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World in brief: February 21, 2024

RUSSIA: President Vladimir Putin has denied US claims that Moscow intends to deploy nuclear weapons in space, saying that his country has only developed space capabilities similar to those of the US.

The White House alleged last week that Russia had obtained a “troubling” anti-satellite weapon capability, although such a weapon is not operational yet.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said it would violate the international Outer Space Treaty, but he declined to comment on whether the weapon is nuclear-capable.

VENEZUELA: Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reaffirmed his government’s support for the administration of President Nicolas Maduro, expressing commitment to strategic co-operation in numerous sectors, including technology, energy and culture.

Mr Lavrov met Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez and Foreign Minister Yvan Gil in the capital Caracas as part of a Latin American tour that also includes Cuba and Brazil.

Russian and Chinese support has allowed Venezuela to circumvent crippling economic sanctions, imposed primarily by Washington.

FRANCE: World War II resistance member Missak Manouchian is set to be inducted into the Pantheon today evening, becoming the first foreign fighter and the first communist to receive this honour.

A poet who took refuge in France after surviving the Ottoman empire’s genocide of Armenians, Manouchian was executed in 1944 for leading the resistance to Nazi occupation.

Tonight’s ceremony is to be led by French President Emmanuel Macron in the presence of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, and would also include members of Manouchian’s resistance group.

ISRAEL: An unprecedented bid to remove communist legislator Ofer Cassif from the Knesset has failed, with only 85 of a required 90 MPs in the 120-seat body voting in favour of his expulsion.

He was targeted in response to his public support for South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, which has been described as “treasonous” by his critics.

The only Jewish member of the Arab-majority Hadash-Ta’al alliance, Mr Cassif signed a petition backing Pretoria’s claims and accused Israeli leaders of supporting crimes against humanity against the Palestinians.

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