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Ukraine Crisis

Severe floods – 1.7M people displaced in China

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Severe flooding in China’s north has displaced almost 2 million people following a week of torrential rain

Damage has been reported in around 70 districts, with reports of mudslides and collapsing houses.

Meanwhile, authorities say heavy rainfall is making rescue efforts difficult.

120-thousand people have been transferred and resettled and 17-thousand homes have collapsed.

Local media also says four police officers died as a result of a landslide in the region.

This all follows extreme rains in the Henan province just three months ago which claimed 300 lives.

Ukraine Crisis

NATO ties – Sweden receives full backing from U.S.

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Just days after announcing its intentions to join NATO, Sweden has received full backing from the United States.

U.S. Defence Secretary Llyod Austin welcomed his Swedish counterpart to the Pentagon, in a show of solidarity between the two nations.

Austin says the United States says Sweden’s membership to the alliance will make all member nations safer and more secure.

Both Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the strategic alliance on Wednesday, but still face objections from Turkey.

The whole membership process is expected to take just a few weeks, but ratification by all allied parliaments could take up to a year.

It signifies one of the most significant shake-ups of European security architecture not seen since the Cold War.

The two nations remained neutral throughout this period in history, despite Finland sharing a 1,300 kilometre border with Russia.

Sweden says Russian propaganda can no longer hide the nation’s war crimes… and believes now more than ever, democracies must stand together against Moscow’s increasing aggression.

NATO Secretary-General Jen Stoltenberg says this is an historic moment which must be seized, warmly requesting the requests from both meetings at the alliance headquarters.

Both Sweden and Finland handed over their application letters, each envelope embossed with their national flag.

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Ukraine Crisis

Zelensky extends Ukraine’s martial law by 90 days

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With the war in Ukraine showing little to no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Volodymyr Zelensky has moved to extend his nation’s martial law by 90 days

The required documents have now been sent to the Ukrainian parliament for consideration, requiring approval by at least half of all lawmakers.

The first round of martial law was initiated on February 24, the day Putin declared war over the country.

This marks the beginning of a new stage of the conflict, with Ukraine’s defence minister hoping to arm one million fighters – as the nation prepares for the long haul.

Ukrainian soldiers walk at Kyiv central train station, Ukraine, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

So what does a martial law ruling actually mean for Ukrainians?

Well, it gives those in positions of military leadership more power to intervene in the lives of civilians, introducing curfews, conducting searches of private property without notice and even banning travel.

Residents also lose a number of fundamental rights including the right to receive education, the right to work and freedom of movement.

Men aged between 18 and 60 have also been banned from leaving the country.

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Ukraine Crisis

Finland and Sweden submit applications to join NATO

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Finland and Sweden have officially submitted their applications to join NATO

Finland and Sweden have handed in applications to join NATO.

It ends decades of political neutrality for both nations, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Chief of NATO says the applications are quote an “historic step”.

If their bid is successful, it will bring the alliance’s membership to 32.

While Russia strongly opposes the move, there are also members within NATO’s own ranks voicing their concerns.

Dubbed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the NATO alliance was founded in 1949

It follows one rule: an attack on one, is an attack on all.

It sought to counter Russian expansion in Europe after World War Two.

But following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of its former Eastern European allies joined the alliance, something that has raised concerns in Moscow.

Finland and Sweden need the support of all member states to join. If they’re successful, it will take the alliance to 32 members.

NATO members must spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence. Finland already meets this target and Sweden says it will do so “as soon as possible”.

The two countries will also bring a range of military might.

Finland has over 19-thousand active troops, and Sweden has over 14-and-a-half thousand.

There are 220 tanks, and over 200 combat aircraft.

Russia believes NATO has been verging on its door stop and is warning both nations against joining.

Turkey’s President is also voicing concerns, saying the two Scandinavian nations should not send delegations to convince him of their bids.

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