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China must stop supporting Russia if it wants better relations with West: NATO chief

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, October 11, 2023.

Susana Vera | Reuters

Beijing must stop supporting Russia in its war with Ukraine if it wants improved relations with the West, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said while visiting Berlin.

“Last year, Russia imported 90% of its microelectronics from China, used to produce missiles, tanks and aircraft. China is also working to provide Russia with improved satellite capabilities and imaging,” Stoltenberg said Thursday.

“China says it wants good relations with the West. At the same time, Beijing continues to fuel the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War Two. They cannot have it both ways,” Stoltenberg said.

Beijing denies it is directly aiding Russia with its war in Ukraine, but has lauded its “no-limits” friendship with Moscow, and the two have strengthened trade and military ties since the onset of Western sanctions on Russia for its invasion of its neighbor.

— Natasha Turak

Weapons in new arms package will reach Ukraine ‘within days, if not sooner’: Pentagon

M142 HIMARS launches a rocket on Russian position on December 29, 2023 in Unspecified, Ukraine. M142 HIMARS proved to be a highly effective weapon, striking targets both on the front line and deep in the Russian rear. 

Serhii Mykhalchuk | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images

Weapons from the recently approved U.S. military aid package for Kyiv, amounting to some $60 billion, will reach Ukraine in a matter of days, the Pentagon said, according to a report by Ukrainian state media outlet Ukrinform.

“We have already started the process to move some of the weapons, ammunition, and equipment, which will be there [in Ukraine] within days, if not sooner,” Pentagon spokesperson, General Patrick Ryder, was quoted as telling Ukrinform.

The package, which took a substantial amount of time and political wrangling to get through Congress, comes at a crucial time for Ukraine as its forces struggle to gain more territory back from Russia.

The Pentagon has already started the process of delivering weapons and equipment to Ukraine, the report said. The package for Ukraine includes missiles for air defense systems, Stinger missiles, ammunition for HIMARS, NATO-standard artillery rounds, military vehicles, and additional parts for equipment supplied in earlier deliveries.

— Natasha Turak

Russia expels two Latvian diplomats in retaliatory move

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it was expelling two diplomats from Latvia in retaliation, after the Baltic state ordered a Russian embassy official to leave.

Western countries have kicked out hundreds of Russian diplomats since the start of the war in Ukraine, in many cases for alleged spying, and Russia has regularly responded in kind.

— Reuters

Russia says it could downgrade diplomatic relations with the U.S. if its assets are confiscated

Russia could downgrade its diplomatic relationship with the U.S. if Washington moves to confiscate its frozen assets, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.

The U.S. and Western allies including the European Union have been considering using frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine and have been debating how and if this would be possible.

“We are now studying the optimal form of reaction, where among the countermeasures there are also actions against the assets of our Western opponents and where there are diplomatic measures of response,” Ryabkov said, according to a Google-translation of quotes published by state news agency RIA Novosti.

“Lowering the level of diplomatic relations is one of the options,” he added.

— Sophie Kiderlin

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