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Mystery as ‘Ukrainian suicide drone’ washes up on beach close to Russian navy base after evading defences

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A MYSTERIOUS ship widely believed to be a Ukrainian suicide drone has washed up near a Russian naval base.

The ship was found in Omega Bay at the port of Sevastopol, where is located Vladimir Putin’s Black Sea Fleet.

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The drone is believed to be among several donated by the United States to Ukraine to help turn the tables Russian Marine.

How it came to rest on the rocks of Omega Bay remains a mystery, but it remains intact, suggesting mechanical failure.

Sevastopol leased from the Russians Ukraine before Vladimir Putin illegal annexation the Crimean peninsula where it sits.

While the interior is not shown, submarine expert HI Sutton believes its “curved shaping with external reinforcement is indicative of a warhead”.

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“One theory is that this device is designed to ram and detonate another ship, like a modern interpretation of an explosive boat,” he writes naval news.

“That also explains the sensor cluster at the bow.”

He said the ship “appears to have slipped past Russian Navy patrol boats.”

Sutton described the drone “as small but functional,” and is powered by a single engine mounted internally that drives a steerable jet of water.

“This indicates relatively high performance, it’s designed for speed,” he added.

“And a ship that small, about the size of a kayak, would probably have a very small radar signature.”

Sevastopol was targeted Ukrainian air drones in August, with huge plumes of black smoke billowing from the base as tourists looked on in horror,

The naval headquarters are believed to have suffered a direct hit when a drone exploded on the roof.

The Russians have claimed the ship was destroyed after capture, although an explanation is unlikely unless intelligence already knows.

Ukrainian special forces are known to be conducting raids on the water in southern Ukraine, so the ship may have been on a surveillance mission when it washed ashore. reports The Drive.

What have been dubbed “unmanned coastal defense ships” were part of a military aid package for Ukraine that the Pentagon announced in April.

“It’s an unmanned surface vessel that can be used for a variety of coastal defense purposes,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at the time.

“I think I’ll leave it at that.”

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During the War, Ukrainian fighters deployed relatively cheap drones Causing chaos with Russia.

As early as March, a squad of amateur drone Users claimed that they managed to destroy Russia’s 40 mile infamous “death convoy” of tanks and armored vehicles in a series of ambushes.

Black smoke appears to be billowing from the Black Sea Fleet base following a reported strike

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Black smoke appears to be billowing from the Black Sea Fleet base following a reported strikePhoto credit: Twitter
A Ukrainian drone has been spotted over Sevastopol

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A Ukrainian drone has been spotted over SevastopolPhoto credit: Twitter

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Mysterious blasts and gas leaks: What we know about the pipeline breaks in Europe

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Earlier this week, three separate leaks were discovered in two giant natural gas pipelines from Russia. The pipelines filled with the fuel and the ruptures created bubbles of gas half a mile wide that rose to the surface of the Baltic Sea near the Danish island of Bornholm.

Explosions were spotted nearby just before the leaks struck, and European governments have yet to identify the cause of the leaks in the pipelines, known as Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2. Political leaders in Europe and the United States have suggested this Incident was an act of sabotage.

Speculation has pointed to Russia, whose state-controlled energy company Gazprom is the main owner of the pipelines. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed allegations of Russian involvement as “stupid” and pointed the finger at the United States.

The situation bears the hallmarks of a spy thriller. But analysts say the damage to the pipelines could be a significant escalation of the proxy energy war that has been waged since the fighting began Ukraine – a struggle that could have serious consequences for millions of homes and businesses across Europe. Whoever damaged the pipelines may want to show Europeans that “nowhere is safe,” said Helima Croft, head of commodities strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

A view of the Lakhta Center business tower, the headquarters of Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom, in St. Petersburg, Russia April 27, 2022. (AP/File)

The damaged pipelines are important links between Russia and Western Europe.

The two major pipelines were built to bring gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Nord Stream 1, which became operational in 2011, was until recently the main pipeline for transporting gas to Germany – enough to supply more than half of the country’s annual consumption and still send some to its neighbors. The pipeline is approximately 760 miles long, most of it submerged.

Construction of the second line, Nord Stream 2, was completed last year and was intended to double those flows to create a large, modern line to north-west Europe. But it never became fully operational: the German government put the project on hold in February as Russia began invading Ukraine.

Even as European countries have scaled back their natural gas consumption in response to high prices and pleas from their governments, the fuel remains critical to heating homes and keeping businesses running.

None of the pipelines were actively transporting gas at the time of the incidents. Gazprom recently throttled Nord Stream 1 citing technical issues. Critics have dismissed the action as a political maneuver by Russia as fighting in Ukraine drags on.

The leaks could help Russia by driving up energy prices.

In a sense, disrupting the pipelines has no immediate purpose for anyone.

And on the surface, it’s unclear why Moscow would seek to damage facilities that have cost Gazprom billions of dollars to build and maintain. The leaks are expected to delay any opportunity to generate revenue from the fuel flowing through the pipes.

On the other hand, the natural gas market is unsettled, which is helping Russia by raising the price of its gas. On Monday, European gas futures prices fell by almost half from their August high. After news of the leaks, they surged nearly 20% to about €205 (or $191) per megawatt-hour, about five times the level of a year ago.

Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching the surface of the Baltic Sea in the area reveal a fault well over a kilometer in diameter near Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. (REUTERS)

After months of gains and volatility, energy markets had recently started to calm down as optimism grew that Europe could avoid shortages this winter by finding alternative supplies and filling up gas storage facilities.

The breaches could also be a reminder from Moscow that by maintaining their support for Ukraine, European countries risk sabotaging vital energy infrastructure. Experts have been warning of the danger of possible attacks for years. Any disruption could spell trouble, analysts said, as European countries that have depended on Russian gas, like Germany and Austria, have little margin for error.

Over the past year, Gazprom and Russia have taken steps, like changing flows in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, that analysts say should increase political tensions and energy prices.

That incident has shaken markets because it makes it clear there is a “risk of disruption” for pipelines not controlled by Russia, said Massimo Di Odoardo, vice president of gas research at Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy.

The environmental impact appears alarming.

The damaged pipelines are spewing natural gas, which consists largely of methane, a key contributor to global warming.

More than half of the fuel in the pipelines had spilled by Wednesday, according to Kristoffer Böttzauw, head of the Danish Energy Agency. It could all be gone by Sunday.

The toll from the leaks could be equivalent to 32% of Denmark’s annual emissions, Böttzauw said, adding: “There are significant climate impacts because methane damages the climate many times over than CO2.”

Antoine Rostand, co-founder of Kayrros, which uses satellites to track methane leaks from oil wells and gas processing plants, estimated that the damaged pipelines had released an amount comparable to the methane emissions one day from the oil and gas industry worldwide.

Scientists hope that the gas that rushes to the surface and disperses into the atmosphere won’t have a major impact on wildlife in the waters around the leak.

The damage indicates explosive devices.

The pipelines are made of concrete-coated steel to withstand underwater pressure. In other words, it takes a lot of force to damage them.

“A gas leak of this kind is extremely rare,” said Böttzauw. “It is unlikely that an accident would result in three gas leaks within 24 hours.”

A painting showing the Nord Stream pipelines is displayed on a container near the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline in Lubmin, Germany, July 20, 2022. (AP/File)

Swedish seismologists on Monday discovered two separate underwater explosions near where the leaks were later identified. Both Nord Stream 1 pipelines were damaged, while only one Nord Stream 2 pipeline was ruptured, meaning that, at least in theory, gas could flow through the second pipeline.

Hans Liwang, a professor at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, said examining the size of the crater on the seabed and the damage to the pipes could provide answers about the size of the explosive charge and the locations of the explosions.

“We will probably be able to find out where this explosive device was placed by looking at the marks on the underside,” he told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

But he added that leaking gas could have blown away important evidence, particularly if, as some have speculated, the sabotage was carried out using underwater drones or divers.

Danish authorities said on Wednesday that a criminal investigation was underway to determine the cause of the breach. It is unclear how long it will take to repair the damage.

An official at a pipe-laying company in Europe said work could only proceed after safe conditions were in place, including removing any gas or seawater from the pipeline.

Western sanctions against Russia can also complicate cleaning and repair efforts because contractors may not want to do the job. In addition, Gazprom is no longer honoring its business obligations and contracts, so it is not clear who would bear the cost.

Other pipelines to Europe could be vulnerable.

Although Russia has curbed its exports, its natural gas still flows to Europe through Ukraine and other pipelines. If the war in Ukraine continues to go badly for Moscow, Gazprom could step up the pressure by reducing these supplies.

A network of other pipelines from Algeria, Libya and Azerbaijan all underpin the economies of European countries and could be vulnerable to sabotage along their vast lengths. Whichever actor hit the Nord Stream pipelines may have sent a message to Norway, which has replaced Russia as a major supplier of pipeline gas to the European Union. Norway is also an important gas supplier for Great Britain.

It may not be a coincidence that a line known as the Baltic Pipe opened from Norway to Poland on Tuesday. Conceived to reduce Poland’s dependence on Russia, it passes close to the leaks.

Russia attacked Ukraine’s energy infrastructure during the war.

Energy has become a battlefield in the war over Ukraine. Putin has already shown that he is willing to sever business ties with countries like Germany that have taken decades to develop in hopes of bending them to his will.

And as fighting rages on, Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has come under repeated attacks from Russia.

After Russia lost ground to a Ukrainian offensive this month, Russia unleashed a spate of rocket and rocket attacks on Ukrainian power plants and the country’s power grid. Also this month, a Russian missile landed just over 300 meters from southern Ukraine’s nuclear power plant, according to Ukraine’s state-owned Energoatom nuclear power plant.

Throughout the summer, Ukrainian officials accused the Russian army of targeting a stretch of high-voltage power lines connecting another nuclear complex, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, to Ukraine’s power grid. They said the motive was to deprive Ukraine of power to the power plant.

Attacking pipelines could be another step on this path to energy warfare. “It’s clearly an escalation of the conflict, which is really scary,” said Rostand, the CEO of Kayrros.

Written by Stanley Reed.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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Putin says Russia’s mobilisation mistakes must be ‘corrected’ | Russia-Ukraine war News

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After widespread criticism and mass arrests, Putin makes his first public admission of mobilization problems.

President Vladimir Putin said “any mistakes” made in a call to step up Russia’s military operation in Ukraine should be corrected, his first public admission that the “partial mobilization“, he announced last week, did not go smoothly.

There were widespread public expressions of dissatisfaction from officials and citizens at the way the mobilization was being handled, including complaints about draft officers sending draft papers to clearly ineligible men.

Thousands of men have fled Russia to avoid military service, which was billed as recruiting individuals with military experience and required specializations, but which often disregarded the individual’s service record, state of health, student status, or even age.

More than 2,400 people also attended arrested at unauthorized anti-war protests in more than 30 cities, according to the organization OVD-Info, and some of them promptly received conscription papers – which the Kremlin says is perfectly legal.

“Many questions arise in the course of this mobilization, and all mistakes must be corrected and prevented in the future,” Putin said.

“I’m thinking, for example, of fathers with many children or people who suffer from chronic illnesses or who are already over military age.”

Russia’s September 21 announcement of its first public mobilization since World War II drew criticism from even official Kremlin supporters, something almost unknown in Russia since it deployed its army to Ukraine seven months ago.

“They make people angry, as if on purpose, as if out of malice. As if they were sent from Kyiv,” Margarita Simonyan, the fiercely pro-Kremlin editor of Russia’s state news channel RT, said on Saturday.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged some convocations had been made in error and said mistakes are being corrected by regional governors and the defense ministry.

Putin notably refrained from attributing the errors to either the ministry, led by his close ally Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, or the regional officials tasked with deciding exactly who should receive draft papers.

Shoigu said last week that Moscow plans to recruit only 300,000 workers. The Kremlin later denied a report by the exiled independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta Europe that a secret clause in Putin’s mobilization decree provided for the call-up of one million reservists.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have opened more military recruiting offices near Russia’s borders in an apparent attempt to intercept some of the military-age men attempting to flee the country overland.

A new military service office has opened at the Ozinki checkpoint in the Saratov region on Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, regional officials said on Thursday. Another recruitment center was to be opened at a crossing point in the Astrakhan region, also on the border with Kazakhstan.

Makeshift Russian conscription offices were set up earlier this week near the Verkhny Lars border crossing into Georgia in southern Russia and near the Torfyanka checkpoint on the Russia-Finland border. Russian officials said they would issue draft notices to any eligible men attempting to leave the country.

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Hurricane Ian: Biden warns of ‘substantial loss of life’

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President Joe Biden said Thursday “our entire country is hurting,” along with the people of Florida, after Hurricane Ian swamped communities across the state, cutting power, forcing people into shelters and raising fears of a “significant loss of… human life”.

Biden said the storm could become the “deadliest hurricane in Florida history.”

During a visit to the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he was briefed on the federal response measures, the President said, “Numbers are still unclear, but we are hearing early reports of potentially significant loss of life.”

Biden said he will visit Florida and meet with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis when “conditions allow.” The president said he will also visit Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory hit by Hurricane Fiona earlier this month.

“We know there are many families injured,” Biden said at FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center, where specialist teams from across the federal government and partner organizations monitored the storm and helped with recovery efforts. “Our whole country hurts with them.”

He urged those affected by Ian to heed local officials’ warnings to stay safe and stay indoors.

“Don’t go outside unless you have to,” Biden said. “The danger is real, to state the obvious. Please heed all warnings and instructions from emergency officials.”

Biden and DeSantis spoke prior to the hurricane’s impact and again Thursday morning as the focus came on the destruction. Ian made landfall in the United States as one of the strongest hurricanes of all time. The storm swamped homes on Florida’s shores, cut the only bridge to a offshore island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out power to 2.67 million homes and businesses. At least one man has been confirmed dead.

Biden early Thursday declared a major disaster in parts of Florida at the request of DeSantis, freeing up additional federal aid to state and local governments and individuals. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said more counties would likely be added to the disaster declaration as assessments were conducted.

When asked if his administration would need additional money from Congress to respond to the storm, Biden said, “We can.”

Biden said DeSantis, with whom he has fallen out politically, is “extremely pleased” with the federal response. The President said: “This is not about something to do with our political differences. It’s about saving lives, homes and businesses.”

Biden said he also spoke to several Florida mayors Thursday and delivered the same message he sent to the governor about the federal government’s commitment to helping with the cleanup and recovery: “We are here.”

“We will do everything we can to provide them with everything they need,” Biden said, adding his instruction to them is to call him directly at the White House with their needs. “You know how to do that.”

Biden also spoke to the people of Puerto Rico who are cleaning up and trying to rebuild after Hurricane Fiona devastated the U.S. island territory before Ian struck Florida on Wednesday.

“I am committed to you and to the island’s restoration,” he said. “We didn’t go away.”

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