World News Roundup: Ukraine weighs heavy on minds in Moscow as New Year holiday nears; Taiwan to extend conscription to one year, citing rising China threat and more

Following is a summary of current world news.

Ukraine weighs heavily on the mind in Moscow as the New Year holidays approach

Christmas markets are in full swing and glittering ice sculptures welcome visitors to Gorky Park, but some Muscovites admit they struggle to feel festive ahead of traditional New Year celebrations. In street interviews in the center of the capital, some also said they are noticing the scarcity of Western goods this year as they shop for food and gifts.

Taiwan to extend conscription to one year, citing rising China threat

Taiwan will extend compulsory military service to one year from four months from 2024 due to the rising threat the democratically-ruled island faces from its giant neighbor China, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday. The move, which was well-timed, comes as China has increased military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan to uphold its sovereignty claims, including near-daily Chinese air force missions near the island over the past three years.

North Korea’s weapons program defies COVID outbreak, reaches ‘uncharted territory’

North Korea has gone ahead with its missile program in 2022 and has taken steps to resume testing nuclear bombs as world events including the COVID pandemic and war have broken the already weak international pressure against it. The country acknowledged its first COVID-19 outbreak in May, has already extended strict border closures and other anti-pandemic measures, blocked international engagement and caused economic hardship, but is doing little to slow its weapons tests.

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Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine as Russia reaffirms demands to end the war

Russian forces shelled and bombed towns and cities in eastern and southern Ukraine on Tuesday, a day after Russia’s foreign minister said Kyiv must accept Moscow’s demands to end the war or face defeat on the battlefield. These demands include Ukraine recognizing the conquest of Russia for a fifth of its territory. Kyiv, armed and supported by the United States and its NATO allies, has vowed to recover all occupied territory and expel all Russian soldiers.

Chinese make travel plans as Beijing eases zero-COVID rules

Chinese people, cut off from the rest of the world for three years by strict COVID-19 curbs, flocked to travel spots on Tuesday ahead of the reopening of borders next month, even as rising infections strained the health system and rattled the economy . With zero COVID-19 measures in place since early 2020 — from closed borders to frequent shutdowns — last month mainland China led the biggest show of public discontent since President Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

India makes Sri Lanka under the long shadow of China

As Sri Lanka plunged into its worst economic crisis in seven decades, which led to deadly unrest and alarming shortages of fuel, food and medicine earlier this year, its giant northern neighbor went into trouble. India provided about $4 billion in emergency aid between January and July, including credit lines, a currency swap arrangement and deferred import payments, and sent a warship with essential drugs for the island’s 22 million people.

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Death toll in South Africa tanker explosion rises to 18

The death toll from a gas tanker explosion in Johannesburg on Christmas Eve has risen to 18, officials said on Tuesday, as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged support for people affected by the explosion. The explosion tore off the roof of the emergency department at the Tambo Memorial Hospital, destroyed two houses, several cars and injured passers-by up to 500 meters from the scene in the city’s Boksburg suburb.

The UN is calling on countries to help the Rohingya at sea as hundreds land in Indonesia

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) urged countries on Tuesday to help Rohingya Muslims stranded at sea, as at least 20 died and hundreds more landed in Indonesia after weeks in the Indian Ocean. Nearly 500 Rohingya have reached Indonesia in the past six weeks, while “many others have not acted despite numerous pleas and appeals for help,” UNHCR said in a statement.

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Tensions rise in northern Kosovo as local Serbs block roads, Serbia puts army on alert

Protesting Serbs in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo erected new barricades on Tuesday, hours after Serbia said it had put its army on the highest combat alert following weeks of escalating tensions between Belgrade and Pristina. The Serbian Defense Ministry said in a statement late Monday that in response to the latest events in the region and its belief that Kosovo is preparing to attack the Serbs and remove the barricades by force, President Aleksandar Vucic ordered has to put the Serbian army and the police. highest alert.

Caught in the crossfire, Peru protest deaths keep anger burning

Edgar Prado, 51, a mechanic and driver from the city of Ayacucho in southern Peru, spent most of the day on December 15 in his garage tinkering with his white Toyota Hilux pickup, even as protests began at the airport just a Block to build away. Around 17:56 that day he would suffer a fatal gunshot wound in the chest and around 6:00 the next morning he would be dead, according to security camera footage reviewed by Reuters and his autopsy, one of ten people killed in the city’s most bloody violence that the Peru has been destroyed in recent weeks.

(With input from agencies.)

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