Global Review – 20th February

‘Russia planning biggest war in Europe since 1945’ – Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that Intelligence suggests Russia is planning “the biggest war in Europe since 1945”. He told the BBC, “all the signs are that the plan has already in some senses begun”, adding that evidence indicates the Kremlin’s intent is to invade Ukraine and encircle Kyiv. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has also warned that the West needs to stop Moscow in its tracks. And speaking to The Mail on Sunday, she expressed fears that Vladimir Putin “will not stop at Ukraine”. She suggested Russia’s president may move to “turn the clock back to the mid-1990s or even before then” by annexing Baltic states, including Estonia and Latvia.

China against Ukraine’s NATO membership

China on Saturday supported shutting the door on NATO membership for Ukraine as that country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, made a strong appeal to keep it open, amid the threat of an attack by Russia. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told the Munich Security Conference that the growth of NATO had helped to inflame the crisis in what amounted to a full-throated endorsement of Kremlin priorities. Earlier, Zelensky told the conference Ukraine wanted “a clear and achievable timetable” for NATO membership.

‘China-Russia alliance in the name of the law of the strongest’

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen denounced what she called “the existence of an alliance between China and Russia to impose the law of the strongest”. Addressing the Munich conference, she said Russia “is trying to rewrite the rules of the international order”. She assured that “even if Russia completely shut down gas supplies, we in Europe would be safe this winter”.

‘Ukraine, European shield against the Russian army’

For President Zelensky, the country is “the European shield against the Russian army” and “we will defend it with or without partners. Everyone must understand that we are not asking for a donation. It is your contribution to European and international security,” he added.

European security under direct threat – Harris

US Vice-President Kamala Harris has told the Munich conference that “the security order of Europe is under direct threat in Ukraine”. Harris stressed that “the words of Russia do not correspond to the facts. Russia’s actions do not match their words – we see Russia spreading disinformation, lies and propaganda.”

Blinken-Lavrov meeting on Thursday

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, February 24. According to Blinken, President Biden was always ready to meet President Putin if such contacts were good for the world. But the US was ready to respond to the “aggression of Russia” if the need arises and trusts its own intelligence in portraying the crisis in Ukraine.

Putin oversees strategic military manoeuvers

President Putin has kicked off the planned military and missile manoeuvers in Russia from the Kremlin ‘situation room’. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the exercises involve the army, air force, the Northern and Black Sea fleets with their submarines armed with nuclear missiles, and strategic missile forces. He said, “Putin’s oversight is needed when strategic and cruise missiles are involved.”

13 die as Storm Eunice leaves many in Europe without power

Emergency crews on Saturday battled to restore power to hundreds of thousands of homes in Britain after Storm Eunice carved a deadly trail across Western Europe and left transport networks in disarray. At least 13 people were killed by falling trees, flying debris and high winds in Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland, according to emergency services. Train operators in Britain urged people not to travel, with timetables in chaos after most of the network was shut down when Eunice on Friday brought the largest wind gust ever recorded in England – 196 kilometres (122 miles) per hour. Hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Schiphol in Amsterdam. One flight from Bordeaux endured two aborted landings at Gatwick before being forced to return to the French city. The clean-up operation is estimated to cost the UK up to £300 million.

Ghislaine Maxwell’s family ‘fears for her safety’ after Brunel found dead

The New York Post reports the family of Ghislaine Maxwell has expressed fear for her safety after model agent Jean-Luc Brunel was found hanged in his Paris prison cell on Saturday. Maxwell, who was convicted last year of sex trafficking, allegedly introduced Brunel to billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was found hanging in his Manhattan lockup in August 2019. Ian Maxwell, one of Ghislaine’s siblings, expredssed shock. Jean-Luc Brunel was indicted for several rapes of minors.

Feminist flash mob protests against violence

A flashmob of women met in Milan on Saturday in a bid to put a stop to all forms of violence and discrimination against women and LGBTIQ people and to present their claims in view of the strike of March 8, the international women’s day. The protesters showed up in Piazza Duomo, which, on New Year’s Eve was the scene of violence against a group of girls. The demonstrators carried large pink balloons which they pierced, saying, “We’ll pierce this patriarchy”. Signs were displayed with some data on violence against women in Italy: 118 women were killed in 2021, 68 were killed by their husband, partner or ex, femicides rose by 8% in 2021, blackmail and threats to LGBTIQ people went from 11 to 28%. Female unemployment in Italy is 50% and one in two women does not work. The activists are asking for more funds for the anti-violence centres, the introduction of a sexual education oriented to consensus and differences in all schools, and an income to enable abused women get out of any situation of violence at home and in the workplace.

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