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Ukrainian drone blows up Russian supersonic bomber



In a dramatic escalation of hostilities, a Ukrainian drone strike has reportedly obliterated a prominent Russian long-range bomber, signaling a new level of engagement in the ongoing conflict between the two nations.

Images shared on social media platforms and analyzed by BBC Verify appear to depict a Tupolev Tu-22 engulfed in flames at the Soltsy-2 airbase, located to the south of St. Petersburg.

While Moscow asserts that the drone was indeed struck by small-arms fire but only managed to “damage” one of its aircraft, Ukraine has refrained from commenting on the incident.

Russian power

The Tupolev Tu-22, capable of reaching twice the speed of sound, has been extensively utilized by Russia to carry out attacks on Ukrainian cities, making it a high-value target for Ukrainian forces.

The Russian Ministry of Defence issued a statement, confirming that the incident occurred around 10:00 Moscow time (08:00 BST) on Saturday at a military airfield in the Novgorod region, where Soltsy-2 is situated. According to the Russian MoD, the “copter-type UAV” was detected by the airfield’s observation post and subsequently engaged with small-arms fire. The statement maintained that while one airplane was damaged, there were no casualties as a result of the attack. Additionally, it mentioned that a fire in the airfield’s parking area was swiftly extinguished.

Moscow’s denials

Contrary to Moscow’s account, images circulating on the Telegram social media platform portrayed a substantial fire consuming an aircraft that exhibited the distinctive nose cone of the Tu-22.

While the destruction of a single aircraft may not significantly diminish Moscow’s current fleet of 60 Tu-22 bombers, this operation underscores Kyiv’s growing capacity to target Russian territory deeply. In recent months, Kyiv has employed numerous fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles to strike Moscow, a journey spanning several hundred miles. Soltsy-2, the site of the attack, is approximately 400 miles (650km) from the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian tools

However, the Russian MoD’s description of the drone as a “copter-type UAV” suggests it may have been a relatively inexpensive, commercially available device launched at short range.

The Tu-22, commonly referred to as “Backfire” by NATO, is a Cold War-era swing-wing supersonic bomber. Modern variants such as the Tu-22M3 can reach speeds of Mach 2 (2,300km/h or 1,430mph) and carry payloads of up to 24,000kg, including conventional bombs and guided missiles. These bombers have been deployed in various conflicts, including Syria, Chechnya, Georgia, and most recently, Ukraine.

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COP28: Global effort to phase out fossil fuels



World leaders at COP28 have intensified their commitment to combat climate change by embarking on a bold initiative to phase out fossil fuels.

The United Nations climate talks, held in a virtual format due to ongoing pandemic concerns, saw representatives from nearly 200 countries coming together to address the urgent need for action on the climate crisis.

The decision to focus on ending fossil fuel use marks a significant departure from previous climate negotiations.

Countries have traditionally grappled with setting emissions reduction targets, but this year’s conference places a strong emphasis on the need to transition away from the reliance on coal, oil, and natural gas. Experts argue that this shift is critical to limiting global temperature rise and avoiding the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Key highlights of the COP28 agreement include setting ambitious deadlines for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, promoting renewable energy sources, and encouraging the development of green technologies.

The conference also established a fund to support developing nations in their transition away from fossil fuels, recognizing that these countries often face the greatest challenges in achieving sustainability.

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Russian police raid Moscow gay clubs



Russian authorities conducted raids on several gay clubs in Moscow, according to reports from various media outlets.

The raids have sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ+ community and have raised concerns about the ongoing crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia.

Eyewitnesses and clubgoers describe a heavy police presence during the raids, with officers reportedly detaining patrons and staff members.

The reasons behind these raids remain unclear, but they have ignited a fierce debate on social media and within human rights organizations.

International LGBTQ+ rights advocates are calling on the Russian government to address these actions and protect the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ individuals in the country.

The raids have also drawn attention to Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda” law, which has been criticized for its potential to fuel discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people.

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UK delays Jeff Zucker’s Telegraph deal for inquiry



The UK government has decided to put a hold on the proposed acquisition of The Telegraph newspaper by media mogul Jeff Zucker’s conglomerate.

According to a recent report, this decision has been made in order to conduct further investigations into potential regulatory concerns surrounding the deal.

The move comes amidst growing concerns over media consolidation and its impact on media diversity and competition.

The government aims to ensure that the acquisition would not result in a concentration of media power that could potentially stifle independent journalism and diverse voices in the industry.

This decision has sparked debates about the balance between media ownership and the preservation of media plurality in the UK. Supporters of the deal argue that it could lead to much-needed investments in The Telegraph, while critics worry about the potential for Zucker’s conglomerate to wield too much influence over the media landscape.

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