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Ukraine’s Zelensky accuses Germany of blocking NATO weapons supply

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Germany of blocking the supply of NATO weapons to Kiev in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published by his office Tuesday.

Zelensky’s comments come as the West has said Russia could be planning an invasion of Ukraine, with the US warning Moscow of serious economic sanctions if it launches an attack.

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“Germany has recently prevented us from getting anti-drone rifles and anti-sniper systems from NATO, which are exclusively defense tools,” Zelensky said in the interview.

“Don’t we have the right to have them in the eighth year of the war? Obviously, we do,” he added.

A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry said Monday that it could not comment “on the confidential decisions at the heart of the (NATO) alliance at this stage.”

Ukraine last month said it was seeking more military aid from its Western allies to deter Russia from an attack.

Kiev has been fighting pro-Russia separatists in its eastern regions since 2014. The conflict erupted shortly after Moscow seized Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

Fears have grown in recent weeks that Moscow – which has massed around 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border – could launch a large-scale attack.

In a video call last week, US President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin of “sanctions like he’s never seen” should Moscow launch an attack.

Zelensky said the call did not lead to a scaling down of troops on the Russian side of the border.

“There is no reduction of the military group near our borders after the talks between the US and Russian leaders,” Zelensky said.

He warned of “much higher losses” in the event of an invasion.

“Is Russian society ready to pay with the lives of its sons for the attempt to occupy another part of Ukraine?,” he asked.

The West for a long time hesitated to sell arms to Kiev, but Ukraine eventually managed to get some defense systems – including Turkish-made Bayraktar drones.

Kiev’s use of the drones was met with criticism from Russia and some of its Western allies, including France and Germany.

Putin denies planning an invasion of Ukraine and blames NATO for the heightened tensions in the region.

The Russian leader has asked Western countries for “legal guarantees” that Ukraine will not join NATO.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse the Kremlin of supporting the Ukrainian separatists militarily.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has so far claimed more than 13,000 lives.

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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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