The German government will not object if Poland decides to send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, Germany's top diplomat said Sunday (January 22, 2023), indicating movement on supplying weapons that Kyiv has described as essential to its ability to fend off an intensified Russian offensive. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told French TV channel LCI that Poland has not formally asked for Berlin's approval to share some of its German-made Leopards but added “if we were asked, we would not stand in the way.” German officials “know how important these tanks are" and “this is why we are discussing this now with our partners,” Baerbock said in interview clips posted by LCI. Ukraine’s supporters pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine during a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday. International defense leaders discussed Ukraine's urgent request for the Leopard 2 tanks, and the failure to work out an agreement overshadowed the new commitments. Read more: Russia claims progress in eastern Ukraine; Kyiv craves tanks Germany is one of the main donors of weapons to Ukraine, and it ordered a review of its Leopard 2 stocks in preparation for a possible green light. Nonetheless, the government in Berlin has shown caution at each step of increasing its military aid to Ukraine, a hesitancy seen as rooted in its history and political culture. Germany’s tentativeness has drawn criticism, particularly from Poland and the Baltic states, countries on NATO’s eastern flank that feel especially threatened by Russia’s renewed aggression. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that if the fellow NATO and European Unio member did not consent to transferring Leopard tanks to Ukraine, his country was prepared to build a “smaller coalition” of countries that would send theirs anyway. “Almost a year had passed since the outbreak of war,” Morawiecki said in an interview with Polish state news agency PAP published Sunday. “Evidence of the Russian army’s war crimes can be seen on television and on YouTube. What more does Germany need to open its eyes and start to act in line with the potential of the German state?” Read more: Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland Previously, some officials in Poland indicated that Finland and Denmark also were ready to send Leopards to Ukraine. Earlier Sunday, the speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, said governments that give more powerful weapons to Ukraine risked causing a “global tragedy that would destroy their countries.” “Supplies of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime would lead to a global catastrophe,” Volodin said. “If Washington and NATO supply weapons that would be used for striking peaceful cities and making attempts to seize our territory as they threaten to do, it would trigger a retaliation with more powerful weapons.” French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, said Sunday that he had asked his defense minister to “work on” the idea of sending some of France's Leclerc battle tanks to Ukraine. Read More: The AP Interview: Envoy says Taiwan learns from Ukraine war Macron spoke during a news conference in Paris with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as France and Germany commemorated the 60th anniversary of their post-World War II friendship treaty. In a joint declaration, the two countries committed to their “unwavering support” for Ukraine. France will make its tank decision based on three criteria, Macron said: that sharing the equipment does not lead to an escalation of the conflict, that it would provide efficient and workable help when training time is taken into account, and that it wouldn’t weaken France’s own military. Scholz did not respond when asked about the Leopard 2 tanks Sunday, but stressed that his country already has made sizable military contributions to Ukraine. “The U.S. is doing a lot, Germany is doing a lot, too," he said. "We have constantly expanded our deliveries with very effective weapons that are already available today. And we have always coordinated all these decisions closely with our important allies and friends.” Read More: German caution on Ukraine arms rooted in political culture In Washington, two leading lawmakers urged the U.S. on Sunday to send some of its Abrams tanks to Ukraine in the interests of overcoming Germany’s reluctance to share its own, more suitable tanks. “If we announced we were giving an Abrams tank, just one, that would unleash” the flow of tanks from Germany, Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told ABC’s “This Week on Sunday.” “What I hear is that Germany’s waiting on us to take the lead.” Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also spoke up for the U.S. sending Abrams. “If it requires our sending some Abrams tanks in order to unlock getting the Leopard tanks from Germany, from Poland, from other allies, I would support that,” Coons said. Read More: Defense leaders meet amid dissent over tanks for Ukraine Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of the Russian Security Council, said Friday's U.S.-led meeting at the air base in Germany “left no doubt that our enemies will try to exhaust or better destroy us,” adding that “they have enough weapons” to achieve the purpose. Medvedev, a former Russian president, warned that “in case of a protracted conflict,” Russia could seek to form a military alliance with "the nations that are fed up with the Americans and a pack of their castrated dogs." Ukraine has argued it needs more weapons as it anticipates Russia's forces launching a new offensive in the spring. Oleksii Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council, warned that Russia may try to intensify its attacks in the south and in the east and to cut supply channels of Western weapons, while conquering Kyiv “remains the main dream” in President Vladimir Putin’s "fantasies,” he said. Read More: Kyiv helicopter crash kills 18, including Ukraine’s interior minister, his two children In a column published by online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda. he described the Kremlin’s goal in the conflict as a “total and absolute genocide, a total war of destruction" Among those calling for more arms for Ukraine was the former British prime minister, Boris Johnson, who made a surprise trip to Ukraine on Sunday. Johnson, who was pictured in the Kyiv region town of Borodyanka, said he traveled to Ukraine at the invitation of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “This is the moment to double down and to give the Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job. The sooner Putin fails, the better for Ukraine and for the whole world,” Johnson said in a statement. The last week was especially tragic for Ukraine even by the standards of a brutal war that has gone on for nearly a year, killing tens of thousands of people, uprooting millions more and creating vast destruction of Ukrainian cities. Read More: Netherlands says it will send Patriot assistance to Ukraine A barrage of Russian missiles struck an apartment complex in the southeastern city of Dnipro on Jan. 14, killing at least 45 civilians. On Wednesday, a government helicopter crashed into a building housing a kindergarten in a suburb of Kyiv. Ukraine's interior minister, other officials and a child on the ground were among the 14 people killed. Zelenskyy vowed Sunday that Ukraine would ultimately prevail in the war. “We are united because we are strong. We are strong because we are united," the Ukrainian leader said in a video address as he marked Ukraine Unity Day, which commemorates when east and west Ukraine were united in 1919. Read More: Ukraine strike deaths hit 40; Russia seen preparing long war
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has imposed ban on carrying all kinds of weapons, explosives, other harmful substances and holding rallies around the Jatiya Sangsad and adjacent areas from Wednesday midnight ahead of the 21th session of the 11th Parliament The 21th session of the 11th Parliament will begin Thursday. DMP imposed the restrictions to ensure undisrupted movement during the parliament session, according to a notification signed by DMP Commissioner Khandker Golam Faruq. Read more: Jamaat men to be brought to justice for attacking police: DMP Commissioner The roads and areas under restrictions are: From Mohakhali crossing on Mymensingh Road to Banglamotor crossing via Old Airport, from Western corner of Banglamotor Link Road to Hotel Sonargaon Road to SAARC Fountain, from the eastern end of Panthapath to Farmgate via Green Road link road, from Shyamoli crossing to junction of Dhanmondi-18 (old-27) road, from Rokeya Sarani link road to old 9th division crossing to Bijoy Sarani Parjatan crossing, from the east end of Indira road to west end of Manik Mia Avenue, the restricted area of the Jatiya Sangsad and all the roads and lanes in the area. The restrictions will be in force until the parliament session ends. Read more: Metro Rail: DMP to provide security till specialised unit is formed
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the “exponential” expansion of his country's nuclear arsenal and the development of a new, more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, state media reported Sunday, after he entered 2023 with another weapons test following a record number of missile firings last year. Kim’s moves are in line with the broad direction of his nuclear weapons development program as he has repeatedly vowed to boost both the quality and quantity of his arsenal. Some experts said Kim will likely continue a provocative run of weapons tests this year before he would ultimately try to use his enlarged arsenal to wrest concessions like sanctions relief in future dealings with his rivals. “They are now keen on isolating and stifling (North Korea), unprecedented in human history,” Kim said at a recently ended ruling party meeting, according to the official Korean Central News Agency. “The prevailing situation calls for making redoubled efforts to overwhelmingly beef up the military muscle to thoroughly guarantee the sovereignty, security and fundamental interests of (the country).” Kim accused South Korea of being “hell-bent on imprudent and dangerous arms build-up” and openly trumpeting its preparations for war with North Korea. That, Kim said, highlights the need to mass-produce battlefield tactical nuclear weapons and calls for “an exponential increase of the country’s nuclear arsenal,” KCNA said. Kim also set forth a task to develop another ICBM system “whose main mission is quick nuclear counterstrike," KCNA said, without elaborating. Read more: North Korea's Kim lays out key goals to boost military power Kim accused the United States of frequently deploying nuclear strike means in South Korea, boosting trilateral military cooperation with South Korea and Japan and pushing to establish a NATO-like regional military bloc. Tactical nuclear weapons and a military reconnaissance satellite are among an array of weapons systems that Kim has vowed to introduce in recent years. Other weapons he wants include a multi-warhead missile, a more agile solid-fueled ICBM, an underwater-launched nuclear missile and a hypersonic weapon. Outside worries about North Korea’s nuclear program have grown since the North last year approved a new law that authorized the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in a broad range of situations and openly threatened to use its nuclear weapons first. During his speech at the party meeting, Kim reiterated that threat. “(Kim's report) made clear that our nuclear force considers it as the first mission to deter war and safeguard peace and stability. However, if it fails to deter, it will carry out the second mission, which will not be for defense,” KCNA said. The North’s increasing nuclear threats have prompted the United States and South Korea to expand their regular exercises and strengthen a trilateral security cooperation involving Japan. The U.S. military has warned any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners “will result in the end of that regime. “It was during his 2018 New Year’s speech that (Kim) first ordered the mass production of warheads and ballistic missiles, and he’s doubling down on that quantitative expansion goal in the coming year,” said Ankit Panda, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Panda said the reference to a new ICBM appears to concern a solid-propellant system. “We should expect to see larger, solid propellant missiles tested soon,” he said. Last month, North Korea said Kim supervised the test of a “high-thrust solid-fuel motor” for a new strategic weapon. Experts say the weapon refers to a solid-fueled ICBM, which can be launched more quickly than a liquid-fueled ICBM because the fuel in solid-propellant rockets is already loaded inside. All of North Korea's previously tested ICBMs use liquid propellants. Read more: Kim claims N. Korean successes, wants to overcome challenges Earlier Sunday, South Korea’s military detected the missile launch from the North’s capital region. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement the missile traveled about 400 kilometers (250 miles) before falling into the water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launch “a grave provocation” that hurts peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and around the world. It said South Korea closely monitors North Korean moves in coordination with the United States and maintains a readiness to overwhelmingly deal with any provocations. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the launch highlights “the destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs. It said U.S. commitments to defend South Korea and Japan “remain ironclad.” North Korea test-fired more than 70 missiles last year. The North’s testing spree indicated the country is likely emboldened by its advancing nuclear program, though whether the country has functioning nuclear missiles remains a source of outside debate. On Saturday, North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters. North Korea’s state media confirmed Sunday that the country conducted the test-firings of its super-large multiple rocket launcher to test the weapon’s capability. KCNA said three shells fired from the launcher on Saturday accurately hit an island target off the country's eastern coast. It said North Korea fired another shell from the launcher toward its eastern waters Sunday. Kim Jong Un said the rocket launcher put all of South Korea within striking distance and is capable of carrying a tactical nuclear warhead, according to KCNA. Outside experts categorize weapons fired from the launcher as ballistic missiles because of their trajectories, ranges and other characteristics. The North’s missile launch for a second straight day came after South Korea on Friday conducted a rocket test related to its plan to establish space-based surveillance to better monitor North Korea. On Friday, South Korea’s military said it test-launched a solid-fueled rocket, a type of a space launch vehicle that it plans to use to put its first spy satellite into orbit in coming years. Animosities between the rival Koreas have deepened since early last week, when South Korea accused North Korea of flying drones across the countries’ heavily fortified border for the first time in five years and sent its own drones toward the North. South Korea acknowledged it failed to shoot down any of the five North Korean drones it said were found south of the border. But South Korea has vowed to bolster its air defense network and get tough on future provocations by North Korea.
Some locally made arms and leaflets of the banned Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir were recovered from one of the locked rooms of Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College on Tuesday. However, no one could be detained in this connection as this room had been locked for a long time. Nazmul Hossain, general secretary of the Awami League’s student front Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) at the college unit, said acting on-a tip off they came to know that Shibir men hoarded local weapons and political leaflets in a room on the third floor of the college hostel. Read more: BCL factional clash leaves eight injured at Chattogram College “Police seized axes, hockey sticks, cricket stumps, some other local arms, leaflets and other books belonging to the Shibir politics, when we along with general students were on to recover these,” he said. “The practice of politics by the Shibir was banned following the murder of Dr Soumitra on the campus, but now they seem to be more active under several banners,” he said. Mohammad Ali Mahmaud, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Model police station, said they recovered the weapons and other instruments after the BCL men found them. Read more: BCL politician's murder: Fugitive accused held in Dhaka He said they would take legal action if the hospital authority files a case in connection with the recovery of arms and other things.
The White House announced Friday that the U.S. is sending an additional $270 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a package that will include additional medium range rocket systems and tactical drones. The latest tranche brings the total U.S. security assistance committed to Ukraine by the Biden administration to $8.2 billion, and is being paid for through $40 billion in economic and security aid f or Ukraine approved. by Congress in May. The new package includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS and will allow Kyiv to acquire up to 580 Phoenix Ghost drones, both crucial weapon systems that have allowed the Ukrainians to stay in the fight despite Russian artillery supremacy, according to John Kirby, the White House National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications. The latest assistance also includes some 36,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and additional ammunition for the HIMARS. “The president has been clear that we’re going to continue to support the government of Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes,” Kirby said. Ukrainian forces have used U.S.-made rocket launchers and tactical drones to destroy dozens of Russian targets and hold at bay Russia’s larger and more heavily equipped forces. Russia can fire far more ammunition but has sustained huge losses of troops and equipment as Ukrainian forces have been equipped with precision weaponry from the U.S. and other Western allies. CIA Director William Burns on Wednesday said the U.S. estimates roughly 15,000 Russian forces have been killed. That death toll would be equivalent to the Soviet Union’s military losses in its 1980s war in Afghanistan, which lasted nearly a decade. To try to equalize the conflict, Ukraine has made ample use of Western-supplied technologies as it defends its eastern lines. Read: US and Germany agree to supply advanced weapons to Ukraine Ukraine has long sought more HIMARS launchers, which fire medium-range rockets and also can be quickly moved before Russia can target them. On Wednesday, Ukrainian forces reportedly used a HIMARS to hit a strategic bridge in the Russia-occupied southern region of Kherson. One military expert told The Associated Press that the systems have “hardly had any rest during the day or at night.” U.S. authorities also are providing Ukraine with more guided rockets known as GMLRS. The Pentagon continues to rule out sending longer-range rockets that Ukraine could potentially use to strike deep into Russian territory. That’s a nod to the U.S. trying to manage the risk of Russia instigating a broader war. The U.S. has already sent 12 truck-mounted HIMARS to Ukraine. The United Kingdom has also provided three launchers of a different kind with GMLRS rockets as well. Both sides in the war have made ample use of drones. The U.S. had previously committed to sending 121 Phoenix Ghosts to Ukraine. Pentagon officials have not fully disclosed the capabilities of those drones, which were developed by the U.S. Air Force and produced by Aevex Aerospace, which describes itself as a leader in “full-spectrum airborne intelligence solutions.” The drones have onboard cameras and can be used to attack targets. The U.S. disclosed earlier this month that it believes Russia is planning to obtain several hundred drones from Iran. Iranian drones have previously penetrated Saudi and Emirati air defense systems in the Middle East that were supplied by the U.S. Biden administration officials have tried to publicly discourage Iran from moving forward with the transfer. The White House released satellite imagery that indicates Russian officials twice visited Iran in June or July for a showcase of weapons-capable drones it is looking to acquire.
A cargo plane which crashed in northern Greece was carrying 11 tonnes of weapons - including land mines - to Bangladesh, officials say. People living within two kilometres of the site where the Antonov-12 came down have been warned to stay indoors. The aircraft was flying from Serbia to Jordan when it crashed late on Saturday close to the city of Kavala, killing all eight people on board, according to BBC report. Eyewitness video showed the plane on fire and a huge fireball as it crashed. On Sunday morning, drones were being used to survey the site of the wreckage out of caution. State-run TV reported the army, explosives experts and Greek Atomic Energy Commission staff would not approach the site until it was deemed safe. "The (air) measurements at the moment have not shown anything but nonetheless instability in the field was observed," Lieutenant General Marios Apostolidis, of the Northern Greece Fire Brigade, told reporters. Read: Ukrainian cargo plane crashes in Greece "In other words, intense smoke and heat, as well as a white substance that we do not recognise, so a special armed forces team has to inform us what it is and whether we can enter the field." The pilot had reportedly requested an emergency landing at Kavala airport due to an engine problem shortly after take off, but was unable to reach the runway. The plane was noticed at about 22:45 local time (19:45 GMT) by local residents. Aimilia Tsaptanova - who saw the plane come down - said she was amazed it hadn't crashed into their homes. "It was full of smoke, it had a noise I can't describe and it went over the mountain," she said. "It passed the mountain and turned and crashed into the fields. "There were flames, we were scared. A lot of cars came, but they couldn't approach because there were continuous explosions." Serbia's Defence Minister Nebojša Stefanovic said that the Antonov AN-12 was transporting almost 11 tonnes of Serbian-made weapons to Bangladesh. It was due to make stops in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and India before reaching its final destination of Dhaka. The plane was being operated by Meridian, a Ukrainian cargo airline, although so far, there is no indication of any connection with the war in Ukraine.
Afghanistan's security forces have seized weapons in the northern Baghlan province, the Afghan caretaker government confirmed on Sunday. The confiscated weapons that were found following an intelligence operation in Baghlan-e-Markazi district included 18 assault rifles, two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, a landmine, and a large quantity of ammunition, the government said in a statement. READ: 13 killed in N. Afghanistan clashes, including pro-gov't local leader "No one has been arrested in connection with the case so far," the statement added. The Taliban-led caretaker government has ordered security forces to confiscate weapons from outside security organizations.
Russia pounded eastern Ukraine on Tuesday as the U.S. defense secretary promised to “keep moving heaven and earth” to get Kyiv the weapons it needs to repel the new offensive even as Moscow warned such support risked widening the war. Two months into the devastating conflict, Western arms have already helped Ukraine stall Russia’s invasion — but its leaders have said they need more support fast. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that help was on the way, as he convened a meeting of officials from around 40 countries at the United States’ Ramstein Air Base in Germany to pledge more weapons. Germany announced it cleared the way for delivery of Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine. “This gathering reflects the galvanized world,” Austin said in his opening remarks. He added that he wanted officials to leave the meeting “with a common and transparent understanding of Ukraine’s near-term security requirements because we’re going to keep moving heaven and earth so that we can meet them.” Also read:UN chief calls for cease-fire on Moscow visit After fierce defense by Ukrainian forces thwarted Russia's attempt to take Ukraine's capital early in the war, Moscow now says its focus is the Donbas, the mostly Russian-speaking industrial region in eastern Ukraine. That move is already having a devastating effect on civilians trapped in the conflict. In the small city of Toretsk, residents are struggling to survive, collecting rainwater for cleaning and washing up and fervently hoping for an end to the fighting. “It’s bad. Very bad. Hopeless,” said Andriy Cheromushkin. “You feel so helpless that you don’t know what you should do or shouldn’t do. Because if you want to do something, you need some money; and there is no money now.” With the potentially pivotal battle for the Donbas underway, the U.S. and its NATO allies are scrambling to get artillery and other heavy weaponry to that area in time to make a difference. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said her government decided on Monday to clear the delivery of Gepard self-propelled armored anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine, though she didn’t give details. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has faced mounting pressure, including from within his governing coalition, to approve sending heavy weapons such as tanks and other armored vehicles to Ukraine. Austin also noted Tuesday that more than 30 allies and partners have joined the U.S. in sending security assistance to Ukraine and more than $5 billion worth of equipment committed. The meeting in Germany comes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking on Russian television, warned weapons supplied by Western countries “will be a legitimate target,” and accused NATO of “pouring oil on the fire” with its support for Ukraine, according to a transcript on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website. Lavrov also warned against provoking World War III and said the threat of a nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited NATO's expansion and the risk that Kyiv could join the alliance as reasons for his invasion. U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey rejected Lavrov's accusations of NATO aggression as “utter nonsense.” Also read:Russia hits faraway targets; diplomat warns of risk of WWIII He said “the reason there is a war in Ukraine right now is because Russia rolled over the borders of a sovereign country and started to invade their territory.” Heappey also said Russia was making “unsound” military decisions and giving away tactical advantages because of Putin’s desire to secure some kind of victory by May 9, when Russia marks its victory in World War II. Amid the talk of arms shipments, diplomatic efforts to seek an end to the fighting also continued. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres met Lavrov on Tuesday and called again for a cease-fire. The U.N. chief is scheduled to meet Putin later. Elsewhere, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the Chernobyl nuclear plant to deliver equipment, conduct radiological assessments and restore safeguards monitoring systems after tanks and troops churned up highly contaminated soil there in the early hours of Russia's invasion in February. His visit comes on the anniversary of the disaster at the plant in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident. In its latest assessment of the fighting, the British Defense Ministry reported Russian advances and heavy fighting in the Donbas region, with one town, Kreminna, reportedly falling after days of street-to-street fighting. Ukraine's General Staff said Russian forces shelled Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city that lies outside the Donbas but has seen significant attacks as Moscow seeks full control of the region. Ukrainian forces struck back in the Kherson region in the south. A senior Russian military official has said that Russia's goal is full control of Ukraine's east and south, which would give it a swath of land that lies between Russia and Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014. Four people died and nine more were wounded on Monday in the Russian shelling of the Donetsk region of the Donbas, its governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. He said a 9-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were among those killed. The city council and mayor of Mariupol said a new mass grave was identified about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the port city, which is key to the battle of the Donbas. Mayor Vadym Boychenko said authorities were trying to estimate the number of victims. It was at least the third new mass grave discovered in Russian-controlled areas near Mariupol in the last week. Mariupol has been gutted by bombardment and fierce street fighting over the past two months. Russia’s capture of the city, where an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian troops and some 1,000 civilians are reportedly sheltering in a sprawling steel works, would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, help complete the land corridor to Crimea and free up troops to redeploy elsewhere in the Donbas. Britain said it believes 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began — far above the 1,351 deaths acknowledged by Moscow. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said 25% of the Russian combat units sent to Ukraine “have been rendered not combat effective.” Ukrainian officials have said about 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed as of mid-April. The West hopes that boosting arms supplies will help remaining fighters repel Russia's invasion. As he opened the meeting in Germany, Austin sought to reassure Kyiv: “We know, and you should know, that all of us have your back and that’s why we’re here today — to strengthen the arsenal of Ukrainian democracy.”
North Korea claimed Thursday to have conducted the second successful test flight of a hypersonic missile, days after leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster his military forces despite pandemic-related difficulties. Wednesday’s launch, the North’s first known weapons test in about two months, indicates the country will press ahead with plans to modernize its nuclear and missile arsenals rather than return to disarmament talks anytime soon. The official Korean Central News Agency said the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party expressed “great satisfaction” at the results of the missile test, which was observed by leading weapons officials. Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose crucial challenges to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability. It’s unclear whether and how soon North Korea could manufacture such a high-tech missile, but it was among a wish-list of sophisticated military assets that Kim disclosed early last year, along with a multi-warhead missile, spy satellites, solid-fueled long-range missiles and underwater-launched nuclear missiles. Read: North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile into sea Wednesday’s test was the second of its kind since North Korea first launched a hypersonic missile last September. “The successive successes in the test launches in the hypersonic missile sector have strategic significance in that they hasten a task for modernizing strategic armed force of the state,” a KCNA dispatch said. The word “strategic” implies the missile is being developed to deliver nuclear weapons. KCNA said the missile made a 120-kilometer-long (75 mile) lateral movement before hitting a target 700 kilometers (435 miles) away. It said the test reconfirmed the flight control and stability of the missile and verified its fuel capsule under the winter weather conditions. While North Korea appears to have made progress in the development of a hypersonic missile, it still needs more test flights to determine whether it meets its tactical objectives or how advanced a hypersonic weapon it could develop, said Lee Choon Geun, an expert and honorary research fellow at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute. A photo of the launch shows that the upper parts of the missiles launched in September and this week have different shapes. Lee said this suggests that North Korea is testing two versions of warheads for a missile still under development or it is actually developing two different types of hypersonic missiles. He said the missile’s reported lateral movement would provide the weapon with a greater maneuverability to evade enemy missile defense systems. Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said North Korea will likely go ahead with its arms build-up plans without being affected by external factors like the Beijing Olympics in February, the South Korean presidential election in March and a possible change in the Biden administration’s North Korea policy. “Given the U.S. has decided on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, North Korea doesn’t have to worry about what China would think when it conducts” weapons tests, Kim said. China is North Korea’s last major ally and aid benefactor. Some experts earlier predicted that North Korea would not launch any provocations until the Beijing Olympics ended. Tae Yongho, a former North Korean diplomat who now serves as a lawmaker in South Korea, wrote on Facebook that Pyongyang is keeping its borders shut due to fears about the pandemic. But he said Pyongyang is still working to perfect its missile technology to boost its position in any future negotiations. The North’s latest launch was first detected by its neighbors. Read: US urges NKorea to stop missile tests and return to talks The U.S. military called it a ballistic missile launch that “highlights the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illicit weapons program,” while South Korea and Japan expressed concerns or regrets over the launch. China, for its part, called for dialogue and said that “all parties concerned should keep in mind the big picture (and) be cautious with their words and actions.” U.S.-led diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear program remains stalled since 2019 due to disputes over international sanctions on the North. The Biden administration has repeatedly called for resuming the nuclear diplomacy “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions, but North Korea has argued the U.S. must first withdraw its hostility against it before any talks can restart. During last week’s plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, Kim Jong Un repeated his vow to expand his country’s military capabilities without publicly presenting any new positions on Washington and Seoul. The North’s advancing nuclear arsenal is the core of Kim’s rule, and he’s called it “a powerful treasured sword” that thwarts potential U.S. aggressions. During his 10-year rule, he’s conducted an unusually large number of weapons tests to acquire an ability to launch nuclear strikes on the American mainland. But his country’s economy has faltered severely in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sanctions and his government’s own mismanagement.
Police have recovered a huge cache of local handmade spear-like sharp weapons from the house of an Awami League (AL) leader in Pabna's Faridpur upazila. On a secret tip-off, police raided the house of Helal Talukder, former legal affairs secretary of upazila AL on Monday afternoon. During the raid 95 local weapons made with steel pipes were recovered from his Ratanpur village house in Pungali Union of the upazila. However, police could not arrest Helal and his companions as they managed to escape. Faridpur Police officer-in-charge (OC) Masud Rana said a team of police raided the house on the basis of information that Helal had a large quantity of weapons in his house. READ: 999 call: TCB goods recovered from AL leader’s house Sensing the presence of police, Helal Talukder and his associates fled by boat, he added A case was being filed in this regard and police were running operations to arrest them, OC Masud further said. Faridpur AL general secretary Ali Ashraful Kabir said, “Helal Talukder is the former legal affairs secretary of Upazila Awami League. I have heard about the recovery of weapons from his house.” READ: Anti-graft body approves charges against AL leader Enu and three others A decision about him will be taken after discussing it at the party meeting, he said.