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Live updates: Putin not welcome at Davos meeting of elites | #socialmedia | #hacking | #aihp


The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

GENEVA — The World Economic Forum, best known as the host of an annual meeting of elites in Davos, Switzerland, says it’s freezing all its relations with Russian entities following the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last participated in the event at a virtual “Davos Agenda” meeting in January 2021. Previously, he attended the event in person.

The forum said in a statement Thursday that it “will not engage with any sanctioned individual or institution in any of our activities,” including the annual meeting.

Russia and Belarus were also suspended Thursday from another international forum: the Northern Dimension, which includes the European Union, Iceland and Norway.

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LONDON — Two British directors on the board of Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei’s British subsidiary have quit, with news reports saying the resignations were prompted by the company’s failure to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sir Andrew Cahn and Sir Ken Olisa resigned on Wednesday.

Sky News, citing unidentified sources, said Cahn and Olisa had urged Huawei to criticize Putin “but the company refused.” The British Broadcasting Corp. said the company’s silence “made their positions untenable” but gave no indication whether they asked Huawei to criticize the Russian attack.

The Chinese government has declined to join other governments in criticizing the Kremlin and blames Washington for the Feb. 24 invasion.

Huawei Technologies Ltd. is the world’s biggest maker of switching equipment for phone and internet carriers.

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LONDON — German fashion brand Hugo Boss and U.S. hotel chain Hilton are the latest brands to pause their Russian businesses over the Ukraine invasion.

Hugo Boss said Thursday that it has temporarily closed its stores and suspended its own retail and e-commerce business activities in Russia. The company said it will give all affected employees “financial and operational support.”

Russia, along with Ukraine, accounted for about 3% of Hugo Boss’s total sales last year.

The Hilton hotel chain said it’s closing its corporate office in Moscow and suspending new hotel development in Russia. Russian workers will continue to be paid, the company said.

Hilton’s 26 hotels in Russia remain open. They are owned and operated by franchisees, but Hilton said it is donating any profits from those hotels to relief efforts in Ukraine. Hilton said it has also donated up to 1 million room nights to support Ukrainian refugees.

Wall Street titan Citigroup also said Wednesday it would wind down its Russian banking business and will be “operating the business on a more limited basis” until a sale happens.

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TOKYO — Japanese clothing chain Uniqlo is temporarily closing in Russia, following a social backlash over reported comments by a top executive that its 49 stores will stay open.

Earlier this week, Fast Retailing Chief Executive Tadashi Yanai was quoted as saying in Japanese business daily Nikkei that Uniqlo would stay open in Russia because Russians had as much right to everyday clothes as anyone else.

That comment, coming after other major consumer brands like Zara, Coca-Cola, Apple and McDonald’s left Russia, prompted public criticism, including calls for a boycott on social media.

“Uniqlo has made everyday clothing available to the general public in Russia, too, as part of our mission. However, we have recently faced a number of difficulties, including operational challenges and the worsening of the conflict situation,” said Fast Retailing Co., the holding company for several clothing brands, including Uniqlo.

Fast Retailing has donated clothing and $10 million through the UN refugee program.

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ government says it rescinded clearances for four Russian warships to dock in the east Mediterranean island nation’s ports last week.

Cyprus Foreign Ministry Spokesman Demetris Demetriou told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Cypriot government made the decision “given the current political context and the military invasion of the Ukraine by Russia.”

Demetriou said the clearances for the ships to refuel and resupply had been issued prior to Russia’s invasion.

“No particular issues were raised by the Russian side” once the clearances were rescinded, Demetriou said.

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ISTANBUL — Talks between the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine are underway on the sidelines of a diplomatic summit in Turkey.

An official photograph showed Russia’s Sergey Lavrov flanked by two advisers sitting across from his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and his officials on Thursday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu sat at the head of a U-shaped table in a wood-paneled hotel conference room near the Mediterranean city of Antalya.

The talks are the first high-level talks between the two countries since Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago. Cavusoglu has said the aim of the meeting is to pave the way for a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents that would be facilitated by Turkey’s president.

NATO member Turkey, which has cultivated close ties with both Russia and Ukraine, is trying to balance relations with both nations. It has positioned itself as a neutral party, seeking to facilitate negotiations between the warring sides.

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JERUSALEM — The Israeli parliament is trying to arrange an address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Israeli lawmakers.

Officials say the Ukrainian ambassador requested an address to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, by Zelenskyy, but those plans have been complicated because the Knesset is in spring recess and the building is undergoing repairs.

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy offered to hold a virtual conference between Israeli legislators and Zelenskyy over Zoom, but his office has yet to receive an official reply.

Israel maintains good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and has emerged as a mediator between the two countries in the two weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Three major newspapers in the Nordic region are to translate some of their articles on the invasion of Ukraine into Russian.

The plan is to inform people in Russia about what is happening, after independent media there were shut down.

The translated newspaper articles also will be posted on social media.

Denmark’s Politiken newspaper Politiken said Thursday that “our goal is to provide the Russians with impartial and reliable news coverage.”

It added that “democracy dies in the dark. The free dissemination of independent information is essential for maintaining the hope of peace and the hope of humanity.”

Other newspapers participating in the initiative include Sweden’s daily Dagens Nyheter and Finland’s largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat.

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LONDON — Britain has imposed a travel ban and asset freezes on seven more wealthy Russians, including Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Premier League soccer club Chelsea.

The government said Thursday that Abramovich’s assets are frozen, he is banned from visiting the U.K. and he is barred from transactions with U.K. individuals and businesses.

Abramovich said last week he was trying to sell Chelsea as the threat of sanctions loomed.

Also added to the U.K. sanctions list are industrialist Oleg Deripaska and Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin.

The sanctions are being imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

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LONDON — Britain’s armed forces minister says Russia’s strike on a hospital in Mariupol is a war crime, and warned President Vladimir Putin that using chemical weapons in Ukraine could draw “an international response.”

James Heappey said whether it was “indiscriminate” fire into a built-up area or a deliberate targeting, “It is a war crime.”

The Biden administration has warned that Russia might seek to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine. Russia has claimed, without evidence, that Ukraine is running chemical and biological weapons labs with U.S. support.

Heappey told the BBC “that when other countries have used chemical weapons it has caused an international response.”

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BRUSSELS — The top U.S. military commander in Europe is thanking Poland for its offer of fighter jets for Ukraine but says that sending the MiG-29 planes would be a “high-risk and low-gain” venture.

Poland had said it was prepared to supply MiG-29 planes – which Ukraine’s pilots are trained to fly – to NATO if all 30 allies agreed to send them on to the war-ravaged country.

Gen. Tod D. Wolters, the commander of U.S. European Command, said, “The most effective way to support the Ukrainian military in their fight against Russia is to provide increased amounts of anti-tank weapons and air defense systems.”

Wolters is also NATO’s top military commander and responsible for beefing up the organization’s defenses to deter Russia from attacking any member country. NATO is wary of getting embroiled in Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

Wolters says Ukraine already has enough warplanes and that sending MiG-29s “will not appreciably increase the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force.”

Wolters says intelligence estimates suggest that sending the planes “may be mistaken as escalatory and could result in Russian escalation with NATO…producing a high-risk scenario.”

He told Poland that U.S. European Command will “evaluate ways to best support and assist our Ukraine friends.”

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ANTALYA, Turkey — The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine have begun meeting at a Turkish Mediterranean resort for the first high-level talks between the two countries since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The meeting between Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and Dmotry Kuleba of Ukraine is taking place on the sidelines of a diplomacy forum near the city of Antalya on Thursday. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is also participating in the meeting.

Cavusoglu has said the aim of the meeting is to pave the way for a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents that would be facilitated by Turkey’s president. Kuleba has also said that he would propose direct talks between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents when he meets Lavrov.

NATO-member Turkey, which has cultivated close ties with both Russia and Ukraine, is trying to balance relations with both nations. It has positioned itself as a neutral party, seeking to facilitate negotiations between the warring sides.

Turkey has criticized Russia’s military actions in Ukraine as “unlawful” and “unacceptable” but it has also said Ankara would not give up on either Russia or Ukraine.

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BERLIN — The head of the U.N. nuclear agency says he’s en route to Turkey for talks on ensuring the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.

Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was invited to Antalya, Turkey by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Also in Antalya on Thursday, the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are scheduled to hold talks on the sidelines of a diplomacy forum.

Grossi didn’t give details of his own planned meetings in a tweet that showed him sitting on a plane.

The IAEA chief has been pressing for an agreement with Ukraine and Russia on the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.

A growing list of concerns includes a power cut at the decommissioned Chernobyl plant as well as limited communications between Ukraine’s nuclear regulator and both Chernobyl and the Zaporizhzhia power plant, which Russian forces seized last week.

In addition, the IAEA says it has lost direct transmission of data from systems installed to monitor nuclear material at both Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia. It says the reasons for the disruption aren’t immediately clear.

Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors, eight of which were operating as of Wednesday.

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STOCKHOLM — The Swedish government said Thursday it suggests that the country, which is not a member of NATO, should boost its military spending to 2% of gross domestic product by 2025.

“Between 2014 and 2025, expenditure on defense will have increased by 85%,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said. “Sweden’s defense capability must be greatly strengthened.”

The move follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has profoundly changed Europe’s security outlook, including for Nordic neutrals Finland and Sweden, where support for joining NATO has surged to record levels.

The Social Democratic-led government’s proposal is likely to get support in the 349-seat Riksdag.

Andersson said that “more young people need to prepare in the long run to do military service and contribute to the military defense.”

In 2017, Sweden instituted a military draft for both men and women because of a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden. Seven years earlier, Sweden had abolished compulsory military service for men because there were enough volunteers to meet its military needs. It has never had a military draft for women.

On Sunday, neighboring Scandinavian country Denmark, which is member of NATO, said it would also boost military spending to meet the NATO target of 2% of gross domestic product by 2033.

The 27-member Western military alliance has a target that its members spend 2% of gross domestic product on defense.

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ANTALYA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says that a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Turkey on Thursday aims pave the way for a meeting between the leaders of the two countries.

Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and Dmotry Kuleba of Ukraine are scheduled to hold talks on the sidelines of a diplomacy forum near the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya. It would be the first high-level meeting between Moscow and Kyiv since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Cavusoglu said he would also participate in the meeting.

“Our main goal is to bring the three leaders together,” Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper quoted Cavusoglu as saying, in reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

NATO-member Turkey, which has cultivated close ties with both Russia and Ukraine, is trying to balance relations with both nations. It has positioned itself as a neutral party, seeking to facilitate negotiations between the warring sides.

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation that would ban Russian oil imports to the United States, an effort to put into law the restrictions announced by President Joe Biden in response to the escalating war in Ukraine.

Going further than Biden’s import ban on Russian oil, the bill making its way through Congress would also encourage a review of Russia’s status in the World Trade Organization and signal U.S. support for sanctions on Russian officials over human rights violations, as the U.S. works to economically isolate the regime.

Lawmakers in both parties have been eager to act, willing to risk higher gas prices at home in order to support Ukraine with a show of U.S. bipartisanship. The legislation was approved Wednesday, 414-17, and now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who helped draft the bill, acknowledged it may cost more to fill up tanks at home to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tanks abroad.

“It is one way to demonstrate our solidarity,” Doggett said during the debate.

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