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World: UPDATE 1-Talks continue on exchange of U.S. ex-Marine held in Russia - Interfax

Russia assembles a 'shadow fleet' of more than 100 oil tankers as Putin tries to bust western sanctions, report says

  Russia assembles a 'shadow fleet' of more than 100 oil tankers as Putin tries to bust western sanctions, report says Shipping brokers and analysts told the Financial Times Moscow has quietly added tankers this year and comes as Europe imposes a price cap on Russian oil.But no facet of the 39-year-old's life has put her in the international spotlight more than her long-rumored, never-confirmed relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin, who celebrated his 70th birthday on Friday.

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Dec 8 (Reuters) -

Talks on freeing former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan from prison in Russia are continuing, the Russian Interfax news agency cited his lawyer as saying on Thursday, after U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was released by Moscow in exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

"Whelan is currently in the penal colony," Vladimir Zherebenkov was quoted as saying. "Discussions about his exchange are continuing at the level of the intelligence services, so everything is quite closed - but they are going on."

After what U.S. President Joe Biden said were "painstaking and intense" negotiations, Russia and the United States exchanged Griner for Bout on Thursday in a long-anticipated swap.

Biden said the U.S. administration "will never give up" trying to secure Whelan's release.

Whelan was convicted in 2020 of spying, after a trial held entirely behind closed doors that U.S. diplomats said was unfair and opaque, and sentenced to 16 years in a maximum security penal colony. He denies all the charges. (Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Caleb Davis; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

82K Ukrainians living in US under special program; Russia hopes to reload with Iranian missiles: Updates .
Over 82,000 Ukrainians and their family members have been "paroled" into the United States under the "U4U" — United for Ukraine — program. Updates.The program allows Ukrainians to stay in the U.S. for two years. According to the United Nations, nearl8 million Ukrainians, or 20% of the population, have fled since Russia invaded in February. Most have settled, at least temporarily, in Poland and other European countries.

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