Of course, Russia will remain committed to the word and spirit of the Minsk accords with other guarantor countries France and Germany, but we regret that such steps only distract us from the desired goal," the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. The EU-brokered Minsk peace agreement, backed by Moscow and Kiev, was first reached in late 2014 and then re-worked in early 2015 with the help of Germany and France, but is violated almost daily.
Iraq's parliament failed on Saturday to approve May 12 as the election date, as suggested by the government, as Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers demanded a delay to allow hundreds of thousands of war-displaced people to return home. Shi'ite politicians, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, insist on holding the election as planned on May 12, saying a delay would be against the constitution. Speaking after Saturday's session in Baghdad, Parliamentary Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, a Sunni, expressed hope that parliament would be able to vote on an election date by Monday, state TV reported.
Detectives investigating the case of the 13 siblings found locked up in a house in California, may "send cadaver dogs" to see if there was anyone else in the house who may have died, reports have suggested. Crime Watch Daily, a syndicated news show broadcast in multiple states across America, also reported that investigators were considering carrying out DNA tests on the Turpin children to check if they were all related, citing sources close to the case. The Sheriff’s Department in Riverside County and the police department in the City of Perris, California did not respond to The Independent’s requests for comment on the alleged plans.
Lebanon's Hezbollah movement on Friday said a US pledge to keep its troops in Syria to defeat the Islamic State group was just a "flimsy excuse" to occupy the country. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that US forces would remain in Syria to both fight IS and counter the influence of President Bashar al-Assad. Assad is a key ally of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which has deployed its forces to keep the Damascus regime in power.
Kazakhstan's quarter-century struggle to assert its autonomy from former overlord Russia has hit an unlikely snag: the lowly apostrophe. A vast but sparsely populated country wedged between Russia and China, Kazakhstan came under the rule of its northern neighbour as Russia and Britain jostled for control of Central Asia in the Great Game. It also came under its linguistic influence, and to this day, many Kazakhs speak more Russian than their Turkic native tongue. This became especially concerning after Russian state media, which remain popular in Kazakhstan, helped whip up Russian-speaking separatists to fight government forces in Ukraine in 2014. In April, Kazakhstan's president of 27 years, Nursultan Nazarbayev, ordered the government to prepare a new Kazakh alphabet based on Latin characters and ditch the one based on Russia's Cyrillic script, which the Soviets implemented in 1940. He has said this will give Kazakhstan “real independence” and help it join the “information world”. But a cumbersome version of the new alphabet chosen by Mr Nazarbayev last autumn has sparked rare dissent in this authoritarian country due to its ample apostrophes. Of 32 letters in the alphabet, nine are written with an apostrophe. Mr Nazarbayev meets with Vladimir Putin in December. He has tried to gently assert Kazakhstan's independence from its former overlord Credit: Alexander Nemenov/Pool Photo via AP An “against apostrophes” hashtag soon appeared...
Beijing on Saturday said it had dispatched a warship to drive away a US missile destroyer which had "violated" its sovereignty by sailing close to a shoal in the disputed South China Sea. The USS Hopper sailed within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan Island on the night of January 17 without alerting Beijing, the foreign ministry said, referring to the shoal by its Chinese name. Also known as Scarborough Shoal, the ring of reefs lies about 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the Philippines in the South China Sea, where Beijing's claims are hotly contested by other nations.