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Thursday Briefing: Military Plane Crashes in Russia

A large Russian military transport plane crashed yesterday in the Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine, killing everyone onboard, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said that the plane had been carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war who were to be exchanged for Russian service personnel. It accused Ukrainian forces in the nearby Kharkiv region of launching two missiles that struck the aircraft. The plane was also carrying six crew members and three other individuals, the ministry said.

The claims could not be independently verified.

Officials in Kyiv did not comment directly on the accusations, but the country’s military intelligence agency hinted at what could have been a tragic mistake, saying that Russia had not informed it that prisoners would be flown to Belgorod’s airport, as had been the case in previous exchanges. The airport is within range of Ukrainian drones and missiles.

Ukraine’s statement did not deny shooting down the transport plane. The country did say that a prisoner exchange was planned for the day, raising questions about whether it should have assumed that prisoners would be flown into the region.

NATO: Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary pledged to push legislators to vote for Sweden’s admittance into NATO. He offered no timeline, even though he essentially controls Parliament. The Hungarian leader has repeatedly hampered Europe’s efforts to boost security during Russia’s invasion, and vetoed a $52 billion aid package to Ukraine.

According to some analysts, the delays put Orban where he likes to be: at the center of attention as a combative defender of national sovereignty, and being courted rather than pushed around by more powerful nations.

Two tank rounds hit a U.N. training center in Khan Younis in southern Gaza yesterday, killing at least nine people and injuring 75 others at a facility where hundreds of displaced people had taken shelter, U.N. officials said.

The Israeli military said that it was checking on the U.N. report. Thomas White, the head of Gaza operations at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, did not directly blame Israel, but Israel is the only party involved in the conflict in Gaza that has tanks.

Here’s the latest.

White said that the center had been unreachable for two days and that people were trapped. Khan Younis has been hit by heavy fighting as Israel says it is hunting down Hamas leaders, leaving hospitals and other facilities in the middle of a war zone.

Also in Khan Younis: Thousands of people were trapped at a hospital by heavy fighting. Israeli forces also surrounded a second hospital where displaced people were sheltering, aid agencies said, after Israel’s military ordered evacuations for that part of the city.

A nimble new threat: The Iran-backed Houthis perfected the tactics of irregular warfare during years of conflict against a Saudi-led coalition, military officials say. Senior Pentagon officials knew as soon as the Houthis started attacking ships in the Red Sea that they would be hard to tame.

A fire in a commercial building in the Chinese city of Xinyu, in Jiangxi Province, killed at least 39 people yesterday and left one person in critical condition, local authorities said.

The fire broke out in the basement of a building that housed an internet cafe on the ground floor and an educational center upstairs, according to Chinese state media and a local government announcement. Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, noted that the blaze was “yet another major production safety accident that has happened recently” and ordered officials to “overcome a mentality of slackness and pushing one’s luck,” state media said.

Scientists have a devised a new video system that reveals how animals see color, and us.

With it, the scientists can answer questions that might never have occurred to you: What does a rainbow look like to a mouse? How do honeybees see humans? Is the sky really blue? To birds, it’s a vivid ultraviolet.

The Royal Caribbean’s new Icon of the Seas is 250,800 tons and can hold nearly 8,000 people. It’s packed with amenities like a 55-foot waterfall — apparently the largest one at sea — six water slides, and more than 40 restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

According to Royal Caribbean, it uses a number of energy-efficient technologies to minimize the ship’s carbon footprint, and it moves closer to the company’s goal of introducing a net-zero ship by 2035. Some climate experts are skeptical. When it comes to sustainability, bigger is generally not associated with better.

“If you were really thinking about sustainability and not your bottom line, you would not be building a cruise ship with a capacity of nearly 10,000 people,” said Marcie Keever, director of the Oceans and Vessels Program at the environmental organization Friends of the Earth.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin

P.S. The Op-Doc “Island in Between” was nominated for an Oscar in the Documentary Short Film category.

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Nathan is an experienced journalist. He's covered a broad spectrum of topics, including politics, culture, and human interest stories, always aiming to engage and inform his audience. Nathan has a degree in Journalism and upholds the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in his work.

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