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U.S. tells Russia to pull back from Ukraine or face painful sanctions

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U.S. tells Russia to pull back from Ukraine or face painful sanctions
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks at the NATO Foreign Ministers summit in Riga, Latvia December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

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By Humeyra Pamuk and Sabine Siebold

RIGA (Reuters) – The United States urged Russia on Wednesday to pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border, warning that a Russian invasion would provoke sanctions that would hit Moscow harder than any imposed until now.

“We don’t know whether President (Vladimir) Putin has made the decision to invade. We do know that he is putting in place the capacity to do so in on short order should he so decide,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

“Should Russia follow the path of confrontation, when it comes to Ukraine, we’ve made clear that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high impact economic measures that we have refrained from pursuing in the past.”

Blinken was speaking in the Latvian capital Riga after conferring with foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine on how to respond to what Kyiv says is a Russian build-up of more than 90,000 troops near its border.

Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 but denies aggressive intent in the current crisis and says it is responding to threatening behaviour by NATO and Ukraine.

The Kremlin said it feared Ukraine was gearing up to try to recapture by force areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region in the east of the country – something Kyiv denies – and accused it of “very dangerous adventurism”.

It said Russia could not take any steps to de-escalate because of a large concentration of Ukrainian forces close to the border.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Europe faced a critical moment and Russia was trying to shift the blame onto Ukraine.

“I would like again to officially state that Ukraine does not plan any military offensive in Donbass. This is Russian propaganda nonsense in order to cover up Russia’s own preparations for a potential attack.”

Blinken declined to spell out what sanctions Russia might face and encouraged both Moscow and Kyiv to return to diplomacy and revive a 2014 peace plan for eastern Ukraine.

Russia has blunted the impact of sanctions imposed over its invasion of Crimea by reducing its borrowings on foreign financial markets and maintaining large currency and gold reserves.

But the West has more potential leverage now if it were to target the newly built Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic Sea, through which Russia is keen to start pumping gas as soon as it gets the green light from a German regulator.

EAST-WEST FLASHPOINT

Ukraine has centuries of shared history with Russia and Moscow keenly resents its westward tilt since a pro-Russian president was ousted in a revolution in 2014.

It current aspiration to join both the European Union and NATO has made it the main flashpoint in Russia’s deteriorating relations with the West.

Putin said on Wednesday that Moscow wanted serious negotiations with the United States and its allies to extract legal guarantees that would rule out any further NATO moves to the east and the deployment of weapons systems close to Russian territory.

A day earlier, the Kremlin leader said Russia was ready with a newly tested hypersonic weapon in case NATO crossed its “red lines” and deployed missiles in Ukraine.

Blinken told a news conference: “The idea that Ukraine represents a threat to Russia would be a bad joke if things weren’t so serious. NATO itself is a defensive alliance, we’re not a threat to Russia.”

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg rejected accusations the alliance was provoking Moscow with military exercises in the Black Sea.

“The problem with Russia is that they are not transparent, that they have a very aggressive rhetoric and a track record showing they have used military exercises before as a disguise for aggressive actions against neighbours,” he told the Reuters Next online summit.

Russia said it had started regular winter military drills in its southern military district, parts of which border Ukraine, and that 10,000 troops had relocated to training grounds across the huge area. Its ally Belarus has also announced joint military drills with Russia on the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said direct talks with Moscow were needed to end the war in the east, which Kyiv says has killed more than 14,000 people.

“We must tell the truth that we will not be able to stop the war without direct negotiations with Russia, and today this has already been recognised by all, all external partners,” Zelenskiy told parliament.

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South Africa’s Tutu – anti-apartheid hero who never stopped fighting for “Rainbow Nation”

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South Africa's Tutu - anti-apartheid hero who never stopped fighting for
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Desmond Tutu gestures at the launch of a human rights campaign marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , December 10, 2007. The campaign aims at getting a billion people to sign in su

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, (Reuters) – “Like falling in love” is how Archbishop Desmond Tutu described voting in South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994, a remark that captured both his puckish humour and his profound emotions after decades fighting apartheid.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, the Nobel Peace laureate whose moral might permeated South African society during apartheid’s darkest hours and into the unchartered territory of new democracy, has died, South Africa’s presidency said on Sunday. He was 90.

The outspoken Tutu was considered the nation’s conscience by both Black and white, an enduring testament to his faith and spirit of reconciliation in a divided nation.

    He preached against the tyranny of white minority and even after its end, he never wavered in his fight for a fairer South Africa, calling the black political elite to account with as much feistiness as he had the white Afrikaners.

In his final years, he regretted that his dream of a “Rainbow Nation” had not yet come true.

On the global stage, the human rights activist spoke out across a range of topics, from Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories to gay rights, climate change and assisted death – issues that cemented Tutu’s broad appeal.

“The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Just five feet five inches (1.68 metres) tall and with an infectious giggle, Tutu was a moral giant who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his non-violent struggle against apartheid.

He used his high-profile role in the Anglican Church to highlight the plight of black South Africans.

Asked on his retirement as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 if he had any regrets, Tutu said: “The struggle tended to make one abrasive and more than a touch self-righteous. I hope that people will forgive me any hurts I may have caused them.”

Talking and travelling tirelessly throughout the 1980s, Tutu became the face of the anti-apartheid movement abroad while many of the leaders of the rebel African National Congress (ANC), such as Nelson Mandela, were behind bars.

“Our land is burning and bleeding and so I call on the international community to apply punitive sanctions against this government,” he said in 1986.

Even as governments ignored the call, he helped rouse grassroots campaigns around the world that fought for an end to apartheid through economic and cultural boycotts.

Former hardline white president P.W. Botha asked Tutu in a letter in March 1988 whether he was working for the kingdom of God or for the kingdom promised by the then-outlawed and now ruling ANC.

GRAVESIDE ORATIONS

Among his most painful tasks was delivering graveside orations for Black people who had died violently during the struggle against white domination.

“We are tired of coming to funerals, of making speeches week after week. It is time to stop the waste of human lives,” he once said.

Tutu said his stance on apartheid was moral rather than political.

“”It’s easier to be a Christian in South Africa than anywhere else, because the moral issues are so clear in this country,” he once told Reuters.

In February 1990, Tutu led Nelson Mandela on to a balcony at Cape Town’s City Hall overlooking a square where the ANC talisman made his first public address after 27 years in prison.

He was at Mandela’s side four years later when he was sworn in as the country’s first black president.

“Sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu’s voice will always be the voice of the voiceless,” is how Mandela, who died in December 2013, described his friend.

While Mandela introduced South Africa to democracy, Tutu headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that laid bare the terrible truths of the war against white rule.

Some of the heartrending testimony moved him publicly to tears.

PULLED NO PUNCHES

But Tutu was as tough on the new democracy as he was on South Africa’s apartheid rulers.

He castigated the new ruling elite for boarding the “gravy train” of privilege and chided Mandela for his long public affair with Graca Machel, whom he eventually married.

In his Truth Commission report, Tutu refused to treat the excesses of the ANC in the fight against white rule any more gently than those of the apartheid government.

Even in his twilight years, he never stopped speaking his mind, condemning President Jacob Zuma over allegations of corruption surrounding a $23 million security upgrade to his home.

In 2014, he admitted he did not vote for the ANC, citing moral grounds.

“As an old man, I am sad because I had hoped that my last days would be days of rejoicing, days of praising and commending the younger people doing the things that we hoped so very much would be the case,” Tutu told Reuters in June 2014.

In December 2003, he rebuked his government for its support for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, despite growing criticism over his human rights record.

Tutu drew a parallel between Zimbabwe’s isolation and South Africa’s battle against apartheid.

“We appealed for the world to intervene and interfere in South Africa’s internal affairs. We could not have defeated apartheid on our own,” Tutu said. “What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander too.”

He also criticised South African President Thabo Mbeki for his public questioning of the link between HIV and AIDS, saying Mbeki’s international profile had been tarnished.

SCHOOL TEACHER’S SON

A schoolteacher’s son, Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, a conservative town west of Johannesburg, on Oct. 7, 1931.

The family moved to Sophiatown in Johannesburg, one of the commercial capital’s few mixed-race areas, subsequently demolished under apartheid laws to make way for the white suburb of Triomf – “Triumph in Afrikaans.

Always a passionate student, Tutu first worked as a teacher. But he said he had become infuriated with the system of educating Blacks, once described by a South African prime minister as aimed at preparing them for their role in society as servants.

Tutu quit teaching in 1957 and decided to join the church, studying first at St. Peter’s Theological College in Johannesburg. He was ordained a priest in 1961 and continued his education at King’s College in London.

After four years abroad, he returned to South Africa, where his sharp intellect and charismatic preaching saw him rise through lecturing posts to become Anglican Dean of Johannesburg in 1975, which was when his activism started taking shape.

“I realised that I had been given a platform that was not readily available to many Blacks, and most of our leaders were either now in chains or in exile. And I said: ‘Well, I’m going to use this to seek to try to articulate our aspirations and the anguishes of our people’,” he told a reporter in 2004.

By now too prominent and globally respected to be thrust aside by the apartheid government, Tutu used his appointment as Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches in 1978 to call for sanctions against his country.

He was named the first Black Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986, becoming the head of the Anglican Church, South Africa’s fourth largest. He would retain that position until 1996.

In retirement he battled prostate cancer and largely withdrew from public life. In one of his last public appearances, he hosted Britain’s Prince Harry, his wife Meghan and their four-month-old son Archie at his charitable foundation in Cape Town in September 2019, calling them a “genuinely caring” couple.

Tutu married Leah in 1955. They had four children and several grandchildren, and homes in Cape Town and Soweto township near Johannesburg.

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South African anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Tutu dies aged 90

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South African anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Tutu dies aged 90
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Archbishop Desmond Tutu laughs as crowds gather to celebrate his birthday by unveiling an arch in his honour outside St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran of South Africa’s struggle against white minority rule, has died aged 90, the presidency said on Sunday.

Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and in recent years he was hospitalized on several occasions to treat infections associated with his cancer treatment.

“Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” Dr Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and Co-ordinator of the Office of the Archbishop, said in a statement on behalf of the Tutu family.

She did not give details on the cause of death.

In 1984 Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent opposition to apartheid. A decade later, he witnessed the ends of that regime and he chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed during those dark days.

“The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Intruder arrested for breaching Windsor Castle grounds

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Intruder arrested for breaching Windsor Castle grounds
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Police officers stand on duty at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, April 1, 2018. Picture taken April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) – A man who entered the grounds of Windsor Castle, where Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is spending Christmas, has been arrested and is being held on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon, police said on Saturday.

The 19-year-old from Southampton in southern England did not enter any buildings and security processes were triggered within moments, Thames Valley Police said in a statement.

The 95-year-old monarch, who has spent much of the COVID-19 pandemic at Windsor Castle, was celebrating Christmas there with her son, Prince Charles, his wife, Camilla, and other close family.

“The man has been arrested on suspicion of breach or trespass of a protected site and possession of an offensive weapon,” said Thames Valley Police Superintendent Rebecca Mears.

She added that members of the royal family had been informed about the incident and that police did not believe there was a wider danger to the public.

The incident took place at about 0830 GMT.

Charles, Camilla and other royal family members were pictured later in the morning arriving for a Christmas church service at St George’s Chapel within the Windsor Castle complex.

There was no suggestion that any of the royal family’s plans had been disrupted by the incident.

Security breaches at royal residences are rare. The most serious one in the queen’s reign happened in 1982, when an intruder climbed a wall to enter Buckingham Palace, her London home, and wandered into a room where she was in bed.

In 2016 a man with a previous murder conviction pleaded guilty to trespass after scaling a perimeter wall at Buckingham Palace and asking if the monarch was at home.

The royal family normally spend Christmas at the queen’s Sandringham estate in eastern England, but that tradition has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. She spent Christmas of 2020 at Windsor, too.

The queen made no public appearance on Saturday. In a pre-recorded Christmas message to the nation, she spoke of the loss of her husband, Prince Philip, who died in April aged 99. The couple were married for 73 years.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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