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Biden warns Putin Ukraine attack would bring 'severe costs'******
Efforts to defuse the crisis in Ukraine via a frenzy of telephone diplomacy failed to ease tensions Saturday, with US President Joe Biden warning that Russia faces "swift and severe costs" if its troops carry out an invasion.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin slammed Western claims that Moscow was planning such a move as "provocative speculation" that could lead to conflict in the ex-Soviet country, according to a Russian readout of a call with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Speaking after new phone talks between Putin and Biden, the Kremlin's top foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov told a conference call: "Hysteria has reached its peak."
Weeks of tensions that have seen Russia nearly surround its western neighbour with more than 100,000 troops intensified after Washington warned that an all-out invasion could begin "any day" and Russia launched its biggest naval drills in years across the Black Sea.
"If Russia undertakes a further invasion of Ukraine, the United States together with our allies and partners will respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs on Russia," Biden told Putin, according to the White House.
While the United States was prepared to engage in diplomacy, "we are equally prepared for other scenarios", Biden said, as the two nations stare down one of the gravest crises in East-West relations since the Cold War.
While the Biden-Putin talks were "professional and substantive", lasting just over an hour, they produced "no fundamental change" in dynamics, a senior US official told reporters.
Russia's defence ministry added to the febrile atmosphere by announcing that it had chased off a US submarine it said had crossed into its territorial waters near the Kuril Islands in the northern Pacific.
The ministry said it had summoned the US defence attache in Moscow over the incident.
But the US Indo-Pacific Command denied the account. "There is no truth to the Russian claims of our operations in their territorial waters," spokesman Captain Kyle Raines said in a statement.
Putin began his afternoon holding talks with Macron that the French presidency said lasted one hour and 40 minutes.
Macron's office said "both expressed a desire to continue dialogue" but, like Washington, reported no clear progress.
Russia added to the ominous tone by pulling some of its diplomatic staff out of Ukraine Saturday.
The foreign ministry in Moscow said its decision was prompted by fears of "possible provocations from the Kyiv regime".
But Washington and a host of European countries along with Israel cited the growing threat of a Russian invasion as they called on their citizens to leave Ukraine as soon possible.
Britain and the United States also pulled out most of their remaining military advisers while the US embassy ordered "most" of its Kyiv staff to leave.
Australia said it had directed all remaining embassy staff in Kyiv to evacuate, and Canada said it was closing its embassy temporarily and moving operations to the western city of Lviv.
Dutch carrier KLM announced that it was suspending commercial flights to Ukraine until further notice.
The prospect of fleeing Westerners prompted Kyiv to issue an appeal to its citizens to "remain calm".
"Right now, the people's biggest enemy is panic," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on a visit to troops stationed near the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea.
Several thousand Ukrainians braved the winter cold to march through Kyiv in a show of unity amid the growing fears of war.
"Panic is useless," said student Maria Shcherbenko as the crowd waved Ukraine's blue-and-yellow flags and sang the national anthem. "We must unite and fight for independence."
'Any day now'
Washington on Friday issued its most dire warning yet that Russia had assembled enough forces to launch a serious assault.
"Our view that military action could occur any day now, and could occur before the end of the Olympics, is only growing in terms of its robustness," US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned.
Sullivan stopped short on Friday of saying that the United States has concluded that Putin has made the decision to attack.
But some US and German media cited intelligence sources and officials as saying that a war could begin at some point after Putin concludes talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Moscow on Tuesday.
The German leader is due to travel to Kyiv on Monday and then visit Putin as Europe strives to keep lines of communication open with Moscow.
Ukrainian leaders have been trying to talk down the prospects of an all-out war because of the damaging effect such fears are having on the country's teetering economy and public morale.
But the mood across the country remained tense.
The mayor's office in Kyiv said it had prepared an emergency evacuation plan for the capital's three million residents as a precaution.
Russia is seeking binding security guarantees from the West that include a pledge to roll NATO forces out of eastern Europe and to never expand into Ukraine.
Washington has flatly rejected the demands, but offered talks on a new European disarmament agreement with Moscow.
Sullivan said NATO was now "more cohesive, more purposeful, more dynamic than any time in recent memory".
Germany's Scholz has added his voice to European pledges to punish Russia with severe economic sanctions targeting its financial and energy sector if it attacks.
Underdog Freiburg among Europe's best******
By Oliver Trust。
BERLIN, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- To know what Napoli, Milan, Liverpool, and the SC Freiburg have in common seems like the answer to a one-million-dollar question.。
While the trio from Italy and England have been drawing international attention for decades, the German side is mostly gliding below the radar.。
But currently, all four clubs are the only unbeaten teams in the top European leagues. Freiburg for a good reason stands out as being rather exotic among the collection.。
Far from consistent international glory, the small club is a shining example of an alternative draft as today's football seems stuck in an identity crisis. Player's salaries seem to explode as investments of foreign investors do the same.。
Despite being relegated several times, the club preserved a remarkable resilience and never gave up its principles.。
At present, Freiburg is back in the headlines. Not because of the similarity with Napoli, Milan, and Liverpool, but because the side collected 22 points after 10 rounds of matches in the Bundesliga.。
This means they will meet league leader Bayern in the league's top act this weekend as third of the tableau.。
Freiburg's upswing is no surprise, but it includes acting calmly when setbacks hit the club. To be small but competitive seems the general rule.。
The club stands for a policy far from measures of an often overheated market in football. Briefly, the club follows the proven pattern to educate young players, count on the same coach over many years, and keep his leadership board steady.。
In December, Christian Streich is crossing the 10-year-line as head coach after he worked for the side for over 25 years in various coaching positions.。
The club is a safe haven for players not among the world of glittering stars but providing the chance to slowly develop. Streich's demand to play a passionate and energy-taking football comes along with his mantra to form a team of companions caring for each other.。
Moving to a new arena after over 50 years indicates, the club has meanwhile gained ground. Having outpaced clubs like Bielefeld, Furth, Cologne, Hamburg, and others seems no reason for megalomania.。
"We might have special soft skills as players can feel comfortable, but at the same time know there is no reason to rest," Streich explained.。
Like the coach, the club is employing players who have been with the side for several years, some even came back after being unhappy with other clubs. Many developed into their countries internationals at a young age.。
Facing Freiburg has turned into an unpopular issue as the team delivers a fight until the final whistle. "We play football because we love it," the coach added.。
Ahead of the away game in Munich, no one is talking about the chance to qualify for the Champions League. Protagonists keep on talking about securing their place in the first tier.。
"We talk about the possibility to win the game because we can, but not about the Champions League," defender Lukas Kubler commented. "If we start with bold dreaming, it might go wrong."
The unbeaten status might as well end this weekend. But no one in Freiburg is concerned, while mentioned along with Napoli, Milan, and Liverpool that might be the most significant difference. Enditem。
Chinese skaters Wu, An qualify for 1,000m quarterfinals at ISU Short Track World Cup******
THE HAGUE, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Olympic champion Wu Dajing and his fellow Chinese An Kai advanced into the men's 1,000m quarterfinals at the 2021-2022 ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series in Dordrecht, the Netherlands on Friday.。
In the preliminaries, the duo and anther Chinese Ren Ziwei, a World Cup winner, all stood out as group leaders, but in the following heats, Wu and An took lead with a result of one minute and 24.613 seconds and 1:26.019 respectively, while Ren was penaltied off for contact with Park Inwook of South Korea.。
Also on Friday, Team China, consisting of An Kai, Li Wenlong, Sun Long and Zhang Tianyi, topped the heat to qualify for the men's 5,000m relay semifinals on 6:48.337. Canada, South Korea and Hungary also booked their spots in the semis as group leaders.。
In the women's 3,000m relay quarterfinals, Fan Kexin, Guo Yihan, Zhang Chutong, Zhang Yuting of China ranked top on 4:10.057 in their heat to secure a seat in the semis.。
Meanwhile, Chinese athletes Han Yutong, Zhang Yuting and Zhang Chutong all came in second in their heats and made it to the women's 1,000m quarterfinals.。
At the last ISU World Cup of the season taking place on November 25-28, the men's and women's 500m and 1500m finals will be held on Saturday. Enditem。
Study finds Omicron variant can partially escape immunity induced by Pfizer vaccine******
A laboratory research has suggested that the Omicron variant can partially escape antibody immunity induced by the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.。
The research, led by professor Alex Sigal from the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa, has been submitted to medRxiv, a preprint server for health sciences.。
The research confirms predictions that the large number of mutations in the spike protein and elsewhere on the Omicron variant would translate into some evasion of the immune response induced by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.。
Sigal said on Twitter Tuesday that his lab tested blood from 12 people who had been vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and found that there was a 41-fold decrease in the ability of antibodies from the vaccine to neutralize the Omicron variant.。