Global Review – 30th March

‘More bombing northwest of Kyiv’ – BBC

Although the Russians have announced the reduction of military operations on the capital, new bombings have been reported in the northwest of Kyiv. The BBC said explosions were reported about 20 km from the capital, without being able to clarify whether the Russians or the Ukrainians were firing. Also, according to reports from a CNN team on the field, strong artillery and rocket strikes were heard shortly after midnight in Kyiv. The broadcaster previously reported that fighting continued Tuesday afternoon on the outskirts of the capital, especially in the northwest and northeast of the city.

‘Russia to redeploy Kyiv forces, not withdraw’ – US

Earlier, a US official has told Fox News that “any movement of Russian forces from around Kiev is a redeployment, not a withdrawal, and the world should be prepared for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine”. Russia had announced that it was withdrawing forces from the Kiev and Chernihiv regions in the hope of laying the groundwork for a peace deal with Ukraine. “No one should be fooled by Russia’s announcements,” the official said.

‘Russian invasion has cost Kyiv $565 billion’

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has so far cost Kiev $565 billion, Ukrainian Minister of Economy, Yulia Svyrydenko, has said. She said the figure includes costs to damage to the infrastructure, to the loss ofeconomic growth and other factors. According to a social post by the minister, about 8,000 km of roads and 10 million square metres of housing were damaged or destroyed by fighting.

In particular, losses are $119 billion in infrastructure (apart from the roads, this includes dozens of railway stations and airports destroyed and damaged); $112 billion for the GDP in 2022; $90.5 billion in losses related to the civilian population (homes, 200,000 cars and food security for five million people); $80 billion loss for businesses and commercial organisations; $54 billion in losses in investments direct to the Ukrainian economy; and $48 billion in losses to the state budget.

China to the UN: ‘Sanctions will aggravate famine’

China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Dai Bing, said during the meeting of the Security Council on Ukraine that “sanctions and economic blockades will artificially exacerbate the lack of food and the alteration of prices”. According to Beijing, this will “further disrupt food production and the distribution chain in the world, driving up prices and placing a burden on developing countries that do not deserve”.

Russia blocking 100 ships with food in the Black Sea

The Russians are blocking 94 civilian food ships in the Black Sea region and have bombed three ships carrying goods from Black Sea ports around the world, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has claimed. She said the Russian Navy was blocking access to Ukrainian ports, which effectively blocks the export of grain, so much so that many exporters had given up sending their ships to the Black Sea, even to Russian ports. About 30% of world grain exports come from the Black Sea region, as well as 20% of corn and 75% of sunflower oil.

White House details Biden’s call with world leaders

President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom have “affirmed their determination to continue raising costs on Russia for its “brutal attacks” in Ukraine, as well as to continue supplying Ukraine with security assistance to defend itself against this “unjustified and unprovoked assault”. The White House said that during a 53-minute phone call on Tuesday, they “reviewed their efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the millions affected by the violence, both inside Ukraine and those seeking refuge in other countries”. They underscored the need for humanitarian access to civilians in Mariupol and discussed the importance of supporting stable energy markets in light of current disruptions due to sanctions.

Ukrainian forces strike back in Russia

Ukrainian forces have shelled a Russian military camp inside Russia, according to a New York Post report. Such a strike would be the first time Ukraine struck Russia on the other side of the border. The strike hit the military camp near the Russian city of Belgorod, which sits about 50 miles from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, near the Russian border. Video posted online appeared to show ammunition blowing up, though the source of the explosion has yet to be confirmed. Four people were reportedly injured in the explosion.

Four European countries expel Russian diplomats

Four European countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and the Czech Republic – have announced they would expel a total of 43 Russian embassy staffers suspected of spying. The announcements come after the Biden administration in late February said it was beginning the process of expelling 12 Russian “intelligence operatives” who allegedly carried out espionage activities harmful to national security. The move to expel the Russian envoys also comes on the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which entered its second month last week.

Queen leads royals in Prince Philip tribute

Ailing Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday made her first major public appearance in months, at a thanksgiving service for her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year aged 99. The monarch, who turns 96 next month, has not attended a high-profile event outside her homes since she spent a night in hospital last October. Unlike other members of her family and guests, she arrived by a side entrance and used a walking stick as she was helped to her seat by her second son, Prince Andrew, 62. It was also Andrew’s first public appearance since settling a US civil claim for sexual assault, and after public outrage at his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The Duke of Edinburgh, to whom the queen was married for 73 years, died on April 9 last year, just a few weeks short of his 100th birthday, after treatment for a heart condition.

Will Smith’s wife shares healing message

Jada Pinkett Smith shared a cryptic message about healing on Instagram days after her husband Will Smith slapped Chris Rock over a joke Rock quipped on Sunday evening during the Oscar night. The joke prompted Smith to walk on-stage and slap Rock in the face. Smith has since apologised directly to Rock and to the Academy. Now, Pinkett Smith is focusing on healing. “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it,” the actress said. Smith slapping Rock left Oscars viewers stunned. The comedian had said he can’t wait to see her in “GI Jane 2”. Pinkett Smith has been struggling with alopecia and has spoken about the condition publicly.

Brussels to present circular economy plans

The European Commission will today lay out plans for the EU’s transition to a more circular economy as it attempts to move away from unneccesary waste and towards long-term sustainability. Brussels says it is one of the main parts of its goal in achieving the bloc’s 2050 climate neutrality target as well as halting biodiversity loss. One organisation in Belgium, La Tournevie, which has created a tool library, is already ahead of the curve. This circular economy project lends tools to citizens as a way to reduce the buying of new ones and promote reusing and repairing. The idea is focused on providing high quality tools to people so they avoid buying cheap and poor quality stuff that might never be used again.

Eurovision Song order of songs announced

Albania will open the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, scheduled in Turin from 10 to 14 May. Seventeen songs will feature in the first semi-final and 18 on the second. Malta’s representative, Emma Muscat, with ‘I Am What I Am’, will be the sixth singer in the second semi-final on May 12. To the countries qualified after the semifinals will be added the so-called Big Five – Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom – which directly access the final on May 14 and are also entitled to vote in the semifinals.

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