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Russia-Ukraine War Live: Moscow's Accidental Attack on Belgorod Injures Two; China says it is not 'instigating' the conflict. ukraine

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is set to begin an overseas trip through Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom on Saturday.

DeSantis said in March that the Ukraine war is a “territorial dispute” and is not of strategic interest to the United States, a position he has since partially backtracked on. Those comments provoked criticism from Democrats and many Republicans, though it is a stance he shares with nearly half of the party’s base, as well as with Republican former President Donald Trump.

So, while the trip is officially billed as a trade mission, the tour is widely seen as an attempt to polish his foreign policy credentials in the lead-up to an official announcement expected in late spring or early summer. goes.

Citing Japanese government sources, Kyodo news agency reported on Friday that the G7 is considering an almost complete ban on exports to Russia.

Bloomberg News also reported on Thursday that the United States and allies of Ukraine were considering “imposing an outright ban on most exports to Russia”. That report said officials from the G7 countries were discussing the idea ahead of a summit meeting in Japan next month.

Asked about the Bloomberg report, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the government was aware of it but refrained from commenting on exchanges between G7 countries and like-minded countries about possible sanctions against Russia. avoided.

“What is important for an early end to Russian aggression is that the G7 is united in calling for serious sanctions against Russia and strong support for Ukraine,” he told a press briefing.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Friday that China is not provoking the situation in Ukraine and advocates peaceful resolution of international disputes through dialogue and diplomacy.

China has no intention of engaging in a major power competition, Qin said at the Lanting Forum in Shanghai, adding that it opposes efforts to build walls and barriers to disrupt international supply chains.

A Russian warplane accidentally fired a weapon at the city of Belgorod near Ukraine, causing an explosion and damaging buildings, Tass news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying.

Late Thursday, local officials reported a large explosion in the town, which lies just across the border with Ukraine. The regional governor said two women were injured.

According to Tass, the Defense Ministry said, “When a Sukhoi Su-34 Air Force plane was flying over the city of Belgorod, it accidentally released ammunition.”

Belgorod’s regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, announcing the state of emergency, said in a telegram that there was a 20-metre (65 ft) crater on one of the main roads. He said four cars and four apartment buildings were damaged.

The Defense Ministry did not say what type of weapon was involved, Reuters reports. The Su-34 is a supersonic fighter-bomber jet. According to Tass, the ministry said some buildings had been damaged and were being investigated.

Video footage from the site showed piles of concrete in the street, several damaged cars and a building with broken windows. In one shot, an overturned car was visible on the roof of a shop.

The Belgorod region is one of several parts of southern Russia where targets such as fuel and ammunition stores have been rocked by explosions since the start of Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine in February 2022.

With me, Helen Sullivan, welcome to our continued live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Our top story this morning: A Russian warplane accidentally fired a weapon at the city of Belgorod near Ukraine, causing an explosion and damaging buildings, Tass news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying.

Elsewhere, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang has stated that China is not provoking the situation in Ukraine, and advocates peaceful resolution of international disputes through dialogue and diplomacy.

More on these stories shortly. Meanwhile here are other major recent developments in the war:

  • Ukraine’s future lies in NATO, the head of the Western military alliance said during his first visit to the country since Russia’s invasion 14 months ago. Jens Stoltenberg pledged continued military support for Ukraine, saying: “NATO stands with you today, tomorrow and as long as necessary.” He invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the NATO summit in Vilnius in July.

  • Zelensky said NATO needed to invite Ukraine to become a member and give it a deadline for accession. “There is not a single objective obstacle to the political decision to invite Ukraine into the coalition,” he said. “And now, when the majority of people in NATO countries and the majority of Ukrainians support NATO accession, it is time for this decision.”

  • Zelensky asks for Mexico’s support for holding a summit with Latin American countries To help end the Russian invasion. The appeal follows comments Thursday by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who told China last week that Washington should stop “encouraging” the war, and urged the United States and the European Union to “make peace”. need to start talking about”.

  • US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron signaled efforts to ease tensions on Thursday In the wake of the French leader’s recent remarks on Taiwan and European security relations with Washington. Referring to Macron’s push for China to play a role in brokering a peace deal to end the war in Ukraine, a statement from his office said: “In the medium term, China is ready to contribute to ending the conflict.” Had a role. with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.” It also said: “The two heads of state agreed on the importance of continuing to engage Chinese officials on this basis.”

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday. According to Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations. The two last met in November at the G20 summit in Bali. According to Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia, the Black Sea grain deal will be the subject of Monday’s meeting.

  • Denmark, together with the Netherlands, will donate 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Denmark’s acting defense minister, Trolls Lund Poulsen, said that they were not Danish tanks, but tanks “which have been bought in cooperation with the Netherlands”. The Foreign Minister, Lars Loke Rasmussen, described it as “a very important contribution”.

  • The admiral of Russia’s Pacific Fleet has stepped down from his position following an investigation into his combat readiness. admiral sergei avkyants left his post As commander it was announced that he would oversee a new center for military sports training and “patriotic education”. Units of the Pacific Fleet were participating in inspection exercises announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last week.

  • The Financial Times has reported that leaked US intelligence reports suggest that China rejected the Wagner mercenary group’s request for weapons. According to the FT, Wagner’s request for early 2023 suggested that “there was some confidence that Beijing would be open to delivering weapons to Moscow, beyond other non-lethal forms of support for military operations provided by Chinese companies”. going”.

  • A group of Ukrainian soldiers has been charged with treason for passing information during an unauthorized mission that enabled Russia to attack a military airfield. Ukraine’s SBU security agency said. The SBU announced in a statement that troops attempted to seize a Russian plane last July “without coordination with relevant state authorities” after its pilot said he would defect.

  • The US and other allies of Ukraine are considering an outright ban on most exports to Russia In an effort to increase economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bloomberg reports that discussions are underway ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit in May. It is believed that this will be followed by similar actions by EU member states.

  • US announces $325m in new military aid for Ukraine High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMAR), advanced missiles and additional ammunition for anti-tank mines. This is the 36th security package since the war started in February 2022.