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Harris warns Russia of unprecedented sanctions if it invades

US Vice President Kamala Harris warned Russia on Saturday that it will face “unprecedented” financial costs if it invades Ukraine and predicted that such an attack would draw European allies closer to the US.
Harris spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany the day after President Joe Biden said he’s “convinced” that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the decision to invade the neighboring country.
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“Let me be clear, can say with absolute certainty: If Russia further invades Ukraine, the United States, together with our allies and partners, will impose significant, and unprecedented economic costs,” Harris said.
The vice president aimed to make the case to a largely European audience that the West has “strength through unity” and that an invasion would likely lead to an even bigger NATO footprint on Russia’s doorsteps.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014, and pro-Russia separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the country’s east for almost eight years. The US and the European Union previously sanctioned Russia over its seizure of Crimea.
Western fears of an invasion have escalated in recent months as Russia amassed more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders.
Harris said the Biden administration, along with its allies, had sought to engage with Moscow in good faith to find a diplomatic resolution but was not met the Kremlin in good faith.
“Russia continues to say it is ready to talk while at the same time it narrows the avenues for diplomacy,” Harris said. “Their actions simply do not match their words.”
Harris credited European allies for speaking with a largely unified voice as the latest Ukraine crisis has unfolded. The vice president said Republicans and Democrats in Washington – who rarely agree on many major issues – have largely reached the same page on the necessity of confronting Putin.
“We came together and are now speaking with a unified voice,” Harris said.
Harris on Friday declared "our greatest strength is our unity” as she met with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the sidelines of the conference. The Baltic countries have requested the US increase its troop presence on the eastern edge of NATO.
The White House has not yet said whether it will fulfill those requests, but Harris suggested in her comments that an invasion would lead to a bolstered American presence.
“We will further reinforce our NATO allies on the eastern flank,” Harris said.
The vice president was scheduled to meet after her speech on Saturday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
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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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