While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 24

Russian armoured vehicles stand on the road in the Rostov region, on Feb 22, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

US says Russian force 'near 100%' for Ukraine invasion

The United States said on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "as ready as he can be" for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with nearly 100 per cent of the necessary military forces already in place.

"We assess today that he is near 100 per cent of all the forces that we anticipated that he would move in. He is dang near at 100 per cent," a US defence official told reporters on grounds of anonymity.

The official said that 80 per cent of the estimated 150,000-plus Russian forces along the Ukraine border are in "ready positions": spread out in attack formation within a few kilometres of the frontier.

"He is as ready as he can be," the official said. "Whether they actually go or not is really up to Mr Putin... They could go at any hour now."


Ukraine envoy in S'pore dismisses Putin shared destiny claims

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Russia and Ukraine may share borders, history and culture but the most defining chapter in their centuries-old past was written in the last decade, Ukraine's Ambassador to Singapore Kateryna Zelenko has said, dismissing Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims of a shared destiny.

In 2014, Ukraine's pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych was forced out after massive protests in Kyiv and Kremlin-backed forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula, which has a Russian-speaking majority. It then voted to join Russia in a referendum that Ukraine and the West consider illegal.

That year also saw the start of bloodshed in Donetsk and Luhansk, the two separatist regions in the east of Ukraine which Russia on Monday recognised as independent republics.


Ex-Goldman banker's trial to pause after US documents blunder

Tim Leissner was supposed to be the US government's star witness in the bribery case against Roger Ng, the only Goldman Sachs Group banker to go to trial in the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal. Instead, crucial evidence regarding Leissner could end up tanking the case, after the US disclosed that it failed to turn over to the defence more than 15,500 documents related to him.

On Wednesday, the judge said she would pause the trial to give the defence time to review the newly disclosed evidence, which the government says it discovered on Tuesday night.

In a hearing outside the jury's presence, Ng's lawyer Marc Agnifilo told the court he may ask for a mistrial.


US to end 'myopic' Trump-era programme targeting China

The US Justice Department on Wednesday will end a programme focused on fighting Chinese espionage and intellectual property theft, shifting from what an official called a "myopic" focus to address threats from a broader array of hostile nations.

Critics have said the initiative, put in place during former president Donald Trump's administration, amounted to racial profiling and that it created a culture of fear that has chilled scientific research.

The move, the details of which were reported by Reuters earlier this month, is a recognition that the focus on China was too limited, said Matt Olsen, the Assistant Attorney-General for the National Security Division.


Football: Liverpool put six past Leeds to cut Man City's lead

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both struck twice as Liverpool cut the gap on Manchester City at the top of the Premier League to three points with a 6-0 thrashing of Leeds at Anfield.

Salah took his tally for the season to 27 in 31 appearances and set up a rare goal for Joel Matip as the Reds registered a ninth consecutive win in all competitions.

Mane rubbed salt in Leeds wounds with two goals in the final 10 minutes before Virgil van Dijk's header rounded off the scoring.


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