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“War could start Wednesday” – foreign citizens flee Ukraine

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The United States is warning that war could begin in Ukraine as soon as Wednesday, as Russia prepares its invasion.

Moscow has repeatedly disputed Washington’s version of events, saying it has massed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border to maintain its own security against aggression by NATO allies.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed hope that Putin would choose diplomacy but said Washington would impose swift economic sanctions if Moscow invades.

“I continue to hope that he will not choose the path of renewed aggression and he’ll chose the path of diplomacy and dialogue,” Blinken told reporters after a meeting with Pacific leaders in Fiji. “But if he doesn’t, we’re prepared.”

Australia and New Zealand have joined the countries urging their citizens to leave Ukraine, after Washington said a Russian invasion, including a possible air assault, could occur anytime.

Putin, jostling for influence in post-Cold War Europe, is seeking security guarantees from Biden to block Kyiv’s entry into NATO and missile deployments near Russia’s borders.

Washington regards many of the proposals as non-starters but has pushed the Kremlin to discuss them jointly with Washington and its European allies.

Two calls in December between Biden and Putin produced no breakthroughs but set the stage for diplomacy between their aides.

Four-way talks in Berlin between Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France on Thursday made no progress.

THE THREAT IS GROWING

U.S. intelligence believes a rapid assault on Kyiv is possible and that Putin could order an invasion before the Winter Olympics end on Feb. 20,

On Twitter, Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy accused Washington of fanning “hysteria” and mounting a “panic campaign.”

Ahead of the talks with Putin, Biden spoke about the crisis with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Poland and Romania, as well as the heads of NATO and the EU.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.

“Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering,” Blinken said after the call on Friday.

Washington also expressed concern that Russia and China were cooperating at the highest level, with a senior administration official saying on Saturday the two were “working to undermine us.”

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Helicopter carrying Iran’s President Raisi crashes

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A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister crashed on Sunday as it was crossing mountain terrain in heavy fog.

The official said the lives of Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were “at risk following the helicopter crash”, which happened on the way back from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan in Iran’s northwest.

“We are still hopeful but information coming from the crash site is very concerning,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi takes off, May 19, 2024. Ali Hamed Haghdoust/IRNA/WANA via REUTERS

State TV quoted an official as saying at least one passenger and one crew member had been in contact with rescuers. It also said the helicopter had been found, though Iran’s Red Crescent denied this report.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran’s nuclear programme, sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs. #iran #trending

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Why Australia is becoming the new home of the Hollywood blockbuster

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Australia’s multimillion-dollar campaign to attract Hollywood productions to its shores appears to be paying off.

The allure of Australia lies not only in its picturesque locations but also in its competitive financial incentives.

The government offers generous rebates and tax breaks to international productions, making it an attractive proposition for filmmakers looking to maximise their budgets.

Despite the recent intake of Hollywood productions down under such as ‘The Fall Guy’ and ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’, Aussie independents are still finding the space to carve their own creative path.

Rob Fantozzi joined the program to discuss the latest in Hollywood, and showcased his own upcoming project – ‘Omerta‘. #featured

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Portal between countries shut down after international flashing

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An international video portal has been forced to shut down after an OnlyFans model reportedly flashed passersby from across the globe.

On this episode of Ahron and Mike Live – Which would you prefer; pay rise or work perks, an international portal closes, the military reveal a submarine stingray and are you on a top or bottom burger bun?

Ticker’s Ahron Young & Mike Loder discuss. #featured #trending

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