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Russian Navy to get ‘unmatched’ hypersonic cruise missile Zircon soon, says Putin



Zircon, the universal hypersonic cruise missile designed to destroy sea and ground targets, will be supplied to the Russian Armed Forces in the coming months, the country’s President Vladimir Putin has announced.

As it underwent several tests in the Barents Sea over the past year, Putin had promised that Zircon, which according to him is capable of reaching speeds of about Mach 9 and hitting targets at a distance of more than 1,000 km, would be put on combat duty soon.

Addressing the Main Naval Parade in St Petersburg on the occasion of Russia’s Navy Day, Putin said that Admiral Gorshkov, one of the most modern ships of its Northern Fleet, will be the first one to be equipped with the “unmatched” missiles which have “no obstacles”.

“The Admiral Gorshkov frigate will be the first to go on combat duty with this formidable weapon aboard. The area in which the ship equipped with Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles will carry out its duty will be selected based on Russia’s security interests,” said Putin.

The announcement was labelled as a “chilling threat” by a section of the media in the West.

“At this speed it would reach London in about five minutes,” said UK’s Daily Mirror.

It was on February 20, 2019 that the Russian President – during his annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly – informed about Zircon, the “promising innovation” also spelt as 3M22 Tsirkon, for the first time officially.

“It can be launched from water, from surface vessels and from submarines, including those that were developed and built for carrying Kalibr high-precision missiles, which means it comes at no additional cost for us,” he had said then.

As it moved ahead with its plan to equip submarines and surface ships with the Zircon complex, the flight tests of the hypersonic cruise missile continued even during Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. The Russian Defence Ministry released a video on May 28 which showed Zircon being fired from Gorshkov in the Barents Sea and hitting a target in the White Sea after travelling a distance of 1,000 km (625 miles).

“The flight of a hypersonic missile corresponded to the specified parameters,” the Russian Defence Ministry had commented after Zircon’s last test.

Analysts in New Delhi too have been closely watching the bigger picture unfold at a time when the defence ties between India and Russia continue to grow.

“The successful test launch of a Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile shows that Russia continues to pioneer emerging defence technologies. Therefore, despite diversification, it is important for India to continue to develop defence partnerships with Moscow,” Professor Gulshan Sachdeva, Chairperson, Centre for European Studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, had told, last year.

Meanwhile, Putin said on Sunday that the current environment requires “commensurate, prompt, and decisive actions” from Moscow.

“First and foremost, these are our waters of the Arctic, the Black Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, and the Baltic and Kuril Straits. We will ensure their protection rigorously and using all available tools,” he said at country’s the naval capital with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov also in attendance.


Floods in Haiti kill 42, displace thousands




At least 42 people have died and 13,000 others displaced after heavy floods triggered by torrential rain inundated homes across Haiti, according to a statement issued by the countrys Civil Protection Agency.

The statement issued on Monday said that 85 people were injured, while 11 others remain unaccounted for after intense rainfall over the weekend caused several rivers throughout Haiti to overflow, which in turn sparked flash floods, flooding, rockslides and landslides, reports CNN.

The displaced and mission persons were reported from five of Haiti’s 10 departments: West, Nippes, South-East, North-West, and the Center.

“My government, in concert with national and international institutions, is taking urgent measures in order to meet the demands of the hour,” Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry tweeted on Monday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned on Monday that flooding could resume with more rain in coming days.

“In the event of another heavy rainfall, the waterlogged soils will be unable to prevent further flooding, rockslides and landslides, and the provisional death toll could rise even higher,” quoted the Office as saying.

The danger is expected to continue through hurricane season, which began on June 1.

Meanwhile, emergency response teams and aid organisations have been mobilised.

“We’ll start providing hot meals to displaced people in the coming hours & are mobilising ready-to-eat rations & dry food,” the World Food Programme said in a tweet.

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International News

Oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia announces output cuts




Oil-producing countries have agreed to continued cuts in production in a bid to shore up flagging prices, the media reported on Monday.

Saudi Arabia said it would make cuts of a million barrels per day (bpd) in July and OPEC+ said targets would drop by a further 1.4 million bpd from 2024, reports.

OPEC+ accounts for around 40 per cent of the world’s crude oil and its decisions can have a major impact on oil prices.

In Asia trade on Monday, Brent crude oil rose by as much as 2.4 per cent before settling at around $77 a barrel.

The seven hour-long meeting on Sunday of the oil-rich nations, led by Russia, came against a backdrop of falling energy prices.

Total production cuts, which OPEC+ has undertaken since October 2022, reached 3.66 million bpd, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, the reported.

OPEC+, a formulation which refers to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, had already agreed to cut production by two million bpd, about 2 per cent of global demand.

“The result of the discussions was the extension of the deal until the end of 2024,” Novak said.

In April, it also agreed a surprise voluntary cut of 1.6 million bpd which took effect in May, a move that briefly saw an increase in prices but failed to bring about a lasting recovery.

On Sunday, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the cut of one million bpd could be extended beyond July if needed, the BBC reported.

“This is a Saudi lollipop,” he said, in what is seen as a bid to stabilise the market.

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Bill to allow Sikhs to ride without bike helmets in California




 Senators in California voted in favour of a bill that exempts Sikhs from wearing a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle.

The Senate Bill 847, authored by Senator Brian Dahle cleared the state senate this week with a 21-8 vote margin, and will now move to the Assembly.

“Freedom of religion is a core foundation of this country. We, as Americans, have the right to freely express our religion and I believe that right should equally extend to everyone. Any law that limits the ability to express one’s religion, goes against what this country is all about,” Dahle said in a statement after presenting the bill on the senate floor.

“Exempting those who wear turbans or patkas from wearing helmets is a simple way to ensure that everyone’s religious freedoms are protected,” he added.

According to 2021 American Community Survey estimates, 211,000 Sikhs live in California, which is nearly half of all Sikhs living in the US.

The State Senate was told that as of now, no helmet exists in the market that will accommodate a turban or a patka, but according to members of the Sikh community, a turban is a good enough protection.

Currently, 18 states and Washington D.C. have a universal helmet law for all riders. 29 states require helmets for specified riders, generally riders under a certain age (usually 18 or 21).

Only Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire have no motorcycle helmet laws.

“Although other countries and our own military make accommodations for Sikhs’ deep beliefs, out of the US states that require helmets, none has exemptions for Sikhs or any other group based on religious practice,” a statement from Dahle’s office read.

This question of helmets for Sikhs has also been debated and considered in other countries, like Canada and the UK.

In Canada, Sikhs are exempt from motorcycle helmet laws in several provinces including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Among the supporters of the bill were the Legendary Sikh Riders, the Sikh Legends of America and the Sikh Saints Motorcycle Club.

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 5,500 motorcyclists died in 2020, and more than 180,000 were treated in emergency departments for crash injuries.

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