welcome to newsday, reporting live from singapore. i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines: president biden approves the deployment of 3,000 troops to europe. russia calls it an unjustified and destructive move. the and destructive move. united states stands shoulder the united states stands shoulder to shoulder with our nato allies. the current situation demands that we reinforce the defensive posture on ukraine's eastern flank. new zealand begins the phased re—opening of its borders. vaccinated citizens in australia can finally return home. a key part of the brexit deal unravels, as northern ireland halts customs checks on goods coming from the british mainland. and are they carrying
a torch for free speech? what can and can't be said by olympic athletes in beijing. live from our studio in singapore, this is bbc news — it's newsday. welcome to the programme. we start with the latest on the ukraine crisis and the news that president biden has approved the deployment of 3,000 troops to bolster nato allies in the region. this would be the first major movement of us forces in russia's military stand—off with ukraine. 2,000 will be sent to poland and germany and a 1,000—strong squadron will be redeployed from germany to romania. a pentagon spokesman said the deployments were a signal that america was ready to defend its allies, but he was keen to stress the troops were not going
to fight in ukraine. the united states stands shoulder—to—shoulder with our nato allies. the current situation demands that we reinforce the deterrent and defensive posture on nato�*s eastern flank. president biden has been clear that the united states will respond to the growing threat to europe's security and stability. our commitment to nato, article five, and collective defence remains ironclad. general philip breedlove is a retired four—star general in the united states air force. i have been speaking with him. he served as nato's supreme allied commander in europe from 2013 to 2016. he told me he believes president biden�*s decision to send troops to eastern europe is a good move. well, i believe it's a good signal and it is telling mr putin that if he continues with his current course he will likely get exactly what he
didn't want. if you read the papers, he didn't want increased forward presence and increased forward presence and increased forward presence and increased forward capability and that is what we are now doing. as well as other nato nations, by the way.- nations, by the way. thus, general. — nations, by the way. thus, general, doesn't _ nations, by the way. thus, general, doesn't doing - general, doesn't doing precisely what president putin doesn't want risk further escalation in the region, given that moscow has called this deployment destruct give and makes it seem like the time for talking is over? 50. makes it seem like the time for talking is over?— talking is over? so, karishma, let's talk about _ talking is over? so, karishma, let's talk about what _ talking is over? so, karishma, let's talk about what you - talking is over? so, karishma, let's talk about what you just i let's talk about what you just said, mr burton sitting there with well over 900 and thousand troops on the border and he calls this deployment, something that will accelerate every day he brings more force to the border. he has not changed the number of combat troops in the last several days, but what he is bringing is all the enabling things that they need to be able to import
-- 109,000. so let's they need to be able to import ——109,000. so let'sjust say it one more time, he is bringing more force every day, he has over 109th thousand already there and he is worried about this deployment. i think we need to look at that. indeed, general, thank you for pointing this out. just to say that the troops are not being stationed in ukraine, as we sat in the introduction to this interview as well, but surrounding it. so what is the strategic rationale there was hello so we are going there to both ensure and are sure our allies that we are going to be there if we are needed. we are, it was mentioned _ there if we are needed. we are, it was mentioned in _ there if we are needed. we are, it was mentioned in the - there if we are needed. we are, it was mentioned in the first - it was mentioned in the first play by the dod spokesman, we are there to show commitment to article five. and if this spills over into nato countries, then nato will be ready and the united states will be ready. 50
ready and the united states will be ready.— will be ready. so that's the red line. — will be ready. so that's the red line, then, _ will be ready. so that's the red line, then, if _ red line, then, if this spills over into nato countries? that is when the worst will act? well, i can't speak for nato, because i'm not there anymore, but i'lljust because i'm not there anymore, but i'll just say because i'm not there anymore, but i'lljust say it one more time, the article five commitment is firm and all of the leadership has said it, from the nato secretary general to our president to everyone that speaks for our governments. and so that's why we are there. governments. and so that's why we are there-— governments. and so that's why we are there. general, where do ou we are there. general, where do you see things — we are there. general, where do you see things going _ we are there. general, where do you see things going from - we are there. general, where do you see things going from here, | you see things going from here, now with troops on the ground in those nato countries and russia saying that this is a destructive deployment? 50 i destructive deployment? so i think that _ destructive deployment? so i think that the _ destructive deployment? st i think that the good news is that we are still negotiating. russia sent us a couple of papers which, if you have seen them or heard about them, they were pretty strident, we're pretty sure that when russia sent them they knew that much of the content was
unacceptable, but that was their opening round. and we are continuing to negotiate. the disturbing thing is well we continue to negotiate mr putin continues to bring capabilities to the border. and i think that is to keep the pressure on the west to capitulate, to give up to his demands, and we are now beginning to move from a very passive deterrence phase before, where we kept saying if he invades them we do this or if he invades we do that, we are now moving to a more active deterrence phase where we are bringing forces forward just like mr putin is bringing forces forward. that was general philip breedlove speaking to me a little earlier about the latest developments between the us and its allies in that part of eastern europe. new zealand has announced a five—stage process to reopen its international
borders, which have largely been closed for almost two years because of the pandemic. from the end of february, fully—vaccinated new zealand citizens and residents from australia will be granted entry without spending two weeks at an official quarantine new zealanders in the rest of the world can return from mid—march, and the final border restrictions are due to end in october. i'm joined now by phil mercer in sydney. great to have you on the programme. just to say, this is a huge departure, isn't it, from new zealand's original covid policy. talk us through the changes.— covid policy. talk us through the changes. covid policy. talk us through the chances. ~ . ., the changes. well, once upon a time, the changes. well, once upon a time. during — the changes. well, once upon a time, during the _ the changes. well, once upon a time, during the start _ the changes. well, once upon a time, during the start of - time, during the start of the pandemic, new zealand had a covid zero policy, but events really have overtaken new zealand, even over the best parts of two years, most financials have been barred from entering the country apart from entering the country apart from a brief travel bubble with australia. so the news today from the minister, jacinda ardern, really is a gradual
ending of fortress new zealand. as you see, at the end of the month new zealand citizens and other visa holders will be able to enter new zealand travelling from australia. new zealanders in other countries will be able to travel into weeks after that. so this is the start of the reconnection of new zealand with the rest of the world and the prime minister did stress that, that the importance of reconnecting friends and families and also allowing businesses to expand into the world was very important. but as we have seen all the way through the pandemic, this is a cautious reopening from jacinda ardern�*s government. with; cautious reopening from jacinda ardern's government.— ardern's government. why are they doing _ ardern's government. why are they doing this _ ardern's government. why are they doing this now? - ardern's government. why are they doing this now? what - ardern's government. why are l they doing this now? what does it say about the levels of covid in new zealand that they are making this move now? idea? are making this move now? new zealand had _ are making this move now? new zealand had planned _ are making this move now? ii? zealand had planned to open up earlier than this, but the 0micron wave put paid to that. so what we will see is arrivals
going into new zealand will no longerface that going into new zealand will no longer face that mandatory stint in government run isolation facilities. they will have to self isolate at home for ten days and also be tested. and, as you say, this is a phased approach beginning at the end of february and stretching all the way through to october. in april, for example, new zealand is expecting to welcome migrant workers and international students. and there is a feeling in the government of jacinda ardern that this is a phased approach will help the government cope with the likely rise in covid—19 cases that you would associate with the reopening of the borders. but one final point, i think that since the pandemic new zealand has pursued this very hardline approach. if you look at the statistics, it appears to have worked. new zealand has recorded only 17,000
coronavirus cases and 53 deaths since the start of the pandemic. so, internationally, it has stacked up pretty well, but, of course, these border restrictions have affected the economy and separated families as well. ~ . as well. phil mercer there with the latest _ as well. phil mercer there with the latest on _ as well. phil mercer there with the latest on those _ the latest on those developments in new zealand. thank you so much forjoining us on newsday. let's turn to northern ireland now, and a minister in the belfast assembly has directed officials to stop carrying out checks on goods entering northern ireland from the rest of the uk. the checks effectively keep northern ireland in the eu single market post brexit. it also prevents the need for customs at the land border between northern ireland and the irish republic, which is in the european union. but the northern ireland protocol, as it's called, is deeply unpopular amongst unionist politicians who don't want any barriers between northern ireland and the rest of the uk. emma vardy reports. it's the most defiant step yet from the dup to frustrate the brexit arrangements in northern ireland.
since the uk left the eu, goods from britain have had to undergo new checks when they reach northern ireland's ports. tonight, the dup department responsible for operating these checks has ordered civil servants to stop carrying them out. i have now issued a formal instruction to my permanent secretary to halt all checks that were not in place on the 31st of december 2020 from midnight tonight. i will prepare a paper for executive consideration in the near future to seek a way forward. thank you. the new checks on goods crossing the irish sea were part of the brexit deal that the uk government signed up to to avoid the need for checks on goods which travel into the irish republic. for unionists, who view this as effectively severing northern ireland's place in the uk, they have been a source of much contention. but it's an arrangement which is supported by other parties in northern ireland.
the government in dublin says ordering the checks to stop goes against an international treaty. the protocol is part of an international agreement. it was agreed and ratified by the uk and the eu, and so to deliberately frustrate obligations under that treaty, i think, would be a very serious matter indeed. i think it's essentially playing politics with legal obligations. what is not clear to me is how civil servants, who are responsible for border checks here, will react tomorrow. there are conflicting views in the northern ireland government over whether the order is lawful, and the first lorries carrying goods will begin to roll off the ferries here just after 6am. other parties at stormont have accused the dup of a political stunt ahead of the elections in may. more than a year since the brexit arrangements
were put in place, they're still at the heart of political division and uncertainty. emma vardy, bbc news. you're watching newsday on the bbc. still to come on the programme: in afghanistan — some public universities open for the first time since the taliban seized power and women are being allowed to return, but with conditions. this is the moment that millions in iran have been waiting for. after his long years in exile, the first hesitant steps of ayatollah khomeini on iranian soil. south africa's white government has offered its black opponents concessions unparalleled in the history of apartheid, and the anc leader nelson mandela is to be set free unconditionally. mission control: three, two, one... a countdown to a critical moment — the world's most powerful rocket ignited all 27 of its engines at once. and apart from its power,
it's this recycling of the rocket, slashing the cost of a launch, that makes this a breakthrough in the business of space travel. two americans have become the first humans to walk in space without any lifeline to their spaceship. one of them called it "a piece of cake". thousands of people have given l the yachtswoman ellen macarthur a spectacular homecoming - in the cornish port of falmouth after she smashed the world record . for sailing solo _ around the world, non—stop. this is newsday on the bbc. i'm karishma vaswani in singapore. 0ur headlines: ukraine—russia tensions continue to rise — president biden approves the deployment of 3000 troops to europe. so away from the military tension and high—level diplomacy, what do ordinary russians think of the prospect of full—scale war in ukraine? the bbc�*s moscow correspondent steve rosenberg reports now
from the city of vladimir. bell tolls in russia, putin is but one of many vladimirs. this is vladimir, the town. it was founded by a medieval prince who ruled from kyiv — a reminder that russia and ukraine have common roots. andre's mother is from ukraine. he calls the two countries brotherly nations, but he clearly sees russia as big brother. translation: russia must have a sphere of influence. | it's a superpower. smaller countries can ally with whoever they choose, but it's up to big countries to help them decide. i find that many russians do believe what they are being told — the constant stream of claims
in the state media here that it is ukraine and the west that risk turning a cold war hot. at vladimir market, though, on people's minds are troubles on the home front, economic ones. lydia is trying to sell produce from her garden. the money she makes here is a lifeline. "the situation in ukraine is a worry," lydia says, "but so is the russian economy. prices are rising on everything. my pension is barely enough to survive on." with all the problems russians have right now — economic hardship, the coronavirus pandemic — there is little appetite here amongst the public for a full—scale war with ukraine, let alone a war with the west. but that doesn't mean russians don't fear such a war. many do. with east—west tension close to boiling point over ukraine,
iten and her husband, viktor, blame their government. they believe the russian authorities have created imaginary enemies as a distraction. so, they want us to hate, they want us to imagine that there is an enemy because there must be an enemy, otherwise people will focus on the problems they have and will be focusing on what's wrong, why they are not living the life they could live if the government would be different, if the policy could be different. so, will russia compromise, or will there be conflict? iten knows that will depend on the other vladimir — russia's current leader, back in moscow. steve rosenberg, bbc news, vladimir. let's take a look at some other
stories in the headlines. 0fficials officials in the democratic republic of the congo say that people have been electrocuted in the capital. most were female traders who died when a high—voltage power cable snapped during a heavy downpour collapsing onto a busy market. experts from the us intelligence community in the united states who have been investigating reports of a mysterious illness among diplomatic staff known as havana syndrome, say some cases could have been triggered by pulsed electro—magnetic energy. last month, a study by the cia found no evidence of a campaign by a foreign government. officials in argentina say at least twelve people have died and another fifty are in hospital after taking adulterated cocaine. police have raided a house and made ten arrests in a poor neighbourhood of buenos aires, where they believe the cocaine was sold.
four men have been charged in connection with the overdose death of actor michael k williams in september last year. the men are alleged to have been involved in the distribution of fentanyl—laced heroin that resulted in the death of williams, who was best known for playing 0mar little in �*the wire'. for the first time since the taliban seized power in afghanistan — some public universities have reopened — allowing female students to return to the classroom. girls remain barred from secondary schools, even though boys were allowed to go back last september. there are conditions for the university return though. female students — must wear the hijab — although they were already doing this. classes must be segregated by gender with female students entering via separate doors. and the curriculum must be based on �*islamic principles'.
the taliban's deputy minister of culture and information, said his department aims to open classrooms for all girls and women after the afghan new year, which begins on the 21st of march. here's yogita limaye in kabul. in six provinces in this country which have warmer weather, universities have reopened, and we have been speaking to students there, and from some areas, we are being told that female students have been allowed to go back to university. in some areas, we're being told that boys are going to their classes in the morning and girls are going to their classes in the evening. in some places where the facilities are available, there are segregated classrooms and different entries for men and women. i've also been speaking to female university students here in kabul. universities in this city, in this province are not yet
open, but they are saying that looking at the developments today, they're feeling hopeful. of course, at the moment, secondary schools across the country remained barred for girls except for a few provinces. on that front, the taliban have been saying that when spring term opens in march, girls will be allowed to go back to secondary schools as well. now to this year's winter olympics in beijing, where the torch relay is under way. with the authorities tightening their grip across chinese society, the big worry for some athletes — apart from covid — is whether they will be safe to express their opinions. the international olympic committee has said participants are free to air their views, as long as it is not during competition or medal ceremonies. i've been speaking to noah hoffman, a former us cross—country skier. he worries about what might happen to athletes who are vocal while in china.
well, despite the assurances that you just mentioned from the ioc, we have seen through their actions in regards to the peng shuai case that, that when it comes to anything where an athlete is pitted against the chinese authorities, the ioc will pick the chinese authorities and work with the chinese authorities to the detriment of the athlete. so what i've seen with peng shuai was enough to make me scared for my team—mates who are over in beijing. and my advice to them is to put their heads down and focus on their competition, and to stay silent. and it pains me to say that, but i'm scared for their safety. and noah, what are they saying to you in response, when you have given them that advice? are they choosing to stay silent? what have they said to you about what they're planning to do while they're there? the athletes understand the situation, they've been briefed extensively by the us olympic committee and by the us state department. they know the risks,
they've been told to get burner phones and rental computers because they know they've got no digital privacy over there. so they're not naive, and i don't think you'll see any athletes speaking up — and i actually hope not, because of the risks that athletes face. but athletes are going to focus on their competition, and i hope that they're verbal when they get home and they stand up for what they believe in when they're free to do so. for everyone in the northern hemisphere it is still very much the depths of winter. but how long will the cold weather last? in pennsylvania there is only one way to find out stop they asked a rather diminutive and increasingly famous weatherman. tim allman explains. unlike the movie, in real life groundhog
comesjust once a movie, in real life groundhog comes just once a year. since 1887 they come here to do whatever this is. and discover just how long the winter will last. and this gentleman is the one who will tell them. phil appears before the crowds. he doesn't need barometric charts or even a fin monitor. instead, the question is simple, did he see his shadow or not? i could not imagine a better fate with my shadow i have cast along gustrous six more weeks of winter! i should gustrous six more weeks of winter! ishould point gustrous six more weeks of winter! i should point out at this juncture that punxsutawney phil and his ancestors have only been right about 40% of the time. and this year there is turmoil in the world of furry meteorological soothsayer
others. chuck is operating out of new york and he has a different opinion about the upcoming weather.- different opinion about the upcoming weather. ladies and gentlemen. — upcoming weather. ladies and gentlemen. i _ upcoming weather. ladies and gentlemen, i have _ upcoming weather. ladies and gentlemen, i have just - upcoming weather. ladies and gentlemen, i have just heard i gentlemen, i havejust heard from staten island chuck here at the staten island zoo. he did not see his shadow, we will have an early spring! 50. have an early spring! so, according _ have an early spring! so, according to _ have an early spring! so, according to phil - have an early spring! so, according to phil and - have an early spring! so, according to phil and chuck it is six more weeks of winter or an early spring. i hope that clears everything up for you. tim allman, bbc news. what a way to tell the weather. some will have it right and some won't, i suppose. you have been watching newsday. a reminder of our top story for you, president biden approved the deployment of 3000 troops to bolster nato allies in the region. this would be the first major movement of us forces in the stand—off with ukraine. 2000 will be sent to poland and germany under 1000 strong squadron will be redeployed from germany to remain hour. that is it for us from newsday.
stay with the bbc for the latest global headlines. hello there. it's been mild for the time of year, for the last few days. thursday's also another mild day for most of us. quite a bit of cloud around once again, but i think we should see a little bit more sunshine into the afternoon. and it's going to be breezy, as well, i think a windier day today than what we had on a wednesday. you can see why more isobars on the charts, particularly across the north of uk, and especially when this cold front arrives across the northwest of the country later on. but we're still in this mild wedge of air, as you can see from the yellow and orange colours there. so, a mild, rather cloudy, rather breezy start to the day. some spots of light rain and drizzle across northern and western hills, which should tend to fizzle out. increasing amounts of sunshine, we think into the afternoon, but this weather front will bring some more persistent rain to north—west scotland, northern ireland later on. it'll be a blustery day
for all the winds picking up, but turning very strong across the northwest, with this weather front in excess of 50 mph. now, for most of us, it's going to be mild, 10—13 celsius, but it will be turning colder behind that weather front — only five celsius there for stornoway. so you can see why this colder air moves in behind the cold fronts, as the name suggests, as it slowly works its way southeastwards during thursday night. so it'll be lying through central parts of the country by the middle parts of the night. eventually, that rain will be pushing through england and wales, a little bit of wintriness on its back edge as colder air digs in. there'll be wintry, blustery showers and clear spells for scotland and northern ireland. could see a touch of ice across northern parts of the country by the end of the night, but less cold further south and east ahead of the weather front. so for friday, then, we start with that wet weather with that weather front lying across the southeast. could see some wintriness on its back edge as it clears away — eventually it will — and then, all of the country will have a chillier but bright day for friday with blustery showers. these will be wintry across northern and western areas, not even down to the hills,
maybe even down to lower levels, as well. temperatures much lower than of late, 3—9 celsius. factor in the strong northwest wind and it'll feel even colder than those temperatures suggest. it is a fairly short—lived cold spell because, as we head on into the weekend, we start to draw up some milder air again from the southwest. but it will be quite a windy weekend, and this weather front will be waxing and waning across the country to bring outbreaks of rain. so a milder theme into the weekend, particularly on sunday, but that weather front�*s likely to bring thicker cloud with outbreaks of rain to many areas. that's it from me, bye for now.