this is bbc news. the headlines: the somali president has condemned a massive bomb attack in the capital mogadishu, which killed more than 70 people. a number of the victims were university students. the president said he believes al—shabaab, a group of islamist militants, are to blame but said they wouldn't succeed in demoralising the somali people. the australian prime minister, scott morrison, says thousands of volunteer firefighters in new south wales will be offered compensation for loss of earnings. those in the public sector have already been promised four weeks‘ paid leave. the volunteers have played a key role in tackling severe bushfires in recent months. the us democratic presidential hopeful, joe biden, has tried to clarify comments in which he appeared to rule out testifying at donald trump's impeachment trial. mr biden told reporters that he had always complied with legitimate requests from congress.
one of the world's rarest birds, the spoon—billed sandpiper, has been successfully reared in captivity for the first time, raising hopes the species can be saved from extinction. it's taken almost a decade, from rescuing eggs in russia's far east wetlands, to breeding two of the birds, at the wildfowl and wetlands trust in gloucestershire. victoria gill reports. the first sign of a conservation breakthrough. these spoon—billed sandpiper chicks hatched from eggs collected in the far east of russia and brought into captivity in the uk. that rescue mission was eight years ago. now, at last, those critically endangered birds have read their own chicks, the first captive bred spoon—billed sandpipers. we have to cover up our outdoor close, so everything from rubber boots that we can wash on the way in, to overalls, to this very attractive handout, because we don't want to be taking anything in there, into the aviary, where these very precious birds
are that might hurt them or make them sick. this is their breeding aviary that they now live in. they are kind of still babies. they're just a few months? i think they're classed as juveniles now. they would have been on their migration now, really. they're very small. yeah. we still see them as babies. your babies. laughter. this long mission, though, has been punctuated by highs and heartbreaking lows. chicks first hatched here back in 2016, but they survived only a few days. it's taken just under ten years and what feels like a lifetime of no sleep to find the recipe or close to the recipe for breeding spoon—billed sandpipers in an arc, in a captive situation. there are about 50 million other waterbirds that use the same places as spoonies, so if we can save it, and we're starting to do so,
we can save a lot of other birds and plants and people who depend on the wetlands sites where those animals survive. 2019 was the year that scientists put a very big number on the extinction crisis. a global report published this year estimated that around a million species of animals and plants are at risk of extinction. the loss of natural habitats in our human engineered environment is an increasing threat. so conservationists hope that this will go much further than one charismatic little bird. and that protecting the spoon—billed sandpiper and the wetlands it depends on will prevent many other species from being lost. victoria gill, bbc news. now it's time for our world — and one of the highlights from the team this year. steve rosenberg explores how vladimir putin's russia is trying to regain its influence, 30 years after the fall of the iron curtain.
it's 30 years since the iron curtain fell. for millions across europe, it meant freedom. for moscow, it meant the end of its empire. today's russia wants to forget about 1989. but three decades on, russia is reasserting itself. there are fears of a new stand—off with the west. the baltic has become one of the front lines of what feels like a new cold war. as russia pushes for greater
influence, i ask its leader how he sees his country. i am on a journey that will take me back to 1989 and across europe, to find out what it was like for moscow to lose an empire and whether russia is building a new one. moscow — it is a city that oozes empire. from the skyscrapers ofjoseph stalin, to the residence of the czars.
the message is unmistakable — this is a country with ambition. throughout its history, russia has had an unswerving belief in its own greatness. you can feel that inside the kremlin. this is stunning. look at this. this says power, omnipotence. this says empire. russia was built as an empire, russia has existed as an empire because the essence is we are great, we have to have areas of influence and we have to have buffer states between ourselves and the outside world. so this is an empire. but in 1989, the buffer states broke free.
people power swept away the iron curtain, and with it moscow's domination of eastern europe. what had come to be known as the soviet empire was tearing at the seams. viewed from moscow, these events were earth—shattering. in 1989, i was a student in moscow, i was studying russian here and i can remember that every night i would sit down to watch the television news and what i saw, what millions of viewers here saw, was truly remarkable. the soviet empire falling apart, piece by piece. across eastern europe, you could find pieces of the lost empire.
this is wunstorf in the former east germany. it was the red army's largest military base outside the soviet union. there is something ghostly about the soviet legacy. the scale of the soviet military presence in east germany was staggering. there were 800 garrisons here and half a million soviet troops. but then again, for moscow, this was its key outpost in europe. the wunstorf base feels
suspended in time. communist russia was convinced its ideas, its ideology, would bind east germany to moscow forever. but it was wrong. when the berlin wall fell, everything changed. within a year, east and west germany had reunited. the red army had been here since defeating the nazis. now moscow agreed to withdraw its troops.
to bring all its troops home. but to what kind of a country were they coming back? the soviet union had gone, russia was struggling. here in perm region, the returning soldiers were low priority. this man had been a tank commander in east germany. when he came home there were no facilities, no proper accommodation, it was almost as if he had been forgotten.
perhaps if the end of the cold war had brought instant prosperity to people here, then maybe this loss of status, this loss of empire would have been easier to swallow. but it didn't. the 1990s brought economic chaos and widespread poverty. so what you had here, in effect, was a fertile soil for any strongman promising to make russia great again. enter vladimir putin. russia's president is trying to erase the memory of his country's humiliation. to restore its power, its influence. but modern russia isn't reinventing the soviet union — its methods are different.
these people in the kremlin do understand that idea of restoration of the former superpower is impossible. but they have other ideas, and their idea is to be a blackmailer, to be a producer of mischief, to be the grand spoiler in the world, to be the nightmare for the neighbours and for the outside countries. so this is the new idea of superpower and empire. it is an idea that russia has put into practice close to home. in 2014, masked soldiers in unmarked uniforms seized control of a ukrainian peninsula, crimea. they acquired the nickname ‘the little green men'. but they were russian special forces sent
in by president putin after ukraine's pro—western revolution. at a referendum, voters backed joining russia. but the poll wasn't internationally recognised. it had taken moscow less than a month to occupy and annex a piece of its neighbour. for many russians, this was cause for celebration. i first met ira in moscow back in the early 1990s. she has a second home now — in crimea. the crimean history has always been connected with russia. in the west, as you know, there is a lot of criticism of vladimir putin for what happened here, for russia taking crimea. i am very grateful to mr putin, and i take my hat off and bow my head to mr putin, because he saved the generations of the crimean people
from rivers of blood here. in the crimean city of sevastopol, they are marking russian navy day. it is a showcase for russian power at sea. since it took crimea, russia has become the dominant force in the black sea region. here, moscow doesn't use the word "annexation". crimea, it says, has sailed back to its home port. few believe that outside of russia. what we see is a pattern of behaviour where russia
is responsible for aggressive actions against neighbours. that reflects that the main problem of russia is that they still believe in the idea of spheres of influence. in response, nato has bolstered its forces near russia's borders. from estonia's amari airbase, nato jets are regularly scrambled. their main task is to intercept russian planes approaching estonian air space, which fail to identify themselves. russia denies it is a threat to estonia or to any of the baltic states but nato is on alert and taking no chances. the baltic has become one of the front—lines of what feels like a new cold war between russia
and the west. to moscow, the presence of nato troops near its border is a direct threat to russia's national security. but nato insists that all of this is purely defensive, and the reaction to an increasingly assertive and aggressive russia. 0ne complaint i often hear from russian officials is that, 30 years ago, a promise was made by the west to moscow that nato would not enlarge and move closer to russia's borders, and russia says the west deceived moscow. first of all, no such promise was made. but second, just the idea that washington or a big western ally should promise that to moscow is an idea based on a totally wrong assumption that big countries can promise something on behalf of small countries.
russia's new assertiveness extends beyond its military. vladimir putin's kremlin has a range of tools for exerting influence. in latvia, there are no russian troops, but the country's being targeted by russian disinformation. there is an attempt to distort reality with fake news, to sow doubt, confusion. russia's objective to discredit a european democracy on its border. and here is one example of what appears to be russian disinformation. this website is aimed at ethnic russians across the baltic but it is part of a news organisation that is
bankrolled by the kremlin. what kind of stories does it put out? well, here is one. listen to this. among latvians, it says, adolf hitler is more popular than harry potter. hitler's mein kampt tops the reader's book choice in latvia. astonishing! so the impression that you get when you read this is that in latvia, in an eu country, nazi ideology is thriving. sounds incredible. but it is fake. in latvian libraries, mein kampf has only been requested 139 times in three years. compare that to 25,000 requests for harry potter. and you won't find hitler's book in the shops here. it has not been published in latvia for over 20 years. i tracked down the key link to the hitler story — it's rita.
she runs a second—hand book website in latvia. baltnews had based its report on data from her web page. mein kampf is available through her site and users do appear to be clicking on it — but who exactly? so, it is interesting that about 70% of all clicks are anonymous. and if we compare it with the other most popular books like harry potter, 70% are registered users. so if most of the clicks for mein kampf are anonymous, what does that mean? they could be fake users or internet trolls or however we call them. fake views to make fake news?
yeah, definitely. i think the fundamental aim of the russian operation is undermine the other countries. russia cannot tolerate the success of the baltics that have embraced freedoms and values of the west and can be successful. a good example is very dangerous so you should taint it. if russia has become the grand spoiler, can it be, does it still want to be a superpower? this is my chance to ask the president. vladimir putin has just finished an event near the kremlin. it is a rare opportunity to get up close to the kremlin leader.
but moscow is looking for ways back into eastern europe and for some russia's return is welcome. viktor 0rban. he is the prime minister of hungary and moscow's best friend in europe. he praises vladimir putin. he criticises eu sanctions on russia. that is partly because he and putin have one thing in common — both are suspicious
of western liberalism. for russia, this meeting of minds presents opportunities. think tank. please, steve, come in. this man is an ex—soviet diplomat with connections at the heart of russian government. he heads a soviet—era development bank that has just relocated from moscow to budapest. for russia, it is a foothold in europe. the bank is totally apolitical. we never do anything politically motivated. five eu countries are members, but russia is by far the largest shareholder. and until recently, the bank was listed as an official organ of the russian state. critics of your bank call it "vladimir putin's trojan horse" or the "kgb bank".
in other words, the suspicion is... i am a spy, they also say. the suspicion is is it is tool of moscow to spread spies and agents across europe. is there any truth in that? absolutely not. it is all allegations, and even though they repeated can you understand where the suspicion comes from? because, apologies for getting personal, but you yourself are from a family of soviet spies. which i never concealed. right. yourfather was the head of the kgb. in budapest, yes. that is how i started to like the city many years ago. and your mother was a soviet agent. that is overexaggeration. my mother, yes, she worked
in the first department of the kgb but she retired back in 1953, steve. in different ways, russia is trying to restore its influence. for moscow, the real lesson of 1989 is weakness costs power. today's russia wants to forget about 1989. it was, yes, an amazing period but it was the period of backtracking, surrender, defeat. now, russia seeks victories. i think that whatever label you give russia — global player or superpower or empire — what i see is a country with a cast—iron conviction that it is great, and that great powers must have influence.
hello there, saturday's sunshine was in short supply, only the favoured few got to see much in the way of brightness, but i am hopeful that through the day ahead a few more of us through the day ahead a few more of us will get to see something just a little bit brighter, some sunny ellipses. it certainly is going to feel mild, particularly across northern parts of the uk where you feel the full effects of this feed ofairfrom feel the full effects of this feed of airfrom the feel the full effects of this feed of air from the south—west, bringing some really, really mild conditions in our direction. at the same time we're going to start to tap into some dry air that has been sitting across the near continent, allowing us across the near continent, allowing us to break up some of the delivering at least some glimpses of sunshine. having said that starting off sunday on a pretty cloudy note for most, some spots of drizzled
over heels in the west but is a go through the dover east anglia the south—east parts of north wales northern england northern ireland southern and eastern scotland we should see at least some spells of sunshine, north and west scotland look at this band of cloud on some updates of rain. the southern areas, highs of nine or 10 degrees but the northern areas, heights of 12 or 13 degrees and where you get some shelter from the south or south—westerly wind to the north coast of northern ireland, moderate coast of northern ireland, moderate coast of northern ireland, moderate coast of scotland, because the coast —— temperatures up to 1a or 15 which is exceptional for this time of year. through sunday night we will continue to the areas of cloud but it will continue to break up to give some clear spells and maybe the odd fog patch here and there and someone continues across the far north—west of scotla nd continues across the far north—west of scotland and it will be a slightly cooler night. so as we get into monday this frontal system will continue to bring some rain across scotla nd continue to bring some rain across scotland and northern ireland, just starting its way slowly south—east with and ahead of it, it is another
largely dry day for england and wales and you can see a fair amount of clarity on the chart and there will be some cloudy spells but this also be some sunny spells, quite a bright day for many of us. the rain continues to trundle its way slowly southwards in scotland and northern ireland and modest weather being pushed southwards at this stage but as we get on into tuesday remember that weather front? it would have worked its way south and perhaps lingering across the far south—west with some cloud and the odd spot of drizzle but behind the system we see brighter skies but also some cooler weather, temperatures for many of us back down into single digits. and for all important celebrations on new year's eve, through tuesday night into the early hours of wednesday, it is looking predominantly dry, there will be some clear spells overhead and it will get quite chilly but they could also be some patchy fog.
this is bbc news. welcome if you're watching here in the uk or around the globe. i'm james reynolds. our top stories: somalia's president says his country will not be demoralised after a bomb attack kills more than 70 people. translation: you will never succeed in discouraging the somali people and their government and you will never stop us from achieving our goals in developing and rebuilding our country. thousands of volunteer firefighters are to be offered compensation for loss of earnings after battling the australian bushfires for weeks. democratic presidential contender joe biden says there's no legal basis to force him to testify at donald trump's impeachment trial. and the french crowdfunding plan which aims to return a zoo full