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Italian leader Giorgia Meloni has demanded Brussels step up to help her country deal with a surge in migrants.

The country’s prime minister said it was not a question of “solidarity” but the European Union’s “responsibility” to assist – after more than 11,000 people arrived on Italy’s southernmost island of Lampedusa in less than a week, overwhelming the authorities and sparking protests by residents.

She made her comments as she was joined on the island for crisis talks by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who insisted “we are in this together”.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, fifth from right front row, and the Italy's Premier Giorgia Meloni, third from right front row, visit the island of Lampedusa, in Italy, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni on Sunday toured a migrant center on Italy...s southernmost island of Lampedusa that was overwhelmed with nearly 7,000 arrivals in a 24-hour period this week. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)
The island had been ‘scrubbed’ for the visit by the two leaders. Pic: AP

But Sky News’ international correspondent John Sparks reported the area had been “sanitised” for the visit and the chaotic, overcrowded reception centre cleaned and cleared of many migrants.

TV images showed Ms Meloni speaking to islanders expressing their frustrations with the current situation.

She told them the government was working on a robust response, including a €50m (£43m) to help the island, but a heckler in the crowd said it was not just money needed.

In the face of the current emergency, Ms Meloni has pledged tougher measures and renewed calls for a naval blockade of North Africa to stop the boats from getting through – after a newborn baby was found dead on a migrant boat.

Speaking at a news conference, she said: “I would like to repeat that I do not consider this a gesture of solidarity of Europe towards Italy, I consider it instead a gesture of responsibility of Europe towards itself because these are the borders of Italy but they are also the borders of Europe.”

Ms Meloni added: “If someone in Europe thinks that facing the global crisis that we are facing, the question could simply be resolved by closing it inside the Italian borders, they would clearly be blind.”

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Meloni answers question from Sky News

Ms von der Leyen said: “Irregular migration is a European challenge and it needs a European answer, so we are in this together.

“Prime Minister Meloni and I are here today to offer a coordinated response by the Italian and European authorities.

“I want to be very clear we have an obligation as part of the international community. We have fulfilled it in the past and we will do so today and in the future.

“But we will decide who comes to the European Union and under what circumstances.”

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The problem has become a major headache for Ms Meloni, whose right-wing government has pledged to curb illegal immigration.

Nearly 126,000 migrants are reported to have arrived in Italy this year, almost double the figure by the same date in 2022.

It has parallels to the situation facing the UK in stemming migrant crossings from France, with Rishi Sunak under pressure to deliver on his “stop the boats” pledge.

The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, told Sky News on Sunday Tory claims about his party’s plans to stop illegal boat crossings were “complete garbage” – with the issue set to be an election battleground next year.

Lampedusa – closer to Africa than the Italian mainland – has recently borne the brunt of crossings from Tunisia, which has replaced Libya as the main migrant smuggling base.

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Viktor Sokolov: Top Russian admiral appears in video call – after Ukraine claimed he was killed in missile strike




Viktor Sokolov: Top Russian admiral appears in video call - after Ukraine claimed he was killed in missile strike

A top Russian admiral has appeared in a video call – a day after Ukrainian special forces claimed he had been killed in a missile strike.

Admiral Viktor Sokolov – the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and one of Russia’s most senior naval officers – was reportedly killed in last week’s strike on the naval port of Sevastopol, according to Ukrainian officials.

The Russian Defence Ministry did not immediately respond when asked by news agencies to confirm or deny if Mr Sokolov had been killed.

However, the ministry released a video on Tuesday appearing to show Mr Sokolov attending a conference with other top Russian military officials via video link.

Mr Sokolov was not seen speaking in the footage of the conference – led by Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu.

It is not clear when the footage was filmed, though Russia’s defence ministry claimed the meeting took place on Tuesday.

Ukraine war latest: Russia attacks area bordering NATO

Viktor Sokolov
Mr Sokolov (pictured left) appeared at a military conference via video link – though it is not clear when the footage was taken

Ukraine special forces said on Telegram: “Since the Russians were urgently forced to publish a response with Sokolov allegedly alive, our units are clarifying the information.”

In the video, Mr Shoigu said more than 17,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in September and that more than 2,700 weapons, including seven American Bradley fighting vehicles, had been destroyed.

Both Russia and Ukraine have at times exaggerated enemy losses in the war, while also saying little about their own losses.

Michael Clarke: It is possible Admiral Sokolov lives – but Russia needs to produce more convincing evidence

Sky News’ defence and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke says: “We’ve looked at the video, it’s not very clear and it jumps around quite a lot.

“We’ve located the person on the video who looks most like Sokolov, and it may be him, but it’s not a completely clear match.

“It could be Sokolov, looking at previous photographs of him. On the other hand, there’s still no proof that this video is really current.

“There’s a lot of evidence that Sokolov was in the building that was hit on Friday by a couple of Storm Shadow missiles.

“So it is possible that Sokolov lives. But I think the Russians would have to produce more convincing evidence than this if they want to be taken seriously on this particular issue.

“And it’s odd that producing a rather vague video and saying he’s here somewhere and leaving it to news organisations like us to try to work out who it might be is less than clear in the message they were trying to send.”

On Monday, Ukraine’s special forces claimed they had killed Mr Sokolov and 33 other officers in last week’s missile attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.

“After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” Ukraine’s special forces said on the Telegram messaging app.

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“Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Ukraine’s claim that it had killed Mr Sokolov, instead referring reporters to the defence ministry.

A screengrab from social media shows smoke billowing from the top of a building, alleged to be the Black Sea Fleet Headquarters, following a missile attack in Sevastopol on September 22. X
A screengrab from social media shows smoke billowing from the top of a building, alleged to be the Black Sea Fleet Headquarters, following a missile attack in Sevastopol

Video captures moment that missile hits Russia's Black Fleet headquarters in Crimea
Video appeared to show the strike on the Black Sea headquarters in Sevastopol

In a statement after the attack, the Russian defence ministry said one serviceman was missing, revising an earlier statement that the man had been killed.

Moscow-installed authorities in Sevastopol also said they were taking extra measures to address Ukraine’s increased attacks on Crimea.

The attack came after an earlier strike on Sevastopol, in which a Russian submarine and warship were damaged.

A Ukrainian and a Western source said that British Storm Shadow cruise missiles were deployed in the attack on the port of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

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Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader loses appeal against extra 19-year prison sentence




Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader loses appeal against extra 19-year prison sentence

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has lost his appeal against a 19-year sentence added to his existing jail term.

It was imposed in August after he was convicted on six charges related to alleged extremist activity – which he denied.

The appeal was rejected by a judge in Moscow, with Mr Navalny – wearing a black prison uniform – joining by video link from prison.

Media were not allowed to witness proceedings apart from the reading of the verdict.

The 19-year sentence was imposed on top of 11 and a half years that he was already serving after being convicted of fraud and other charges.

Mr Navalny has said all the charges are politically motivated and an attempt to silence his criticism of President Vladimir Putin‘s repressive regime and the war in Ukraine.

His political movement has been outlawed and declared “extremist”, with its main players either being jailed or fleeing Russia.

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Mr Navalny pictured on a video feed at his sentencing in August

The 47-year-old politician returned to the country voluntarily in 2021 after nearly dying when he was poisoned with a nerve agent in a suspected Russian plot.

He was immediately arrested when he landed and is imprisoned in Melekhovo, about 145 miles (235 km) east of Moscow.

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Mr Navalny said in the summer that he had been forced to listen to the same speech by President Putin for more than 100 days in a row.

A TV technician who worked for Mr Navalny, sentenced at the same trial in August, also had his appeal against an eight-year sentence rejected on Tuesday.

Daniel Kholodny shouted “Alexei, see you!” just before the video feed of the hearing ended, with Mr Navalny waving his hand in response.

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Body of migrant found on Sangatte beach near Calais




Body of migrant found on Sangatte beach near Calais

A body of a migrant was found this morning on Sangatte beach near Calais.

The authorities confirmed she was a 24-year-old Eritrean woman.

In August, at least six people died and dozens more were rescued after a migrant boat crossing the English Channel capsized.

The incident took place off Sangatte in northern France.

A vigil was held in the port town of Folkestone for the victims as participants called for “safe routes” and “enough deaths”.

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