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Russia’s prime minister to meet with Xi in China

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to China on Tuesday, Moscow said Monday.

Mishustin will also hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, the government said.

— Karen Gilchrist

EU to pass 12th sanctions package against Russia

The European Union is on Monday due to adopt a long-delayed 12th package of sanctions against Russia after Austria removed its objections.

The package will include a ban on Russian diamonds and aluminum, as well as a tightening of the price cap on Russian oil.

— Karen Gilchrist

Putin says Russia has ‘no interest’ in fighting NATO

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that Moscow had no interest in fighting NATO, noting instead that he was interested in “developing relations” with the military alliance.

In an interview with state TV network Rossiya 24, Putin dismissed comments by U.S. President Joe Biden, who said earlier this month that Russia would attack a NATO country if it won the war in Ukraine, according to Tass news agency.

“It is complete nonsense – and I think President Biden understands that,” Putin said in comments cited by Reuters.

“Russia has no reason, no interest – no geopolitical interest, neither economic, political nor military – to fight with NATO countries,” he added.

NATO’s eastward expansion has long been seen as a chief driver of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Biden’s claim formed part of his appeal to Republicans not to block further military aid to Ukraine.

— Karen Gilchrist

Putin would prefer ‘constructive’ U.S. president: Kremlin spokesperson

A U.S. president who is “more constructive” on Russia and realizes the “importance of dialogue” would be President Vladimir Putin’s preference, a Kremlin spokesperson told NBC.

Putin would work with “anyone who will understand that from now on, you have to be more careful with Russia and you have to take into account its concerns,” Dmitry Peskov said when asked if the Kremlin would be content working with Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Peskov also suggested that the financial support given to Ukraine by the U.S. was ineffective, likening it to throwing money “into the wind” and that the U.S. and the West were prolonging the conflict.

Sophie Kiderlin

Hungary’s Orban says he could still block Ukraine’s EU membership talks

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he could still block Ukraine’s European Union membership talks, hours after the bloc voted to open discussions.

Orban, who abstained from the vote Thursday by leaving the room, said the move to admit the war-torn country to the EU was “a bad decision.”

“We can halt this process later on, and if needed we will pull the brakes, and the ultimate decision will be made by Hungarian parliament,” he said, without adding detail on how he might do that.

Orban — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the bloc — has proved a thorn in the EU’s side in its efforts to get the membership talks over the line.

The nationalist leader also blocked plans to extend a new financial package to Ukraine, with discussions set to resume in January.

— Karen Gilchrist

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