Global Review – 29th September

New package of EU sanctions against Russia proposed

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced a further tranch of proposed sanctions on Russia that she will put to the 27 member states. She said that “last week, Russia escalated the invasion of Ukraine to a whole new level” through mobilisation and “sham referenda that are an illegal attempt to grab land and change international borders by force”.

The EU is “determined to make the Kremlin pay with a new package of biting sanctions”. She aims to further restrict trade to isolate and restrict Russia’s economy even more: “A sweeping new import ban on Russian products will keep them out of the European market and deprive Russia of an additional €7billionn in revenue.” The EU will extend the list of products that can’t be exported to Russia, particularly with regards to weapons, aircraft and chemical substances. This will “weaken its capacity to modernise” Russia’s military base.

Von der Leyen also says that under the package, EU nationals will be prohibited from sitting on government bodies of Russian state-owned enterprises, saying: “Russia should not benefit from EU knowledge and expertise.” She also laid out a price cap on Russian oil for developing countries, which has already been agreed in principle by the G7 group of major industrialised nations.

New sanctions on individuals

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell spoke after Ursula von der Leyen, laying out new sanctions targeting individuals. He says there are more than 1,300 people or entities who will be hit by new sanctions, including oligarchs, senior military officials and other people responsible for “undermining Ukrainian territorial integrity”. Borrell says they have been launched in response to what he termed the Russian “provocations” of troop mobilisation and “sham” referendums in Ukraine.He says these “restrictive measures” will be against against those supporting, facilitating or benefiting from the invasion, as well as those involved in occupation and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. The package needs the approval of all 27 EU members.

‘More than half of gas has leaked out of Nord Stream pipelines

Danish authorities confirmed Wednesday that more than half of the gas in the damaged Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines has escaped into the atmosphere. “Half of the gas is out, and we expect the pipes to be emptied on Sunday,” said Danish Energy Agency Director Kristoffer Bottzauw. According to Bottzauw, “sabotage” is likely the reason behind the leaks. At the same time, Flemming Larsen, managing director of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, underlined that several explosions occurred at the scene, broadcaster SVT Nyheter reported. According to the Danish authorities, the gas emissions do not pose a health risk to residents, but the ongoing risks are being constantly assessed. Meanwhile, Sweden’s security service has launched an investigation into the unexplained explosions and leaks in the pipelines, labeling them “aggravated sabotage”.

Moscow ready for a joint investigation on Nord Stream

Russia is ready to consider requests for a joint investigation into the causes of the Nord Stream accident if they come from European countries, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushkotold Ria Novosti. “If there are any appeals, we will consider them. As far as I know, there haven’t been any,” Grushko said in response to a question about Russia’s possible cooperation with European countries in investigating the Nord Stream pipeline accidents. Ukraine has accused Russia of being behind what it described as a “terrorist attack” – without providing proof – while Moscow has called such accusations “stupid and “absurd”.

Pipelines could be ruined forever, German paper says

German daily Tagesspiegel reports that German authorities assume that three sections of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 might be “forever unusable”, as salt water would corrode the pipelines unless they’re repaired quickly. Due to the complexity of the attack, experts and those in German government circles believe that it could only be carried out by a state actor, the paper says. One theory is that divers may have planted explosives on the tubes, Tagesspiegel reports. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline stretches 1,200km from the Russian coast near St Petersburg to north-eastern Germany via the Baltic Sea. It opened in 2011, and was sending a maximum of 170 million cubic metres of gas per day from Russia to Germany. The construction of a second, parallel pipeline, Nord Stream 2, was finished last year but the project was halted after Russia invaded Ukraine and it never started delivering gas.

USA, Poland, Bulgaia tell citizens to leave Russia

American citizens have been invited to “leave Russia immediately”, using “the limited options” of commercial transport still available, accpording to the website of the US embassy in Moscow, cited by Tass. Manwhile both Poland and Bulgaria have made similar invitations to their citizens.

Hurricane Ian over Florida, 1.5 million without electricity

The number of people left without electricity in southwestern Florida has risen to 1.5 million after the arrival of the devastating hurricane Ian, one of the most violent ever to hit the United States, with winds of 240 kph. American TVs broadcast apocalyptic images: houses destroyed or damaged, trees uprooted, cars submerged by floods, with the sea level rising up to four metres. Some areas are still too dangerous to organise rescue operations. Ian landed in Cayo Costa, near Fort Meyers. Orlando is also on his way.

Catholic Church is a dictatorship’ – Ortega

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has defined the Catholic Church “a perfect dictatorship”, two weeks after Pope Francis had assured that “there is dialogue” with Managua. “Who elects the priests? Who elects the cardinals? Who elects the pope? It is a perfect dictatorship, a perfect tyranny”, exclaimed Ortega in a speech on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan police. Pope Francis insisted on September 15 on the need to “never interrupt dialogue” with Nicaragua, where tensions between the state and the Catholic Church are growing. In March Nicaragua expelled the Vatican ambassador. And in August Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, critic of the regime, was arrested and is “under house arrest”, according to the police who cited the “destabilizing and provocative” activities of the bishop.

Umberto Bossi elected in Lombardia

The Italian Ministry of the Interior has published an update of the distribution of proportional seats in Parliament in some multi-member constituencies. Among those in is Umberto Bossi , who was outside the Parliament in the multi-member college of Lombardia 2 (Varese). He was included in the list of those elected according to the ministry.

Shakira to face trial over tax fraud

Pop star Shakira has been ordered to stand trial on accusations she duped the Spanish government out of millions of euros of taxes. Spanish prosecutors have accused the Colombian singer of failing to pay €14.5 million in taxes in 2018, on income earned between 2012 and 2014. Shakira, 45, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

American rapper Coolio found dead

American rapper Coolio, famous for his 1995 hit ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, has died in Los Angeles, aged59. This was announced by his manager Jarez Posey, without specifying the cause of death. The Grammy-winning musician was found lifeless in his bathroom by a friend of his. Coolio began his rap career in California in the late 1980s, but became world famous in 1995 when he released ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ for the soundtrack of ‘Dangerous Thoughts’. He was awarded Best Solo Rap Performance for this song at the following year’s Grammy Awards ceremony. The song has sold millions of copies worldwide, reaching the top of the pop charts in 16 countries and becoming the number one track on Billboard in 1995.

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