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Russia-Ukraine conflict

Russia and Ukraine are preparing for a new round of face-to-face talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Moscow says negotiations have, so far, made no major breakthroughs on the conflict. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says he cannot state any significant achievement yet. However, he says the decision to continue the talks in person is an important step. Russia and Ukraine held their first high-level talks two weeks ago in Turkey's Antalya, but failed to reach a consensus. After that, the two sides held regular talks via video conference, but offered scant hopes for any breakthroughs. The new round, which the Turkish president agreed to host during a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, is expected to begin on Tuesday. 

Russian oil 'needed'

The United Arab Emirates has poured more cold water on Western efforts to replace Russian energy. It says energy markets need Russian oil and no producer can substitute its production. The UAE energy minister said OPEC-plus needed to stay together, stay focused and not allow politics to distract the group. OPEC-plus consists of 23 countries, including Russia. Western nations, including the United States have been trying to end or slash Europe’s reliance on Russian energy resources in response to Moscow’s military offensive against Ukraine. Russia is Europe’s top oil and gas supplier. Just days ago, the Qatari energy minister also said his country is currently unable to help Europe with gas deliveries, as there is no immediate alternative to Russia.

Shanghai Covid lockdown

The Chinese government has imposed a two-stage lockdown on the financial hub of Shanghai, in a bid to contain the surge in coronavirus cases there. The new round of restrictions includes closing bridges and tunnels at the first stage and restricting highway traffic at the second stage. It will split China's most populous city along the Huangpu River for nine days to allow mass testing by healthcare workers. The new measure is taken after the expert Covid team found large scale infections throughout the city. On Sunday, Shanghai registered a record 3,450 Covid cases, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the nationwide total. Meanwhile, the announcement of lockdown has overwhelmed delivery services while supermarkets run low on supplies. It is the biggest Covid-related disruption to hit Shanghai so far. 


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