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Ukraine severs diplomatic relations with Russia******
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that Kiev decides to sever diplomatic relations with Moscow after Russia launched military operations in Donbass, the government-run Ukrinform news agency reported.
"Ukraine is defending itself," Zelensky said in a televised address. He added that more than 40 Ukrainian soldiers and around 10 civilians were killed in the conflict.
Earlier Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the "special military operation," and Ukraine confirmed that military installations across the country were under attack.
Fund run by Biden's son involved in financing biolabs in Ukraine: Russian Defense Ministry******
The investment fund Rosemont Seneca, currently managed by Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, funded the Pentagon's military biological program in Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
The fund has resources in the amount of at least US$2.4 billion, said Igor Kirillov, chief of the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Forces of the Russian Armed Forces.
The US Agency for International Development, the George Soros Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were also involved in the funding and development of these programs, he added.
"The incoming documents have allowed us to trace patterns of interaction between US government agencies and Ukrainian biological facilities," he said.
The official added that the defense ministry has official documentation proving that 30 Ukrainian laboratories were involved in military biological activities.
According to Kirillov, 16,000 biological samples have been exported to the United States and its allies from Ukraine.
For example, he said, 4,000 blood samples were taken from servicemen in Lviv, Kharkov, Odessa and Kiev to study the prevalence of antibodies to hantavirus.
"This large-scale screening of the natural immunity of the populations was probably carried out to select the most dangerous biological agents for populations in certain regions," he explained.
He added that dangerous pathogens and their transporters were also exported from Ukraine.
The US government has not made any response to the claim yet.
Ghislaine Maxwell convicted of recruiting teenage girls for Epstein sex abuse******
This undated trial evidence image obtained on December 8 from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York shows British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and US financier Jeffrey Epstein.。
Ghislaine Maxwell was foundguilty by a US jury on Wednesday of helping the late financierJeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls, sealing aremarkable fall from grace for the British socialite.。
Maxwell, 60, was accused of recruiting and grooming four teenagers between 1994 and 2004 for Epstein, her formerboyfriend, who killed himself in 2019 in a Manhattan jail cellwhile awaiting trial on sex abuse charges of his own.。
She was convicted on five of six counts, including one countof sex trafficking. Lawyers for Maxwell, who faces up to 65years in prison, vowed to appeal.。
Maxwell's trial was widely seen as the reckoning Epsteinnever had and one of the highest-profile cases.。
During the month-long trial, jurors heard emotional andexplicit testimony from four women who portrayed Maxwell ascentral to their abuse by Epstein. Three of the four saidMaxwell herself touched their bare breasts or took part in theencounters, which often began as massages.。
Maxwell's attorneys sought to undermine the women'scredibility, arguing that they were motivated by money toimplicate Maxwell since all four had received million-dollarawards from a compensation fund for Epstein's victims.。
But the women disputed those characterizations, saying theydecided to testify out of a desire for justice, not money.。
After the verdict was read, Maxwell, wearing a burgundyturtleneck, poured herself a glass of water. Defense attorneyJeffrey Pagliuca patted her upper back. An expressionlessMaxwell looked briefly at two of her siblings seated in thefront row as she left the courtroom.。
Annie Farmer, one of the women who testified againstMaxwell, said: "I am so relieved and grateful that the juryrecognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwellengaged in for years and found her guilty of these crimes."
Maxwell's lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, told reporters thedefense was disappointed with the verdict.。
Maxwell will return to Brooklyn's Metropolitan DetentionCenter, where she has been held in isolation since July2020. Maxwell has voiced concerns about her treatment at thejail, asserting that guards have disrupted her sleep at nightand that the stench of raw sewage has permeated her cell.。
During the trial, prosecutors showed jurors bank recordsindicating Epstein paid Maxwell millions of dollars over theyears. They said Maxwell was motivated to do whatever it took tokeep Epstein happy in order to maintain her luxurious lifestyle.。
Maxwell's attorneys argued prosecutors were scapegoating herbecause Epstein was no longer alive.。
"Epstein's death left a gaping hole in the pursuit ofjustice for many of these women," Sternheim said. "She's fillingthat hole, and filling that empty chair."