EU plans to ban Russian oil by end of year
The European Union has announced plans to ban Russian oil by the end of the year as part of a sixth package of sanctions against Moscow for its war in Ukraine. Piling pressure on Russia’s already battered $1.8 trillion economy, Brussels also proposed phasing out refined products by the end of this year. “President Putin must pay a price, a high price, for his brutal aggression,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told applauding EU lawmakers in Strasbourg. The sanctions need to be unanimously approved before they can take effect. Hungary and Slovakia have already said they wouldn’t take part in any oil sanctions. A source said EU envoys could reach a deal today or later this week on the plan, which also targets Russia’s banks. broadcasters and hundreds of individuals.
Biden to talk with G7 leaders about further sanctions
US President Joe Biden has said he would speak with other leaders from the Group of Seven advanced economies this week about potential additional sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine. Biden told reporters, “We’re always open to additional sanctions” when asked about US plans after the European Union proposed its toughest sanctions yet against Russia. “I’ll be speaking with the members of the G7 this week about what we’re going to do or not do,” Biden added.
Russia weighing responses
The Kremlin said Russia was weighing various responses to the EU plan, adding that the measures would be costly for European citizens. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu renewed a warning that Moscow would seek to hit US and NATO shipments of weapons into Ukraine. His ministry said Russian forces disabled six railway stations used to deliver Western arms to Ukraine’s east. It later said it hit 77 military targets throughout the day, including ammunition depots and artillery.
Ukraine reports heavy eastern assault
Moscow pressed with its offensive in eastern Ukraine and close Russian ally Belarus announced large-scale army drills. Nearly 10 weeks into a war that has killed thousands of people and flattened Ukrainian cities, Russia was intensifying its assault, Ukraine’s defence ministry said, with attacks reported on railway stations used to transport Western arms.
‘Heavy, bloody battles’ in Mariupol
As a new convoy of buses began evacuating more civilians from the ravaged southeastern port city of Mariupol, which has seen the heaviest fighting of the war so far, the commander of the main defending force at the Azovstal steel mill said Russian troops had broken into the territory of the mill. Denys Prokopenko said the incursions had continued a second day “and there are heavy, bloody battles”. Moscow has pledged to facilitate humanitarian corridors from Thursday through Saturday to enable more evacuations. Meanwhile, Ukarina 24 reported explosions in Kiev, Mykolaiv and Odessa and the mayor of Dnipro said on Telegram that the city centre was hit by Russian missiles. In the evening, powerful explosions were also felt in other central areas of Ukraine, such as Cerkasy and Zaporizhzhia.
‘US intelligence helped kill Russian generals’ – NYT,
The New York Times quotes senior American executives saying the US has provided intelligence that helped the Ukrainians to hit and kill numerous Russian generals who died in action in the Ukrainian conflict. Ukrainian officials say they have eliminated about 12 Moscow generals at the front – a number that amazed military analysts.
EU starts process to revise its treaties
Green light from the European Parliament to the resolution that starts the process of activating article 48 to ask the member states to open a convention for the revision of the EU treaties. The text was approved by a show of hands. With yesterday’s vote, MEPs support the proposals put forward by citizens during the Conference on the Future of Europe to deeply reform the Union.
‘Serbia must push on with reforms to join EU’
Serbia must press ahead with reforms, including on media freedom and organised crime, to realise its ambition of joining the European Union, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday, adding he wanted all Western Balkans countries to become members. “For Serbia it is important that it continues its path of reforms,” Scholz said at a joint media conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.Earlier, at another media conference, this time with Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Scholz made clear that he viewed the Western Balkans countries as belonging to Europe.
Amnesty accuses Libya state militia of abuses
Amnesty has accused a powerful government-backed Libyan armed group of abuses against migrants and Tripoli residents. In a statement, it accused the Stability Support Authority (SSA) of “unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions, interception and subsequent arbitrary detention of migrants and refugees, torture, forced labour, and other shocking human rights violations”.
Vatican preparing for possibility of women Swiss Guards
The new barracks of the Vatican Swiss guards will be built to accommodate female members if Pope Francis or his successors allow women to join the elite and colourfully dressed force. Officials of the Swiss foundation that is raising the estimated 45 million Swiss Francs to replace the current 150-year-old barracks signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vatican’s Secretary of State on Wednesday. The force, principal mission of which is to protect the Pope, has been exclusively male since its founding in 1506. The men are all Swiss citizens.
Massive damage as violent tornados hits Oklahoma, Texas
A violent tornado caused serious damage last night in the city of Seminole, in the State of Oklahoma, about 80 kms southeast of Oklahoma City. US media reports speak of entire buildings demolished and streets covered with rubble. Seminole public schools will remain closed today. Another tornado hit the Texas town of Lockett, near the Oklahoma border. Authorities spoke of “massive structural damage”.No deaths or injuries have been reported.
Real Madrid stun Man City and go to Champions League final
Manchester City and Real Madrid followed up Tuesday night’s drama between Villarreal and Liverpool with a remarkable show of their own, with City just moments from reaching the final only for Rodrygo’s injury time goals to send it to extra time, 5-5 on aggregate, with Karim Benzema scoring a penalty to send the Spanish giants and La Liga champions to the showpiece game in Paris on May 28. Real Madrid had earlier staged remarkable comebacks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea to reach the semifinals, but this was the best of the lot. This would be Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s fifth Champions League final (2003, 2005 and 2007 with Milan, 2014 and 2022 with Madrid) – the most of any manager in the competition’s history. He joined Real Madrid at the end of last season for a second spell in charge, having led Los Blancos to ‘La Decima’ during his first stint. He became the first coach to win all of Europe’s big five leagues when Madrid wrapped up a 35th LaLiga title on Saturday
‘Hand of God’ shirt sells for more than £7 million
Diego Maradona’s shirt, worn in the famous ‘Hand of God’ match against England, has sold for £7,142,500 in an auction which ended after a dramatic final nine minutes – marking a new auction record for any item of sports memorabilia. Maradona’s shirt went up for auction on April 20, and there was only one bid for £4m, the reserve price, until 15:51 yesterday when a late bidder put in an offer of £4.2m. In the last few minutes of the auction, more and more bids were placed. When the auction ended at 4pm, the shirt sold for £7,142,500. The buyer has chosen to remain anonymous.
Italian record for bottle of wine at auction
A bottle of Musigny Domaine Leroy from 2008 was sold in recent days at the sum of €67,375 by the Florentine auction house Pandolfini. The award set the national record for a single 75cl bottle of wine.