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The central dock in the port of Lampedusa now stands at the meeting point between the developed and the developing world – a point of conflict between the affluent EU and the inequities and poverty of the global south.

This reality is uncomfortable and unacceptable for those who govern Italy’s most southerly point.

With some 800 people arriving in the past 24 hours – and well over 7,000 in the past five days – the country’s right-wing prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has called the situation “unsustainable”.

Her deputy, Matteo Salvini, has gone further, calling the influx an “act of war”.

As political leaders who have staked their reputations on stopping the migrants, they are now trying to grapple with the fact that the number of arrivals in Italy is double the total reached last year.

In the eyes of their supporters, the weary migrants waiting on Lampedusa’s pier look like a major failure of government policy. But the migrants see the situation somewhat differently.

We saw hundreds of people sitting in unstable-looking tubs made from scrap metal, waiting to be pulled ashore. The pain and discomfort of several days at sea was etched on the faces of these travellers.

A migrant on Lampedusa holds a new born baby
A migrant on Lampedusa with a newborn baby

“How much did it cost?” I asked a man called John who said he was from Sierra Leone.

“When I get the boat, we pay sometimes €1,500, sometimes €2,500.”

“You mean you have tried more than once?” I asked.

“Yes, me and (my wife) were in Morocco. We tried in Morocco two times. In Tunisia, I tried it once, and then I made it.”

“So you have spent a lot of money?”, I ask.

“Yes, I have spent a lot, a lot of money,” he replies. “It is a risk, a very big risk, but God has made it easy for me.”

More than 7,000 migrants have arrived on Lampedusa in the past five days
More than 7,000 migrants have arrived on Lampedusa in the past five days

Here, John puts his finger on the problem for the Italian leader. The crossing from Tunisia in the central Mediterranean has become the route of choice for the majority of migrants – and the gangs that enable them.

EU border agency Frontex has reported the highest numbers on this route since 2015-16, when civil war in Syria fuelled an influx of more than a million into Europe.

The means of transport in this new migratory wave is impossible to miss, for there are hundreds of identical, rust-coloured boats now clogging up the harbour in Lampudesa.

Frontex said the gangs are running increasingly sophisticated and competitive operations.

“Increased migratory pressure may persist in the coming months with smugglers offering lower prices departing from Libya and Tunisia amid fierce competition among criminal groups,” it said.

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A medic with a baby on Lampedusa
A medic with a baby on Lampedusa

How then will Prime Minister Meloni deal with this intractable issue? On Friday, she called for a naval mission to prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean.

A maritime blockade of northern Africa is unlikely to find favour in Berlin and Paris, however.

Ms Meloni may find more success by convincing the EU to pay up on an agreement struck with Tunisia in July, which should see the Tunisian authorities clamp down on the smugglers and those who pay for their services.

However, migrants like John are unlikely to stop when life is not worth living at home.

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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.

More on Alexei Navalny

President Putin makes a point of never referring to Mr Navalny by name as part of an attempt by authorities to portray him as irrelevant.

Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny jailed for a further 19 years over 'extremism'
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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