Investigators have found traces of explosives at the site of the damaged Nord Stream pipelines, confirming that sabotage had taken place, a Swedish prosecutor said on Friday. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1)
11:25am: Kremlin says no talk of Putin-Biden summit for now
Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden have no plans to meet for the time being, the Kremlin said on Friday after Russia's deputy foreign minister said Moscow was not ruling out high-level meetings between the two countries.
"A summit is out of the question at the moment," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier that Russia was not ruling out further high-level meetings with the United States on "strategic stability" as an upcoming meeting between the two powers in Cairo on nuclear proliferation nears.
10:51am: US-Russia meeting was key to prevent escalation, Erdogan tells Putin
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin the meeting between American and Russian intelligence services was important to prevent "uncontrolled" escalation in the field, the Turkish presidency said on Friday.
In a phone call, Erdogan said diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine must be revived and he thanked Putin for the extension of the Black Sea grain deal.
10:45am: Putin to take part in CSTO summit in Armenia next week
The Kremlin said on Friday that President Vladimir Putin will visit a summit of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) next week in Armenia.
9:52am: Russia says 'fortifying' annexed Crimean peninsula
Russia said on Friday it was strengthening positions on the Crimean peninsula, annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as Kyiv's forces reclaim territory in the neighbouring Kherson region.
"Fortification work is being carried out on the territory of Crimea under my control with the aim of guaranteeing the security of all Crimeans," the Moscow-appointed governor of the region, Sergei Aksyonov, said on social media.
Russia annexed Crimea in the wake of nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations that led to the ouster of Ukraine's former Kremlin-friendly president.
It was used as a launching pad in February for what the Kremlin calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.
9:47am: Russia ready for high-level talks with US if Washington is willing
Russia is ready for high-level meetings with the United States regarding strategic stability if Washington is ready, Moscow's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted in state media as saying on Friday.
He also said Russia does not rule out new contacts with the United States after upcoming talks in Cairo on the New START nuclear arms treaty.
9:35am: Traces of explosives found at Nord Stream pipelines, Sweden says
Investigators have found traces of explosives at the site of the damaged Nord Stream pipelines, confirming that sabotage had taken place, a Swedish prosecutor said on Friday.
Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating four holes in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea and have become a flashpoint in the Ukraine crisis.
Denmark last month said a preliminary investigation had shown that the leaks were caused by powerful explosions.
8:32am: Russia hopeful of US prisoner swap including arms dealer Bout
Russia hopes it can make a prisoner swap with the United States that would include convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death", a deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying on Friday.
"The Americans are showing some external activity, we are working professionally through a special channel designed for this," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Friday by Interfax.
"It is undeniable that Viktor Bout is among those who are being discussed, and we certainly count on a positive result," Ryabkov said.
8:14am: Where's Putin? Leader leaves bad news on Ukraine to others
When Russia's top military brass announced in a televised appearance that they were pulling troops out of the key city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, one man missing from the room was President Vladimir Putin.
As Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Sergei Surovikin, Russia's chief commander in Ukraine, stiffly recited the reasons for the retreat in front of the cameras on November 9, Putin was touring a neurological hospital in Moscow, watching a doctor perform brain surgery.
Later that day, Putin spoke at another event but made no mention of the pullout from Kherson -- arguably Russia's most humiliating withdrawal in Ukraine. In the days that followed, he hasn't publicly commented on the topic.
Putin's silence comes as Russia faces mounting setbacks in nearly nine months of fighting. The Russian leader appears to have delegated the delivery of bad news to others - a tactic he used during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kherson was the only regional capital Moscow's forces had seized in Ukraine, falling into Russian hands in the first days of the invasion. Russia occupied the city and most of the outlying region, a key gateway to the Crimean Peninsula, for months.
7:07am: Pope Francis says Vatican ready to mediate end of Ukraine war
Pope Francis reiterated on Friday the Vatican was ready to do anything possible to mediate and put an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the pontiff said in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa.
Asked whether he believed reconciliation between Moscow and Kyiv was possible, the pontiff called on everyone not to give up.
"But everyone must commit to demilitarising hearts, starting with their own, and then defusing, disarming violence. We must all be pacifists. Wanting peace, not just a truce that may only serve to rearm. Real peace, which is the fruit of dialogue," he told the paper.
6:01am: Ukraine war is Asia's problem too, Macron says
French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday urged Asian countries to join the "increasing consensus" against the conflict in Ukraine, telling them the war was "your problem" too.
Macron told business leaders on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit that France was trying to "create an increasing consensus in order to say this war is also your problem, because it will create a lot of destabilisation".
5:40am: New wave of Russian strikes batter Ukraine grid as first snow falls
Repeated barrages have disrupted electricity and water supplies across Ukraine, but the Kremlin blamed civilians' suffering on Kyiv's refusal to negotiate, rather than on Russian attacks.
AFP journalists in several Ukrainian cities said the latest assault coincided with the season's first snow, after officials in Kyiv warned of "difficult" days ahead.
"Currently, more than 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday, adding that the regions of Odesa, Vinnytsia, Sumy and Kyiv were most affected.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters and AP)