Biden says US will 'never' accept 'aggressive' Russia's Ukraine annexation

President Joe Biden said Friday that the United States will "never" accept Russia's annexation of part of Ukraine seven years ago.

"The United States does not and will never recognize Russia's purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia's aggressive acts," Biden said in a statement marking the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Crimea.

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Russia sends Putin opponent Alexei Navalny to penal colony for 18-month sentence

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a penal colony where he will serve more than two years, the head of Russia's prison service said on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent opponent was this month sentenced to two years and six months in a penal colony for breaching parole terms while recovering in Germany from a poisoning attack.

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Alexei Navalny leads Russians in a historic battle against arbitrary rule, with words echoing Catherine the Great

Tens of thousands of young Russians are protesting the leadership of Vladimir Putin nationwide in freezing temperatures. Thousands have been arrested.

Central to these well-organized protests is Russia's opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. His courageous actions and words have inspired demonstrators to believe that they can change Russia.

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Turkmen leader recognizes dog breed with state holiday

Turkmenistan's authoritarian ruler has recognised a national dog breed with a state holiday, government media reported Friday, elevating the canine to the same status as the gas-rich country's beloved horses.

The alabai shepherd dog has inspired presidential poetry and an ostentatious gold statue under the leadership of strongman Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a puppy for his 65th birthday in 2017.

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US, EU say vaccine programs on track as Asia rollouts gather steam

The United States hailed progress in turning around its troubled Covid-19 vaccine rollout, as the European Union said it was on track to meet jab targets and Asia's inoculation drive gained pace on Friday.

Brazil hit 250,000 fatalities -- the second-highest national death toll after the United States -- while the worldwide vaccine campaign received the endorsement of Queen Elizabeth II, 94, who urged people not to be wary of the shot.

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Paris eyes three-week Covid-19 lockdown in bid to then ‘reopen everything’

The city of Paris is considering proposing a three-week lockdown in a bid to "reopen everything" in the City of Lights afterwards, the deputy mayor said Thursday, calling the current nighttime curfew a "half-measure" and a "semi-prison" that never ends.

In an interview with French broadcaster Franceinfo, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire said that the left-wing run city hall was considering proposing an independent local lockdown for the French capital to stem the "worrying" rise of new coronavirus infections there, with "the prospect of reopening everything" after, including its theaters, cinemas and restaurants.

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Biden calls Saudi king ahead of report on the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi

President Joe Biden held a long-delayed first phone call Thursday with Saudi King Salman ahead of an imminent US intelligence report expected to link the Arab kingdom's powerful crown prince to the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden kept the king waiting in his long list of calls to US allies after being sworn in five weeks ago.

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Biden's Syria strike could complicate 'dicey' restarted talks with Iran: CNN's Kaitlan Collins

On Thursday, following a military strike on an Iranian military target in Syria, CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins broke down the implications of the action — and its possible implications on diplomacy with Iran.

"We're told this came from the top down, the decision to target these sites specifically. That means it came from President Biden himself," said Collins. "And so this does raise a lot of questions about where they are going to go forward, since they just said they want to restart talks with Iran. Those are multinational talks ... it was always going to be a delicate tough dance that was going to move forward there after former President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. So the way this complicates that, how this factors into that, still remains to be seen, because it was already going to be pretty dicey."

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Biden orders air strikes on Syria -- targeting Iranian-backed militias: reports

President Joe Biden ordered an attack Iranian-backed militias, CNN reported Thursday.

"The US military struck a site in Syria on Thursday used by two Iranian-backed militia groups following rocket attacks on American forces in the region in the past two weeks, according to a US official. The strikes mark the military's first known action under President Joe Biden. The site was not specifically tied to the rocket attacks, but were believed to be used by Iranian-backed Shia militias operating in the region," CNN reported.

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US court orders North Korea to pay $2.3 billion over 1968 USS Pueblo seizure

A US court has ordered North Korea to pay damages to the crew and family of the spy ship USS Pueblo, who were tortured and mistreated for 11 months in 1968 after being captured by the North Korean navy.

The Washington federal court said that the surviving members of the crew and families of those now dead are owed compensatory damages for confinement and suffering of $1.15 billion and doubled that for punitive damages against Pyongyang.

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Janet Yellen urges G20 to 'go big' with pandemic stimulus

The world's most advanced nations must work in unison both to continue spending to boost the pandemic recovery, and help poor nations acquire Covid-19 vaccines, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Thursday.

"No one nation alone can declare victory over these crises," Yellen said in a letter to G20 finance officials meeting virtually. "This is a moment made for action and for multilateralism."

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Armenian premier sees coup attempt as military demands resignation

In the midst of a domestic political crisis, the military of the South Caucasus republic of Armenia has demanded the resignation of head of government Nikol Pashinyan.

Pashinyan spoke on Facebook On Thursday of an "attempt at a military coup" and immediately announced the dismissal of the head of the armed forces' general staff, Onik Gasparyan.

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Nuclear issue key as Iran readies for Rouhani replacement

Iran will vote in June for a successor to President Hassan Rouhani and his moderate-reformist government, but politics in the country is dominated by the nuclear issue and no frontrunner has emerged.

Several conservative heavyweights are thought to be considering running in the key June 18 race, with the winner to help set the direction of the Islamic republic.

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