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Watching the first “supermoon” (the name given to a full moon that occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth) of 2021 in Sieversdorf, Germany
Watching the first “supermoon” (the name given to a full moon that occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth) of 2021 in Sieversdorf, Germany

Welcome to Tuesday, where clashes erupt on the Myanmar-Thailand border, Israel is accused of "apartheid" and mischievous beavers cause internet mayhem in Canada. We also go to Hong Kong where the wave of emigration caused by China's clamping down on freedoms has a troubling side effect on dogs and cats.

• Clashes at Myanmar's Thai border: Ethnic minority Karen insurgents attacked Myanmar army outpost near the Thai border in one of the most intense fighting since the February 1 military coup. Meanwhile, young protesters are training to fight the junta.

• First aids arrive in India: Vital medical supplies have arrived in India as the death toll nears 200,000. The UK has provided ventilators and oxygen equipment while France is sending oxygen generators and China tries to get medical supplies to its neighbor, despite border conflicts.

• Eyes on AstraZeneca: The U.S. will share up to 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses with other countries in the coming months, while the European Union launches legal action against the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company over breach of contract concerning delivery of its vaccine.

• HRW condemns Israel for apartheid: A new Human Rights Watch report accuses Israel of committing crimes of apartheid and racial persecution against Palestinians. Israel's foreign ministry has dismissed the report, accusing the NGO of being biased against the country.

• Chad protests: Violent protests have erupted in Chad's capital of N'Djamena as demonstrators ask for a return to civilian rule after a military council seized power following former President Idriss Deby's death last week.

• Fleet for a "Global Britain": UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced on Monday that Britain will send an important naval force through the Pacific in a move to "shape the international system of the 21st century" and "protect its influence."

• Beavers sabotage internet: Beavers are being blamed for causing a 12 hour-internet blackout in a town of Canadian province of British Columbia. Parts of the underground cabling were found in the beavers' home.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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