Global Review – 11th July

France, Germany, Italy in for a winter without Russian gas

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has issued a rallying call to Brussels: for Europe to prepare for a total blockade of Russian gas supplies. He said he believed the total cut of gas supplies from Russia was the most probable future scenario. Meanwhile, Gazprom announced a temporary 10-day stop to energy supplies from the pipeline Nord Stream 1, linking Russia to Germany, for “maintenance work”.  If the flow of gas from Russia stops “for a long time, then we will have to talk seriously about saving” in energy consumption, warned the president of the German Federal Network Agency, Klaus Muller. Even the Italian government fears a new blow due to the blocking of supplies: in fact, there is a risk of a new heavy rise in gas prices. The concerns, in an already difficult moment, led the executive to work on a rationing plan. “The energy crisis is very serious”, declared Roberto Garofoli, undersecretary to Prime Minister Mario Draghi. “The risks, in terms of well-being, are very high for the winter, if the Russian gas were to stop,” he added.

Gas stoppage a great risk for growth’ – ECB

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank’s chief economist Philip Lane has said “the risks associated with the pandemic have decreased, but the war continues to be a significant downside risk for growth”, highlighting in particular that “a major risk would be a further interruption in gas supplies to the euro area”. Furthermore, “if the war were to escalate, economic sentiment could worsen, supply-side constraints could increase and food and energy costs could remain high for longer than expected”.

Canada to return Russian pipeline part to Germany

Canada will return to Germany the repaired turbine of the Russian Nord Stream 1 pipeline, vital for sustaining German gas supply. It comes as the pipeline prepares to undergo maintenance from July 11 to 21. Although the maintenance is nominally routine, the tension with Russia and the sanctions status in allied countries like Canada had prompted German leaders to consider the possibility of a longer shutdown. The repairs come amid Canadian sanctions against Russia extending “to land and pipeline transport and the manufacturing of metals and of transport, computer, electronic and electrical equipment, as well as of machinery.” Ukraine had urged Canada not to return the repaired part, saying it would undermine sanctions against Russia.

Shinzo Abe’s party wins the elections

The emotional wave caused by the murder of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led his Conservative Party to have a historic election result: they have btained a solid majority and will thus be able, perhaps, to realise Abe’s dream to modify Japan’s pacifist constitution for the first time since it was promulgated in 1947. Japan could therefore return to arming itself with a much more powerful army. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (Jiminto), together with its ally Komeito, snatched a solid majority in the elections for the partial renewal of the Upper House. The two government allies can now count on the two-thirds of the assembly needed to amend the Fundamental Charter, thanks also to the support of the Japan Innovation Party and the People’s Democratic Party, both opposition forces. The current tally is over 170 out of the total 248 seats. With the count not yet completed, the polls and the flows of real votes attribute to the governing coalition at least 75 of the 125 seats up for grabs.

Truss joins 11-strong leader race

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has joined the race to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister and leader of the ruling Conservative party, as the fractious contest focused on tax. Truss, 46, announced her candidacy in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, saying she had “a clear vision of where we need to be, and the experience and resolve to get us there”. The bid by Truss, seen as a frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, followed that of former defence minister Penny Mordaunt as the race expanded to 11 candidates. The early favourite is former finance minister Rishi Sunak, who launched his campaign on Friday after helping to kickstart the cabinet revolt that led to Johnson’s forced resignation Thursday.

Sunak draws fire from Johnson loyalists

Sunak is now drawing early fire from Johnson loyalists and rival candidates as MPs opposed to himcirculated a so-called “dirty dossier” designed to stop support building for his campaign. The memo reportedly attacks the former chancellor personally and accused him of having a “big tax and big spend agenda”. According to The Telegraph, which first reported the “mucky memo”, the 424-word anti-Sunak missive was written by someone on the Thatcherite right of the party. It is said to point out that Mr Sunak registered his campaign website in December, “secretly” held a US green card and questioned his remarks explaining his wife’s non-dom tax status, as revealed by The Independent in April.

Death and devastation as rockets hit Ukraine apartments

At least 15 people were killed and over 20 more were feared trapped after Russian rockets hit a five-storey apartment block in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, local officials said yesterday as rescuers picked their way through rubble. Ukraine also reported clashes with Russian troops on fronts in the east and south, while Moscow said its forces struck Ukrainian army hangars storing US-produced M777 howitzers, near Kostyantynivka in Donetsk region. Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians.

French opposition denounces Uber-Macron ‘secret deal’

French opposition deputies on Sunday denounced reports of a secret deal between President Emmanuel Macron – when he was a minister under a socialist government – and online transport giant Uber. The allegations come in the latest data-based investigation by leading international news outlets based on leaked files, announced on social media as #UberFiles. The report in France’s ‘Le Monde’daily, citing documents, text messages and witnesses, alleges that Uber came to a secret “deal” with Macron when he was economy minister between 2014 and 2016. Le Monde’s report highlights what it says was help from Macron’s ministry intended to help Uber consolidate its position in France.  

19 killed in South Africa bar shootings

Nineteen people died after armed assailants randomly shot at patrons in two bars in South Africa in separate incidents denounced by the president as “unacceptable and worrying”. In Soweto, 15 people, including two women, were killed when assailants pulled up in a minibus taxi and began randomly firing high-calibre guns at drinkers. In the eastern city of Pietermaritzburg, in KwaZulu-Natal province, four people were killed and eight wounded in a bar when two men fired indiscriminately at customers.

Women’s Euro 2022: France trash Italy

In what the Italian media has described as a “nightmare debut” for Italy in the European Championships in England, the team lost 5-1 (5-0) against France in a match on the first day of group D. Striker Cristiana Girelli told Sky Sport, “there was a total blackout. We will start thinking about Iceland because it will be a fundamental match: we can’t go wrong anymore. It’s a shame to start with such a heavy deficit but we accept it.” Earlier, in the same group, Belgium and Iceland shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Tonight’s programme: Group A: Austria v. N. Ireland (6pm) and England v. Norway at 9 pm.

Djokovic hopes to be allowed to play US Open

Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is hoping US authorities change entry rules in time to allow him to compete at the US Open, even though he refuses to be vaccinated against coronavirus. The Serbian top seed beat Nick Kyrgios in four sets on Sunday to win his seventh title at the All England Club and 21st Grand Slam crown overall – leaving him just one behind Rafael Nadal. Now he is targeting a fourth US Open crown. But as things stand, his unvaccinated status means he will not be allowed into the United States to play in the tournament, which starts next month.

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