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US-Russia tensions over Ukraine  

Moscow dismisses new US media reports about a possible Russian attack on Ukraine. It instead accuses Washington of provocative actions near Russian borders. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has been cited by a newspaper as saying that the US is conducting a special operation to aggravate the situation around Ukraine. Maria Zakharova has accused Washington of adopting accusatory rhetoric to shift the responsibility for the escalation onto Russia. The remarks were made after a Saturday report by the Washington Post accusing Russia of planning a multi-front offensive on Ukraine early next year. This is the second time in the past month that US media has made such a claim. Moscow says the allegations could be aimed at diverting attention from Kiev’s own plans to escalate tensions in Eastern Ukraine.

Macron Suadi visit 

French president Emmanuel Macron is in Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. His trip is overshadowed by the 2018 assassination of Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Macron is the first major western leader to visit the kingdom since Khashoggi was killed in October 20-18. American intelligence agencies have concluded that the murder was ordered by MBS. Now, human rights groups are accusing the French president of trying to “rehabilitate” Bin Salman. Critics believe that nothing can justify Macron’s trip, given Saudi Arabia’s rights record.

Iran COVID downward trend 

The number of Covid deaths and infections on a downward trend in Iran. The country has reported 58 deaths, the lowest in nine months. Some 2,100 new cases have been reported in the past day. Nineteen out of 31 provinces had zero or one case in the same period. Health officials have not registered any cases of the new COVID variant in Iran. The decline in the number of deaths and infections deaths is largely due to the country’s mass vaccination drive. Nearly 48-million Iranians have received two doses of the covid vaccine, and some one million others the booster shots.

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