Zelensky Rejected Peace Offer Days Before Russian Offensive – WSJ

German Chancellor had reportedly attempted to convince the Ukrainian leader to drop NATO membership plan

Zelensky rejected peace offer days before Russian offensive – WSJ
German chancellor Olaf Scholz had offered Volodymyr Zelensky a chance for peace just days before the launch of the Russian military offensive, but the Ukrainian president turned it down, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported.

Scholz had made what the US outlet described as “one last push for a settlement between Moscow and Kiev” less than a week before the Russian forces were sent into Ukraine on February 24.

The chancellor told Zelensky in Munich on February 19 “that Ukraine should renounce its NATO aspirations and declare neutrality as part of a wider European security deal between the West and Russia,” the paper writes. The daily also claims that “the pact would be signed by Mr. Putin and Mr. Biden, who would jointly guarantee Ukraine’s security.”

However, Zelensky rejected the offer to make the concession and avoid confrontation, saying that “[Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin couldn’t be trusted to uphold such an agreement and that most Ukrainians wanted to join NATO,” the WSJ reports, without revealing its sources for the information.

“His answer left German officials worried that the chances of peace were fading,” the report points out.

Scholz and Zelensky did meet on that day on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, at which each delivered an address.

Russia attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the rebel regions by force.

FG Approves US Request For Abba Kyari’s Extradition

The Federal Government on Thursday approved the request by the United States of America, for suspended Commander of the Police Intelligence Response Team, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Abba Kyari, to be extradited over the $1.1million wire fraud perpetrated by Abass Ramon aka Hushpuppi and 4 others

Government’s approval was made known by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) when he filed an application before the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja for Kyari’s extradition.

The application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/249/2022 was filed under the Extradition Act.

The AGF said the application followed a request by the Diplomatic Representative of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.

The request is “for the surrender of Abba Alhaji Kyari, who is a subject in a superseding three counts indictment”

The AGF said he was satisfied that the offence in respect of which Kyari’s surrender is not political nor is it trivial.

The AGF also expressed satisfaction that the request for the surrender of Kyari was not made to persecute or punish him on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions but in good faith and the interest of justice.

He said Kyari, “if surrendered, will not be prejudiced at his trial and will not be punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty, by reason of his race, nationality or political opinions”.

The AGF said having regard to all the circumstances in which the offence was committed, it will not be unjust or oppressive, or be too severe a punishment, to surrender him.

Malami said he was also satisfied that Kyari has been accused of the offence for which his surrender is sought.

He noted that there was no criminal proceeding pending against Kyari in Nigeria for the same offence.

Recall that in April 2021, a jury filed an indictment against Kyari with the approval of the U.S. District Court and demanded Kyari stand trial for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft.

Consequently, the US Embassy requested for Kyari’s extradition saying, “On April 29, 2021, based on the indictment filed by the grand jury and with the approval of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, a deputy clerk of the court issued a warrant of arrest for Kyari.

“The arrest warrant remains valid and executable to apprehend Kyari for the crimes with which he is charged in the indictment.

“Kyari is wanted to stand trial in the United States for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and identity theft.

“Kyari is the subject of an indictment in case Number 2:21-cr-00203 (also referred to as 2:21-MJ-00760 and 2:21-CR-00203-RGK), filed April 29, 2021, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.”

Kyari was accused of conspiring with a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Nigerian, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi to commit the crime.

The charges against Kyari reads, “Count one: Conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years;

“Count two: Conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 1956(h), carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

“Count three: Aggravated identity theft, and aiding and abetting that offence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1028A(a)(1) and 2(a), carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of two years.

20 European Nations Ban Russian Flights From Airspace

Twenty European countries have closed — or have said they will close — their airspace to Russian flights and flight operators, amid a coordinated pushback against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

About half of the countries announced the move on Sunday, ahead of an extraordinary meeting of European foreign ministers to discuss further measures to support Ukraine and punish Moscow. Other countries, including Estonia and Romania, had previously announced their intention to ban Russian flights.Russia, Ukraine agree to meet after Putin puts nuclear forces on alert |  CBC News

“Our European skies are open skies,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Twitter. “They’re open for those who connect people, not for those who seek to brutally aggress.”

Officials in Italy, Norway, France, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands indicated Sunday that they would move to close their airspace to Russian flights.

Also on Sunday, Canada’s minister of transport, Omar Alghabra, said: “Effective immediately, Canada’s airspace is closed to all Russian aircraft operators. We will hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked attacks against Ukraine.”

Russia has so far retaliated by banning flights from at least nine countries. In various statements, the country’s Federal Agency for Air Transport called the moves by countries such as the United Kingdom and Romania to ban Russian flights “unfriendly.”

Germany banned Russian flights and flight operators from its airspace starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, a government release said.

Under a notice issued by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure that is set to last at least three months, most Russian flights and flight operators will be barred from German airspace, with some exceptions, including flights carrying humanitarian aid.

European foreign ministers are set to meet at 6 p.m. Brussels time on Sunday. Denmark’s Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod and Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio said they would push for a ban on Russian flights throughout the European Union’s airspace at the meeting.

Such a move would largely cut off Russia from the easiest air route west, while countermeasures imposed by Moscow could make it more difficult for European carriers to fly east, notably to Asia.

While many of Ukraine’s allies have moved to ban Russian flights from their own airspace, there appears to be little appetite for a no-fly zone over the country, a measure previously requested by Ukrainian officials. When asked about it on Friday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said enforcing a no-fly zone would mean putting British pilots in the line of fire and would be tantamount to a declaration of war.

“To do a no-fly zone I would have to put British fighter jets against Russian,” Wallace told the BBC. “NATO would have to effectively declare war on Russia.”

The response: The United States and key Western allies on Saturday announced severe new sanctions on Russian banks. SWIFT, a network that connects banks around the world, is at the center of the new sanctions.

How we got here: The conflict playing out between Russia and Ukraine is one marked by land borders and shaped by strategic influence. These four maps help explain the deep roots of the conflict and where things stand right now.

Yemeni Drones Bomb Abu Dhabi Airport Killing 3 And Wounding 6

Yemen’s army says it has launched drone attacks deep inside the United Arab Emirates as Emirati officials say three tankers, carrying fuel, exploded in Abu Dhabi.
The Yemeni military conducts regular retaliatory attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia over its devastating war on Yemen. But, attack against the UAE, which is fighting alongside Saudi Arabia, has been rare.

Abu Dhabi police, in a statement published on the official Emirates News Agency WAM, said three fuel tankers had exploded in the Musaffah area, which lies southwest of the UAE capital and has been designated a special economic zone with numerous factories and ports.

The statement noted that the explosions took place near storage facilities of oil firm ADNOC.

A fire also broke out at a construction site at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The statement added that initial investigations showed parts of a small plane, “possibly a drone”, in both sites.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree said he will put out a statement within the next few hours to present details of a qualitative military operation against targets deep inside the UAE.

On January 3, Saree said Yemeni naval troops and Popular Committees fighters had managed to seize a UAE-flagged vessel off the port of Hudaydah as it was carrying military equipment and engaging in hostile acts.

The spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces stated that the Yemeni forces and their allies captured the vessel after it trespassed into Yemen’s territorial waters and was acting against the security and stability of the country.

Hussein al-Azi, deputy foreign minister in Yemen’s National Salvation Government, later said that the ship was carrying various munitions and military equipment when it was seized in Yemen’s territorial waters.

“The Rwabee was neither loaded with dates nor children’s toys. It was rather carrying weapons destined for extremist groups who jeopardize the lives of ordinary citizens,” he pointed out.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the United States and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.

Despite heavily-armed Saudi Arabia’s incessant bombardment of the impoverished country, the Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees have grown steadily in strength against the Saudi-led invaders and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

Malians Protest Against Ecowas Sanction

Malians took to the streets en masse on Friday after the military junta called for protests against stringent sanctions imposed by the West Africa bloc ECOWAS over delayed elections.

In the capital Bamako, thousands of people wearing the national colours of red, yellow and green gathered in a central square, for a rally staged by the military government, and sang patriotic songs.

Interim prime minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga, wearing military uniform, addressed a crowd massed in a main square.

“All of Africa is watching Mali today,” he said. “To some extent, the fate of Africa is being played out in Mali today”.

Evoking the history of African resistance against colonisers, he also paid “special tribute” to China and Russia for opposing the “illegal and illegitimate embargo against our people”.

A large crowd also gathered in the northern city of Timbuktu, AFP correspondents reported. Social media also showed mass demonstrations in the towns of Kadiolo and Bougouni in the south.

Leaders from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) agreed to sanction Mali last week, imposing a trade embargo and shutting borders, in a decision later backed by the United States, the European Union and former colonial power France.

The move followed a proposal by Mali’s junta to stay in power for up to five years before staging elections — despite international demands that it respect a promise to hold the vote in February.

The junta cast the sanctions as “extreme” and “inhumane” and called for demonstrations.

Strongman Colonel Assimi Goita, who first took power in a coup in August 2020, has also urged Malians to “defend our homeland”.

43-Year-Old Nigerian Arrested With Knife As Pope Francis Celebrates Outdoor Mass

Two security sources said the knife was found during security screening for thousands seeking access to the stadium.

middle-aged Nigerian man has been arrested by the police in Cyprus for carrying a knife during security screening to an outdoor stadium where Pope Francis was celebrating mass on Friday.

According to a report by Nigeriabroad, two security sources said the knife was found during security screening for thousands seeking access to the stadium. 

This was even as authorities took strict security precautions and most attendees had to be at the venue hours earlier.

However, authorities said it appeared the knife-carrying incident was unrelated to the presence of the pope on the island.

“After an investigation, it appears that the two are unrelated, there was no intention to do something,” one source said, while a second said the knife was thought to be for personal use.

Earlier, a police official said the man concerned was a 43-year-old Nigerian national.

Pope Francis, on a three-day visit to Cyprus, called during Friday’s mass for healing on the divided island.

BREAKING: Former US Senator And Presidential Candidate, Bob Dole Dies At 98

By Michael Reuben

Dole was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer earlier this year and said he was starting treatment.

ob Dole, a former US Senator and Republican presidential candidate, died Sunday morning, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation said. He was 98.

Dole was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer earlier this year and said he was starting treatment. 

It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep,” the foundation said on Twitter.

Dole served as a US senator for Kansas for nearly 30 years, starting an impressive political run. In 1976, he was Gerald Ford’s vice presidential nominee, though the pair was defeated by President Jimmy Carter and his running mate, Walter Mondale.

He began to test the waters for his own presidential run in 1980. He later clinched the GOP nomination for the presidency in 1996, losing to President Bill Clinton.

Prior to his political career, Dole registered for the Army in 1942 and was a second lieutenant, according to NBC News. While serving, he was seriously injured in World War II. He became temporarily paralyzed from the neck down, and spent years rehabbing at a military hospital. Dole regained much of his movement, but his arms never fully recovered.

Gambia Reelect Adamma Barrow as President.

#GambiaDecides2021: Adama Barrow wins Gambia presidential election

In the result announced on Sunday, Mr Barrow came victorious in 47 of the 53 constituencies in the country.

By Michael Reuben

Incumbent president of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, has won the country’s presidential election held on Saturday December 4.

Mr Barrow, who contested the election under the flagship of the National People’s Party (NPP), polled 457, 519 votes to defeat his closest rival, Ousainou Darboe, of the United Democratic Party (UDP).

Mr Darboe garnered 238, 253 votes.

“Having received 457, 519 votes in the election, I hereby declare Adama Barrow duly elected to serve as president of The Gambia,” Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairman, Alieu Momar Njai, said.

In 2016, as an independent candidate, a relatively unknown Mr Barrow contested and won the presidential election, defeating long-time dictator, Yahya Jammeh.

In the result announced on Sunday, Mr Barrow came victorious in 47 of the 53 constituencies in the country.

Mr Barrow, who defeated dictator, Yahaya Jammeh in 2016 to become the country’s third president will now govern for the next five years.