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AP
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Ukrainian officials say their country's forces are withdrawing from a besieged eastern city to move to stronger positions. The industrial city of Sievierodonetsk, the administrative center of the Luhansk region, has faced relentless Russian bombardment. Ukrainian troops fought the Russians in house-to-house battles before retreating to a huge chemical factory on the city’s edge, where they holed up in its sprawling underground structures with civilians. Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Friday that the Ukrainian troops have been ordered to leave Sievierodonetsk, which has been reduced mostly to rubble and seen its population decline from an estimated 100,000 to 10,000.

AP
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The European Union’s decision to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership has offered war-weary Ukrainians a morale boost even as the country’s military ordered its fighters to retreat from a key city in the eastern Donbas region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the decision of EU leaders as vindication for his nation’s fight against Russia’s aggression. Others recalled the 2014 revolution that ousted Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president, sparked in part by his decision not to complete an EU association agreement. Russian President Vladimir Putin opposed the agreement, just as he demanded before the current war that Ukraine is kept out of NATO. Ukraine applied for EU membership less than a week after Russia invaded.

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Social media users shared a range of false claims this week. Here are the facts: A photo of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in front of a green screen was taken in Kyiv for a virtual conference address, not outside of the country. A video claiming to show a Russian missile was created using visual effects. A man who was charged with child pornography didn’t work for Drag Queen Story Hour. A video shows dead sheep in the country of Georgia, not Idaho. And an image purporting to show a headline from The Atlantic about “Biden’s bike fall” is fabricated.

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North Korea’s possible decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons along its border with South Korea that could reach Seoul and U.S. forces stationed in the country in minutes could be a game changer in the standoff between Kim Jong Un and the United States. North Korea already has thousands of conventional weapons aimed at South Korea, but moving short-range nuclear-armed missiles to the border would be the clearest sign yet that Kim is looking to use his nuclear weapons to both threaten South Korea and wrest concessions from outside nuclear negotiators.

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With Ukraine’s seaports blockaded or captured by Russian forces, neighboring Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta has emerged as a main conduit for the war-torn country’s grain exports amid a growing world food crisis. It’s Romania’s biggest port, home to Europe’s fastest-loading grain terminal, and has processed nearly a million tons of grain from Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat and corn, since the Feb. 24 invasion. But port operators say that maintaining, let alone increasing, the volume they handle could soon be impossible without concerted European Union support and investment. Romanian and other EU officials have also voiced concern, lining up in recent weeks to pledge support.

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The U.S. envoy to Israel has moved into a new rental property in Jerusalem. The new digs come after two years of house-hunting in the wake of then-President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to shift the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since then, the United States has been searching for a permanent residence in the Holy City. But in the tight real estate market, it has been difficult to find something suitable. That's just one of the ways that Trump’s Mideast legacy endures. The new ambassador, Tom Nides, quietly moved into the rental home last spring. Real estate agents estimate the value of the luxury property at about $23 million.

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A shared history of political turmoil and violence in two countries a world apart, Lebanon and Sri Lanka, led to the collapse of once-prosperous economies that have been bedeviled by corruption, patronage, nepotism and incompetence. The toxic combinations have led to currency collapse, energy shortages, triple-digit inflation and growing hunger in both countries. Their middle class is decimated, and there has been an exodus of professionals who might have helped to rebuild the countries one day. Experts say about a dozen countries could suffer similar fates as the post-pandemic recovery and war in Ukraine spark global food shortages and a surge in prices.

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A Ukrainian deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union says she’s “100%” certain all 27 EU nations will approve making Ukraine a candidate for membership in the bloc. In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna said the decision could come as soon as Thursday. She says countries that had been skeptical about starting accession talks while Ukraine is fighting Russia’s invasion are now supportive. Granting a country EU candidate status requires unanimous approval from existing member nations. Candidacy is the first step toward membership. It doesn't provide security guarantees or an automatic right to join the bloc.

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Harassment and violence have become common outside abortion clinics over the decades since the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion. Now providers and some in law enforcement are preparing for an increase in violence once the Supreme Court rules in a case that could end Roe v. Wade. They anticipate protests, harassment and other violence will increase in states where abortion remains legal. The National Abortion Federation and the hundreds of abortion clinics it represents have been on “heightened alert” since the opinion leaked. The Department of Homeland Security has warned violence is likely to increase on both sides.

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A series of clandestine, against-the-odds helicopter missions to reach besieged soldiers are being celebrated in Ukraine as one of the riskiest, most heroic feats of military derring-do in the four-month war against Russia. The flights delivered supplies and evacuated wounded during the last-ditch defense of the Azovstal steel mill. It was surrounded by Russian forces in the brutalized city of Mariupol. Ukrainian troops were pinned down for weeks, their supplies running low, their dead and injured stacking up. Ukraine’s president first spoke of the sometimes deadly helicopter resupply missions only after Azovstal’s defenders started surrendering in May. The Associated Press has found and interviewed some of the wounded who were rescued from the death trap.