Elsewhere In The News.
Bomb Cyclone Weekend Edition.
1. The Chinese ambassador to Washington has warned that the US and China could end up at war over Taiwan, in stark comments illustrating the rising tensions between the powers over the fate of the island. “If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in a military conflict,” Qin Gang told NPR in his first one-on-one interview since arriving in the US last July. Beijing has often reprimanded the US over its stance on Taiwan, a self-governed country over which China claims sovereignty, but Chinese officials rarely talk directly about war. A transcript of the NPR interview is here. (Sources: ft.com, npr.org)
2. The Pentagon warned Russia has amassed sufficient military assets along the Ukrainian border to launch an invasion at any moment, a build-up that has given the Kremlin a “range of options”, including an attack aimed at occupying the entire country. The assessment, made on Friday by US defense secretary Lloyd Austin came as Russian President Vladimir Putin said Washington’s response to the Kremlin’s security demands were inadequate, raising new questions over whether the diplomatic channel to resolving the stand-off had closed. A US defense official late on Friday told the Financial Times that Russia had now moved blood supplies close to its border with Ukraine, in a move that US military experts previously said would be another sign that Putin was moving closer to an invasion. Russia needs blood supplies to help treat troops who suffer casualties. The move was first reported by Reuters. (Source: ft.com, emphasis added)
3. President Biden said Friday he would be sending American troops to Eastern Europe as the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to weigh on the U.S. and its allies. Mr. Biden, speaking to reporters on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews upon returning from a trip to Pittsburgh, added that “not a lot” of soldiers would be involved “in the near term.” He did not name any countries where troops might be deployed or elaborate further in brief comments. (Source: bloomberg.com)
4. Russia’s population declined by more than 1 million people in 2021, the statistics agency Rosstat reported Friday, a historic drop not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ongoing demographic woes have been exacerbated by the pandemic with Rosstat figures showing more than 660,000 had died with coronavirus since health officials recorded the first case in the country. The new figures continue a downward trend from the previous year when Russia’s population fell by more than half a million. The Covid-related fatalities figures published monthly by Rosstat are far higher than death figures released by a separate government website, which is dedicated to tracking the pandemic in the country. (Source: japantimes.co.jp, emphasis added)
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