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Putin ready to send delegation to Minsk for talks with Ukraine******
A man checks a broken window of an apartment in Donetsk region in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to send a Russian delegation to the Belarusian capital of Minsk for negotiations with Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.
The Russian team will consist of representatives of the defense ministry, the foreign ministry and the presidential administration, Peskov said.
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address that he wants to hold negotiations with Russia over its military operation.
Peskov recalled the purpose of Russia's operation is to "help the Lugansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic, including by the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, which is actually an integral part of the issue for Ukraine's neutral status."
Also on Friday, Putin held a phone conversation with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who promised to create all the necessary conditions for the Russia-Ukraine talks.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a briefing that his country has no plan to occupy Ukraine and Moscow is ready to hold negotiations straight after the Ukrainian forces "lay down their arms."
Russian forces have blockaded the Ukrainian capital of Kiev from the west, and they also continue to perform tasks in the areas of other cities, said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
Military facilities out of order
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that the Russian Armed Forces have disabled 118 military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine.
Eleven military airfields, 13 command posts and communication centers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, 14 S-300 and Osa anti-aircraft missile systems, and 36 radar stations were among the facilities put out of order, the ministry's Zvezda broadcaster reported, citing Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
Five combat aircraft, a helicopter and five drones of Ukraine have been shot down and dozens of vehicles have been destroyed so far, he added.
Konashenkov confirmed the Russian control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, noting that soldiers of both sides have agreed to jointly protect the power units and the sarcophagus.
The radioactive background in the area of the nuclear power plant is normal, he said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has instructed Russia's armed forces to "treat Ukrainian troops with respect" and create safety corridors for those servicemen who "have laid down their arms," according to the spokesman.
处警时被陶某砸到的民警 宜宾市派出所 图。
Slovak skier Vlhova repeats slalom double in Levi******
BRATISLAVA, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Slovak alpine skier Petra Vlhova repeated her stellar performance from last year and won both slalom races in the Finnish resort of Levi, tying US star Mikaela Shiffrin for first place in the FIS World Cup standings on Sunday.。
Identical to Saturday, Shiffrin placed second, trailing by 0.47 seconds, while German Lena Duerr finished third with 0.78 seconds more on the clock.。
The 26-year-old Vlhova produced four perfect runs and a deja vu-like performance, taking home a double win in the two opening slalom races, exactly like a year before.。
With five victories in Levi under her belt, she became the most successful skier to ever compete there.。
"I feel like my slalom performance is different. I made changes to my team, I have a new coach Mauro Pini and it shows on the track. I am more satisfied and happy. I feel physically stronger," explained Vlhova after the superb weekend.。
The podium looked the same as on Saturday with Shiffrin on second and the biggest surprise of the season Lena Duerr of Germany in third.。
Vlhova was gifted another reindeer calf by the organizers, her fifth overall. "I will probably start a reindeer farm soon. I will call this one Boris after my brother who is a great support, always with me at the start," she said.。
The next event on the schedule is the Giant Slalom in Killington, the United States. Enditem。
Japan declares quasi******
Japan declared a COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency for Tokyo and 12 other prefectures on Wednesday, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly in these areas.。
The targeted regions include Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa in the metropolitan area, Aichi, Gifu and Mie in central Japan, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Miyazaki in the country's southwest region, as well as Niigata, Gunma and Kagawa Prefecture.。
Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Okinawa have already been placed under a quasi-emergency since early this month. The new measures will mean about a third of Japan's 47 prefectures are subject to stricter curbs.。
Under the quasi-state of emergency, restaurants and bars will be asked to close early and stop or limit the serving of alcohol.。
The restrictions will take effect from Friday to February 13.。
The governors of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo in western Japan are planning to discuss whether to ask for quasi-emergency curbs at a virtual meeting on Wednesday.。
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has taken COVID-19 response as the top priority since taking office in October last year, and his government is faced with the task of striking a balance between imposing anti-virus measures and keeping the economy going.。
"I think we don't need to have eateries closed if people dine in a group of about four and speak quietly while wearing face masks," said Shigeru Omi, the government's top COVID-19 adviser.。
Japan has been seeing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases since early January amid the spread of the Omicron variant, with the nationwide figure of daily cases rising nearly 200 times to 32,197 on Tuesday from around 150 in the previous month.。
The number of new cases in Tokyo stood at 7,377 on Wednesday, over 1,000 more cases than the previous record of 5,908 registered in August last year.。
The daily count of new cases in the capital had remained under 100 from October last year to January 2.。
Japan has started its booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine program, which began with inoculation for medical staff in December 2021, followed by senior citizens from February this year and then people in general.。
The vaccination rate of Japanese who have finished the full two shots totaled 79.9 percent, while the rate of those who have received the booster dose was 1.3 percent, according to government data on Wednesday.。