Global Review – 22nd May

Albanese vows to unite Australia

Australia’s Labour Party is in power for the first time since 2007, after Scott Morrison conceded defeat ending almost a decade of conservative rule. Opposition leader Anthony Albanese is set to become prime minister, although he currently remains just shy of the 76 seats needed to form a government. As such he may have to rely on the support of smaller independent parties, including the Greens or so-called “teal independents”, who campaigned on policies of integrity, equality and tackling climate change. Their strong showing at the polls means the makeup of the new parliament looks set to be much less climate-sceptic than the one that supported Morrison’s pro-coal mining administration. Final results could take some time as counting of a record number of three million postal votes is completed. Albanese said he hoped he would be installed as prime minister by tomorrow, Monday. Conceding defeat in Sydney, Scott Morrison said he had congratulated Albanese on his election victory. Morrison also said he would stand down as leader of the Liberal party.

Albanese: first premier of Italian origins

According to Ansa, Anthony Albanese will be the first Prime Minister of Italian descent to lead Australia. His father, Carlo Albanese, was from Barletta. Anthony, however, only met him years later, shortly before his death in Italy in 2014, because the man abandoned him and his mother, Maryanne Ellery, shortly after his birth. To avoid ‘scandal’ in 1960s Australia and within a very Catholic family, news was spread that Carlo had died in a car accident shortly after his marriage in Europe. Only when he was 14, Anthony, whom friends call ‘Albo’, learned the truth from his mother: Carlo was a steward on a cruise ship when he met Maryanne in 1962 during the only overseas voyage of her life to Asia and Europe. She returned to Sydney: she was single and four months pregnant as recounted in the 2016 biography, ‘Albanese: Telling it Straight’.

Russia intensifies Donbas offensive

Russia has intensified an offensive in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and stopped providing gas to Finland, escalating Moscow’s dispute with the West over energy payments. After ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern city of Mariupol, Russia is waging what appears to be a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbas. Russian-backed separatists already controlled swathes of territory in Luhansk and the neighbouring Donetsk province before the February 24 invasion, but Moscow wants to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in Donbas. Ukrainian forces in those eastern separatist-controlled regions said on Saturday they had repelled nine attacks and destroyed five tanks and 10 other armoured vehicles in the previous 24 hours. Russian forces were using aircraft, artillery, tanks, rockets, mortars and missiles along the entire front line to attack civilian structures and residential areas, the Ukrainians said in a Facebook post. At least seven people were killed in the Donetsk region, the forces said.

The importance of Mariupol to Russia

Analysts say full control of Mariupol gives Russia command of an overland route linking the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in 2014, with mainland Russia and areas of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists. Despite losing ground elsewhere in recent weeks, Russian forces have advanced on the Luhansk front. Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russia was trying to destroy the city of Sievierodonetsk, with fighting on the outskirts from morning throughout the night. Sievierodonetsk and its twin Lysychansk across the Siverskiy Donets River form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv. Russian troops destroyed a bridge on the Siverskiy Donets River between Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, Gaidai said on the Telegram messaging app. Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Shtupun said Russian activity was focused in the east, with troops trying to break through defenses in Donetsk to reach the Luhansk region border.

‘Victory only through diplomacy’ – Zelensky

President Zelensky told local television that while the fighting would be bloody, and victory difficult, the end would come only through diplomacy. Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak ruled out agreeing to a ceasefire and said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceeding territory. He said making concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting.

Ukraine blocked from exporting 22 million tons of food products

Zelensky also announced that Russia had blocked his country from exporting 22 million tons of food products. Speaking with media representatives following a meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, Zelensky said that the worldwide energy crisis would be followed by a food crisis if other countries do not aid Ukraine in unblocking its ports and resuming exports. Food prices are already skyrocketing around the world, causing some countries to ban the exports of key agricultural commodities.

Russia publishes full list of banned Americans

Russia has issued a complete list of 963 Americans, including President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA chief William Burns, who are banned from entering the country. The bans are an indication of the deterioration in ties between Moscow and Washington since Russia began the invasion of Ukraine last February.

‘US growing more than China’ – Biden

For the first time in 45 years the US is growing more than China. Addressing a media conference in Seoul with his counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol, US President Joe Biden said, “For the first time since 1976, US growth is greater than China’s,” adding that “it’s never a good idea to bet against the United States”. His reference is to a projection made by ‘Bloomberg’, according to which by 2022 China’s average growth rate would be lower, for the first time since 1976, than the US: 2% versus 2.8%. South Korea and the United States reaffirmed the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

WHO expects to find more monkeypox cases

The World Health Organisation has said it expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in countries where the disease is not typically found. As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported from 12 member states.

North Korea reports ‘positive trend’ in COVID-19 cases

For the first time in nearly 10 days North Korea’s daily “fever” cases dropped below 200,000, state media said on Sunday, reporting “a positive trend” after measures were taken to control the country’s first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak. More than 186,090 additional people had fever symptoms and one more person had died, state news agency KCNA reported on Sunday. More than 2 million of the 2.6 million cumulative cases had recovered, KCNA said. The official death toll stands at 67. North Korea has refused most outside help.

Football: UK Premier League set for gripping, tense final

Will Manchester City or Liverpool be champions? Can Tottenham seal a Champions League spot ahead of north London rivals Arsenal? Which of Burnley or Leeds are heading for relegation? These are the main questions to be answered on what promises to be a dramatic and emotional final day of the 2021-22 Premier League season. It is the first time in 10 years that the title, top four and relegation are all still to be fully decided before the final day. Manchester City and Liverpool are not just battling it out for the title – their respective goalkeepers are also locked in a tussle for the division’s golden gloves. City’s Ederson and Liverpool’s Alisson both have 20 clean sheets to their name. There is a very close race taking place at the top of the Premier League goalscorers charts too, with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah currently one ahead of Tottenham’s Son Heung-min.

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