German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's office said he made clear to Putin “that there must be a diplomatic solution as quickly as possible, which includes a withdrawal of Russian troops”, as the conflict enters its 282nd day.

Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin remains open to talks but the Western demand that Moscow first withdraws its troops from Ukraine is unacceptable.
Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin remains open to talks but the Western demand that Moscow first withdraws its troops from Ukraine is unacceptable. (AFP)

Friday, December 2, 2022

Kremlin rejects Biden terms for Ukraine talks

The Kremlin rejected US President Joe Biden's terms for Ukraine talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying Moscow's offensive will continue.

"What did President Biden say in fact? He said that negotiations are possible only after Putin leaves Ukraine," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding Moscow was "certainly" not ready to accept those conditions. 

"The special military operation is continuing," Peskov said, using the Kremlin term for the assault on Ukraine.

IAEA chief wants safety zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant by year-end

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hopes to reach an agreement with Russia and Ukraine to create a safe zone around Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by the end of the year, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said.

Speaking to La Repubblica daily, Rafael Mariano Grossi said: “My commitment is to reach a solution as soon as possible. I hope by the end of the year.”

He, furthermore, underscored that the goal is to avoid a nuclear accident.

Ukraine bans religious organizations with links to Russia

Ukraine banned the activities of religious organizations “affiliated with centres of influence” in Russia and said it would examine the links between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree enacting a National Security and Defense Council decision to impose personal sanctions against representatives of religious organisations associated with Russia.

Zelenskyy's decree additionally provided for examining the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, one of two Orthodox bodies in Ukraine following a schism that in 2019 resulted in the establishment of one with independence from the Russian church.

Turkish, Italian foreign ministers discuss situation in Ukraine, Libya 

Türkiye's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani in Rome to discuss developments in Ukraine and Libya.

In a Twitter post, Cavusoglu said they have "discussed developments in Ukraine and Libya as well as economic and defence industry cooperation" in the Italian capital.

Putin tells Scholz that Ukraine infrastructure strikes 'inevitable'

Russian President Vladimir Putin told German counterpart Olaf Scholz that Moscow's attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure were "inevitable" and accused the West of pursuing "destructive" policies, the Kremlin said.

"It was noted that the Russian Armed Forces had long refrained from precision missile strikes against certain targets on the territory of Ukraine," the Kremlin said in a statement following the telephone talks, the first between Putin and Scholz since mid-September.

"But now such measures have become a forced and inevitable response to Kiev's provocative attacks on Russia's civilian infrastructure," the Kremlin added. 

Finland: Ukraine war shows Europe not strong enough

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said Russian President Vladimir Putin's attacks on and occupation of neighbouring Ukraine exposed both European weaknesses and strategic blunders in dealing with Russia.

"I must be very honest, brutally honest with you, Europe isn't strong enough right now. We would be in trouble without the United States," she told Sydney's Lowy Institute think tank.

"We have to make sure that we are also building those capabilities when it comes to European defence, the European defence industry, and making sure that we could cope in different kinds of situations," she said.

Australia, Finland urge Russia to withdraw its forces

Australia and Finland have demanded that Russia immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine and reaffirmed their unwavering support for Kiev's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Marin said in a joint statement issued following their bilateral meeting in Sydney that Russia’s war in Ukraine has "undermined European and global security."

The two premiers rejected and unequivocally condemned Russia's "illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories" and demanded "Russia immediately end its war and withdraw its forces from within Ukraine’s borders," said the statement.

"The Prime Ministers condemned Russia’s war of aggression, a clear violation of international law and the United Nations Charter,"

Australian PM Anthony Albanese and Finnish PM Sanna Marin

IAEA hopes to find solution for Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant soon

The International Atomic Energy Agency has hopes to reach an agreement with Russia and Ukraine to create a protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by the end of the year, the head of the UN atomic watchdog was quoted as saying.

Repeated shelling around the Russian-held plant has raised concern about the potential for a grave accident just 500 kilometres from the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.

"My commitment is to reach a solution as soon as possible. I hope by the end of the year," Rafael Grossi told Italian newspaper La Repubblica in an interview published on Friday.

Biden, Macron pledge US-French alliance on Ukraine

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have emerged from White House talks, pledging to close ranks in helping Ukraine and pressuring Russia's Vladimir Putin to make peace.

"We reaffirm that France and the United States together, with all our NATO allies and the European Union and the G7, stand as strong as ever against Russia's brutal war," Biden said.

The US leader also said that he would be ready to meet with Putin but only "if he is looking for a way to end the war."

FAO: World food price index ticks lower in November

The United Nations food agency's world price index has fallen marginally in November, marking an eighth straight monthly drop since a record high in March after Russia's attacks on Ukraine.

The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 135.7 points last month, down from 135.9 for October, the agency said on Friday.

The October figure was unchanged from the FAO's previous estimate.

Russian rouble slumps to fresh lows vs dollar 

The rouble has extended the week's losses in early trade, slumping to fresh lows against the US dollar, the euro and the yuan as the Russian currency traded without the support of a favourable month-end tax period.

At 0610 GMT, the rouble was 0.4 percent weaker against the dollar at 61.73, earlier coming within a whisker of the 62 mark and its weakest since November 7.

It had lost 1 percent to trade at 65 .10 versus the euro, at its weakest since July 7, and had shed 0.4 percent against the yuan to 8.76, slipping to its weakest since mid-October.

G7 'very close' to price cap agreement 

The Group of Seven (G7) nations are "very, very close" to an agreement on a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil with an adjustment mechanism to keep the cap at 5 percent below the market price, a senior G7 coalition official has said.

The official told reporters that the deal should be finalised in the coming days or Monday at the latest and expressed confidence that the price cap would limit Russia's ability to fight its conflict against Ukraine.

G7 officials had been in close touch with markets about the price cap, and they seemed "pretty comfortable" with the mechanism, which is aimed at limiting Russian oil revenues while maintaining adequate supplies for the global market, the official said.

Ukraine orders probe into Russia-linked church

Ukraine's top security officials have ordered an investigation into the activities of a branch of the Orthodox Church linked historically to Moscow, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

He said the probe would look into whether the Moscow branch of the church was entitled to operate at one of Ukraine's most hallowed sites — the Pechersk Lavra complex in Kiev.

The Orthodox Church in Russia has lavishly backed the Kremlin's nine-month-old attack of Ukraine.

"We have to create conditions so that no actors dependent on the aggressor state (Russia) can manipulate Ukrainians and weaken Ukraine from within," Zelenskyy said.

For live updates from Thursday (December 1), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies