6:30am: US and Iran clash over Russian use of drones in Ukraine
The United States and its allies have clashed with Iran and Russia at a contentious UN Security Council meeting over Western claims that Tehran is supplying Moscow with drones to attack Ukraine – with the US accusing the UN secretary-general of “yielding to Russian threats” and failing to launch an investigation.
US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood told the council that Ukraine’s report of Iranian-origin drones being used by Russia to attack civilian infrastructure has been supported “by ample evidence from multiple public sources” including a statement by Iran’s foreign minister on Nov. 5.
He insisted that Iran is barred from transferring these types of drones without prior Security Council approval under an annex to the 2015 resolution on Iran’s nuclear programme.
Iran’s UN Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani, meanwhile, dismissed what he called the West’s “unfounded allegations”. He also stressed that all restrictions on transferring arms to and from Iran were terminated in October 2020, adding that Western claims that Tehran needed prior approval therefore “have no legal merit.”
3:15am: Russia won’t ‘steal’ Christmas, says Kyiv mayor
Kyiv officials on Monday illuminated a Christmas tree in the city centre, refusing to let Russia “steal” the festive season from Ukrainian children.
The day, which started with swarms of attacks on critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian capital, ended with the unveiling of the 12-metre (40-feet) high artificial tree decorated with white peace doves.
A few dozen residents braved the sub-zero temperatures to admire the tree located next to the Saint Sophia Cathedral and its emblematic golden domes – and take selfies.
“Russians try to steal normal life away from our citizens, but we won’t give them a chance to steal the biggest holidays – the New Year and Christmas – from our children,” the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said when unveiling the tree.
11:25pm: Putin orders FSB to step up surveillance of Russians and borders
President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Federal Security Services to step up surveillance of Russian society and the country’s borders to prevent risks from abroad and traitors at home.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Security Services Day – widely celebrated in Russia – Putin said the “emergence of new threats” increases the need for greater intelligence activity.
“Work must be intensified through the border services and the Federal Security Service (FSB),” Putin said.
“Any attempts to violate it (the border) must be thwarted quickly and effectively using whatever forces and means we have at our disposal, including mobile action units and special forces,” he added.
9:31pm: Putin says Russia has ‘no interest’ in absorbing Belarus
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday his country has “no interest” in absorbing Belarus, Moscow’s main ally that heavily depends on it for cheap oil and loans.
“Russia has no interest in absorbing anyone, this would simply make no sense,” Putin said, answering a question from a journalist, saying such rumours came from “ill-wishers”.
The Kremlin has for years sought to deepen integration with Belarus, but its strongman Alexander Lukashenko resisted outright unification with Russia despite being a key ally.
Putin hailed a relationship between “closest allies and strategic partners … united by a common history and spiritual values.
“Together we are resisting sanctions from unfriendly countries,” Putin said, “and we do so quite confidently and effectively.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)
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