Kyiv Claims Drone Attack Downed
Ukraine said Wednesday it had shot down multiple Iranian-made drones launched at the capital by Russian troops in their latest attack on Kyiv.
"The terrorists started this morning with 13 Shaheds," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, referring to the Iran-made weapons.
"All 13 were shot down" he added, urging residents to heed air raid sirens.
Explosions rang out over a central neighborhood in Kyiv in the early hours and AFP journalists later saw law enforcement and emergency service workers inspecting metal fragments at a snow-covered impact site.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced that explosions were heard in the central district of Shevchenkivsky and city officials said debris from the downed drones had damaged residential homes and an local administrative building.
No one was reported injured or killed.
Kyiv has been subjected to nearly ten months of air raid sirens and frequent aerial attacks since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and tried to capture the capital.
But the attacks have increased up since October when Russia began systematically targeting critical infrastructure in Ukraine in attacks that have disrupted electricity, water and heat to millions in Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Ukraine's allies to provide his country with more weapons to help it "fight through the winter" and sustain Kyiv's military advances.
In nearly 10 months of fighting, Russia has yet to fulfil any of its stated key goals in what it refers to as its "special military operation" in Ukraine, including seizing the capital or the eastern Donbas region.
The Moscow-installed leader of Ukraine's Donetsk region on Wednesday however called for Russia to widen its goals and annex two more areas of Ukraine, the Black Sea region of Odessa and Chernigiv in the north.
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"No Warplanes for Ukraine" - Germany
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has ruled out the possibility that Berlin would send fighter aircraft to Ukraine to use against Russian invaders. The turn-down followed Germany's agreement to send front-line Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv.
"Fighter aircrafts are much more complex systems than main battle tanks and have a completely different range and firepower. We would be venture into dimensions that I would currently warn against," Pistorius said in the interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung published on Friday.
Pistorius, who took office last week after his predecessor resigned, said Germany would also need to raise its annual regular defense spending from the current level of around 50 billion euros.
Germany also needs to replenish its military hardware stocks, including replacements for the 14 Leopard tanks that Berlin agreed to send to Ukraine to help repel Russia's invasion, the new defense chief said.
Germany has been hesitant in its aid to Ukraine, waiting until the United States committed its front-line M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv before allowing German tanks to go not only from Germany, but also, from countries that Berlin has supplied those same tanks to.
Burkina Suffers Twin Terrors
At least 10 civilians were killed in two attacks by suspected jihadists in the Burkina Faso town of Dassa, security and local sources told AFP on Friday.
Late on Thursday, two groups of armed men attacked two areas in Dassa, a commune in west-central Burkina Faso around 140 kilometers west of the capital Ouagadougou, killing 12 civilians according to a resident who spoke to AFP.
A security source confirmed the two attacks, but said there was "a provisional toll of around 10 victims."
Thousands of troops, police and civilians have been killed and around two million people have fled their homes since jihadists launched an insurgency from neighboring Mali in 2015.
More than a third of the country lies beyond the control of the government, and frustration within the army at the mounting toll triggered two coups last year.
Burkinabe's ruling junta confirmed Monday that it had told France to withdraw within a month its contingent of some 400 troops currently stationed in the country to assist against the insurgents.
France said Thursday that it was recalling its ambassador from Burkina Faso, a day after agreeing to the demand to pull its troops
Tanzania Buries Young Wagner Fighter
Hundreds of Tanzanians attended an emotional memorial ceremony on Friday for a student who was killed fighting for Russia in Ukraine after being recruited in jail.
Nemes Tarimo was serving a seven-year term for an undisclosed offense.
Russia's Wagner mercenary group recruited him for payment and the promise he would be freed after the war, Tanzanian authorities said this week.
Following his death on October 24, his body arrived in Tanzania on Friday, with tearful family members gathering at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam to receive his remains.
The short memorial service was attended by government officials as well as representatives from the opposition Chadema party, which counted Tarimo among its members.
In a eulogy, a family member said Tarimo was father to a three-year-old girl who was still in Russia.
After prayers, mourners lined up before the closed coffin, which had a framed photograph of Tarimo.
"Due to circumstances which are out of our control, we will not display the physical face of the late Tarimo," a relative told mourners.
Tarimo's uncle Dickson Muro said he spoke to the student last year.
"Tarimo called me and said he was free and promised to return home this January. He also warned that I should not call him until he does so," he said.
Tarimo's stepfather said the student had told him he had secured a job in Ukraine.
"I told him to be careful there because of war, but he told me not to worry," said Sultan Nassoro.
Chadema official Ernest Mgawe said Tarimo had bid for the party's member of parliament nomination in Dar es Salaam in 2020.
"We lost a commander," he said.
Tarimo's body will now be buried to the southern region of Mbeya.
In recent months, men have been recruited from Russian prisons to fight on the front lines in Ukraine with the promise of lucrative wages and reduced sentences.
Zambian student Lemekani Nyirenda, 23, was killed in Ukraine in September, triggering a diplomatic spat and prompting Lusaka to demand an explanation from Moscow.
EU Extends Russia Sanctions
The EU extended its sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine for a further six months on Friday, as it mulls fresh measures against Moscow.
The sanctions, originally imposed when Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, were significantly ramped up after the start of the all-out invasion in February.
They have been routinely extended for six-month periods over the past eight years. The EU has imposed nine rounds of sanctions on Moscow since it launched a major cross-border offensive last year.
The measures have included hitting Russia's key oil exports, cutting off its banks from the SWIFT global payment system, and targeting President Vladimir Putin personally.
Some eastern European nations had sought to extend the sanctions by one year this time to lock in the punishment for a longer timeframe.
The bloc's executive arm is currently working to draw up proposals for a tenth round of sanctions.
But officials warn that it is getting harder to find agreement between the EU's 27 member states on further hard-hitting measures.
Ukraine has called for the next package of sanctions to target Russia's missile industry and nuclear power sector.
The EU is also eyeing expanding sanctions on Moscow's ally Belarus, which has acted as a staging post for Russia's war effort.
Poland Amps Ukraine Tank Transfer
Poland will send an additional 60 tanks to Ukraine on top of the 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks it has already pledged, the Polish prime minister said in an interview with Canadian television on Thursday.
"Right now, we are ready to send 60 of our modernized tanks, 30 of them PT-91. And on top of those tanks, 14 tanks, Leopard 2 tanks, from in our possession," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Canada's CTV News.
"Poland sent 250 tanks as the first country half a year ago or even more than that," he added.
The PT-91 is a Polish-made battle tank that came into service in the 1990s. It was developed from the Soviet-era T-72 range.
On Friday, Polish Deputy Defense Minister Marcin Ociepa told private broadcaster RMF FM that it would be around three months before its donated Leopard tanks reached Ukraine.
"It depends what country we are talking about, but I would estimate that we are talking about around a quarter... until those tanks can really be on Ukrainian territory and go into battle," he said.
Warsaw, which has positioned itself as one of Kyiv's staunchest allies, had pressed hard for Germany to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other countries to do so as well, a demand which Berlin agreed to on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked Poland on Twitter for the decision to supply the additional tanks. "Together we will win!", he wrote.
Canada on Thursday announced that it would send four Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. Norway has also said it will send Leopards while Spain said it was open to providing them.