White House aide declines to back Flynn over Russia contact

A top White House official declined in several interviews over the weekend to defend national security adviser Michael Flynn, amid controversy over his alleged contacts with Russia. Mr Flynn reportedly discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the weeks before the inauguration. He denied talking about this issue but later said he could not be certain. Any discussion of sanctions could have violated laws against private citizens engaging in foreign policy. Who is Michael Flynn? The people around the president The controversy comes as Mr Trump faces his first…

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Obama orders sanctions against Russia, expels operatives, in response to hacking

The Obama administration announced sanctions Thursday against Russia’s intelligence services, while ejecting dozens of intelligence operatives from the U.S., as part of a response to what it says are efforts by Moscow to influence the 2016 election. Using an executive order, Obama sanctioned the GRU and the FSB — two of Russia’s intelligence services as well as other entities and individuals associated with the GRU. The cybersecurity firm hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate the hack of its emails earlier this year the hacking came from the Fancy Bear…

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Donald Trump dismisses US sanctions threat to Russia

President-elect Donald Trump has dismissed the US threat to increase sanctions against Russia, saying “we ought to get on with our lives”. The White House said it will retaliate for the alleged hacking by Russia of the Democratic Party during the recent presidential election campaign. A raft of new sanctions and other measures will be revealed on Thursday, US media reports. Russia has denied any involvement in the hacking. On Wednesday, senior US senators called for increased sanctions. But Mr Trump, who has been criticised for being too cosy with…

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Russia plane crash: Huge search for bodies in Black Sea

A huge search operation is continuing for a Russian military plane with 92 on board which crashed into the Black Sea. Some 3,000 people, including more than 100 divers, as well as ships, planes, helicopters and submersibles are involved in the operation near Sochi. Some fragments of the plane have been found, but initial reports that the fuselage was sighted have been denied. The Tu-154 plane carrying soldiers, musicians and reporters was heading for Syria. All on board are feared dead. Monday has been declared a national day of mourning.…

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Russia Warns Against US Attack on Syrian Forces

Russia warned the United States Saturday against carrying out any attacks on Syrian government forces, saying it would have repercussions across the Middle East as government forces captured a hill on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo under the cover of airstrikes. Meanwhile, airstrikes on Aleppo struck a hospital in the eastern rebel-held neighborhood of Sakhour on Saturday, putting it out of service, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees. They said at least one person was killed in the airstrike.…

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