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What We're Watching: US and Russia in Geneva, mass testing in Tianjin, a big loss for Venezuela's Maduro

US and Russia in Geneva. Senior US and Russian diplomats opened talks in Geneva on Monday, kicking off a round of discussions between Kremlin and Western officials across Europe over the next few days. Vladimir Putin wants Joe Biden and NATO leaders to redraw the security map of Europe by promising that Ukraine, Georgia, and other Russian neighbors will never join NATO and that the security alliance will not place missile system in Ukraine. That would, in effect, redivide Europe into Western and Russian spheres of influence. The Biden administration and NATO officials have said they will not allow Russia to veto NATO membership for countries that want to join. European leaders have warned the US to honor these promises, and Ukraine’s government is watching and waiting as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops remain poised near the Ukrainian border. Russia says it will pursue its aims by military means if necessary. NATO says it's ready to respond. The US says any Russian incursion into Ukraine will draw harsh sanctions against Russian and more supplies of Western weapons for Ukraine. Putin began this game of chicken, and we’ll be watching in coming weeks to see how far he wants to push it.

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Soldiers walk as they take part in a rescue operation after a heavy snowfall in Murree, Pakistan January 8, 2022.

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR)/Handout via REUTERS

Hard Numbers: Pakistani winter tragedy, Nigerian bandits, Tianjin testing, Saudi princess free

22: The scenic Pakistani hill station of Murree , about an hour’s drive from Islamabad, is a staple honeymoon destination and resort for holiday travelers. But on Saturday, at least 22 people, mostly tourists, were killed by a blizzard that trapped thousands on the single highway to the city. Authorities were blamed for not issuing weather advisories, nor coming to the aid of those stuck in their cars for hours.

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