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    Russia-Ukraine war latest: Macron warns against ‘escalation’ after Biden speech; Zelenskiy calls on west for planes and tanks








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    Macron warns against ‘escalation’ following Biden speech

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    A UK cabinet minister has distanced the government from Joe Biden’s call that Russia’s Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” amid criticism that the comment could bolster the Kremlin.

    Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, said it was “for the Russian people to decide how they are governed” after the unscripted remark from the US president during a speech in Poland, which the White House later said was not a call for regime change.

    “I think that’s up to the Russian people,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday. “The Russian people, I think, are pretty fed up with what is happening in Ukraine, this illegal invasion, the destruction of their own livelihoods, their economy is collapsing around them and I think the Russian people will decide the fate of Putin and his cronies.”

    Biden’s comments came as Russia fired missiles aimed at the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, 40 miles from the Polish border. The city is the most pro-western in the country and the base of many western journalists. Analysts described the attacks as intending to send a clear signal to the White House.

    Biden described Putin as a “butcher” and told an audience in Warsaw that the west must steel itself “for a long fight ahead”.

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    It was the kind of spring day in Mayfair they used to write songs about. Beneath a cloudless sky daffodils were blooming in Hyde Park. Blue and yellow, the colours of Ukraine.

    Everything seemed to be blue and yellow: the Euro Car Parks sign, the police vans and motorcycles, and the hi-vis jackets their occupants wore, but most obviously the hundreds of flags held aloft by those gathered beneath the Park Lane Hilton for the London Stands With Ukraine march to Trafalgar Square.

    It was not a typical anti-war crowd. With the conspicuous exception of Peter Tatchell, it lacked that class of seasoned protesters that fill out these occasions. Neither Stop the War nor CND, which both want the UK to stop arming the besieged Ukrainians, was behind the event. Instead it was the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who called for the protest, supported by the decidedly unradical European Movement (president: Michael Heseltine).

    Rachel, a middle-aged woman wearing a Roger Waters T-shirt, said it was the first demonstration she’d ever been on. “I’m from East Molesey, near Hampton Court,” she said. “It’s not known as a hotbed of protest.”

    She had come because she was upset and appalled by what was going on in Ukraine. “Maybe it’s naive, but I hope that if Putin sees enough of the world protest, maybe he will stop.” She pulled a face, as if to suggest that this was a long shot.








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    US has no strategy for Russian regime change, says Blinken

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    Normality is another world for the Ukrainian football team Shakhtar Donetsk. When Russia invaded Ukraine, football was stopped and the lives of the players, coaches, staff and fans were turned upside down in an instant. There was no time to waste with lives at stake as the autumn’s Champions League games against Real Madrid and Internazionale quickly became a distant memory.

    Sergei Palkin, the chief executive, has been at the forefront of the club’s humanitarian efforts and ensuring the safety of players from the academy to the first-team captain. Critical decisions were constantly needed as the invasion began, a world away from transfer and contract negotiations, as Shakhtar looked to use their influence to make a positive impact as football takes a backseat during the conflict.

    “We are dreaming when everything will be returned to normal, we dream of flying to play Champions League games,” Palkin says. “For us it will be the biggest win and the greatest happiness, but for now we can only dream about it.

    “When you are leading a normal life, you never think about being happy, or your freedom, as you do in all democratic countries. When you have this kind of situation where war has arrived in our homes, you start to think about the essential stuff.”

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    Despite reaching one of the darkest moments in more than 40 years as a dissident and human rights activist, Oleg Orlov says that he has no plans to flee Russia.

    “I made a decision a long time ago that I want to live and die in Russia, it’s my country,” Orlov told the Observer. “Even though it’s never been so bad.”

    That’s saying something for Orlov, who can recall printing homemade anti-war posters in the late 1970s to protest against the Russian invasion of Afghanistan or in support of Poland’s Solidarność movement, and was an observer and negotiator during the bloody war in Chechnya in the 1990s.

    He has been arrested three times for holding pickets since late February, when Russian troops launched an assault on Ukraine. And he doesn’t rule out a prison term in his future.

    “I understand the high likelihood of a criminal case against me and my colleagues,” he said. “But we have to do something … even if it is just to go out with a picket and speak honestly about what is happening.”

    Tens of thousands of Russians have fled the country since it invaded Ukraine, fearing a wave of government repression and a possible closure of Russia’s borders similar to what happened in the Soviet Union.

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    Biden’s regime change comment made situation ‘more dangerous’ – former US diplomat



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