French president Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said he had obtained assurances from his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that there would be no “deterioration or escalation” of the crisis over Ukraine.

Macron was speaking on the way to Kyiv, where he met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky after more than five hours of talks on Monday night with Putin in Moscow.

Macron’s tour is the latest western diplomatic attempt to de-escalate tensions caused by Russia’s military build-up of more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine.

“For me it was about arranging things to prevent an escalation and open up new avenues . . 

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Peter Thiel will not seek re-election to the board of Facebook’s owner Meta later this year, the social media group said on Monday

Thiel, a billionaire tech investor and Silicon Valley’s most prominent supporter of the former president Donald Trump, took the decision in order to focus on “political endeavours” and “avoid that being a distraction for Facebook”, said a person familiar with his thinking.

Thiel intends to focus his support on Republicans aligned with Trump’s agenda, such as Blake Masters and JD Vance, who are seeking election to the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, the person said.

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US President Joe Biden sought to co-ordinate “diplomatic and deterrence efforts” in the Ukraine crisis with Emmanuel Macron ahead of the French president’s visit to Moscow on Monday to meet Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin.

The White House on Sunday afternoon said Biden had spoken with Macron — the latest in series of talks between the US president and allies to defuse the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The leaders discussed ongoing diplomatic and deterrence efforts in response to Russia’s continued military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, and affirmed their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the White House

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The Australian Open tennis tournament has been overshadowed by protests for a second time this year after Tennis Australia ejected two spectators for wearing T-shirts in support of Chinese player Peng Shuai.

Video footage of security officials and police ejecting the two protesters, who had a banner and T-shirts emblazoned with the Chinese player’s face and the phrase: “Where is Peng Shuai?”, was circulated online over the weekend. Peng came under pressure last year after she accused a senior Chinese government official of sexual assault.

Tennis Australia said spectators were not allowed to display political or commercial statements during the

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Bitcoin dropped to a six-month low on Saturday, extending a steep fall recorded in the previous session as the cryptocurrency market was swept up in a powerful shift by investors out of speculative assets.

The price of the biggest digital token by market value fell 4.3 per cent in the European morning on Saturday to $35,127, the lowest level since July 2021. Bitcoin has now lost almost a quarter of its value this year.

Other cryptocurrencies have also come under intense selling pressure, with an FT Wilshire index of the top five tokens excluding bitcoin down 30 per cent in

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European shares dropped on Friday following a sell-off on Wall Street, with shares in technology companies under renewed pressure after streaming giant Netflix warned on subscriber growth late on Thursday.

The regional Stoxx 600 equity gauge fell 1.3 per cent in morning trade. European technology shares dropped 2.1 per cent.

Those moves came after swings in US stock markets on Thursday culminated in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index closing 1.3 per cent lower — down almost 13 per cent from a record high struck only in November. The broader-based S&P 500 index also lost more than 1 per cent.

Futures

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