Global Review – 28th June

EU forecasts ‘serious disruptions’ to Russian gas supplies

A “serious disruption” to the European Union’s gas supplies from Russia is likely, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said on Monday, as she urged countries to update contingency plans to cope with supply shocks and switch to other fuels wherever possible to conserve gas. “Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine we have known that a very serious disruption is possible, and now it seems likely. We have done much important work to be prepared for this. But now is the time to step it up,” the bloc’s energy chief said after a meeting of energy ministers from EU member-states. Under new legislation, 18 EU member states with underground gas storage facilities are required to fill 80% of storage capacity by November 1, the European Commission said in a statement Monday. Russia has already cut or reduced supplies to 12 of the bloc’s 27 member states.

African countries facing food-supply ‘emergency’

African countries are facing a food-supply ‘emergency’ and need ‘immediate funding’ amid the war in Ukraine, said Edwin Ikhuoria, the Africa Executive Director of the ONE campaign, speaking to France 24 amid the G7 summit in southern Germany. Ikhuoria said African countries were already experiencing a food-security crisis before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the Russian forces’ blockade in the Black Sea, which has halted the export of thousands of tonnes of Ukrainian grain, has made the situation worse.

G7 vows to stand with Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’

Leaders of the Group of Seven democracies on Monday pledged to stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes” by cranking up sanctions on Russia and backing security commitments for Kyiv in a post-war settlement. “We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” it said in a statement, which also contained ways the G7 could do so, as well as a list of demands on Russia. It said that Moscow must “immediately” return Ukrainians who have been taken by force, and that Russia must allow grain shipments to leave Ukraine to avoid exacerbating a global food crisis. The group also expressed “serious concern” over Russia’s plans to deliver missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months. “We urge Russia to behave responsibly and exercise restraint,” the leaders of the world’s top industrialised nations said in a statement.

Zelensky asks G7 leaders to cap prices of Russian oil exports

President Zelensky on Monday asked G7 leaders to further squeeze Russia over its invasion of Ukraine by capping prices of oil exported by Moscow. “For us, a consistent position of the G7 countries on sanctions is important. They must be further strengthened, by limiting the prices of oil exported by the aggressor,” Zelensky wrote on his Telegram account after addressing the G7 summit in Germany via videolink. A senior US official told reporters Monday that negotiations were advancing on how to cap the amount of money that Russia can get for key oil exports. The US and Canada, which are far less reliant on Russia as an energy supplier than Europe, have banned all Russian oil imports.

Russia ‘most significant and direct threat’ to security

Speaking ahead of a Nato summit on Wednesday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia poses “most significant and direct threat to our security”. At the summit, Stoltenberg said allies “will agree a strengthened comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine”, including secure communications systems and anti-drone systems. “All of this is making a difference on the battlefield every day,” the Nato chief said. In the longer term, “we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet-era military equipment to modern Nato equipment”. Stoltenberg also said Nato allies will boost their high-readiness forces from the current 40,000 to “well over 300,000” as they strengthen their defences in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Zelensky, UN, G7 denounce missile strike on Kremenchuk mall

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Office of the UN Secretary-General and membrs of the G7 have denounced a missile strike on a crowded mall in the city of Kremenchuk on Monday. Zdelensky called the attack a ‘brazen terrorist act’ as the death toll rose to at least 13. Zelensky was speaking after reports of two other strikes in the east of the country Monday that killed at least 12 civilians in all, as officials there accused Moscow of deliberately targeting women, children – ordinary civilians inside Earlier, Ukraine’s defence ministry said the Kremenchuk strike had been deliberately timed to coincide with the mall’s busiest hours and cause the maximum number of victims.

42 migrants dead on a truck in Texas

Forty-two people were found dead and 16 injured inside an abandonned truck in San Antonio, Texas. The victims, reports the New York Times, were migrants who had illegally crossed the border between Mexico and the United States. According to reports, this is the worst incident in the US involving immigrants in recent years. Texas is experiencing a strong wave of migrants and scorching heat in recent weeks, which could possibly be the cause of the latest tragedy. Federal authorities are assisting local authorities in the investigation.

Fresh faces take seats in France’s National Assembly

France’s new slate of lower-house lawmakers sit in the National Assembly for the first time on Tuesday to open the 16th Legislature. An astonishing surge of far-right and leftist winners in elections this month not only deprived centre-right Emmanuel Macron of an absolute legislative majority; it also provided some of the new chamber’s most unusual profiles. Some stand as symbolic outliers while others illustrate genuine trends, according to France 24. Of 577 deputies, 118 are under 40 – the figureheads of a National Assembly ever so slightly younger to begin this legislature (average age 48.5 compared to 48.8 in 2017), confirming a youthful trend after 2012’s batch averaged a relatively grizzled 54.6 years of age. The far-right National Rally, meanwhile, can also boast of having the oldest of the 577 lawmakers elected to the chamber in June’s elections: José Gonzalez, 79, handily beat a 32-year-old NUPES candidate to win his Bouches-du-Rhône district on June 19.

Brexit: Ulster, anti-EU Bill passes second reading

The British House of Commons has approved the second reading to the disputed Bill presented by the government of Boris Johnson to give itself the power to unilaterally set aside parts of the post-Brexit protocol on Northern Ireland in the event of no agreement with Brussels on shared changes. There were 295 in favour, not without defections in the Tory majority, including former premier Theresa May; 221 voted against. The process will continue to the Lords, with a shuttle that should last months. The EU has already denounced the text as a violation of international law by evoking legal responses.

UK criminal lawyers stage pay strike

Senior criminal lawyers in England and Wales on Monday went on strike in a dispute over pay, just days after rail workers staged stoppages and other sectors threatened industrial action. Barristers have threatened a series of walkouts over the coming weeks and to refuse to accept new cases or cover for colleagues as part of the action. The action fuels fears of a “summer of discontent” as a growing number of key worker groups demand pay rises to combat rising inflation, which has hit 9.1 percent – a 40-year high.

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