Pope Francis has for the first time directly appealed to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to stop the “spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine, saying he is haunted by “rivers of blood and tears”. The head of the Catholic Church also condemned the annexation of four regions of Ukraine, saying it risked nuclear escalation and urged Putin to think of his own people during an address dedicated to Ukraine in St Peter’s Square. One Vatican official said the impassioned speech was so sombre it was reminiscent of a radio peace appeal by Pope John XXIII in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Francis has often condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the death it has caused, but it was the first time he made a direct personal appeal to Putin. “My appeal goes above all to the president of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop this spiral of violence and death, even out of love for his own people,” Francis said. He also called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to consider proposals to halt the fighting. “On the other side, pained by the enormous suffering of the Ukrainian population following the aggression it suffered, I address an equally hopeful appeal to the president of Ukraine to be open to a serious peace proposal,” he said.
In Indonesia, at least 174 dead in stampede after soccer match:
At least 174 people have died and 180 others are injured in a stampede at a football match in Indonesia’s Malang in East Java province, Indonesian Police said on Sunday. The incident took place after police tear-gassed supporters who invaded the pitch late on Saturday evening, BBC reported. It is one of the world’s worst stadium disasters after local team Arema FC lost 2-3 to bitter rivals Persebaya Surabaya in East Java. The country’s Chief Security Minister said that spectators exceeded the stadium’s 38,000 capacity by around 4,000, BBC reported. President Joko Widodo has ordered that all matches in Indonesia’s top league must be stopped until an investigation is done.
In Ukraine, Russia attacks several new targets with drones:
Russia attacked the Ukrainian president’s hometown and other targets Sunday with suicide drones, and Ukraine took back full control of a strategic eastern city in a counteroffensive that has reshaped the war. Russia’s loss of the eastern city of Lyman, which it had been using as a transport and logistics hub, is a new blow to the Kremlin as it seeks to escalate the war by illegally annexing four regions of Ukraine and heightening threats to use nuclear force. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s land grab has threatened to push the conflict to a dangerous new level. It also prompted Ukraine to formally apply for NATO membership, a bid that won backing Sunday from nine central and eastern European NATO members fearful that Russia’s aggression could eventually target them, too. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Sunday that his forces now control Lyman: “As of 12:30 p.m. (0930 GMT) Lyman is cleared fully. Thank you to our militaries, our warriors,” he said in a video address. Russia’s military didn’t comment Sunday on Lyman, after announcing Saturday that it was withdrawing its forces there to more favorable positions. The British military described the recapture of Lyman as a “significant political setback” for Moscow, and Ukraine appeared to swiftly capitalize on its gains.
The government of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Saturday held a flag-raising ceremony and a reception to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The flag-raising ceremony was held at the Golden Bauhinia Square Saturday morning. As China’s national flag and the flag of the HKSAR were hoisted, helicopters of the Government Flying Service flew over Victoria Harbor to display a large national flag and flag of the HKSAR. A fireboat replied with a water salute. Following the ceremony, a grand reception was hosted by the HKSAR government in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. In his speech at the reception, HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee said it is clearly evident that the Chinese people blazed a trail to a flourishing future with strong determination, wisdom, and strength, and their tremendous efforts have made possible China’s remarkable achievements in the form of rapid economic growth, long-term stability and prosperity. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, with remarkable achievements attained over the last quarter century, Lee said, noting that Hong Kong always has the motherland’s strong backing in matters ranging from opening up opportunities to overcoming difficulties.
Russia may be able to fix the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which were damaged earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak said on Sunday. “There are technical possibilities to restore the infrastructure, it requires time and appropriate funds. I am sure that appropriate opportunities will be found,” Novak told Russia 1 TV. According to the official, however, the first step should be to determine who is behind the incident. “As of today, we proceed from the fact that it is necessary, first of all, to figure out who did it, and we are sure that certain countries, which had expressed their positions before, were interested in it. Both the US and Ukraine, as well as Poland at one time said that this infrastructure is not going to work, that they will do everything to make sure of it, so, of course, it is necessary to seriously look into it,” Novak stated.
On Sunday, President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited Pinar del Rio for the third time, evaluating the reconstruction work in the Cuban province most affected by hurricane Ian. During his visit to the provincial capital, he met with citizens and students who are working on various tasks related to population support and damage management. “We are going to recover. Be sure of it!”, Diaz-Canel said while walking through the Hermanos Cruz neighborhood, where he mentioned that over 200 families lost their homes completely. To solve the immediate situation of the most affected people, his administration will finance 50 percent of the cost of construction materials, water tanks, and mattresses. Diaz-Canel also indicated that classes will resume in all areas of Pinar del Rio, pointing out that authorities will look for alternatives so that classes proceed safely, even in the most directly affected institutions.