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Alexei Navalny’s burial is confirmed to take place at Borisovskoye Cemetery in Moscow on Friday, following a farewell ceremony at a local church. Yulia Navalnaya, his widow, expressed uncertainty about the funeral’s peacefulness and the potential for police interference.

Navalny, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin, died unexpectedly in a Siberian prison earlier this month, sparking accusations against the Russian president from his widow and many world leaders. Details surrounding Navalny’s death remain scant, with Russian authorities initially resisting releasing his body to his family.

Funeral arrangements faced obstacles, with some funeral homes refusing service due to the deceased’s identity. Yulia Navalnaya addressed the European Parliament, criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine and advocating for a more effective strategy against Putin.

The funeral date was adjusted due to logistical challenges, with Navalny’s team urging attendees to arrive early. Security concerns loom over the event, given recent arrests of those paying tribute to Navalny across Russia. Allegations surfaced of a potential prisoner swap involving Navalny, but the Kremlin denies any knowledge of such arrangements.

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Sweden has cleared the final obstacle to its NATO membership after Hungary’s parliament voted to ratify its bid, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Initially met with delays and accusations of hostility from Hungary, Sweden’s application gained traction as Prime Minister Viktor Orban signaled support, emphasizing solidarity between the two nations.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson hailed the parliamentary ratification as a historic milestone, marking a significant departure from Sweden’s longstanding policy of neutrality spanning two centuries. This decision reflects Sweden’s commitment to defending its values and interests within the framework of the NATO alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg lauded Hungary’s approval, emphasizing its role in strengthening and ensuring the security of the alliance. With parliamentary hurdles cleared, Sweden now awaits the formal invitation to join the 31-member NATO group, signaling a transformative shift in its defense posture and regional security dynamics.

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The body discovered in Spain, suspected to be that of Maxim Kuzminov, a Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine in the previous year, was found near Alicante. Despite Spanish authorities withholding public confirmation of his identity, Ukrainian intelligence has acknowledged his demise. The victim was located with documents aligning with Kuzminov’s nationality, albeit bearing a different name, indicating potential use of a false identity.

Kuzminov’s defection unfolded in August when he flew a helicopter into Ukrainian territory, a maneuver termed “Operation Synytsia.” He declared opposition to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine as his primary motivation for switching allegiance. Despite offers of protection and incentives to remain in Ukraine, Kuzminov opted to relocate to Spain.

While Russian authorities have refrained from official commentary, Sergei Naryshkin of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service denounced Kuzminov as a traitor and criminal. Following Kuzminov’s defection, a Russian intelligence officer hinted at his potential demise before facing trial.

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The Munich Rule emphasizes engagement and interaction over lecturing or ignoring one another. However, at the 60th Munich Security Conference (MSC), attention was drawn to the absence of two influential figures: former US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their potential impacts on the transatlantic relationship and global stability were significant topics of discussion, especially in light of Putin’s actions regarding Alexei Navalny and Ukraine.

The conference reflected a world characterized by increasing confrontation and diminishing cooperation, as noted by EU’s Josep Borrell. The theme of “lose-lose” dynamics pervaded discussions, highlighting the deepening geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties.

David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, described the conference as emblematic of a disorderly world marked by impunity, exemplified by Navalny’s situation. Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, made a powerful statement condemning Putin’s regime, underscoring the personal stakes involved in global politics.

Russia and Iran’s absence from the conference signaled a lack of interest in meaningful dialogue, contrasting with past confrontational speeches by their representatives. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed the urgency of Western support amid ongoing conflict, especially with US assistance facing obstacles in Congress.

The Israel-Gaza conflict highlighted the international community’s call for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid, but Israeli delegates emphasized the strategic necessity of their actions against Hamas.

The conference, with its record attendance, showcased the diverse array of global stakeholders grappling with shifting notions of security. While historically a platform for diplomacy, this year’s event primarily focused on dialogue and assessment amid heightened global tensions.

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Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson has announced plans to conduct a one-on-one interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Carlson stated that he aims to provide Americans with a deeper understanding of the conflict in Ukraine, which he believes mainstream media coverage has failed to deliver. He emphasized his personal funding of the trip, highlighting his commitment to independent journalism.

This interview would mark President Putin’s first engagement with a Western journalist since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Carlson’s decision to pursue this interview underscores the significance of the conflict and the need for diverse perspectives in understanding its complexities. It also reflects a departure from traditional media channels, as Carlson intends to broadcast the interview live and unedited on his social media platform, X.

Critics have raised concerns about the potential risks and ethical implications of such an interview, given Putin’s track record and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. However, Carlson remains steadfast in his belief that Americans deserve access to unfiltered information about the conflict. The interview is expected to spark significant interest and debate, shaping public discourse on both sides of the Atlantic.

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A tragic incident occurred in northeastern Ukraine as a Russian missile struck a hotel, resulting in the death of a two-month-old baby and injuring his mother. The governor of Kharkiv region, Oleh Synehubov, reported the retrieval of the baby’s body from the collapsed building in Zolochiv. This attack, carried out with two S-300 missiles, also wounded two other women. The village’s proximity to the Russian border renders it vulnerable, as Ukrainian air defenses cannot adequately cover such areas.

Originally designed for Russia’s air defense, the S-300 missiles have been repurposed to target Ukrainian ground installations, deemed a cost-effective alternative to more precise cruise missiles. Recent months have seen increased assaults on the Kharkiv region, with another hotel targeted in Kharkiv city previously, resulting in numerous injuries, including journalists covering the conflict.

In response to Russia’s aggression, Ukrainian forces launched a lethal strike on Belgorod, near the border. Additionally, Ukraine’s SBU security service apprehended five individuals suspected of involvement in a Russian espionage ring, allegedly providing sensitive information to Russia’s FSB, including details on military assets and infrastructure.

As Ukraine braces itself amidst the ongoing conflict, President Volodymyr Zelensky contemplates strategic shifts, including potential changes in leadership within the armed forces. Despite challenges and setbacks, Zelensky emphasizes the importance of perseverance and unity in achieving victory.

While US military assistance to Ukraine faces delays due to political wrangling in Congress, the European Union has approved a substantial aid package for Ukraine, highlighting its steadfast support amid the approaching third year of conflict.

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A Russian Ilyushin-76 military transport plane crashed in the southern Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border. The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that the plane was carrying 65 captured Ukrainian military personnel for a prisoner exchange, but these details could not be independently verified. Reports initially suggested that the plane may have been downed by Ukrainian forces, but these were later deleted. Ukrainian authorities stated they did not have accurate information and were investigating.

Video footage showed the plane crashing and exploding near the village of Yablonovo. The regional governor confirmed all on board had died. Some Ukrainian media suggested the plane was transporting missiles for Russia’s S-300 air defense systems. The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence confirmed a planned prisoner exchange had been canceled.

The Russian defence ministry alleged that Ukraine fired anti-aircraft missiles from the Lyptsi area, claiming two Ukrainian missiles targeted the plane. A prisoner exchange was scheduled at a border checkpoint near Belgorod. Russian officials mentioned a second plane carrying 80 Ukrainian prisoners, but it changed course.

Ukraine and Russia have engaged in several prisoner exchanges during the war. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, with ongoing conflict. The war’s toll includes casualties and intensified air attacks. Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov highlighted a shortage of ammunition for Ukrainian forces, while Russia reportedly used over 600 missiles and 1,000 drones in the past two months. Ukraine relies on drones in its defense strategy, and recent attacks caused explosions, including at a gas export terminal near St Petersburg.

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Members of Parliament in Poland have voted to remove the parliamentary immunity of far-right politician Grzegorz Braun after he extinguished candles lit for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah in a highly controversial act. The global condemnation of Braun’s actions resulted in a fine in December, but the recent decision to revoke his parliamentary immunity now exposes him to potential criminal charges. Braun, affiliated with the ultra-nationalist Confederation party, used a fire extinguisher to put out the Hanukkah candles and referred to the celebration as “satanic.”

Prosecutors are planning to bring several charges against Braun, including destruction of property, insulting an object of religious worship, and violation of bodily integrity. The unanimous support for revoking his immunity came from all political parties, except the Confederation party, highlighting the widespread agreement that Braun’s behavior was unacceptable. Lawmakers emphasized the need to hold him accountable for his actions.

Grzegorz Braun has a history of provocative stunts, further contributing to his controversial reputation. In addition to the Hanukkah incident, he gained notoriety for dumping a Christmas tree decorated in the colors of the EU and Ukraine into a bin and damaging a microphone during a talk by a Holocaust historian. Prosecutors also intend to charge him for separate incidents that occurred in 2022 and 2023.

The removal of Braun’s parliamentary immunity signifies a significant step in potential legal consequences for his actions, with prosecutors aiming to address various charges related to his behavior. The broader context of his controversial actions and statements adds to the ongoing debate about the boundaries of free speech and the consequences for those who engage in offensive or harmful behavior.

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Russian authorities claim to have thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to attack a border city as the ongoing aerial conflict between the two nations escalates. They reported intercepting a dozen missiles targeting Belgorod, where 25 people lost their lives on Saturday. Ukraine has not provided a response.

This development follows Russia’s largest aerial bombardment on Ukraine, with President Volodymyr Zelensky stating that Russia deployed around 300 missiles and 200 drones over five days. The renewed attacks began last week, prompting a Ukrainian counterattack on Belgorod that resulted in over 100 injuries.

Zelensky revealed in a broadcast that Russia fired nearly 100 strategically chosen missiles on Tuesday, and Ukrainian forces successfully shot down 10 hypersonic ballistic missiles on that day alone. Ukrainian officials reported over 130 casualties from Tuesday’s attacks, including major cities like Kharkiv and Kyiv.

In response, Russia’s air defense system intercepted 12 missiles targeting Belgorod overnight, causing one fatality and five injuries in the region. Explosions were also heard in Sevastopol, the largest city in Russian-occupied Crimea, where a missile was shot down over the port with no reported casualties or damage.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, expressed that Ukraine anticipated Russia’s recent bombardment but stressed the need for more weapons to effectively respond and send a clear message to Russia to halt its actions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged to increase strikes in retaliation for Ukraine’s recent attacks on Belgorod.

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A Ukrainian airstrike targeted a Russian warship, the Novocherkassk, at the Black Sea port of Feodosiya in Russian-occupied Crimea, causing damage and casualties. The attack occurred early on a Tuesday morning, with the Ukrainian Air Force claiming responsibility and stating that their warplanes had successfully destroyed the ship using guided missiles. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, the large landing ship was hit, resulting in one fatality and several injuries. Six buildings were damaged, and some people had to be relocated to temporary accommodation centers. The port’s transport operations were reportedly functioning normally after the area was cordoned off, and the fire caused by the attack was contained.

Footage depicting a substantial explosion at the port was shared by Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lt Gen Mykola Oleshchuk, though independent verification of the images is lacking. Satellite imagery from December 24 showed a ship at the port matching the length of the Novocherkassk. This landing ship is designed for transporting troops, weapons, and cargo to shore.

There have been previous instances of Ukrainian forces targeting the Novocherkassk. In March 2022, the ship was reportedly damaged in an attack on the occupied Ukrainian port of Berdyansk, where another amphibious assault ship, the Saratov, was sunk. Lt Gen Oleshchuk mentioned on Telegram that the Novocherkassk had met a fate similar to the Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet flagship, which sank in the Black Sea the previous year.

Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky expressed gratitude to the Ukrainian Air Force, joking about the “impressive replenishment” of the Russian Black Sea fleet. He emphasized that occupiers would find no peaceful place in Ukraine. The ongoing conflict stems from Russia’s seizure and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, with Russian forces based in Crimea playing a significant role in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ukrainian forces have repeatedly targeted Russian forces in Crimea, destroying and damaging multiple navy ships in the Black Sea. Last September, a missile strike on the Black Sea fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol led to the relocation of much of the Russian Black Sea fleet to Novorossiysk.

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