Global Review – 23rd February

‘First barrage’ of sanctions on Russian banks, oligarchs

After Russia gave diplomatic recognition to the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic of eastern Ukraine, Tuesday was the day of sanctions against Moscow, with moves by the US, the EU, Britain, Japan, Canada and Australia. President Biden’s sanctions target two Kremlin-backed banks and restrict Russia’s government from trading on Western finance markets. Europe proposed a package of sanctions, including the ability of the Russian government and state to access European capital, financial markets and services. Germany suspended the authorisation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which was to come into operation in June. Sanctions also came from the UK which hit five Russian banks and all British assets of some well-known oligarchs close to Putin frozen.  

EU agrees to Russia sanctions package

EU leaders have “unanimously agreed” a list of measures against Russia over its recognition of Ukrainian separatist regions and deployment of troops. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said the raft of penalties “will hurt Russia, and it will hurt a lot”. The measures will target the 351 lawmakers who voted in favour of the recognition, along with 27 individuals and entities who

threaten Ukrainian territory and sovereignty. These include figures from Russian business, media and politics, what Borrell referred to as “oligarchs”. Banks financing the Russian military and other operations in those territories are also included. The measures will now be formally approved by Brussels. Russian President Vladimir Putin was not on the sanctions list. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “If Russia continues to escalate this crisis that it has created, we are ready to take further action in response”, she added, also stressing the need for the EU to be less dependent on Russia for gas.

Germany halts Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced Germany has suspended the authorisation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. He said he had asked for the pipeline review process to be halted by the German regulator. “It seems technical, but it is the necessary administrative step,” he explained, underlining that with this procedural step “there can be no certification of the pipeline. And without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot go into operation”.

‘Gas supplies will continue uninterrupted’ – Putin

Russia will continue the uninterrupted supplies of gas to global markets, said President Putin. Welcoming the guests of the Sixth Summit on Gas of the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries, he is reported to have said: “A wider use of natural gas, one of the most environmentally-friendly types of fuel, is quite relevant at this stage.”

Biden says Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘beginning’

President Biden announced new economic sanctions targeting Russia Tuesday and said that an invasion of Ukraine was “beginning” after President Putin deployed troops to two pro-Moscow separatist areas of eastern Ukraine. “Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbours?” Biden said. “This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community.” The president unveiled what he called the “first tranche” of punishments Tuesday afternoon, announcing sanctions that would target two Kremlin-backed banks and restrict Russia from trading on Western finance markets.

UK sanctions against 5 banks and oligarchs

The UK has announced sanctions against five Russian banks and to freeze all the British assets of some well-known oligarchs considered close to President Vladimir Putin in response to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. This was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, insisting that this is only a first tranche of economic sanctions which will be followed by others if the situation does not change.

Putin to Ukraine: ‘Renounce to join NATO’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said,”The best solution would be for Ukraine to spontaneously renounce its ambition to join NATO”, adding that    “the entry of the Russian army into Ukraine will depend on the situation on the ground”. He underlined that “the possibility that Ukraine has nuclear tactical weapons constitutes a strategic threat to Russia”

‘No general mobilisation of Ukrainian troops’

Meanwhile, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced that there would be no general mobilisation of the country’s armed forces in response to Russia’s latatest actions. He insisted diplomacy “still offered a way out of the crisis”.

USA: 3 whites guilty of hate crimes over Afro-American death

The three white defendants sentenced to life imprisonment for chasing and killing 25-year-old Afro-American Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020 while running around his neighbourhood in a Georgia city were also found guilty of hate crimes. CNN reports Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and their neighbour William Bryan were convicted of violating Arbery’s civil rights and are serving a life sentence.

Norway bans breeding for bulldogs and cavaliers

In an unprecedented move, Norway has banned the breeding of English bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. The Oslo district court banned the breeding of the two purebreds on the grounds that it inflicts harm on them, in violation of Norwegian animal protection laws. The move was hailed by animal rights activists and criticised by breeders. The Norwegian Animal Welfare Society, which brought the legal case against dogbreeding companies and individuals, insisted that a lot of breeds were highly inbred and had a massive burden of disease… and “we need to change the way we breed dogs”, she said.

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