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Kalashnikov Unveils New Military Bulletproof Robot

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Kalashnikov, the most famous arms developer in Russia, has launched a 13-foot tall walking robot that is operated by soldiers that sit inside it with the machine acting as a bulletproof military suit for them, Gizmodo reports.

Kalashnikov Group showcased the invention at the Army 2018 Fair, the International Military-Tech forum held in Moscow this week.

The enormous 4.5-tonne bulletproof robot can hold weapons in its claws and was presented to its audience as a “demonstration of what is to come.”

Pilots operate the robot, named Igorek, from an internal cabin and are protected from aggressors, bullets or debris, by a metal shield and armored glass. The robot is still under construction and Kalashnikov is keeping any further spec details secret for now.

According to Vladimir Dmitriev, the temporary head of the Kalashnikov Group, the robot is “probably one of the hottest new models of the ‘Army 2018’.”

“Currently it is only a demonstration of the path we are planning on following,” he said.

“We understand that there are robotic machines driving on caterpillar and wheel drive, we also understand that there will be demand for anthropomorphic automatic movable systems,” Dmitriev added.

The robot has been compared to the AD-209 (Enforcement Droid series 209) from the Robocop series due to its long legs, ‘arms’ and gold-color.

The Arms Fair is organized by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and hosts around 1,200 exhibitors that display some 26,000 weapons and military equipment, including helicopters, fighter jets, and tanks.

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Riyadh Holds Tehran Responsible for Oil Attacks

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Saudi Arabia said it holds Iran responsible for attacks that debilitated Saudi oil facilities, directly implicating Tehran for the first time but stopping short of explicitly accusing it of conducting the strikes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Officials have concluded that Iran or one of its proxies launched a complex assault involving drones and cruise missiles from a location north of Saudi Arabia, Col. Turki al-Maliki, spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen, told reporters in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Maliki said Riyadh made its judgment based on the direction of the cruise missiles when they struck the facilities and the maximum distance of 435 miles they could travel. The weapons found at the two attack sites also could be traced back to Iran, he said, the Journal added.

At the press briefing, Maliki displayed debris from the attacks, including what the Ministry of Defense described as Iranian drones and cruise missiles. He said Saudi Arabia was still working to determine the launch site and didn’t explicitly say the attacks had been mounted by Iran or from Iranian territory.

The ministry on Wednesday also displayed debris from what it said was an earlier attack on an oil facility in Afif in May. Maliki added the ministry knew the range of the cruise missiles, which he said were Iranian-made Ya Ali land-attack missiles, based on its military assessments and the range of previous attacks.

Saturday’s twin attacks on the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities knocked out 5.7 million barrels a day of production at Saudi Aramco, sending global oil prices higher, the Journal noted.

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North Korea Reportedly Developing Own Cryptocurrency

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North Korea is in the early stages of developing its own cryptocurrency in a bid to avoid crippling international sanctions and circumvent the U.S.-dominated global financial system, a representative for the regime told VICE News.

Pyongyang has long shown an interest in cryptocurrencies, with the country recently bringing together homegrown experts with foreign companies at its first-ever blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in April, VICE News writes.

The digital currency, which doesn’t even have a name yet, will be “more like bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies,” said Alejandro Cao de Benos, the official in charge of North Korea’s cryptocurrency conferences, and a special delegate for the Committee for Cultural Relations for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“We are still in the very early stages in the creation of the token. Now we are in the phase of studying the goods that will give value to it,” said Cao de Benos, adding that there are “no plans to digitize the [North Korean] won for now.”

Close watchers of the regime’s use of cryptocurrencies told VICE News that North Korea already has the expertise needed to build and deploy its own cryptocurrency that could help the North Koreans avoid sanctions.

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Venezuela Wants U.S. to Reopen Diplomatic Ties

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Venezuela’s socialist government on Wednesday called on the United States to restore diplomatic ties with Caracas after it opened talks with fringe opposition parties, AFP reported.

Venezuela broke off relations with the United States after Washington recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president on January 23. Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez told reporters in Caracas that it made sense for the US “to restore diplomatic contacts and dialogue with the government.”

Rodriguez said Washington was left with only “a single path” having failed to remove Maduro from power, and that was “negotiation and diplomatic communication”.

President Donald Trump’s administration had targeted Venezuela’s oil industry and Maduro’s inner circle with a raft of economic sanctions. Washington blames Maduro for the economic collapse of Venezuela, from which millions have fled due to basic shortages, and considers him illegitimate after widespread reports of irregularities in last year’s election.

Both Maduro and Trump said last month that talks had been taking place involving senior officials from both sides.

Rodriguez also welcomed Monday’s agreement between the government and minority opposition parties, outside of Guaido’s coalition, to open negotiations on political changes aimed at resolving Venezuela’s crisis, AFP added.

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