Global Review – 8th September

Putin threatens West in bellicose speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to cut off all deliveries of gas, oil, and coal to Europe if the West imposed a price cap on Russian energy imports. He also said he wants to revise the fragile international agreement to allow the export of Ukrainian grain in a move that could threaten the deal and revive fears of a renewed Russian naval blockade in the Black Sea. During a bellicose speech at an economic conference in Vladivostok, Putin said he would speak with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, about “limiting the destinations for grain exports”, issuing a false claim that only two of 87 ships leaving Ukraine with grain had gone to developing countries. ‘The Guardian’ evaluated the speech, nominally dedicated to the economy and trade, as one of the Russian leader’s most belligerent and defiant since the beginning of the Ukraine war. At one point, Putin declared that Russia had “lost nothing” in launching a war that has killed tens of thousands of people, including thousands of its own soldiers. “The main gain is the strengthening of our sovereignty…No matter how much someone would like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do this,” he added, claiming that Russia would pivot toward Asia as its ties were cut with Europe. In his speech, he portrayed Russia as the victim, saying that western sanctions had “replaced the pandemic” as a threat to the world order. On the threat to stop delivering oil and gas, Putin said: “Will there be any political decisions that contradict the contracts? Yes, we just won’t fulfil them. We will not supply anything at all if it contradicts our interests,” he said, according to a Reuters translation of his remarks. “We will not supply gas, oil, coal, heating oil – we will not supply anything.” Putin claimed that grain leaving Ukraine was being exported not to poor countries, but instead to the EU. He claimed that only two ships out of 87 had gone to developing countries. Data from the UN showed that Putin’s claim was false by a factor of at least 10.

‘EU will propose a price cap on Russian gas’

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has confirmed that she would be proposing a price cap on Russian gas, nothwithstanding Putin’s threats, saying, “We must cut revenues to Russia that Putin uses to finance his atrocious war in Ukraine.” von der Leyen was unveiling a series of long-awaited proposals to tackle the EU’s worsening energy crisis and curb the soaring bills that are putting European households and companies under financial stress. The European Commission president proposed an EU-wide plan to reduce electricity consumption, a price cap on the excess revenues made by renewables and nuclear energy, a solidarity mechanism to capture the “massive” and “unexpected” profits reaped by fossil fuel companies, and a state aid programme to inject extra liquidity into struggling utility businesses. “The manipulation of the gas markets has a spill-over effect on the electricity market,” von der Leyen said, adding: “We are confronted with astronomic electricity prices for households and companies and with enormous market volatility.” Earlier, she wrote on Twitter, that the EU Commission proposes an additional €5 billion of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine. This is in addition to the €10 billion euros that the EU has already provided in financial, humanitarian and military aid. “The situation in Ukraine requires our full support,” she wrote.

‘2.5 million Ukrainians deported to Russia’

CNN quotes the Ukrainian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Khrystyna Hayovyshyn, telling the UN Security Council that thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been forcibly deported to “isolated and depressed regions of Siberia and of far east Russia”. Hayovyshyn quantified Ukrainian deportees at 2.5 million, including 38,000 children.

‘Truss vows never again’

Today’s London national news papers look ahead to UK Prime Minister Liz Truss unveiling her plan to tackle spiralling energy bills. The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph focus on the prime minister’s promise to “revolutionise” energy supply in the UK and ensure households won’t face paying exorbitant bills in the future. “Truss vows never again” is the headline in the Telegraph. The Times says Truss will pledge action to prevent average annual household energy costs rising from the present level of £1,971. It says oil firms will also be encouraged to exploit existing reserves in the North Sea but says there are concerns within government that the prime minister’s intervention could increase the risk of blackouts. People will be asked to stop leaving appliances on standby and to turn down their thermostats. The Daily Mail describes her plan as an “energy revolution” which would freeze fuel bills, end the fracking ban and signal a new era of oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. The Financial Times says the pound has fallen to its weakest level since 1985, “reflecting the daunting scale of the economic challenge” facing Liz Truss ahead of her energy announcement. The i newspaper says questions are growing over how Ms Truss’s plan will be funded, with former chancellor Philip Hammond telling the paper a future tax rise is inevitable. The Sun dedicates its lead story to the photo of the royals, complete with a classic tabloid pun: “The 3 aaahs”. It pictures Prince George, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Louis, the Duke of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte smiling hand-in-hand on their way to school.

Canada mass stabbing suspect dies after car chase

The final suspect in the stabbing rampage that killed 10 people in and around a Canadian Indigenous reserve died after his car was run off the road by police Wednesday following a three-day manhunt, officials said. Myles Sanderson, 32, was caught on a highway near the town of Rosthern in the province of Saskatchewan as officers responded to a report of a stolen vehicle being driven by a man armed with a knife, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. Officers forced Sanderson’s vehicle off the road and into a ditch and according to RCMP, went into medical distress after he was arrested. Emergency medical personnel took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Killer broadcasts shooting on Facebook

Two people were killed and four others injured in a series of shootings in Memphis, Tennessee, according to local police, who after a manhunt captured the 19-year-old Afro-American Ezekiel Kelly, considered the perpetrator of the attack. The young man broadcast at least one of the shootings live on Facebook, shooting while he was driving and probably randomly choosing his victims. The attack is believed to have been triggered by a dispute over betting.

Attacker and girlfriend ‘planned’ attempted hit on Argentine VP

The man accused of trying to shoot Argentine Vice President Cristina Kirchner last week planned the attack with his girlfriend, according to preliminary charges filed by a judge, local media reported Wednesday. The alleged would-be shooter in the attack at point blank range, Fernando Sabag Montiel, and his girlfriend, Brenda Uliarte, both in custody, are accused of trying to assassinate Kirchner “with planning and prior agreement,” Judge Maria Eugenia Capuchetti said in an indictment of the two, according to the Telam news agency.

Carrefour and Auchan involved in a maxi tax fraud

An alleged maxi tax evasion for €260 million was discovered by the Milan Finance Police as part of an investigation into a VAT carousel fraud in the large-scale distribution sector. Nine people are under investigation for criminal association aimed at the commission of tax crimes, and are under house arrest, on the orders of the investigating judge Roberto Crepaldi, while four others have been banned from operating companies and management offices. The judge also ordered the preventive seizure of over €260 million against 15 companies. According to the investigations of the economic-financial police unit of the Fiamme Gialle, coordinated by the prosecutor Nicola Rossato, it emerged that the companies managed by the suspects had issued and used false invoices for €1.8 billion. Carrefour Italia, meanwhile, announced that it had “already launched an internal investigation to verify what has emerged”.

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