Global Review – 4th November

G7 pledges winter help for Ukraine

The foreign ministers of the G7 nations – Britain, Japan, the US, Germany, Canada, France and Italy – on Thursday vowed to help see Ukraine through the coming winter as they held talks in Germany, with Kiev’s fight against Russia topping the agenda. Opening the meeting, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said they would also disucuss China’s growing economic clout and aims on Taiwan and Iran’s treatment of anti-government protesters. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is also attending the meeting, said President Putin was trying to “put (Ukraine) in the darkness in the winter time”.

Sholz to start visit to China

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and a delegation of business leaders landed in Beijing this morning, kicking off the first visit by a leader of a G7 nation to China in three years. Scholz and the entire delegation were administered Covid-19 tests upon landing, with Chinese medical staff donning hazmat suits going into the plane to conduct the tests.   China has been Germany’s biggest trading partner for the past six years, with volumes reaching over €245 billion in 2021. During the trip, where Scholz will meet Xi and prime minister Li Keqiang, he is expected to discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine, hoping China can convince Russia to end hostilities.

Ukraine set for more EU funds in January

Ukraine could receive the first payment of a new European Union financial package in January, according to a senior EU official. There is broad support among member states to move quickly and to accelerate the national procedures to approve the funds as much as possible, said the official. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is expected to present next week a mechanism to provide around €18-billion in liquidity support to Ukraine next year in a more predictable and stable manner. A total of €3-billion promised last May still needs to be approved by member states, although they could be released as part of the new package.

Zelensky says he won’t ‘participate’ in G20 if Putin attends

Ukraine’s president has said he’s unlikely to participate in the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, this month if President Putin attends. Zelensky said he had received a follow-up invitation to the gathering from Indonesia’s president when the pair spoke by phone on Thursday. Joko Widodo met separately with Zelensky and Putin in late June. It’s unclear whether Putin will travel from Moscow to the November meeting15-16, or attend virtually.

UN atomic agency finds no sign of ‘dirty bomb’

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have completed in-field verification at three locations in Ukraine, with no indications of undeclared nuclear activities found. Ukraine had requested the inspections after Russia made allegations this month about the possible production of “dirty bombs” at facilities in Kiev, Zhovti Kody and Dnipro. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the inspections “helped counter Russian falsehoods”.

Moscow fires ballistic missile from nuclear submarine

Russian forces have successfully tested a ballistic missile, the Bulava, which was launched from a nuclear submarine into the waters of the White Sea to reach its target in the Kamchatka Peninsula, after having flew over much of the immense Russian territory. The missile, according to the Ria Novosti agency, started from the Generalissimo Suvorov submarine and hit the Kura polygon, in the Far East region, as planned.

Pope in Bahrain calls for peace and respect for human rights

Pope Francis has called for peace, dialogue, brotherhood, respect for human rights and the end of the death penalty, in his first speech in Bahrain. The Pope also warned against populism and imperialism. “We can and must live together in our world, which for decades has become a global village,” he said. The Pope called war “a monstrous and senseless reality” and has implored world leaders “to turn huge military spending into investments to fight hunger, the lack of health care and education”.

Meloni hails ‘frank, positive’ exchange with EU leaders

Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni welcomed a “very frank, very positive” exchange with European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday after making a series of rather soothing remarks about the bloc since her election. “I am happy with the climate I found in Brussels,” the 45-year-old told reporters after meeting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola. “From a personal, human point of view, there was a very frank and positive exchange,” she added. Meloni travelled to Brussels for her first meetings with the leaders of the EU institutions since taking office. She was determined to focus on the sensitive issue of soaring energy prices against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The debate had already been begun by her predecessor Mario Draghi, who had called for a solution from the EU27 and criticised Berlin’s individualistic approach.

Thousands rally in Spain as costs soar

Over 25,000 people took to the streets of Madrid Thursday in a demonstration called by Spain’s two main unions, the CCOO and UGT, to demand higher pay to cope with soaring inflation and energy costs. Protestors waved red union flags and banged drums as they made their way to the Spanish capital’s landmark Plaza Mayor behind a large banner that read: “Salary or Conflict”. Like most other European countries, Spain has been struggling with soaring inflation as a result of the fallout from the war in Ukraine and the reopening of the economy after pandemic-related lockdowns.

Twitter layoffs to start today

Twitter employees will be receiving an email today (5 pm Malta time) about whether they have been laid off. An internal email informed Twitter staff about the planned communication, saying the move is “an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path”. The company’’s offices will be temporarily closed and all badge access suspended. A few days after the acquisition of the platform for $44 billion, Elon Musk already cleared out the company’s senior ranks, firing its chief executive and top finance and legal executives. Others, including those sitting atop the company’s advertising, marketing and human resources divisions, departed throughout the past week.

French parliament stopped over ‘racist’ remark

A French parliament session was thrown into turmoil Thursday after a far-right MP was accused of yelling “back to Africa” to a black colleague posing a question on migrant arrivals to the government. Carlos Martens Bilongo of the leftist LFI party was questioning the government on the request by the SOS Mediterranee NGO for Paris’s help in finding a port for 234 migrants rescued at sea. The outburst sparked yells of condemnation. de Fournas tried to defend himself, saying he had been referring to the “boat transporting migrants to Europe” and he later apologised to Bilongo for “the misunderstanding” his comments had caused and if he had been hurt by them. Meanwhile, SOS Mediterranee said Thursday it had called on France, Greece and Spain to help find a port for 234 people rescued while trying to reach Europe.

Assassination’ attempt on ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was shot and wounded in the shin when his anti-government protest convoy came under attack in what his aides said was a “clear assassination attempt”. One person killed and seven others injured. The assailant was subsequently killed by the security forces. The former international cricket star has been leading a convoy of thousands from Lahore towards Islamabad, campaigning for fresh elections.

Football: Barcelona’s Pique retires

Gerard Pique has announced that he is leaving Barcelona and will play his final game at Camp Nou tomorrow. The decorated defender confirmed that he would be retiring from soccer altogether. The Spaniard bows out with three Champions League titles for his childhood club, plus the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

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