Former U.S. Marine released in U.S-Russia prisoner swap
The United States and Russia swapped prisoners on Wednesday amid their most tense relations in decades over the war in Ukraine, with former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed released in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko
In a surprise prisoner swap – former U.S. marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in Russia since 2019, has been released.
Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko – who was serving a 20-year sentence in the United States for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine – was released in return.
The swap, which U.S. officials have said was the result of months of hard and careful work, comes as U.S.-Russia relations are at their worst in decades.
Officials said the talks that led to Reed’s release strictly focused on securing his freedom… and was not the start of a broader diplomatic conversation.
President Joe Biden did not comment on details of the release, but said (quote) “The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly.”
Reed was convicted in Russia in 2019 of endangering the lives of two police officers while drunk on a visit to Moscow. The U.S. has called his trial a “theater of the absurd.”
In 2020, his father Joey spoke to Reuters from Moscow:
“Dismissing charges in Russia, from my understanding, is very rare. But at least – lower the charges, so it is a lower penalty.”
Over two years later… Reed on Wednesday was on his way to be reunited with his family in the United States, according to senior administration officials, who said the 30-year-old Texan was in good spirits.
Reed’s parents thanked President Biden for the release of their son, adding he may have saved their son’s life.
In a statement, they said their son would tell his own story as soon as he was ready, adding
“We’d respectfully ask for some privacy while we address the myriad of health issues brought on by the squalid conditions he was subjected to in his Russian gulag.”
Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they were working to free another U.S. citizen held in Russia, Paul Whelan, also a former Marine.
Europe is preparing for winter: how can you keep costs down?
Britain is facing a surge in cold weather, with icy conditions and fog expected for much of this week
The UK Met Office has issued a Yellow warning, which means there could be damage to buildings as Britons brace for cold conditions.
Like much of Europe, the UK are bracing for very strong winds on Wednesday, causing disruption to travel and some utilities.
Drivers are also urged to take extra care on the roads, with warnings in place for icy stretches forming on UK roads.
But some residents who are seeking to heat their homes are on edge, as power prices remain high.
Peter Smith is the director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, who said the rising cost of living is impacting Britons.
“The average annual bill has almost doubled since this time last year.”
The organisation seeks to close the gaps when it comes to energy affordability. It predicts 6.7 million UK households will be in fuel poverty in the coming months.
This means millions of Britons will be unable to afford living in a warm, dry and safe home.
“So far the milder than usual weather has protected many from the spiralling bills as they haven’t needed to heat their homes as high or as long as usual,” Mr Smith said.
How to keep warm without blowing your bill
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged people to make their own decisions, as he met with world leaders in tropical Bali last week.
“There are things that we can do—all of us—to improve the efficiency with which we use energy, to be careful about it,” he said.
For example, an efficient heater; taking advantage of the sun, where appropriate; and rearranging furniture are some cost-effective methods to reduce the burden on gas and energy bills.
In addition, there are some other cheap ways to reduce dependence on gas and electricity bills, as the temperature continue to plunge.
- close off rooms you’re not using
- lower the temperature of heating
- make sure windows are fully closed
- block cold drafts from under doors using door snakes or carpet.
The UK Government has placed a cap freeze on energy prices.
This means households will pay an average £2,500 on their energy bills. But there is a catch: if households use more, they pay more.
National Energy Action believes an additional 2.2 million homes could be in fuel poverty, when compared to the same time last year.
Why are energy prices so high?
As demand increases, so too does the cost of heating homes.
But there is another factor, which has sent prices rising across Europe: the war in Ukraine.
Russia accounts for 25% of global gas trade, 15% of global thermal coal trade and 10% of global oil trade.
However, countries are struggling to find alternative supplies after sanctioning Moscow for the ongoing conflict.
Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was expected to double the amount of Russian gas shipped to Europe.
In July, Russia cut the amount of gas pumped through Nord Stream 1 to 20 per cent capacity.
Hoax call between Polish and “French” Presidents
Poland President Andrezj Duda spoke to a hoaxer posing as France counterpart Emmanuel Macron, on the night a missile hit near the Poland-Ukraine border.
The news was confirmed after two Russian pranksters, Vovan and Lexus, posted a recording of the incident, and Duda’s office also affirmed the incident.
During the call, Duda was asking who was responsible for the attack on November 15, wanting to avoid a war with Russia.
The missile landed six kilometres from the border.
Initial reports suggested the missile was Russian-made, but it was later discovered to likely be a Ukrainian air defence missile.
This is the second time the pranksters have targeted the Poland President, who have made their names going after celebrities and politicians, especially those opposed to the Kremlin.
Russian missiles hit NATO territory, killing two
Russian missile hits Poland, as the west assesses the attack on a NATO member
Reports a Russian missile has landed in Poland, killing two people. A projectile struck an area where grain was drying in the village of Przewodów, near the Ukraine border.
An anonymous U.S. intelligence official suggested a barrage of Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian power grid, and spilt into neighbouring Poland.
Poland is a NATO member, therefore, this signifies a potential escalation to the ongoing war. It also marks the first time weapons have impacted a NATO country.
Currently, the Polish government are holding urgent talks. A Polish spokesman Piotr Mueller has confirmed that top leaders are holding an emergency meeting regarding the “crisis situation.”
Under Article 5 of NATO, an attack on one country is considered an attack on all.
The White House has not confirmed the reports but the Pentagon is assessing the situation.
While NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, including in response to the situation in Syria and the Russian invasion of Ukraine—it has only invoked Article 5 once.
For the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO evoked Article 5 and came to the defence of the United States.
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