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Edward Snowden gets Russian passport after swearing oath of allegiance

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden has received a Russian passport after swearing an oath of allegiance to the country that has sheltered him from US authorities since 2013, his lawyer has said.

Snowden, 39, a former intelligence contractor who leaked secret files that were reported on by the Guardian, was granted Russian citizenship in an order signed by Vladimir Putin in September.

On Friday, Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said Snowden had received his passport. “He took the oath,” he said.

The decision has come at an extremely inauspicious moment, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent descent into international isolation. Russia has mobilised its population for war and threatened to use nuclear weapons in order to defend territory it has occupied in Ukraine.

Kucherena said on Friday that Snowden was “happy” and that Russian citizenship would prevent him from being extradited.

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Russian warship deployment puts Ukraine on high alert

Ukrainian tanks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday night that the country’s armed forces are preparing a “countermeasure” to Russia’s offensive operations.

“We are analyzing the intentions of the occupiers and are preparing a countermeasure - an even more powerful countermeasure than it’s been,” he said in his nightly address.

Zelenskyy did not elaborate on what the countermeasures would look like. Since September, Ukraine has retaken some parts of the country seized by Russian forces earlier this year, particularly around the regions of Kharkiv in the northeast and Kherson in the south.

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Biden and Macron seek to heal trade rift and present united front on Ukraine

Biden and Macron

Joe Biden has sought to heal a rift with France’s President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders over trade, admitting there are “glitches” in $739bn legislation that he says can be fixed.

The US president was speaking on Thursday while hosting Macron for the first state visit of his presidency. The leaders expressed unity on support for Ukraine’s war against Russia but faced questions about their differences on trade.

America’s Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, is set to pour billions of dollars into environmentally friendly industries, with strong backing for American-based manufacturers. The White House touts the IRA as a groundbreaking effort to restart domestic manufacturing and promote renewable technologies while challenging Chinese dominance.

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Biden urged to threaten Israel weapons halt over far-right concerns

Ben Gvir, leader of Pwer Party in Israel

Two former senior US diplomats have made a highly unusual call for the Biden administration to cut weapons supplies to Israel if the incoming far-right government uses them to annex Palestinian land, expel Arabs or finally kill off the diminishing possibility of a Palestinian state.

Daniel Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Israel under George W Bush, and Aaron David Miller, a US Middle East peace negotiator during several administrations, have called for what they described as an “unprecedented and controversial” break from America’s largely unconditional military and diplomatic support for Israel if “the most extreme government in the history of the state” pursues the stated aims of some of its members.

The pair warn that these could include “efforts to change the status of the West Bank”, in effect a warning against partial or wholesale annexation of Palestinian land to Israel. They also warned against increased use of force against Arabs in the occupied territories and Israel by incoming ministers who have espoused openly racist views, escalating settlement construction, and moves “to build infrastructure for settlers that is designed to foreclose the possibility of a two-state solution”.

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Mohammed bin Salman accused of attempt to ‘manipulate’ US court system

Mohammed bin Salman

A lawyer for Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, has accused Mohammed bin Salman of engaging in an unprecedented and blatant attempt to “manipulate” the US court system in order to “secure impunity” after allegedly ordering the 2018 murder of the journalist.

In a blistering 10-page legal filing, lawyer Keith Harper, who represents Cengiz and the pro-democracy group Dawn in a US civil case against the Saudi crown prince, urged Judge John Bates to reject a controversial suggestion by the Biden administration that Prince Mohammed be granted sovereign immunity in the case.

Harper said that while it was customary for judges to defer to the executive branch on judgments of whether foreign leaders should be granted head-of-state immunity, this case “differs fundamentally” because – he said – Saudis had engaged in a legal manoeuvre that had no precedent “in the history of international law”.

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U.S. beats Iran and advances to World Cup round of 16a

 Matt Turner of TeamUSA

The United States men's soccer team will be in Qatar for a little longer after defeating Iran in their final group-stage match of the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The 1-0 result extends the team's first World Cup campaign in eight years. It's the seventh time the U.S. has reached the knockout round.

Context: The U.S. needed a victory against Iran to move onto the next tournament stage after drawing Wales (1-1) and England (0-0) in their previous matches.

  • With the victory, the U.S. will be one of the two Group B squads to enter the next round.
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Ukraine war: Nato pledges to provide more weapons and fix power grid

NATO pledges arms to Ukraine

Nato has pledged to give more weapons to Ukraine and help fix critical energy infrastructure badly damaged by massive Russian missile and drone strikes.

At a summit in Bucharest, the secretary general of the military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, accused Moscow of "trying to use winter as a weapon of war".

The Russian strikes have left millions of Ukrainians without electricity and running water in freezing temperatures.

Ukraine has for months been asking Nato for more advanced air defence systems.

Under the Geneva conventions, attacks on civilians, or the infrastructure vital to their survival, could be interpreted as a war crime.

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