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Russia extremely concerned by Ukrainian missile downed at Belarusian borders



The end of the Ukraine/Russia war might not be in sight yet as Russia has expressed concern over a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile that was shot down after flying into the air space of its close ally Belarus on Thursday.

The Kremlin said on Friday it was extremely concerned about the event which occurred around 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Thursday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday in Moscow’s first public comment on the incident, that “this is an incident that causes extreme concern, not only for us but for our Belarusian partners.”

Peskov on Friday stressed the close military ties between the two countries, saying they were in “constant dialogue and constant coordination”.

Belarus’ defence ministry said on Thursday its air defence forces had shot down a Ukrainian S-300 surface-to-air missile near the village of Harbacha in the Brest region, some 15 km (9 miles) from the Belarus-Ukraine border.

Russia’s reaction to the event is not surprising as its relations with Belarus are formidable, being Belarus’ largest and most important economic and political partner.  Recall that at the beginning of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, Belarus allowed Moscow to use its territory in February as a staging post for Russian troops and equipment at the start of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014.

The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II with around 7.3 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. It has also caused global food shortages.

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Musings From Abroad

Biden thanks Ruto for Kenya’s role in new Haiti mission



US President, Joe Biden has thanked Kenyan President, William Ruto for his country’s role in the multinational security mission in gang-ridden Haiti.

Speaking with Ruto on Tuesday night, Biden thanked him for Kenya’s agreement to lead a UN-backed mission in Haiti.

The conversation took place at around 8 pm, according to sources close to the Kenyan presidency. Biden was also reported to have congratulated President Ruto on the successful hosting of the recent Africa Climate Summit, where the continent found a unifying voice on climate change that will be at the forefront of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Dubai in November.

Kenya, an East African powerhouse, is active in Haiti, and recently announced it was ready to be part of a multinational force. It committed to deploying 1,000 police officers to the country and  “accepted to positively consider leading a Multi-National Force to Haiti.”

Ruto, during his address at the United Nations 78th General Assembly last month, maintained that the Caribbean country “deserves better from the world.” “Kenya is ready to play its part in full, and join with a coalition of other nations of goodwill – and there are many— as a great friend and true sibling of Haiti”, he said.

The US White House also confirmed the meeting between the two leaders in a statement which partly reads: “President Joe Biden spoke today with Kenya’s leader William Ruto to thank him for responding to Haiti’s call to serve as the lead nation for the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission. They also welcomed a successful vote at the UN Security Council authorising the MSS to bring relief to the people of Haiti who have suffered for far too long at the hands of violent criminals.

“The two presidents talked about alternative methods to advance regional security and mutual prosperity through new investment, jobs, and sustainable growth, in addition to the Haiti mission and the Africa Climate Summit”.

“We will continue to work on regional security, conflict resolution and counterterrorism to ensure that the Horn of Africa has the space to focus on social and economic progress,” Ruto said after the talks.

Since January, Haiti has been without elected officials, and nations around the world have been hesitant to back the unelected government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has stated that the current state of unrest makes it impossible to hold fair elections.

Children have been impacted by the violence in Haiti, as well as those on missions from other countries who have been kidnapped.

The two leaders welcomed the successful vote at the UN Security Council to approve Kenya’s request to lead the mission.

Ruto had earlier pledged at the UN General Assembly that Kenya was more prepared to restore peace and stability to the people of Haiti who have suffered for far too long at the hands of violent criminals.

The US has promised to support the mission financially and in other ways, a pledge made in a recent agreement between Kenyan Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale and his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin Lloyd J. Austin III.

Kenya said it was ready to send 1,000 troops to Haiti by January, to be joined by other troops from other countries who will join the mission.

The Haitian government led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry is under severe threat from organised gangs that have taken over the capital, Port-au-Prince.

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Musings From Abroad

WHO announces second malaria vaccine



The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has called for the use of a second malaria vaccine to curb the life-threatening disease spread to humans by some mosquitoes.

Tedros made the recommendation during a briefing in Geneva on Monday, recalling that “almost exactly two years ago, WHO recommended the broad use of the world’s first malaria vaccine called R21/Matrix-M.”

Malaria remains one of Africa’s deadliest diseases, killing nearly half a million children under the age of five every year. In July, WHO and some of its partner agencies revealed that around 18 million doses of the first malaria vaccine would be delivered to 12 African countries. The road is now cleared by WHO for the second use of the vaccines.

“Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce that WHO is recommending a second vaccine called R21/Matrix-M to prevent malaria in children at risk of the disease,” Tedros said. R21/Matrix-M, created by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, will be accessible by the middle of 2024, with doses costing between $2 and $4.

“WHO is now reviewing the vaccine for prequalification, which is WHO stamp of approval, and will enable GAVI (a global vaccine alliance) and UNICEF to buy the vaccine from manufacturers,” Tedros said.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, said it had already produced more than 20 million doses in anticipation of WHO’s recommendation.

“We will ramp it up as per what the demand requirements are,” he said in an interview. “We hope that by the end of 2024, there will be zero mismatches of demand and supply, with our supply coming into the system.”

By 2026, 40–60 million doses of the malaria vaccine will be required annually, and by 2030, 80–100 million doses will be required, according to estimates from the WHO, UNICEF, and Gavi.

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