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What threat? Russian state TV plays down Moscow’s role in Ukraine crisis

MOSCOW (Reuters) - NATO is scrambling to beef up its eastern flank and Western governments have warned of crippling economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, but watching Russian state TV provides little sense, for now at least, that war may be imminent.

Russian state TV - vital for the Kremlin's public messaging over 11 time zones - has often focused in recent days on other issues such as Russian athletes' hopes for the Beijing Winter Olympics or rising Omicron cases.

"At the moment, there's no sense the enemy is at the door and that we're starting a war soon... That's not happening at all," said one Russian media analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In their reporting on Ukraine, Russian state media say Western "panic" is fuelling the t

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U.S. calls Russian decision to add Navalny to list of ‘terrorists and extremists’ disturbing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Tuesday said Russia's decision to add jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and a handful of his allies to an official list of "terrorists and extremists" was disturbing, and it again called for Navalny's immediate and unconditional release.

"This latest designation represents a new low in Russia's continuing crackdown on independent civil society," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Costas Pitas; Writing by Daphne Psaledakis)

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Qatar’s emir to visit Washington on Jan. 31

DOHA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Qatar's ruling emir plans to visit Washington on Jan. 31, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, a trip likely to address Afghanistan, the security of gas supplies to Europe as well as Iran.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani's visit, the first since President Joe Biden took office a year ago, comes as Washington discusses with energy-producing states and firms a potential diversion of supplies to Europe if Russia invades Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the matter with the foreign minister of Qatar, a top liquefied natural gas producer, in a phone call on Monday, one of the sources said.

Washington is concerned that a possible Russian military assault on Ukraine could trigger U.S. and Eur

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Two Senegalese soldiers killed, nine missing after clash with separatists

DAKAR (Reuters) - Two Senegalese soldiers were killed and nine were likely taken hostage when they went missing during fighting with separatist rebels in neighbouring Gambia, Senegal's army said on Tuesday.

One rebel from the Movement of Democratic Forces for Casamance (MFDC) was also killed and three captured by Senegalese forces in the fighting on Monday, an army statement said.

"The nine missing soldiers are probably held hostage by the MFDC. Operations are ongoing to find them and secure the zone."

The soldiers were monitoring timber trafficking as part of a multinational force in Gambia, which is bordered on three sides by Senegal.

The MFDC was formed in 1982 to fight for independence for Senegal's southern region of Casamance, which borders Gambia.

The movement has been largely dormant since a ceasefire in 2014 bu

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U.S. seeks to protect Europe’s energy supplies if Russia invades Ukraine

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) -Western leaders stepped up preparations for any Russian military action in Ukraine on Tuesday, with the United States focusing on how to protect energy supplies and Britain urging other European nations to get economic sanctions ready.

Tensions remained high after NATO said https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/nato-sends-ships-jets-eastern-europe-ukraine-crisis-2022-01-24 on Monday it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets in response to a Russian troop build-up near its border with Ukraine.

Russia, which denies planning an attack, said it was watching with "great concern". Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated Moscow's line that the crisis is being driven by U.S. and NATO ac

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