Moscow has blasted as “outrageous twisting of the facts” a statement by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who said the EU was the only party providing aid to Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry also officially responded to Mogherini’s statement and said that Russia, “unlike other international players, is actively supplying thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to various regions in Syria, including the liberated areas in eastern Aleppo, at the risk of Russian military lives.” Mogherini’s words aren’t the first aimed against the Russian humanitarian effort in Syria: last week, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said that the Syrian regime and their influencers are preventing aid from reaching Aleppo. In response, Russian Defence Ministry’s spokesperson, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said that the UK government has lost an objective view of what is happening in Syria, including Aleppo, due to Russophobia, adding that the UK has not sent a single gram of flour, any medicine or blankets to help civilians in Aleppo during the whole Syrian conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, affirmed that no common approach on the roadmap for the Donbass settlement has been reached so far. He reminded that the four Ministers met in late November in Minsk. So far, no common approach has surfaced, although the process is slowly moving, at a snail’s pace however. At their meeting in the Belarusian capital city on November 29, the Normandy Four, namely Russian, German, French and Ukrainian, Foreign Ministers failed to agree a roadmap for the implementation of the Minsk’s agreements. The agreements, signed on September 2014 and February 2015, envisaged a ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and people’s militias in the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Lugansk starting from February 15 and subsequent withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of engagement. The deal also laid out a roadmap for a lasting settlement in Ukraine, including local elections and constitutional reform to give more autonomy to the war-torn eastern regions.
The FBI confirmed that they found no evidence about a possible terrorist attack on the Los Angeles subway. On Tuesday the city authorities ordered an increase of security measures on the red line metro after an anonymous call, made by an Australian phone line, warned that there would be an attack on the Universal metro station. The increased security measures are still operating as a precaution.
On Friday, the government decided to strengthen unilateral sanctions against North Korea using measures such as expanding the range of entities and individuals subject to asset freezes. The decision follows North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. The new measures, which are in line with the unilateral sanctions introduced in February, include expanding a reentry ban to include people who have traveled to North Korea. The government intends to urge Pyongyang to change its position by stringently blocking the departure and entry of people linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile developments and flow of funds, according to sources.
On Friday, Chief of General Staff Gen. Viktor Muzhenko affirmed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have wrapped up surface-to-air missile tests in southern Ukraine. The head of Russia’s aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia, Alexander Neradko, affirmed that Ukraine has not sent any notifications about new missile firing drills in the Black Sea after 2nd of December. According to Neradko, Russia continue to monitor the airspace over Simferopol and the Black Sea. Earlier, Rosaviatsia said that Ukraine planned to hold missile exercises in the Simferopol flight information region (FIR) over the city of Simferopol and part of the Black Sea on December 1 and 2. It also issued a special notification about high-risk zones in that region. Later, Ukraine declared it was introducing more high-risk zones there.
Pakistan has criticised UN Security Council’s inaction to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it deems essential for peace and stability in the Middle East. Speaking in the General Assembly in the debate on “The Question of Palestine”, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi said that inaction by the Security Council has not only undermined its own credibility but has also weakened the ideals that the organisation espouses. These, she said, includes ideals of human dignity, of peaceful coexistence based on sovereign equality of all nations and of the right to self-determination of all people.
During his annual address to Russian lawmakers, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow is ready for dialogue with its international partners, but will not allow them to infringe on its interests or meddle in its decision-making. He noted, however, that Russia is ready to participate in solving global and regional crises when necessary. Putin also said that Russia’s policy towards its Asian partners, China and Japan, is not opportunistic or a response to the deterioration in US-relations, but based on Russia’s plans for long-term development. In his speech, the Russian President also urged the United States to join Russia to jointly fight international terrorism. It has been the 23rd such event in Russia’s modern history and the 13th speech delivered by Vladimir Putin.
According four anonymous source, cited by Financial Times, leaders of the Syrian opposition are holding negotiations with Russian representatives to end the fighting in Aleppo. The US is allegedly not aware of the talks. The talks are taking place in Ankara, brokered by Turkey, and Washington is not participating in the negotiations, the sources told to the international daily. The sources added that it is not the first time that the Syrian opposition has met with the Russian side, but it is unprecedented that so many rebel groups would participate in the negotiations. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that Russia and Turkey are constantly in touch with various groups in Syria. Lavrov also noted that Russia called to set up contacts with armed Syrian opposition groups during the Lausanne talks a month ago.
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday adopted a new sanctions resolution against North Korea, ramping up earlier punitive measures following the reclusive country’s fifth and largest nuclear test in September. The 17-page resolution was unanimously adopted by the 15-member council after the text was settled upon in protracted negotiations between the United States, its author, and China, the North’s closest ally and major trading partner.
On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister General Sergey Shoigu and his Armenian counterpart Vigen Sargsyan signed an agreement for creating the United Group of Troops. Earlier, on November 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the idea of striking a deal with Armenia and ordered a draft agreement be sealed for the creation of the United Group of Troops in the collective security region in the Caucasus. Sargsyan also affirmed that the United Group of Troops would comprise the 102nd Russian military base deployed in Armenia and Armenian army units.The Russian and Armenian Defense Ministers also signed a cooperation plan for 2017. Shoigu added that Russian Federation is ready to expand ties with Armenia in the sphere of military education.