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Putin plot: Russia ‘will attack Ukraine’ if it joins NATO – new conflict fears erupt | World | News



An article by Fyodor Lukyanov, research director at Putin-linked think tank the Valdai International Discussion Club, offers explanation as to why Russian troops are massing at the border with Ukraine. He warned of a “new conflict” if Nato expanded further east.

Mr Lukyanov insists the risk of a potential military conflict grows far higher when non-NATO members “like Ukraine” start playing the same game as other countries inside the alliance.

He states in the piece published today: “It is hard to imagine that the nightmarish scenarios crafted by the bloc’s junior partners to alarm their patrons could ever be proven right.

“They routinely insist Putin wants to test the boundaries with NATO by attacking the Baltic states and Poland.

“In reality, Moscow seems to believe the bloc will honour its obligation more than those in Riga or Tallinn do – but when non-members, like Ukraine, start playing this game as well, the risk of a potential military conflict grows far higher”.

He describes recent escalation in Eastern Europe as proof old principles of security in the region no longer work.

Mr Lukyanov states: “NATO expansion has created a new military and political landscape. Keeping things as they are could lead to new conflicts, while abandoning the belief that the bloc calls all the shots will require a drastic revision of all approaches”.

He adds that Russia will have to change the system and draw new “red lines”, for example by redefining the Cold War idea of Finlandisation where countries keep their sovereignty but stay out of the “geopolitical fray”.

He warned the “gambit” which led to the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, when Moscow invaded after claiming it was provoked, could be replicated in Ukraine.


Brigadier General Simon Doran of the US Marine Corps said of NATO’s preparation for a potential Russian invasion: “We exist to be ready at all times.”

He told The Telegraph: “Hopefully, we’re not only deterring potential adversaries, we’re also reassuring all of our partners and allies that if called upon, we will be here.

“We are absolutely ready to combat any aggression from anybody globally.”

Russia’s defence chief Sergei Shoigu has also raised fears of an invasion by ordering his commanders to make their nuclear forces “combat ready”.

It follows US warnings Vladimir Putin could order his tanks into Ukraine within weeks.

Mr Shoigu told Russian military leaders on Wednesday their top priority must now be: “Increasing their combat effectiveness, maintaining the combat readiness of nuclear forces and strengthening the potential of non-nuclear deterrent forces.”

He told them the move was in retaliation for growing NATO activity near Russia’s borders in recent weeks, pointing to claims US long-range bombers had skirted the country’s borders.

A Russia analyst told the Daily Mirror: “The terrifying picture now emerging, is that in mid-winter mass Russian forces would invade Ukraine through Belarus in the north and up through Crimea in the south, heading towards the capital Kiev, an encirclement operation, splitting the country in two.”

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, which is officially part of Ukraine, in 2014.

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Indian weightlifters in limbo as new COVID-19 variant cast doubts over Weightlifting World Championship



Indian weightlifters are scheduled to compete at the Weightlifting World Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. However, they are in a state of limbo at the moment due to new travel restrictions caused by the new omicron variant of COVID-19.

Indian head coach Vijay Sharma said they are confused about the competition under the new circumstances. He revealed that the Uzbekistan Weightlifting Federation had assured them earlier that the Worlds would go ahead as scheduled. The first batch are set to leave on Wednesday. In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Sharma said:

“We are not sure what is happening. I woke up today and read the news about the world weightlifting championship that might get cancelled. We talked to UWF and they told us the competition will be held. It is confusing now. For now, the first batch of weightlifting will be leaving for Tashkent on December 3.”

Visitors from nine African countries and Hong Kong were barred from entering Uzbekistan under new travel restrictions amid the Omicron variant. All inbound and outbound flights to these nations will be grounded as of Friday (December 3).

Moreover, weightlifters from another 10 countries will not be able to participate at the Worlds due to the 10-day quarantine upon arrival in Uzbekistan. These nations include Australia, Britain and Italy, who have collectively entered 22 athletes.

A total of over 60 weightlifters, including eight from China, will not take part in the marquee event. The number is expected to grow in the coming days.

Another major problem for the IWF is the depleted number of technical officials who will be unable to travel. Without them, conducting the competition, due to run from December 7 to 17, will be nearly impossible.

The Worlds’ body is monitoring the situation closely. They are expected to announce the cancelation of the weightlifting world championship tomorrow after consultation with Tashkent.

Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF) President Sahdev Yadav said they are keeping a close watch and will take necessary action if needed.

What does the cancelation of Weightlifting World Championship mean for India?

The sporting calendar has been heavily impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commonwealth Championships is the main qualifying event for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. It was set to coincide with the Weightlifting World Championships.

However, under the current circumstances Australia, Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and the British nations will skip the event. In their absence, the Commonwealth Championships cannot go ahead.

As for the Weightlifting World Championship, it was important for India to improve the rankings for the CWG qualification. Vijay Sharma said their chances for qualification will be hampered if the competition gets canceled. However, he found solace in the fact that the situation will be the same for everyone.

“Our main aim was to qualify for the CWG in Birmingham. If the world championship gets canceled, our chances will get hampered. But then, the situation is the same for everyone,” he said.

This is especially bad news for Jeremy Lalrinnunga, an outstanding lifter who is one of the medal contenders in 67kg in Taskent.

“Jeremy has been training well and is very technical. The world championship would be a good testing ground for him. A cancelation will be bad news for athletes,” Sharma added.

For now, the only hope of salvaging the Weightlifting World Championships lies with the Uzbekistan authorities. If they grant exemptions to teams flying in for the competition, the Worlds can go ahead. But then, there will still be hesitation amongst nations to travel for it.

Also Read: Challenges aplenty for organizing Pro Kabaddi 2021 at a single venue

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covid 19: What’s the status of the Covid-19 vaccine mandate in the US?



WASHINGTON: The Covid-19 vaccine mandate in the US is on hold indefinitely because of legal challenges, but employers can still require the shots.
To control the spread of Covid-19, President Joe Biden previously said businesses with 100 or more employees would need to require Covid-19 vaccination or have workers get tested weekly for the virus. The rule was to take effect Jan 4, affecting about 84 million workers nationwide.
But soon after the rule was issued by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it faced multiple legal challenges from businesses, conservative groups and Republican attorneys general that said the agency doesn’t have the authority to mandate vaccines.
On Nov 6, a federal appeals court in New Orleans put the rule on hold, saying it was “a one-size fits-all sledgehammer” that was too broad. Ten days later, all challenges to the requirement were consolidated in another appeals court in Cincinnati.
In a court filing, lawyers for the Biden administration said the mandate was needed to reduce transmission of the virus in workplaces. It asked that it be allowed to move ahead with the rule.
The requirement for employers is among several challenges to Biden administration vaccine rules. Two other mandates, one for healthcare workers and one for federal contractors, are also being contested.

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Thursday briefing: Javid in Covid booster trade-off |



Top story: Deal signed to buy 114m more doses

Morning everyone. I’m Martin Farrer and these are the top stories today.

Ministers may allow GPs in England to halt regular monitoring of millions of patients with underlying health problems as part of the urgent new blitz on delivering Covid booster jabs to combat the spread of the Omicron variant. Sajid Javid and NHS bosses are in talks with GPs about relaxing rules which mean family doctors undertake checks on people with diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions, the Guardian has learned. It came as the health secretary pledged to “future proof” the UK’s vaccine programme and ensure protection for “even more people in the years ahead”. The government has brought forward vaccine deals to secure 114m more doses for the next two years. Under the agreements, the UK will buy 54m more doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and 60m more doses from Moderna. So far, 115m doses have been administered in the UK. There were another 10 cases of Omicron in the UK yesterday, taking the total to 32. Overall, there were 48,374 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, a rise of 2% on the previous week, and 171 more deaths.

An Israeli doctor who was one of the first people in the world to become infected with the Omicron variant says he believes he caught the virus when he was in London for a medical conference last month. Elad Maor’s claims will raise fears that the variant may have been in the UK much earlier than previously realised. The US has recorded its first case of Omicron in California while analysis of data in South Africa shows the strain has spread “exponentially” and accounted for 74% of the virus genomes sequenced in November. And former health secretary Matt Hancock was under pressure last night to set the record straight over £40m of government Covid-related work won by his former pub landlord. Follow updates on the pandemic here.

Abortion debate – Justices on the US supreme court have indicated that they would support curbs on access to abortion during oral arguments in the most important reproductive rights case in decades, threatening the future of abortion access across the country. Campaigners have warned the case poses a direct threat to the legal underpinnings of Roe v Wade, a landmark decision made in 1973 that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion. The case centres on whether Mississippi can ban abortion at 15 weeks’ gestation, roughly nine weeks before bans are permitted under current law. The court is expected to issue a decision on the case in June next year.

Ploughing on – Farmers will be paid for looking after England’s soils for the first time from next year, when the government’s £900m replacement for the EU’s controversial common agricultural policy begins to be rolled out. Environmentalists criticised the measures as puny and accused ministers of failing in their promises to use the UK’s departure from the EU to strengthen environmental protections and reduce the damaging impacts of farming.

Peng Shuai
Peng Shuai, a former world No 1 in doubles. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Tennis ban – The Women’s Tennis Association has announced the suspension of all tournaments in China amid concerns about the safety of the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. The player disappeared from public last month after accusing a senior Chinese politician of sexual assault. Amid growing outrage from high-profile players, she was interviewed on video by Olympic chief Thomas Bach, whose organisation declared Peng was “doing fine”. But in a statement last night, WTA chairman Steve Simon said he could not allow athletes to compete in China when Peng Shuai was “not allowed to communicate freely”.

‘Clown’ PM – French president Emmanuel Macron allegedly called Boris Johnson “a clown” in a private conversation, according to reports in France. The remarks came as Macron and Johnson clashed last week over the Channel crossing tragedy. According to Le Canard enchaîné, Macron reportedly said: “It is sad to see a major country with which we could do huge numbers of things being led by a clown.” The prime minister is also under pressure at home to explain why No 10 staff seemingly held two parties during lockdown last winter.

‘Human error’ – A court in Austria has fined a surgeon for amputating the wrong leg of an elderly patient. The 43-year-old surgeon blamed “human error” after she marked the wrong leg of the patient, but the judge in Linz found her guilty of gross negligence and fined her €2,700 (£2,300). The 82-year-old patient died before the case came to court.

Today in Focus podcast: Will Omicron cancel Christmas?

A new Covid variant first identified in South Africa is spreading around the world, with leaders rushing to respond. Our science correspondent Nicola Davis outlines what we know so far about the Omicron variant.

Today in Focus

Will Omicron wreck Christmas?

Lunchtime read: Noomi Rapace – from ‘badass’ to Lamb

Noomi Rapace in London in October
‘I’ve healed’: Noomi Rapace. Photograph: Pedro Alvarez/The Guardian

The actor Noomi Rapace shot to fame in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but says the role trapped her in “pain and sadness”. She tells Ryan Gilbey how starring in weird new thriller Lamb made her feel alive again.


Everton fans turned their fury on the club’s board last night after watching their team swept aside 4-1 at home by Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. Manager Rafa Benitez insisted he does not fear for his job but his team was outclassed by their rivals, for whom Mo Salah scored twice, and Jonathan Wilson writes that the Spaniard cannot be blamed for the malaise at Goodison Park. Liverpool stay third in the Premier League, Manchester City are second after beating Villa 2-1 and Chelsea stayed top by beating Watford by the same score. Former British No 1 tennis player Johanna Konta has decided to retire after struggling with a knee injury for years. She reached as high as fourth in the world in 2017 and bows out knowing she gave everything to her career.

Bryony Frost, Britain’s most successful female jump jockey, told a disciplinary panel that her fellow rider Robbie Dunne subjected her to verbal and physical abuse, and exposed himself to her in the weighing room. Michael Vaughan has been dropped from BT Sport’s Ashes coverage because of his involvement in the ongoing investigation into racism at Yorkshire cricket. He also revealed he had tested positive for Covid-19 but his day improved a bit when he was told by the BBC – which has already stood him down from its Ashes coverage – that it expected to work with him again.


An announcement that rail fares will rise by 3.8% in March was postponed by ministers last week after the furious backlash over downgraded government plans for rail investment in the north. The fare rise for England and Wales, not yet publicly confirmed but contained in leaked papers seen by the Guardian, will be the biggest in nine years. Beijing has urged US business groups with interests in China to “speak out” and lobby the US government in its defence, warning that as bilateral relations deteriorate they cannot make money “in silence”. It was another topsy-turvy day on the markets but the FTSE100 is set to start today up by 0.6%. The pound is on $1.331 and €1.174.

The papers

The Guardian leads with “GPs may stop monitoring millions of patients due to Covid jab drive”, while the Times says “Fourth jab to fight variants”. The Telegraph has a similar line with “Two more rounds of booster jabs ordered” and the i reports “Booster jabs until 2023: Britain buys 114m vaccine doses”.

Guardian front page, Thursday 2 December 2021
The Guardian’s front page, Thursday 2 December 2021

The Mail warns “Stop being Christmas killjoys, ministers” but the Express is feeling upbeat and claims: “Not all gloom and doom! Omicron cases are ‘mild’”. The Mirror has “Booze, nibbles & party games until early hours” and the FT leads with “US delays deal to lift Trump era steel tariffs over N Ireland fears”. In Scotland the Record splashes on “Cops pay £1m to crash mum’s kids”.

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