Global Review – 23rd September

Polling starts in Russia annexation referendum

The first polling stations for the annexation of the territories occupied in Ukraine to Russia have opened in Kamchatka, in the Russian Far East, according to Tass, adding that in this area there were numerous displaced persons from the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye, in Ukraine. “Four polling stations have been opened in temporary shelters for displaced people and will remain open until September 27,” the Kamchatka Election Commission said. Polling stations will open on September 27 in the nearby Chukotka region, where around 160 displaced people are located. About 60 of these, according to Tass, would have declared the intention to obtain Russian citizenship.

Lapid advocates two-state ME solution

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told the UN General Assembly he was in favour of a two-state solution in the conflict with the Palestinians, provided that the Palestinian State is “peaceful” and does not become “a base of terror that threatens our country”. Lapid’s embrace of the two state solution at the UN is a break with his immediate predecessor Naftali Bennett and contrasts sharply with his political rival Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ is expected later today as he addresses the General Assembly. Palestine has been a “non-member observer state” of the UN since 2011.

What has been described as a truly “historic” statement has been awaited for decades: “Israel – added Lapid – is ready to lift the restrictions on Gaza tomorrow morning and to help build its own economy. An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for the security of Israel, for the economy of Israel and for the future of our children.” The prime minister said most Israelis support a two-state solution. “I am one of them,” he added. Lapid also urged all Muslim countries, from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, to recognise and make peace with Israel.

US aircraft carrier arrives in South Korea

A US aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea Friday for the first time in nearly five years, ahead of joint drills in a show of force aimed at the nuclear-armed North. The nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan and vessels from its strike group docked in the southern port city of Busan, part of a push by Seoul and Washington to have more US strategic assets operating in the region. South Korea’s hawkish President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to beef up joint military exercises with the United States, after years of failed diplomacy with North Korea under his predecessor. The visit aims to “deter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats”, a South Korean defence ministry official told AFP.

Truss suggests moving UK embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Liz Truss has suggested she could move the Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, triggering warnings the move would be a “disaster” for a two-state solution. Downing Street said Ms Truss told her Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, “about her review of the current location of the British Embassy in Israel” at a meeting in New York on Wednesday. Transferring to Jerusalem would be a shift in UK policy as, like most countries, it does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the city. It would follow the lead of Donald Trump who moved the US embassy there in 2018. Israel has for years lobbied its allies to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which it claims as its undivided capital. Only the US, Kosovo, Honduras and Guatemala have done so. As both Israel and the Palestinians claim the city as their capital, it is one of the most sensitive issues in the world’s longest conflict.

Italian parties end election campaign

Under a banner “United for Italy”, the country’s centre-right closed the electoral campaign in Rome, sure to win and “govern well for the next five years”, as Matteo Salvini had promised. And Giorgia Meloni raised the stakes on presidentialism: “If the Italians give us the majority, we will make a presidential reform and we would be happy if the left wants to help us. But if the Italians give us the numbers, we will do it even alone.” Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi told the crowd, “I am here because we are united, we are the true majority of the country. In every electoral round, in administrative, European and political elections, we have always had the same answer: Italy does not want to be governed by the left.”

According to Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta, “the Italian right showed its true face this afternoon in Rome. It told Italians that they would change the Constitution by themselves. Their logic is contrary to everything that has made Italy’s exit from Covid possible. We on the right say that the Constitution was born from resistance and anti-fascism and cannot be touched.” Three days before the vote, Letta’s worries are the Italian reverberations of what is happening in Ukraine: “The right wants to undo Europe and this position helps Putin’s Russia which wants a weak and divided EU. Instead, Europe must be strengthened. Relations with European partners are not just a matter of foreign policy.”

Russia expects a 40% cut in gas exports in 2023-25

Russia plans to reduce gas exports through its pipelines by at least 40%, to 125.1 billion cubic metres, in the period 2023-2025, while deliveries this year they will stop at 142 billion cubic metres. This was revealed by the draft of Gazprom’s three-year plan, seen by Bloomberg. Even if the draft does not provide any insight into the destination of the gas, the cut in exports seems destined to hit above all Europe, Moscow’s main market before the war in Ukraine. The numbers could change as Gazprom will decide on supplies based on market conditions, customer demands and the evolution of the confrontation with the West over Kiev.

Consumer confidence in EU collapses

Consumer confidence in Europe has collapsed. In September, the European Commission’s benchmark index fell by 3.8 points in the euro area and 3.5 points in the EU, respectively reaching -28.8 points in the euro area and -29.9 points in the EU. This is the lowest level ever recorded.

Britain to unveil anti-inflation budget

The UK’s new government unveils Friday multi-billion-pound measures aimed at supporting households and businesses hit by decades-high inflation. Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, fresh from being appointed by new Prime Minister Liz Truss, announced late Thursday he would scrap Truss’s predecessor Boris Johnson’s plan to hike taxes on salaries. The news came after the Bank of England warned that Britain was slipping into recession, as rocketing fuel and food prices take their toll.

Boeing to pay $200 million over 737 MAX crashes

Boeing will pay $200 million to settle civil charges from the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it misled investors about its 737 MAX, which was grounded for 20 months after two fatal crashes killed 346 people, the agency said Thursday. The SEC also said former Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg had agreed to pay $1 million. “In times of crisis and tragedy, it is especially important that public companies and executives provide full, fair, and truthful disclosures to the markets,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.

NBA: Boston Celtics suspend coach

The Boston Celtics suspended manager Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 NBA season due to “violations of team policies”. The 45-year-old coach, according to ESPN and ‘The Athletic’ media, allegedly had a “consensual and intimate” relationship with a member of his staff in violation of the rules of conduct. “A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date,” the company said in a statement, which states that “the suspension has immediate effect”.

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