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Ukraine marks army day with US armored vehicles, boats and vows to fight off Russia

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s armed forces were capable of fighting off any attack from Russia as the country marked its national army day on Monday with a display of US armored vehicles and patrol boats.

US President Joe Biden has pledged his “unwavering support” to Ukraine in its standoff with Moscow and will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to try to defuse the crisis.

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Ukraine has accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops near its border in preparation for a possible large scale military offensive, raising the prospect of open war between the two neighbors.

“The servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to fulfil their most important mission – to defend the freedom and sovereignty of the state from the Russian aggressor,” Zelenskiy said in a statement.

“The Ukrainian army … is confident in its strength and able to thwart any conquest plans of the enemy,” he said.

Russia has dismissed talk of a new assault on Ukraine as false and inflammatory but told the West not to cross its “red lines” and to halt the eastward expansion of the NATO alliance.

Zelenskiy will travel east to Kharkiv, a traditional center for Ukrainian weapons manufacturing, to mark a delivery of tanks, armored personal carriers and armored vehicles made in the city’s factories.

He will also visit the Donetsk region, where Ukraine’s army has fought Russian-backed forces in a simmering conflict that Kiev says has killed 14,000 people since 2014.

Several cities across Ukraine are marking the 30th anniversary of the creation of an independent military after winning independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Kiev, Lviv and the southern port city of Odessa will display US-made Humvees. In Odessa, there will also be a ceremony to hand over two recently delivered US Coast Guard patrol boats intended to bolster Ukraine’s navy.

Ukraine has urged NATO to accelerate its entry into the military alliance and said Moscow had no right to veto. NATO’s leadership has been supportive but said Ukraine must carry out defense reforms and tackle corruption first.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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