Russia to boycott UN Security Council meeting
In a rare move, Russia will boycott a UN Security Council meeting today with the EU’s Political and Security Committee (PSC), diplomats said, a further sign of deteriorating relations between Moscow and its United Nations partners. According to a Russian diplomatic source speaking anonymously to AFP, Moscow’s decision is linked to the situation in Ukraine. A Western diplomat told AFP they had no memory of Russia boycotting a Security Council meeting since it invaded Ukraine on February 24. The annual informal meeting between the council and the PSC has not been held since 2019 due to the Covid pandemic. Today’s meeting is expected to address the EU’s interaction with the UN in countries where both organizations are conducting operations. UK Permanent Representative to the UN Barbara Woodward said the meeting would also discuss Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ visit to Kiev.
EU anti-Russia sanctions ‘imminent’
The EU sanctions intent on breaking “the Russian war machine” are now imminent, EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell said in a tweet. The measures of the sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia “will be submitted to the Council for approval”. He said this package of sanctions is aimed at eliminating more banks from Swift, making a list of disinformation actors and tackling oil imports. A proposal to phase in a prohibition on Russian oil imports will be discussed by member state ambassadors in Brussels later today, with the most dependent, such as Slovakia and Hungary, seeking exemptions.
‘Gazprom broke contracts, needs sanctions’
European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simpson has suggested that EU sanctions should be imposed on Gazprom, which “has proven to be an unreliable supplier since the companies in Poland and Bulgaria paid for the contracts in euros”. She said everyone had expressed solidarity the two countriesfor being cut off from gas supplies: “Poland and Bulgaria have respected the contractual terms, so now the sanctions must hit Gazprom”. According to Simpson, “it is possible to reduce Russian gas imports by two thirds by the end of this year and by 2030 eliminate 100% of Russian gas”.
Russia avoids default
Russia seems to have once again averted the technical default of its foreign currency debt. According to Bloomberg, three investors would have had the coupons in dollars of two Eurobonds, maturing in 2022 and 2042, credited to their respective accounts, on the eve of the end of the 30-day grace period which began in early April, when the coupons matured. The payment prevents Russia from the first default in its history since the ousting of the Tsars by the Bolsheviks.
156 evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant
Ukrainian President Zelenskiy has confirmed 156 people were successfully evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol after arriving in Zaporizhzhia on Tuesday. In his national address, Zelenskiy added that a ceasefire was needed in order to make the humanitarian corridor work. He said women and children had been in shelters for more than two months. However, Russian troops were not adhering to the agreements of a ceasefire, Zelenskiy added. Russia has launched a new attack on the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where 200 civilians remain trapped underground. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed that a convoy of civilians evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in besieged Mariupol has reached Zaporizhzhia.
Russian attacks leave deaths, mayhem
At least 10 people have been killed and 15 others were wounded after an attack on a coke plant in eastern Ukraine. Russian shelling began as workers waited to catch the bus home, local officials said. Russian missile strikes in the relatively safe western city of Lviv have also hit several power stations, causing electrical blackouts. Attacks also targeted six railways stations, according to a Ukrainian railroad official, causing “severe” damage to infrastructure. Attacks were also reported in Vinnytsia, the Kyiv region, the Dnipropetrovsk region, Odesa and Kharkiv.
In other developments…
- Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has passed a law that bans political parties that justify, recognise or deny Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine. The law will also ban parties who glorify or justify the actions of those carrying out armed aggression against Ukraine.
- President Putin told France’s Emanuel Macron that “western countries could help stop the crimes of the Ukrainian military” and that “the West must stop supplying arms to Ukraine”. Putin said, “EU countries ignore the war crimes of the Ukrainian forces and their bombings on the cities and villages of the Donbass”, adding that “on the other hand Kiev is not ready for serious negotiations” to put an end to the conflict. Russia, however, Putin added, is “still open to dialogue” with Ukraine.
- Germany’s opposition leader has travelled to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian officials, after the country’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, made clear he would not be visiting Ukraine any time soon.
- Addressing the Ukrainian parliament virtually on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “Ukraine will win” against Russia, and “will be free”. Johnson was the first world leader to address the Verkhovna Rada since the conflict began.
- Moscow accused Israel of backing the “neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv”. The remarks are the latest in Russia’s diplomatic row with Israel, after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood”.
- Putin ordered retaliatory sanctions against the west. The names of individuals or entities affected by the measures are not included on the document.
- US President Joe Biden is visiting a factory in Troy, Alabama, where arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin makes anti-tank Javelin missiles. He lauded the “rapid pace” of military equipment and aid from the US to Ukraine in the two months since Russia initiated the war.
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is inflicting damage to the country’s infrastructure at a cost of $4.5bn (€4.7bn) a week. According to estimates compiled by the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE), the damage has reached $92bn (€87.3bn) since the invasion in February.
Obesity in Europe at ‘epidemic proportions’ – WHO
Obesity rates in the European Region are at “epidemic proportions,” warns the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe in a report released Tuesday. The numbers are growing: 59% of adults and nearly one in three children are either overweight or obese, and no country in the European region is currently on track to halt the rise of obesity by 2025. Obesity and overweight, which increased during the pandemic, are responsible for more than 1.2 million deaths across the region each year. Obesity is behind at least 13 different types of cancer, and is likely directly causing at least 200,000 new cancer cases every year in the region..
Liverpool beat Villarreal to reach Champions League final
Liverpool won the second leg of the semi-final against Villareal to reach the 2021-2022 Champions League final. After the 2-0 at Anfield, Klopp’s team won 2-3 and now awaits the second round of RealMadrid-Manchester City this evening to find out who they will have to meet in the last act of the tournament in Paris. At the Estadio de la Ceramica in the first half, the “Yellow Submarine” startedstrong and scared the Reds with goals from Dias (3′) and Coquelin (41′). In the second half, Liverpool reacted and, thanks to a disastrous actions by goalkeeper Rulli, overturned the result with goals byFabinho (62′), Luis Diaz (67′) and Mané (74′). In the 85th minute, Etienne Capoue received his second yellow card and was sent off.