While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 18

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses a UN Security Council meeting on the tensions between Ukraine and Russia. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

US warns: Russia planning to invade Ukraine in 'coming days'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken laid out at the United Nations Security Council on Thursday how Washington believes Russian could seek to invade Ukraine, warning that Moscow was preparing to take such military action in the "coming days."

Blinken accused Russia of planning to manufacture a pretext for an attack on Ukraine that could include "a fake, even a real, attack using chemical weapons," and said: "Russia may describe this event as ethnic cleansing or a genocide."

"The Russian government can announce today, with no qualification, equivocation or deflection, that Russia will not invade Ukraine. State it clearly. State it plainly to the world, and then demonstrate it by sending your troops, your tanks, the planes back to their barracks and hangars and sending your diplomats to the negotiating table," Blinken said.

Russia has said it has no plans to invade Ukraine and accuses the West of hysteria.


Trump, children ordered to testify in New York fraud probe

A New York judge ruled on Thursday that former US president Donald Trump and two of his adult children must answer questions under oath in the state attorney-general's civil probe into their family company's business.

Attorney-General Letitia James had sought to enforce subpoenas to compel testimony by Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr and his daughter Ivanka Trump.

The judge said James had "the clear right" to question the Trumps after having uncovered "copious evidence of possible financial fraud."


Spain court convicts German man over murder of wife, son

A court in Spain sentenced a German man to life in prison on Thursday for beating his wife and son to death with a rock in a cave on the holiday island of Tenerife.

The court also convicted Thomas Handrick of attempting to murder the couple's younger son, who managed to escape and alert the authorities to what had happened.

It ruled that it had been proven that in April 2019 Handrick, then 43, took his wife and their two children, then aged 10 and seven, to an "isolated spot where they could not get help".


US 'candy bomber' pilot dead at 101

Gail Halvorsen, the former US pilot who thought up the idea of dropping tiny improvised parachutes loaded with sweets for children into Berlin during the Soviet blockade, has died at the age of 101.

The Allied Museum dedicated to Cold War history in Berlin's former American sector confirmed media reports of Halvorsen's death on Wednesday.

"Gail Halvorsen died in Utah in a hospital, surrounded by his family," a museum spokeswoman told AFP on Thursday.


Djokovic eager for Dubai comeback after vaccine controversy

World number one Novak Djokovic said on Thursday he has missed playing tennis as he prepares for his comeback in Dubai after the coronavirus vaccine row that kept him from defending his Australian Open title.

The Serb, who was deported from Australia over his vaccination status, toured the Serbian pavilion at Dubai Expo, removing his black mask when requested and writing a message in the visitors' book.

The 20-time Grand Slam-winner, who will play the ATP Dubai tournament next week, has kept a low profile since his deportation from Australia last month over his refusal to get jabbed.


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