they intend to do so.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that the US military has “intercepted” arms shipments in the past, but did not provide further information on whether arms bans to Russia are being considered this year.

“They are hungry for ammunition, wherever it comes from”

Recent reports that Russia is acquiring artillery munitions from North Korea suggest that the shortage is more serious than just better munitions and precision-guided munitions, which US and Western officials have already realized are a bottleneck in the Russian arsenal. This also applies to basic artillery.

“The Russians, by many estimates, are really running low on some of the elements they need to continue the war against Ukraine,” Price said Tuesday, pointing to export controls and sanctions that have deprived Russia of the funds to produce certain products. weapon.

The actual state of Russia’s stockpile of conventional ammunition is not publicly known, but Russia “burns tens of thousands of munitions a day,” said Adam Mount, director of the Defense System Project at the Federation of American Scientists, an expert on North Korea. . “They’re hungry for ammunition, wherever it comes from.”

During the summer, Russia managed to advance in parts of Ukraine through a punitive artillery campaign. But since then, Western-supplied artillery has fueled a successful counteroffensive by Ukraine, which has reclaimed large swaths of territory previously held by Russia.

North Korea is likely to be able to supply Russia with 122mm or 152mm artillery shells, as well as tube or multiple rocket launchers compatible with Russian systems, said Bruce Klingner, a former Korean CIA analyst who now works for Heritage. Foundation.

But it is not yet clear what impact North Korean artillery shells will have on Russia on the battlefield.

In 2010, North Korea fired 170 122mm rounds at the South Korean island of Yongpyeong. Less than half hit the island, and of those that did, about a quarter did not explode – a high failure rate that “suggests that some DPRK-made artillery ammunition, especially round ones (several rocket launchers), suffer from poor quality during production, or that storage conditions and standards are poor,” says a 2016 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The last time they used these systems, it turned out they were pretty inaccurate,” Mount said. “One would expect these Soviet-era systems to age and therefore begin to break down.”

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Villarrica already has a large lava lake and high seismic activity.

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The Villarrica volcano in La Araucanía, Chile, one of the largest in the world, showed signs of an impending eruption last Thursday, and experts recorded a “greater intensity and height of incandescence” that ranged from 80 to 220 meters above sea level. its crater – a few days ago we managed to fly over the volcano and a large lava lake was recorded, the temperature of which reached 1043 degrees. High seismic activity has also been noted. Chile’s National Geological and Mining Service (Sernageomin) has already issued a yellow alert.

In any case, the experts of the Chilean government spoke in detail about the possibility of an eruption. According to Sernageomina, “small explosions are expected inside the crater, the impact of which is limited to an area close to the crater of the volcano.”

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Germany: Rise of respiratory infections in infants baffles hospitals – News

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The Association for Intensive Care Medicine (DIVI in German acronym) has indicated that the seasonal rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the shortage of nurses are causing a “catastrophic situation” in hospitals.

RSV is a common and highly contagious virus that affects almost all babies and children under two years of age, and some of them can become seriously ill.

Experts say easing restrictions put in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to more babies and children with RSV, whose immune systems are not ready to fight the virus.

According to the same source, hospital doctors are currently facing very difficult decisions about which sick children to hospitalize due to a lack of available beds.

In some cases, patients with RSV and other serious illnesses are being transferred to hospitals in regions of Germany where there are even fewer resources for intensive care.

The association warned that a recent study identified fewer than a hundred pediatric beds across the country and the situation could get worse.

Sebastian Brenner, head of pediatric intensive care at Dresden University Hospital, told German TV channel N-Tv that the situation could worsen in the coming weeks: “We are seeing this in Switzerland and France,” he added. about the risks of available treatments become even more scarce.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced today that the government will loosen some rules to ease the transfer of nurses and will allocate another 600 million euros to pediatric hospitals over the next two years.

In November, the European Commission approved the world’s first single-dose drug for the treatment of RSV.

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Lavrov accused the US and NATO of direct participation in the conflict

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Lavrov stressed that the increase in Russian missile strikes is aimed at “destroying power plants,” infrastructures that “allow them to continue to send deadly weapons to Ukraine to destroy the Russians.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this Thursday accused the West, especially the United States and NATO, of being directly involved in conflict in Ukraine by providing weapons and training Ukrainian soldiers.

Lavrov stressed that Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian power plants and other key infrastructure, which left millions of people without electricity, heat and water, were aimed at “weakening the military potential” of Ukraine and “making it impossible to send Western weapons.”

“It cannot be said that the US and NATO [Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte] do not participate in this war. They are directly involved in this,” Lavrov told reporters at a video press conference.

“And they not only supply weapons, but also train soldiers. They do it in the UK, Germany, Italy and other countries,” he added.

Lavrov stressed that the increase in Russian missile strikes is aimed at “destroying power plants,” infrastructures that “allow them to continue to send deadly weapons to Ukraine to destroy the Russians.”

“The infrastructure targeted by the attacks is used to ensure the combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and nationalist battalions,” Lavrov said.

Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of attacking vital civilian infrastructure in order to “humiliate morale and force Ukraine to negotiate peace on Russia’s terms.”

Lavrov insisted that Moscow remain open to negotiations to end the conflict.

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“We have never asked for negotiations, but we have always said that we are ready to listen to those who are interested in concluding an agreement,” Lavrov said.

The Kremlin has called on Ukraine to recognize Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, as part of Russia, as well as other gains made since the entry of troops into eastern Ukraine on February 24 this year to combat the “militarization” and “Nazization” of the region.

When asked about the possibility of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the United States Joe Biden, the head of Russian diplomacy replied that Moscow “has always been available” for such a meeting, adding, however, that “no serious thought has yet been voiced.

Lavrov said that US counterpart Anthony Blinken raised the issue of US citizens trapped in Russia in a telephone conversation, but noted that Putin and Biden agreed to set up a separate communication channel to discuss the issue during their meeting in Geneva. in June 2021.

“It works, and I hope that some results will be achieved,” he said.

For months, the Biden administration tried to negotiate the release of North American basketball star Britney Greener and Paul Whelan, a corporate security chief from Michigan, for which it proposed a prisoner exchange format with Moscow.

Commenting on Russia’s decision to postpone a round of talks with the United States on nuclear arms control, scheduled for this week, Lavrov said that “it is impossible to discuss strategic stability today if everything that happens in Ukraine is ignored.”

“The goal has been declared and it is to defeat Russia on the battlefield or even destroy Russia. How can the goal of defeating Russia be irrelevant to strategic stability if they want to destroy a key actor of strategic stability?” Lavrov replied.

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During a press video conference that lasted about two and a half hours, Lavrov also criticized the United States and its NATO allies, accusing them of “trampling international law by trying to isolate and destroy Russia.”

Lavrov concluded by also accusing Washington of encouraging other countries, including India, to cut off relations with Russia.

“These attempts failed,” he concluded.

Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine has already caused the flight of more than 13 million people – more than six million internally displaced people and more than 7.8 million to European countries – according to the latest figures from the UN, which classifies the refugee crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II ( 1939-1945).

The Russian invasion, justified by President Vladimir Putin as the need to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Kyiv and imposing sanctions. Moscow authorities.

Until Wednesday, the UN had presented 6,655 civilian deaths and 10,368 injured civilians as confirmed since the start of the war, emphasizing that these numbers are much lower than the real ones.

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