Russian President Vladimir Putin took a typically defiant position on the Ukraine crisis at his annual news conference on December 18, blaming the Ukrainian government for the start of hostilities. He said he and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko were working for peace, but that others in Ukraine were talking of "fighting to the end." The Ukrainian and Western governments say Russia has supported separatists with guns, troops and tanks - which Russia denies. (Reuters)
Iran's nuclear activities and ambitions faced rare, blunt criticism at a roundtable at Tehran University, where one of the speakers said the damage done by the nuclear program was greater than that by the 1980-88 war with Iraq, which left tens of thousands dead and caused much devastation.