NATO countries to boost Ukraine’s missile defence
Ukraine’s NATO-led allies meeting in Brussels have announced deliveries of advanced air defence weapons to Kyiv, after a spate of Russian missile strikes. The BBC reports the weaponry – promised by the UK, Canada, France and the Netherlands – includes missiles and radars. The US earlier made a similar pledge. One high-tech system from Germany is already in Ukraine. Kiev hailed the summit as “historic”.
UN General Assembly condemns Russia annexation
The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s attempts to annex four regions of Ukraine. The resolution was supported by 143 countries, while 35 states – including China and India – abstained. As well as Russia, four countries rejected the vote, namely Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Nicaragua. Although symbolic, it was the highest number of votes against Russia since the invasion. Commenting on the UN vote, US President Joe Biden said, “The overwhelming majority of countries voted to defend the UN Charter and condemn Russia’s illegal attempt to forcibly annex Ukrainian territory. Russia cannot wipe a sovereign state off the map.”
Ukraine needs $4 billion a month to keep operating – IMF
International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva said Ukraine needs between $3 and $4 billion dollars a month in external aid to make sure its government doesn’t collapse as it fights the war against Russia. Georgieva told the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank in Washington, Wednesday, the external aid would go toward the most basic economic needs of Ukraine, including social services, infrastructure and energy costs. President Zelenskyy had asked for $55 billion to cover Ukraine’s 2023 budget deficit as well as to help the country rebuild from the war. The IMF and World Bank have already provided Ukraine with $35 billion in economic funding on top of the tens of billions of dollars in economic assistance provided directly by the US.
‘No gas to countries imposing a ceiling on energy prices’ – Putin
President Putin has upped the ante once again during the Russian energy week in Moscow, saying, “We will not supply energy to those states that impose a ceiling on energy prices.” For Putin, it would be a “rigged game”, which “will benefit the US, which will now be able to supply energy resources at high prices, but also countries with alternative supply routes such as Ukraine and Poland”. Earlier, he said he was “ready to increase supplies to the EU but it depends on them”, with the possibility of resuming flows through the Nord Stream 2 – a gas pipeline that was never activated following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But Germany quickly rejected Putin’s offer to send gas via Nord Stream 2.
Poland reports leak in oil pipeline to Germany
Polish pipeline operator PERN said on Wednesday that its automated detection systems had found a leak in one line of the Druzhba oil pipeline, which carries oil from Russia to Europe. PERN said that it was still unclear what might have caused the leak, located some 70 kilometers from the western city of Plock and was on the main route transporting crude oil to Germany. It said other infrastructure was operating normally.
7 arrested for Crimea bridge attack
Russia’s intelligence and security service, the FSB, says it has detained eight people in connection with the blast that collapsed parts of the Crimean Bridge. The agency said five Russian nationals were arrested, in addition to two Ukrainians and an Armenian. The service also alleged the attack was masterminded by the Ukrainians. The FSB noted that explosives were disguised in polyethylene wraps and loaded onto a truck in 22 pallets, collectively weighing over 22 tons. It claimed the truck was shipped to Bulgaria from the port of Odesa in Ukraine, passing through Armenia, Georgia, and across the border to Russia before making its way to the Crimean Bridge. A Ukrainian interior ministry spokesman dismissed the investigation as “nonsense.”
Attack on ‘bustling marketplace’
In one of the latest Russian strikes, at least seven people going about their day at a ‘bustling marketplace’ were killed and injured in the annexed region of Donetsk. The surprise hit took place in the eastern town of Avdiivka, which is under Ukraine control, and was during the busiest time of the day, said Donetsk regional military head Pavlo Kyrylenko. Both sides say the latest wave of Russian attacks has been on a huge scale, unseen at least since Russia’s initial wave of air strikes on the first night of the war in February. The strikes – denounced in the West for deliberately hitting civilian targets – have been hailed by hawks in Moscow as a turning point that demonstrates Russia’s resolve in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Brussels recommends Bosnia for EU candidate status
The European Commission on Wednesday said it was recommending that EU countries give Bosnia candidacy status to join the bloc. “The Commission recommends that candidate status be granted to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the (European) Council on the understanding that a number of steps are taken,” commissioner for enlargement Oliver Varhelyi tweeted after making the announcement to EU lawmakers. If the EU, which currently comprises 27 member countries, adopts the recommendation, Bosnia would join seven other nations with candidate status: Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Moldova and Ukraine. The process to join the European Union can take many years as candidates implement reforms that have to be evaluated by Brussels. It can also grind to a halt, which is the case with Turkey’s bid.
UK Tories demand tax cuts about-face
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss faces demands within her own party to backtrack on major parts of her economic plan. Speaking at PM’s question time in the commons, amid chaos in the financial markets earlier on Wednesday, Truss said she would bring down debt “not by cutting public spending, but by spending public money well”. The cost of government borrowing increased on Wednesday while sterling fell against the euro and the dollar in the latest signs of market turbulence – with many blaming the chaos on the government’s ‘mini-budget’. Most London newspapers todsy report Truss has a full-on internal revolt on her hands.
- N. Korea test-fires long-range strategic cruise missiles
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided the test-firing of two long-range strategic cruise missiles on Wednesday, according to reports by state media Korea Central News Agency this morning. The test fire was aimed at “enhancing the combat efficiency and might” of cruise missiles deployed to the Korean People’s Army “for the operation of tactical nukes”, KCNA) said. Kim said the country “should continue to expand the operational sphere of the nuclear strategic armed forces to resolutely deter any crucial military and war crisis at any time and completely take the initiative”.
Iran confirms uranium enrichment capacity increase
Iran is rapidly expanding the ability to enrich uranium with new advanced centrifuges, according to the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, Mohammad Eslami, quoted by IRNA. He added that the activity was in line with Iran’s commitments with respect to the 2015 nuclear deal, but from which the US withdrew in 2018.
69% of wildlife destroyed in 50 years – WWF
The populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have dropped by an average of 69% since 1970, worldwide, and in Latin America and the Caribbean, wildlife loss has reached 94%. The WWF Living Planet Report 2022 monitors nearly 32,000 populations of 5,230 vertebrate species and launches an appeal for COP15 in December: “We expect an ambitious agreement” capable of reversing the loss of biodiversity. “A double emergency, climate change and the loss of biodiversity, threatens the well-being of current and future generations,” declares WWF director general Marco Lambertini.