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Researchers studying the migration patterns of Greater Spotted Eagles have found that these birds altered their usual routes across Ukraine in response to the conflict and environmental damage caused by war. They believe the eagles avoided dangers such as artillery fire and troop buildups, likely due to damage to their habitats.

The study, published in Current Biology by researchers from the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the British Trust for Ornithology, reveals that the eagles deviated significantly from their usual paths, spent less time at refueling sites, and traveled longer distances. These changes resulted in delays and increased energy expenditure for the birds.

While all tracked birds survived, the researchers are concerned about the potential long-term effects on their breeding capabilities. As the Greater Spotted Eagle is classified as a vulnerable species, any disruption to their migratory patterns and breeding performance is considered a significant conservation concern.

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The Kremlin has announced the removal of long-time ally Sergei Shoigu from his position as defense minister, replacing him with Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, who lacks significant military experience. Shoigu will be appointed secretary of Russia’s Security Council. This move, a rare reshuffle in Russian politics, is seen as reflecting President Putin’s decision-making authority, particularly regarding the conflict in Ukraine.

Belousov’s appointment surprises many due to his background as an economist. However, analysts suggest this decision aligns with Putin’s aim to integrate the Russian economy more closely with military efforts. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov emphasized the need for innovation in the defense ministry, comparing Russia’s situation to the mid-1980s Soviet Union when a large portion of GDP was allocated to military spending.

The decision to appoint a civilian to such a significant military role underscores the changing priorities within the Kremlin and the necessity to improve efficiency in the armed forces amid ongoing conflicts. Recent events, including the arrest of one of Shoigu’s deputies on corruption charges and prolonged military engagement in Ukraine, likely contributed to speculation about Shoigu’s weakening position.

While Shoigu will retain influence as secretary of the Security Council, his reassignment may be interpreted as a demotion. The future of Nikolai Patrushev, the council’s current head, remains uncertain. Shoigu, who has a civil engineering background, gained prominence in the 1990s as head of the emergencies and disaster relief ministry.

Belousov, described as a staunch defender of the state who believes Russia faces numerous external threats, shares a close relationship with Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. He has practiced martial arts, including karate and sambo, and previously served as an aide to Putin. His support for the annexation of Crimea in 2014 aligns with Putin’s policies.

Putin’s recent reelection for a fifth term with an overwhelming majority solidifies his leadership position in Russia, which he has held since 2000.

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The United States has accused Russia of violating international laws by allegedly deploying chemical weapons as a method of warfare in Ukraine. Specifically, they claim that Russia used the chemical agent chloropicrin to gain battlefield advantages over Ukrainian forces. These accusations, according to US officials, are not isolated incidents and would breach the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Russia is a signatory.

However, the Kremlin has rejected these accusations as baseless, asserting that Russia adheres to its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons defines a chemical weapon as a substance used to cause intentional harm through its toxic properties, and chloropicrin falls under this category. The use of chloropicrin in warfare is explicitly prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Additionally, there are claims that Russia has also used riot control agents, such as tear gas, during the conflict in Ukraine. President Joe Biden has previously warned Russia against the use of chemical weapons, stating that there would be severe consequences if such actions were taken.

Despite warnings, there have been reports of chemical attacks, with Ukrainian troops reportedly facing increasing instances of exposure to toxic gases. The US has sanctioned individuals and entities linked to Russia’s biological and chemical weapons program in response to these allegations.

There have also been concerns about Russia’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, with accusations of incomplete declarations of its stockpile. Previous incidents, such as the Salisbury attack and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, have raised doubts about Russia’s adherence to international agreements.

Amidst these allegations, Russian forces continue their advance in eastern Ukraine, with ongoing fighting around strategic locations. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken action against allegations of corruption within the Ukrainian Security Service, while Human Rights Watch has called for a war crimes investigation into alleged executions of surrendering Ukrainian troops by Russian forces.

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Ukraine’s President Zelensky has expressed concerns over Russia’s offensive tactics amid delays in Western weapon deliveries, particularly from the US, despite a recently approved $61 billion aid package. Zelensky emphasized the urgency of faster deliveries, citing the need for artillery shells and air defense systems to counter Russian aggression.

The situation escalated after a Russian missile strike killed four civilians and wounded dozens in Odesa. Russian forces also claimed the capture of additional villages in eastern Ukraine, heightening tensions along the frontline.

NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg echoed Zelensky’s sentiments, acknowledging Ukraine’s urgent need for weapons and the detrimental impact of delayed aid on the battlefield. However, he expressed optimism that forthcoming arms deliveries could help bolster Ukraine’s defenses.

Stoltenberg reaffirmed NATO’s support for Ukraine’s eventual membership but downplayed the possibility of an official invitation at the upcoming Washington summit. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces reported withdrawals from positions in Donetsk amidst intensified Russian attacks.

The dire humanitarian situation was underscored by the harrowing journey of a 98-year-old woman who traversed several kilometers to escape shelling in the eastern village of Ocheretyne. Her ordeal serves as a poignant reminder of the human cost of the conflict.

The long-awaited approval of US military aid offers hope for replenishing Ukraine’s dwindling supplies, which have been stretched thin amid the ongoing conflict. Delays in aid delivery have been attributed to the loss of lives and territory, highlighting the critical need for timely support from Western allies.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has approved a legislation reducing the military mobilization age from 27 to 25, aiming to bolster Ukraine’s armed forces amid heavy losses in the ongoing conflict with Russia. The decision, which was previously passed by MPs in May 2023 but awaited Zelensky’s signature, comes amid concerns over potential Russian offensives in the coming months.

Zelensky had expressed the need for an additional 500,000 soldiers, and this move is seen as a step towards replenishing reserves, especially as volunteer numbers had declined. The intention behind the law’s enactment now may be linked to strategic preparations against possible Russian advancements.

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has reached a stalemate, with Ukrainian forces unable to make significant territorial gains due to Russian military superiority and formidable defenses. Furthermore, Ukraine’s military operations have been constrained by a reduction in foreign aid, particularly from Western sources, which have been hindered by political disputes.

The casualty figures on both sides remain contentious. While Russian President Vladimir Putin has not disclosed the number of Russian military personnel casualties, a US intelligence report estimated significant losses among Russian forces. Likewise, Ukrainian casualties have been substantial, with conflicting reports on the exact numbers of soldiers killed and injured.

Overall, Zelensky’s approval of the bill reflects Ukraine’s determination to bolster its defenses in the face of ongoing conflict and potential future escalations with Russia.

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Moscow is orchestrating a significant effort urging residents in occupied parts of Ukraine to participate in Russia’s presidential election. The election, spanning three days for the first time, is being supplemented with early voting in regions under occupation, including Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk.

Reports indicate coercion tactics, with pro-Russian collaborators and armed soldiers visiting households with ballot boxes to encourage voting. While Vladimir Putin’s victory seems assured, a high turnout would bolster Kremlin’s legitimacy and potentially justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Residents are pressured through various means, including home visits by electoral representatives accompanied by armed individuals, data collection, and filming. Despite resistance and attacks on election organizers, Moscow continues to promote the vote as an endorsement of Putin’s leadership, using symbols associated with the Ukraine conflict.

However, critics denounce the process as undemocratic and farcical, citing intimidation tactics, forced participation, and the absence of genuine opposition. Many residents, fearful of repercussions, reluctantly comply with the orchestrated election process.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently stated that if Donald Trump were to be re-elected as the President of the United States, he would not provide funding for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion. Orban asserted that Trump has made assurances to swiftly end the conflict if elected again, albeit without offering detailed plans. According to Orban, Ukraine lacks the capacity to sustain the war without financial and military support from the United States.

Orban’s vocal support for Trump was evident during his recent visit to Florida, where he met with the former president. Notably, Orban did not arrange a meeting with the incumbent US President, Joe Biden. This move has raised eyebrows, particularly as it’s unusual for a visiting foreign leader not to meet with the current administration. Orban’s stance on Ukraine stands in contrast to many European Union leaders who advocate for providing aid to Ukraine and criticize Orban’s close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Concerns are growing within the international community that a potential second Trump presidency could lead to a reduction in US assistance to Ukraine and NATO. The deadlock in the US Congress over a foreign aid bill further exacerbates these worries. Influenced by Trump’s stance, Republican lawmakers are insisting on additional funding for border security before advancing the bill. Trump himself has suggested offering loans to Ukraine instead of providing aid without conditions.

Meanwhile, as Russian forces continue to make gains in eastern Ukraine, the country faces acute shortages of ammunition. Ukraine heavily relies on weaponry from the US and other Western allies to counter Russia’s significant military strength. The ongoing conflict underscores the critical importance of international support for Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression.

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Ukraine has firmly rejected Pope Francis’ suggestion for Kyiv to negotiate an end to its conflict with Russia and to “raise the white flag.” The country’s foreign minister emphasized Ukraine’s commitment to its blue and yellow flag, stating they would never raise any other flag. President Zelensky dismissed the Pope’s remarks as “virtual mediation,” while a Vatican spokesman clarified that the Pope was advocating for negotiation rather than capitulation.

The Pope’s comments, made in an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI and set to air on March 20, sparked widespread criticism. President Zelensky praised Ukrainian chaplains on the frontline but did not directly address the Pope’s statement. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba reiterated Ukraine’s allegiance to its flag, while the country’s ambassador to the Vatican compared the Pope’s words to advocating talks with Adolf Hitler during World War Two.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni explained that the Pope used the metaphor of the white flag proposed by the interviewer to indicate a truce achieved through negotiation, emphasizing that negotiations are not a surrender. The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has continued for over two years, with Ukraine facing defensive challenges. In the United States, a bill to provide $60 billion to Ukraine was blocked in Congress, and European countries are struggling to reach a consensus on supporting Kyiv.

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The governor of the Belgorod region reported that an air attack in the Russian city resulted in the deaths of at least five individuals and injuries to eighteen others. Videos on social media depicted ambulances outside a damaged shopping center with broken windows. Russian authorities stated that their air defense systems intercepted 14 Ukrainian missiles over the Belgorod region, with one missile striking a shopping center and another hitting a sports stadium.

Belgorod, situated approximately 30km from the Ukrainian border, has frequently been targeted by Ukrainian forces since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began nearly two years ago. This recent attack follows a previous drone and rocket strike in December that claimed 25 lives and injured 100, marking the deadliest assault on Belgorod thus far.

In response to the ongoing conflict, Russia launched 26 missiles at Ukraine, resulting in the death of a woman in Chuguyiv and multiple injuries. Meanwhile, the battle for the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka continues, with Ukrainian soldiers expressing concerns over shortages of weapons and ammunition.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg cautioned that the US’s failure to approve continued military assistance to Ukraine is impacting the battlefield. Avdiivka holds strategic importance as a gateway to the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk and has been a focal point of conflict since the onset of the eastern Ukrainian conflict in 2014.

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During a EuroBasket 2025 qualifier in Riga, the Ireland women’s basketball team declined to shake hands with the Israeli team before the match. Israeli player Dor Saar accused the Ireland team of being “quite anti-Semitic,” which Basketball Ireland strongly refuted, calling the comments inflammatory and inaccurate.

Before the game, the Ireland players stood for their anthem beside their bench rather than at the center court, a departure from the usual protocol. Despite concerns expressed by Irish players and pressure to boycott the fixture due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, the match proceeded. Basketball Ireland reported Saar’s comments to Fiba Europe and explained their decision not to participate in traditional pre-match rituals.

Earlier, Basketball Ireland’s CEO warned of heavy fines and expulsion from the competition if the team boycotted their matches with Israel, stating it would harm women’s international basketball for years. Saar’s remarks were made in an interview on the Israeli Basketball Association’s website, where she suggested that the Irish team’s perceived animosity fueled a desire for a strong performance from Israel.

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