welcome to newsday. reporting live from singapore, i'm arunoday mukharji. the headlines: russia's foreign minister sergei lavrov defends his country's attack on ukraine, again insisting there is no war. in an exclusive interview with the bbc, he repeats the kremlin line that it was not an invasion. translation: we didn't invade ukraine. - we declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the west that dragging ukraine into nato was a criminal act. in dramatic testimony, the committee investigating the january 6 attack on the us capitol hears that rioters got within a0 feet of the vice president.
and in central africa, the race to stop the plunder of rich peatlands and the release of damaging carbon dioxide. live from our studio in singapore, this is bbc news. it's newsday. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in the uk and around the world. we begin in russia. one of president vladimir putin's closest advisers, the foreign minister sergei lavrov, has told the bbc that russia has not invaded ukraine and he's repeated the official line from the kremlin that there is no war, but it's a "special military operation". mr lavrov has been at the heart of power in russia for over 20 years and represented the country on the international stage for nearly two decades. earlier today, he spoke to our russia editor steve rosenberg.
it was the first time sergei lavrov had agreed to meet since moscow launched its offensive in ukraine. russia's government has created a parallel reality. invasion, what invasion? translation: we didn't invade ukraine. - we declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the west that dragging ukraine into nato was a criminal act. russia's special operation has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths in ukraine. moscow claims its protecting russian speakers and fighting nazis. i quoted a un report about a ukrainian village where russian soldiers had forced hundreds of people, including 7a children, to spend a month in a basement with no toilet, no water.
ten people had died. is that fighting nazis, i asked? translation: unfortunately, it's a great pity. _ but international diplomats, including the un high commissionerfor human rights, the un secretary—general and other un representatives, are being put under pressure by the west. and very often they're being used to amplify fake news spread by the west. translation: so you're saying that russia's squeaky clean? translation: no, russia is not squeaky clean. - russia is what it is. and we are not ashamed of showing who we are. and what of the two british men sentenced to death by a russian proxy court in rebel—held eastern ukraine? aiden aslin and shaun pinner had been fighting for ukraine. i tell mr lavrov that
in the eyes of the west, russia is responsible for their fate. translation: i am not interested in the eyes i of the west at all. i am only interested in international law. according to international law, mercenaries are not recognised as combatants. translation: but they're not mercenaries, they served in the ukrainian army. translation: this should be decided by a court. - translation: you think the court is independent there? translation: i'm| convinced there are independent courts there. do you think your courts are independent? and on uk—russian relations, no expectation of an improvement. translation: i don't think there's even any room - for manoeuvre any more, because both borisjohnson and liz truss say openly that we should defeat russia, we should force russia to its knees. go on then, do it.
let's also look at what's happening on the ground in ukraine. the leaders of the three most powerful countries in the european union, italy, germany and france, visited kyiv today. french president emmanuel macron, german chancellor olaf scholz and italian prime minister mario draghi travelled by overnight train. the trio visited irpin, just outside of kyiv, where they saw evidence of the destruction caused by indiscriminate russian shelling. and they also met with president zelensky. all leaders committing to increase their support for ukraine, with more money, more humanitarian aid and, most importantly for ukraine, with more weapons. our international correspondent orla guerin hasjoined troops in the kharkiv region. orla is now in nearby kostiantynivka. every flag marks a new grave, a fallen soldier in ukraine's war... ..anotherfather or husband or son...
..like denis gordeyev, a former lawyer and human rights activist, mourned by his brothers in arms. under the summer sun, a bitter harvest. this farmer points skywards and warns us there's a russian drone overhead. in the trenches nearby, bordering donbas, a fighter — nicknamed old pal — watches for the enemy and sees all he has lost. "i'm looking at that field, and it's so painful," he says, "because i used to be a farmer. "i used to cultivate that
land, to reap and sow. "i haven't seen my two children or my two little grandchildren "since the war broke out." further along the trench, we find artem trapped by this war. very hard, because i don't see my family — my mother, sister, brother. very scared... ..because i must kill people. the russians are less than four miles away. here in this position, ukrainian forces have held their ground. they've blocked the russians advancing, but they say in order to push the russians back, they need a lot more heavy weapons and they need ammunition. for now, the troops wait —
for the next battle and the next burials. they face an enemy that, in places, may have 20 times as many big guns. in the trenches, many are resigned to a long war. orla guerin, bbc news, izyum. to washington now, where the third day of the january 6 committee hearings has wrapped up. it's been focused on mike pence, and connecting donald trump's intense pressure campaign on his vice president not to certify the election results. the hearings also included details of the violent intentions of the mob that stormed the capitol, demanding that mike pence be dragged out of the capitol building.
on thursday, the committee heard from two of pence's white house advisers, who testified that the vice president had been pressured to unilaterally and illegally overturn the election. one wittness was] michael luttig, a formerjudge and influentialfigure in the conservative legal community. he said if pence had done as trump asked, it would have been "tantamount to revolution" and that this remains a continuing threat. donald trump and his allies and supporters... ..are a clear and present danger to american democracy. i have been speaking to our north america correspondent peter bowes on what stood out in thursday's testimony. this was a really powerful, it was a compelling hearing, focusing, as you have said, on the role of mike pence. and i think the message that
really comes through is... and we've heard the testimony or heard of the testimony of several people who were part of the trump administration, seniorfigures working with mike pence, his chief of staff and his legal counsel, talking about how president trump knew that what he was asking of his vice president was illegal. he was essentially told that by the lawyer that came up with this plan, the lawyer who actually acknowledged that it would not pass legal scrutiny, that perhaps if it went to the supreme court, it would be knocked down. so the message seems to be very strongly from this committee that they believe mr trump had illegal intentions and that he knew it. peter, how important was it also that we saw that appeal coming in from the chairman, bennie thompson, asking those who are on the fence to cooperate with
the investigation and reach out to the committee? yeah, i think that is important, because this is still an ongoing process. there are more hearings to come. we know that the next hearing is going to focus on the apparent threats made against state officials, republican state officials, not to certify the election results in their areas. that was hugely contentious at the time. and i think that appeal by the committee chairman was essentially to folks who are indeed sitting on the fence, who perhaps have refused to give evidence before this committee, having seen what has happened over the last week or so, that they might want to change their minds and come forward with their story to ultimately produce as big a picture as possible. what they're doing is really teasing apart the events that led up to that attack on congress. and we're hearing about events and conversations that took place in the oval office, for example, between mr trump and mr pence, we're hearing detail that we haven't heard before, and we're hearing about the anger coming
from donald trump against his vice president, who had made it very clear that he wasn't going to go along with the president's plan. you're watching newsday on the bbc. still to come on the programme: the race is on to stop the plunder of rich peatlands in central africa and the release of damaging carbon dioxide. there was a bomb in the city centre. a code word known to be one used by the ira was given. army bomb experts were examining a suspect van when there was a huge explosion. the south african parliament has destroyed the foundation of apartheid by abolishing the population registration act, which, for a0 years, forcibly classified each citizen according to race. just a day old, and the royal baby is tonight sleeping in his cot at home. early this evening, the new prince was taken by his mother and father to their apartment
in kensington palace. germany's parliament, i the bundestag, has voted by a narrow majority to move the seat of government - from bonn to berlin. berliners celebrated into i the night, but the decision was greeted with shock in bonn. the real focus of attention today was valentina tereshkova, the world's first woman cosmonaut. what do you think of the russian woman in space? oh, i think it's a wonderful achievement. and i think we might be able to persuade the wife it would be a good idea, if i could, to get her to go up there for a little while! this is newsday on the bbc. i'm arunoday mukharji in singapore. our top stories: in an exclusive interview with the bbc, the russian foreign minister sergei lavrov refuses to say his country invaded ukraine — repeating the official kremlin line that there is no war. in dramatic testimony, the committee investigating the january 6 attack on the us capitol hears that rioters
got within a0 feet of the vice president. the other story we are looking at. in australia, the government is urging eight million people in the state of new south wales to turn off their lights and appliances for two hours every night, to tackle an energy crisis. it's a result of increased winter demand, ageing coal power stations that are offline for maintenance and soaring global energy prices. there are warnings that without action, the state could face unexpected blackouts. i'm joined now by the bbc�*s shaimaa khalil in sydney. shaimaa, good to see you and thanks for coming on. it is quite an unconventional ask, isn't it? why is this happening and how real are these threats of blackouts?— of blackouts? that's right, australians, _ of blackouts? that's right, australians, especially - of blackouts? that's right, . australians, especially people in new south wales, and where i am, have been scratching their heads and why we got here.
everybody is really conscious about their energy consumption, especially towards the night, people have been trying to reduce their energy consumption, trying to conserve electricity. but remember, this is the australian winter, and many, many households have been turning up there heating earlier than usual. that is actually about contributing reason. —— one contribute he reason. —— one contribute he reason. but a more general one is the war in ukraine, the rising of the global energy crisis, coal, gas and fuel prices in general, that has really put pressure on electricity providers here. domestically, i think there are couple of real ones which you alluded to. one is the big disruption in cold supply. remember this is a country that still relies very heavily on coal for running still relies very heavily on coalfor running its power stations because of these severe floods that been happening recently. that has affected some coal mines here in new south wales and in queensland, and then you have
that glaring issue of technical problems, maintenance issues, outages at several coal—fired power stations, about a quarter of electricity supply has been affected. add to all of that households wanting to turn up that he because of the early, because of the cold snap, early winter, you have a perfect storm of pressure and demand on an already fragile system that's been struggling lately. shaimaa, what is being done, really, now to address all these concerns?- really, now to address all these concerns? .., , these concerns? look combining these concerns? look combining the country's _ these concerns? look combining the country's energy _ these concerns? look combining the country's energy operator, i the country's energy operator, the country's energy operator, the regulator, essentially, has been stepping in —— look, i think. earlier in the week, they try to cap prices so that consumers are not affected, and that saw some of the major energy providers withhold capacity, because essentially it didn't make financial sense to them, and then on wednesday, they took this unprecedented step where they took over the
country's wholesaler electricity markets, telling providers, we are going to operate this, we are going to compensate you, but we want to make sure energy prices don't— consumers. it is a crucial step that was supported by the government, it has to be done, but it was still temporary. these are temporary solutions to what seems to be a long—term problem, and again it brings up that crucial question at the heart of this. australia relies very, very heavily on fossil fuels for its energy. what is it going to take for them to transition to renewables and how soon can that happen? shaimaa khalil, always a pleasure speaking to you. thank you for that update. returning now to one of our top stories. on the third day of the january 6 committee hearings, evidence was presented from conservative advisers to mike pence, who testified against the actions
of donald trump that day. republicans in washington have sought to undermine the legitimacy of the committee, after two of their selections to sit on the panel were rejected. so how have they been reacting? following the hearing, the house republican judiciary committee came out with this tweet, saying... earlier, i also spoke to ron filipkowski, a former federal prosecutor who now reaearches far right groups in the us. iasked him how the radical right is reacting to these proceedings. their main strategy seems to be deflect and distract. they've used a number of different attacks, lines of attacks, in terms of trying to discredit what is happening. of course, they all claim that
they're not watching the hearings, but of course they are, because they comment on them quite often, so, yeah, they've taken a number of different attacks. there's been about five or six different approaches that they've taken to try and defend donald trump on these allegations. mr filipkowski, it's a hearing that has garnered a lot of media attention, and just talking about how these are being observed and perceived, what kind of reactions... how has the public responded to what we've been seeing? it's a very good question. i mean, the partisans on both sides are pretty hardened, but the big question that we don't really know very well is how the people in the middle who don't pay that much attention to the news every day or politics, who are only seeing clips of the hearing on local news stations. so, i haven't really seen any polling out yet as far as what the general public, whether this has had any impact on them, but this has certainly electrified the partisans
on both sides, that's for sure. and the politics of it all — are these public hearings and testimonies likely to make a difference, do you feel, to donald trump and support for republicans, especially going into the midterms? well, i don't... the midterms is an open question. what i have seen in monitoring their traffic is a shift in support off of donald trump towards florida's governor ron desantis, as probably a better, less controversial, cleaner option for them to run for president in 202a. but of course, the big problem with that, is, will donald trump allow that to happen, assuming he's not injail? that's pretty doubtful, but you do see, more and more, as these hearings have gone on, among the rank—and—file republicans, a shift off of donald trump, onto his successor, most likely ron desantis.
very briefly, this was the third public hearing. what stood out for you most, one big point? the fact that the people closest to the president knew what they were doing was illegal and knew was wrong, admitted that to each other, but then were continuing to go on television and tell the american public the opposite. so that opens them up to criminal liability, the fact that they knew what they were doing was illegal, and that was the most interesting part of today. that was former prosecutor ron filipkowski about talking about how the far right thought of these hearings. a special report we have from central africa. a giant slab of carbon—rich peat,
discovered by a team of british and congolese scientists, is under threat from oil companies. the carbon must be kept in the ground to avoid boosting climate change. but some plots have already been sold for oil exploration, and the republic of the congo wants to develop the area for agriculture unless richer nations deliver more financial assistance. our africa correspondent andrew harding reports. in the vast forests of central africa, a group of scientists are hacking their way towards a remarkable discovery. this formidable team has spent years tracing the outlines of something huge and hidden and precious. just entering the coordinates of a point that's about three kilometres away. it's gruelling work in near impenetrable swamps full of snakes and crocodiles, but the scientists, using hand—held drills, have discovered a fantastically large expanse of peat. so we want as many samples as possible from as many
different locations. and this rotting vegetation is important, because it traps carbon. we estimate that there's around 30 billion tonnes of carbon stored in the peatlands of the cuvette centrale in the congo basin. and that's equivalent to around 20 years of us fossil fuel emissions, so a huge amount of carbon. the scientists here have discovered something extraordinary in these swamps — a slab of peat that's two metres deep and as large as england. it's the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world, and that makes it incredibly important when it comes to climate change. if all this carbon is released into the atmosphere, it's going to, we can say, accelerate the global change, climate change. and do you think that is a realistic threat? i think it's a threat, yeah.
the congo peatlands have been quietly trapping and storing carbon dioxide for thousands of years, but humans could change all that — fast. these vast peatlands are already under threat. that's because all around the congo peat basin, developers, farmers, growing populations are looking for ways to make money out of this land. we found these farmers tapping palm trees for palm wine, but the process kills the trees and exposes the peat below, so how to save all this? translation: congo's peatlands are the world's lungs. _ but rich nations, the biggest polluters, should pay for that service, should pay to protect them. why should we stay poor so you can breathe? a reasonable question, but outside help has been slow to reach these isolated forests.
is it your sense that the international community has shown commitment, money, to sort this? i think not yet, not enough money. i think these ecosystems aren't yet valued as they should be at an international level. the scientists have done their work. now the race is on to prevent these precious peatlands from going up in smoke. andrew harding, bbc news, in the republic of congo. you have been watching newsday. before we go, a quick look at our top story once again. russia's foreign minister, sergei lavrov, has again defended his country's attack on ukraine, insisting it was not an invasion. in a bbc interview, mr lavrov repeated the discredited claim that there were nazis in ukraine and that moscow had had no choice but to stop the west dragging ukraine into nato.
that's all for now. do stay on with bbc world news. hello. friday is set to bring the peak of the heat that has been building over the last couple of days, especially across england and wales. on thursday, scotland and northern ireland stayed that bit cooler, but cardiff got to 26 — to the west of london, a high of 29.5 celsius. but that's nothing compared with the temperatures we've seen in southwest europe. this a0 in southern france on thursday is a record—breaker — the earliest point in the year that france has recorded a temperature of a0 celsius. and some of that extra heat will waft northwards on friday into the southeast corner, highs of 33 — always cooler further north and west. these are the starting temperatures for friday — quite warm and muggy out there first thing. we've got outbreaks of rain pushing down across parts of scotland into northern ireland — and this is a bit of a dividing
line because, behind this, we are into cooler, fresher conditions, quite windy, as well. but ahead of our band of cloud and rain, lots of hot sunshine. some mist and murk perhaps for some western coasts, but east wales, the west country, into the midlands, a good part of eastern england, the southeast seeing temperatures into the high—20s or low—30s — likely to peak somewhere around 33 celsius. with very high uv levels in these southern parts, the sun is very, very strong at this time of year. now through friday night, this band of cloud continues to sink southwards. a weak weather front at this stage, not much rain on it — but to the north of it, we're into the cool air. to the south of it, still very warm and muggy — 18 likely to be the starting temperature in the centre of london on saturday morning. so you can see that warm air clinging on in the south, but further north and west, something cooler and fresher to the north of this weather front. now, along the line of the weather front, on saturday, we'll see some outbreaks of rain starting to develop. some of this rain could be heavy, possibly thundery.
also some showers into the northwest of scotland. generally, quite a lot of sunshine across the northern half of the uk. temperatures for most of us at this stage in the high teens, but still 27 in london, maybe 29 across parts of southern and southeastern england. but by sunday, the cooler air does win out — however, still some heavy, thundery downpours in the south and especially the southwest. elsewhere, a lot of dry weather, but largely northerly winds by this stage, so temperatures at best between ia—20 celsius.
this is bbc news. we'll have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour, as newsday continues — straight after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. for once, the headlines coming out of ukraine have been dominated by diplomacy rather than the latest from the war front. the leaders of the eu's three biggest countries staged a visit to kyiv on the eve of a key brussels decision — will ukraine be given official eu candidate status? for the zelensky government, it would be a symbolic prize to match the practical military and economic assistance