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Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat meet amid spy balloon tensions



The diplomats met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference

Diplomats from the United States and China met for the first time since the U.S. military shot down a balloon that the Pentagon says was part of China’s massive surveillance program run by its military.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a meeting with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Blinken told him the violation of American airspace by a Chinese balloon can never happen again.

After traveling across the continental U.S. from coast to coast, the U.S. government shot down the Chinese spy balloon on Feb. 4 over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina.

According to Blinken, Wang did not apologise for the incident during their meeting.

Before their sit-down Wang accused the U.S. of violating international norms with behaviour that he characterised as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘almost hysterical’ by shooting down the balloon.

Blinken rebutted by saying that the U.S. did not overreact in shooting down the balloon and that there was no doubt it was attempting to engage in active surveillance.

“What I can tell you is this, what is what is clear is that once the balloon was over the United States and flying basically west to east, it attempted to surveil very sensitive military sites in some cases it loitered or returned to them as it progressed east,” Blinken said.

“There is no doubt in our minds at all that ‘a’ this was a surveillance balloon and ‘b’, it was attempting to engage in active surveillance,” he explained.

In the week following the take down of the Chinese spy balloon, the U.S. military also shot down three mysterious objects—one over northern Alaska, the Yukon and Lake Huran.

On Saturday, the U.S. announced that it has called off the recovery operation for the Chinese spy balloon and the search for the mysterious downed objects.

Veronica Dudo is the U.S. Correspondent for Ticker News covering America’s biggest headlines. As an Emmy® Award nominated global journalist, Veronica has traveled across the country and around the world reporting on historical events that connect all citizens. Lauded as an award-winning international journalist, Veronica has executed stellar news coverage for NBC News, CBS News, The Hill, ME-TV Network and AOL. Her stories have highlighted a plethora of topics ranging from breaking news and politics to economic affairs across the USA, European Union, and Asia; cultural affairs; globalization; governance; education; and sustainability.

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U.S. Sec. Blinken testifies in wake of Xi-Putin Summit



When President Biden took office, he promised that America was back. But, is that really the case?

On Wednesday, the United States’ top diplomat testified on Capitol Hill about his agency’s foreign policy priorities before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered a stark and candid view on the global situation.

His testimony comes following Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President, Xi Jinping publicized their goal for a New World order during their three-day summit in Moscow.

The unholy alliance frightens the United States.

Republicans say President Joe Biden failed to take a stronger stance with China and Russia—especially after a Russian fighter jet downed a U.S. Reaper drone and the Chinese spy balloon incursion over the continental United States.

The top republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee Marco Rubio says the fight in Ukraine is more than a proxy war— there are concerns about China’s designs for Taiwan.

China and Russia share similar goals and stand in opposition against western influences. As their alliance grows deeper, President Xi has invited President Putin to visit China in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, officials at the White House say they’re still working to schedule a phone call between President Biden and President Xi.

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Two Australian Army personnel injured in helicopter crash



The helicopter crashed into water during counterterrorism training

Two Defence Force personnel have been injured after an Australian Army helicopter crashed into the water during routine counterterrorism training on New South Wales south coast.

There were 10 personnel on board the aircraft when the incident occurred and all have been recovered from the water.

Chief of Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart says the incident had the potential to end in “tragedy”.

He notes the quick responses of ADF personnel and emergency services alongside well drilled teams prevented potential loss of life.

An investigation into this incident has been launched to determine the cause.

The training activity has been temporarily paused as a precaution and the MRH-90 Taipan fleet will be grounded while the cause of the incident is determined. #trending

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Volodymyr Zelensky visits Bakhmut frontline



The President was handing out medals and visited the wounded

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visited his troops near the frontline city of Bakhmut, the ongoing battle for the city being one of the bloodiest of the war.

Footage released by the president’s office shows him handing out medals and visiting wounded in the Donetsk region, where Bakhmut is located. He’s telling the troops that they’re there to protect the land for their children and later, in the hospital, “good luck, boys.”

Zelensky’s visit came after a swarm of Russian drones hit Ukrainian cities including the capital overnight, said by Ukraine’s military to include Iranian-built suicide drones.

And in a tweet, Zelensky apparently referenced Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Moscow, saying: Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes.”

Meanwhile, the British government is rejecting accusations from Moscow that ammunition it has given Ukraine made from depleted uranium risks raising the nuclear stakes in the war.

Depleted uranium shells are used by many militaries including Russia to penetrate armour such as tanks.

The U.K. doesn’t consider it nuclear armament, but the dust it creates does pose a risk to people wherever the shells land after being fired.

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