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Russia

Khodorkovsky Freed, North Korea Threats, Space Robot

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was freed after spending more than 10 years in jail
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was freed after spending more than 10 years in jail
Worldcrunch

KHODORKOVSKY FREE
Former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was freed from prison this morning, after Thursday’s surprise announcement by Vladimir Putin that he would sign a decree pardoning him of his convictions for fraud, tax evasion and embezzlement, Ria Novosti reports.
The international cause célèbre spent a total of 3,709 days in prison.

ROOF COLLAPSE AT LONDON’S APOLLO THEATER
At least 76 people were injured as part of the ceiling of London’s Apollo Theater collapsed in the middle of a performance Thursday evening, with more than 700 people inside, the BBC reports. An investigation was launched into the causes of the incident, which happened after a heavy rainstorm.

THREE PEACEKEEPERS KILLED IN SOUTH SUDAN
Three United Nations peacekeepers from India were killed in South Sudan, after rebels attacked their base,The Times Of India reports. Barack Obama announced Thursday the United States had sent 45 military personnel to protect American citizens in the country, saying that “South Sudan stands at the precipice.” Read more from AP.

NORTH KOREA WARNS SOUTH OF STRIKES
The President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, received threats from North Korea of “retaliatory strikes without warning” if the country didn’t stop anti-Pyongyang rallies in Seoul,The New York Times quotes officials as saying. Earlier this week, demonstrators in the South Korean capital burned posters of Kim Jong-un and described him as a “devil.”

PHILIPPINES MAYOR AMONG 4 DEAD IN MANILA AIRPORT ATTACK
The mayor of a southern Philippine town was shot dead along with his wife and two other people, including an 18-month-old baby, in an attack in the airport of Manila, The Inquirerreports. According to the chief of police, the gunmen were riding motorcycles and wearing police uniforms under black jackets. The motive for the killing is still unknown.

A WARM CHRISTMAS

While snow hits northern hemisphere, Argentinian authorities hold heatwave alert as temperatures reach 32 °C in Buenos Aires.

S&P DOWNGRADES EU
Credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s stripped the European Union of its AAA rating, citing disagreements among the 28 countries and an increasingly fragile financial profile, theFinancial Times reports.

SPACE SANTA
What does a space robot wish for Christmas? Read it here.

A LOOK BACK ON THE YEAR
Revisit this year’s main events around the world, from the horsemeat and NSA scandals to a papal transition, Typhoon Haiyan and Canada’s singing astronaut: It’s our compilation of top stories from 26 countries.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Shame Of A Nation: History Will Judge Germany For Holding Back Tanks From Ukraine

A retired German general spells out in clear language what the choice is for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and what the long-term consequences of half-hearted support for Kyiv as it battles for survival against the Russian invasion.

Photo of German Army Leopard 2 A7V tanks

German Army Leopard 2 A7V tanks

Klaus Wittmann*

-OpEd-

BERLIN — The German television newscaster cheerfully predicted last Friday morning: “Today the German evasive maneuvers are ending...” And yet, the high-level meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group at the Ramstein military base, proved this prophecy completely wrong.

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The burning issue of Germany stalling and blocking the approval of battle tank deliveries to Ukraine continues to burn.

As intense as the international pressure was, Berlin has once again refused to make a commitment. Rhetoric about the difference between what one wants and what one can achieve, the endless counterarguments, the citing of numbers...none of it however, make them any more credible. In reality they are excuses, with which Chancellor Olaf Scholz shirks the responsibility which, after all, the great, prosperous Germany will not be able to escape.

[A Sunday evening comment by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock that Berlin "would not stand in the way" of other countries providing German-made Leopard tanks is only provisional, and still mentions nothing about Germany sending its own tanks.]

The final decisions are ultimately in the hands of Scholz, and one wonders if he is unable to be swayed from an idea he's committed to. Or perhaps he continues to listen to Angela Merkel’s former advisor, General Erich Vad, who said before authorizing the sending of tanks to Kyiv, it would first have to be clear whether the Russian forces should be driven out of Ukraine at all.

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