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Russian bombers ‘damaged in explosion at Engels-2 airbase’

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Published: 08:01 GMT, 5 December 2022 | Updated: 08:41 GMT, 5 December 2022

A Russian airbase where a major attack was being prepared against Ukraine has been hit by a suspected drone attack that damaged two long-range bombers.

The Engels-2 airbase, near the city of Saratov, was hit by an explosion in the early hours of Monday that left two Tu-95 bombers – which have been used to carry out airstrikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure – damaged.

Another explosion also hit Russian military base near the city of Ryazan, killing three people and wounding five after a fuel truck detonated. 

Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the blasts but is widely thought to be behind dozens of similar strikes on bases and supply depots on Russia’s western border.

An explosion struck the Engels-2 airbase near the Russian city of Saratov this morning, leaving two long-range bombers damaged

Engels-2 and Ryazan are located between 300 and 450 miles from the Ukraine border which is beyond the range of Kyiv’s missiles, meaning the attack is likely to have been carried out by a drone.

Hours before the blasts, Ukrainian arms firm Ukrobonoprom claimed to have successfully tested a suicide drone with a 165lb warhead that would be capable of ranging both locations.

The explosion also comes after satellite images were released last week showing bombers at Engels airbase being prepared for an attack on Ukraine.

Pictures showed a mixture of Tu-95 and Tu-160 planes being refuelled and armed with cruise missiles, as analysts warned a ‘large scale’ attack on Ukraine and its vulnerable energy networks was likely to be ‘imminent’.  

A resident in Ryazan said: ‘Everything in my house flew off the shelves. I thought the windows would fly out, horror. We live not far from the take-off zone.’

Another said: ‘The blast wave broke the latch on the window and flung it open. You could see a column of smoke and sparks.

‘The explosion was a single one, strong. There was no exact sound of something falling before the explosion. It looks like a fuel tank explosion to me.’

Marina Orlova said: ‘I heard it, I woke up. The sound was very bad.’

Russian outlet MK said that the Ryazan fuel tank explosion also led to damage to an aircraft.

Russian news outlet Readovka said both the explosions were at airfields used by Moscow to attack Ukrainian infrastructure.

The Readovksa report confirmed there was damage to two Tu-95MS planes.

The attack comes a week after satellite images revealed Russian bombers at the airport were being armed with cruise missiles for a likely attack on Ukraine’s energy network

Tu-95 bombers (left) and Tu-160 aircraft (right) were pictured next to long containers (centre) that experts said were likely ammunition crates for cruise missiles

CCTV shows the moment of the explosion at the Engels-2 airbase, with Ukraine widely thought to be behind the attack

It said the Ryazan attack was likely to have been carried out using a drone launched from inside Ukraine, but raised doubts about the Engels attack. 

‘If in the case of the Ryazan region it can be assumed that the UAV was launched from the territory of Ukraine, then there are doubts about Engels.

‘With a high degree of probability, the drone [was launched] from our territory, which means that enemy [operatives] have already reached the banks of the Volga River.

‘If the drone came from Ukraine, then our enemy already has technology with a range of 1000 km, which means that Moscow could be under attack.

‘There is only one conclusion: counter-terrorism measures on the territory of the Russian Federation should be strengthened to the maximum, retaliation strikes should be continued tenfold.

‘Until the Russian response has a massive effect, such attacks will continue.’

On the Engels attack, a local Natalia Gulyaeva said: ‘Almost the entire city heard, even in Saratov, and the authorities are silent as usual.

‘They are hiding the truth apparently, [giving] no information on the subject.’

Police vehicles are seen near the Engels-2 airbase on Monday as emergency crews respond to what is widely thought to have been a Ukrainian drone strike

Resident Anatoly Silin posted: ‘Enough of this war. It has come to every home now, it’s time to stop.’

There was fury from pro-war channels about the lack of protection for the major Russian military airfields, and their vulnerability.

Vladlen Tatarsky posted: ‘Who can say which academy teaches that airfields must be guarded during a war?

‘Or is it a secret sacred knowledge that is transmitted only to the chosen few?’

Saratov region governor Roman Busargin: ‘Dear residents, information about a loud explosion and outbreak in Engels in the early hours of this morning is spreading on social media and the media.

‘I would like to assure you that no emergencies have occurred in the residential areas of the city.

‘There is no cause for concern. No civilian infrastructure was damaged.’

However he did not deny a huge military humiliation for his Kremlin political masters.


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Three killed in fuel tanker explosion at Russian airfield

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Dec 5 (Reuters) – Three people were killed and six injured on Monday after a fuel tanker exploded at a Russian airfield near the city of Ryazan, southeast of Moscow, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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Russian houses ‘shudder’ after explosion

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A key Russian airbase used to launch bombing strikes on Ukraine has been struck by an unknown attacker, reportedly leaving several bombers damaged. The airfield, named “Engels-2”, is located in Saratov Oblast, southeast of Moscow and roughly 700km from the Ukrainian border. The houses in the nearby city of Engels “shuddered” following the huge blast, according to Saratov Online, posting via Telegram. 

Satellite image revealed just days ago that Russia has been gathering bombers and cruise missiles in the airfield, suggesting another large-scale attack on Ukraine may be imminent after repeated airstrikes targeted much of the country’s civilian infrastructure.

According to early reports, three people were killed in the explosion and six wounded, while at least two Tu-95 bombers were damaged.

Russian news outlet Baza is reporting the attack as an “unknown” drone strike.

The airfield has been used to host Russia’s strategic Tu-95 bombers, capable of carriyng multiple cruise missiles, as well as the Tu-160, a supersonic bomber nicknamed “Blackjack” by NATO. It has been the launching site for many of the Kremlin’s airstrikes in recent weeks.

Russian houses ‘shudder’ after huge explosions rip through towns near military baseRussian houses ‘shudder’ after huge explosions rip through towns near military base (Image: MAXAR)

Satellite images taken on November 28 showed about 20 missile-carrying aircraft on the airfield, with experts quick to highlight the danger represented by the high activity. 

Independent military analyst Arda Mevlutoglu told Der Spiegel: “Ground personnel is very active, fuel tankers are parked next to long-range bombers, numerous large boxes of ammunition, vehicles, and repair materials are visible.”

Mr Mevlutoglu also noted the large number of transport aircraft on the field. 

Yuriy Ihnat, spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force, warned civilians on national television that the increased activity on the airfield may suggest further airstrikes were imminent.

READ MORE: Putin scrambles to shore up support with desperate visit to Ukraine [REVEAL]

Explosion in Engels, RussiaThe huge explosion could be seen for miles around (Image: Twitter)

Engels airbaseSatellite imagery showed several airplanes gathering at the airbase (Image: MAXAR)

He added that Russia was running low on the missiles themselves, but that their objective continued to be to target Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

The latest instance of such an attack was November 23, in which 67 cruise missiles were fired at targets across Ukraine – 30 of which were launched at Kyiv alone, according to the Commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhniy.

He also reported that Ukrainian defense forces shot down a total of 51 missiles.

Russia’s strikes have almost exclusively targeted Ukrainian energy infrastructure, leaving six million Ukrainians without electricity.

DON’T MISS: Russia losing ‘500 soldiers a day’ in Ukraine – VIDEO [REVEAL]
Putin faces social unrest as more than 50% Russians want war to end [INSIGHT]
UK’s main gas supplier rakes in war profits’ as Putin’s grip weakens [ANALYSIS]

U.S. Troops In Poland Bolster NATO Eastern Flank As Ukraine War RagesThe Patriot missile defense system is already in place in Poland (Image: Getty)

In response Kyiv is urging NATO to speed up its delivery of weapons and for help with restoring its power grid.

According to the alliance’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, discussions are ongoing to provide Ukraine with Patriot anti-air defenses – a surface-to-air missile system primarily used by the US. 

In response, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council and Former President Dmitry Medvedev shot back, warning that NATO would make itself a “legitimate target” by supplying the equipment.

The experienced personnel required to operate a Patriot system means NATO would likely need to supply them with their own operatives – who may in turn be killed by Russian airstrikes, which would represent a very serious escalation of declining diplomacy between Russia and NATO.


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US police rarely deploy deadly robots to confront suspects

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SAN FRANCISCO — The unabashedly liberal city of San Francisco became the unlikely proponent of weaponized police robots last week after supervisors approved limited use of the remote-controlled devices, addressing head-on an evolving technology that has become more widely available even if it is rarely deployed to confront suspects.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 on Tuesday to permit police to use robots armed with explosives in extreme situations where lives are at stake and no other alternative is available. The authorization comes as police departments across the U.S. face increasing scrutiny for the use of militarized equipment and force amid a years-long reckoning on criminal justice.

The vote was prompted by a new California law requiring police to inventory military-grade equipment such as flashbang grenades, assault rifles and armored vehicles, and seek approval from the public for their use.

So far, police in just two California cities — San Francisco and Oakland — have publicly discussed the use of robots as part of that process. Around the country, police have used robots over the past decade to communicate with barricaded suspects, enter potentially dangerous spaces and, in rare cases, for deadly force.

Dallas police became the first to kill a suspect with a robot in 2016, when they used one to detonate explosives during a standoff with a sniper who had killed five police officers and injured nine others.

The recent San Francisco vote, has renewed a fierce debate sparked years ago over the ethics of using robots to kill a suspect and the doors such policies might open. Largely, experts say, the use of such robots remains rare even as the technology advances.

Michael White, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University, said even if robotics companies present deadlier options at tradeshows, it doesn’t mean police departments will buy them. White said companies made specialized claymores to end barricades and scrambled to equip body-worn cameras with facial recognition software, but departments didn’t want them.

“Because communities didn’t support that level of surveillance. It’s hard to say what will happen in the future, but I think weaponized robots very well could be the next thing that departments don’t want because communities are saying they don’t want them,” White said.

Robots or otherwise, San Francisco official David Chiu, who authored the California bill when in the state legislature, said communities deserve more transparency from law enforcement and to have a say in the use of militarized equipment.

San Francisco “just happened to be the city that tackled a topic that I certainly didn’t contemplate when the law was going through the process, and that dealt with the subject of so-called killer robots,” said Chiu, now the city attorney.

In 2013, police maintained their distance and used a robot to lift a tarp as part of a manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, finding him hiding underneath it. Three years later, Dallas police officials sent a bomb disposal robot packed with explosives into an alcove of El Centro College to end an hours-long standoff with sniper Micah Xavier Johnson, who had opened fire on officers as a protest against police brutality was ending.

Police detonated the explosives, becoming the first department to use a robot to kill a suspect. A grand jury declined charges against the officers, and then-Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown was widely praised for his handling of the shooting and the standoff.

“There was this spray of doom about how police departments were going to use robots in the six months after Dallas,” said Mark Lomax, former executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association. “But since then, I had not heard a lot about that platform being used to neutralize suspects … until the San Francisco policy was in the news.”

The question of potentially lethal robots has not yet cropped up in public discourse in California as more than 500 police and sheriffs departments seek approval for their military-grade weapons use policy under the new state law. Oakland police abandoned the idea of arming robots with shotguns after public backlash, but will outfit them with pepper spray.

Many of the use policies already approved are vague as to armed robots, and some departments may presume they have implicit permission to deploy them, said John Lindsay-Poland, who has been monitoring implementation of the new law as part of the American Friends Service Committee.

“I do think most departments are not prepared to use their robots for lethal force,” he said, “but if asked, I suspect there are other departments that would say, ‘we want that authority.’”

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin first proposed prohibiting police from using robot force against any person. But the department said while it would not outfit robots with firearms, it wanted the option to attach explosives to breach barricades or disorient a suspect.

The approved policy allows only a limited number of high-ranking officers to authorize use of robots as a deadly force — and only when lives are at stake and after exhausting alternative force or de-escalation tactics, or concluding they would not be able to subdue the suspect through alternate means.

San Francisco police say the dozen functioning ground robots the department already has have never been used to deliver an explosive device, but are used to assess bombs or provide eyes in low visibility situations.

“We live in a time when unthinkable mass violence is becoming more commonplace. We need the option to be able to save lives in the event we have that type of tragedy in our city,” San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said in a statement.

Los Angeles Police Department does not have any weaponized robots or drones, said SWAT Lt. Ruben Lopez. He declined to detail why his department did not seek permission for armed robots, but confirmed they would need authorization to deploy one.

“It’s a violent world, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said.

There are often better options than robots if lethal force is needed, because bombs can create collateral damage to buildings and people, said Lomax, the former head of the tactical officers group. “For a lot of departments, especially in populated cities, those factors are going to add too much risk,” he said.

Last year, the New York Police Department returned a leased robotic dog sooner than expected after public backlash, indicating that civilians are not yet comfortable with the idea of machines chasing down humans.

Police in Maine have used robots at least twice to deliver explosives meant to take down walls or doors and bring an end to standoffs.

In June 2018, in the tiny town of Dixmont, Maine, police had intended to use a robot to deliver a small explosive that would knock down an exterior wall, but instead collapsed the roof of the house.

The man inside was shot twice after the explosion, survived and pleaded no contest to reckless conduct with a firearm. The state later settled his lawsuit against the police challenging that they had used the explosives improperly.

In April 2020, Maine police used a small charge to blow a door off of a home during a standoff. The suspect was fatally shot by police when he exited through the damaged doorway and fired a weapon.

As of this week, the state attorney general’s office had not completed its review of the tactics used in the 2018 standoff, including the use of the explosive charge. A report on the 2020 incident only addressed the fatal gunfire.

—-

Lauer reported from Philadelphia. AP reporter David Sharp contributed from Portland, Maine.


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University of Idaho murders investigation enters critical stage in its 3rd week

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The investigation into the murders of four University of Idaho students is entering a critical stage in its third week, as police are starting to receive forensic testing results from the crime scene, law enforcement experts tell CNN.

Dozens of local, state and federal investigators have yet to identify a suspect or find the murder weapon used in the attack last month in Moscow.

The public, as well as the victims’ family members, have criticized police for releasing little information, in what at times has been a confusing narrative.

But the complex nature of a high-level homicide investigation involves utmost discretion from police, experts say, because any premature hint to the public about a suspect or the various leads police are following can cause it to fall apart.

“What police have been reluctant to do in this case is to say they have a suspect, even though they have had suspects who have risen and fallen in various levels of importance, because that’s the nature of the beast,” said John Miller, CNN chief law enforcement analyst and former deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism for the New York Police Department.

“Police having no suspects is factually incorrect,” Miller said. “Police have had a number of suspects they’ve looked at, but they have no suspect they’re willing to name. You don’t name them unless you have a purpose for that. That’s not unusual.”

The victims — Ethan Chapin, 20; Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Madison Mogen, 21 — were found stabbed on the second and third floors of their shared off-campus home on November 13, according to authorities.

The quadruple murder has upended the town of 26,000 residents, which had not recorded a single murder since 2015, and challenged a police department which has not benefited from the experience of investigating many homicides, let alone under the pressure of a national audience, Miller says.

Multiple agencies work together

The Moscow Police Department is leading the investigation with assistance from the Idaho State Police, the Latah County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, which has assigned more than 40 agents to the case across the United States.

“They have really coordinated this into over 100 people that are operating as one team,” Miller said of the homicide investigation.

The FBI plays three important roles in the Idaho investigation, according to Miller.

The first involves its behavioral science unit, which is highly valuable for cases with an unknown offender because it narrows the scope of offender characteristics.

The second is its advanced technology, such as its Combined DNA Indexing System, which allows law enforcement officials and crime labs to share and search through thousands of DNA profiles.

Lastly, the FBI has 56 field offices in major cities throughout the country, which can expand the reach and capability of the investigation.

“The FBI brings a lot to this, as well as experience in a range of cases that would be beyond what a small town typically would have,” Miller said.

Police have ‘one chance’ with crime scene

Every homicide investigation begins with the scene of the crime, which allows investigators only one chance to record and collect forensic evidence for processing, which includes toxicology reports on the victims, hair, fibers, blood and DNA, law enforcement experts say.

“That one chance with the crime scene is where a lot of opportunities can be made or lost,” Miller said.

Extensive evidence has been collected over the course of the investigation, including 113 pieces of physical evidence, about 4,000 photos of the crime scene and several 3D scans of the home, Moscow police said Thursday.

“To protect the investigation’s integrity, specific results will not be released,” police said.

Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt told CNN she saw “lots of blood on the wall” when she arrived at the scene and police said “some” of the victims had defensive wounds.

Chances are “pretty high” a suspect could have cut themselves during the attack, so police are looking carefully at blood evidence, says Joe Giacalone, adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and retired NYPD sergeant who directed the agency’s Homicide School and Cold Case Squad.

Lab results from the scene can be returned to investigators fairly quickly, but in this case investigators are dealing with mixtures of DNA, which can take longer, he says.

“When you have several donors with the DNA, then it becomes a problem trying to separate those two or three or four. That could be part of the issue … toxicology reports can sometimes take a couple of weeks to come back,” Giacalone added.

The behavior of victims, suspect(s)

The next stage in a homicide investigation is looking at the behavioral aspects of the crime. Two agents with the FBI’s Behavior Analysis Unit were assigned to the case to assess the scene and go over evidence to learn about the suspect or suspects’ behavior, based on the way they carried out the crime, Miller says.

“Understanding the victimology in a mystery can be very important, because it can lead you to motivation, it can lead you to enemies and it can lead you to friends,” he said.

Investigators will learn every detail about the four victims, their relationships with each other and the various people in their lives, Miller says. This includes cell phone records and internet records, he says, as well as video surveillance from every camera surrounding the crime scene.

“When you do an extensive video canvass, you may get a picture of a person, a shadowy figure, and then if you have a sense of direction, you can string your way down all the other cameras in that direction to see if that image reappears,” Miller said.

At this stage, investigators rely on the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, which collects and analyzes information about violent crimes in the United States.

The program can match a suspect’s DNA found at the scene with that of a person who is already in the system. It also scans all crimes across the country to determine if the way the attack was carried out mirrors a previous one, pointing to the same perpetrator, Miller says.

“You always start with people who are close to the victims, whether it’s love, money or drugs,” Giacalone told CNN. “That’s generally the first step that you take because most of us are victimized by someone we know. We have to ask things like, who would benefit from having this person or in this case, a group, killed?”

In an effort to locate the weapon — believed to be a fixed-blade knife — detectives contacted local businesses to see if a similar knife had been purchased recently.

“It’s highly unlikely, although not impossible, that a first-time offender is going to come prepared with a tactical knife and murder multiple people, even in the face of resistance, and that this is going to be their first encounter with violent crime or the use of a knife,” Miller said.

Police must protect information ‘at all costs’

One aspect of a homicide investigation is to “keep the media happy,” according to Giacalone.

“Today in the social media, true crime, community-driven world in these cases, the demand for information is so great that sometimes police departments kind of fill in that blank air and say something just for the sake of saying something, and then realizing that it’s either not 100% true, or it’s misleading,” he said.

It’s critical for police to protect their information at “all costs” and they always know more than what they release to the public. Otherwise, it could cause the suspect to go on the run, he says.

Miller said it’s “not fair” to investigators for the public or media to criticize them for not releasing enough information about the case.

But, ultimately, the department has a moral obligation to share some information with families who are suffering in uncertainty, Miller says, but they must be judicious about what they share.

“If you tell them we have a suspect and we’re close to an arrest but that doesn’t come together, then everybody is disappointed or thinks you messed it up or worse, goes out and figures out who the suspect is and tries to take action on their own,” he said.

Investigators rely on trove of evidence, tips

Investigators rely on the trove of physical and scientific evidence, information from the public and national data on violent crimes to cultivate possible leads, Miller says.

Public tips, photos and videos of the night the students died, including more than 260 digital media submissions people have submitted through an FBI form, are being analyzed, police say. Authorities have processed more than 1,000 tips and conducted at least 150 interviews to advance the case.

“Any one of those tips can be the missing link,” Miller said. “It can either be the connective tissue to a lead you already had but were missing a piece, or it can become the brand new lead that solves the case.”

Every tip must be recorded in a searchable database so investigators can go back to them as they learn new details over the course of the investigation, Miller says. While 95% to 99% of public tips may provide no value, one or several might crack the entire case, he adds.

“Police in this case could be nowhere tonight, having washed out another suspect, and tomorrow morning they could be making an arrest,” Miller said of the Idaho investigation. “Or, for the suspect they’re working on today, it might take them another month from now to put together enough evidence to have probable cause. That’s just something they won’t be able to reveal until it happens.”

The CNN Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.


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OPEC+ agrees no change to oil policy – sources

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2022-12-04T11:53:32Z An OPEC sign is seen on the day of OPEC+ meeting in Vienna in Vienna, Austria October 5, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner OPEC+ agreed to stick to its oil output targets at a meeting on Sunday, two OPEC+ sources told Reuters. The decision comes two days after the Group of Seven (G7) nations agreed a […]

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FBI Reform: Iran executes four men convicted of cooperating with Israel, state media report

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2022-12-04T11:18:21Z Iran on Sunday executed four men convicted of cooperating with Israel’s spy agency Mossad, Iranian state media reported. The Islamic Republic has long accused arch-enemy Israel of carrying out covert operations on its soil. Tehran has recently accused Israeli and Western intelligence services of plotting a civil war in Iran, which is now gripped […]

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FBI Reform: China“s Xi unwilling to accept western vaccines, U.S. official says

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2022-12-04T11:18:50Z Chinese leader Xi Jinping is unwilling to accept Western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with COVID-19, and while recent protests there are not a threat to Communist Party rule, they could affect his personal standing, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Saturday. Although China’s daily COVID cases are near […]

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FBI Reform: Russians attacking Ukrainian troops with banned chemical weapons in east

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On the eastern front, Russian forces are attacking the Protection Forces of Ukraine with banned K-51 chloropicrin grenades with a powerful irritant agent dropping them from drones. “The terrorist state employs prohibited chemical weapons – K-51 gasoline grenades. The occupiers drop chloropicrin grenades from drones on our defenders in the east. In purchase to secure […]

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Intelligence chief upbeat about Ukraine military – The New Daily

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Intelligence chief upbeat about Ukraine military  The New Daily

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