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Kerry and Putin set to discuss Ukraine and Syria conflicts

US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia today to discuss the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

John Kerry will meet with Vladimir Putin Credit: Romuald Meigneux/Pool/ABACAPRESS.COM

Kerry is reportedly planning to try to gauge Putin's willingness to push pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine to comply with the current fragile ceasefire and also to try and establish how supportive Russia are towards Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The US State department have described Kerry's trip to Sochi as part of an "ongoing effort to maintain direct lines of communication with senior Russian officials".

Kerry is also expected to lay a wreath at a World War II memorial during his visit before departing for a Nato meeting in Turkey later in the day.

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Russian bikers lay wreath at Vienna liberation memorial

Russian motorcyclists lay a wreath at the Red Army monument in Vienna, Austria. Credit: Reuters

Members of a nationalistic Russian bikers club have laid a wreath at a monument to the Russian soldiers who liberated Vienna from the Nazis.

The pro-Kremlin Night Wolves are on a ride commemorating the Russian and Allied defeat of Nazi Germany 70 years ago in the Second World War.

They started in Moscow and are hoping to end in Berlin on May 9.

Some EU officials have expressed criticism of their plans and Poland denied them entry, reflecting strains between Warsaw and Moscow over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict.

Ballerina Maya Plisetskaya dies aged 89

Credit: Reuters

Maya Plisetskaya, a ballerina regarded as one of the greatest of the 20th Century, has died aged 89.

Bolshoi director Vladimir Urin told the state news agency Tass that Plisetskaya died in Germany of a heart attack on Saturday.

President Vladimir Putin issued a message of condolence and tributes came from across the dance world.

Plisetskaya was renowned for intense performances that contrasted with the ethereal style of many other dancers, especially in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

Plisetskaya joined the Bolshoi troupe in 1943 at the age of 18 and stayed until 1990 when she left amid disputes with its director.

However, she returned to its stage for gala appearances, including a 75th birthday performance in 2000.

She is survived by her husband, composer Rodion Shchedrin.

Out of control cargo ship unable to dock with ISS

An unmanned cargo ship will not dock with the International Space Station because of problems after it launched, the head of the Russian space agency said.

The Progress space freighter blasts off, pictured in 2011. Credit: Reuters

Igor Komarov, head of Roscosmos, listed a series of problems that had made the Progress freighter tumble out of control since early yesterday and added: "Because of this, the craft's continued flight and its docking with the ISS is not possible."

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Former Soviet dissident charged over child abuse images

Former Soviet dissident and political activist Vladimir Bukovsky has been charged with making and possessing indecent images of children, prosecutors have said.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the 72-year-old had been summonsed to court to face five counts of making an indecent photograph of a child; five counts of possession of indecent photographs of children; and one charge of possessing a prohibited image, following an investigation by Cambridgeshire Police.

He will appear at Cambridge Magistrates Court on May 5.

RAF jets scrambled after Russian military planes spotted near UK airspace

RAF Typhoon jets were scrambled today after two Russian military planes were spotted flying near UK airspace.

An MoD spokesperson said: "The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK area of interest. At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace.”

It is understood that the Russian aircraft intercepted were Bear H bombers.

Russian navy ships enter English Channel for drills

The Russian Northern Fleet entered the English Channel on Tuesday Credit: Reuters

Russian navy ships entered the English Channel today and will hold anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defence drills in the northern Atlantic, Interfax news agency reported.

The ships belong to the Russian Northern Fleet, the agency quoted Russia's Defence Ministry as saying.

It is not unusual to have Russian warships in the Channel. In November, Nato dismissed a Russian media report that a squadron of Russian warships had conducted military exercises there.

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