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Biden Draws Lines With Russian Leader Over Ukraine Moves

President Joe Biden ends his first year in office as tensions with Russia hit a fever pitch. He warned his Russian counterpart to choose a diplomatic resolution and to not invade neighboring Ukraine — a message his secretary of state also is pushing in Kyiv this week. VOA White House correspondent Anita Powell reports from Washington.
Producer: Kimberlyn Weeks

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British Police Arrest 2 in Texas Synagogue Attack Investigation

British police on Thursday arrested two men as part of an investigation into a hostage taking at a synagogue in Texas.

“Two men have been arrested this morning in Birmingham and Manchester,” counter terrorism police said.

The daylong siege at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, about 16 miles northeast of Fort Worth, Texas, ended in gunfire on Saturday night with all four hostages released unharmed and the death of the suspect.



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Europe, US Aim to Ensure Mali Doesn’t Become First of Many Dominoes

Frustrations are growing in and around Mali, where regional and international efforts to speed up the interim government’s transition to democratic elections appear to be at a dead end. Still, key players from Europe and the United States are refusing to give up, warning what is at stake goes much beyond Mali itself. More from VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin.

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Blinken Reassures Ukrainians Amid Threat of Russian Invasion

On a visit to Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reassured the people of Ukraine that the United States stands with them in the face of a potentially imminent Russian invasion. After meeting with Ukraine’s foreign minister Wednesday, Blinken spoke with VOA in Kyiv about the U.S. diplomatic effort to calm the situation. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

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Blinken Reassures Ukrainians Amid Russian Invasion Threat

On a visit to Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reassured the people of Ukraine that the United States stands with them in the face of a potentially imminent Russian invasion. After meeting with Ukraine’s foreign minister Wednesday, Blinken spoke with VOA in Kyiv about the U.S. diplomatic effort to calm the situation. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

Producer: Rob Raffaele.

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Teen Pilot One Stop from Finishing Round-the-world Solo Flight

A 19-year-old British-Belgian pilot landed her plane on Wednesday at an airstrip near Frankfurt, Germany, one stop away from becoming the youngest woman to fly around the world solo.

Zara Rutherford told reporters she wanted to “sleep for a week” after she climbed out of the single-seat Shark ultralight aircraft at Egelsbach airfield a few kilometers from Frankfurt. If all goes as planned, Rutherford will land Thursday in Kortrijk, Belgium, where her journey began August 18. 

The nearly 51,500-kilometer journey took her across the Atlantic Ocean, over Iceland and Greenland, and into New York City. Down the U.S. East Coast and the Caribbean to Columbia then back up through Central America and up the U.S. West Coast to Alaska and across the Bering Strait to Russia, south to South Korea, Indonesia, India, the Mideast and back to Europe.

The trip was all the more challenging as she flew without the aid of flight instruments or a pressurized cabin. 

Weather, minor equipment issues and visa problems in Asia set her back from her schedule by several days. But at this point, Rutherford told reporters she is glad to be almost done.

She said her big goal is to use her experience to encourage other young women to go into flying or study science, technology and mathematics “and other fields they might not have thought about.” 

Rutherford plans to go to college next September in either Britain or the United States to study engineering.

If she lands in Belgium as planned Thursday, Rutherford will have broken a record set by American aviator Shaesta Waiz, who was 30 when she set the existing record for the youngest woman to circumnavigate the world solo in 2017. 

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters. 


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Ukraine: What We Know 

Russia’s buildup of an estimated 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, along with military exercises in Belarus, has raised concern that Russia could be planning an invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s positions include troops, tanks and artillery to Ukraine’s north, south and east.

Until 1991, Ukraine was part of the Russia-led Soviet Union. Current tensions with Russia date to 2014, when Russia invaded and seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, a move not recognized by the European Union or United States. Russia has also backed separatists who control a swath of territory bordering Russia in eastern Ukraine. 

Recent meetings with Russia involving the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe yielded little tangible result as Ukraine’s allies called for Russia to de-escalate the situation. 

Russia has dismissed allegations of a planned invasion and has sought certain security guarantees, including that NATO will not expand further along its border such as by admitting Ukraine to the Western military alliance. The U.S. and NATO have rejected such requests, saying NATO has an open-door policy and Ukraine is free to make its own decisions about joining alliance. 

Western allies of Ukraine have pledged to punish Russia with harsh economic sanctions if it does make an assault on Ukrainian territory. 

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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Six Dead, 17 Injured in Spain Nursing Home Fire

Fire officials in Spain say six nursing home residents died and at least 17 were injured in a fire at a retirement home in a suburb of Valencia early Wednesday.

The Valencia regional fire department said the fire started late Tuesday at a publicly-owned senior residence in the town of Moncada, about 12 kilometers north of Valencia. The fire department said on Twitter it took two hours to bring the fire under control. Several area fire departments responded.

Valencia fire chief Jose Bassett told Spanish media flames and smoke affected an entire wing of the residence, He said officials believe the fire has started in a room on the first floor, where two residents were found dead.

Fire fighters say about 25 of the at least 70 residents of the facility had to be rescued. Regional health officials say five the victims died at the scene and a sixth died at the hospital. They say at last 17 residents were hospitalized with injuries, two of them in serious condition.

Bassett said officials believe a faulty electrical mechanism with an oxygen tank may have started the fire, but the exact cause is under investigation.

Moncada city officials called for a moment of silence and three days of mourning for those who died in the fire.  

Spanish President Pedro Sanchez tweeted he heard news of the fire and expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased and his concern for the injured.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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