Wednesday briefing: Stalled aid, soldier shortages and dwindling weapons as Ukraine hangs on

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In today’s newsletter: As the crisis in the Middle East shifts resources away from the Russian invasion, Zelenskiy is calling for more money, weapons and attention

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As soon as Iran launched its aerial attack on Israel, western allies coordinated a rapid, united military and diplomatic response. The US, Britain, France and others intercepted more than 300 Iranian drones and missiles. Closer to Europe, however, a country facing significant aerial bombardment from Russia has not been able to rely on a similar level of assistance from its allies.

Smoking | The House of Commons voted by 383 to 67 in favour of the prime minister’s plan to make it illegal for anyone born in 2009 or later to buy tobacco products in the UK. However the result, voted against by 57 Tory MPs – including Kemi Badenoch, a likely future leadership contender, and five other ministers – underlined the depth of division within the party even over Sunak’s flagship policies.

UK news | One in every 52 children in Blackpool are in care compared with one in 140 across England, leading to calls for more to be done to urgently tackle the widening north-south divide, brought on by “decades of underinvestment”.

Weather | Heavy rains have hit the United Arab Emirates, flooding major highways and disrupting flights at Dubai international airport, in what the government has described as the largest amount of rainfall in the past 75 years. Within one day more than 142mm (5.59in) of rain had soaked the desert city of Dubai, which is normally the average amount it gets in a year and a half.

Israel-Gaza war | Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to trap the west into a total war across the Middle East that would have incalculable consequences for the region and the world, Iran’s top diplomat in the UK has said.

Foreign policy | Labour wants to draw closer to Europe on key foreign and security issues by frequently attending meetings of the monthly EU foreign affairs council. The move, which is likely to trigger Conservative claims that Labour is prepared to abandon an independent foreign policy, builds on a pledge by Keir Starmer’s party to try to negotiate a new security pact with the EU after the 2024 UK election.

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