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Russia returns some troops to base in areas near Ukraine following drills: Report

Some troops in Russia’s military districts adjacent to Ukraine are returning to their bases after completing drills, Russia’s defense ministry was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Russia’s Interfax news agency cited the ministry as saying that while large-scale drills across the country continued, some units of the Southern and Western military districts had completed their exercises and started returning to base.

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The reported movements run counter to warnings from the United States and Britain that Russia may be poised to invade Ukraine at any time.

Russian financial markets rosestrongly on Tuesday on a report that Russia was pulling backsome troops from near the Ukrainian border, as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz flew into Moscow for Kremlin talks with President Vladimir Putin.
Russian shares and the rouble, which have been hit by fears of impending conflict, rose sharply after Russia’s defenseministry said that some units in military districts adjacent to Ukraine were returning to their bases after completing drills.
It was not immediately clear if that was a tentative signal of any kind of significant pullback.
Russian and Ukrainian government bonds also rallied sharply.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Britain would need to see a full-scale removal of Russian troops from the border with Ukraine to believe that Moscow has no plans for an invasion.
Video footage provided by the defense ministry and published by the RIA news agency showed some tanks and other armored
vehicles being loaded onto railway flatcars.
The ministry said it would use trucks to move some hardware while some troops would march to bases on their own.
Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, including a large contingent on joint drills in Belarus until February 20, meaning that Ukraine is almost encircled by the Russian military.
Russian markets reacted positively to the news and the ruble,which has been under pressure due to fears of fresh Western sanctions in the event of a war, gained 1.5 percent shortly after the defense ministry announcement.
Moscow has denied ever planning to attack Ukraine but is demanding legally binding guarantees from the United States and
NATO that Kyiv will not be allowed to join the military bloc. Washington and Brussels have so far refused to make such
pledges.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was expected in Moscow later on Tuesday to meet President Vladimir Putin in a high stakes mission to avert war.

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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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