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New Zealand boosts budget funding for climate resilience in wake of Cyclone Gabrielle

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  • Ukraine’s president visited the UK on Monday for talks with the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak. In a tweet, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said: “The UK is a leader when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air. This cooperation will continue today. I will meet my friend Rishi. We will conduct substantive negotiations face to face and in delegations.”
  • Sunak said the UK would be “sustaining our support” for Ukraine as he prepared to meet Zelenskiy. In a statement, the prime minister said: “This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke. They need the sustained support of the international community to defend against the barrage of unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year. We must not let them down.”
  • Britain would send hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 120 miles to Ukraine, the government said. “Today the prime minister will confirm the further UK provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km,” it said in a statement.
  • Russia’s defence ministry claimed for the first time today that it had downed a long-range Storm Shadow missile supplied to Ukraine by Britain.
  • Russia took an “extremely negative” view of Britain’s decision to supply Ukraine with more military hardware such as long-range attack drones, but did not believe it would change the course of the conflict, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said on Monday.
  • The US is seeing more indications that Russia and Iran are expanding an unprecedented defence partnership that will help Moscow prolong its war in Ukraine as well as pose a threat to Iran’s neighbours. Iran reportedly provided Russia with one-way attack drones, including more than 400 since August, the US national security adviser, John Kirby, said at a news briefing.
  • The World Health Organization’s European office decided to close a specialised WHO office in Moscow and move its functions to Denmark. Calls from members to shut the office came last year over the Russian invasion.
  • The Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, inadvertently confirmed on Monday that four military aircraft had been shot down over Russia last week near the borders of Ukraine and Belarus, saying the capital city, Minsk, had responded by putting its armed forces on high alert. Photographs also emerged of Lukashenko on Monday visiting an air force installation. He had not been seen since 9 May, which caused speculation about his health.
  • Data published on the Federal Treasury’s online budget portal shows Russia spent 2tn roubles (£21bn) on defence in January and February alone. This is a 282% jump on the same period a year ago, data on the budget portal showed, illustrating the spiralling costs for Moscow of its conflict in Ukraine.
  • Russia’s defence ministry said it scrambled a fighter jet on Monday to prevent French and German patrol aircraft from entering its airspace over the Baltic Sea after it detected them flying towards Russia. Russia said the flights were being conducted by a German P-3C patrol aircraft and a French Atlantic-2 maritime patrol jet.
  • The UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, said that efforts would continue to extend a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, a pact Moscow has threatened to quit on 18 May over obstacles to its grain and fertiliser exports, Reuters reports.
  • Zelenskiy issued a new appeal to Nato on Monday to make a “positive political decision” on Kyiv’s membership at its July summit. Zelenskiy made his remarks in a video address to the Copenhagen Democracy Summit. He said that Finland joining Nato showed the strength of security guarantees, and thanked Denmark and other allies for their resolve in assisting Ukraine against Russia.
  • The defence of Bakhmut continued and recent days had shown that Ukraine could move forward and counter the Russian forces there, the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi, said on Monday.
  • Yevgeny Prigozhin, the self-acknowledged founder of the Russian mercenary Wagner group, tried to laugh off a report published in the Washington Post that claimed he had offered to reveal Russian military positions to Ukrainian intelligence if Kyiv pulled its troops back from Bakhmut.
  • The EU is ready to enforce sanctions against foreign companies helping Russia evade trade restrictions, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, reiterated on Monday.
  • Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said he expects the alliance to agree a “multi-year programme” to assist Ukraine in its desire to join, and that there was no “meaning in discussing when and how Ukraine can become a member of the alliance” unless it prevailed in the war “as a sovereign independent nation in Europe”.
  • France at the weekend announced dozens more light tanks and armoured vehicles for Ukraine’s army, together with training for the soldiers using them, following talks between the Ukrainian and French presidents in Paris. Zelenskiy and Emmanuel Macron also called for fresh sanctions against Russia. The leaders’ joint statement also said Paris would focus its efforts on “supporting Ukraine’s air defence capacities”.
  • The two leaders’ comments came after Zelenskiy flew into France late on Sunday during a whistle-stop tour of Europe and joined Macron for a dinner at the Élysée Palace. Zelenskiy tweeted earlier as he arrived in the country at an airbase in Villacoublay, south-west of Paris: “With each visit, Ukraine’s defense and offensive capabilities are expanding.”
  • Zelenskiy thanked Germany for its support and what he called the largest military aid package since the beginning of Russia’s invasion as he met with the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in Berlin on Sunday. The trip came after the German government announced a new military package worth €2.7bn as Ukrainian forces prepare for a counteroffensive to reclaim territory captured by Russia.
  • During Zelenskiy’s visit to Germany, he was awarded the prestigious Charlemagne prize on behalf of the Ukrainian people in honour of services to Europe. The Ukrainian president received the award, which honours services to European unification, in the western city of Aachen with Scholz after their talks in Berlin.
  • The German Football Association (DFB) vice-president, Hermann Winkler, on Monday apologised for a social media post mocking the visit to Berlin.
  • Russia said two of its military commanders were killed in eastern Ukraine, as Ukraine’s forces renewed efforts to break through Russian defences in embattled Bakhmut. The Russian defence ministry said on Sunday that commander Vyacheslav Makarov, of the 4th motorised rifle brigade, and deputy commander Yevgeny Brovko, from a separate unit, were killed trying to repel Ukrainian attacks.
  • Russia has “already lost geopolitically” its war in Ukraine and is transforming into a vassal state of China, Macron has said. “De facto, it has entered a form of subservience with regards to China and has lost its access to the Baltic, which was critical, because it prompted the decision by Sweden and Finland to join Nato,” the French president said in an interview with the Opinion newspaper published on Sunday.
  • Russian forces were much diminished since the start of the war, the UK Ministry of Defence said, with troops consisting of mostly poorly trained mobilised reservists and increasingly reliant on antiquated equipment. Many of its units were severely under strength, it said.

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