Резніков: «Велика війна в Україні може занурити у кризу всю Європу»

«Ми повинні переконати Москву, що ціна нового наступу буде надто високою»

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France Records More Than 50,000 Daily COVID-19 Cases

France on Saturday said more than 50,000 people had tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, as COVID-19 cases rocketed despite millions receiving a vaccine booster shot.

The country recorded 51,624 new daily cases of Covid, health authorities said. France’s record daily cases number was nearly 118,000 in mid-April, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

France has recorded an average of almost 41,000 new cases a day over the past week, compared with less than 28,000 a week ago.

Some 694 people had been admitted to hospitals in the past 24 hours, including 119 who were critically ill.

The coronavirus killed 113 people over the same period.

Cases have shot up as France heads into winter.

Health Minister Olivier Veran has for the moment ruled out a lockdown but urged all adults in the country of 67 million to sign up for a third COVID-19 vaccine shot by mid-January.

“Ten million French people have gotten a booster jab to maintain their protection against Covid,” he wrote on Twitter.

After January 15, residents aged 18 to 64 will have to show proof of a booster vaccine no more than seven months after the second dose to maintain a valid COVID-19 pass, which is required to enter restaurants, bars, gyms and other public venues.

In total, 119,457 people have died of COVID-19 in France since the start of the pandemic.

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Заява Білорусі про порушення повітряного простору з боку України не відповідає дійсності – Держприкордонслужба

«Державна прикордонна служба України неодноразово наголошувала на тому, що в рамках посилення кордону та проведення прикордонної операції «Полісся» для моніторингу кордону активно використовуватиметься як авіація, так і безпілотні літальні комплекси. Авіація використовувалася і сьогодні»

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Kremlin Says Biden and Putin to Discuss Ukraine Crisis Next Week

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to discuss rising tensions Tuesday along the Russian-Ukranian border, where a Russian troop buildup is seen by the West as a sign of a potential invasion.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the meeting Saturday to Interfax news agency, saying it would take place on Tuesday evening.

The White House did not immediately comment on the announcement.

In addition to Russia’s military buildup, the Kremlin said Biden and Putin would discuss bilateral relations and the implementation of agreements reached at their Geneva summit in June.

On Friday, Biden told reporters he has been developing a set of initiatives that will make it “very, very difficult” for Russia to escalate the situation at its border with Ukraine, where Moscow has been building up troops and equipment for weeks. 

The situation at Ukraine’s eastern border has raised fears Moscow is planning to invade its neighbor. Russian aggression was the focus this week of a NATO foreign ministers meeting, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warning Russia that any escalation of the situation would come at a high price.

In turn, Moscow has suggested the U.S. and Ukraine might launch their own offensive.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Russia is planning a multifront offensive into Ukraine, involving up to 175,000 troops, as early as next year, citing U.S. officials and an intelligence document obtained by the newspaper.

The Post says the unclassified U.S. intelligence document it obtained contains satellite photos and shows about 70,000 Russian troops massing in four locations near Ukraine’s border.

The U.S. Defense Department says it is “deeply concerned by evidence” Russia is planning “aggressive actions” against Ukraine.  However, department spokesman Lt. Col. Tony Semelroth had no comment on the report that the potential Russian offensive could include 175,000 troops operating on multiple fronts. 

“We will not get into intelligence assessments,” Semelroth said. “However, we are deeply concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for aggressive actions against Ukraine. As we have said, we continue to support de-escalation in the region and a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.”

Earlier Friday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Russia has now massed more than 94,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, suggesting to him that they could be preparing for a large-scale military offensive at the end of January. 

When asked about the situation during remarks at the White House on Friday, Biden told reporters he has been in constant contact with U.S. allies in Europe, and with Ukraine. He said Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have been engaged extensively.  

Biden said his administration was “putting together what I believe to be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin [Russian President Vladimir Putin] to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do. But that’s in play right now.” 

Biden offered no details about what his initiatives might be. 

Diplomatic efforts have been underway to ease tensions in the region this week. Blinken met in Stockholm Thursday with both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.  

After the Kremlin said Friday that arrangements were being made for a video call between Biden and Putin, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “It certainly would be an opportunity to discuss our serious concerns about the bellicose rhetoric, about the military buildup that we’re seeing on the border of Ukraine.”

Russian foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters Friday that during the call between the leaders, Putin would seek guarantees to prevent NATO from expanding into Ukraine.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.



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Thousands Block Roads Across Serbia in anti-Government Protest

Thousands of people blocked roads across Serbia in an anti-government demonstration targeting two new laws that environmentalists say will let foreign companies exploit local resources.

Serbia’s government has offered mining rights to two companies, China’s Zijin copper miner and Rio Tinto. Green activists say the projects will pollute land and water in the Balkan nation.

The protest is a headache for the ruling Peoples’ Progressive Party led by the President Aleksandar Vucic ahead of parliamentary and presidential election next year.

Thousands gathered on the main bridge in the capital, Belgrade, chanting “Rio Tinto go away from the Drina River.”

They held banners reading: “Stop investors, save the nature, We are not giving away the nature in Serbia,” and “For the land, the water and the air.”

Roadblocks have been set up all over Serbia including the second largest city of Novi Sad in western Serbia, in Sabac, Uzice, and Nis in the south and in Zajecar in the East.

“The reason (for the protest) is to protect our land, water and air. We do not want it to be sold cheaply,” said Stefan, a student protesting in Belgrade.

Rio Tinto has promised to adhere to all domestic and EU environmental standards, but environmentalists say its planned $2.4 million lithium mine would irreversibly pollute drinking water in the area.

The protesters are angry about a referendum law passed last month which will make it harder for people to protest polluting projects, as well as a new expropriation law, which makes it easier for the state to acquire private land.

President Vucic, on his Instagram profile, published a picture of the village of Gornje Nedeljice, where Rio Tinto has already started buying land for its future lithium project.

Vucic said once the environmental study on the project is complete, he would call a referendum to allow people to decide whether the project should go through.

“Everything we build today we are leaving to our children,” Vucic wrote on Instagram.

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Відеодзвінок Байдена і Путіна призначений на 7 грудня. Говоритимуть про Україну

Президент США Джо Байден і російський лідер Володимир Путін поспілкуються по відеозвʼязку 7 грудня, щоб обговорити Україну та інші теми, підтвердили 4 грудня Білий дім і Кремль.

Віртуальна зустріч відбудеться на тлі зростання міжнародного занепокоєння щодо намірів Москви – представники НАТО та західних військових і розвідувальних служб вказують на значне нарощування російських військ поблизу українського кордону. Вашингтон і Київ стверджують, що Москва зібрала десятки тисяч військовослужбовців разом з танками та артилерією на заході Росії та може планувати масштабну агресію вже в січні. Reuters цитує неназваного чиновника адміністрації, який сказав, що Байден планує наголосити на занепокоєнні США щодо російської військової діяльності та нагадати про американську підтримку суверенітету та територіальної цілісності України.

2 грудня Байден заявив, що працює над кількома рішеннями, щоб Путіну було «дуже, дуже важко» здійснити військову ескалацію проти України.

Україна веде семирічну війну проти підтримуваних Москвою гібридних сил на сході України після того, як Росія анексувала український Крим у 2014 році.

Неназваний чиновник Білого дому сказав, що Байден і Путін також обговорюватимуть широкий спектр інших тем. Зокрема, Росія надала дипломатичну та військову підтримку іншій колишній радянській республіці, Білорусі, на тлі 16-місячного придушення протестів, які виникли після проголошення Олександра Лукашенка переобраним на шостий президентський термін. Також темою обговорення може стати криза мігрантів на кордоні Білорусі з членами ЄС. США, Євросоюз та інші демократичні країни наполягають на проведенні в Білорусі виборів, які б відповідали міжнародним стандартам і не визнають легітимною владу Лукашенка.


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Belarus Labels RFE/RL’s Telegram, YouTube Channels ‘Extremist’

A Belarusian court has designated the official Telegram channel of RFE/RL’s Belarus Service and some of the broadcaster’s social media accounts as extremist in a continued clampdown on independent media and civil society, 

The decision to label RFE/RL’s accounts “extremist” – including its YouTube channel – was made by the Central District Court on December 3 based on information provided by the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, known as GUBOPiK. 

In a statement, GUBOPiK said that anyone subscribing to channels or other media designated as “extremist” may face jail time or other penalties, such as fines. 

“RFE/RL adamantly rejects this ridiculous label,” RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said in response to the news. 

“We are committed to continuing to provide objective news and information to the Belarusian people, who are in need of independent media more now than ever. The Lukashenko regime continues to make clear that their disregard for the truth and their efforts to restrict access to independent information know no bounds,” he added. 

Authorities in Belarus have declared hundreds of Telegram channels, blogs and chatrooms “extremist” after the country was engulfed in protests following the August 2020 presidential election, which authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko claimed to have won and that the opposition says was rigged. 

In response, the government has cracked down hard on the pro-democracy movement, arresting thousands of people and pushing most of the top opposition figures out of the country. There have also been credible reports of torture and ill treatment, and several people have died. 

Dozens of news websites have been blocked in Belarus and independent media shuttered as part of a sweeping crackdown on information in the wake of the protests. 

Website blocked last year

The website of RFE/RL’s Belarus Service has been blocked within Belarus since August 21, 2020, while the accreditations of all locally based journalists working for foreign media, including RFE/RL, were annulled by Belarusian authorities in October 2020. 

Lukashenko, who has run the country since 1994, has denied any fraud in the election and refuses to negotiate with the opposition on a political transition and new elections. 

The West has refused to recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate leader of Belarus and has imposed several waves of sanctions against the government and other officials accused of aiding and benefiting from the crackdown. 

On Thursday, the European Union, the United States and other key Western allies further tightened the sanctions in response to a crisis on the bloc’s eastern flank that the West accuses Lukashenko of fomenting by funneling thousands of mainly Middle Eastern migrants to the border region in retaliation against the sanctions. 

Belarusian national carrier Belavia said Friday that it had cut its fleet by about half because of the sanctions. The airline has been accused of flying the migrants to Minsk. 

The Belarus Foreign Ministry said Friday that the “unprecedented pressure” applied on it could prompt Minsk to retaliate. 

“We have repeatedly said that all unfriendly anti-Belarusian steps will be followed by appropriate measures of response. The new round of sanctions is no exception,” the ministry said in a statement. 

The isolation has made the Belarusian strongman more reliant than ever on Russia, which analysts say is using his weakened position to strengthen its hold over its smaller neighbor.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is part of the taxpayer-funded United States Agency for Global Media, which also includes Voice of America. 

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France’s Macron Defends Saudi Visit After Khashoggi Murder

French President Emmanuel Macron insisted Friday he hadn’t forgotten the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as he defended his decision to visit Saudi Arabia during his Gulf tour.

On Saturday, Macron will become one of the first Western leaders to meet the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, since Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Khashoggi’s murder sparked international outrage that continues to reverberate. But Macron said it was impossible to engage with the region while ignoring the powerful Saudis.

“Who can think for one second that we can help Lebanon and preserve peace and stability in the Middle East if we say: ‘We’re not going to speak to Saudi Arabia, the most populated and most powerful country in the Gulf?'” he told media in Dubai, the first stop of his tour.

“It doesn’t mean that I endorse anything, that I’ve forgotten, that we’re not demanding partners,” he said, adding that he was acting “for our country and in the interests of the region.”

Macron will fly to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah on Saturday after an overnight stay in Qatar, another resource-rich Gulf country where France will defend their World Cup football title next year.

On Oct. 2, 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to file paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée. According to U.S. and Turkish officials, a waiting Saudi hit squad strangled him and dismembered his body, which has never been retrieved. 


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