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Finland, Sweden submit application to join NATO

Sweden and Finland have submitted their applications to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

 

Their ambassadors made the presentation to Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Dpa reports.

 

On Wednesday, Stoltenberg described the move as a “historic step” in a “critical moment” for Europe.

 

The official noted that it came amid Russia’s war in Ukraine now almost three months.

 

He said the organization would assess the applications and consider the security interests of all allies.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan are opposed to the admission.

 

Erdogan is furious because Sweden and Finland earlier sanctioned his country.

 

The Turkish leader accused them of supporting “terrorist organisations”.

 

The comment referred to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish militia People’s Defence Units (YPG) in Syria. 

News World Update

US launches conflict monitor for Russian war on Ukraine

The United States (U.S.) has established a new conflict monitoring body which will be used to build legal cases against Russia for crimes committed during its war on Ukraine.

“The Conflict Observatory will ensure that crimes committed by Russia’s forces are documented and perpetrators are held accountable,” State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said on Tuesday as he announced the creation of the body.

He said the programme would capture, analyse, and make publicly available open-source information and evidence of atrocities, human rights abuses and harm to civilian infrastructure, including Ukraine’s cultural heritage.

The reports will be posted on ConflictObservatory.org.

The spokesperson said the observatory was a collaboration between scientists and the private sector.

He said the goal is to contribute to eventual prosecutions in Ukraine’s domestic courts, courts in third-party countries, U.S. courts and other tribunals.

It will also provide information refuting Russian disinformation campaigns.

The program is a collaboration with geographic information systems company Esri, Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Lab, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and PlanetScape Ai, the State Department said, adding that future funding will come from the European Democratic Resilience Initiative.

News World Update

War: You can not do without Russia’s oil – Putin mocks Europe

 

Russian President, Vladimir Putin has declared that some European countries cannot give up on his country’s oil.

 

Putin stated this on Tuesday during a meeting on the oil industry, according to CNN.

 

He noted that countries in Europe have continued to introduce new sanctions on oil and gas markets, warning this is doing no one any good but rather is leading to inflation.

 

The Russian leader said, the European nations, “instead of admitting their own mistakes, are looking for someone to blame.

 

“The Europeans recognize that they cannot completely give up on Russian energy resources and it is also obvious that certain EU countries where the share of Russian hydrocarbons is particularly high, for a long time will not be able to give up our energy,” Putin said

 

Putin added that the decisions by the European Union to adopt “and the declarations about a full renunciation of Russian energy sources have already caused a rise in prices for oil.”

News World Update

War: You can not do without Russia’s oil – Putin mocks Europe

 

Russian President, Vladimir Putin has declared that some European countries cannot give up on his country’s oil.

 

Putin stated this on Tuesday during a meeting on the oil industry, according to CNN.

 

He noted that countries in Europe have continued to introduce new sanctions on oil and gas markets, warning this is doing no one any good but rather is leading to inflation.

 

The Russian leader said, the European nations, “instead of admitting their own mistakes, are looking for someone to blame.

 

“The Europeans recognize that they cannot completely give up on Russian energy resources and it is also obvious that certain EU countries where the share of Russian hydrocarbons is particularly high, for a long time will not be able to give up our energy,” Putin said

 

Putin added that the decisions by the European Union to adopt “and the declarations about a full renunciation of Russian energy sources have already caused a rise in prices for oil.”

News World Update

Your plans to join NATO grave mistake – Russia warns Finland, Sweden

 

Russia has reacted angrily to the plans by Finland and Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

 

The intergovernmental military alliance already has 30 member states – 28 in Europe, the United States, and Canada.

 

On Monday, Moscow warned that the admission of the two countries would be a grave mistake.

 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said there will be far-reaching consequences.

 

Ryabkov added that military tensions with the two Scandinavian nations would increase.

 

“They should have no illusions that we will simply resign ourselves to this”, Interfax news agency quoted him saying.

 

In a chat with Finnish Head of State Sauli Niinistö, President Vladimir Putin said his country would be making an error.

 

More European countries are seeking NATO membership due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

News World Update

McDonald’s to sell its business in Russia over Ukraine war

McDonald’s Corporation says it has commenced the process of selling its business in Russia.

 

The multinational fast food corporation would be joining several businesses which have exited Russia, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

McDonald’s said its decision was on the back of its initial plans to temporarily close all its restaurants in Russia.

 

In a statement issued on Monday, the company noted that it was pursuing the sale of its entire portfolio of McDonald’s restaurants in Russia to a local buyer.

 

The company said it would initiate the process of “de-Arching” those restaurants, which entails no longer using the McDonald’s name, logo, branding, and menu — and it will continue to retain its trademarks in Russia.

 

The statement added that McDonald’s priorities include seeking to ensure the employees of McDonald’s Russia continue to be paid until the close of any transaction and that employees have future employment with any potential buyer.

 

Chris Kempczinski, chief executive, McDonald’s, said the exit was in solidarity with the global community against the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine.

 

 “We have a long history of establishing deep, local roots wherever the Arches shine. We’re exceptionally proud of the 62,000 employees who work in our restaurants, along with the hundreds of Russian suppliers who support our business, and our local franchisees,” the statement quoted Kempczinski as saying.

 

“Their dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s make today’s announcement extremely difficult. However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values. And our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the Arches shining there.”

 

The company, which has operated its business in Russia for over 30 years, said it expects to record a non-cash charge of about $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion as part of the exit.

 

It added that this is “to write off its net investment in the market and recognise significant foreign currency translation losses previously recorded in shareholders’ equity”.

 

Companies including Starbucks, Yum Brand, the parent company of KFCs and Pizza Hut, had suspended operations in Russia, following the war in Ukraine. 

News World Update

War: Joining NATO would be a mistake – Putin threatens Finland

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has told his Finnish counterpart that becoming a NATO member would be “a mistake”.

A statement from Kremlin quoted the Russian leader as stressing that “the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland’s security.”

Russia has already cut off its ten percent electricity supply to Finland following its plan to join NATO.

President Sauli Niinisto, who has been in regular talks with President Putin in recent years, said the Nordic country and eurozone member “wants to take care of the practical questions arising from being a neighbour of Russia in a correct and professional manner”

But Putin kicked against such move, saying “such a change in the country’s political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over years in a spirit of good neighbourliness and cooperation between partners.”

Office of the Finnish President said that the phone call, which was “initiated by Finland … was direct and straightforward and it was conducted without aggravations. Avoiding tensions was considered important.”

Russia had on February 24, invaded Ukraine over the same political issues and this has swung political and public opinion in Finland and neighbouring Sweden, who have indicated interests in joining NATO.

However, despite Russia and Turkey’s position on Finland joining NATO, Germany has backed the move.

German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock on Saturday said she supports Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to NATO, despite Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s criticism.

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday he was not looking at Finland’s and Sweden’s moves to join NATO “positively,” accusing both counties of housing Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”

News World Update

Mohamed bin Zayed elected as UAE president

 

The federal supreme council of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has unanimously elected Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the new president of the country.

 

The council, which is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE, on Saturday, took the decision to elect Mohamed following the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

 

On Friday, UAE’s ministry of presidential affairs announced the death of Khalifa, who had been the country’s president since November 2004.

 

Emirates New Agency, in a report, said the decision to elect Mohammed was based on Article 51 of the country’s constitution.

 

 “The federal supreme council today unanimously elected His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as president of the United Arab Emirates,” the news agency said.

 

“The council held a meeting today at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi, headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”

 

The development means that Mohamed is the third president of the UAE since the formation of the union in 1971.

 

Mohamed was born on March 11, 1961. He became the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in November 2004.

 

He assumed the acting president role of UAE in 2014 after the late Khalifa suffered a stroke and had a surgical operation.

News World Update

War: We’ll take ‘retaliatory steps’ if you join NATO – Russia warns Finland

  

Russia warned Finland that it would “be forced” to retaliate if the long-neutral country joined the Western military alliance, NATO, imminently, amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

 

The Russian Foreign Ministry disclosed this in a statement Thursday.

 

The statement read, “Finland joining NATO is a radical change in the country’s foreign policy.

 

“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising.”

 

The statement comes immediately after Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the country should apply to join NATO “without delay.”

 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has shifted countries like Finland and Sweden’s calculus on NATO membership, with Finland also seriously considering lodging an application to join the alliance.

News World Update

War: We’ll take ‘retaliatory steps’ if you join NATO – Russia warns Finland

  

Russia warned Finland that it would “be forced” to retaliate if the long-neutral country joined the Western military alliance, NATO, imminently, amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

 

The Russian Foreign Ministry disclosed this in a statement Thursday.

 

The statement read, “Finland joining NATO is a radical change in the country’s foreign policy.

 

“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising.”

 

The statement comes immediately after Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the country should apply to join NATO “without delay.”

 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has shifted countries like Finland and Sweden’s calculus on NATO membership, with Finland also seriously considering lodging an application to join the alliance.

News World Update

War: We’ll take ‘retaliatory steps’ if you join NATO – Russia warns Finland

  

Russia warned Finland that it would “be forced” to retaliate if the long-neutral country joined the Western military alliance, NATO, imminently, amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

 

The Russian Foreign Ministry disclosed this in a statement Thursday.

 

The statement read, “Finland joining NATO is a radical change in the country’s foreign policy.

 

“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising.”

 

The statement comes immediately after Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the country should apply to join NATO “without delay.”

 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has shifted countries like Finland and Sweden’s calculus on NATO membership, with Finland also seriously considering lodging an application to join the alliance.

News World Update

Bill Gates tests positive for COVID, says he’s fortunate to be vaccinated

 

Bill Gates, billionaire businessman and co-founder of Microsoft, says he tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Gates announced this on Tuesday in a post on Twitter, adding that he is experiencing mild symptoms.

 

“I’ve tested positive for COVID. I’m experiencing mild symptoms and am following the experts’ advice by isolating until I’m healthy again,” he wrote.

 

“I’m fortunate to be vaccinated and boosted and have access to testing and great medical care.

 

 “The Gates Foundation is coming together today for the first time in two years, and I am lucky to be on Teams to see everyone and thank them for their hard work.

 

“We will continue working with partners and do all we can to ensure none of us have to deal with a pandemic again.”

 

Gates has been a vocal advocate for measures to curb the pandemic, especially on access to vaccines and medication for poorer countries.

 

In his 2021 end-of-the-year message, Gates expressed concern about the unfair distribution of vaccines, adding that with the emergence of new variants and challenges with vaccination, the world is not as close to the end of the pandemic as he had hoped.

 

“I am hopeful, though, that the end is finally in sight. It might be foolish to make another prediction, but I think the acute phase of the pandemic will come to a close some time in 2022,” he said.

News World Update

War: We’ll respond harshly – Russia warns UK over latest ‘destructive’ action

 

Russia has issued a stern warning to the British government over its latest sanctions on Moscow.

 

The Russian foreign ministry summoned the British Ambassador to Moscow, Deborah Bronnert on Friday and laid her country’s offences before her.

 

Russia expressed dismay over the latest sanctions against the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company.

 

A statement from the Russian foreign ministry, according to CNN, said that the Ambassador was told about the unacceptability of such destructive actions.

 

Russia warned that the continuation of such actions will inevitably lead to the final destruction of bilateral ties and damage to relations between the two countries.

 

The ministry accused the United Kingdom of imposing sanctions against the Russian media just because they were covering and interpreting events taking place in the world.

 

According to Russia, these latest sections were not consistent with Western patterns and clearly confirms the duplicity and cynicism of British politicians.

 

Russia said that freedom of the media for British politicians “is nothing more than a tool for solving market problems.”

 

It further accused the UK and its officials of imposing sanctions and making statements with “threats” that are “interspersed with lies and outright rudeness” against Russia.

 

“The Russian side will continue to respond harshly and decisively to all sanctions initiated by London and take retaliatory measures,” the statement added.

News World Update

War: Germany to supply Ukraine with 7 self-propelled howitzers

Germany has reached an agreement to supply Ukraine with seven self-propelled armoured howitzers, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said while in Sliac, Slovakia, on Friday.

He said the training would be offered by Germany on the Panzerhaubitzen 2000 artillery system, which featured a cannon mounted on a tracked vehicle and resembled a tank.

According to the German military, with standard ammunition, the howitzer reaches firing distances of about 30 kilometres, with range-enhanced ammunition, up to 40 kilometres are possible.

Lambrecht announced the new weapons pledge when he visited German soldiers in Slovakia, which bordered Ukraine, who were deployed to help NATO reinforce its eastern flank.

The German government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz had been repeatedly accused by the leadership in Kiev of not doing enough to help defend against the Russian invasion.

News World Update

War: Ukraine, Russia conflict causing huge volatility in energy market – OPEC

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) says the ongoing war by Russia in Ukraine is causing huge volatility in the global energy market.

Mr Mohammad Barkindo, OPEC Secretary-General, made the assertion while speaking at the virtual 62nd Meeting of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) on Wednesday.

Barkindo noted that there were implications and possible far-reaching consequences of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

He said: “As highlighted at our last meeting, the conflict has compounded the uncertainties related to the pandemic.

“It has heralded in further economic volatility, elevated risk premiums for oil, as well as many other essential commodities, given that both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are key global exporters, including essential agricultural goods.

“From the oil market perspective, however, what is clear is that Russia’s oil and other liquids exports of more than seven million barrels per day cannot be made up from elsewhere. The spare capacity just does not exist.”

According to him, its potential loss, through either sanctions or voluntary actions, is clearly rippling through energy markets.

“The crises we face are causing huge volatility, with daily price swings of more than $5 per barrel occurring on 13 occasions across March and April,” Barkindo said.

News World Update

‘This is nonsense’ – Russia says it’s not declaring war on Ukraine on May 9

Russia has said there is no chance of President Vladimir Putin declaring war on Ukraine on May 9.

May 9 is the country’s Victory Day, and Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov dismissed those reports as “nonsense.”

Russia said it is currently on a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine and analysts and Western officials previously said they believe that on May 9, Putin could formally declare war.

Dmitry Peskov told CNN that the speculations were nonsense when asked what the chances were of Putin declaring war on Victory Day, adding, “none.” “No, this is nonsense.”

Speaking further, he also rejected reports that President Putin may use Victory Day to announce mobilization in the country, which would allow the government not just to assemble troops but also to put the economy on a war footing.

May 9, known as “Victory Day” inside Russia, commemorates the country’s defeat of the Nazis in 1945.

It is marked by a military parade in Moscow, and Russian leaders traditionally stand on the tomb of Vladimir Lenin in Red Square to observe it.

Putin has a keen eye for symbolism, having launched the invasion of Ukraine the day after Defender of the Fatherland Day, another crucial military day in Russia, leading Western officials to believe he would use May 9 to either announce a military achievement in Ukraine, a major escalation of hostilities or both.

News World Update

War: Russia hits back at Japan, bans Prime Minister, 62 others indefinitely

Russia has banned 63 Japanese citizens, including the country’s Minister Fumio Kishida, from entering Russia ‘indefinitely’.

CNN quoted state news agency RIA Novosti is reporting that members of Kishida’s cabinet including Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, and Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki have also been barred from entering Russia

Also banned are members of the parliament and the military.

“The administration of Fumio Kishida launched an unprecedented anti-Russian campaign, allows unacceptable rhetoric against the Russian Federation, including slander and direct threats,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to RIA.

“It is echoed by public figures, experts and media representatives of Japan, who are completely engaged in the attitudes of the West towards our country.”

Japan has since March announced a series of sanctions against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Japan’s action against Russia include freezing the assets of President Vladimir Putin and his family members.

Moscow had last week warned Japan of “retaliatory measures” if it expands joint naval exercises with the United States of America near Russia’s eastern borders.

News World Update

War: EU finally proposes ban on Russian oil

 

The European Union (EU) has proposed a ban on Russian oil, amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

 

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, disclosed this in a tweet via her Twitter handle on Thursday morning.

 

She said: “Finally, we now propose a ban on Russian oil. Let’s be clear: it will not be easy. But we simply have to work on it.

 

“We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion. To maximize pressure on Russia, while minimizing the impact on our economies.”

 

Leyen added, “We want Ukraine to win this war. Yet so much has to be rebuilt. That is why I am proposing to start working on an ambitious recovery package for our Ukrainian friends.

 

“This package should bring massive investment to meet the needs and the necessary reforms.”

 

Recall that the war between Russia and Ukraine began in February this year.

 

Both neighbouring nations have been fighting for more than two months since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine due to some political differences.

 

As of today, many casualties have since been recorded as a result of the war.

News World Update

War: Don’t transform yourself to Putin’s altar boy – Pope Francis warns pro-war Russian patriarch

His Holiness, Pope Francis, has warned Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, not to transform himself to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s altar boy amid the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

The Pope also slammed Kirill for endorsing Russia’s stated reasons for invading Ukraine.

“I spoke to him [Patriarch Kirill] for 40 minutes via Zoom,” the Pope told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

“The first 20 minutes, he read to me, with a card in hand, all the justifications for war.

“I listened and told him: I don’t understand anything about this. Brother, we are not clerics of state, we cannot use the language of politics but that of Jesus.

“The Patriarch cannot transform himself into Putin’s altar boy,” he said.

Meanwhile, in March, Kirill said that the war between Russia and Ukraine was an extension of a fundamental culture clash between the wider Russian world and Western liberal values, exemplified by expressions of gay pride.

Both Russia and Ukraine have been fighting for over two months and many casualties have already been recorded as of today.