Finland and Sweden to join NATO after Turkey lifts veto
Nato leaders will formally invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance today after the two Nordic countries reached an agreement with Turkey, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Helsinki and Stockholm agreed “to cooperate fully with Turkey in its fight” against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and other groups Ankara considers terrorist organisations.
NATO states need to boost military spending
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a “fundamental shift” in NATO’s approach to defence, and member states will have to boost their military spending in an increasingly unstable world, Stoltenberg said Tuesday. Speaking as NATO leaders began to arrive in Madrid for the alliance summit, he said the meeting would chart a blueprint for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world”. Just nine of NATO’s 30 members meet the organisation’s target of spending two percent of gross domestic product on defence. Top of the agenda for leaders in meetings Wednesday and Thursday is strengthening defences against Russia and supporting Ukraine.
Zelensky calls Russia ‘terrorist state’ in addresses to UN
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of being a “terrorist state” at the United Nations on Tuesday, prompting Russia to charge that he was using a Security Council address as a “remote PR campaign” to solicit more Western weapons. Zelensky pushed the Security Council to expel Moscow from the UN and to create a tribunal to investigate actions of the Russian military in Ukraine. However, Russia is a council veto power and can shield itself from any such action. Zelensky called for the United Nations to visit the site of a missile strike on a shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk: “so the UN could see that this indeed was a Russian missile strike,” he said of Monday’s attack, in which 18 people were killed.
EU insurance ban targets Russian oil exports
An EU ban on insuring ships transporting Russian oil could potentially hurt Moscow more than its embargo on the nation’s crude, analysts say. The European Union recently unveiled the insurance ban in a sixth set of economic sanctions aimed at punishing Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. In a further knock, G7 leaders are seeking a price cap for Russian oil to further hurt Kremlin revenues. The EU insurance and reinsurance ban, covering all maritime transportation of Russian oil, comes as Moscow seeks to ramp up sales to China and India to help offset the embargo.
Trump tried to to join supporters at Capitol riots
Donald Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his presidential limousine on January 6, 2021, when his security detail declined to take him to the US Capitol where his supporters were rioting, a former aide testified on Tuesday. The then-president dismissed concerns that some supporters gathered for his fiery speech outside the White House that day carried AR-15-style rifles, instead asking security to stop screening attendees with magnetometers so the crowd would look larger, Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump’s then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified. Congress was meeting to certify his rival Democratic President Joe Biden’s victory.
EU agreement to stop combustion engines in 2035
The EU Council of Environment Ministers announced overnight that it had reached an agreement on the ‘Fit for 55’ package of green climate measures, which includes a reduction of 10% of CO2emissions by 2035 for new cars and vans, therefore the stop to the sale of petrol and diesel cars by that date. The measure is intended to contribute to the achievement of the continent’s climate goals, in particular carbon neutrality by 2050. The Environment Ministers meeting in Luxembourg also approved a five-year extension of the exemption from CO2 obligations granted to so-called ‘niche’ producers – those producing fewer than 10,000 vehicles per year, until the end of 2035. The clause, sometimes called the ‘Ferrari amendment’, will benefit luxury brands in particular. These measures must now be negotiated with Members of the European Parliament.
Referendum in Scotland not the time – Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to believe that a second referendum on the independence of Scotland is not on the agenda after the one in 2014 and that “it is not even time to talk about it” in the current scenario. This was underlined by Downing Street in response to the initiative of the Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, adding however that the British premier intends to “carefully study” the proposal of the Edinburgh leader.
French elect first woman as National Assembly president
The French National Assembly has elected Yaël Braun-Pivet as its Speaker, in the opening session of its 16th Legislature. Braun-Pivet, a 51-year-old member of Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, will be the first woman ever to hold the position in France – a mark of progress despite waning parity in the lower-house chamber. Braun-Pivet’s election to the speaker’s chair follows the naming last month of Élisabeth Borne, the second woman to serve as French prime minister and the first in three decades.
Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years
Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for helping late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls, capping the former socialite’s sordid fall from grace. The Oxford-educated daughter of the late British press baron Robert Maxwell appeared not to react as New York Judge Alison Nathan handed down the term in a packed Manhattan federal court. The sentence was much less than prosecutors sought but still means the 60-year-old friend to royalty and former US presidents is likely to spend much of the rest of her life in jail. Nathan called Maxwell’s crimes “heinous and predatory” as she went with the amount of time recommended by the US probation office, rejecting Maxwell’s claims that she was pursued by prosecutors only because Epstein escaped trial by killing himself in prison.
Two charged in death of 51 migrants in Texas
At least 51 migrants have died after being trapped inside a sweltering tractor-trailer truck found abandoned in Texas, authorities said on Tuesday, as two Mexican nationals tied to the smuggling incident were charged in US federal court. The deceased migrants, 39 men and 12 women, were discovered on Monday on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas, in one of the deadliest human trafficking tragedies in recent history. The two suspects have been charged with possessing firearms while residing in the United States illegally. Investigators traced the truck’s vehicle registration to a San Antonio address that they placed under surveillance, and arrested the two men separately when each was seen leaving the residence. A third suspect, described as a US citizen who drove the truck, has also been taken into custody and was expected to be charged.
307,000 civilians killed in Syria since 2011
Nearly 307,000 civilians have been killed in Syria in 10 years of conflict, from 2011 to 2021, according to the latest estimates by the UN Human Rights Office – the highest estimate of civilian deaths caused by the war in Syria. A UN report published in Geneva says the figure relates only to those killed as a result direct warfare operations and “does not include the many and many other civilians who died due to the loss of access to health care, food, clean water and other essential human rights”.
US: boy, 8, shoots dead baby girl with father’s gun
An eight-year-old boy shot dead a baby and wounded her toddler sister while playing with his father’s gun in Florida last weekend, police said. The father, 45-year-old Roderick Randall, was arrested and charged with culpable negligence, unlawful possession of a firearm and concealment of evidence. The tragedy took place in a motel where Randall, who has a criminal record that forbade him from owning a gun, met with his girlfriend. He had brought his son, while his girlfriend had brought along her two-year-old twins and her one-year-old daughter.