Global Review – 3rd May

Lavrov’s comments draw Israeli’s ire

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said Monday that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish blood, has drawn the anger of the Ukrainians and the Israelis alike. In an interview with an Italian news channel, Lavrov referred to the fact that Ukraine’s President is Jewish and said, “In my opinion, Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean absolutely anything. For some time we have heard from the Jewish people that the biggest anti-semites were Jewish.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded in his nightly video message, saying that Lavrov’s comments showed Moscow “had forgotten all the lessons of World War II or perhaps never learned them”. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba blasted Lavrov as well, writing on Twitter, “FM Lavrov could not help hiding the deeply-rooted anti-semitism of the Russian elites. His heinous remarks are offensive to President Zelensky, Ukraine, Israel, and the Jewish people. More broadly, they demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations.” Earlier on Monday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced that it had summoned Russian Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov for “clarification” in response to Lavrov’s comments. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chided Lavrov, calling his comparison of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine to the war against Nazi Germany “untrue”. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder also condemned Lavrov’s comments.

‘Lavrov’s rhetoric is vile and dangerous’ – Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also commented on Lavrov’s statement. Writing on Twitter, and repeating a tweet from the Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid, Blinken said, “The world must oppose this vile and dangerous rhetoric and support our Ukrainian partners in the face of the ferocious assault of the Kremlin.” The leader of the Democrats in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, called Lavrov’s remarks “sickening”. Schumer, who is of the Jewish religion, accused Russia of wanting to “justify its brutal invasion of Ukraine with a deranged conspiracy theory”.

EU close to deal on Russian oil phase out

The European Union is close to a deal on phasing out Russian oil imports in response to the war in Ukraine – but objections from Hungary and Slovakia are holding up an oil agreement, according to two EU diplomats and an EU official, quoted by The Washington Post. To seal the deal, the EU may grant the two countries exemptions or carve-outs, the officials said under condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations, noting that the details are still being hammered out. Talks gained momentum last week after a major holdout, Germany, softened its opposition and signaled support for a ban in phases. Over the weekend, officials and diplomats in Brussels discussed the idea of a phase-out by the end of 2022, but Hungary and Slovakia pushed back, according to the diplomats and the official. Energy ministers have gathered for an emergency meeting in Brussels, after Russia deployed one of its most powerful economic weapons by shutting off natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria. EU officials denounced the move by Russia’s Gazprom as “blackmail”.

Finland cancels Russian nuclear power plant contract

Finnish newspaper ‘Iltalehti’ reports the Finnish energy company Fennovoima has announced that it had cancelled an agreement with the Russian state company Rosatom for the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant. The Finns said the collaboration with Rosatom’s subsidiary, Raos Project, will end immediately, pointing out that the termination of the agreement was justified in view of the war in Ukraine and other delays.

‘Russia plans to annex two Ukrainian regions’

Russia is planning imminently to “annex” two eastern regions of Ukraine battered by its invasion, according to the US ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Speaking to reporters in Washington, Michael Carpenter said: “According to the most recent reports, we believe that Russia will try to annex the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic to Russia. “The reports state that Russia plans to engineer referenda upon joining sometime in mid-May.” Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was recognising the independence of the two breakaway regions. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic are in the east of Ukraine and could allow Russia to move troops into the country.

Russians’ rocket strike Odessa

A Russian rockets strike in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, in southern Ukraine, on Monday evening, has left deaths and injuries, according to the head of the Odessa administration. A residential building, which had five people in it at the time of the attack was damaged, and a 15-year-old boy died, Odessa city council said on Telegram. A second child was taken to hospital. The blast damaged the building’s windows and walls as well as the roof of the adjacent Orthodox Church. On Saturday, the runway at the airport was damaged in a Russian strike.

Russia still attacking Mariupol steelworks after evacuations

Attacks have resumed on Mariupol’s steel works, despite hundreds of civilians remaining trapped inside, a Ukrainian officer has said. The Azovstal plant was being shelled by “all kinds of weapons”, National Guard commander Denys Shlega said on Monday. In the evening, footage emerged apparently showing a massive fire at the Azovstal. On Sunday a number of civilians who had sheltered inside the last resistance stronghold managed to escape. But “several dozen small children are still in the bunkers underneath the plant”, the commander said. The shelling on the plant in the southern port city, which has been under intense Russian bombardment for weeks, began as soon as the civilians who had been evacuated left, he told Ukrainian television.

‘Over 3,000 civilian victims in Ukraine’ – UN

Over 3,000 civilian were killed in Ukraine by the Russian invasion, according to  the UN Office for Human Rights. It said the death toll is 3,153 people, 254 more than Friday, even if the verification difficulties suggest that the number is considerably higher.

First Russian suspect in Bucha massacres

Ukrainian Attorney General Iryna Venediktova has announced that the authorities had identified the first Russian suspected of carrying out a massacre of civilians in Bucha. Kyiv Independent names him as Sergey Kolotsey, commander of a unit of the Russian National Guard. According to Bucha police and prosecutors, Kolotsey killed four unarmed men on March 18 and tortured another civilian on March 29. Meanwhile, the head of the Kiev regional police told a media briefing tghat in the Kiev oblast, particularly in the liberated territories,” we have so far documented 1,202 lifeless bodies of innocent civilians killed by the Russians”.

Russia banned from European Championships, World Cup qualifiers

UEFA has banned Russia from the Women  s European Championship in July and from participating in qualifying for next year’s Women’s World Cup following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, European soccer’s governing body said on Tuesday. UEFA also ruled Russia’s unexpected bid to host the men’s Euros in 2028 and 2032 ineligible, which means Britain and Ireland’s joint bid to host Euro 2028 is rivalled only by Turkey, who also declared an interest in hosting the 2032 tournament.Additionally, Russian clubs will not compete in UEFA’s Champions Leagues, Europa League, or Europa Conference League next season. As a result, the winners of the Scottish Premiership will take the place of Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg in the 2022-23 men’s Champions League group stage.

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