World - International

France warns Russia of 'massive' consequences if Ukraine threatened

France on Wednesday warned Moscow it would face "strategic and massive consequences" if Russia attacked Ukraine, as concern grows over a new troop build-up on the border.

Poland adopts new restrictions to fight pandemic

Poland will restrict numbers of people allowed in churches, restaurants and theaters from December 15 and plans to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers, teachers and the military from March 1, the government said on Tuesday.

Putin says Russia has 'right to defend its security' amid NATO tensions

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking publicly for the first time since his high-profile talks with US leader Joe Biden, said Wednesday Moscow reserves the right to "defend its security" but refused to say if he planned to invade Ukraine.

World leaders congratulate newly elected German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Various world leaders were quick to congratulate the newly elected German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, shortly after winning the support of 395 MPs.

Top WHO, US scientists say Omicron no worse than other virus variants

The Omicron variant appears to be no worse than other coronavirus strains, top scientists from the WHO and the United States told AFP, while cautioning that more research is needed to judge its severity.

Australia joins US in boycott of Beijing Games, China says "nobody cares"

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday that Australia will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games over human rights concerns.

Rain, lava from Indonesian volcano hamper search for missing

Heavy rains and torrents of hot lava and mud sliding down an erupting volcano on Indonesia's Java island have put search and rescue operations for more than a dozen missing on hold, officials said Wednesday.

Olaf Scholz voted in to replace Merkel as Germany's leader

Germany's parliament has elected Olaf Scholz as the country's ninth post-World War II chancellor, opening a new era for the European Union's most populous nation after Angela Merkel's 16-year tenure.

Biden-Putin talks yield no breakthrough in Ukraine tensions

President Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were still far apart after two hours of talks on the escalating crisis caused by Russia's massing of tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine.

Japanese tycoon takes off for International Space Station

A Japanese billionaire and his producer rocketed to space Wednesday as the first self-paying space tourists in more than a decade.

Hong Kong loses shine amid tough coronavirus restrictions

The bustling, cosmopolitan business hub of Hong Kong may be losing its shine among foreign companies and expatriates with its stringent anti-pandemic rules requiring up to 21 days of quarantine for new arrivals.

UN warns of Afghan refugee surge, calls for economic aid

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned of a surge of Afghan refugees amid mounting fears of economic collapse in the war-ravaged country and called for urgent economic aid.

Omicron variant 'almost certainly' not more severe than Delta, Fauci tells AFP

Top US scientist Anthony Fauci said Tuesday early indications suggested the Covid-19 Omicron variant was not worse than prior strains, and was possibly milder, while cautioning it would take weeks to judge its severity.

Biden warns Putin of 'strong' Western response to any Ukraine attack

US President Joe Biden warned President Vladimir Putin in a tense, two hour virtual summit Tuesday of a "strong" Western economic response should Russian forces massed on Ukraine's border go on the attack.

Belgian health workers rally to oppose mandatory vaccines

Thousands of Belgian health care workers rallied Tuesday in Brussels to oppose mandatory COVID-19 vaccines and to demand better working conditions as a surge in new cases weighs heavily on hospitals.

Gunman opens fire in Moscow service center, kills 2 people

A gunman opened fire in a Moscow city customer services facility, killing two people Tuesday and wounding three others, city authorities said.

Dutch court upholds Gantz immunity in Israeli airstrike case

A Dutch appeals court upheld Tuesday a lower court's decision to throw out a civil case against Israel's defense minister and another former senior military officer over their roles in a deadly 2014 airstrike.

EU health ministers meet as Omicron cases rise in Europe

EU health ministers met on Tuesday as national governments step up measures to try to curb the Omicron Covid-19 variant spreading across Europe as winter closes in.

Indonesia volcano eruption death toll rises to 34

The death toll from the eruption of Indonesia's Mount Semeru volcano rose to 34 on Tuesday, the national disaster agency said, as aid was rushed to the affected region.

Germany's Merkel bows out after 16 years: End of an era

Angela Merkel was assured of a place in the history books as soon as she became Germany's first female chancellor on Nov. 22, 2005.

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