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Kyiv Claims Russian Pullback

FILE: Broken glass lies on the floor of a building damaged during a Russian strike in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Nov. 25, 2022.

Ukraine's military said on Thursday Russia had pulled some troops from towns on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River from Kherson city, the first official Ukrainian report of a Russian withdrawal on what is now the main front line in the south.

The Ukrainian military statement gave only limited details and made no mention of any Ukrainian forces having crossed the Dnipro.

"A decrease in the number of Russian soldiers and military equipment is observed in the settlement of Oleshky," the Ukrainian military said, referring to the town opposite Kherson city, on the far side of a destroyed bridge over the Dnipro.

"Enemy troops were withdrawn from certain settlements of the Kherson oblast and dispersed in forest strips along the section of the Oleshky - Hola Prystan highway," it said, referring to a 25-km (15-mile) stretch of road through riverside towns scattered in woods on the bank opposite Kherson city.

Russia has already told civilians to leave towns within 15 km of the river and withdrew its civilian administration from the city of Nova Kakhovska on the river bank.

Ukrainian officials have previously said Russia pulled back some artillery near the river to safer positions further away, but until now had stopped short of saying Russian forces were quitting towns.

Kyiv also stressed that Russia had intensified shelling across the river, knocking out power again in Kherson where electricity had only begun to be restored nearly three weeks after Russian troops vacated the city and fled across the river.

The Ukraine war is entering a relentless new phase with the onset of the first winter since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.

After withdrawing in the south in November, Moscow has focused its firepower on a section of the front line in the east near the city of Bakhmut, where hundreds of soldiers are thought to be dying a day in some of the conflict's bloodiest fighting, yielding little reported gains of territory on either side.

Ukraine's armed forces reported heavy shelling of a number of frontline cities in the area.

"We are analyzing the intentions of the occupiers and preparing counter-measures - tougher counter-measures than is now the case," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an overnight televised address.

The European Union called this week for a special tribunal to prosecute Russian officials accused of aggression, the war crime of attacking another state without justification. The Kremlin rejected this on Thursday.

"As for attempts to establish some kind of tribunal: they will have no legitimacy, will not be accepted by us and we will condemn them," Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a briefing call with reporters.

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"No Warplanes for Ukraine" - Germany

FILE: German air force pilots stand next to a fighter jet during a visit of then-Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen at the Al Azraq air base in Jordan. Taken Jan 13, 2018

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

FILE: A members of Burkinabe workers' unions and civil society associations holds a placard reading "Enough of this bad standard of government" during a march called by the UAS union to call for better security measures against terrorism, in Ouagadougou on September 16, 2019

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

FILE: Tanzanian Nemes Tarimo is seen in a photo posted Jan. 7, 2021, on his Facebook page.

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

FILE: Ukrainian soldiers fire an artillery at Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Taken Sun. Nov. 20, 2022.

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

Polish PT-91 Twardy, German Leopard 2 and Italian Ariete tanks of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence battle groups attend live fire exercise, during Iron Spear 2022 military drill in Adazi, Latvia. Taken Nov. 15, 2022.

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.

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