Global Review – 16th February

Japan to send LNG to the EU

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced Japan would divert some loads of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe “as a sign of solidarity” in the face of increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. After a video call with the Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, von der Leyen said, “We work closely to encourage the de-escalation of the situation around Ukraine and to ensure Europe’s energy security.” Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General has said he had a phone call with Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev about regional security and the military strengthening of Russia in and around Ukraine, including the implications for energy markets. “I thanked Azerbaijan for having increased gas supplies and to be a reliable energy supplier for Europe,” Stoltenberg said.

 ‘Russian attack on Ukraine still possible’ – Biden

US President Joe Biden has warned a Russian attack on Ukraine was “still very much a possibility”. In remarks which were televised nationally, he said the human cost would be “immense”.  The US was ready to respond decisively to such a move. Biden said Russia had now amassed some 150,000 troops on the border with Ukraine. Russia’s defence minister has said some forces have withdrawn but both Biden and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg have said that this had not been verified.

‘Did the US say what time the war starts?’ asks Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried to take the mickey out of the Western warning that Russian was invading Ukraine today, Wednesay. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, he had asked them “to check if they have published the exact time when the war will begin”. Peskov said, “It was impossible to understand the madness of this manic information” on the part of the Americans. And Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations has told western leaders they should see a psychiatrist for their “paranoia”. Dmitry Polyanskiy told reporters, “Our troops are on our territory, (they) represent (a) threat to no one.”

‘Putin prolongs invasion threat’

As tensions continue to grow, the Financial Times’s lead says President Putin is “open to talks”, yet he “prolongs” the invasion threat against Ukraine. The paper goes on to report that Putin was prepared to hold talks on intermediate nuclear missiles and confidence-building measures –  if the US and NATO agreed to discuss “Moscow’s grievances”. Meanwhile, at a media conference with German Chancellor Scholz, Putin said, “We will never accept the enlargement of NATO to our borders, it is a threat that we clearly perceive”. However, during his three-hour meeting with Sholtz, Putin said he was “ready to work with the West on security”.

Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre reach settlement

Most front pages of the British nationals today lead with Prince Andrew’s settlement of a civil sexual assault case brought against him in the US by Virginia Giuffre (previously known as Virginia Roberts). The Guardian reports that the cost of the deal is expected to exceed $10m (€8.8m), but it will spare Prince Andrew “the humiliation of giving evidence in a trial” and it will protect the Royal Family “from further reputational damage”. Different figures are being reported about the undisclosed sum that will be paid to Ms Giuffre, who had been suing the Duke of York, claiming he sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was 17. These allegations have been repeatedly denied by the prince. The Daily Mirror reports that Andrew will pay £12m ($10.5m).

First woman reportedly cured of HIV

A US patient with leukemia has become the first woman and the third person to date to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus that causes AIDS, researchers reported yesterday. The case of a middle-aged woman of mixed race, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunisitic Infections in Denver, is also the first involving umbilical cord blood, a newer approach that may make the treatment available to more people. Since receiving the cord blood to treat her acute myeloid leukaemia – a cancer that starts in blood-forming cells in the bone marrow – the woman has been in remission and free of the virus for 14 months, without the need for potent HIV treatments known as antiretroviral therapy. The two prior cases occurred in males, one white and one Latino, who had received adult stem cells, which are more frequently used in bone marrow transplants.

Ottawa police chief resigns over truckers’ protests,

Ottawa’s police chief Peter Sloly has resigned after criticism that he did too little to stop COVID-19 protests that have paralysed Canada’s capital city and forced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke emergency powers. A trucker-led movement calling on the government to lift vaccine mandates has occupied parts of downtown Ottawa since late January and blocked US border crossings.

Italian court blocks euthanasia referendum

Italy’s Constitutional Court has blocked a possible referendum on the decriminalisation of assisted suicide. Advocates for the referendum gathered 750,000 signatures in August, which is well above the minimum required. The court said the referendum would not guarantee “minimum protection of human life in general, particularly with reference to weak and vulnerable persons”.

Baldwin, producers sued over ‘reckless conduct’

The family of Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography killed on the set of the film ‘Rust’ by a shot fired by Alec Baldwin, has sued the actor and the producers for manslaughter. Family attorney Brian Panish said the “reckless conduct and cost savings of production” by Baldwin and the other producers of the film “led to the death of Halyna Hutchins”.

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