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1. Ukraine responds to Macron EU plan17:17[-/+]
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Kiev insists it won’t accept any “surrogates” to EU membership

Kiev’s top diplomat and ambassador to Germany have dismissed a proposal by the French President on Ukraine’s accession to the EU. Last Monday, Macron said that Kiev could not expect to become a member state in the near future, suggesting the creation of a “European political community” made up of aspiring nations instead.

In a twitter post on Thursday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba argued that “strategic ambiguity on Ukraine’s European perspective practiced by some EU capitals in the past years has failed and must end.” He went on to claim that the said ambiguity only served to embolden the Kremlin. The Ukrainian official emphasized that his country did “not need surrogates for EU candidate status that show second-class treatment of Ukraine and hurt feelings of Ukrainians.

Strategic ambiguity on Ukraine’s European perspective practiced by some EU capitals in the past years has failed and must end. It only emboldened Putin. We do not need surrogates for EU candidate status that show second-class treatment of Ukraine and hurt feelings of Ukrainians.

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) May 19, 2022

Kuleba’s message echoed the opinion of Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, who commented on Macron’s proposal during an interview with France’s Les Echoes newspaper last Wednesday. Andrey Melnyk told journalists that he was “very skeptical” about the French president’s idea, adding that “offering this substitute for formal membership is like reinventing the wheel.

Either we are in the EU or we are outside,” Melnyk declared.

The diplomat also said that Kiev expected more courage from Macron with respect to Ukraine’s EU bid now that he has won the presidential election.

The remarks came in response to Emmanuel Macron’s proposal he made during the EU conference on the future of Europe last Monday. Speaking of Ukraine, the French President noted that “even if we gave them candidate status tomorrow, we all know perfectly well that the process of allowing them to join would take several years, in truth doubtless several decades.” He, however, acknowledged that Ukraine and the likes of Moldova and Georgia wanted to join the bloc as soon as possible in the face of Russia’s offensive. As a stopgap measure to accommodate those nations’ aspirations, Macron suggested setting up a “European political community,” naming it nothing short of the EU’s “historic obligation.” According to the French president, such a structure “would allow democratic European nations ... to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, the movement of people.

The idea was lapped up by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who posted a tweet on Wednesday, calling for the “creation of a European Geopolitical Community.

I call for the creation of a European Geopolitical Community.

The aim is to forge convergence and deepen operational cooperation to address common challenges, peace, stability and security on our continent.#EESCPlenary @EU_EESC pic.twitter.com/XKSucel4YK

— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) May 18, 2022

Speaking in the Bundestag on Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz concurred with the French president, warning that Ukraine could not expect to join the EU within “a couple of months or a few years.” Scholz said that it would be unfair to candidate nations of many years in the Western Balkans if Ukraine was given a “shortcut.

However, the bloc is currently focusing on providing the Eastern-European nation with “quick and pragmatic” support, Scholz assured.

In an interview with the Financial Times in early May, Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, for his part, urged Brussels to rethink the EU’s accession process. The diplomat spoke in favor of granting neighboring states rapid access to “parts of the common market” and to selected EU institutions and programs as part of a transition toward full membership. Schallenberg claimed that the “Eastern Partnership we have developed does not work,” calling for a thorough revamp of the “whole conception [of the] neighborhood policy of the EU.” In the same breath, the Austrian official noted that the membership bids of countries like Albania, North Macedonia and Moldova should be considered an equal priority as that of Ukraine.

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A Ukrainian flag reading
Russia warns about 'end of EU'

Austria’s Minister for the EU and constitution, Karoline Edtstadler, clarified that Ukraine was unlikely to enter the European family “in the next five to ten years.” The official pointed out that “countries in the West Balkans have been waiting for decades for the next step.” Edtstadler added that “there can be no accelerated procedure for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Baltic states and Poland have been lobbying hard for Ukraine’s accession to the EU recently.

Kiev lodged a formal bid to become a member state shortly after Russia attacked the country in late February. It is expected that the European Commission will make its position known in June this year.

However, getting the official candidate status does not necessarily mean a speedy accession as evidenced by the cases of several aspiring nations.

Медиа: image / jpeg


2. Husband charged with murder after ex-college soccer star found dead17:12[-/+]
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Former goalkeeper Regan Gibbs was killed on Monday aged 25

Former college soccer goalkeeper Regan Gibbs was killed aged 25 on Monday, as confirmed by the athletics board at the University of Kansas (KU) and local police.

Athletics director Travis Goff said that the KU family was "devastated to hear about the loss of former KU student-athlete Regan Gibbs" and sent their "love, support and prayers to Regan’s family, friends and former teammates as we all mourn her loss."

"Our soccer program is heartbroken to hear about the tragic loss of Regan," said Kansas Jayhawks soccer coach Mark Francis in the same release.

"She was a tremendous teammate and young woman, and touched so many during her time at Kansas. Regan will always be remembered for the impact she had both on and off the field. We share our condolences to her family, friends and teammates during this difficult time."

In separate correspondence, the local police department in Lawrence, a southwestern suburb of Kansas City, explained that Gibbs' death is the subject of a homicide investigation, with her 26-year-old husband Chad Joseph Marek arrested by cops at the scene and charged with suspicion of murder.

We are heartbroken about the loss of Regan Gibbs ?

We share our deepest condolences to Regan’s family, friends and teammates.

More information -> https://t.co/9reH5e2hry pic.twitter.com/1id7golZHE

— Kansas Soccer (@KUWSoccer) May 18, 2022

pic.twitter.com/cjkh4oIePs

— Lawrence Police (@LawrenceKS_PD) May 17, 2022

Elsewhere, multiple reports have claimed that Marek has already been charged with first-degree murder too after appearing before judges on Tuesday.

Not entering a plea yet, he is being held on a $1 million bond and a future court date has been arranged for May 24.

To FoxFKC, Lawrence Police Chief Rich Lockhart said that Marek, who had been married to Gibbs for less than a year, called police confessing to having killed his wife and explaining that "God told him to do it."

"There are obviously some preliminary indicators that this person was not mentally stable," Lockhart detailed. "We call it being in psychosis, so obviously that’s something we’ll be looking into as this case continues."

On GoFundMe, a campaign with its $20,000 goal already surpassed has been established to help cover the costs of the funeral for Naches, Washington native Gibbs.

"On the morning of Tuesday, May 17th, 2022 Regan’s mom received the phone call no parent ever expects to receive," reads the post.

Read more
Otis Anderson Jr in action for UFC Knights © David Butler II / USA Today Sports via Reuters
Father charged with shooting ex-NFL son dead in row reportedly started by ‘dog bite’

"The police informed her mom that Regan had been [killed]. Regan was only 25, a beautiful, kindhearted girl who loved Jesus and people. She had a big heart for the homeless and hoped to go back to school to become a physician's assistant to do mission work.

"Regan had a precious soul and she was loved by everyone who knew her. She is leaving behind her mom and four younger sisters who are heartbroken by this tragic loss," the post added.

Though forming part of two different NCAA tournament teams with the Jayhawks from 2015 to 2018, Gibbs didn't turn professional after college and was, as the GoFundMe post explained, planning to become a physician's assistant.

Медиа: image / jpeg


3. Boozy Tyson Fury caught lashing out at taxi (VIDEO)16:58[-/+]
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The WBC heavyweight champion appeared heavily intoxicated while failing to negotiate a lift home

Boxing heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury has been caught kicking out at a taxi while appearing to be drunk on holiday in the south of France.

A Russian-speaking voice is heard narrating the clip from a distance in Cannes, with Fury oblivious to being filmed.

In the footage, the stumbling 'Gypsy King' is led to a grey Renault taxi at a pedestrian crossing by his father John.

Joined by another man in their entourage, he and Fury seemingly attempt to negotiate a ride with the driver and unsuccessfully open the back door.

Deciding that he doesn't want the fare, the driver then rolls off as Fury, restrained by John, kicks out at the car's rear.

Tyson Fury kicking out at a taxi while on holiday with his father John Fury…

[?? @Lagboatmfc100]https://t.co/d5gNxO2gnm

— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) May 19, 2022

While Fury was criticized on Twitter by some, he found praise from those others who said that the champ "does what he wants".

"This is just a normal down-to-earth guy who’s doing what most men do on holiday. Proper people's champion," claimed one compliment.

Seeming to have come round, Fury took to Instagram stories early on Thursday to upload a video of himself and John pounding the streets of Cannes.

Tyson Fury and John Fury out for a run this morning after a heavy night last night…

[?? @Tyson_Fury] pic.twitter.com/r3nyPmAM8e

— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) May 19, 2022

"Nice run this morning, dad, through the city," Fury says to the camera. "Back at it, [to] sweat them few sherbets out," he adds in reference to alcohol.

"Too many we had last night," Fury confesses. "Strong beer though wasn't it, Dad?" he asks John, to which the elder Fury confirms: "Strongest I've had."

"Get up!" Fury goes on. "Nice run, we're out there now," he finishes, as John claims: "No harm done."

Fury claims to have retired after knocking out Dillian Whyte at Wembley last month, telling Piers Morgan: "This is the truth, the gospel truth, nothing but the truth... I'm done.

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© Twitter / Piers Morgan Uncensored
Tyson Fury gives Piers Morgan ‘gospel truth’ about retirement decision (VIDEO)

"You know, every good dog has its day and like the great Roman leader said, there's always be somebody else to fight," the Mancunian went on.

"When is enough enough? I'm happy, I'm healthy. I've still got my brains, I can still talk. I've got a beautiful wife, I've got six kids. I've got umpteen belts, I've got plenty of money. Success, fame, glory.

Yet Fury could still return to the ring in a bid to become the undisputed champion of the heavyweight division once more by meeting and beating WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO ruler Oleksandr Usyk.

Before signing on the dotted line anywhere, though, Fury must wait to see who prevails in a rematch between Usyk and Fury's British rival Anthony Joshua, which is set to be signed any day now.

Медиа: image / jpeg


4. Red-pilled Elon Musk has plenty of reasons to be fed up with the Democrats16:55[-/+]
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The former 'kindness party' should’ve seen it coming

Elon Musk is fully red-pilled. After months of attacks from the left, its allies in the Democratic party, and ceaseless efforts to cancel him, the world’s richest man says that he plans on voting Republican moving forward.

Like so many other former Democrats, Musk has lost all hope in the trajectory of the party of the left. Once the party of “kindness,” as Musk himself describes, the Democrats have fallen far from grace due to their endorsement of woke, anti-American, and some might even say, anti-human policies that benefit no one but those in charge. The establishment has been unrelenting in its pursuit of “socially conscious” causes such as anti-parent transgender ideology, the forced adoption of so-called “preferred pronouns,” cancel culture, abolishing law enforcement, and – much to the chagrin of many anti-war advocates on the left – funding foreign conflicts.

The Democrats having devolved from being the ‘party of the people’ to one of weird agendas was no more evident than when numerous political influencers, including prominent congressional representatives, senators, and even Vice President Kamala Harris, threw their support behind the ‘defund the police’ movement in 2020.

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FILE PHOTO: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is seen at an event in Berlin, Germany, December 1, 2020.
Elon Musk says he’ll switch political parties

In retrospect, everyone could’ve seen the iceberg on the horizon from the Titanic, the effects of which are now clearly evident with the rise in inflation, crime, illegal immigration, and numerous crises that have only served to hurt, and not help, Democratic constituents, not to mention independent Republican-leaning business owners.

And much like the iceberg that sank the Titanic, this one’s sinking what was thought be an unsinkable America. Too big to fail? There’s no such thing.

Worse still, Democrats don’t take ownership of the problems they’ve created. Rather than work to address these issues, they’ve opted to blame everyone from Russian President Vladimir Putin to former US President Donald Trump. Printing too much money? Let’s just label it “Putin’s Price Hike” and call it a day.

Instead of addressing their policy failures, Democrats such as Joe Biden have doubled down on those very same failures and have moved to silence their critics and impose censorship over dissenting voices.

On social media, no one in the US has been subjected to more censorship than conservatives – and it has been unrelenting. The Biden White House even established its very own Ministry of Truth to screen out dissenting voices.

Despite campaigning as a uniter, Biden has chosen to widen the gap between everyday Americans by blaming his political opponents. His party has become one of division and hate.

It’s no surprise that Musk, a visionary who wants to make the world a better place through the advancement of technology and the lessening of limits on free speech, has taken it upon himself to align with the Republicans. After all, this is part of the reason Musk, who sees Twitter’s potential as a marketplace of ideas, decided to buy it.

His remarks come days after he lampooned President Joe Biden by pointing out that the real power resided in the hands of whomever controls the teleprompter. Just as well, Musk’s criticism of the Biden administration has been steady, particularly for printing endless dollars and jacking up inflation.

Read more
© Getty Images / Michal Fludra
Elon Musk names ‘real’ US President

Make no mistake, Musk has personal reasons to oppose the Democrats, especially in light of their imposition of ESG (environment, social, and governance) scores. The system, which is designed to nudge corporations into embracing progressive causes, absurdly rates oil major Exxon in the top ten in the world for ESG – being woke apparently more than offsets the hydrocarbon focus of the business. Tesla, one of America’s leading employers and the pioneer of electric vehicles, didn’t even make the list.

“ESG is a scam. It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors,” said Musk, who added in a separate tweet that ESG “determines how compliant your business is with the leftist agenda.”

Musk may not be a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, and that’s okay. His libertarian ideals and personal interests align with those of the Republicans, at least for the foreseeable future.

Musk knows that he’ll face blowback for his newfound position and expects the political attacks on him to come in hard and fast – and to dramatically escalate in the coming months.

Musk himself said it best: “In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party. But they have become the party of division [and] hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican.”

“Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold,” he concluded.

Red-pill them from orbit, Elon. It’s the only way to be sure.

Медиа: image / jpeg


5. US lawmaker threatens Turkey over NATO stance – media16:42[-/+]
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Deal to purchase F-16 fighter jets could be conditional on Ankara accepting NATO enlargement, Senator Menendez reportedly said

Turkey’s request to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and modernization kits for almost 80 warplanes it already owns could reportedly be blocked by the US unless Ankara welcomes Finland and Sweden into NATO. Such a scenario was suggested by Senator Robert Menendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as cited by the Washington Post on Wednesday.

“I hope the administration is noticing it as they’re considering F-16s,” the newspaper quoted the Democratic lawmaker as saying. “You should be telling [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan you’ve got to act in a different way if you want consideration for anything.”

The US senator was responding to Turkey’s obstruction of the membership requests of the two Nordic nations to NATO this week. The approval of all 30 members is required before new countries can be admitted. Ankara, however, said it won’t provide its consent because it claims Sweden and Finland harbored “terrorists.”

The objections seemingly referred to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a Kurdish militant group that waged a lengthy guerilla campaign against the Turkish government. Erdogan reportedly wants as many as 30 people to be extradited by Finland and Sweden before he would allow them to join the US-led military bloc.

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© Beata Zawrzel / NurPhoto via Getty Images
NATO member blocks Sweden and Finland's accession talks – media

Turkey made a request for American warplanes last October, but the potential deal became somewhat contentious for the US government. The NATO ally was previously kicked out of the F-35 program in retaliation for its 2017 purchase of Russian-made anti-aircraft systems, which the US claimed could be used to reveal to Moscow the secrets of the advanced US-made stealth fighter.

In April, Reuters reported that the Department of State had sent a letter to Congress arguing that the proposed deal would serve American interests but stopping short of explicitly supporting it. Last month, the Biden administration asked congressional leaders to approve the aircraft sale, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier in May, citing insiders.

The Turkish leadership indicated that it perceived its request as a form of compensation for being snubbed on the F-35s, which it found “unjust”.

Медиа: image / jpeg


6. Female referees selected for Qatar World Cup16:07[-/+]
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It will mark the first time women have officiated matches at the men’s football showpiece

For the first time in its 92-year history, the men’s football World Cup will feature female referees when the tournament is held in Qatar later this year.

FIFA announced the news on Thursday, with France’s Stephanie Frappart, Rwandan official Salima Mukansanga, and Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita being named as among the referees for the event.

In addition, Qatar 2022 will see three female assistant referees in the form of Neuza Back of Brazil, American Kathryn Nesbitt, and Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina.

The tournament in Qatar – which will be the 22nd edition of the famous quadrennial showpiece – will be the first time it has been held in an Arab country.

Matches kick off on November 21 and run to the final on December 18, marking another milestone as the tournament is held outside of its traditional ‘summer’ slot for the first time.

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© David Ramos / Getty Images
Nations learn Qatar World Cup fates

Each of the female trio selected among the refereeing contingent has already been a trailblazer in her own way.

Frappart was the first woman to referee a men’s Champions League match and a World Cup qualifying match, while also overseeing games in the French top-tier Ligue 1.

Mukansanga this year became the first woman to referee a match at the men’s Africa Cup of Nations, while Japan’s Yamashita had the honor of being the first female referee to take charge of an AFC Champions League match.

Congratulations to:

Yamashita Yoshimi ??
Stephanie Frappart ??
Salima Mukansanga ??

The first three female referees to be selected for a men's FIFA World Cup ? pic.twitter.com/tnCS3zImSd

— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) May 19, 2022

Praising the milestone, famous no-nonsense Italian refereeing icon Pierluigi Collina, who is now chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, said: “They deserve to be at the FIFA World Cup because they constantly perform at a really high level, and that's the important factor for us.”

However, the move may be seen as ironic by some, coming as it does in Qatar – a country often questioned for its own record on women’s rights, among other issues.

Read more
© Marcio Machado / Eurasia Sport Images / Getty Images
Norway football boss told to ‘educate’ herself after Qatar criticism (VIDEO)

Elsewhere, no Russians have been named among the contingent of 129 officials for the Qatar tournament, after the country’s teams were banned from all FIFA competitions in light of the military conflict in Ukraine.

The ban meant the Russian’s men’s team was denied the opportunity of attempting to qualify for Qatar after it was removed from the European playoffs.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) is appealing the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with a final verdict pending.

Медиа: image / jpeg


7. Global famine likely this year – Putin aide15:55[-/+]
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Washington’s attempts to take over Ukraine’s grain may lead to a food crisis, according to the Russian official

The attempt by the US to take over Ukraine’s grain reserves may spark a humanitarian crisis in the country and lead to grain shortages globally, President Vladimir Putin’s aide, Maksim Oreshkin, said on Thursday.

According to the official, a global famine could break out by fall this year.

It is important that in the conditions, for example, of a global famine that will occur closer to autumn, by the end of this year all over the world, Russia should not suffer, but be fully provided with food,” Oreshkin stated, as cited by RIA Novosti.

The main reason for this potential global famine, in his opinion, is the increase in the cost of wheat on the world market which stems from Washington’s irresponsible monetary policy.

Read more
RT
Russian exports can solve global food crisis – UN

Until about 2020, wheat prices on the world market were stable, but following the increased printing of the dollar, which started around July 2020, prices started rising sharply,” he stated, referring to Washington’s measures to curb the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy. However, according to Oreshkin, the Biden administration’s more recent actions are likely to worsen the situation, which is already dire.

In fact, what America is trying to do with Ukraine now is to take out the grain reserves that Ukraine currently has in its possession – just another action that dooms Ukraine to serious humanitarian problems, but also dooms the global community to having big problems with hunger,” the official warned.

Wheat prices have shot up more than 60% this year, with the latest spike resulting from supply disruptions caused by the conflict in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Moscow. The two countries account for almost a third of the world’s wheat exports.

The situation was further worsened after major grain suppliers Russia, Kazakhstan, and India largely banned exports to protect their domestic food supplies.

Following the news from New Delhi, the price of wheat futures rose by 5.9% on Monday to reach an all-time high of $12.68 per bushel on the Chicago commodities exchange, before correcting slightly in the following days. On the European market, the price reached a historic high of around $461 per ton.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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8. FIFA faces mammoth money demand over ‘abused’ migrant workers15:11[-/+]
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A group of NGOs have called for significant compensation for workers ahead of the World Cup in Qatar

FIFA is being told to compensate migrant workers in Qatar to the tune of $440 million for alleged human rights abuses during the construction of World Cup facilities.

A demand by Amnesty International in conjunction with Human Rights Watch, Supporters Europe, and trade union The Building and Wood Workers’ International has been issued around six months before Qatar is set to become the first Arab nation ever to host a FIFA World Cup.

“It is already too late to erase the past suffering, and it is time for FIFA and Qatar to put things right,” read a report by Amnesty.

“Qatar has a clear obligation to prevent human rights abuses and compensate abuse. But FIFA also has important responsibilities that we must all make sure it lives up to.

“By awarding the World Cup to Qatar without conditions on improving protections for workers’ rights, FIFA has contributed to human rights abuses on a significant scale, beyond just those employed to build and service official FIFA sites,” it added.

Read more
© Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images
Qatar 2022 fans without tickets will be denied entry to country

“In line with international standards, this means that FIFA must now ensure remedy for past labor abuses linked to the 2022 World Cup...

“FIFA should work with Qatar and other partners to set up a program to provide remedy for hundreds of thousands of workers involved in projects linked to the World Cup.

“To help fund this, FIFA should reserve an amount at least equivalent to the $440 million prize money provided to teams participating in the tournament.

“This can be invested in funds to compensate workers, and initiatives to improve workers’ protections for the future.”

Amnesty claimed that the amount would “easily” be feasible for FIFA considering that the organization will “make over $6 billion in revenues from the tournament and has over $1.6 billion of reserves.”

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Nations learn Qatar World Cup fates

The issue of migrant workers in Qatar has been among the most contentious in the build-up to the World Cup.

It has been estimated that the small Gulf state has a migrant workforce of over 2 million people, comprising more than 90% of its total labor force.

A report by UK outlet The Guardian last year claimed that there have been 6,500 migrant worker deaths in Qatar since it was awarded the right to host the World Cup back in 2010.

That prompted protests from teams such as Norway and Germany, whose players wore T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Human Rights’ ahead of World Cup qualifying matches last year.

It is not the only controversial aspect to the World Cup, which this year is being held for the first time outside of its traditional ‘summer’ slot to avoid the searing heat in Qatar. Instead, the tournament kicks off on November 21 and runs until the final on December 18, forcing a break in the season for Europe’s major leagues.

READ MORE: Denmark’s football team lashes out at Qatar World Cup bosses over human rights again – but they’re still not going to hold boycott

Qatar’s record on LGBTQ rights has also come under scrutiny, with recent reports claiming some hotels were declining bookings from same-sex couples.

Speaking at the FIFA Congress in Doha last month, Norwegian football federation chief Lise Klaveness was advised to “educate” herself by Qatar 2022 Secretary General Hasan Al Thawadi after questioning the country’s alleged mistreatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ community.

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© Marcio Machado / Eurasia Sport Images / Getty Images
Norway football boss told to ‘educate’ herself after Qatar criticism (VIDEO)

Responding to the latest demands for compensation for migrant workers, FIFA said it is “assessing” the proposals, according to The Guardian, adding it had already implemented “an unprecedented due diligence process” to protect workers’ rights.

It added that workers had already received at least $22.6 million in repayment of recruitment fees, with a further $5.7 million to come from employers.

Elsewhere, the Qatari Ministry of Labor seemingly dismissed the NGO demands, saying progress on migrant worker reforms was “irrefutable” and that “the new report undermines much of the goodwill that has been generated” by previously “engaging openly with NGOs.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has proclaimed that this year’s World Cup in Qatar will be the “best ever” in the tournament’s 92-year history.

The Middle Eastern country is estimated to be spending more than $200 billion on the tournament and related infrastructure for the privilege of hosting it.

The last World Cup was held in Russia in 2018, and was widely praised by fans and pundits as among the greatest editions of the quadrennial football showpiece.

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9. Turkey outlines position on Russian gas15:08[-/+]
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Ankara cannot abandon energy supplies, President Erdogan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Ankara would be unable to refuse natural gas deliveries from its major supplier, Russia.

“We get 50% of natural gas from Russia. This is a strategic issue for us, strategic relationship. We cannot break it,” he stressed while addressing a group of Turkish youth, according to his Twitter page.

Erdogan recalled that Ankara is working together with Moscow on implementing the massive Akkuyu nuclear power plant project, which is scheduled to be completed next year.

In 2020, the two countries launched the long-anticipated offshore pipeline TurkStream, which delivers Russian gas to Turkey and further to southern European states. The 930km pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea became operational on January 1.

READ MORE: Full stream ahead: Russia & Turkey launch TurkStream gas pipeline

The two-string pipeline, which was created as an alternative to the South Stream pipeline (after Bulgaria ditched the project in 2014), boasts a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters. One of the lines supplies Russian gas to Turkey, while the other serves the nations of southern and southeastern Europe.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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10. More Ukrainians surrender in Mariupol – Russia14:20[-/+]
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Total number of captives from the Azovstal plant has reached 1,730, the Defense Ministry said

An additional 771 Ukrainian combatants have surrendered to Russian personnel at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol over the past 24 hours, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Thursday morning. This pushed the total number of captives from the neo-Nazi dominated stronghold up to 1,730 since Monday, the report said.

Azovstal served as the last bastion of Ukrainian forces in the key port city, which the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) claims as its territory. According to the Russian military, the prisoners were “militants from the nationalist unit Azov” and were transferred to locations in Novoazovsk and Donetsk, two DPR-controlled cities. Medical assistance is being given to the 80 wounded Ukrainian fighters, the update said.

The surrenders, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered and later described as an evacuation allegedly taking place “thanks to” Ukrainian military and intelligence agents, are being monitored by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The aid organization gave a brief description of its involvement in a statement on Thursday.

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Credit: Russia’s Ministry of Defense
WATCH: Ukrainian fighters at Azovstal surrender to Russia

The ICRC said it “registered hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs)” at Azovstal and that the process was still underway. The organization is compiling lists and recording personal details of the captives to track them while they remain in custody and to “help them keep in touch with their families.”

It highlighted its role as a neutral observer in the matters of war and said it maintained “a confidential dialogue with the parties to the conflict on their obligations under international humanitarian law.”

In a separate thread on its Twitter account, the ICRC stressed that it was bound by certain restrictions on how it operates, such as not being able to testify in court about prisoner visits it conducts or to prosecute the detaining parties.

What can't we do?

?? Visit POWs without the explicit support of the detaining authority.

?? Testify in court about what we see in POW camps.

?? Make public the lists of who we visit.

?? Prosecute detaining authorities for non-compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

— ICRC (@ICRC) May 19, 2022

The ICRC is an internationally-recognized watchdog for the Geneva Conventions, the rules of war that, among other things, regulate how signatories are obliged to treat POWs.

Some Ukrainian officials previously accused the organization of various misdeeds, including allegedly participating in forced displacement of Ukrainians. They were referring to the evacuation of civilians from eastern Ukraine to safety in Russia, which Kiev insisted was done at gunpoint.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk at one point accused the ICRC of “working with the enemy.” The organization denied the accusations, saying it never takes part in forced evacuations, whether in Ukraine or anywhere else in the world.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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11. Ukraine disappointed with level of US support – media14:17[-/+]
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Politico says Biden’s reluctance to give Ukraine high-powered rocket systems has become a source of consternation for Kiev

Ukrainian officials are becoming increasingly frustrated with the US government’s failure to supply Kiev with American-made long-range multiple launch rocket systems, Politico reported on Wednesday.

According to the article, citing three unnamed officials “familiar with the issue,” even though Kiev has been soliciting the delivery of the US-made Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) for months now, the White House is apparently still dragging its feet over the potential shipment, concerned it could be construed as a further escalation by the Kremlin.

A congressional staffer “with knowledge of discussions” held at the US Ramstein Air Base in April told Politico that the “momentum” seen during the talks “seems to have cooled” now, with “frustration building” in Kiev as a result.

An anonymous Biden administration official, in turn, confirmed to Politico that Washington and Kiev were “in active discussion” about the MLRS, noting, however, that not all of the weapons Ukraine was asking for could be delivered quickly.

The unnamed staffer went on to explain that the White House has to “make decisions about what weapons systems provide the biggest bang for the buck.” With this in mind, the Biden administration reportedly decided that “it was more effective and efficient to send the 90 M777 [howitzers] because you can send more of them” for the amount of money allocated, compared to the MLRS.

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© Getty Images / Thomas Frey
EU won’t let Ukraine run out of weapons – Borrell

While the US has had no problem shipping Soviet-era multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine, which America’s Eastern European allies have in abundance, Politico noted, Washington has stopped short of providing Kiev with artillery systems with longer range and greater destructive power, which would allow the Ukrainian military to hit targets inside Russia. According to the article, President Volodymyr Zelensky listed the M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS multiple launch rocket systems among the weapons his country needs the most.

The M270 MLRS boasts a range of up to 70km, and over 165km with more advanced missiles. The more modern HIMARS can hit targets between 300 and 500km away.

Judging by reports in the German media, it is not only the US that Ukraine is unhappy with. Die Welt reported on Wednesday that last Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba took to task German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht during a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in the country. In a private conversation with Lambrecht, Kuleba reportedly asked her for an honest answer regarding the delivery of the Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, which was promised to Kiev by Berlin earlier.

According to the report, the Ukrainian official demanded that either the missing ammunition for the vehicle be promptly arranged, or Germany would have to finally admit that the topic is off the table – in which case, Berlin would be expected to “focus on a new project.” Unnamed Ukrainian sources told Die Welt that it had been a “difficult conversation” in which Kuleba became “really furious.

The Ukrainian foreign minister had reportedly told Lambrecht it is “not ok” to “declare something, knowing that there is no ammunition.” Anonymous Ukrainian officials told the outlet that the German defense minister promised Kuleba that Berlin would continue looking for the missing ammunition in third countries.

When asked for comment, the German Defense Ministry declined to disclose any details, citing the private nature of the conversation.

The German government gave the green light to the delivery of Gepards to Ukraine in late April. However, there has not been any progress since.

During their meeting, Kuleba also reportedly urged Lambrecht to issue an export permit for the shipment of Leopard 1 tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles along with ammunition to Ukraine.

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12. India looks to scoop up divested Western assets in Russia – media14:13[-/+]
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New Delhi wants to purchase the stakes of Exxon and Shell in Sakhalin energy projects, the Economic Times reports

India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is considering purchasing additional stakes in Russian oil and gas fields from Western firms that plan to leave the country, the Economic Times (ET) reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The move comes even as the Indian company’s first bid for Shell's 50% stake in the Salym oil fields in Siberia has not been accepted, the sources said.

“The war will not last forever, nor will the sanctions. We must move to secure our energy supplies,” said one of the sources. “We understand the risk and we are willing to take the risk.”

ONGC is considering making bids for ExxonMobil’s 30% stake in Russia’s Sakhalin 1 project and Shell’s 27.5% interest in the Sakhalin 2 project. It already owns a 20% stake in Sakhalin 1.

The sources revealed that along with other Indian firms, ONGC has also held preliminary discussions about the potential acquisition of BP’s 20% stake in Russia’s Rosneft.

Major Western oil companies, such as BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil, have recently announced their intention to exit their oil and gas operations in Russia due to Western sanctions.

READ MORE: Oil giant is leaving Russia

Meanwhile, India has continued purchasing Russian oil in addition to seeking stakes in Russian assets at discounted rates, given the risks involved.

However, one of the sources cited by the ET said that “buying Russian crude is one thing. In case of sanctions intensifying, you could wind it back in just a couple of months. But investing in upstream could have deeper repercussions, including tougher reactions from the West.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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13. Football star accused of stamping on fan during pitch invasion (VIDEO)14:11[-/+]
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Oli McBurnie allegedly treaded on the Nottingham Forest supporter after a Championship semifinal playoff loss

Police have opened an investigation after a Sheffield United and Scotland striker was accused of "stamping" on an opposition fan on Tuesday night.

Footage has emerged of Oli McBurnie in a brush with fans during a pitch invasion after his team lost their Championship semifinal playoff tie to Nottingham Forest on penalties at the City Ground.

In the clip seen over 2 million times where McBurnie appears to land a foot on the grounded punter, a home supporter can be heard saying: "the Sheffield United player just stamped on him."

"We have been made aware of a video circulating on social media showing a possible altercation where a Forest fan can be seen on the ground following the play-off semi-final," said Nottinghamshire Police Inspector Andy Wright, before confirming: "We have now started an investigation into this incident."

"The person in question has not yet reported the incident but [we] would urge them to come forward along with any other persons who may have witnessed the incident or have video footage so we can establish the full circumstances," Wright went on. "We would particularly appeal to the owner of the original footage to make contact."

A video’s been posted which appears to show Oli McBurnie fighting with a fan after last night’s Play-off semi-final.
pic.twitter.com/WJyURoeAgo

— The Second Tier (@secondtierpod) May 18, 2022

While McBurnie is yet to respond to the allegations directly, he has 'liked' or replied to at least three Twitter posts where people have defended his corner.

In one, Sheffield United's assistant kit man Adam Geelan wrote: "Fan illegally enters the pitch provokes and tries to push Rian [Brewster]. He defends himself and the kid falls on Oli's broken foot. [You] can clearly see there's no stamp, [what a] ridiculous post especially when stewards and police were stood there watching it happen and [we were] left to ourselves to defend."

Fan illegally enters the pitch provokes and tries to push Rian hee defends himself and the Kid falls on Oli’s broken foot can clearly see there’s no stamp,ridiculous post especially when stewards and police were stood there watching it happen and was left to ourselfs to defend https://t.co/LOxNDokFAa

— ajg (@Geelan_goo) May 18, 2022

"Wish that Oli McBurnie video was in full context - looks more like he was trying to step over him with one bad leg! Could be wrong!" read another, which McBurnie replied to with a '100' emoji.

"Are we looking at the same [video]?!" someone else asked to McBurnie's approval. "Because i can’t see a foot stamping on anyone in this pic?!"

Wish that @oli_mcburnie video was in full context - looks more like he was trying to step over him with one bad leg! Could be wrong!

— Laura ????? (@Elljayfish) May 18, 2022

Wish that @oli_mcburnie video was in full context - looks more like he was trying to step over him with one bad leg! Could be wrong!

— Laura ????? (@Elljayfish) May 18, 2022

Should police enquiries advance further, this wouldn't be McBurnie's first brush with the law.

In 2020, he was banned from the road for 16 months and handed a £28,500 ($35,300) fine for drink driving, and also given an FA warning in January that year for appearing to make a rude gesture towards Cardiff City fans while in the away end cheering on Swansea City during the South Wales derby.

In May last year, McBurnie was arrested after a video circulated on social media appearing to show him attacking a man in the street who suffered facial injuries, and he later received a penalty notice and police caution as did his victim.

READ MORE: Premier League star McBurnie ‘arrested after punching and kicking man’ but new footage ‘shows footballer being taunted’

Yet while neither Sheffield United nor Nottingham Forest have commented on his incident from Tuesday night, it is the second from the pitch invasion to have become the subject of a police investigation.

Also this week, Nottinghamshire Police arrested a 31-year-old man for appearing to headbutt McBurnie's teammate and captain Billy Sharp in the moments after Forest won the shootout.

Addressing the alleged attack on Twitter, Sharp lamented "one mindless idiot who ruined an unbelievable night of football."

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Fan arrested after sickening ‘headbutt’ on player during pitch invasion (VIDEO)

"Congratulations to Nottingham Forest on their victory and good luck in the final. As an ex-Forest player I will not let one scumbag ruin my respect for the Forest fans," Sharp vowed, while also stressing he was "incredibly proud to be captain of this group of Sheffield United players."

"They gave their all and can hold their heads up high. We will be back and go again. Thanks for all your messages and support after the incident," the veteran concluded.

Fan and player trouble aside, Forest will now try and guarantee Premiership football for the first time in 24 years by beating Huddersfield in the play-off final at Wembley on May 29.

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14. 'This is just a lie': How Jeff Bezos' Washington Post twisted a report about Donbass refugees to fit its narrative14:02[-/+]
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The American newspaper disregarded the testimonies of volunteers to support its consistently anti-Russian stance

Last week, the Washington Post published an extensive article titled ‘Ukrainian refugees in Russia report interrogations, detention and other abuses’.

Bias against Russia is nothing new for the newspaper, owned by the oligarch Jeff Bezos. However, this particular story – authored by its former Moscow bureau chief Michael Birnbaum and reporter Mary Ilyushina (known as Maria when she worked in Russian domestic media) – appears to have gone even further than its usual output.

One of the people quoted in the piece is Danil Makhnitsky from ‘Society. Future.’, a political organization that coordinates volunteers who help refugees. When the article was published, Makhnitsky found out that most of what he had said didn’t make the cut, and the only quote the newspaper used was taken out of context. RT spoke with Danil about his work with refugees and the interview he gave the newspaper.

‘Society. Future.’ insists it's an independent political organization. Danil is its co-founder, and he represented New People in the State Duma election, while other members of the community ran as independents. Since the conflict started, the organization has been helping refugees, collecting donations and bringing supplies to refugee centers around Russia. According to community’s website, 70 volunteers have helped about 8,000 refugees and spent over 6.8 million rubles on humanitarian aid.

“We work all over southern Russia, in 13 regions, focusing on the cities that have been affected by the flow of refugees the most,” Makhnitsky told RT. “The government provides large shipments of basic necessities, and we supply other things, like clothes, personal hygiene items, and medicine. This is funded through donations from people who want to help.”

A shot from the temporary accommodation center in Taganrog.

“Another difference between what we do and the government does is that we meet specific needs. First, we collect the data – ask what exactly is needed in each refugee center, and then we buy these things for them. We’ve gotten very specific requests – like glasses with an exact prescription. We also buy some things in bulk, like bed linens, for example. As an NGO, we’ve had some difficulties along the way. It’s not that easy for an individual to buy 100kg of noodles, 500 T-shirts, or 1,000 sets of bed linens,” Makhnitsky said.

Makhnitsky has worked with temporary refugee facilities in Taganrog, Azov, and other Russian cities. When the Washington Post journalists contacted him, he was in Rostov-on-Don. He said he had suspected his story would be skewed, but everything seemed pretty decent.

“My conversation with Birnbaum [The Washington Post author covering military conflicts who wrote the article – RT] was in English and lasted an hour or an hour and a half. At the time, I thought Birnbaum was quite reasonable – he asked sensible questions, showed a good grasp of the facts, didn’t even look as if he fully trusted the official Ukrainian propaganda’s narrative, which was the only thing the article ultimately reflected. My impression was that he was really trying to understand, to get to the bottom of things,” Makhnitsky said. However, something happened between the conversation and publication. He hopes the author was forced to distort the story due to editorial policy; he doesn’t want to believe that Birnbaum had another motive.

“He asked me if we had seen refugees being forcibly held somewhere or their passports taken away. And I said it like it is – we have talked to thousands of people, and none of them told us anything like that or tried to ask for help or pass a note.”

“Volunteers and refugees develop relationships based on trust. When you bring aid to people, they don’t see you as part of the administration or the authorities. Sometimes they complained about the administration’s actions or about their living conditions. Some of them resented their situation – the very fact that they had to leave because of the fighting. But none of the thousands of people gave us any hint that they were taken away or were being held by force, or that their documents had been taken away.”

“Offer of benefits from the Khabarovsk Territory” and handwritten message “Consultation on resettlement to the Khabarovsk Territory in the next room”

According to Makhnitsky, refugees often shared their plans with the volunteers. Many said they wanted to continue living in Russia or someplace abroad, while the majority said they’d prefer to return home. When talking to Makhnitsky, Birnbaum mentioned a couple of cases in which people had their passports taken from them.

Makhnitsky recalls: “Well, that’s what I said in response, that possibly, given the huge number of refugees, it could have happened. But I spoke to a huge number of all sorts of people, including volunteers and coordinators, and the feedback I got indicates that nothing like this was going on en masse. In those few cases when it happened, we don’t know why exactly it was done, for what reason. Sometimes, combatants try to present themselves as refugees, which is wrong, they cannot pose as refugees, they must be processed as POWs, so such things are inevitable.”

Makhnitsky says that nothing he said was published in Birnbaum’s piece in the Washington Post, except this one sentence: “Some of the refugees don’t understand where they are going when they sign up.” Makhnitsky insists that these words of his were ripped out of the context and placed into a narrative that changes their meaning completely.

“I was talking about a refugee center in Taganrog that receives refugees from Mariupol before they can go elsewhere in Russia. People spend one or two days at most in this place to get their papers. They don’t stay there for a long time."

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FILE PHOTO. Gorky Mine in Donbass. 08.09.1932. © Sputnik
Historic roots of the Donbass problem explained

“In this center, there were some promotional posters by the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East. They invite people to come to Khabarovsk [a large city near the Chinese border] and offer some incentives, like some money, better loan rates, and even a possibility to get a hectare of land. And some of the people who saw these posters talked to me about this opportunity while it was clear they didn’t even know where Khabarovsk was. No one was forcing them to go there, and yet when ripped out of the context my words sound like that’s the case, like people don’t even know where they will go. This is just a lie.”

Makhnitsky also said that the choice of contributors to the piece by Birnbaum and Ilyushina was quite telling. “The reporters chose to talk to people who don’t even deal with this directly, such as, for instance, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE. How would he know what’s going on there? I’m sure he never even met any refugees in Russia. Other opinions were also provided by the officials from the United States or Kiev. I think the only person the Washington Post talked to who could have seen some refugees was Laila Rogozina, head of the reception office at the Civic Assistance Committee. Yet what she is quoted to have said appears quite controversial, that all refugees allegedly don’t trust volunteer staff and are afraid to criticize Russia when they talk to us. I’m sure that’s not the case.”

RT has reached out to Birnbaum for comment, offering him a platform to answer Makhnitsky’s allegations. If he eventually replies, this story will be updated.

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15. Russia ranks unfriendly nations13:57[-/+]
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The US and its allies have destabilized global energy and food markets with their sanctions, top official claims

Russian State Duma chairman Vyacheslav Volodin has published on social media a list of “unfriendly nations” ranked by the number of anti-Russian sanctions they have imposed. “They are the ones to be blamed for skyrocketing prices worldwide,” his post on Thursday said.

The list is headed by the US, with 1,983 distinct sanctions placed against Russia, according to Volodin’s count. It is followed by Canada, Switzerland, Britain, the EU as a single entity, Australia and Japan.

“By introducing illegal sanctions against Russia, these states triggered a surge of prices for energy and food.” the Russian official stated. “Those are the primary culprits behind the current troubles and the future crises throughout the world.”

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© Getty Images / David L. Ryan
Americans aren’t buying ‘Putin’s price hike’

Blaming Russia for the increase in inflation that many nations experience now has become a common theme for many Western nations. The Biden administration coined the term “Putin’s price hike.” But judging by opinion polls, Americans are not particularly willing to buy it and many believe their government should have done more to tackle inflation.

Energy prices were hitting record high levels in Europe before Russia’s offensive against Ukraine. Back then Moscow said Europe could alleviate the surge by inking long-term supply contracts with Russia that would have mechanisms to dampen the spikes in the spot market. It also suggested bringing online the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as soon as possible to secure the imports. Western sanctions against Russia that are now in place, include the suspension of the project for the foreseeable future and a drive to decouple Europe from Russian energy.

The hostilities in Ukraine also put into question the country’s ability to sow and harvest grains this season. Ukraine is a major exporter of grains, particularly wheat. Together with Russia it accounted for more than a quarter of global wheat supply last year.

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© Getty Images / ArtistGNDphotography
The imminent global food crisis is being blamed on Russia, but the truth is rather more complex

The sanctions have also aggravated the Russian and Belarussian chemical industries, including fertilizers.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that the restrictions on Russian food and fertilizers had to be lifted to avoid a major crisis. Otherwise “tens of millions of people [would tip] over the edge into food insecurity, followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years,” he warned.

Russia launched an offensive against Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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16. Half of Russia’s gas buyers agree to pay in rubles – Novak13:47[-/+]
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Russia’s deputy prime minister says they have already opened accounts with Gazprombank

Approximately half of Russia’s 54 gas importers have opened ruble accounts with Gazprombank in compliance with Moscow’s newly introduced payment rules, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday.

According to my information, about half [of the buyers] have already opened special accounts in our authorized bank – in foreign currency and rubles – in order to ensure the receipt of foreign exchange earnings, conversion into rubles and payment for the supplied gas in rubles,” Novak said, as cited by RIA Novosti news agency. He noted that this process has been stretched over time, with the final settlements for April taking place in May.

In the coming days we will see the final list of those who paid in rubles and those who refused to pay,” Novak stated. He added that all larger companies have opened accounts, paid for supplies or are ready to pay when they are due.

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RT
Italian energy major agrees to pay for gas in rubles

After the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the US and its allies hit Moscow with sanctions and issued calls to reduce dependence on Russian energy resources. The Kremlin responded with counter-measures and demanded that “unfriendly countries” pay for Russian gas exports in rubles. President Putin explained, that if gas buyers from those countries do not accept this payment method, Russia will consider this a default on their gas contracts.

At the end of April, Gazprom stopped gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland after the two countries refused to adhere to the new payment scheme.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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17. Russian no.1 grateful for ‘support’ over Wimbledon ban13:44[-/+]
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Daria Kasatkina said Russian tennis stars do not want to be deprived of the chance to play

Daria Kasatkina says tennis officials at the WTA and ATP have “stood up for” Russian players following the ban imposed on them by Wimbledon, although she is still uncertain how the situation will pan out amid talk of punitive measures against the London Grand Slam.

The women’s WTA and men’s ATP tours both issued condemnatory statements after Wimbledon announced back in April that Russian and Belarusian players would be barred from attending this year’s event because of the conflict in Ukraine.

The UK’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has taken a similar step to Wimbledon, meaning no players from the two nations will be allowed to compete at British events this summer.

The ATP and WTA are both said to be mulling a decision to strip Wimbledon of its rankings points in retaliation for the bans, with women’s chief Steve Simon said to have formally recommended the step this week, although it was reported that the same sanction will not be applied to other UK events in the build-up to the grass court Grand Slam.

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The event at Queen's in London is among those affected. © Steven Paston / PA Images via Getty Images
ATP makes decision on UK events after Russian ban

Kasatkina, who recently rose to become her nation’s women’s number one, said it was pleasant to see the likes of the WTA and ATP speak in the interests of Russian and Belarusian players.

“It’s nice that they stood up for us. The situation is not easy, even discussing this topic now is very difficult,” the 25-year-old told Russian outlet Sport-Express.

“We don’t want to be deprived of work, that’s obvious. And we’re glad that our employer [the WTA] supports us.

“These are difficult times for everyone, for Ukrainians and Ukraine in general to an incredible extent, that goes without saying,” added the world number 20.

A decision on whether Wimbledon will be stripped of its ATP and WTA rankings points – effectively turning it into an exhibition event – is said to be imminent, although Kasatkina admitted that she was in the dark.

“It’s very difficult to say,” replied Kasatkina when asked what would happen.

“The ATP and WTA are having all these conversations and there is no clear understanding yet.

“This week there was news that tournaments under the auspices of the WTA are held in England without deducting points, for Wimbledon it is still unknown.

“We are also all waiting until we really understand what is happening. Little depends on us,” said Kasatkina.

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Russian ace Daria Kasatkina is among those affected by the Wimbledon ban. © TPN / Getty Images
Tennis chief makes punishment plea over Wimbledon’s Russian ban – media

Removing points from Wimbledon would at least protect Russian and Belarusian players in terms of not losing ground to their rivals in the ratings, although they would still miss out on the lucrative prize money on offer at SW19.

Russian and Belarusian stars are free to compete at the second Grand Slam of the year, however, and will line up at the French Open when it gets underway in Paris this Sunday.

Organizers at Roland-Garros are following the same stance at the ATP and WTA tours, which allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutrals.

Kasatkina heads to France in good form, having reached the semifinals of the Italian Open in Rome last week before falling agonizingly short in a three-set loss to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

“Yes, I played well in Rome, I felt great there, but that does not give me any guarantees [for the French Open],” said Kasatkina.

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© Russia’s Anastasia Potapova will be affected by the Wimbledon ban. © Mike Kireev / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Banned for being Russian: The tennis stars set to miss Wimbledon

“The best thing I learned from the Masters was confidence. Still, I beat good players, went far.

“With this luggage, we must move to Paris, but without much pressure. Like, I played perfectly a week ago, so I have to play the same next week. No, it doesn't mean anything at all.

“I understand subconsciously that the next tournament is a major. It’s important, but it’s not the end of the world, even if you lose in the first round,” added Kasatkina, who enjoyed a career-best run to the French Open quarterfinals in 2018.

World number one Iga Swiatek is widely tipped as the favorite among the women this time around in Paris, having racked up a remarkable 28th successive match victory by winning the title in Rome.

“It’s obvious given her recent results, especially on clay. She is number one in the world, of course, she is the main favorite,” said Kasatkina of the Pole, before cautioning that “any tennis player can lose the next match, you never know.”

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18. Russian exports can solve global food crisis – UN12:39[-/+]
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Antonio Guterres urges to reintegrate the sanctioned country’s food produce and fertilizers into the world markets

Food products and fertilizers from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus must be allowed on the world markets if the global community wants to stem an unfolding food crisis, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a ministerial meeting on global food security on Wednesday.

Let’s be clear, there is no more effective solution to the food crisis without the reintegration of Ukrainian food production, as well as food and fertilizer produced by Russia and Belarus, into world markets,” he stressed.

Earlier this month, Guterres warned that a fifth of humanity was at risk of poverty and hunger due to the current situation in the grain market, with wheat prices soaring following Western sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently stated that the threat of a global famine is the result of the West’s “sanctions obsession.

According to Guterres, instead of being the sole reason behind the current food crisis, Russia’s military operation has added to the problems that were already affecting the situation, namely climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, he stressed, are leaders in the production of fertilizers and food products, which should not be overlooked.

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Wheat prices to surge as Ukraine’s harvest shrinks – official

Guterres pointed out that Moscow should stop blocking the export of food from Ukrainian ports. At the same time, fertilizers and food products from Russia should be allowed to the world markets without obstacles, as well, he continued.

I am in close contact on these issues with the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, as well as a number of other key countries. I am sure that there is still a long way to go,” the official said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denied allegations that sanctions against Russia are the reason for the deterioration of the food situation in the world. He pointed out that Washington has made exceptions to restrictive measures for fertilizers and agricultural products, adding that international organizations and authorities of various concerned countries can work together to open corridors for the safe export of food from the territory of Ukraine, both by land and sea. However, Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov recently said that Ukrainian ports are “heavily mined” and pose a danger to shipping until they are cleared.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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19. Khabib responds after plot for UFC title fight return12:38[-/+]
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Some figures in the sport are hoping the ex-lightweight champion can be coaxed out of retirement

UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov has dismissed talk of returning to the octagon in a bid to reclaim the lightweight title if his protege Islam Makhachev loses a touted bout against Charles Oliveira.

Nurmagomedov retired in 2020 as an unbeaten 29-0 great after submitting Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

Honoring a promise to his mother to not continue fighting without his father Abdulmanap, who passed away from Covid complications that year, in his corner, the Russian has thus far kept his word while running his own Eagle FC promotion and acting as Makhachev's coach as he surges up the UFC rankings.

If Makhachev were to lose to Oliveira for the now vacant UFC 155lbs strap, Nurmagomedov admitted he would "feel bad" – but not bad enough to don his gloves again.

"If [Oliveira] beats Islam, of course I'm going to feel bad," Nurmagomedov confessed.

"Of course I'm going to feel bad, but no way people can talk about, 'Khabib is going to come back.' Please, leave me alone. Let these guys fight."

"This is different time, different fighters. Now, they are prime time. We have to understand who is the best lightweight in the world, Charles or Islam," the 33-year-old Nurmagomedov stressed.

The wrestling expert was probed on this topic after one of Nurmagomedov's closest friends in MMA, former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, pondered whether Oliveira beating Makhachev would lure Nurmagomedov back for one last dance.

"Man, it’ll be nice to see him [Oliveira] fight Khabib, right?" Cormier asked.

"Many people have said that, ‘It’ll be nice to know, it’ll be nice to know.’ What better way to try to draw him back in than by having Oliveira beat his friend, training partner and long time – it’s another way to try to draw him in because obviously the money, Dana’s throwing so much money at Khabib to try to get him back, that hasn’t been enough.

"But what if defending his friend’s honor is enough, if Islam doesn’t get the job done?" Cormier added.

For some fight fans, Oliveira is challenging Nurmagomedov's legacy which consisted of three title defenses with impressive submission wins over Dustin Poirier, Gaethje and Conor McGregor.

Though he was stripped of his belt on the scales at the weigh-in before UFC 274 for being 200 grams over the limit, Brazilian star Oliveira should already have two title defenses to his name by beating Poirier and Gaethje in his last two outings, before calling out McGregor in his post-fight interview.

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(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Khabib hails UFC star after sensational win (VIDEO)

Rather than have Oliveira taking on McGregor to become champion again later this year, though, Nurmagomedov is adamant that his 22-1 charge Makhachev deserves the title shot and has told Dana White as much while thus far being blanked by the UFC president.

"Honestly, this is first time since we started talking to each other that he don't respond to me," said Nurmagomedov in the same chat with ESPN.

"I send him message saying 'No way someone else can fight for the title. Islam has to be there.' He don't respond. I think he busy, maybe. It's OK. Everybody make mistake. He's going to come back stronger."

"I hear they want to make a big show in Brazil in December," Nurmagomedov also explained. "OK, December is good for Islam. They don't want to go to Abu Dhabi? I hear Charles Oliveira's coach say, 'Come to Brazil.' No problem. Send us location.

"We'll go to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, no problem. We'll go there two weeks before fight, rent some big house, come with big team, make weight – not like Charles Oliveira – and we're going to finish Charles Oliveira on his game, on the ground, on Brazilian land.

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© Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC
Khabib accepts Ferguson challenge

"We're going to teach all fans what is top control, how we finish people. We're going to take the belt and go back," Nurmagomedov added.

On one last topic, Nurmagomedov additionally addressed Tony Ferguson's offer for them to do battle as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter, after also responding to the call out on Twitter.

"If me and Tony, we gonna be [TUF] coaches, I think they can create some good content," said Nurmagomedov.

"If they interested and if Dana respond to my message. He have to check his message... Dana, we have to finish our business, brother. Call me back."

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20. Wheat prices to surge as Ukraine’s harvest shrinks – official12:18[-/+]
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The Ukrainian agriculture minister says grain prices could rise 40% this year

The global community needs to prepare for wheat prices rising to $700 per ton this year, a nearly 40% jump from the current $430, the Ukrainian minister of agrarian policy and food, Mykola Solsky, said on Wednesday, as cited by TASS.

Are we ready to pay $500, $600, $700 per ton? The situation is critical for Asian and African countries, which mostly imported grain from Ukraine,” Solsky added.

He also warned that the country’s harvest this year could be much lower than it was in 2021.

This year we expect a 50% drop from last year’s harvest,” he stated, adding that due to Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine, “the next winter sowing campaign is in jeopardy.”

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RT
Global wheat prices hit record high

Earlier on Wednesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the global community will not be able to fully solve the food crisis without Ukrainian grain and Russian and Belarusian fertilizers, adding that “Russian products and fertilizers should have full and unlimited access to world markets.” Earlier this month, he warned that a fifth of humanity is at risk of poverty and hunger due to the current situation in the grain market.

Concerns over grain have been growing since February, when Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine. Russian and Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, which are used to ship grain, are being avoided by shippers.

Western sanctions also limit the availability of crops and fertilizers from Russia and Belarus on the global market. With the growth in global grain prices, major suppliers such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and India have temporarily stopped exports to protect their domestic markets.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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21. Helsinki comments on hosting NATO bases or nukes12:16[-/+]
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The prime minister says nuclear weapons are banned by law in Finland

Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland said her nation’s accession to NATO would not involve an obligation to host NATO military bases or nuclear weapons. Neither idea is currently under discussion, she told an Italian newspaper during a working visit to Rome on Wednesday.

Marin was asked by the Corriere della Sera daily whether Finland would rule out the deployment of permanent NATO bases or nuclear weapons on its soil after joining NATO. Finland and Sweden both applied for membership this week.

The ruling Swedish Democratic Party made it clear last week that while it supported seeking NATO membership, it would resist if asked to host foreign nuclear weapons or military bases. Finland, the Italian newspaper observed, didn’t make a similar commitment and asked Marin to comment.

“Nobody is forcing nuclear weapons or bases on us if we don’t want them,” she said, adding that in both cases the decision would be up to Finland.

“We have a law in Finland that forbids the deployment of nuclear weapons on our territory. So, I suppose this issue is not on the table,” she added. “There is no interest to deploy nuclear weapons or open bases in Finland.”

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File photo: A NATO flag flies above a military exercise in Poland, June 18, 2015
Another NATO leader voices opposition to Sweden and Finland

The Finnish prime minister said her nation expected that being part of the alliance would ensure that war would not come to Finland and branded Russia a “big aggressive neighbor.” She added that Finland believed Russia would not retaliate against it for joining the US-led bloc.

“Our President [Sauli] Niinisto discussed the issue with President [Vladimir] Putin and his reaction was surprisingly quite calm,” she said. “So we hope that there will be no action from the Russian side. But should there be any, we are well prepared to face different situations, including cyber or hybrid attacks.”

Moscow has said it would make the necessary preparations to defend itself from NATO should Sweden and Finland be admitted.

Finland broke its tradition of neutrality and applied to join NATO, citing Russia’s attack against Ukraine. Moscow said membership would compromise Finland's long-held position as a mediator but Marin said she hoped that would not be the case.

“We want to remain an honest broker, making sure that dialogue keeps going. In fact, we see applying for NATO membership as an act of peace, not of war,” she said.

Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following the neighboring state's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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22. One injured as shooter opens fire at German school11:57[-/+]
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Media outlets citing police say an alleged shooter was detained

A woman was severely injured during a shooting at a school in the port city of Bremerhaven in the northwestern German state of Bremen. She has been taken to the hospital, according to a local police spokesperson cited by Bild. The authorities revealed that the victim is a member of the school staff.

Nord24 reports that a German police SWAT team (SEK) arrived at the scene and is currently searching the building to ensure there are no more active shooters on the premises.

One suspect has been apprehended and is currently being interrogated in police custody. A spokesperson for the local police department denied earlier reports that there was a second shooter still at large.

A little over 200 students barricaded themselves inside their classrooms and are still in the building.

Police cordoned off the area surrounding the school, with parents gathering outside the security perimeter.

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23. Senate votes on key office in Ukraine10:54[-/+]
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Career diplomat Bridget Brink will serve as ambassador in Kiev

After a three-year delay, the US Embassy in Kiev is set to have a duly confirmed ambassador in charge instead of a temporary chargé d’affaires. On Wednesday, the US Senate approved Bridget Brink, who currently represents her country in Slovakia, for the post.

The career diplomat was nominated by the Biden administration a few weeks ago. It was confirmed by a unanimous vote, as both parties highlighted the importance of the office amid Russia’s military operation in the country.

“To have an ambassador there at this critical time as the United States continues to help the Ukrainian people … is a wonderful thing, is a good thing, and will help advance the cause of peace, security and freedom,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the confirmation.

Brink was given the mandate by lawmakers on the same day the Department of State reopened the embassy in Kiev. It ordered the evacuation of the mission in mid-February, 10 days before the Russian attack.

“As we take this momentous step, we have put forward additional measures to increase the safety of our colleagues who are returning to Kiev and have enhanced our security measures and protocols,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said regarding the move.

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RT
US celebrates ‘momentous step’ in Kiev

Marie Yovanovitch was the last US ambassador in Ukraine. Former President Donald Trump removed her in May 2019 amid the scandal over his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which resulted in his first impeachment. Three people have served as chargé d’affaires on an interim basis since, with Kristina Kvien holding the position at the moment.

Brink held several positions in the US diplomatic corps over her career, including in embassies in Serbia, Cyprus, Georgia, and Uzbekistan.

In 2018, Foreign Policy reported that Brink had been considered for nomination as ambassador to Georgia, but Tbilisi allegedly rebuffed the idea as the diplomat was too favorable towards then-fugitive former President Mikhail Saakashvili.

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, dismissed the report as “far from reality.”

Bridget Brink was nominated to become the ambassador in Slovakia by the Trump administration, with the Senate confirming her in May 2019.

Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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24. No replacement for Russian Grand Prix, says F110:13[-/+]
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The race set for Sochi in September was canceled in the wake of the military offensive in Ukraine

The Formula One season will be cut to 22 races after officials confirmed there would be no replacement for the Russian Grand Prix, which was planned for Sochi in September before being canceled due to the conflict in Ukraine.

There were suggestions that Qatar, Turkey or a second race in Singapore could replace the Russian round of action which was scheduled as the 17th race of the season on September 25, but organizers have confirmed that will not be the case.

It is reported that freight and logistical issues are partly behind the decision, which means plans for a record 23 dates on the calendar will not be realized.

F1 officials announced towards the end of February that the Sochi showpiece at the Olympic complex on Russia’s Black Sea coast – which had been part of the season since 2014 – would be dropped from the calendar.

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Formula 1 has ended its racing agreement with Russia. © Clive Mason / Getty Images
F1 chiefs terminate Russian Grand Prix contract

Governing body the FIA later terminated its contract with Russia entirely, meaning a planned switch to the Igora Drive racetrack just outside St. Petersburg in the 2023 season will also not go ahead.

This year, the Sochi Grand Prix had been due to kick-start a triple-header of racing with the F1 caravan rolling on to Singapore and Japan in the weekends immediately afterwards.

Instead, there will now be a three-week break between the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on September 11 and the race at Marina Bay in Singapore on October 2.

The 2022 F1 season continues this weekend with the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona

READ MORE: American F1 team makes Russian money demand – report

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25. Civilian killed in Ukrainian shelling of Russian territory – governor10:11[-/+]
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The head of Kursk Region, Roman Starovoyt, says a truck driver perished in the early morning attack

Ukraine’s shelling of the village of Tetkino in Kursk Region, Russia claimed the life of at least one civilian and left several more injured on Thursday morning, the region’s governor said in a Telegram post.

According to Roman Starovoyt, “the enemy’s attack on Tetkino” happened at dawn, and “sadly, ended up with a tragedy.” Local authorities confirmed there was “at least one dead among the civilian population.” The governor said that according to preliminary information, the sole victim of the Ukrainian attack was a truck driver delivering raw material to a distillery.

Starovoyt added that the Ukrainian military had struck the facility with several shells.

The attack damaged several households in the village, with firefighters tackling the consequences of the shelling, the governor said. Additionally, Starovoyt mentioned unexploded shells left in the wake of the incident.

The official informed his subscribers that all emergency services were at the site, with the authorities working to “record the crime.” Ukraine has not commented on the attack.

On Wednesday, several villages in Russia’s Kursk and Belgorod Regions came under Ukrainian fire, leaving at least one person injured.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said it was looking into the incidents.

READ MORE: Hundreds of houses damaged in region bordering Ukraine

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26. Pfizer vaccine boosters approved for younger age group09:39[-/+]
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US health regulators have further expanded eligibility for additional shots

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the green light to administer Pfizer vaccine boosters to children aged between 5 and 11, citing data collected in ongoing trials. The agency skipped an advisory board meeting typically held before such decisions, saying the matter had been covered during previous discussions.

The FDA announced the expanded booster eligibility on Wednesday, acknowledging that while “Covid-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults,” the virus’ Omicron variant has led to “more kids getting sick with the disease and being hospitalized” and created the need for boosters among younger Americans.

“The FDA is authorizing the use of a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine for children 5 through 11 years of age to provide continued protection,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said, adding that “Vaccination continues to be the most effective way to prevent Covid-19 and its severe consequences, and it is safe.”

The health regulator went on to say that the new emergency use authorization was based on its “analysis of immune response data in a subset of children from the ongoing randomized placebo-controlled trial,” which indicated that immunity was stronger in those who received a booster. The same trial also provided the basis for the FDA’s decision in October 2021 to approve initial two-dose vaccinations for the 5-11 age group.

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FILE PHOTO: Vials of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine are seen at a pharmacy in Denver, Colorado, March 6, 2021.
FDA restricts Covid vaccine

While the FDA’s independent Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee usually meets to evaluate new authorizations, the agency said that was not needed due to “extensive discussions regarding the use of booster doses” in the past. Pfizer’s request to expand eligibility “did not raise questions that would benefit from additional discussion by committee members,” it added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to issue its own recommendation following a meeting set for later this week, while Pfizer and fellow pharma giant Moderna will meet with FDA officials next month to discuss approval for vaccinating children under the age of 5, according to CNBC.

The vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech was the first in the US to receive emergency authorization in December 2020, followed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The FDA has since scaled back approval for the latter company’s vaccine, however, limiting it to adults only earlier this month, pointing to potentially dangerous side effects for children.

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27. George W. Bush condemns ‘unjustified invasion of Iraq’08:34[-/+]
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The former US president made the gaffe while attempting to criticize Russia

Former US President George W. Bush inadvertently condemned the “invasion of Iraq” while blasting Russia’s attack on Ukraine, a slip-up which he blamed on his old age.

Speaking in Dallas on Wednesday at an event hosted by the eponymous George W. Bush Institute, the ex-commander-in-chief railed against the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin and his decision to send troops into Ukraine in late February.

“The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq – I mean of Ukraine,” he said, prompting laughs from the audience as he again murmured “Iraq” under his breath. He attributed the mistake to his age, saying “I’m 75” before continuing his address.

This is one of the best gaffes you’ll ever see. pic.twitter.com/fKvrb3tuLZ

— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) May 19, 2022

Bush went on to praise Ukraine’s leadership as the fighting in the country continues into its third month, at one point dubbing President Volodymyr Zelensky a “cool little guy” and “the [Winston] Churchill of the 21st century,” comparing him to the famous British wartime leader.

As president, Bush launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq which quickly toppled the government in Baghdad and transformed into a lengthy military occupation. Up to 209,000 civilians were killed in the resulting fighting, according to the Iraq Body Count project, along with nearly 4,500 American soldiers and thousands of additional casualties indirectly linked to the war.

Before ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration repeatedly claimed to have intelligence showing that Baghdad had not abandoned efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction following the 1991 Gulf War. Those claims were later proven wrong, however, as US forces failed to uncover any ongoing WMD projects despite intensive inspections.

More than 19 years later, around 2,500 US soldiers remain in the country. In March, General Frank McKenzie – then the head of US Central Command (CENTCOM) – suggested the American military presence would not end anytime soon, citing the alleged threat posed by militia groups supported by Iran.

READ MORE: America's selective outrage over Ukraine is fashioned by a well-oiled propaganda machine... just ask the people of Yemen

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28. ‘I’m wondering when we voted to go to war?’ – US Congressman01:27[-/+]
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Chip Roy accused his fellow lawmakers of waging a “proxy war” so they can “look all fancy with our blue and yellow ribbons”

Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) has condemned House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for stating that the US is “at war,” presumably with Russia. Roy hammered Democrats and Republicans alike for deepening America’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict in order to “feel good about ourselves.”

In a video clip posted by Roy’s press office on Wednesday, the Texas Republican took aim at Hoyer for declaring on Friday that the US is “at war,” and that critics of the Democratic Party should “focus on the enemy” instead of rising energy costs at home.

“When I hear the majority leader of the other party say ‘a time of war’...I’m wondering when we voted to go to war?” Roy said.

“If we're gonna have a proxy war, and we're gonna give $40 billion to Ukraine, because we want to look all fancy with our blue and yellow ribbons and feel good about ourselves, maybe we should actually have a debate in this chamber,” he continued.

"I'm wondering when we voted to go to war?”

“If we're gonna have a proxy war, and we're gonna give $40 billion to Ukraine, because we want to look all fancy with our blue and yellow ribbons and feel good about ourselves, maybe we should actually have a debate in this chamber.” pic.twitter.com/ShJ8Ltcf5m

— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) May 18, 2022

Roy was one of 57 House Republicans who voted against the passage of the $40 billion military and economic aid bill for Ukraine earlier this month. However, the bill had strong bipartisan support and passed with 368 votes to 57. It is now expected to pass the Senate later this week.

Republican lawmakers opposing the bill either argue that the money would be better spent solving domestic issues or that pumping military aid into Ukraine risks drawing the US into war with nuclear-armed Russia, or both.

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FILE PHOTO: Rep. Paul Gosar waits for a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 22, 2021 © AP / J. Scott Applewhite
‘Russia not our enemy’ – US congressman

Roy, who described the bill as “garbage,” reiterated these arguments on Wednesday. “When the border of this country is wide open…and fentanyl is pouring in and we have $30.5 trillion of debt and gas prices are spiking and $1,100 to fill a tank of diesel, and we go ‘oh, blank check for $40 billion.”

“By the way, I’m looking at my colleagues on this side of the aisle on that same point,” he concluded.

Aside from supporting the $40 billion package making its way through Congress, the Biden administration has already given Ukraine nearly $4 billion worth of weapons since February, has placed an embargo on Russian oil and gas imports, and imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Moscow.

With the US arming Ukraine and sharing intelligence with Kiev’s forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused Washington of waging a “proxy war” against Russia, while Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev claimed on Tuesday that the West has used Ukraine as pretext to fight an “undeclared war” against Russia’s “very statehood.”

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29. Disputed territory seeks NATO and EU membership01:23[-/+]
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Kosovo wants to be part of the EU and NATO, the leader of the breakaway province has said in Washington

Kosovo wishes to become a member of NATO and the European Union, the self-proclaimed republic’s prime minister, Albin Kurti, said on Wednesday, while visiting the US. Serbia’s breakaway province, backed by the US, declared independence in 2008 but has not been recognized by Belgrade, the UN, nor all EU member states.

Kurti made the announcement during an event hosted by the Atlantic Council on Wednesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, he met with officials of the Biden administration – including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and USAID chief Samantha Power.

According to Kurti, one of several members of congress he met, Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan), expressed “unequivocal support” for Kosovo’s aspirations to join “international and regional organizations, especially NATO,” he said on Twitter.

Kosovo is a province of Serbia which was occupied by NATO after the bloc’s 78-day air war in 1999. Its provisional government declared independence in 2008 and has been recognized by the US and many of its allies, but not Russia, China, nor Belgrade itself. Five EU members – Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain – also regard it as part of Serbia, making Kurti’s bid a tall order.

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FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic
Serbia will 'fight' sanctions pressure – Vucic

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has publicly revealed that Belgrade is under tremendous pressure from the EU to join the anti-Russian sanctions regime and recognize Kosovo, in exchange for vague promises about joining the bloc.

Kurti is the leader of Vetevendosje, a nationalist ethnic Albanian party opposed to any negotiations with Serbia, whose platform at one point sought unification with Albania proper. The US backed his ouster in March 2020 after just six months as PM, but he came back to win the February 2021 election in a landslide.

Wednesday’s announcement is actually the second time Kurti has publicly articulated joining the EU and NATO as Pristina’s political objectives. He first did so on Saturday, at a lecture sponsored by the Albanian Studies program at DePaul University in Chicago.

“Kosovo is a democratic success story in the region, which is why it needs support to become a member of NATO, EU and other regional and international organizations without further delay,” Kurti told his audience, according to Albanian media.

Noting that Kosovo was the first to join the US and EU in imposing sanctions on Russia, Kurti argued that it would be a “great victory” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to see Kosovo’s “progress” reversed.

Putin had brought up Kosovo’s declaration of independence in last month’s meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Moscow, pointing out that the US and its allies created a precedent in international law which Russia then applied to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

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30. US confirms first case of rare disease01:23[-/+]
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A Massachusetts man who traveled to Canada has tested positive for monkeypox

A Massachusetts man has been diagnosed with monkeypox after traveling to Canada, the US Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed on Wednesday.

While the agencies are working with his healthcare providers and local health boards to identify anyone who had contact with him, they insist his case poses no risk to the public, and he is reportedly hospitalized and in good condition.

The case is the first to surface in the US this year and comes on the heels of an alert by the Spanish authorities of a potential outbreak of the virus among 23 people in Madrid. While typically spread by respiratory transmission, a spokesperson for Madrid’s regional health department said the local outbreak was driven by “fluid contact,” noting that eight of the suspected cases were found in gay men.

Around 20 suspected cases of monkeypox also surfaced among young Portuguese men in and around Lisbon this week, and a number of similar cases have been confirmed in the UK. Of the seven UK cases confirmed as of Monday, four of the most recent were in gay or bisexual men, and the first involved a person who had recently been to Nigeria, where the infection was likely contracted.

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FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker conducts tests at a microbiology lab in Madrid, Spain, April 14, 2020 on April 14, 2020 © AFP / Oscar Del Pozo
Rare disease spreads in Europe

Monkeypox has similarities with both smallpox, a deadly virus declared eradicated in 1980, and chickenpox, a common childhood disease. It begins with flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, before a rash emerges on the face and spreads to other body parts. While incurable, it is typically mild and sufferers usually recover within weeks.

There are two forms of monkeypox – a west African and a central African strain – and the current crop of cases is believed to be of the milder west African variety. Two cases of monkeypox were diagnosed last year in the US, both in people who had recently traveled to Nigeria.

The virus is difficult to spread, with transmission typically occurring through contact with bodily fluids and sores, contaminated clothing, or prolonged face-to-face contact leading to exchange of respiratory droplets.

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31. UN chief calls for climate 'Marshall Plan'00:14[-/+]
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Antonio Guterres warns that business as usual will ‘incinerate our only home’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a moratorium on the use of oil, gas, and coal in favor of renewable energy, arguing that humanity must “end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition, before we incinerate our only home” in pre-recorded remarks released on Wednesday to coincide with the State of the Global Climate report by the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

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© Getty Images / acinquantadue
Unsealed files expose how US abused climate change agenda to preserve its military power

The WMO warned that four of seven key climate change indicators had reached record highs last year: greenhouse gas concentration, sea level rise, ocean heat, and ocean acidification. The last seven years were the warmest on record, and WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said it was “just a matter of time before we see another warmest year on record.

Guterres outlined a five-point plan to put the world on track for a renewable energy revolution, suggesting investment in the sector be tripled to a whopping $4 trillion per year and arguing renewables technology should also be treated as “global public goods” rather than intellectual property to be monetized. An international coalition of industry, tech and financial institutions should band together with governments to “fast-track innovation and development,” he said.

Fossil fuels are a “dead end,” Guterres insisted, calling the WMO’s report a “dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption” and demanding that fossil fuel subsidies have got to go. He pointed to the $11 million that coal, oil and gas industries reportedly receive every minute and exhorted development banks to align their portfolios with the Paris Climate Treaty rather than seek short-term gains through fossil-fuel investments. Renewable energy must become “the peace project of the 21st century,” the UN chief argued, calling renewables “the only path to real energy security, stable power prices and sustainable employment opportunities.”

Despite considerable amounts of resources being poured into the shift to renewable energy, solar and wind still account for just 8% of global electricity generation, while other types of renewables, such as hydropower, bring the total up to 30%. Regulatory “red tape” is also a problem, Guterres complained, noting that it takes eight years to approve a wind-energy project in Europe, while it can take as long as 10 years in the US.

Specific problems related to scaling up renewables – such as a means of storing wind and solar energy to be drawn on when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining – have yet to be adequately addressed by the industry. Additionally, the extraction of the raw materials needed for electric car batteries and solar cells, including lithium, copper, silicon, nickel, cobalt, and rare-earth minerals, is environmentally devastating.

READ MORE: UN issues drought disaster warning

As the UN calls for its climate Marshall Plan, the World Economic Forum has been demanding similar actions to put an end to what it calls the “existential threat to the planet.” Suggestions ranging from reducing the cost of public transit and encouraging walking and cycling to reducing highway speed limits by 10km per hour make up the organization’s 10-point Great Reset plan for reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Wednesday’s report is far from the only climate catastrophe predicted by UN-linked climate organizations. Last week, the UN published a paper warning that upwards of 700 million people could become “climate refugees” by 2030 if worsening water shortages associated with climate change were not addressed.

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32. Another NATO leader voices opposition to Sweden and Finland00:12[-/+]
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Following Turkey’s move, Croatia’s head-of-state also seeks a better deal with the bloc

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic plans to instruct the country’s permanent representative to NATO to block the accession of Finland and Sweden to the US-led organization, he said on Wednesday.

Refusing consent would turn the international community’s attention to problems facing ethnic Croats in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milanovic told reporters. Under the current election laws, Croat representatives tend to get elected with the votes of Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks. Zagreb is pushing to revise this.

“I have said before, Croats in Bosnia are more important to me than the entire Russian-Finnish border,” Milanovic said.

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Zoran Milanovic, President of Croatia. © Getty Images / Bernd von Jutrczenka
NATO member pledges to block Sweden and Finland's candidacy

Stockholm and Helsinki formally broke with their history of neutrality on May 15 and applied for NATO membership. However, the acceptance of new countries to the bloc requires the unanimous consent of all members.

Turkey was “showing how to fight for national interests,” Milanovic said, pointing to Ankara’s opposition to any agreement admitting Sweden and Finland to NATO until they denounce “terrorists and their accomplices” associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C), among other concessions.

“Turkey will certainly not budge before it gets what it wants,” the Croat president said.

Milanovic’s latest comments have placed more strain on his already-fraught relationship with the government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, whom he has accused of failing to stand up for Croatian interests, local news outlet N1 reported.

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman told state radio on Wednesday that Croatia's permanent NATO representative Mario Nobilo has already been told to “to approve Finland and Sweden’s membership application” and “will be given power of attorney to sign a protocol that will follow in the next few days.”

Croatia’s parliament is “absolutely certain” to ratify the agreement, Grlic-Radman added.

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33. Azov commander boasts about gruesome photos of executed civiliansСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Ukrainian neo-Nazi gloats over brutally killed opposition activists, wishes their fate on all “traitors”

A Ukrainian officer who at one point commanded the notorious neo-Nazi Azov regiment has gloated on social media over graphic photos of dead members of an opposition party. The activists “disappeared” from the Ukrainian-held city of Severodonetsk in early March and appear to have been extrajudicially executed, with Maksim Zhorin implying such a fate awaits all “traitors.”

“This is what the ‘Patriots for Life’ from Severodonetsk look like now,” Zhorin said in a now-deleted Telegram post on Wednesday. “They disappeared on March 7, and now their new photos have appeared. They look like that,” he added with a smirking-face emoji.

“I would not be surprised if the investigation finds out that they shot themselves in the head – when they realized how stupid they were when they went to cooperate with [Ilya] Kiva,” he added, in a reference to the Ukrainian MP who fled to Russia in January.

Prosecutors in Kiev had charged Kiva, an outspoken critic of President Volodymyr Zelensky, with treason on March 6, the day before the activists went missing. He had fled the country after being kicked out by his party, “Opposition Platform — For Life.”

That did not save the faction, and almost a dozen others, from being temporarily banned by Zelensky on March 20. A law allowing for permanent bans was adopted on May 14.

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FILE PHOTO. Ukrainian flag is seen in central Kiev.
Zelensky bans Ukrainian opposition parties

Zhorin’s post showed the badly disfigured faces of three men and a woman, in body bags. They appear to have been extrajudicially executed in a cruel manner, said the Telegram channel “Witch Hunt,” which first brought attention to the Azov leader’s post.

Ukraine is “not even medieval, it is ISIS,” the channel added, in a reference to Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, known for its savage beheadings of prisoners.

Severodonetsk became Ukraine’s military administration center for the disputed Lugansk region in the east of the country. It is a major stronghold of troops loyal to Kiev and is currently the site of heavy fighting with Russian troops, as well as Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics’ forces.

Zhorin isn’t just any member of Azov, a notorious Ukrainian militia that has adopted Nazi iconography. He joined them in 2014, at the very start of the turmoil in Ukraine, and actually commanded the unit from August 2016 to September 2017, though his rank in the National Guard of Ukraine is only first lieutenant.

His official biography says Zhorin took part in the taking of Mariupol and Marinka and survived the 2014 defeat at Ilovaisk. In October 2017, he set up the Kharkov regional branch of Azov’s political wing, the National Corps, and became a member of the party’s central committee in January 2020.

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34. ‘Plan B’ ready in case of nuclear test during Biden’s Asia visitСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The US and South Korea have prepared for an “imminent” North Korea “provocation”

Seoul and Washington have a “plan B” in case the DPRK chooses to conduct a nuclear test during US President Joe Biden’s three-day visit to South Korea, the first deputy chief of the South Korean presidential National Security Office, Kim Tae-hyo, said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Speaking about the agenda of Biden’s visit, which is due to start on Friday, Kim said that his country believed the likelihood of North Korea carrying out a nuclear test over the next few days was “relatively low.” However, as Pyongyang’s preparations for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch were “believed to be imminent,” both South Korea and the United States should be prepared for this type of “provocation,” whether it was “big or small,” Kim argued.

Therefore, “a plan B” has been set up “so that the leaders of South Korea and the United States would immediately enter the command-and-control system of the combined defense posture,” he said.

Earlier this month, the White House did not rule out the possibility of Pyongyang conducting a nuclear test – the first since September 2017 – to coincide with Biden’s Asia trip. As Reuters reported, citing an unnamed US official, North Korea could carry out an ICBM test as soon as Thursday or Friday.

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FILE PHOTO
US voices North Korea nuke test fears

During his visit, Biden is scheduled to conduct one-on-one talks with South Korea’s newly-elected president, Yoon Suk-yeol, and to attend meetings on economic and national security. He is also expected to visit Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor plant in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Seoul.

President Biden's visit to Korea will serve as an opportunity to strengthen the Korea-US alliance into a comprehensive strategic alliance,” Kim said.

A meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is not on the agenda.

President Yoon and President Biden’s position is that the door is open for dialogue at any time, but they will not respond to a meeting for the purpose of meeting,” Kim said.

Yoon has pledged to adopt a harder stance against the DPRK’s “provocations.”

While Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, repeatedly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in an effort to convince Pyongyang to denuclearize, Biden has chosen to revive the policy of previous presidents, demanding a total shutdown of the country’s nuclear program before even considering the loosening of sanctions.

Last month, the DPRK warned that it would take decisive action to “crush” any “hostile” foreign power “at the fastest possible speed.” It also pledged to continue its nuclear program in order to protect itself in case of an attack or, if needed, to use such weapons “preemptively.”

Pyongyang has held 16 missile launches so far this year, including an ICBM set off in March, but has not conducted any nuclear tests since September 2017.

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35. US celebrates ‘momentous step’ in KievСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The American embassy resumed its operations after being closed for three months

The US Embassy in Kiev officially resumed its operations on Wednesday after a three-month closure prompted by the ongoing Russian military offensive in Ukraine.

In a statement entitled “Raising the Flag at US Embassy Kyiv,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the reopening of the diplomatic mission as a “momentous step.” The American flag was raised over the embassy building during a short ceremony.

We stand proudly with, and continue to support, the government and people of Ukraine as they defend their country from the Kremlin’s brutal war of aggression,” Blinken said.

The secretary of state explained that suspending operations was necessary for the safety of the embassy's personnel, but now that operations are resuming additional measures to protect staff have been taken.

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RT
Russia expels dozens of foreign diplomats

With strength of purpose, we reaffirm our commitment to the people and government of Ukraine, and we look forward to carrying out our mission from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv,” Blinken said.

As diplomatic mission spokesperson Daniel Langenkamp told Reuters, consular operations remain suspended for now and a ‘no-travel’ advisory from the State Department remains in place across Ukraine.

The embassy shut its doors on February 14. At that time, Washington had long warned about Russia's impending military campaign, while Moscow kept denying that it had such an intention.

Over the last few weeks, several countries have reopened their embassies in the Ukrainian capital, including Canada, Denmark, the UK, Italy, France and Armenia.

On May 17, Israeli Ambassador Michael Brodsky posted a photo of himself raising his country’s flag.

Raising the ?? flag next to the embassy’s building in #Kyiv pic.twitter.com/wiZxDMaHmX

— Michael Brodsky (@michael_brodsk) May 17, 2022

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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36. Aussie PM bulldozes youngster in awkward campaign gaffe (VIDEO)Ср, 18 мая[-/+]
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Scott Morrison smashed into the eight-year-old on the campaign trail

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been criticized for accidentally crashing into an eight-year-old boy during a football match while on the campaign trail.

Morrison was taking part in a training game at the Devonport Strikers Football Club in Tasmania when he lost control while trying to enter the action and collided with the youngster, later named as Luca Fauvette.

"A bit of a rugby tackle," Morrison said as he helped Luca get back on his feet.

While Luca appeared unfazed by Morrison's sloppy tackle and managed to brush himself off before he resumed the game, Morrison was clearly concerned by later asking: "Where's Luca?" and adding: "Hope he's not in hospital!"

"I look forward to coming back on another occasion," Morrison also said. "I think that when that grandstand comes down, I hear it might need a bit of a bulldozer to knock it down, so I might be able to help with that," he joked.

Later on Facebook, Morrison revealed that he had spoken to the youngster and his mother to check if he was in "good form".

"A shout out to young Luca for being such a good sport," Morrison wrote.

Scott Morrison takes a tumble while playing a friendly game of soccer with some kids at Devonport Strikers FC in Tasmania. pic.twitter.com/Wg3OJZHYkV

— Peter Law (@PeterJohnLaw) May 18, 2022

Devonport soccer training. #auspol #ausvotes pic.twitter.com/B641sCUS42

— Matt Roberts (@ACTcameramatt) May 18, 2022

On Twitter, however, the Liberal Party head was heavily criticized by users who also said it reminded them of a horror slide tackle by British counterpart Boris Johnson during a charity football match in 2006 and another incident when he knocked over a 10-year-old boy when playing rugby in Tokyo in 2015.

"What the actual f*ck?" someone asked. "As a primary school teacher, I'd probably be suspended if I did that! He's a big heavy man. That is dangerous. He's from another planet."

"Exhibiting his usual standard of care for Australians," was a separate conclusion.

"It's just so creepy," began another critique. "I'm a mum, so if a random guy, who I didn't know, rocked up to my kid's game and started playing, knocked my kid over and gave my child a hug at the end, I would be really upset and be asking questions. It is wrong on every level."

WTAF? As a primary school teacher, I'd probably be suspended if I did that! He's a big heavy man. That is dangerous. He's from another planet.

— Kate Stanner (@KateStanner) May 18, 2022

Exhibiting his usual standard of care for Australians.

— Kent Parkstreet (@thespecialbka) May 18, 2022

it's just so creepy. I'm a chick and a mum, so if a random guy, who I didn't know, rocked up to my kid's game and started playing, knocked my kid over and gave my child a hug at the end, I would be really upset and be asking questions. It is wrong on every level #auspol

— Ali Saoirse (@AliSaoirse) May 18, 2022

I just don’t really understand why the Prime Minister is running around playing sport with little kids to be honest.

— Andrew Clennell (@aclennell) May 18, 2022

"Accidentally?" it was also asked. "Most commonsense adults know to take care when playing with small children."

"I just don’t really understand why the Prime Minister is running around playing sport with little kids to be honest," admitted Sky News Australia's Political Editor.

Australia's General Election is set to get underway on May 21 when Morrison will try to win a fourth consecutive term as his country's leader.

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37. US puts ‘disinformation board’ on holdСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The government’s Disinformation Governance Board has reportedly been paused after a tide of online criticism

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has “paused” its Disinformation Governance Board, the Washington Post claimed in a story published on Wednesday. The outlet blamed the decision on online “right-wing attacks” against its appointed head Nina Jankowicz, who has confirmed her resignation from the government.

According to the Post, the DHS decided to shutter the board on Monday and Jankowicz drafted her resignation letter on Tuesday morning, only to be pulled into a conference call on Tuesday evening and offered to stay in some capacity.

The Homeland Security Advisory Council is currently reviewing whether to shut down the board entirely, while the DHS working groups “focused on mis-, dis- and mal-information have been suspended,” the Post reported.

After the story was published, Jankowicz confirmed her resignation in a statement released through a spokesperson. “I have decided to leave DHS to return to my work in the public sphere,” she wrote, noting that the board’s work has been “paused and its future uncertain.”

“It is deeply disappointing that mischaracterizations of the Board became a distraction from the Department's vital work, and indeed, along with recent events globally and nationally, embodies why it is necessary,” Jankowicz added.

The DHS has not officially commented on the status of the board. A statement given to the Post only said that “Jankowicz has been subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats.”

Most of the story, authored by the controversial columnist Taylor Lorenz, focuses on what she calls “coordinated online attacks” against Jankowicz, which she says were led by “far-right influencer” Jack Posobiec, the editor of Human Events.

Jankowicz announced the board’s creation and her role in it on April 27. It did not take long for critics to bring up her own online history, from Democrat activism and involvement in “Russiagate” to efforts to censor the – true – New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop as a fake “Russian influence op.”

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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas
US government defends 'Ministry of Truth'

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, however, has defended Jankowicz as “eminently qualified” and a “renowned expert in the field of disinformation,” adding that he did not question her objectivity.

Jankowicz, 33, has previously worked for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – the Post uses a 2019 photo taken at his campaign headquarters as the cover for its article – as well as the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the US National Democratic Institute, where she ran the Russia and Belarus programs.

The board’s purpose had been “grossly mischaracterized,” a department spokesperson told the Post, adding it was not meant to police speech. “Quite the opposite, its focus is to ensure that freedom of speech is protected.”

Anonymous DHS employees and congressional staffers, on the other hand, told Lorenz that Jankowicz was “set up to fail” by the Biden administration, which was “unsure of its messaging” and “unprepared” to counter the online criticism of her.

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38. EU seeks to sanction ex-chancellor and former FM – mediaСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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MEPs demand European politicians with ties to Russian businesses such as former German Chancellor Schroeder resign or face sanctions

European politicians still holding ties to Russian businesses, such as Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Austria’s ex-Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, should be added to the EU sanctions list, a broad coalition within the European Parliament demands, the German Die Welt daily reported on Wednesday, citing a draft resolution it obtained. According to the document, any former top European official who refuses to sever ties with Russian businesses or continues to receive funding from Russia should be blacklisted.

The coalition of MEPs that includes the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), as well as the Liberal group Renew Europe and the Greens, has called on the EU Council to “extend” the EU personal sanctions list “to include European board members of large Russian companies and politicians, who continue to receive Russian funding.” So far, the blacklist has only included Russian officials and “oligarchs” the EU deems to be close to the Kremlin.

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FILE PHOTO: Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Gerhard Schroeder during his inauguration ceremony as Russia's president in the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, May 7, 2018 © AP / Alexei Druzhinin
Germany ‘can’t isolate’ Russia – former chancellor

The draft resolution, which is to be discussed at the EU parliament on Thursday, is “a real signal from Europe. Former chancellors must continue to consider the well-being of their state after their time,” Stefan Berger, a German MEP from the EPP, told Die Welt.
The four alliances agreed on the draft following “lengthy debates,” according to Die Welt. Together, they comprise 70% of all MEPs, meaning the draft resolution is likely to be passed on Thursday.

Initially, only Schroeder’s name was put in the draft, Die Welt reported. The former German chancellor is the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft’s supervisory board. He refused to resign from this position after Russia started its military operation in Ukraine, an event that prompted some former European officials to leave their positions with Russian companies.

The S&D group, which includes Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party of Germany, did not oppose the move but instead pointed to other European politicians who also kept their positions in Russia even after the military action in Ukraine got underway.

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RT
Russia vital part of global economy – Austrian ex-FM

Kneissl’s name was the only other one revealed by Die Welt besides Schroeder’s. The Austrian politician, who is not affiliated with a party, is a member of the Rosneft supervisory board led by the German ex-chancellor. It is unclear whether there are any other European politicians on the list.

If the EU parliament passes the resolution, it would then need to be approved by the representatives of the 27 EU member states in the EU Council, which could happen on Friday, according to Die Welt. Neither Schroeder nor Kneissl has commented on the development so far.

Schroeder has faced pressure from politicians and officials in Germany to cut ties with Moscow amid the Russian military operation in Ukraine. His fellow party members called for his expulsion from the ranks of the German Social Democrats and even his favorite soccer team, Borussia Dortmund, demanded that he condemn Putin.

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RT
Estonian PM urges world leaders to stop calling Putin

The former chancellor has so far resisted the pressure, maintaining that one “cannot isolate a country like Russia in the long run, neither politically nor economically” and Germany would need Russian energy to “keep the economy going.”

Kneissl has also called Russia a vital part of the global economy earlier in May. She has denied that the conflict between Moscow and Kiev should be blamed for the energy crisis and soaring prices in Europe and elsewhere. “The entire make-up of the crisis was here long before,” she said at that time.

Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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39. Rare disease spreads in EuropeСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Previously detected in the UK and Portugal, monkeypox has reportedly infected gay men in Madrid

Health authorities in Spain have issued an alert over a potential outbreak of monkeypox – a rare and incurable viral infection – in Madrid. The alert follows similar outbreaks in the UK and Portugal, and all of the Spanish patients are gay men.

Spain’s Ministry of Health sent an alert to regional health authorities on Tuesday, after health officials in Madrid recorded eight suspected cases of monkeypox. Samples have been sent to Spain’s National Center for Microbiology for a definitive diagnosis.

“Generally speaking, monkeypox is spread by respiratory transmission, but the characteristics of the eight suspected cases point towards fluid contact,” a spokesperson for Madrid’s regional health department told the Guardian. “The eight suspected cases in Madrid are among men who have sex with men. They are doing well but this illness can require hospital treatment.”

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Pox virus, illustration
Сase of rare disease confirmed in England

Monkeypox is similar to human smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980, and can be confused with chickenpox. Its initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion. A rash often begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body.

There is no cure for monkeypox, although most patients experience mild symptoms and recover within a few weeks.

The Spanish outbreak follows similar clusters of infection in the UK and Portugal. Some 20 suspected cases of monkeypox were discovered among young males near Lisbon this week, while a similar outbreak in the UK was first noticed earlier this month. As of Monday, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) had confirmed seven cases of monkeypox, with the four most recent cases all involving gay or bisexual men.

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa, where it can be caught from infected wild animals such as rats, mice, and squirrels. The UK’s first case involved a patient with “a recent travel history from Nigeria,” according to the UKHSA.

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40. World as vulnerable as before Covid – WHOСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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An international panel on pandemic readiness has published a gloomy assessment

When it comes to future pandemics, a lack of progress on international health regulation coupled with economic woes may have left the world in a “worse place” than before the onset of Covid-19, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.

The international community's pandemic-response tools are still inadequate, the assessment published this week by the WHO's Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response claims.

"We have right now the very same tools and the same system that existed in December 2019 to respond to a pandemic threat. And those tools just weren't good enough," former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who co-authored the report, told reporters.

"If there were a new pandemic threat this year, next year, or the year after at least, we will be largely in the same place ... maybe worse, given the tight fiscal space of many, if not most, countries right now," she added.

Despite an increase in funding, the process of formulating a worldwide plan to respond to health threats is moving too slowly, the authors claimed, arguing that leaders needed to fight against the waning of interest in member states.

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FILE PHOTO.
WHO warns of another ‘epidemic’ in Europe

"Only the highest-level political leadership has the legitimacy to bring multiple sectors together," co-author and former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in a Wednesday press statement.

The authors called for a high level meeting of the UN General Assembly to hasten the process of crafting an effective global pandemic response.

In the meantime, the World Health Assembly, the WHO's annual decision-making forum, is set to convene next week in Geneva to address some of the issues raised in the report.

The first known outbreak of the Covid-19 virus occurred in Wuhan, China in 2019 and rapidly spread to nearly all countries. Public health guidelines and mandates such as masking, social distancing and vaccination resulted in political divisions and fueled protests in some countries. Globally, the WHO has recorded 520 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Monday. It estimates the global death toll to be around 6.27 million.

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41. Messi camp responds to rumors of US moveСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Reports claimed that the Argentine will buy a stake in the Inter Miami franchise before switching to the US in 2023

Lionel Messi's agents have dismissed rumors that the Argentine superstar will buy a 35% stake in Inter Miami before switching to the MLS franchise as "completely false."

A Madrid-based DirecTV journalist claimed that the seven-time Ballon d'Or would honor his two-year contract at Paris Saint Germain and then head over the Atlantic in the summer of 2023 to complete what he has previously described as a "dream" move to the US.

Speaking to Le Parisien, however, Messi's agent said that the reports were "completely false".

"Leo has not yet decided on his future," it was clarified. "And if Leo Messi has crossed paths with David Beckham in the last few hours, it is only as part of PSG’s stay in Doha where the former English midfielder plays a role as an ambassador for the next World Cup in Qatar."

The only thing that seems to be certain for now is that Messi will stay in Europe another year to arrive at Qatar 2022 in peak condition with Argentina in November, and also try to win the Champions League for a fifth time in his career with PSG.

Messi has enjoyed mixed fortunes with the Qatari-backed giants since landing at the Parc des Princes as a free agent last summer when boyhood club FC Barcelona failed to navigate La Liga's strict salary club and offer him a new contract.

Though scoring 11 goals and providing 13 assists this term while helping PSG snatch back the Ligue 1 title from Lille, the Parisians fell short in the Champions League once more and were embarrassingly knocked out by eventual finalists Real Madrid.

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© John Berry / Getty Images
Messi set for major move – reports

Messi and Neymar were booed by home fans in the French capital in their first game after the last 16 second leg comeback loss at the Bernabeu, which fueled rumors that Messi would return to Catalonia and Neymar will also move on.

But both players seem set to stay on at PSG at the same time Kylian Mbappe looks certain to join Los Blancos in Spain in the coming weeks.

While all approaching their mid-30s, the likes of Messi and his teammates from Barcelona's last UCL triumph in 2015 such as Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Gerard Pique have all been linked to moves to Inter Miami and the franchise's predominantly Spanish-speaking city.

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42. Israel to simulate attack on Iran – mediaСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The exercises cover potential Iranian retaliation for the shelling of its nuclear facilities

For the first time, the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) major ‘Chariots of Fire’ exercises will include practice drills for a “wide-scale strike in Iran,” the Times of Israel reported on Tuesday, citing sources.

The drills over the Mediterranean Sea will begin on May 29 during the fourth and final week of the month-long exercises.

In light of growing uncertainty regarding a return by Iran to the 2015 nuclear deal, amid long-stalled negotiations with the United States, the Israel Defense Forces in the past year has ramped up its efforts to prepare a credible military threat against Tehran’s nuclear facilities,” the newspaper said.

According to the newspaper, a potential strike by Israel on Iran poses several challenges for the IAF: It has to find ways to shell the Iranian nuclear facilities that are located deep underground, to somehow bypass “increasingly sophisticated” Iranian air defenses, and to prepare for retaliation by Iran and its allies.

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reviews a military parade in Tehran, Iran, April 18, 2022 © AP / Iranian Presidency Office
Iran issues military warning to Israel

The upcoming drill is also expected to focus on preparing for and responding to such retaliation,” the report said.

Almost all of the units of the Israel Defense Forces take part in the ‘Chariots of Fire’ exercises. As Israeli Channel 13 reported on Tuesday, during the Iran-attack simulation, US tankers will practice a midair refueling of Israeli fighter jets.

Earlier that day, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz claimed that Iran “stands just a few weeks away from accumulating fissile material that will be sufficient for a first bomb.” He stressed that Iran continues to “accumulate irreversible knowledge and experience” in all aspects related to the advanced centrifuges, and that the price for “tackling the Iranian challenge on a global or regional level” is constantly growing.

Iran has insisted its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had previously warned Israel that his country’s military would strike “the center of the Zionist regime” if Tel Aviv made “the tiniest movement” against Iran.

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FILE PHOTO.
US says Israel free to act against Iran

Meanwhile, talks aimed at restoring the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, have stalled. Signed by Iran and the US, UK, Russia, France, Germany, China, and the EU, the deal proposed Iran sanctions relief in exchange for a halt to its nuclear program. Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018, claiming that Iran was breaching its obligations.

After a year of negotiations in Vienna, a deal appeared close at hand in February. However, Iran demanded guarantees from Washington that any future US president would not withdraw from a new agreement, and asked the US to remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps from its list of terrorist organizations. The US has not responded to these requests.

If the US gives its response to some of the solutions that were proposed, we can be in the position that all sides return to Vienna,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.

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43. The imminent global food crisis is being blamed on Russia, but the truth is rather more complexСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Just-in-time supply chains, globalism and governments’ lack of foresight may lead to global hunger

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict is undoubtedly impacting global grain supplies, as well as the means of growing crops around the world. But is the looming global food crisis solely Russia’s fault – as spun by the Western media machine?

Only a few months ago, Covid-19, government-imposed lockdowns and climate change were repeatedly blamed for this scenario.

A recent White House Joint Statement by US President Joe Biden and EU leader Ursula von der Leyen clearly singled out the supposed new culprit: “We are deeply concerned by how Putin’s war in Ukraine has caused major disruptions to international food and agriculture supply chains, and the threat it poses to global food security. We recognize that many countries around the world have relied on imported food staples and fertilizer inputs from Ukraine and Russia, with Putin’s aggression disrupting that trade.”

The concept of global food security these days appear as fleeting as Biden’s mnemonic prowess. It has been 12 years since the world was shaken by the Arab Spring, a series of events in which hunger played a significant role, and which, in turn, led to violent uprisings and yet-unresolved civil wars in Libya, Yemen and Syria. Big Tech, Western officials and influencers fuelled this mayhem in the name of ‘freedom and democracy’ but never proffered any concrete solutions. Instead, global hunger grew unabated, while its root causes were explicated through the lens of ‘climate change’ and ‘global governance’.

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FILE PHOTO: Employees reacts as Jay Heller, head of capital markets & initial public offering (IPO) execution of Nasdaq Inc, center, opens trading on Zoom Video Communications Inc. during the company's IPO at the Nasdaq MarketSite on April 18, 2019 in New York City
COVID-19 lockdowns are in lockstep with the 'Great Reset'

In the meantime, right at the doorsteps of the Tech giants, the streets of San Francisco were increasingly populated by the homeless and strewn with human faeces and discarded needles from drug abuse. Even a new urban art genre emerged in the form of poop graffiti! Nothing better represents the disconnect between the lofty promisesand septic realities of Silicon Valley.

Here is something else for the reader to ponder: Contact-tracing technologies that were used to lock down societies were never trialled to connect the poor to nearby farmers markets, food banks and soup kitchens. A rational person cannot be blamed for suspecting that the intention all along was to eviscerate small-scale farmers, grocers and traders during lockdowns and thereby render citizens prostrate before governments and Big Business. As for technocrats who lap up the smarmy fantasies of the World Economic Forum (WEF), what lessons have they learnt since the fateful Arab Spring?

Here we look at two inexcusable failings of the purveyors of global governance. These are linked to the very issues which Biden and von der Leyen are using to scapegoat Russia.

National granaries

The Arab Spring and its bloody aftermath should have taught governments a lesson about the imperative of establishing new national granaries. Well-maintained facilities can store wheat and corn, amongst other goods, for more than 10 years. Individuals can extend this shelf-life to a whopping 31 years under proper conditions.

Grain stats worldwide also raise questions over government commitments to food security. Global wheat production, for instance, has steadily increased during the last decade. According to a Statista.com brief on Jan 27: “The global production volume of wheat came to about over 772 million metric tons in the marketing year of 2020/21. This was an increase of about ten million tons compared to the previous year. Wheat stocks is [sic] also estimated to increase to about 294 million metric tons worldwide by 2021.”

© Statista.com

Although these figures are constantly updated as newer data pours in, there was indeed record wheat output in the face of relentless global lockdowns. However, most governments did little to build or expand their food stockpiles.

Granaries were an indispensable feature of ancient civilizations. The Bible recounts how Joseph guided Egypt through seven years of famine by establishing imperial granaries during the seven years of abundance. Thousands of years later, however, our modern-day sages are mesmerized by the WEF mantra of “you’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy” by 2030. Does that include ownership of real food? I ask this because the WEF is currently promoting synthetic meat and insect gourmet among other wonders.

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© Unsplash / John Cameron
Pandemonium looms for the world as the ‘Everything Shortage’ meets a ‘Dark Winter’ thanks to collapsing global supply chains

If your government failed to set up a strategic food stockpile in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, do not blame Russia (or Ukraine) when the proverbial hits the fan.

Fertilizer stockpiles

Unfortunately, our Gosplan-styled world is overly-centralized, bringing with it attendant risks to the global supply chain. An acute fertilizer shortage is now one of them. Sanctions, and the freezing of $300 billion in Russian assets worldwide, were accompanied by bottlenecks in exports of grain and fertilizers. The escalating energy war between Russia and Europe is also pushing the price of natural gas and essential downstream products through the roof.

Fertilizers are primarily made from nitrogen, phosphorus and/or potassium. Nitrogen and ammonia (another fertilizer compound consisting of nitrogen and hydrogen) are extracted from natural gas. Our food security is therefore inextricably linked to fossil fuel production. This is an immutable reality which eco-warriors love to forget.

As the military operation in Ukraine drags on, few dare speculate the end game. However, Bloomberg warns that for the “first time ever, farmers the world over all at the same time — are testing the limits of how little chemical fertilizer they can apply without devastating their yields come harvest time.” More ominously, fertilizer-producing factories worldwide number in the paltry hundreds. In other words, global agricultural output is expected to plummet – in both qualitative and quantitative terms – over the coming months.

Astrophysicist David Friedberg paints a more alarming picture. The ongoing West-Russia standoff may likely result in the starvation of hundreds of millions of additional people over and above the 800 million who already face daily hunger. Our centralized just-in-time (JIT) global production system only allows for a 90-day food supply for the planet. The ongoing baby-formula shortage in the US is directly linked to the pitfalls of centralized JIT production.

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RT
Global wheat prices hit record high

Could this catastrophe have been avoided? The West and Russia had been on a collision course since 2014 – right after Moscow’s reincorporation of Crimea. The world has had eight long years to game out any escalation of the new West-Russia cold war. As Russia steadily built its gold reserves, the West could have likewise studied, identified and stored up items it needed from Russia in the event of a geopolitical escalation. Right at the top of that list should have been fertilizers and storable food. Instead, the West was more interested in Pussy Riot and the promotion of the liberal agenda.

Ultimately, there are absolutely no excuses for the criminal lack of foresight among governments. For those who wonder about the longevity of stored fertilizer, here are some facts from a gardening website: Liquid chemical fertilizers can be stored for a decade while liquid organic fertilizers have a shelf-life of 5-8 years. Dry granular or crystalized fertilizer can be stored indefinitely.

Where are the fertilizer storage facilities that could have buffered our farms for years?

Faecal farms

Over the coming months, the EU may be tempted to substitute chemical fertilizers from Russia with human waste sludge. However, as a recent Mongabay article cautions, “human waste — including pharmaceuticals and microplastics contained in faeces and urine — is a major public health hazard, causing disease outbreaks, and putting biodiversity at risk.” They contain a variety of contaminants and hazardous pathogens that may affect the entire food chain. Contaminants such as nanoplastics cannot be filtered out using conventional means.

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FILE PHOTO. © AFP / RONALDO SCHEMIDT
Russia responds to food crisis accusations

Despite the evident risks, the UK reportedly imported 27,500 tonnes of Dutch sewage sludge for its agricultural needs in 2020. West European farms, by extension, have now become the biggest global reservoir of microplastics due to their use of sewage sludge. The degradation of the EU's farmland may be exacerbated as the Russia-Ukraine conflict drags on.

Whether famine will ravage the world by Christmas is anyone’s guess. But make no mistake: it will be poorer societies — primarily in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia — that will suffer first and foremost. Even if Russia and Ukraine sign a truce tomorrow and normality returns to the region, many parts of China are facing unprecedented lockdowns. The nuts and bolts of the global economy are now bobbing aimlessly inside countless vessels along the coastlines of China. These include items essential to agriculture.

Interestingly, the WHO has slammed China’s zero-Covid policy as being unsustainable,” which is a marked departure from earlier praise heaped on New Zealand for doing the same thing.

In this cauldron of madness, our collective future was recently summed up this way: “The whole planet is a pot, and we're all frogs.”

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44. UK families warm themselves at McDonald’s – GuardianСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Britons are ‘way past energy-saving tricks’ to handle skyrocketing costs, a charity CEO told the paper

Struggling UK families are spending their evenings at McDonald’s to cut energy costs, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

They do so amid the highest inflation rate in 40 years.

These families reportedly turn to places like McDonalds for free wi-fi, heat, and less-expensive food.

People are buying their kids a Happy Meal for a few quid and keeping them warm inside. Then they wash and brush their teeth in the sinks and watch television for hours on the free wifi,” Matthew Cole of the Fuel Bank Foundation said, as quoted by The Guardian.

Jo Gilbert, the CEO of energy-focused advice charity Cubes, told the newspaper that “in reality, we’re way past using energy-saving tricks at home to limit bills significantly. People need government help now.”

An Ipsos UK survey published by Sky News on Tuesday indicated that 65% of Britons have refrained from turning on their heat in an effort to save money, and that one in four have even skipped meals.

The recent surge that brought consumer prices to their current 40-year high was driven by rising energy bills. The energy price cap for a typical British family rose by £693 (about $860) in April, a 54% increase.

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RT
UK consumer prices reach 40-year highs

According to analysis by the Resolution Foundation, a British think tank focused on improving living standards for low-to-middle income people, inflation is 10.2% for the poorest 10th of British households, significantly higher than the 8.7% seen by the top 10%.

Inflationary pressures are likely to continue to grow through the year as the effects of higher energy prices continue to work their way through businesses and into consumers’ pockets,” Jack Leslie, a senior economist with the organization, warned on Wednesday.

One thing is certain – the government must provide further targeted support for those lower income families at the sharp end of this crisis,” he added.

More than three in four Britons agree with him. The aforementioned Ipsos UK survey showed that 76% of respondents agree that the government isn’t providing enough support to families harmed by rising costs.

The UK’s inflation was driven by the Covid pandemic, the ongoing Ukraine conflict, and unprecedented sanctions on Russia. The measures appear to have backfired on some of the countries that imposed the embargoes, resulting in skyrocketing prices for food, energy, and other consumer goods.

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45. Seizing Russian assets to rebuild Ukraine illegal – USСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The US cannot legally confiscate funds for the reconstruction of Ukraine, US Treasury Secretary says

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that it would not be legal for the United States to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to help rebuild Ukraine.

Yellen was referring to an estimated $300 billion in assets from Russia's central bank that have been blocked by the United States and its allies as part of their sanctions over Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

There have been discussions lately among Western allies on how to finance Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction and whether the frozen Russian assets could play a role.

“I think it’s very natural that given the enormous destruction in Ukraine, and huge rebuilding costs that they will face, that we will look to Russia to help pay at least a portion of the price that will be involved,” Yellen told reporters.

She, however, added: “That said, while we’re beginning to look at this, it would not be legal now in the United States for the government to seize those assets. It’s not something that is legally permissible in the United States.”

READ MORE: Russian asset seizure will have brutal global impact – analysts

Moscow has condemned the blocking of its international reserves, saying it could not have foreseen such a development, and that the freeze essentially constitutes theft. Some experts have also called the freeze of Russian assets the biggest loss in credibility for the US and its allies, as well as for the Western financial system.

Last month, US President Joe Biden asked Congress to grant him the authority to seize the assets of wealthy individuals believed to have links to the Kremlin and use them to reconstruct Ukraine.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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46. Top Twitter boss dubs Musk a ‘loony tune’ – Project VeritasСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Undercover video shows the alleged senior executive blasting the Tesla CEO while boasting about limiting free speech

A senior Twitter executive has apparently been caught on tape mocking Tesla CEO Elon Musk for having Asperger’s syndrome, while criticizing free speech.

In an undercover video posted by Project Veritas on Tuesday, Alex Martinez, who is claimed to be Twitter’s lead client partner, and who sometimes speaks on behalf of the company at events, alleged that Musk is “literally special needs” and that he can’t take anything he says seriously, adding that “he’s a loony tune.”

“Elon Musk as a person, he is whatever. I don’t... like he’s a loony tune, he has Asperger’s,” Martinez said, adding that Musk being “special” is “fine” and that no one is “gonna say some f**king crazy s**t because he’s special,” but did mock Musk’s calls for peace.

“Don’t you also see his piece about ‘why can’t we just all love each other? Haven’t you seen his other tweets where he’s like… I’m like, you’re special needs. You’re literally special needs. Literally, though, you really are. So I can’t even take what you’re saying seriously. Cause you’re special.”

The 50-year-old billionaire caught wind of the executive’s statements and took to Twitter, writing: “Twitter exec trashing free speech & mocking people with Asperger’s.” Musk also separately tweeted a frown emoji in response to the video.

Twitter exec trashing free speech & mocking people with Asperger’s …

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 18, 2022

Martinez also went into a long rant about free speech, arguing that the employees of Twitter “believe in something that’s good for the planet and not just to give people free speech.”

He claimed that this ideology was behind Twitter’s policies that were “put in place for misinformation or mislabeling media,” which the employees were not going to give up without a fight, insisting that there would be a revolt against Musk’s proposed changes.

In the video clip posted, the executive also commented on the issue of censorship on Twitter, stating that “people don’t know how to make a rational decision if you don’t put out correct things that are supposed to be out in the public.”

Martinez also said the reason Twitter doesn’t make money is because its employees are in it for the ideas rather than profit. “If we’re implementing all these rules… and Elon wants to dismantle them, then technically our ideology has led us to not making money because we’re not making money, and Elon wants to turn it the other way so that we can make money.”

He also expressed concern that Twitter’s leaders, such as current CEO Parag Agrawal and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey, who co-founded the platform and currently sits on the board of directors, are motivated by greed.

“At the end of the day, I think the real truth – that they can’t ever say – is that it’s all about money. That it’s all about money, and making all this money. Parag, Jack, the board members, everyone gets paid,” Martinez said.

“Elon gets like tax benefits. Doesn’t have to pay taxes forever. Everything. Like it’s all like money, s**t, greed, America.”

At the end of the video, Martinez also showed the undercover reporter an email that Twitter’s corporate security had sent out to employees, warning them of sting operations like the one actually being carried out by Project Veritas.

“Like they’re trying to go on dates with them, like this,” Martinez told the undercover reporter. “Lucky I met you organically, or I would be questioning you.”

On Monday, Project Veritas released another undercover video in which a supposed senior engineer at Twitter admitted that the company culture was extremely far left and that many of the workers are “commie as f**k” and hate Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover.

The engineer also said that Twitter “did not believe in free speech” and was actively censoring conservatives on the platform.

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47. Russia World Cup hero breaks hearts with Brazil returnСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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CSKA Moscow defender Mario Fernandes announced the news on Wednesday

Footballer Mario Fernandes – the Brazilian-born defender who starred for Russia at the 2018 World Cup after being granted citizenship – has announced that he is “putting his career on hold” and will return to Brazil.

Club team CSKA Moscow shared the news with a message from Fernandes after rumors this week that he would be returning to Brazil at the conclusion of the Russian Premier League season this weekend.

“I would like to thank God for these wonderful 10 years spent in Russia,” read a statement from Fernandes, who has made 328 appearances for CSKA, helping them win three league titles as well as the Russian Cup and Russian Super Cup.

“I would also like to thank all our beloved fans for their great respect for me and the warmth they have always given me.

“But lately I have been feeling a colossal, accumulated fatigue and great exhaustion, and I can no longer give everything that I always gave for the benefit of CSKA in past years,” added the 31-year-old, who moved to Russia from Brazilian club Gremio in 2012.

“I've been playing football professionally for 13 years, of which I spent 10 years at PFC CSKA. It’s time to be with my family. As you probably already know, this year we will have a son.”

Mario Fernandes has made a personal decision to put his CSKA career on hold after the game against FC Rostov on RPL Week 30#RPL #CSKA #Fernandes pic.twitter.com/5m0ATYVsdG

— Russian Premier Liga (@premierliga_en) May 18, 2022

Fernandes – affectionately dubbed ‘Super Mario’ by fans – said he would not rule out returning to Russia “if I realize I still have the strength to play for CSKA” and stressed that the decision was not related to “recent events in the world.”

“I met with the president of the club Evgeny Giner and the general director Roman Babaev, explained to them everything that was on my mind and asked them to allow me to spend some time with my family in Brazil,” said Fernandes.

“I am very grateful to them for the fact that they treated my request with understanding and agreed to let me go, communicating with me as with a son,” added Fernandes, who is under contract at ‘The Army Men’ until the summer of 2024.

CSKA general director Babaev said the departure of the marauding right back would be “a serious loss.”

“We managed to convince Mario not to hurry with the final decision on retirement and agree on a suspension of the contract. I emphasize that we hope that after a short rest, Mario will miss football, our family and return home,” said Babaev.

What a moment to remember from Mario Fernandes!#RPL #CSKA #Fernandes pic.twitter.com/FixhKXj9k8

— Russian Premier Liga (@premierliga_en) May 18, 2022

Fernandes was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin back in 2016 and went on to make 33 appearances for the national team, scoring five times.

He was an integral part of Russia’s shock run to the World Cup quarterfinals on home soil in 2018.

Fernandes netted a memorable headed equalizer against Croatia in extra-time of their last eight clash before Russia suffered agony in the penalty shootout, with the defender dragging his spot-kick wide.

READ MORE: Croatia 2-2 (4-3 pens) Russia: Croatia through to semis with pulsating penalties win over hosts

Fernandes, who had made an appearance for Brazil in 2014 before switching allegiances, announced last September that he was retiring from international football, thanking fans for their support and describing the Russia World Cup as “the most amazing month of my career.”

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48. Debt default will hardly impact Russia – US TreasuryСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Janet Yellen has confirmed that Washington is likely to block Moscow’s bond payments

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday confirmed that Washington was unlikely to extend an exemption that allows Russia to make bond payments on its sovereign debt.

The expectation was that it was time-limited,” Yellen said at a press conference in Bonn, Germany. She was referring to the waiver that’s due to expire on May 25. It was issued shortly after the US introduced sanctions against Moscow over the launch of a military operation in Ukraine in February, and allowed Russia to make payments on its government debt to US investors.

Yellen noted that no final decision has been made so far, but said that the government was likely to allow the waiver to expire. If it does, Russia will fail to pay up on its bond coupons, even though Moscow repeatedly said it has sufficient funds to do that. The failure to pay would constitute a technical default, which Russia is trying to avert.

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RT
US poised to block Russia’s debt payments – media

However, the US Treasury chief also stated that if Russia did declare a technical default, this would not significantly change the situation in the country, although she did not elaborate on the subject.

Yellen said the US Treasury Department was still analyzing the potential consequences of the decision.

We want to make sure that we understand what the potential consequences and spillovers would be of allowing the license to expire,” she said.

Yellen’s comments came a day after Bloomberg reported that the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control was expected to let the temporary exemption lapse, citing anonymous sources.

Russia has so far managed to make all of its payments to foreign creditors. Its next debt payment is due on May 27. Overall, the country is facing more than $490 million in foreign-currency bond payments by the end of June.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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49. Russia kicks out Canadian state mediaСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Moscow has canceled the CBC’s accreditation in retaliation for Ottawa’s ban on RT

Russia has shuttered the Moscow offices of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and revoked the visas and accreditations of its journalists. The move comes in reprisal for Ottawa’s decision to ban RT, in March, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

“With regret we continue to notice open attacks on the Russian media from the countries of the so-called collective West who call themselves civilized,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters. “A decision has been taken to make retaliatory – I emphasize, retaliatory – measures in relation to the actions of Canada.”

Russia’s response comes two months after Ottawa’s decision to ban RT broadcasts in both English and French. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said on March 16 that “the continued authorization to distribute RT and RT France is not in the public interest.”

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File photo
Canada bans RT

The CRTC claimed that RT’s programming was “not consistent” with Canadian standards or “policy objectives,” and said it was concerned that it sought to “undermine the sovereignty of another country, demean Canadians of a particular ethnic background and undermine democratic institutions within Canada.” The decision was announced after a campaign of complaints by ethnic Ukrainian organizations.

The UK, EU, and Australian authorities have also banned RT and other Russian media organizations since the start of the conflict in Ukraine.

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50. US issues dire warning for global economyСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The world is facing a potential slowdown amid rising inflation, Janet Yellen says

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday that higher food and energy prices were having ‘stagflationary’ effects, namely depressing output and spending and raising inflation all around the world.

She told reporters ahead of a meeting of G7 finance ministers in Bonn, Germany, that she doesn’t see the US going into recession.

“We have inflation obviously, the Fed is tightening monetary policy to address it,” she said, adding “we are in a global environment where there are significant risks and pressures but I really don’t expect the United States to fall into recession."

According to Yellen, “Europe is more vulnerable and of course more exposed on the energy front than the United States is.”

She also stressed that the global economy faces risk of a “potential slowdown.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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51. Can Africa replace Russia as the EU's main source of gas?Ср, 18 мая[-/+]
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If such a move were easy, it would have been attempted a long time ago.

In 2021, Russia supplied about 45% of the European Union's natural gas, pumping around 155 billion cubic meters (bcm) of it through several pipelines. The EU is now apparently considering plans to phase out Russian gas, and reports have appeared in recent weeks that a number of African countries – such as Nigeria, Senegal and Angola – are being considered as the replacement source.

There is even more hype around African gas than American or Qatari LNG, which seem to be more obvious substitutes. Simply because deals with those states don’t require much negotiating, while African gas remains a different matter entirely.

Italian government delegations have visited Algeria, Angola, Egypt and the Republic of the Congo since February. So far, most of the visits and negotiations have ended with only declarations and letters of intent, and leading energy think tanks are expressing a certain skepticism about the prospects for gas supplies from Africa to the EU.

How much gas will African exporters be able to supply to the EU, and when?

The EU imports gas via pipelines from Algeria and Libya, as well as getting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria. The total capacity of Africa’s gas export infrastructure (both pipelines and LNG plants) is about 170 billion cubic meters (bcm) per annum. At the same time, 125 bcm of this capacity is under the control of Algeria, where annual gas exports are gradually decreasing to a level between 40 and 50 bcm. In total, export capacity utilization in Africa is about 60% for LNG plants and 40% for pipelines.

Read more
RT
Europe can’t replace Russian gas – Shell CEO

While in Algeria the right to export gas is reserved for state-owned Sonatrach, in the other African countries the export infrastructure is controlled by Western oil majors, mainly representing the buyers’ side, namely Eni, Shell, TotalEnergies and others. Consequently, the ability of African governments to influence the volumes and directions of exports is open to question.

In 2021, African nations supplied 16.6 million tons (MT) of LNG (approximately equivalent to 23 bcm) to the countries of the EU, another 7 MT was delivered to the UK and Turkey, 16.7 MT to Asia, and 0.5 MT to Latin America. Despite post-pandemic economic growth and the dynamic recovery of gas demand, Africa was only able to increase LNG exports by 2 MT compared to the crisis year of 2020. Pipeline exports to Spain and Italy from Algeria and Libya totaled 35 bcm. Thus, Africa exported around 68 bcm to the EU in 2021.

Can Africa increase exports to the EU right now?

Yes, it can. However, it would be in small volumes and involve the transfer of spot LNG cargoes from Asia to the EU. In total, such a maneuver could provide about 10 bcm per annum. Still, the EU will have to offer better prices than buyers in Asia, the UK (also planning to abandon Russian gas), and Turkey – one of the largest importers in the Mediterranean region.

African gas exporters can be divided into two categories: those with spare export capacities (Algeria, Egypt) but lacking enough supplies of their own gas; and those with gas but without the capacity to properly export it (Nigeria, Mauritania/Senegal, and Mozambique). Algeria and Egypt are taking steps to increase production, but most of this growth is spent meeting the needs of their domestic markets (electricity generation, industries, fertilizer production); liquefaction facilities are being built in Mauritania, Senegal, Mozambique and Nigeria, and it is from these countries that we can expect an increase of exports in the medium term.

Investment decisions have already been taken to build new export facilities in Nigeria, Mozambique, and on the border of Senegal and Mauritania. In total, they will add up to 14 MTPA of LNG (approximately 19.3 bcm) by 2025. The seventh train of the Nigeria LNG plant is expected to produce up to 8 MTPA, the Great Tortue project on the border of Mauritania and Senegal will supply 2.5 MTPA, and Coral South in Mozambique will yield 3.4 MTPA. Investment decisions on these projects were made in 2017-2019, long before the current stage of the crisis in Ukraine.

Read more
The 272-meter gas carrier 'Karmol LNGT Powership Africa' is moored off Dakar on the coast of Senegal. © Bernd von Jutrczenka / picture alliance via Getty Images
Emerging gas suppliers expected to replace Russia – media

But this energy is not for the EU only. Nigeria traditionally sells 50% of its LNG to the Asia-Pacific region, while the project in Mozambique is also targeting markets in India, China and Japan. Finally, demand for LNG is gradually emerging in Africa itself (South Africa, etc.), so some of the gas may even remain inside the continent.

Africa’s strategic role

If Russian supplies could have been abandoned in favor of African equivalents, the EU would have done it long ago. This task has been prioritized since 2008, when then-EU Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs visited Nigeria to discuss the Trans-Saharan route, and Brussels has been striving to increase supplies, from this source with all its might but without much success. It is almost impossible to squeeze more gas out of Africa. Thus the main beneficiary of the EU’s refusal of the Russian product will be the United States, alongside Qatar (where the main producer is ExxonMobil). Israel, Azerbaijan and Iran have a good chance of getting a share of the pie as well.

At the same time, Africa has been and remains an important source of energy for the EU. Given the ongoing crisis, the pressure on its countries to export more gas at the expense of their domestic markets will intensify, and Western majors leaving Russia will certainly turn to Africa in search of a resource base.

The current market situation may revive projects previously considered unviable, including the construction of pipelines across the Sahara from Nigeria to Algeria, the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, or as many as three new projects for the export of LNG from the East African coast of Mozambique, Tanzania, or Djibouti.

On the other hand, in the next decade, gas will play a key role in the development of the energy sector and industries (production of fertilizers, cement, polypropylene, etc.) in many African countries. The main producing states, primarily Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria, will have to choose between meeting growing domestic demand and the temptation to increase exports.

The choice of priorities between exports and domestic consumption (more foreign currency earnings or a larger available supply for the energy sector and industries) will determine Africa’s role in world energy markets over the next 20 years. The distribution of gas between domestic consumption and export would depend, among other factors, on government decisions, often made under pressure from operators, buyers and donor countries.

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RT
EU turns to Africa for help

Regulators and state-owned companies in countries like Mozambique and Nigeria often make their decisions on the recommendations of foreign consultants, and such choices do not always correspond to the interests of the host countries. Algeria and Egypt have moved much further in the development of their domestic markets and give them priority, but the same foreign consultants, acting in close alliance with European and multinational corporations, are putting enormous pressure on them to abandon subsidies, liberalize their markets, and divide state monopolies.

But the EU still has an opportunity. A devastating economic crisis, with a sharp decline in electricity demand and production in Algeria or Egypt would free up additional volumes of gas for export (as once happened with Soviet gas). But such crises would be tragedies, and fortunately are still only a hypothetical risk.

Russia could have played a role in supporting and developing African gas markets. While the office of Gazprom was operating in Nigeria, the country refrained from approving (ruinous) decisions on export projects, counting on cooperation with Russians and others to develop the domestic market. However, no investment decisions were taken, and Nigeria went back to its old ways: building new liquefaction facilities. Gazprom, Rosneft, LUKOIL sporadically participate in E&P projects across Africa, actually playing along with their own strategic adversaries. If they turn from these projects to develop African domestic markets, both Russia and Africa will benefit, but there is not much evidence of that yet.

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52. Inflation in Austria highest since 1981Ср, 18 мая[-/+]
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Consumer prices in the country rose in April at the highest rate in over four decades

Inflation in Austria has jumped to its highest level in over 40 years, media reported on Wednesday, citing data from the country’s federal statistics agency Statistics Austria.

In April 2022, consumer prices again increased significantly compared to last year – by 7.2%. We saw such a high rate of price growth in Austria for the last time in October 1981. Then the price of oil jumped sharply due to the Iran-Iraq war. Now, along with fuel and energy prices, food prices are the decisive factor,” the agency’s CEO Tobias Thomas said in a statement.

According to the agency’s calculations, transport costs increased by an average of 17.7% after having already jumped by 15.9% in March. The growth is attributed to higher fuel prices, which spiked 49.1% in April. This also hit airfares, which rose by 45% last month. Household energy costs also skyrocketed, increasing by almost 29%, while food prices surged by 8.4%.

This week’s data shows that the cost of an average weekly shopping basket rose 14% in April compared to last year.

READ MORE: UK consumer prices reach 40-year highs

Austria is among a growing number of Western states to suffer from soaring consumer prices. Inflation in Britain hit a 40-year high last month at 9%, while prices have also been growing at record-breaking speed in the US, Germany and other nations. The spike in prices follows the introduction of economic sanctions against Russia in response to its military operation in Ukraine. The measures were meant to destabilize Russia’s economy, but they appear to have backfired on nations that imposed them.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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53. Laser weapons used in Ukraine – RussiaСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Hi tech tools can burn through targets up to 5km away, a top official outlined

Russia has developed its own anti-drone laser capability and is already using it in Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov claimed in an interview on Wednesday. It has a range of 5km and was nicknamed Zadira, or ‘troublemaker’ in Russian, he said. He didn’t disclose any other details about the new device.

The revelation came as Borisov was discussing the advanced weapons being developed in Russia. He compared the new tool to Peresvet, a laser system first unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in 2018, the exact purpose of which was not explained at the time.

The official confirmed that the Peresvet was designed to disable optic sensors, including on spy satellites orbiting the earth as high as 1,500 km.

“While Peresvet blinds, the new generation of laser weapons causes physical damage to the target, burning it through,” he said.

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FILE PHOTO. Presentation of the Checkmate at MAKS-2021 Moscow International Air show. ©Leonid Faerberg / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
Production date for Russia’s next-generation weapons revealed

When asked about the timeline for the Russian military to receive such systems, Borisov said they were already being supplied. When asked further whether the anti-drone laser was deployed in Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, the minister acknowledged that the “first samples were used” there.

According to military experts, lasers have several drawbacks as weapons, including massive power requirements and the deterioration of the beam caused by dust and water vapor in the air cause, among others.

However, they have a major advantage in terms of cost-per-shot compared to traditional anti-aircraft missiles. The advancement in drone technology, which has made the deployment of air assets more financially accessible, has compelled military planners worldwide to look for various ways to counter this threat without depleting their war chests.

In the US, naval lasers were successfully tested against boats and drones this year, with the defeat of an aerial practice target by the Layered Laser Defense (LLD) in April touted as “historic” by the authorities.

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54. Shoplifting seagull wanted for knocking off TescoСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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A talented bird has stolen $375 worth of crisps from a Devon supermarket

One crafty seagull has become such a skilled shoplifter it is believed to have pilfered some $375 (£300) worth of crisps in a single year from the Tesco in Paignton, England, local media reports revealed on Tuesday, adding that the enterprising bird had been caught red-taloned on film.

Known as “Steven Seagull” to the Devon town’s inhabitants, the bird is believed to visit the store as often as three times a day, waiting for humans to open the automatic doors before darting in and emerging with a bag of potato chips firmly clasped in its beak.

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A shattered window is seen at the Barbour store after it was looted and damaged by some protesters after they participated in a march against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, US, June 1, 2020. © REUTERS / Mike Segar
Smash-and-grab squads: How US looting rings organize online as police are defunded

While it’s impossible to tell how much the seagull has actually nibbled out of Tesco’s profits, it is believed to have made off with some 37 pounds (17 kilograms) of food.

Employees admit “it happens at least once a day, often three times,” and that Doritos are “his favorite.” They insist they “shoo him away because we don’t want to lose the stock” and are “always keeping an eye out” but the bird manages to elude them anyway, charming the town’s inhabitants, who film him and watch his antics.

While there’s no indication Steven Seagull learned his trade by watching humans, shoplifting of the non-avian variety has been on the rise in the UK, with a steep decline in prosecutions as police complain stealing goods worth under $250 (£200) has been effectively decriminalized.

Shoplifting was on the rise prior to the Covid-19 lockdowns, and while that increase stalled while most Britons were hiding out at home, it began to increase once more once restrictions were lifted.

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55. US soccer strikes ‘historic’ equal pay dealСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The US Soccer Federation has reached a ruling proclaimed as a landmark

The US Soccer Federation (USSF) has reached agreements that will see members of its men's national team (USMNT) and women's national team (USWNT) paid equally, which is said to be a first in sport.

The federation announced the deals, which will run until 2028, with the unions for both teams on Wednesday after years of negotiations and the settlement of a gender discrimination lawsuit a group of women's players brought forward in 2019.

That settlement was contingent on the US federation striking labor contracts which offered equal pay and bonuses across the two teams, and one of the other main sticking points in talks was World Cup money based on how far a team gets in the FIFA showpiece international tournament.

While the USWNT has achieved back-to-back titles and has far outperformed the USMNT, differences in prize money meant they were paid far less than men's winners.

But the unions have now agreed to pool FIFA payments for the men's World Cup in Qatar later this year and in 2026, plus the women's World Cups in 2026 and 2027, at the same time the women have given up guaranteed base salaries of $100,000 for many.

Moving forward, each player will receive matching game appearance fees as the USSF claims to be the first federation to pool its FIFA prize money in this fashion, and there will be identical game bonuses for lesser tournaments in North America, plus matching appearance fees and performances payments for friendlies.

The USSF previously based its bonuses on FIFA payments, with the global governing body increasing the total prize money to $440 million for Qatar 2022.

At Russia 2018, the prize money was $400 million including $38 million to the champions France compared to $30 million for the 2019's women's World Cup and just $4 million to the champion USWNT.

For the 2023 edition of the women's World Cup, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has proposed doubling the women's prize money to $60 million, and the USSF will pool FIFA funds after taking 10% and then split the rest equally among 23 players on each team for 2022 and 2023.

For the 2026 and 2027 cycles, the USSF's cut will jump to 20% prior to the split among the 46 women's and men's stars.

Celebrating the victory, US women's team forward Margaret Purce said she felt "a lot of pride for the girls who are going to see this growing up, and recognize their value rather than having to fight for it".

"However, my dad always told me that you don’t get rewarded for doing what you’re supposed to do – and paying men and women equally is what you’re supposed to do," Purce continued. "So I’m not giving out any gold stars, but I’m grateful for this accomplishment and for all the people who came together to make it so."

Read more
Megan Rapinoe was part of the World Cup-winning US team. © Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
US women’s soccer stars win $24 million equal pay battle

"I think we’ve outgrown some of the conditions that may look like we have lost something, but now our [professional] league is actually strong enough where now we don’t need as many guaranteed contracts, you know, we can be on more of a pay-to-play model," Purce also said.

"We saw it as an opportunity, an opportunity to be leaders in this front and join in with the women’s side and US Soccer. So we’re just excited that this is how we were able to get the deal done," commented defender Walker Zimmerman.

Other parts of the agreements include child care being extended to men during the national team's training camps and matches as well as the women and men also receiving a slice of revenue from tickets for USSF-controlled matches, broadcasting, partnerships, and sponsors.

"There were moments when I thought it was all going to fall apart and then it came back together and it’s a real credit to all the different groups coming together, negotiating at one table," said USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone, who also once played for the women's national team.

"I think that’s where the turning point really happened. Before, trying to negotiate a CBA with the women and then turn around and negotiate CBA terms with the men and vice versa, was really challenging. I think the real turning point was when we finally were all in the same room sitting at the same table, working together and collaborating to reach this goal," she finished.

Elsewhere, the counsel for the men's union, Mark Levinstein, said that the agreement put an end to "more than 20 years of discrimination" against the USWNT.

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Hope Solo © Sam Wasson / Getty Images
$24MN equal pay agreement ‘heartbreaking’, fumes ex-US Women's football star

"Together with the USWNTPA, the USMNT players achieved what everyone said was impossible – an agreement that provides fair compensation to the USMNT players and equal pay and equal working conditions to the USWNT players," Levinstein explained, insisting that the USSF's new leadership should get "tremendous credit for working with the players to achieve these agreements".

This latest development comes after the USSF was ordered to pay $24 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit with a group of past and present USWNT stars, an amount which an ex-USWNT goalkeeper criticized for being too low.

As part of their settlement, the group of women's players will divide $22 million, which was around a third of what they had originally hoped to seal, with the extra $2 million used to establish a fund that helps the players navigate their post-soccer careers and women's sports to grow.

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56. EU to bankroll Ukraine’s budgetСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The European Union will fork out $9.5 billion to keep Ukraine afloat, as Washington has instructed

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed an aid package of €9 billion ($9.5 billion) to keep Ukraine’s government running, and added that the EU would lead reconstruction efforts in Ukraine after hostilities cease. Her announcement came a day after the US called on Europe to open its coffers for Kiev.

Money for the aid package would be borrowed by the Commission in global financial markets and would be repayable by Kiev. As per the EU’s rules on macro-financial assistance, the Ukrainian government would be free to use the cash as it sees fit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that Ukraine needs around $7 billion per month to pay its soldiers, civilians and pensioners, and to keep essential services running. The proposed EU package will therefore keep Ukraine functioning for just over a month.

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Janet Yellen delivers a lecture at the Brussels Economic Forum 2022 in Brussels, Belgium, May 17, 2022 © AP / Olivier Matthys
US tells EU to give more money to Ukraine

Hours before von der Leyen’s announcement, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Brussels Economic Forum that “the bilateral and multilateral support announced so far will not be sufficient to address Ukraine’s needs, even in the short term.”

“I sincerely ask all our partners to join us in increasing their financial support to Ukraine,” she continued, adding that aside from keeping the country afloat in the short term, “massive support” would be needed to rebuild Ukraine once the fighting ends.

Von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the EU will lead this reconstruction effort, but would not be the sole contributor.

"That is why we propose a reconstruction platform as part of this plan jointly led by Ukraine and the Commission and bringing together EU Member States, other bilateral or international donors, international financial institutions, and other like-minded partners," she said.

While von der Leyen’s aid package is in line with what Yellen requested, it must still be approved by both the European Parliament and European Council. However, none of the Commission’s aid packages to Ukraine thus far – which include four consecutive €500 million ($520 million) packages of military aid and €1.2 billion ($1.26 billion) worth of emergency loans – have faced any resistance from either body.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused EU leaders of acting on behalf of their “American overlord” with regard to Ukraine, and committing economic “suicide” by cutting themselves off from Russian energy resources amid inflation and record high fuel costs.

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57. EU unveils energy rationing planСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The European Commission will encourage rationing and make solar panels mandatory in the move away from Russian energy

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday that the EU would raise its renewable energy targets and invest billions of euros in clean energy in a bid to break away from Russian oil and gas imports. Consumers will pay a price, however, with the EU’s plan including energy rationing and compulsory solar panels on homes.

Von der Leyen’s ‘REPowerEU’ plan would cut the EU’s reliance on Russian gas by 66% this year and eliminate it entirely by 2027, the bloc’s policy chief told reporters in Brussels.

Under the proposal, the EU would increase its Energy Efficiency Target from 9% to 13%, and raise from 40% to 45% the amount of its power generated by renewables by 2030. At present, the EU sources 22% of its energy from such sources

To achieve this, von der Leyen said that the the bloc would speed up the permit procedure for renewable projects such as wind farms and would make €300 billion ($315 billion) available in grants and loans. Of this funding, 95% would be set aside for green energy, while 5% would be used to upgrade the EU's gas and oil infrastructure to receive imports from sources other than Russia.

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RT
EU’s energy policy is economic suicide – Putin

However, some of the immediate costs will be borne by consumers. According to the European Commission’s website, households and industry will be required to make “behavioral changes” – such as turning down air conditioning and switching off lights – to reduce demand for oil and gas by 5%. Furthermore, commercial and public buildings will be required to install rooftop solar panels by 2025, with these units to be made mandatory on residential buildings by 2029.

Some individual member states have already asked their citizens to curtail their energy use. Germany, which depends on Russia for more than half of its gas and was already facing the world’s highest energy costs due to its flawed transition to wind power, has asked its population to shower less and swap their cars for bicycles in order to save costs.

With consumers across the EU already grappling with skyrocketing inflation and record fuel prices, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that European countries are committing economic “suicide” by trying to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas, accusing them of caving to pressure “from their American overlord” without “paying any attention to the damage that they have already caused their own economy.”

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58. Britons brace for gloomy future as cost of living soarsСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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More than 1 in 4 are skipping meals, data suggests

Britons expect to continue struggling against a cost-of-living crisis, exacerbated by skyrocketing inflation and UK sanctions on Russia, according to a new survey. Many have adjusted their budgets and some have even skipped meals, the poll revealed.

Sky News reported the results Tuesday, citing an Ipsos UK poll of 2,061 people, aged 16-75, conducted on May 12-13.

When asked how they’ve responded to the rising cost of living across the UK, 52% said they’ve cut back on socializing. However, only 29% said they’ve canceled their TV or streaming service. More than half of respondents said they expect the cost of both pastimes to rise over the next six months.

READ MORE: Britons told to work more to handle cost-of-living crisis

Nearly half of those surveyed said they expect a rise in mortgage payments or rents. While 87% said they expect utility bills to continue to climb over the next six months, half of respondents said they expect the cost of fuel and food to increase “a lot.”

Read more
RT
Britons facing ‘real food poverty’, supermarket giant warns

Those surveyed were far more likely to adjust their spending than to maintain their lifestyle on borrowed money. Only 19% said they had incurred new debt, while another 12% said they had “thought about it” to cover the rising costs of food, fuel and other everyday items.

Conversely, 65% said they’ve kept their heating turned off, 44% admitted they’ve driven their cars less, and 44% claimed they switched to a cheaper supermarket for their groceries.

With food prices climbing across the UK, 27% – more than one in four – of respondents admitted to skipping meals, while another 14% said they have considered doing so.

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59. Turkey outlines expectations from NATOСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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President demands NATO respect his country’s security interests after Sweden and Finland submitted bids to join the bloc

Turkey has demanded that NATO respect its security concerns, and has stated that it will not accept the bids of Sweden and Finland to join the organisation, as it would leave the it less secure due to the two countries allegedly harboring terrorists.

“We are one of the top countries that actively support the activities of the (NATO) alliance, but this does not mean we will agree to every proposal without question,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a speech in parliament on Wednesday, adding that “NATO expansion is only meaningful for us in proportion to the respect that will be shown to our sensitivities.”

Erdogan added that Turkey expects NATO to respect its national security concerns, particularly when it comes to counter-terrorism efforts, and “provide support if possible.”

He went on to say that Sweden and Finland should not expect Ankara to accept their membership requests as long as “terrorists and their accomplices” continue “openly roaming their streets,” and that delegations from the two countries shouldn’t bother coming to Turkey to try and convince Ankara to back their bids.

“So you won’t give us back terrorists but you ask us for NATO membership? NATO is an entity for security, an organization for security. Therefore, we cannot say ‘yes’ to this security organization being deprived of security,” Erdogan said.

Turkey claims that Sweden and Finland both harbor people that Ankara deems to be linked to terrorist groups such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C), and followers of Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara considers to be the mastermind behind the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Both Helsinki and Stockholm have for years refused Turkey’s request for the extradition of 33 individuals accused of terrorism, for which Erdogan has branded the countries “guesthouses” for terrorist groups.

On May 15, the two Nordic nations officially decided to break with their history of neutrality and seek NATO membership, but their attempts have been undercut by Turkey as the acceptance of new countries to the bloc requires the unanimous consent of all members.

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FILE PHOTO
Turkey’s list of demands to NATO revealed

According to an article published by Bloomberg, Turkey has since issued a list of demands, including that both Finland and Sweden officially denounce the PKK and DHKP/C, as well as canceling trade restrictions they have imposed on Turkey.

Ankara has also demanded to be re-included in the F-35 advanced aircraft program, from which it was barred after it bought S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, and wants the approval of a deal to purchase dozens of F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits from the US.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “Turkey is a valued ally,” and called for the country’s security concerns to be addressed, hoping that Ankara’s opposition will not delay the accession of Finland and Sweden.

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60. Russia expels dozens of foreign diplomatsСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The measures were in retaliation for similar moves made previously by France, Spain and Italy

The Russian Foreign Ministry has declared dozens of French, Italian and Spanish diplomats ‘persona non grata’ in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomatic staff from these countries amid Moscow’s ongoing military offensive in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the ministry summoned the ambassadors of the trio to express “strong protest” over their government's “provocative” actions.

In April, France expelled 41 people from Russian diplomatic institutions.

It was emphasized that this step causes serious damage to Russian-French relations and constructive bilateral cooperation,” Moscow said in a statement.

As a response, 34 employees of French diplomatic institutions have been labelled 'persona non grata."

They are ordered to leave the territory of Russia within two weeks from the date of delivery of the corresponding note to the Ambassador,” the ministry said.

In response to the expulsion of 27 Russian diplomatic staff employees from Spain, Moscow has blacklisted a similar number of staff from Spain’s embassy in Moscow and consulate general in St. Petersburg. They must leave the country within a week of the date of the announcement.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov © Sputnik / Sergey Guneev
West conducting war against Russia – Kremlin

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed to RIA Novosti on Wednesday that 24 Italian diplomats had been also ordered to leave following the Italian government’s announcement in early April of the expulsion of 30 Russian diplomats.

Both France and Italy condemned Moscow’s decision, with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi even calling the expulsions a “hostile act.” He emphasized the importance of diplomatic channels by saying that “it is through those channels that, if we succeed, peace will be achieved and that is certainly what we want.

Late last month, the ministry revealed that since the launch of Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine on February 24, around 400 diplomats had been expelled from 28 countries. France, Spain and others explained their moves by citing security considerations. Russia views the expulsions as “unfriendly” actions, or, in the words of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as acts of “boorishness.”

Moscow has previously warned that it would retaliate to all such moves.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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61. Russian athletes sanctioned means they are ‘winners’ – KadyrovСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The Chechen leader compared the suspensions imposed on Russian sports stars to his own experience

Chechen Republic chief Ramzan Kadyrov has said Russian athletes should consider themselves to be “winners” after sweeping sporting sanctions were imposed on the country following the launch of the military operation in Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended at the end of February that federations across all sports decline to invite Russian and Belarusian athletes to events wherever possible.

That stance has since been adopted by a host of authorities, from the likes of powerful football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA to smaller organizations such as the International Canoe Federation.

But as athletes are forced to sit out global competitions, Kadyrov said the bans proved that rivals lived in fear of being beaten by Russian competitors.

“When sanctions were imposed against me, I considered myself a winner,” said Kadyrov, who has been targeted by the likes of the US in recent years.

“They [Russian athletes] are winners. I congratulate them on their victory. They are afraid [of Russian athletes], so they are not allowed in,” added Kadyrov, who was quoted by RIA while speaking at the ‘New Horizons’ forum.

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© Instagram @ya__pomoshnik_kra_95
Chechen UFC sensation feted by Kadyrov (VIDEO)

Since being isolated by a range of federations, Russia has sought new avenues for domestic and international competition.

That has been coupled with increasing talk of a pivot towards Asian sport to escape the perceived political machinations of the West.

“I think that we have regions that are friends with us,” said Kadyrov.

“We can hold competitions with them... we can continue to live until we prove to the whole world that we are right, that we cannot be broken and brought to our knees.

“This will be in the near future. They must admit, apologize [to us] and lift all sanctions against Russia and against everyone. It will definitely happen,” added Kadyrov confidently.

The Chechen leader is not the first figure from Russia to suggest that Western forces will regret allegedly allowing politics to interfere with sport.

Decrying “Russophobia,” cross-country skiing boss Elena Vyalbe said back in March that she was “sure that we will see how these people will apologize.”

“They will say: ‘Yes, guys, we didn’t know much, they didn’t tell us much, we now learned and, of course, we are ashamed of our actions,”

Russian assertions that sanctions placed on its athletes are discriminatory have been largely dismissed by the IOC, whose president Thomas Bach claimed it is a “cheap argument” to say that sport was being undermined by politics.

READ MORE: Olympic boss explains why Russia was sanctioned but others weren’t

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62. US wants to lure India away from Russia – BloombergСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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A $500 million military aid package would reportedly be aimed at ‘weaning’ India off of Russia

The US government intends to woo India into slowing down its defense cooperation with Russia by offering New Delhi a military assistance package that could be worth as much as $500 million, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.

Russia has long been a major provider of arms to India, especially the more complex weapons systems like fighter jets and attack submarines. Since at least the 2000s, it has been the top seller of weapons to New Delhi, with the exception of last year, when France took the lead. The US, Israel, and the UK are also among the major suppliers.

India has a policy of decreasing its dependence on foreign supplies by developing the domestic defense sector and has also diversified arms imports in the past years, but Moscow remains its key partner, meeting almost half of the needs in the last five years.

According to Bloomberg, Washington hopes the assistance will help draw India away from Russia and closer to the US.

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© Getty Images / Adrian Pope
Russia becoming one of India’s top oil suppliers

The report comes ahead of next week’s summit of leaders of the Quad – a four-party Indo-Pacific security mechanism – which also includes the US, Japan, and Australia. Washington perceives it as a key component for opposing China, another Asian powerhouse, with which India has a long-standing rivalry.

Like many other non-Western nations, India has refused to join the US-led campaign to punish Russia for its military operation against Ukraine. Rather than sacrificing its economic interests by heaping sanctions on Moscow, like the majority of European countries, New Delhi has been buying more Russian crude at a significantly discounted price.

While Western officials have voiced displeasure with the lack of support for their Russia policies, they stopped short of targeting India with any retaliation. The same was true before the conflict in Ukraine.

Washington failed to impose sanctions against India for purchasing advanced Russian S-400 air defense systems. This contrasted with its treatment of China and even NATO ally Turkey, which were both hit with sanctions for buying the same weapons.

Bloomberg sources would not say when and if the aid deal would be announced and what arms India would receive from the US. The report implied that French weapons may be part of it in addition to American products. If the package amounts to the sum suggested by the sources, India would become one of the biggest recipients of US military aid, behind Ukraine, Israel, and Egypt.

When asked by the news outlet, however, neither American nor Indian officials would comment on the discussions.

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63. Production date for Russia’s next-generation weapons revealedСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The Su-75 Checkmate is to be mass-produced starting 2027, Rostec head reported

The Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate, a light single-engine cousin of Russia’s advanced Su-57 fighter jet, will go into production sometime in 2027, the head of state-owned Rostec said on Wednesday.

The deadline was revealed by Sergey Chemezov during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. He detailed the progress of several leading Russian aviation projects, including the Checkmate.

The light fighter, derived from the heavier fifth-generation twin-engine Su-57, was first introduced last year. Rostec hopes it could become a major arms export boost for Sukhoi, a subsidiary of the Russian defense conglomerate.

The Checkmate uses some of the technology developed for the Su-57 project, including the powerplant, but has several distinctive features, like its diverterless air inlet and V-tail control surfaces. The supersonic warplane can carry a payload of up to 7 tons in its internal weapons bay and has a range of 3,000km, according to designers.

That's longer than America's F-35 Lightning II.

So far, a single prototype has reportedly been finished, with two more underway. The aircraft is to make its maiden flight next year.

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The ‘Checkmate’ fighter jet at the MAKS-2021 air show in Zhukovsky, Russia, July 20, 2021. © Yevgeny Biyatov/Sputnik
Meet Su-57’s younger brother: RT takes closer look at Checkmate, Russia's fifth-gen fighter jet (VIDEO)

Another aerial weapons platform, the Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik (“hunter” in Russian) will go into production next year, according to Chemezov, while its producer is working on an upgrade for the drone’s ground control equipment.

The Russian defense ministry earlier indicated that it expected to receive S-70s in large numbers starting 2024, but the head of Rostec said the deliveries may begin a year earlier.

The UAV is a heavy 20-ton strike drone using a flying wing airframe. It made its maiden flight in 2019.

Chemezov also briefed Putin on the ongoing overhaul of Russia’s fleet of Tu-160M long-range bombers and the progress of the civilian MS-21 airliner.

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64. Khabib accepts Ferguson challengeСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The UFC lightweight legend is open to opposing his long-term nemesis Tony Ferguson on The Ultimate Fighter

Grappling great Khabib Nurmagomedov might finally face off against Tony Ferguson in the UFC after accepting a challenge from the veteran.

Nurmagomedov retired from MMA in 2020 after beating Justin Gaethje and reaching a 29-0 record as the undisputed lightweight champion, with the only disappointment among some fans being the fact that he never took on generational rival Ferguson thanks to injuries and other issues that canceled their scheduled meetings on no fewer than five occasions.

Ferguson recently suggested that he and Khabib could take on one another as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter, however, without meeting in the octagon after as is custom, and the Russian has seemingly accepted the challenge.

"Tony I like the idea about TUF," Nurmagomedov tweeted.

"Call your bosses and let them make an offer, but if they don’t have ideas, I myself will offer you a deal on the Eagle Fight Club platform. We doing some business here you know," Nurmagomedov suggested, in relation to the rival promotion he owns.

Tony I like the idea about TUF, call your bosses and let them make an offer, but if they don’t have ideas, I myself will offer you a deal on the @EagleFightClub platform, we doing some business here you know.

— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) May 17, 2022

Ferguson took just 18 minutes to reply, asking Nurmagomedov: "We’re private contractors, fathead. Remember?"

"We can smell ya from all the way over here," Ferguson wrote, with two pudding emojis.

"Lay off the sweets, meat head. Now you work for me," Ferguson told his foe.

"By the way, you still me $200,000 and 20 push-ups for the homeless. Keep runnin', it's Tiramisu Tuesday, champ. 'Merica, motherf*cker," the former prospect signed off.

When originally issuing his challenge to Nurmagomedov, however, Ferguson was far more cordial.

We’re Private Contractors Fathead Remember? We Can Smell Ya ?? From All The Way Over Here ? Lay Of The Sweets Meat Head. Now??You Work For Me, BTW You Still Owe Me 200K & 20 Push-Up For The Homeless ? Keep Runnin’ It’s Tiramisu?Tuesday- Champ ?? -CSO- ????? ‘Merica MF pic.twitter.com/LS9WK4rI12

— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) May 17, 2022

"When his dad [Abdulmanap, who passed away from Covid complications in 2020] said we were supposed to compete, I believe that," Ferguson revealed.

"I would love to be able to coach against him in The Ultimate Fighter, how about that? You know, best man wins on the team. I guarantee my coaching is a lot better than yours, Khabib. Not a lot of people understand that."

"I built a team for a 12-fight win streak, and I can definitely build a team again," he said about his impressive run from 2013 to 2019, which also took in the interim title.

"I have nothing personal against him, besides him running away for the pandemic and being a scared dude, but I gotta respect that family [comes] first…

"Jiu-jitsu, soccer, it doesn’t matter what game we play. It would be cool to go out there, shake the dude’s hand, squash some beef, and then move on," Ferguson concluded.

READ MORE: Khabib snipes back at UFC foe after ‘p***y’ jibe

Losing his last four outings, the window for Ferguson to become UFC undisputed champion seems to have closed, which might explain Nurmagomedov's counter-invitation to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Junior dos Santos and Kevin Lee by joining Eagle FC.

Finished by Michael Chandler at UFC 274 in the second round of their meeting almost a fortnight ago, Ferguson has worryingly confessed to suffering memory loss after the KO of the year contending-kick that ended his evening.

Read more
(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
UFC star flatlines Khabib rival with stunning kick (VIDEO)

"I took a big kick to the chin last Saturday inside that octagon," Ferguson said.

"It knocked me out for a long time. It was a scary feeling not remembering anything from the start of the second round until I got to the ambulance," Ferguson admitted.

"I'm not perfect by any means, but I will continue to strive for perfection in and out of the practice room," Ferguson also said, batting off suggestions and rumors of hanging his gloves on.

"My movements are fine, my bones are intact and except for a slight headache in the mornings, I'm glad to be back and doing what I love. I want to be better than yesterday, not for anyone else but for me," Ferguson stressed.

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65. Worst of economic shock over for Russia – officialСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The country has managed to withstand Western sanctions, the finance minister says

The Russian economy has overcome the first shock from the sanctions imposed by the West, according to Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. It won’t be easy to get over the restrictions, but prudent financial and budgetary policy will allow the country to withstand them and maintain financial sovereignty, he said on Wednesday.

The economy cannot ignore the sanctions regime, “but it will not be as tough as it would be if the government had not taken appropriate support measures,” Siluanov said, adding: “The first shock, we believe, has passed. Although all these sanctions packages are still being prepared.”

The minister also said that for the sake of financial stability, the government has taken a number of steps, including the removal of restrictions that were initially introduced as an emergency response to the sanctions.

He expressed confidence that Moscow’s rational monetary and budgetary policies will allow Russia “to continue to withstand any restrictions that, unfortunately, we will have to face.”

READ MORE: Brussels expects Russian economy to stabilize

Siluanov also dismissed reports of a looming default, saying that Russia will service its external debt obligations in rubles if the US blocks other options.

“We are not going to call any defaults, we have money – unless Western countries make it impossible to service our debts,” the finance minister said. “We will be able to pay and will pay foreigners in rubles as a last resort option if the Western [financial] infrastructure is closed for us.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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66. NATO member blocks Sweden and Finland's accession talks – mediaСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Turkey has opposed the Nordic states’ membership of the US-led bloc, accusing them of supporting terrorist groups

Turkey has blocked NATO accession talks with Finland and Sweden, several media outlets reported on Wednesday. It came as representatives of the military bloc’s member states gathered seeking to open the negotiations just hours after both nations officially submitted their applications. However, Ankara has reportedly stopped the vote at the start of the talks.

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had said that the first stage of negotiations on the two countries' applications could be concluded within one or two weeks. However, Turkey’s resistance casts doubt on whether this is still possible.

A spokesman for the organization has not commented on the alleged stumbling block in the talks, but was cited in the Financial Times as saying that “the security interest of all allies have to be taken into account [and] we are determined to work through all issues and reach a rapid conclusion.” At the same time, the spokesman has maintained that Sweden and Finland are NATO’s “closest partners,” adding that their accession “would strengthen Euro-Atlantic security.”

According to the German dpa news agency, Ankara has raised some “security concerns” and said it cannot agree to the start of the talks right away. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed other NATO members for failing to respect Turkey’s “sensitivities” in this issue. He has also accused Stockholm and Helsinki of harboring “terrorists” on their soil.

“We asked for 30 terrorists. They said: ‘We are not giving them’,” Erdogan told the Turkish parliament on Wednesday. “You won’t hand over terrorists but you want to join NATO. We cannot say ‘Yes’ to a security organization that is devoid of security,” the president added.

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67. Italian energy major agrees to pay for gas in rublesСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Eni is opening accounts in a Russian bank without changing its current contracts

Italy’s Eni, considered one of the world’s seven energy supermajors, announced that it has begun procedures to open a dual checking account with Gazprombank to comply with Russia’s new ruble-based gas payment scheme, Corriere reported on Tuesday.

In connection with the approaching payment deadlines scheduled for the coming days, Eni has begun, as a precautionary measure, procedures related to the opening of two current accounts with Gazprombank, one in euro and one in rubles, indicated by Gazprom Export according to a unilateral claim to modify existing contracts in accordance with the new gas payment procedure,” the company said in a statement.

The accounts will allow Eni to pay for Russian gas in accordance with the new rules introduced at the end of March, in response to Ukraine-related economic sanctions placed on the country. According to the publication, the company had been waiting to comply with its contracts with Gazprom. In the statement, Eni noted that it had not been eager to accept the changes to the payment mechanism, and “the opening of the accounts takes place on a temporary basis and without prejudice to any of the contractual rights of the company.”

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RT
Russia’s neighbor mounts legal challenge to gas for rubles demand

Under Russia’s new payment scheme, which only effects countries that placed sanctions on Russia, payments in their currency of choice are to be deposited at Gazprombank and the bank will then convert these payments into rubles so they can reach the gas provider, Gazprom Export. Eni said that the latter, along with Russia’s federal authorities, have reassured the energy company that any technical delays or inability to complete the conversion on time will not impact supplies.

The company, however, is worried whether its compliance with Russia’s new terms will be considered a violation of the sanctions on Moscow, and announced it would “initiate an international arbitration on the basis of Swedish law (as required by the existing contracts) to resolve the doubts regarding the contractual changes required by the new procedure.”

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RT
Russia could halt gas supplies to Finland – media

The European Commission has been strongly opposed to Russia’s new gas payment scheme. According to spokesman Eric Mamer, while enforcing the sanctions, which were decided on collectively by the EU, “is up to the member states,” these sanctions “have the force of law in the European Union,” and complying with Russia’s demands could be considered an infringement.

Opinions on Russia’s new gas payment scheme differ from company to company across the EU. Finnish gas distribution company Gasum announced on Tuesday that it will not use Gazprom’s proposed payment system, according to a TASS report citing a note from the firm.

French electricity company Engie, on the other hand, said it had reached an agreement with Gazprom on how to pay for gas deliveries from Russia, without specifying the details. Overall, according to Bloomberg, at least 20 European energy companies have set up accounts with Gazprombank in order to comply with the new payment mechanism, as the deadlines for gas payments are drawing near, with the closest scheduled for the end of May.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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68. Italy forced into ‘economic warfare’ against Russia, journalist claimsСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Sanctions against Moscow hurt Italians, but Rome follows the lead of Brussels and Washington, journalist Matteo Gracis has claimed

Most Italians do not support the decisions to slap Russia with sanctions or send weapons to Kiev, an Italian independent investigative journalist, Matteo Gracis, told RT last week, arguing that Rome is acting against its own interests as it follows the lead of Brussels and Washington.

On May 9, Gracis published a video on YouTube in which he appealed to Russian government officials and ordinary Russians. “It is important that you know that Italians are not against you,” said the journalist, who has authored three books and founded the online media outlet L’Indipendente. “Our democracy is much less real than [the officials and the media] want us to believe,” he said, claiming that the actions of Rome do not reflect the will of the people.

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FILE PHOTO.
US aid to Ukraine looks ‘like money laundering scheme’ – congresswoman

“I wanted to post that video, that message, to show a different perspective to Russia's leadership, to appeal to the Russian people. I wanted to explain to them that we, too, are victims of the actions of our government, unfortunately,” Gracis told RT, speaking about the reasons for publishing the video.

“The decision to impose sanctions against Russia, that wasn't even a decision made by Italians, it's a European decision that Italy accepted,” Gracis said, adding this policy has already taken a heavy toll on ordinary people.

“We see commodity prices spiking in Italy, we see electricity bills going up, and the same goes for gas bills, water bills,” the journalist explained, adding that the sanctions supposedly designed to hurt the Russian economy eventually backfired dramatically on Europeans themselves.

Prices on some raw materials have skyrocketed, as has the cost of living, the journalist said. Italy’s tourism industry is also likely to suffer without Russian tourists, the journalist has added. “Our government just would not listen to people,” he said.

Read more
FILE PHOTO: A batch of US military supplies bound for Ukraine.
Germany should stop sending weapons to Ukraine – public figures

According to Gracis, “over 50% of Italians” are also against supplying Ukraine with arms. “Sending weapons won't help end the conflict. It will only add fuel to the fire,” he said, adding that he had struggled to find a single person in Italy who would support the weapon deliveries.

A poll conducted by Euractic in late April showed that almost half of Italians (48%) would like to see their government not send any arms to Ukraine, whereas only 29% supported doing so. Another poll conducted by the Termometro Politico polling agency in early March demonstrated that 55.3% of Italians rejected the government’s decision to send weapons to Ukraine at that time. Over 37% of respondents also said that they favored a peaceful solution to the conflict.

“If we had a government that genuinely cared about Italians, then, instead of imposing sanctions, it would promote a different policy, it would promote diplomacy. Instead, what we see now is not diplomacy, it's a type of economic warfare, which doesn't really work for us,” Gracis said, adding that “decisions about Italy's future are made not in Rome, but in Paris, Berlin, Brussels and Washington.”

Read more
RT
West used Ukraine as pretext for ‘undeclared war’ with Russia – Moscow

The Italian media landscape does not provide much room for debate on the issue, the journalist said, adding that all the media present “only one true narrative” and “one correct interpretation of the situation in Ukraine,” which is the one presented by NATO, the US and Western governments.

“On top of that, there is no real discussion. On television and in major newspapers, there are no voices allowed that present different perspectives or make their own argument,” the journalist has explained, adding that the media are just reluctant to pick up any reports, including by independent journalists, that do not fit with the established narrative. “There isn't even a slightest mention of the fact that the US and NATO could also be responsible,” Gracis said.

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69. Tennis chief makes punishment plea over Wimbledon’s Russian ban – mediaСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The comments could mean the Grand Slam is a step closer to being stripped of WTA ranking points

Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief executive Steve Simon has formally recommended that Wimbledon be stripped of rankings points because of its ban on Russian and Belarusian players, according to a report in the UK.

Simon is said to have made the recommendation at a conference call with leading women’s stars on Tuesday evening, Daily Mail tennis correspondent Mike Dickson has said. The WTA has yet to announce any official decision on the issue.

Other UK grass court events this summer will not suffer the same punishment, the report adds.

The ATP announced this week that it would not be removing rankings points from UK events in the build-up to Wimbledon, although a decision from the men’s tour on the Grand Slam itself is still “under review.”

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The event at Queen's in London is among those affected. © Steven Paston / PA Images via Getty Images
ATP makes decision on UK events after Russian ban

WTA chief Simon has been particularly vocal in his criticism of punishments for individual players, saying ahead of the Wimbledon ban that Russians and Belarusians should not be “picked on” due to the policies of their governments.

Both the WTA and ATP allow Russian and Belarusian stars to compete as neutrals at tour events.

An official WTA statement suggested the Wimbledon sanctions were discriminatory following the announcement by organizers the All England Club and the UK’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) in April that Russian and Belarusian players would not be invited to any British events this summer because of the conflict in Ukraine.

Removing rankings points from Wimbledon is seen as the biggest retaliatory step that the WTA and ATP could take in response.

It would effectively turn the SW19 showpiece into an exhibition event – albeit one with a lucrative total prize fund of around £35 million ($43.5 million).

Stripping other UK events of points this June – such as the ATP tournament at Queen’s or WTA competitions at Birmingham, Eastbourne and Nottingham – could be considered less necessary as players have other grass court tournaments available outside of Britain during that period.

READ MORE: How the ATP could punish Wimbledon for its Russian ban

Being barred from Wimbledon, however, not only deprives Russian and Belarusian players of prize money but also the mammoth rankings points on offer which come with a Grand Slam – where the men’s and women’s champions gain 2,000 points each.

According to the Mail, another potential punishment for the UK could be losing the chance to host a planned new Masters 1000 ATP event prior to Wimbledon. The Queen’s Club in London had purportedly been one of the favorites to host the tournament.

Among the big-name Russian stars set to miss the Grand Slam at SW19 this summer are men’s top-10 duo Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, while prominent Belarusian women’s aces Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka will also be sidelined.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Azarenka, a member of the WTA Player Council, said last month that Wimbledon must face consequences for its actions.

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Victoria Azarenka is among the biggest names in women's tennis. © Robert Prange / Getty Images
Belarusian icon demands response to Wimbledon ban

“There should be a reaction to that,” said the 32-year-old.

“When you take action, there are consequences. The one that Wimbledon takes, the one that WTA might take [in response].

“If you are asking me if I agree with Wimbledon or I see their reasoning after being on a personal call with them, I don’t see their reasoning.”

Wimbledon chiefs have denied the ban is discriminatory and have defended it by arguing it is in line with UK government policy.

It has also been claimed that allowing the likes of Medvedev to line up when the event gets underway on June 27 would somehow be a victory for the “propaganda machine of the Russian regime.”

Russian and Belarusian players are free to compete under neutral status at the French Open, with the second Grand Slam of the year getting underway at Roland-Garros this Sunday, May 22.

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70. Greece wants new firepower from the USСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Athens wants to join the F-35 program and is lobbying against Turkey’s moves to upgrade its own air fleet

Greece has confirmed its intention to purchase a squadron of F-35 stealth fighter jets from the US, while lobbying against its regional rival Turkey’s attempts to upgrade its air force.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the White House and Congress this week to discuss the deal and announced that his country would move forward with acquiring 20 to 24 F-35 fighter jets after 2028.

“We will launch the process for the acquisition of a squadron of F-35 aircraft, and we do hope to be able to add this fantastic plane to the Greek Air Force before the end of this decade,” Mitsotakis said at the White House, after previously noting that Lockheed Martin, which produces the jets, “officially expressed its interest in investing in Hellenic aerospace.”

Mitsotakis also expressed concern over Turkey’s attempts to upgrade its F-16 fleet, accusing Ankara of endangering security in the eastern Mediterranean. Back in April, Greece and Turkey accused each other of airspace violations.

“The last thing that NATO needs at a time when our focus is helping defeat Russian aggression is another source of instability on NATO’s southeastern flank,” Mitsotakis told lawmakers in Congress on Monday. “I ask you to take this into account when you make defense procurement decisions concerning the eastern Mediterranean.”

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FILE PHOTO
Turkey’s list of demands to NATO revealed

Turkey had previously been slapped with sanctions and excluded from the US F-35 program after purchasing S-400 defense systems from Russia, despite Washington’s warnings not to do so. Since then, Ankara has been stuck with an aging F-16 fleet it now hopes to upgrade and supplement with new aircraft. Turkish officials are reportedly expected to visit Washington later this week to ask Congress to approve a $400 million deal to upgrade Turkey’s air force.

Ankara has also lobbied for readmission to the F-35 program by threatening to unilaterally block the inclusion of Finland and Sweden into NATO amid the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

After Helsenki and Stockholm officially announced their intention to join NATO, requiring unanimous support from all member states, Bloomberg reported that Turkey issued a list of demands including removal of sanctions imposed on Ankara over the S-400 purchase, readmission to the F-35 program and approval for the purchase of dozens of F-16 warplanes and upgrade kits for its existing fleet.

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71. History-making African cyclist suffers bizarre celebration injury (VIDEO)Ср, 18 мая[-/+]
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Biniam Girmay endured misfortune after etching his name into the record books at the Giro d'Italia

Biniam Girmay has been forced to pull out of the Giro d'Italia after suffering an injury when a prosecco cork hit him in the eye while celebrating a huge stage victory, as confirmed by his team Intermarche.

Eritrean Girmay became the first black African in history to achieve a win on any of cycling's three grand tours when he clinched the 10th stage of this year's Giro d'Italia between Pescara and Jesi.

After the cork hit him in the left eye, however, Girmay had to undergo tests which Intermarche team doctor Piet Daneels said showed he had suffered a "hemorrhage in the anterior chamber of the left eye."

"In consultation with the medical and sport staff, the decision has been made that Biniam Girmay will not take part any longer in this Giro d’Italia, which he is leaving with a stage victory, a second place and three other top five finishes," Intermarche remarked in a statement.

"The injury is moving in the right direction but in order not to aggravate it, it has been strongly advised to avoid intense activities," Intermarche continued.

#Girmay was taken to hospital after the podium ceremony of the Giro d'Italia. The stage winner of the stage to Jesi was injured after he tried to open the champagne bottle and shot the cork in his eye. According to media at the finish, he could no longer see through eye.#Giro2022 pic.twitter.com/kbG0KZxefU

— Gerardo (@Gerard__o__) May 17, 2022

Treated at a Jesi hospital before heading to a party held by Intermarche in the seaside town of Riccione, Girmay will have further tests on the eye and left the team hotel on Wednesday morning after he bid farewell to his teammates.

Girmay's injury occurred when he placed the bottle of prosecco on the floor then bent over it. As he undid the binding on the bottle, the cork flew off and hit him from close range.

Despite his withdrawal, Girmay has already made a name for himself in cycling and has established himself as one of the best sprinters in the sport.

Making history earlier this season when becoming the first African winner of a classic in the Ghent-Wevelgem in March, the 22-year-old has eight wins to his name since turning pro in 2020 and was ecstatic with his display in Italy where he proved too much for Dutch great Mathieu van der Poel.

OMFG! African cycling hero, Biniam Girmay wins a Giro d'Italia grand tour stage. Firmly in the running for the Ciclamino. But is now unlikely to continue because ... the victory dais spumante cork hit him in the eye! Unbelievable!#Giro105 #BiniamGirmay #corker #cycling pic.twitter.com/2jjsyVPzbc

— Jonathon Nunan (@jonathonnunan) May 17, 2022

"I watched the Giro as a kid on television and then went out riding with the dream of one day taking part," Girmay beamed prior to his accident on the podium.

"We write a little piece of history every day. I'm really happy about what I did today, I don't have the words to describe it," he added.

Read more
The shocking collision between a cyclist and a fan was caught on camera. © Twitter @Teofilo1952
WATCH: Hapless fan takes out lead cyclist in brutal collision near finish line as ‘police investigate shocking incident’

Congratulating Girmay on Twitter for "bossing" the race, fellow African Daryl Impey wrote: "What. A. Sprint."

"Amazing for Eritrea and Africa again. He's just getting started, it seems. Chapeau (Hats off)!" Impey also remarked.

Girmay has had to leave the Giro in second place in the race to wear the mauve jersey while just three points behind Arnaud Demare on 151.

With Van der Poel third and 58 points behind Girmay, Frenchman Demare is now the clear favorite to win the event overall.

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72. Uncertainty over Chelsea sale after claims Abramovich issue ‘resolved’Ср, 18 мая[-/+]
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There are conflicting reports over the status of the deal to sell the Premier League giants

Lawyers for Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich believe they have found a solution to a legal wrangle with the UK government holding up the sale of Chelsea football club, although a definitive agreement is yet to be reached, according to reports.

Chelsea announced earlier this month that terms had been agreed for a sale to a consortium led by US financier Todd Boehly, who has since been pictured at the club’s Stamford Bridge stadium and visiting the team’s training base.

The £4.25 billion ($5.3 billion) sale will include Boehly and his partners paying around £2.5 billion to buy the club, with the promise of a guaranteed £1.75 billion investment in its future development.

After being sanctioned by the UK government back in March, Abramovich is not allowed to benefit in any way and has publicly pledged that any proceeds will go to the victims of the conflict in Ukraine.

But a crucial sticking point is believed to be a £1.5 billion debt that Chelsea still owe their Russian benefactor through parent company Fordstam, which Abramovich promised to write off when putting the club up for sale.

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The long goodbye: Abramovich has been accused of holding up the Chelsea takeover. © Alex Livesey / Danehouse / Getty Images
Is Abramovich’s Chelsea sale really ‘in jeopardy’?

Plans for the funds and the structure of the deal have supposedly caused disagreement between Abramovich and the UK government, a source from which said this week that the sale could collapse.

Government officials are believed to be concerned that there are insufficient guarantees that the money from the deal will ultimately not end up in Abramovich’s hands – something the Russian and his team have consistently denied.

But the Press Association now reports that lawyers for Abramovich have now found a resolution to the legal issue.

The Times has also reported that a solution had been reached which “should now mean the government can approve the sale of the club.”

However, contradicting those claims, Times reporter Martyn Ziegler tweeted on Wednesday morning that an agreement over the debt to Abramovich was “not done and dusted.”

READ MORE: UK govt ‘alarmed’ as Abramovich accused of Chelsea sale delay

The sale is facing a deadline as the special operating license granted to Chelsea when Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government expires on May 31.

There is also a deadline for Chelsea to register for European competition next season, as well as a Premier League meeting in early June when clubs are granted the licenses required for next season.

The man tasked with setting up a charitable fund for the sale proceeds to be paid into, former UNICEF UK executive director Mike Penrose, has warned it would be “almost criminal” if political disagreements lead to the deal for Chelsea collapsing.

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Stormy weather? The Chelsea takeover has hit a snag, according to some reports. © Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images
It will be ‘criminal’ if politics derail Chelsea sale, says charity chief

Penrose has said the independent foundation could “change the face of humanitarian aid,” with around £2.5 billion set to be transferred to the body upon completion of the sale.

Elsewhere, the Premier League are reportedly set to give the green light to Boehly and Chelsea’s planned new owners this week, meaning there are no obstacles in that regard.

On the pitch, Chelsea have already secured a place in the Champions League for next season, and will aim to wrap up third place in the Premier League standings when they host Leicester City on Thursday night before closing their campaign against Watford at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

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73. US poised to block Russia’s debt payments – mediaСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The move could bring about the country’s default

The US may block Russia’s ability to make payments on its government debt by the end of May, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday citing people familiar with the matter.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is reportedly poised to scrap a temporary exemption on Russia’s debt payments once it expires on May 25, in order to boost pressure on Moscow. The waiver was granted after Washington introduced sanctions on Russia in response to the launch of a military operation in neighboring Ukraine, which was highly criticized in the US. This allowed Moscow to make coupon payments even when nearly all other financial transactions were banned. Scrapping the exemption would effectively put a block on Russian payments to US investors.

Moscow’s inability to meet its debt obligations could be viewed as a default, analysts say, albeit an “artificial” one, as the country remains financially capable of paying but would be prevented by sanctions from doing so.

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RT
Russia averts default

Russia has made all of its scheduled payments to creditors so far, and officials have repeatedly stated that it is equipped to continue doing so in the future.
However, it is currently unclear how payments can continue being made if the US exemption is allowed to lapse.

According to Bloomberg sources, some Treasury officials believe that Russia should be allowed to pay its debt because it would drain the country’s foreign-currency reserves and thus force it to redirect the funds it could otherwise spend on the ongoing military operation in Ukraine. But analysts say that Russia’s debt payments are a drop in the bucket compared to its profits from exports of oil, gas and other commodities. According to analysts from Statista, Russia’s government debt was $65 billion as of December 2021, while the value of its exports amounted to nearly $276 billion.

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RT
Russia not facing default – central bank

Russia is next due to make a debt payment on May 27, which will be on foreign bonds maturing in 2026 and 2036. Overall, the country is facing more than $490 million in foreign-currency bond payments by the end of June.

Carlos de Sousa, an investor at Vontobel Asset Management in Zurich, told Bloomberg that Russia is very likely to default on its obligations, but this would hardly be a significant development.

It continues to be our baseline scenario that a default will happen… I don’t know why the US would renew the carve-out. Russian sovereign debt is very low, they still have resources and some money flowing in. So for them to continue to service the debt is not too onerous. The Russian government just wants to keep the reputation,” he stated.

Russia has recently accused the US of trying to engineer an artificial default by blocking payments, since the country is willing to pay its debt and has the resources to do so. The Kremlin has described the situation as a default of the Western financial system, due to its failure to fulfill its financial obligations to Russia.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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74. Russia reveals number of Azovstal captivesСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Around 960 Ukrainian troops from the Mariupol stronghold have surrendered since Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry claims

A total of 959 Ukrainian troops previously holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered this week, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a Wednesday morning briefing. Kiev expects them to be exchanged, while prosecutors in Russia are looking at the possibility of bringing many to trial.

The number of captives has increased by 694 over the last 24 hours, military spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said. Among them were 80 with injuries, of which 51 received treatment at a hospital provided by the Russian-allied Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the official said.

The Azovstal plant was the last bastion of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, a key port city claimed by the DPR as part of its territory. Russian and allied troops declined to storm the massive site and instead blockaded it.

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A screen grab taken from a video released by Russian Defense Ministry shows Ukrainian soldiers emerging from Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, May 17, 2022.
Ukrainian troops holed up in Mariupol begin surrendering

Kiev confirmed it ordered the troops to surrender, though President Volodymyr Zelensky described it as an evacuation.

“The operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol was initiated by our military and our intelligence officers with the goal to return them home. The work continues and this work requires tact and time,” he said.

The Russian Defense Ministry released footage on Wednesday showing unarmed Ukrainian troops leaving Azovstal. Russian soldiers searched them before allowing them to leave by bus or ambulance, the video shows. Transport columns were escorted by military vehicles. The Ukrainian troops are understood to be held in custody by the DPR.

Ukrainian officials made it clear that they expect the captured soldiers to be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. However, many of the fighters belong to the ultranationalist Azov Battalion, which Russia accuses of various war crimes.

A draft law was submitted to the Russian parliament on Tuesday that would classify Azov as a terrorist organization. A similar request was sent by the Prosecutor General’s Office to the Supreme Court of Russia. If the classification is adopted, it would open up a legal path for the prosecution of all Azov members for being in the ranks of the unit rather than for specific crimes. The regiment is formally part of Ukraine’s National Guard.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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75. Fan arrested after sickening ‘headbutt’ on player during pitch invasion (VIDEO)Ср, 18 мая[-/+]
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The incident occurred during an English Championship playoff clash between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United

Police in Nottinghamshire have arrested a local football fan who appeared to headbutt a rival player while celebrating a huge win for local team Nottingham Forest.

Forest won an English Championship playoff semifinal penalty shootout 3-2 against a visiting Sheffield United on Tuesday, which put the home team within one victory of Premier League football for the first time in 24 years.

After goalkeeper Brice Samba saved the decisive spot-kick, the City Ground pitch was invaded by boisterous Forest supporters, one of whom, as video footage shows, seemed to headbutt Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp and knock him to the ground.

Police quickly launched an investigation and made an arrest of a 31-year-old man, as confirmed by Nottinghamshire Police Chief Inspector Paul Hennessy.

"A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault in connection with this incident," Hennessy said.

"He remains in custody and will be questioned by officers. Our enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident are ongoing. We have spoken to the player concerned and we are working with both clubs who are supporting us with our investigation.”

Forest fan headbutts Sheffield United’s billy sharp pic.twitter.com/vQ98GP4YNu

— Football Fights (@footbalIfights) May 17, 2022

In their own statement, Forest said they were "appalled" by footage that showed Sharp, who played for them on loan in 2012-2013, being "assaulted".

"The club will work with the authorities to locate the individual in order [for them to be] held to account for their actions, which will include a life ban from Nottingham Forest," Forest vowed.

"The club would also like to apologize to Billy personally and to Sheffield United."

Via Sky Sports, Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom joined the chorus of disapproval.

"We’re seeing things thrown on the pitch and things that are thrown on putting players’ health and safety in danger and nothing’s ever done about it. There will be something done about that," Heckingbottom claimed.

"We’ve seen what’s happened, we know what’s happened."

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Unruly Nigeria fans vented their fury. © Twitter
Nigeria fans cause carnage after World Cup defeat (VIDEO)

"How can you come to a place of work minding your own business and be assaulted in that fashion?" he asked.

"It’s just bang out of order and it’s everything that’s wrong. Too many times we hear people condemn it, but nothing’s done about it. We’re the ones that suffered.

"We’ve seen one of our players attacked. He’s shook up, bleeding. It’ll be dealt with. It’s upsetting for a lot of reasons – I don’t want to say too much more about it. He’ll be dealt with."

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday morning, Sharp blasted "one mindless idiot who ruined an unbelievable night of football."

"Congratulations to Nottingham Forest on their victory and good luck in the final. As an ex-Forest player I will not let one scumbag ruin my respect for the Forest fans," Sharp promised, saying he was "incredibly proud to be captain of this group of Sheffield United players."

pic.twitter.com/OrIOupGuhI

— billy sharp (@billysharp10) May 18, 2022

"They gave their all and can hold their heads up high. We will be back and go again. Thanks for all your messages and support after the incident," Sharp finished.

After drawing 3-3 on aggregate with United over two legs and winning 3-2 on penalties, Forest will face another Yorkshire foe in Huddersfield – who beat Luton in their playoff semifinal – at Wembley on May 29 for a place in the Premier League.

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76. UK consumer prices reach 40-year highsСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Inflation jumps by 9%, estimated to be the highest since 1982

Consumer prices in Britain jumped by 9% to hit a 40-year high last month, with the biggest price increases seen in food and energy, official figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed on Wednesday.

The current rise in the consumer price index is the highest since the country started tracking prices in 1989, jumping 2.5% month-on-month. The agency estimates that inflation was higher “sometime around 1982.”

According to a recent survey cited by CNBC, a quarter of UK residents have started to skip meals to save money amid soaring prices. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey recently called the current outlook for consumers “apocalyptic.”

Earlier this month, the financial regulator warned that Britons are about to face a “historic” shock to their incomes, as it expects prices to continue rising. The Bank of England also said the cost-of-living crisis could plunge the economy into recession later this year. In order to prevent this, the regulator has hiked interest rates four times so far this year, from its historic low of 0.1% during the Covid-19 pandemic to a 13-year high of 1%. Analysts expect the central bank to hike interest rates further at the upcoming board meetings.

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RT
Britons facing ‘real food poverty’, supermarket giant warns

Unlike in the US, UK inflation continues to rise for the time being, stoking further fears around the cost of living… It will also add to the pressure on the Bank of England to increase interest rates and get to grips with soaring prices even if, as they admit themselves, many of the factors driving inflation are beyond their control,” Richard Carter, the head of fixed interest research at Quilter Cheviot, said in a research note, as cited by CNBC.

Following Wednesday’s inflation report, the British Chambers of Commerce called on the government to introduce measures in order to support consumers and businesses, namely by cutting value added tax on energy bills for businesses and by curbing the recent hike to National Insurance – a tax on income.

The UK is not the only Western country to suffer from soaring prices. The US, Germany, and a number of other nations have seen inflation jump to highs not seen in decades, following the introduction of unprecedented sanctions on Russia. The measures appear to have backfired on some of the countries that imposed sanctions, resulting in skyrocketing prices for food, energy, and other consumer goods.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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77. Almost half of Biden’s subscribers on Twitter are bots, analysts claimСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Nearly 20% of all accounts on the platform are fake, the same research says

Almost half of President Joe Biden’s 22.3 million Twitter followers are fake. The findings were reported by Newsweek on Tuesday, citing analysis by SparkToro. The same measure was used by Elon Musk to pause his acquisition of the social media giant.

SparkToro, which operates a tool for identifying “fake” Twitter accounts from genuine followers, looked at the official @POTUS account and found that 49.3% were inauthentic. The screening process takes in several factors, from activity data to profile pictures, to make a judgment on whether there is a real person behind each account. The share of bots following Biden is higher than for most accounts, the company said.

Last week, billionaire Elon Musk paused his $44-billion acquisition of the platform, claiming that the company was wrong when it stated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts were “spam/fake”. He claimed the actual percentage to be closer to 20 and said the buyout price he offered to shareholders was based on the company estimate and an adjustment was in order.

Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal exchanged a series of tweets about the issue, with the executive touting Twitter’s efficiency in removing inauthentic accounts from the platform. Twitter suspends 500,000 fake accounts a day “usually before any of you even see them” and locks millions each week on suspicion of sending spam, Agrawal said.

We suspend over half a million spam accounts every day, usually before any of you even see them on Twitter. We also lock millions of accounts each week that we suspect may be spam – if they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc).

— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022

SparkToro said Musk's assessment is accurate, based on their findings from a sample of some 44,000 active public Twitter accounts. They classified almost a fifth as fake.

The metric may vary significantly depending on whether dormant users are excluded from the sample. SparkToro also turned its attention to Musk’s followers and concluded that 23.42% of active accounts and 70.23% of all accounts subscribed to his posts were bots. Newsweek didn’t clarify whether the sample of Biden’s followers analyzed by the firm was filtered for activity.

On Friday, @ElonMusk said his deal to acquire Twitter was on hold pending an analysis of "spam/fake" accounts.

We've now completed an analysis of 44,058 public Twitter accounts who've tweeted in the last 90 days. 19.42% are likely spam or fake.

Details: https://t.co/5CfKab0FAY

— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) May 15, 2022

A 2018 SparkToro analysis of then-President Donald Trump's personal account, @realDonaldTrump, found that of the 54 million followers he had at the time, 61% looked fake. Trump has since been de-platformed by Twitter.

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78. Medvedev hoping to be ‘dangerous’ in ParisСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The Russian lost his first match in more than six weeks at the Geneva Open on Tuesday but is aiming to find form

Russian world number two Daniil Medvedev has admitted he is not among the top contenders at the French Open, but is still hoping to pose a threat to his rivals at the clay court showpiece.

Medvedev went down in straight sets to French veteran Richard Gasquet at the Geneva Open on Tuesday, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), in what was the Russian’s first competitive action since the end of March after he underwent a hernia operation.

Next up is the second Grand Slam of the year in Paris, on a surface which is famously the least favorite for Medvedev.

“I don’t play my best tennis on clay courts. I know that I’m capable of making some good results, as I did in the past. But for this I kind of need to be in the zone,” Medvedev said after his loss to Gasquet.

“I don’t feel as confident on clay as on other surfaces, that’s why I lost 7/5 in the tie-break finishing with a double fault. It’s disappointing but I’ve had tougher losses in my career.

“Physically I felt not bad. With more days of practice I should be ready for Roland-Garros.”

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Another run at Roland-Garros for Daniil Medvedev? © Adam Pretty / Getty Images
Medvedev coach states French Open aims

Medvedev has frequently made his disdain for clay clear in the past, loudly complaining that he felt like a “dog in the dirt” at the Italian Open last year.

But the 26-year-old produced a career-best run at Roland-Garros last season when he reached the quarterfinals, losing to eventual runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev said he hoped to replicate that kind of performance again when the Paris showpiece gets underway on Sunday.

“I haven’t played for a month and a half, two months. I’m going to try to work both physically and tennis-wise and hopefully I can find the game I had there last year, which is not going to be easy,” said the 6ft 6in Russian.

“Clay for my body is the most dangerous surface. For me it’s clay courts – every time, every year I have some problems where I cannot be 100%.

“I’m not a favorite for Roland-Garros but I do want to play well. If I can find my level again, I can be dangerous.”

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The event at Queen's in London is among those affected. © Steven Paston / PA Images via Getty Images
ATP makes decision on UK events after Russian ban

US Open champion Medvedev came close to earning a second Grand Slam title in Melbourne earlier this year, but fell victim to a staggering comeback from Spanish icon Rafael Nadal.

Should he avoid injury, 13-time champion Nadal will be among the favorites for the French Open title, alongside Serbian great Novak Djokovic and Spanish teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz.

The French Open has cleared Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutrals, but warned them they must not display any message of support for the Russian leadership amid the conflict in Ukraine.

However, Medvedev and his fellow Russian stars are set to be banned from the third Grand Slam of the year at Wimbledon, after the tournament announced that all Russian and Belarusian players would not be invited.

The ruling has triggered widespread criticism among tennis players and officials, with Medvedev saying he could “understand” it from one perspective, while also labelling it “unfair.”

READ MORE: Medvedev makes first comments on Wimbledon ban

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79. Baltic states demand massive NATO buildup – mediaСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Some 20,000 troops are to be deployed to any of the three nations in case of a threat, a proposal seen by the Washington Post says

Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are actively seeking an enhanced NATO presence in Eastern Europe amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing a joint proposal by the three nations obtained by the media outlet. A division-sized force of some 20,000 troops should be put on standby to be rapidly deployed to any of the nations if a threat arises, the document that has not been officially made public says, according to Washington Post.

The Baltic states cite a potential threat from Moscow as a reason for the buildup. “Russia can rapidly mass military forces against NATO’s eastern border and confront the Alliance with a short war and fait accompli,” the document says, adding that “Russia’s direct military aggression against NATO allies cannot be excluded.”

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FILE PHOTO.
NATO starts drills near Russian border

The proposal involves increasing the military bloc’s presence in each of the three nations to 6,000 troops, up from 2,000 that were stationed there before the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in February. Thousands of additional troops, including “enabler” units that would provide air defense and other forms of protection are to be on standby elsewhere to come to the nations’ aid in case of a crisis.

Each of the Baltic states is also to house NATO military equipment enough for a full 20,000-strong division of troops if the military bloc approves the plan.

Other NATO members appear to be divided on the proposal of boosting military deployments, the Washington Post reports. While naming Poland among those who support the idea, the outlet adds that western European nations like France and Italy are skeptical about the alleged Russian threat. The issue was on the agenda of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Berlin over the weekend and the diplomats have so far only agreed to discuss it further.

Poland is already hosting more than 10,000 US troops, up from 4,500 before the start of the Russian offensive. The US has also increased its presence in Europe from 60,000 to more than 100,000 troops in response to Moscow’s actions. However, many of these troops live in makeshift barracks unfit for long-term deployments, the paper reports.

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RT
Estonian PM urges world leaders to stop calling Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron maintains that European nations will have to work both with Russia and Ukraine when the conflict ends. “We will have a peace to build tomorrow,” Macron told reporters last week, adding later that “we are not at war with Russia.”

Other nations in western Europe believe that an increased presence on NATO’s eastern flank would draw attention from other threats like terrorism or illegal migration, which is a pressing concern for nations like Italy and Spain.

“We don’t see that the war in Ukraine is something that should bring the needle back to just the defense and deterrence of Russia,” an unnamed Western European official told the Washington Post.

According to the media outlet, some Eastern European nations are also asking NATO to officially withdraw from the 1997 Founding Act between the military bloc and Russia, which limits permanent NATO deployments east of Germany. The US and its allies in western Europe are wary of the idea as they argue that it is still a useful framework for potential dialogue between Moscow and the military bloc.

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FILE PHOTO: A general view outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 7, 2022.
NATO members make new security vows to Finland and Sweden

The Baltic states and Poland believe they should act fast since support for their aspirations to boost a military deployment could significantly wane if the conflict in Ukraine ends.

“As soon as it’s over many of our partners in Western Europe will be quite eager to return to the status quo ante. Some of the declarations and the general spirit that we see right now might just disappear,” an official speaking on condition of anonymity told Washington Post.

“We wouldn’t like that because we believe we’ve seen a tectonic shift” in other NATO nation’s attitude to the military bloc’s security, the official added.

A decision on the proposal is expected to be made at a NATO summit in Madrid scheduled for late June, the Washington Post reports. The meeting will also see states taking a preliminary decision on Finland and Sweden’s membership bids.

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80. Russian gymnast handed one-year ban for ‘Z’ displayСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Ivan Kuliak appeared at an event in Qatar in March with the symbol attached to his chest

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has been hit with a one-year ban for appearing on the podium with a ‘Z’ symbol attached to his leotard at an event in Qatar earlier this year.

Announcing the decision, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said Kuliak would also be stripped of the bronze medal he won at the Apparatus World Cup event in Doha.

Kuliak will be fined 500 Swiss francs (around $500) and will have to pay 2,000 Swiss francs towards the costs of the proceedings in his case.

The ban means Kuliak, 20, will be barred from competing in any event sanctioned by the FIG or competitions organized by affiliated member federations.

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Ivan Kuliak © Twitter
Russian gymnast explains 'Z' letter choice

Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently banned from all FIG events for an indefinite period due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The FIG said that if those measures were still in force on May 17, 2023, then Kuliak’s ban would continue and only expire six months after the removal of the sanctions.

Kuliak will have 21 days to appeal the decision – a step which the Russian Gymnastics Federation has said it would not rule out once it has studied the entire text of the ruling by the Disciplinary Commission of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF).

Although Kuliak was punished, the FIG announced that Russian coaches Valentina Rodionenko and Igor Kalabushkin – who were also at the event in Doha – had been cleared of any violations.

The scandal emerged when Kuliak claimed bronze in the parallel bars final of the Apparatus World Cup in March, in a competition which was won by Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun.

Kuliak appeared for the medal ceremony with a ‘Z’ attached to his uniform – a symbol used by Russian troops in Ukraine and which has been displayed as a show of support for the armed forces by the Russian population.

READ MORE: Teen Russian karter learns punishment after ‘Nazi’ salute (VIDEO)

Explaining the gesture in a subsequent interview with RT, Kuliak cited the behavior of his Ukrainian rivals at the competition.

“During performances they would shout Glory to Ukraine! or go out on the podium wrapped in the national flag while we were considered neutral athletes, and because of this we felt uncomfortable.

“Most of it all, it was frustrating because they asked for us to be removed from the [tournament] although we did nothing wrong to anyone…

“If there was a second chance and I would again have to choose whether to go out with the letter ‘Z’ on my chest or not, I would do exactly the same,” Kuliak added.

“I saw it with our military and looked at what this symbol means. It turned out [it means], ‘for victory’ and ‘for peace’.

“I didn't wish anything bad on anyone, I just showed [what] my position [was]. As an athlete, I will always fight for victory and stand for peace.”

Read more
© Brendan Moran / Sportsfile via Getty Images
Russian athletes highlight alleged Ukraine missile strikes, demand equal treatment

Gymnastics official Rodionenko, the head of the Russian delegation in Doha, also accused the Ukrainian athletes of provoking the situation.

“I want to say that I’ve never experienced such humiliation in my entire coaching career,” said the veteran trainer in comments shortly after the row.

“In Qatar, they didn’t humiliate us, they humiliated our country… I approached the FIG representative and asked why the Ukrainians behaved like that, to which he replied that he could do nothing about it.”

Responding to the news of the ban, Rodionenko said Kuliak would not walk away from the sport.

“The year will pass quickly. Our task now is to prepare a new program, to train. Ivan is a brave guy, he understands this situation.

“Everything will be fine, this situation will not break him, he will return,” said the coach.

Kuliak declined to comment on his one-year ban when contacted by RT.

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81. Sweden and Finland hand in NATO applicationsСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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All eyes are on Turkey, which objected to the admission of the two Nordic nations to the US-led bloc

Diplomats representing Sweden and Finland at NATO met with the organisation's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday to deliver their governments’ requests to admit their nations into the military bloc.

Axel Wernhoff of Sweden and Klaus Korhonen of Finland met the Norwegian bureaucrat together to file the paperwork. The two letters were signed by the foreign ministers of both nations on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg thanked the envoys for delivering the applications, which he said was a historic step for the organization, adding that all members agree “on the importance of NATO enlargement.” The secretary general noted that the “security interests of all allies need to be taken into account” as they consider the bids, and that NATO will “work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions.”

JUST IN:
"This is a good day..." #NATO chief Stoltenberg accepts letters from Finnish Amb @korhonen_klaus and @SwedenNato Amb Axel Wernhoff asking to open membership negotiations.

Stoltenberg alludes obliquely to (Turkish) roadblocks, saying he's confident they'll be worked out. pic.twitter.com/VBNO63UIUF

— Teri Schultz (@terischultz) May 18, 2022

Earlier, Turkey publicly objected to admitting the two nations after accusing them of harboring terrorists and discriminating against Ankara in trade.

The Turkish officials were referring to the perceived leniency towards anti-government organizations, such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Ankara considers to be terrorist groups, and the restrictions on the export of arms to Turkey imposed in 2019 in the wake of Ankara’s crackdown on Kurdish militants in Syria.

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FILE PHOTO
Turkey’s list of demands to NATO revealed

The NATO chief earlier expressed certainty that the issues Turkey has with the applicants will be resolved swiftly and will not impede their accession. New NATO members must be approved unanimously, so Turkey could decide to deny admission to Sweden and Finland.

Stockholm and Helsinki broke with their traditions of non-alignment and have sought membership in the US-led military organization after Russia’s attack against Ukraine. Moscow has said it would make the necessary preparations to defend itself from NATO in conjunction with the inclusion of the two new members.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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82. President backs PSG star over rainbow shirt refusalСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye reportedly refused to wear the special rainbow-themed jersey in a recent match

Paris Saint-Germain and Senegal defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye has received backing from his country's president for his alleged refusal to wear a shirt which supported the LGBTQ community.

The 92-cap international has been in hot water since reports from RMC Sport claimed that Gueye refused to play against Montpellier at the weekend as he did not want to wear a rainbow-colored number on the back of his shirt.

Though he traveled with the rest of the squad to the southern French city, Gueye told coach Mauricio Pochettino that he didn't want to play while citing "personal reasons," which meant he did not feature in the 4-0 win.

According to L'Equipe, Gueye also missed the same-LGBTQ support-themed day last season when Ligue 1 teams wore shirts with a rainbow on them, this time claiming he was suffering from a bout of gastroenteritis.

Gueye joined PSG in 2019. © John Berry / Getty Images

But while campaign groups call for Gueye to be punished, he has found backing from Sengalese President Macky Sall.

"I support Idrissa Gana Gueye," tweeted Sall.

"His religious convictions must be respected."

In the replies section, Sall was reminded that homophobia is a crime in France.

"We are a secular country, we don't care about religious convictions," the critic continued. "[He should] return to Senegal if he is outside French law.

"France must condemn Idrissa Gana Gueye!" it was demanded.

To a backdrop of controversy, Africa Cup of Nations champion Gueye could play in PSG's last game of the season against Metz at home on Saturday.

READ MORE: PSG star ‘refuses to wear rainbow-themed jersey’ – report

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83. Elon Musk says he’ll switch political partiesСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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The billionaire entrepreneur said he’s ready to cross the aisle after ‘overwhelmingly’ backing Democrats in the past

Tesla founder Elon Musk has said he will vote for Republican candidates in the next US election, stressing that while he sees himself as a political moderate, and has never supported the GOP, he can no longer side with the Democrats.

Speaking virtually at an event hosted by the All-In podcast in Miami this week, the South African-born tech billionaire dismissed concerns that his efforts to purchase Twitter amounted to a “right-wing takeover,” but nonetheless hinted at his future voting preference.

“I would classify myself as a moderate, neither a Republican or a Democrat. And in fact, I have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats historically. I might never have voted for a Republican, just to be clear,” he said, adding, “Now this election, I will,” drawing laughter from the crowd.

Elon Musk Says He Plans to Vote Republican for the First Time, Wants to Remove the Bias from Twitter pic.twitter.com/G7JVJqJLKz

— Ultra MAGA |Sam| ?? | ? | ? (@Rudio1John) May 17, 2022

Musk went on to argue that his bid to buy the social media platform for $44 billion “is not some right-wing takeover, as some people on the left may fear,” instead calling it “a moderate-wing takeover,” and an “attempt to ensure people of all political beliefs feel welcome on a digital town square.” He said Twitter currently has a “very far-left bias.”

While it’s unclear if the Tesla and SpaceX chief was referring to the upcoming midterm elections set for November or the 2024 presidential race, he said the Democratic Party is now “overly controlled by the unions and by the trial lawyers.”

“Generally, if you see something that is not in the interest of the people on the Democrat side, it’s going to come because of unions – which is just another form of monopoly – and the trial lawyers,” Musk said, going on to claim that President Joe Biden himself is “too much captured by the unions.”

Musk’s plans to purchase Twitter may have hit a snag in recent days, however, as the entrepreneur said the deal was “temporarily on hold” last Friday due to a dispute over how many bots and spam accounts make up the platform’s total user base. While the tech giant claims such accounts comprise less than 5% of the total, Musk has called for a more detailed audit.

READ MORE: Musk puts Twitter takeover on hold

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84. US to retain ‘maximum pressure’ on Venezuela – sourcesСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Washington is reportedly willing to lift some penalties on Caracas, but will not abandon its sanctions-based policy

The US will continue to exert “maximum pressure” on Venezuela through sanctions, anonymous officials have told multiple media outlets. The sources stated that President Joe Biden will maintain the bellicose approach of his predecessor, Donald Trump.

However, they added that he could ease penalties under certain conditions. Some form of relief for Venezuela, from American embargoes, has been proposed, by various analysts, since Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine.

While the White House has expressed willingness to scale back some sanctions on Caracas if President Nicholas Maduro agrees to meet with opposition leaders, Washington’s general policy will remain the same, unnamed officials cited by the Miami Herald, McClatchy, and Reuters said on Tuesday.

The US recognises the activist Juan Guaido as the so-called "interim president" of the South American country.

“We want to be very clear about this point: Sanctions on the Maduro regime will remain in place,” said one US official familiar with the matter. “We are not doing this to reverse Trump’s maximum pressure campaign. Our policy, overall, has not changed.”

Trump embarked on ‘maximum pressure’ campaigns against a number of countries during his time in office, chief among them Iran and Venezuela, imposing layer after layer of penalties intended to isolate and cripple their economies.

If implemented, sanctions relief would include a license for oil giant Chevron to begin negotiations for future business in Venezuela, as US companies are currently barred from any dealings in the country.

Read more
A man walks past a mural featuring oil pumps and wells in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020
Venezuela oil deal not being discussed, White House says

“It’s a narrow license authorizing Chevron to negotiate the terms of their potential future activities in Venezuela – but this is all contingent on steps being taken that are positive by the Maduro regime,” a senior US official said. “Further authorization would be needed for Chevron to get into any sort of agreement.”

According to Reuters, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Tuesday that her government hopes partial sanctions relief will ultimately “pave the way for a total lifting of restrictions.”

A former high-level Venezuelan energy official, and relative of Maduro’s wife, Carlos Erik Malpica-Flores, would also be removed from the US sanctions blacklist under the prospective agreement, the source claimed. Any additional relief would depend on the result of talks in Mexico City, they added, adding that the current offer was coordinated with opposition figures.

“It is very important to stress that this was done in coordination with the interim president, Juan Guaido, to move the talks forward,” the official said, referring to the opposition figure. “This is something that they thought would be helpful for the talks to move forward.”

The US State Department reiterated Washington’s support for Guaido earlier this month, saying it remains committed to “peaceful restoration of democracy” in Venezuela.

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Oil drills in Maracaibo Lake in Venezuela's oil rich Zulia state, Nov. 30, 2006
Venezuela is Russia’s ally, but is ready to sell oil to US – minister

The reported discussions about easing sanctions come after a US delegation met with counterparts in Caracas in March, where they successfully negotiated the release of two American detainees.

American officials acknowledged that oil was also discussed during the meetings, though then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki later denied that Washington was considering an energy deal with Venezuela. The White House has sought alternatives for Russian oil after exports were effectively cut off by heavy sanctions imposed in response to the attack on Ukraine.

While the Latin American nation holds some of the world’s largest oil reserves, its current output lags at around just 600,000 barrels per day and is heavily constrained by a lack of foreign investment, thanks in part to US sanctions. A potential deal with Chevron could be attractive to the Maduro government, which has presided over a dire economic crisis that’s seen large numbers of residents leave the country in search of work.

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85. West used Ukraine as pretext for ‘undeclared war’ with Russia – MoscowСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Prior to Moscow’s military operation, the very statehood of Russia was threatened, a security chief insists

The West used Ukraine as a pretext for an “undeclared war” against Moscow, and put Russia in a position in which it had to protect its “very statehood,” the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, claimed on Tuesday.

Speaking at a meeting of the Security Council’s scientific advisory board, Patrushev said the current “unprecedented geopolitical crisis” was caused by the Western-led destruction of “the global security architecture and the international legal system.” He added that instead of engaging in constructive dialogue with Moscow, the US and its allies conducted a “military-political expansion towards Russia,” built up support for the Ukrainian government, and pushed Kiev “to carry out a large-scale violent action in eastern Ukraine.”

According to Patrushev, the main objective of the West has been to create conditions for the establishment of a Western-controlled regime in Russia, “as it was already tested on Ukraine and a number of other states.” The military operation in Ukraine prevented this, he said, adding that Moscow had to take “preventive measures,” as the threats to national security reached a level that endangered “the very statehood of Russia and its existence.”

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov © Sputnik / Sergey Guneev
West conducting war against Russia – Kremlin

The current sanctions and “global anti-Russian campaign launched by the Americans and their satellites,” Patrushev argued, “convincingly proves that Ukraine has become a pretext for waging an undeclared war against Russia.” He also claimed that the “aggression” against Moscow has an ideological dimension.

“The situation around Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine shows that the neoliberalism of the collective West is transforming before our eyes into the ideology of neoliberal fascism, aimed primarily at the eradication of the Russian world.”

Patrushev echoed the statements of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said earlier on Tuesday that the expression ‘unfriendly states’ in relation to the West is not entirely accurate. “I would say they are hostile states, because what they do is war,” he said.

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© Getty Images / DNY59
Russia responds to US intelligence reported recruiting attempts

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

Following the launch of Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, the US, EU, UK, Australia, Japan, and many other countries imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow. Within less than three months, Russia has become the most sanctioned country in the world, surpassing Iran and North Korea.

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86. Turkey’s list of demands to NATO revealedСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Ankara’s threat to block Finland and Sweden’s membership bids reportedly has nothing to do with Russia

Turkey’s list of demands for NATO, and its prospective members Finland and Sweden, includes the removal of sanctions imposed on Ankara over its purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, as well as re-inclusion in the F-35 advanced aircraft program, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing “three senior Turkish officials.

On May 15, Finland and Sweden officially announced their intention to join the US-led military bloc in the wake of the ongoing Russian military offensive on Ukraine. To make it possible, all members of the alliance have to unanimously support their bids. Turkey, however, said it would not back Helsinki and Stockholm because they do not have “a clear unequivocal stance” against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP/C), groups that Ankara considers terrorist organizations.

READ MORE: Turkey opposes Finland and Sweden's NATO bids – Erdogan

Sweden and Finland have a record of granting political asylum to people from Turkey, particularly ethnic Kurds, fleeing internal conflicts – which Ankara finds unacceptable. According to Bloomberg, the Turkish leadership demands that Sweden and Finland “publicly denounce not only the PKK, but also its affiliates before being allowed to join the bloc.”

As Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed on Monday, his country also wants Sweden and Finland to cancel trade restrictions they imposed on Turkey.

However, as Bloomberg’s sources said on the condition of anonymity, Turkey’s wish list is long.

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FILE PHOTO. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. ©Patrick Semansky / POOL / AFP
NATO issues response to Turkish terrorism concerns

Turkey wants to be re-included in the F-35 advanced aircraft program, from which it was barred after it bought S-400 missile-defense systems from Russia. It also has an outstanding request to the US to purchase dozens of F-16 warplanes and upgrade kits for its existing fleet,” Bloomberg writes.

Ankara also wants the US to lift sanctions that Washington imposed on it for purchasing the S-400s.

The news agency’s sources, however, refuted the suggestions that Turkey’s objections against Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership were in any way related to Ankara’s ties with Moscow. Russia has warned Helsinki and Stockholm against joining the bloc and promised an appropriate response should they create threats.

On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “Turkey is a valued ally and any security concerns need to be addressed.

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87. Company eyeing Trump’s social network warns investorsСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Incoming TRUTH Social partner posts list of Trump-related business failures

Special-purpose acquisition company Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC) has alerted potential investors that the man behind its prized product, former US President Donald Trump, has been associated with a long list of failed businesses ahead of a planned merger between the company and Trump Media & Technology Group.

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RT
Trump reveals whether he would return to Twitter

DWAC, which has raised over $1 billion ahead of the deal, detailed the risks to investors in a merger document released on Monday ahead of the long-delayed merger. “A number of companies that were associated with President Trump have filed for bankruptcy,” the filing warns, mentioning Trump University, Trump Vodka, Trump Steaks, Trump Shuttle, and Trump Mortgage. TMTG ‘only’ lost about $59,000 last year, according to the filing.

Additionally, the company reminded those interested in owning a piece of the real estate mogul-turned-politician that Trump was “involved in numerous lawsuits and other matters that could damage his reputation.” Indeed, the primary reason the formerly Twitter-addicted Trump launched the TRUTH Social platform was his removal from every other major social media site following the January 6 Capitol riot in 2021.

The SEC could still “disapprove this transaction,” the filing warned, adding that DWAC had not “obtained an opinion from an independent investment banking firm” regarding the financial health of the deal, and “you may be unable to ascertain the merits or risks of TMTG’s operations.” A public accounting firm’s report “expresses substantial doubt about [DWAC’s] ability to continue as a ‘going concern,’” the filing states, while “some” company officers “may be argued to have conflicts of interest.

The filing affirmed that Trump was “generally obligated” to post any commentary to TRUTH Social at least six hours before repeating the same post on any other site. The former president has 2.7 million followers on his network. While Trump initially planned to make his social media home on TRUTH Social, that was before newly-minted Twitter owner Elon Musk said he would restore the former reality star’s suspended account once the $44 billion deal to acquire the platform went through. Trump had a significantly larger following on Twitter, boasting nearly 89 million followers before his account got the axe for allegedly inciting violence.

Additionally, the ex-president’s obligation to post primarily to TRUTH Social apparently does not cover “political messaging, political fundraising, or get-out-the-vote efforts,” a loophole he could potentially exploit to return to Twitter if he so desired. Trump has endorsed several candidates for the 2022 midterm elections, and posts supporting them or even alluding to their campaigns could be considered “political messaging.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk says he will allow Trump back on Twitter

DWAC has been planning to merge with Trump Media & Technology Group since October. However, the deal has been beset by concerns from market analysts that the company was too highly valued and dogged by complaints about TRUTH Social’s glitchy rollout. Backed by Shanghai-based investment firm Arc Group, the SPAC initially valued Trump’s company at $875 million, suggesting a “potential additional earnout” of $825 million, making its total value a whopping $1.7 billion.

Following the merger, the newly-public company will officially change its name to Trump Media & Technology Group Corp.

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88. US recruits ISIS terrorists to fight in Ukraine – MoscowСр, 18 мая[-/+]
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Intelligence agency claims that Washington is “ready to use any means,” including hiring ISIS fighters as mercenaries

The US has been “actively recruiting” terrorists to fight in Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) claimed on Tuesday, saying that it illustrates Washington’s readiness “to use any means to achieve its geopolitical goals.”

The SVR revealed in a statement that, according to the intelligence it is receiving, “the United States is actively recruiting even members of international terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State (ISIS) group banned in the Russian Federation, as mercenaries to participate in hostilities in Ukraine.”

The Russian intelligence service points to the American military base in Syria called al-Tanf, which is located close to the borders with Jordan and Iraq. According to its sources, this base and the surrounding area have turned into a kind of terrorist “hub,” where up to 500 ISIS and other jihadists can be “retrained” simultaneously. SVR claimed that last month 60 ISIS militants, who had been released from prisons controlled by the Syrian Kurds, were transferred to al-Tanf “with a view to subsequent transfer to Ukrainian territory.”

The SVR specified that during a training course at al-Tanf the militants are instructed on how to use anti-tank missile systems, reconnaissance and strike drones, advanced communications and surveillance equipment.

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FILE PHOTO. Borodyanka, Ukraine. © AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
Foreign military volunteers share their experiences of fighting in Ukraine

In the SVR’s opinion, this data confirms that “the United States is ready to use any means to achieve its geopolitical goals, not excluding sponsoring international terrorist groups.”

The intelligence service concluded by saying that the American administration does not consider the consequences of such actions, “even when it comes to threats to the security of European allies and even to the lives of the Americans.”

Washington has insisted that “there are no US soldiers in Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, the presence of American troops on Syrian territory at al-Tanf base, which the SVR mentions in its statement, has long been considered by both Moscow and Damascus as illegal. The previous US administration pledged that American forces would leave northeastern Syria but only after ISIS militants are defeated and the Kurds protected.

Then-National Security Advisor John Bolton made it clear that another task of the US forces at al-Tanf was to counter Iranian influence in the region.

In October 2021, there were reports that, according to Israeli defense sources, about 350 military members and civilians were still using al-Tanf, including some British and French forces that were described as “intelligence experts.”

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89. Pentagon investigates itself, finds it did nothing wrongВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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Nobody will be held accountable for an airstrike that killed up to 64 civilians, a report states

An internal Pentagon investigation has found that a 2019 airstrike that killed up to 64 civilians in Syria did not violate US rules of engagement or the law of war, and was not carried out with “wanton disregard.” Some military officers considered the incident, which the Washington still maintains was necessary to take out ISIS fighters, a war crime.

On March 18, 2019, a US F-15E fighter jet dropped a bomb on “a large crowd of women and children huddled against a river bank” near the Syrian town of Baghuz and then proceeded to drop several more, killing survivors, according to a New York Times report published last November.

US Central Command admitted that the strike killed 80 people, of which only 16 were alleged Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists. The military admitted to killing four civilians, but insisted that the remaining 60 may have been terrorists, as “women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms.”

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FILE PHOTO. © AFP / Delil souleiman
The NY Times reports US forces ‘killed dozens in Syria.’ The reality is far worse

Nevertheless, an investigation ensued, and according to a report completed last week, “No Rules of Engagement (ROE) or Law of War (LOW) violations occurred.” The report states that the US commander on the ground acted to target ISIS militants, and attempted to distinguish civilians from combatants.

Despite the strike killing dozens of civilians, the report states that the military “took steps to mitigate harm.”

The initial New York Times report claimed that officers watching the strike through a drone camera were horrified, and questioned whether they had just witnessed a war crime. Furthermore, the blast site was bulldozed and internal reports on the strike were “delayed, sanitized and classified,” the Times claimed.

However, the Pentagon’s latest report states that there was no “malicious or wrongful intent” behind the delays in reporting the incident, and that no evidence could be found to suggest that the military attempted to “conceal decisions or actions.”

The full text of the Department of Defense report, including a final tally of civilian casualties, remains classified. Only a two-page summary was released to the public.

READ MORE: Drone strike that killed children to go unpunished – Pentagon

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin endorsed the report on Tuesday, but in a memo to military commanders urged them to ensure future reports are compiled in a more timely manner. Austin, who oversaw a drone strike in Kabul last August that killed 10 civilians, seven of them children, declared that “protecting innocent civilians…is a strategic and moral imperative.”

Austin also declined to punish any members of the military for the Kabul strike after an Air Force report found no violations of law.

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90. Lawmaker arrested amid rape allegationsВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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A Tory member of the British Parliament has been arrested, but will not be suspended from the party

A British politician has been placed under arrest and accused of numerous sexual offenses. Police arrested the Conservative Party lawmaker on Tuesday after a two-year probe, The Sun newspaper reported without identifying the suspect.

All that is known at this point is that the suspect is a serving member of Parliament, who is alleged to have committed numerous offenses in London between 2002 and 2009.

The charges include “indecent assault, sexual assault, rape, abuse of position of trust and misconduct in a public office,” according to a Metropolitan Police statement.

The alleged rapist has been “asked” not to attend Parliament while the investigation is ongoing, said a spokesman for Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris. However, he will not be suspended from the Conservative Party.

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FILE PHOTO: Conservative Party candidate Imran Ahmad-Khan speaks after he is announced as the winner for the constituency of Wakefield, Britain
British Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan charged with sexual assault of 15-year-old boy

The suspect remains in police custody as Scotland Yard’s Central Specialist Crime unit continues its investigation.

Multiple MPs from the UK’s ruling party have recently faced allegations of sexual misconduct. Last month, the Conservatives suspended MP David Warburton following revelations of alleged sexual misconduct and cocaine abuse, which he denied.

Meanwhile, Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan resigned from Parliament in disgrace after he was convicted on charges of sexually assaulting a 15-year old boy in 2008.

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91. West views Ukraine as ‘expendable’ – RussiaВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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The US, EU and their allies don’t care about Kiev’s fate, Sergey Lavrov insists

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has revealed what he believes to be the real attitude of the Western powers towards Ukraine during the ongoing conflict in the country.

“Nobody cares about Ukraine. Ukraine is an ‘expendable material’ in the proxy war against Russia. There can be no doubts about it now. It has been voiced publicly,” Lavrov said during a speech at the New Horizons education marathon in Moscow on Tuesday.

The minister reminded about the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, insisting last month that “this war will be won on the battlefield,” referring to the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

“The English, the Americans, presidents, prime ministers, ministers are saying: ‘We have no right to allow Russia to win. Russia must suffer defeat,’” he added.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov © Sputnik / Sergey Guneev
West conducting war against Russia – Kremlin

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin openly acknowledged in April that, by helping the Kiev government with weapons, funds and intelligence, Washington was trying to see “Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”

Such statements meant that “war has been declared by them [the US, EU and their allies], and it’s not between Russia and Ukraine, but between the West and Russia,” Lavrov pointed out.

“You know, it has already become a common expression that ‘the West is ready to fight to the last Ukrainian.’ It’s very accurate,” he added.

The foreign minister’s words echoed those by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who spoke at the same event earlier on Tuesday.

“What they do is war,” he said about the West imposing draconian economic sanctions on Moscow, arming the Ukrainian neo-Nazis and providing Kiev’s army with intel to attack Russian troops.

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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hold a joint press conference in Kiev. © AFP / Sergei Supinsky
US envoy weighs in on Ukraine's NATO prospects

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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92. EU won’t let Ukraine run out of weapons – BorrellВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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Bloc's top diplomat has promised Kiev a never-ending supply

“The European Union will not let Ukraine run out of [military] equipment,” its foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters on Tuesday in Brussels following a meeting of the bloc's defense ministers.

The diplomat theorized that Russia may have suffered “impressive losses” since attacking Ukraine, suggesting casualties of as many as 15% of its troops, but demurred when asked how long he felt the conflict might continue, stating “I wouldn’t dare to make an hypothesis about how long Russia can resist.”

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FILE PHOTO: European Council President Charles Michel meets President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, April 20, 2022.
EU to go into debt for Ukraine – Politico

On Friday, Borrell announced another $526 million (€500 million) package of lethal aid to be sent to Kiev, bringing the total amount pledged to $2.11 billion (€2 billion). The money would buy heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery, he said, adding that he was also optimistic the bloc would eventually reach an elusive agreement on a Russian oil embargo.

The promised measure failed to materialize on Monday as the EU devised its sixth package of anti-Russia sanctions. Hungary, said to be the last remaining holdout, has demanded hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, having repeatedly argued that cutting itself off from Russian oil and gas would do significantly more harm to its own people than to Moscow.

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the EU took the unprecedented step of providing €450 million in lethal aid to Kiev, with several member states following suit. The bloc previously had a policy of not supplying weapons to countries involved in a conflict. In attempting to justify the decision, Borrell declared that “we live in unprecedented times,” arguing “this war requires our engagement in order to support the Ukrainian army.” While Ukraine is seeking to join both the EU and NATO, it is currently a member of neither alliance.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed doubt that Western states seek to benefit Ukraine: “Nobody cares about Ukraine. Ukraine is an ‘expendable material’ in the proxy war against Russia. There can be no doubts about it now. It has been voiced publicly.”

READ MORE: EU reveals major update on weapons for Ukraine

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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93. Western-backed coup foiled, government claimsВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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Attempted coup in Mali comes amid tensions with France

A group of Malian officers attempted a coup last week with the help of a Western state, the government in Bamako has announced. While the military government did not name the alleged foreign culprit, the announcement comes amid the ongoing deterioration of relations with Mali’s former colonial ruler, France.

“A small group of anti-progressive Malian officers and non-commissioned officers attempted a coup on the night of May 11-12, 2022,” government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said on national TV on Monday evening. “These soldiers were supported by a Western state. The attempt failed thanks to the vigilance and professionalism of Mali’s defense and security forces.”

The government denounced the “outrageous attack on state security, the purpose of which is to hinder — or even annihilate — the substantial efforts to secure our country and return to a constitutional order that guarantees peace and stability” in Mali, but offered few details of the alleged plot.

One anonymous military source told Al-Jazeera that about 10 people have been arrested so far. The government has confirmed that security at checkpoints around the capital has been increased in an effort to catch accomplices that may still be at large.

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French Barkhane force soldiers who wrapped up a four-month tour of duty in the Sahel board a US Air Force C130 transport plane, leave their base in Gao, Mali Wednesday June 9, 2021.
The French retreat from Mali signals defeat in the West’s war on Islamic militancy

Claims of the failed coup came on the same day Mali withdrew from the G5 Sahel Force, a multinational effort to counter Islamist militants in the region. The five-member group set up in 2017 also included Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Nigeria.

Mali is currently ruled by interim President Assimi Goita, an army colonel who led the 2020 military coup against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita – as well as the May 2021 coup against his replacement Bah N’Daw.

Following the 2021 coup, Goita’s government has been accused by Western powers of inviting Russian private military contractors to help Bamako fight Islamist militants in the north.

Meanwhile, Bamako’s relations with Paris continued to deteriorate. At Goita’s insistence, France pulled its troops out of Mali in February. The country banished French state media in March, accusing them of publishing false reports about human rights abuses. Earlier this month, Mali severed defense accords with Paris, citing “flagrant violations” of its sovereignty by French troops.

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94. Biden condemns ‘poison’ of white supremacy in BuffaloВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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The president proposed meeting the “venom” of racism with gun control and internet censorship

President Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned the racially-motivated attack on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, as “simple and straightforward terrorism,” and condemned the shooter’s racist worldview.

Biden spoke in Buffalo after meeting with the families of the 10 shoppers and employees slain by a teenage gunman at a grocery store on Saturday. The gunman, who was captured alive, live-streamed his rampage and posted a 180-page manifesto online detailing his white supremacist views. Three others were injured, and 11 of the 13 shot in total were black.

“We have to refuse to live in a country where black people going about a weekly grocery shop can be gunned down by weapons of war deployed in a racist cause,” Biden declared, with “weapons of war” referring to the AR-15 style rifle used by the gunman.

“What happened here is simple and straightforward,” he continued. “Terrorism. Domestic terrorism”

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© Sputnik / DSP of the FSB of the Russian Federation
Buffalo shooter drew from the same ideas as Western-backed Ukrainian neo-Nazis

Biden said that the US should respond by keeping “assault weapons off our streets” and by addressing “the relentless exploitation of the internet to recruit and mobilize terrorists.” Gun control and internet censorship are two policy proposals that the Biden administration has pushed since his inauguration last year, albeit with limited success.

Biden addressed the contents of the shooter’s manifesto, particularly his insistence that white people are being “replaced” in the US by non-white immigrants.

Blaming the shooting on “the hate that through the media and politics and the internet has radicalized angry, alienated, lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced…by people who don’t look like them,” Biden declared “I not only do reject the lie, I call on all Americans to reject the lie.”

The idea of a ‘Great Replacement’ was also referenced in the manifesto of Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019. While it is often described as a racist “conspiracy theory,” the white population in the US is indeed shrinking relative to that of non-whites, and this fact has been celebrated by liberal pundits and by Biden himself.

READ MORE: Supermarket massacre probed as hate crime

The shooter’s manifesto also features the ‘sonnenrad,’ or ‘black sun’, symbol, which is used by the Azov Regiment of Ukraine’s military, and is referred to as a neo-Nazi “hate symbol” by Jewish advocacy groups.

Biden was not the only political leader to blame the shooting on hatred supposedly spread by pundits and politicians. Former Republican conference chairwoman Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who both regularly vote with Democrats, blamed their fellow Republicans, with Cheney accusing the House GOP leadership of enabling “white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism.”

However, Alex deGrasse, a senior adviser to current Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, called attempts to blame the GOP “a new disgusting low for the Left, their Never Trump allies and the sycophantic stenographers in the media.”

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95. US aid to Ukraine looks ‘like money laundering scheme’ – congresswomanВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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American aid to Kiev goes to NGOs run by “friends and families” of US politicians, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene claims

The financial support America provides to Ukraine looks very much “like money laundering schemes,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has told ‘The Truth With Lisa Boothe’ podcast on Monday. The money supposedly destined for Ukrainians ends up in the pockets of “non-profits and NGOs” that are often run by people close to the politicians in Washington, Greene has claimed.

“They want to get $40 billion to Ukraine and you have these $40 billion on top of the money that have already been given. That brings it to $53 billion. That is over two thirds of the State Department’s entire budget for the year,” the congresswoman said, referring to the latest aid package that is currently going through the US Senate.

According to Greene, the US officials are doing this to eventually fund the NGOs operated by “their families and friends.” “It is basically like money laundering schemes,” she said.

.@RepMTG: “Because our government is completely corrupt, and I don’t say that lightly. It is a serious problem, and my eyes have been open to it actually, serving in Congress.”

Apple: https://t.co/PeoDAAV8tI
Spotify: https://t.co/6yCkF4tBPy
iHeart: https://t.co/OBnBigUEBW pic.twitter.com/KH93jXJdYd

— Lisa Boothe (@LisaMarieBoothe) May 16, 2022

The congresswoman believes these funds should be spent to deal with issues inside the US instead, including homelessness or human trafficking, which, according to Greene, have reached “record-high” levels.

Our tax dollars are just like one big slush fund for criminal operations and it needs to end.

Of the upcoming $40 billion aid package, $900 million is to be given to “qualified” organizations and NGOs for wraparound services, housing and medical services, the congresswoman said, adding that these organizations will be “eligible for any help the US government can give them.”

Read more
FILE PHOTO: Pallets of ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine at Dover Air Force Base, January 30, 2022.
US Republicans bicker over Ukraine ‘proxy war’ cash

Washington also plans to provide $150 million for global agriculture and food programs at a time when US farmers are “on the verge of going out of business,” Greene said, adding that she has talked to the farmers in her district over the past week and found out they had been “hurt so badly by inflation and high fuel costs, chemicals and fertilizer costs… they are not breaking even.”

The congresswoman has also accused the US of being hypocritical about its alleged desire to “help the Ukrainian people.” Washington is pouring money into Ukraine but is “totally ignoring” other conflicts around the world, she said, adding that “Ethiopia has a civil war right now, with thousands of people killed and millions displaced,” but the US pays little attention to this fact.

It is such a hypocrisy. It is not about saving lives but it certainly is about Ukraine.

Greene is not the only one concerned about the transparency of the US spending when it comes to aid for Ukraine. Last week, a quick vote on the $40 billion Ukraine aid package bill was blocked by Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky. He demanded a special inspector general be appointed to monitor how the massive aid package is spent.

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FILE PHOTO: US Marines load an M777 towed 155mm howitzer into the cargo hold of a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at March Air Reserve Base, California, April 21, 2022
US prioritizes arming Ukraine over Covid aid

Paul insisted that his proposal be added to the bill, which would require that the revised legislation go back to the House for another vote after Senate approval. He noted that the latest package would bring total US aid to Ukraine to $60 billion since the conflict began in February, nearly as much as Russia earmarks annually for its entire defense budget. The Senator also argued that America would have to increase its debt and worsen its inflation crisis to make the aid available to Kiev.

Greene herself was among the 57 Republican representatives who voted twice against sending financial aid to Ukraine during its conflict. Both aid packages, however, received overwhelming support in the House and were passed 368-57.

On Saturday, US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of the US support during his visit to Kiev. He also vowed to “get the job done” by passing the aid package bill.

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96. Canadian hockey star carjacked at gunpointВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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The Toronto Maple Leafs' Mitch Marner was robbed after coming out of a movie theater

Toronto Maple Leafs right winger Mitch Marner was robbed at gunpoint and knifepoint in a parking lot on Monday night and had his vehicle stolen.

The 25-year-old's week started in the worst possible fashion after the Maple Leafs had been knocked out of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Coming out of a movie theater with a friend, Marner was approached by three suspects wearing masks – one with a knife and two with guns – when getting to his car and was told by the men that they wanted his Range Rover.

"Go ahead and take it," Marner allegedly told them, according to the Toronto Sun.

The Maple Leafs confirmed the incident on Tuesday via Twitter, saying that Marner was "the unfortunate victim of a carjacking in Etobicoke on Monday evening."

"He was unharmed in the incident and the Club and Mitch are thankful for Toronto Police Services' support," they added.

CARJACKING:
The Queensway + Islington Av
* 7:46 pm *
- Man robbed of car
- Black Range Rover
- 3 suspects
- 2 with handguns, 1 with a knife
- Suspects have fled in the Range Rover
- Police searching area#GO919574
^dh pic.twitter.com/Yg7tqwa45P

— Toronto Police Operations (@TPSOperations) May 16, 2022

"Anyone with information is asked to reach out to Toronto Polices Services. TPS has asked that neither Mitch or the Club comment any further on the details of the incident as this is an ongoing investigation," the statement finished.

Toronto police had already detailed the event on their own social media account and described it without naming Marner as the victim.

The Sun's report stressed that the suspects did not point their guns directly at the heads of Marner and his friend, and merely wanted his vehicle.

According to an unnamed person who was at the scene, Marner is "doing all right" after the attack.

With the three suspects still at large, though, no arrests have been made thus far.

READ MORE: Russians star in NHL history

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97. Russian ace announces season is overВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has ended her season early due to a knee injury

Russian tennis star Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has pulled out of the French Open and been forced to end her 2022 campaign due to a knee injury.

The 30-year-old finished runner-up at Roland-Garros last year by losing in the final to Barbora Krejcikova, but won't be able to improve on that showing after announcing her withdrawal from the Grand Slam on social media.

"I'm very sad to say that I'm forced to withdraw from Roland Garros and the rest of the tournaments this year," said the Samara native, who in recent months has dropped to a world number 21 ranking from a career-high 11.

"I have been playing this in my head for the last week and it has been a really tough decision to make, as Roland Garros was always very special to me, especially after a dream run last year," she lamented.

Update ! @rolandgarros ??? pic.twitter.com/cEBOiTvmNY

— Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (@NastiaPav) May 17, 2022

"But due to the pain for a long time, now the injury is limiting me physically and mentally to compete and practice fully.

"After rehabbing for months this year and only [playing] at three events, the last two tournaments [have shown] me that the pain was still there and I wasn't ready, so I have decided to take more time and come back stronger next year," Pavlyuchenkova added before thanking her fans for the support and vowing to see them next year.

Currently attempting to make a comeback from an operation to treat a hernia, Russian men's number one Daniil Medvedev is still set to feature at Roland-Garros, which gets underway on May 22.

The reigning US Open champion achieved a career best quarterfinal showing on the Paris clay last year, and his coach Gilles Cervara has suggested that the 26-year-old should target a similar run.

"I have the impression that Daniil is coming back from vacation and no injury,” Cervara said this week as quoted by Tennis Majors.

Read more
Another run at Roland-Garros for Daniil Medvedev? © Adam Pretty / Getty Images
Medvedev coach states French Open aims

"Each day, it was found that he could execute more things than the day before. The serve was the last shot to be tested. In the fourth week, we resumed normal training and a real preparation phase...

"Roland-Garros is an objective in itself. We are going to Geneva to have as many benchmarks as possible given the situation. The idea is to do at least as well as last year," continued Cervara, who has been at Medvedev's side since 2017.

On Tuesday, Medvedev will finally return to the courts in a professional capacity at the Geneva Open, where he will face Richard Gasquet in a Round of 16 clash.

Beyond that, Medvedev and his fellow Russian stars are set to be banned from the third Grand Slam of the season at Wimbledon, after the All England Lawn Tennis Club took the step as a response to Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

READ MORE: ATP makes decision on UK events after Russian ban

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98. Reuters mocked over paintball image in Ukraine conflict reportВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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The media outlet used a paintball training photo in an article on the Russian offensive

The Reuters news agency has become the target of online ridicule after it published a report on the Ukraine conflict alongside an image of what appeared to be people playing airsoft.

The report was released on Monday, stating that Ukrainian soldiers had driven off Russian forces in Sumy Region, with the headline reading: “Ukrainian border guards repelled an incursion by a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group in the northeastern region of Sumy on Monday, the governor of the Sumy region said.”

However, what drew the attention of users online was not the content of the report, but the image used to illustrate it. The photo, which was apparently meant to represent Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the frontlines, upon closer look, actually shows a group of people seemingly playing a round of paintball, equipped with the characteristic masks and paintball guns.

Ukraine says it has repelled Russian incursion in Sumy region https://t.co/dE81E0R9P6 pic.twitter.com/une4hkj0M6

— Reuters (@Reuters) May 16, 2022

A link to the article, posted alongside the aforementioned image, was published to the Reuters Twitter account, where it remains, despite receiving hundreds of comments pointing to the ill-fitting image.

Some users have stated that this Reuters post is a prime example of why it’s become increasingly difficult to trust mainstream media reports on complex foreign conflicts such as the one in Ukraine, which is already hard to follow due to the avalanche of conflicting and misleading reports supposedly coming from the frontlines.

The other day, when I expressed doubt about a Reuters story, some of you scoffed about my doubt.

Here is Reuters telling you that the Ukrainians repelled a Russian assault, WHILE USING PAINTBALL GUNS.

Come on people. The Ukrainians are good, but not that good. https://t.co/tTIq9gRAgK

— Tactical Wisdom (@DolioJ) May 16, 2022

Other users have also jested that the image actually depicts the paintball industry getting in on the Russia-Ukraine conflict to make a quick buck, suggesting that the $40 billion proposed by the US Senate might get spent on paintball gear.

Did America just spend $40 billion to buy Ukraine paintball gear???

— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 16, 2022

Maybe Ukrainians really do need the $40 billion if they’re fighting the Russian army with paintball guns? ???? And @Reuters wonders why nobody trusts legacy media anymore. ? https://t.co/Hta8N5lW4P

— TJ Cutshaw (@CutshawTj) May 16, 2022

Reuters attempted to justify the use of the image, stating that the photo showed “members of the territorial defense force” attending a “training simulation.” However, many have slammed the agency for not including that clarification in the original tweet in the first place.

READ MORE: Top Western media outlet deletes video critical of Ukraine

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99. US tells EU to give more money to UkraineВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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The US and its allies must pay Ukrainian wages and foot the bill for reconstruction, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen declared

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on Tuesday for the US’ allies to pay Ukrainian wages and rebuild infrastructure in the war-torn country. Deeming the billions of dollars already committed by the US and Europe insufficient to keep Ukraine afloat, Yellen declared that Kiev will eventually need “massive support” on the level of the post-WWII Marshall Plan.

With US lawmakers poised to approve a $40 billion package of military and economic aid to Ukraine and the US government agencies involved there, Yellen addressed the Brussels Economic Forum on Tuesday to persuade European leaders to open their wallets for Kiev.

“I sincerely ask all our partners to join us in increasing their financial support to Ukraine,” she said.

Ukraine needs budget funding to pay soldiers, employees and pensioners, as well as to operate an economy that meets its citizens' basic needs.

The EU will soon have committed four consecutive €500 million ($520 million) packages of military aid to Ukraine since February, and €1.2 billion ($1.26 billion) worth of emergency loans since January. However, the Ukrainian government claims to need around $5 billion per month to keep the country’s economy alive.

“What’s clear is that the bilateral and multilateral support announced so far will not be sufficient to address Ukraine’s needs, even in the short term,” Yellen declared.

Read more
Josep Borrell. © AFP / JOHN THYS
EU announces military aid boost for Ukraine

EU leaders will meet on Wednesday to discuss a new package of financial aid to Kiev. The bloc is planning on borrowing money in global markets to give to Ukraine in the form of repayable loans and non-repayable grants, according to a Guardian report. EU officials are also examining the feasibility of using assets seized from sanctioned Russians and Belarussians to finance this aid package.

According to Reuters’ sources, the package being discussed in Brussels would cover Ukraine’s expenses for roughly two months.

Yellen said that in the longer term, Ukraine would need “massive support,” on the scale of the US’ post-World War II Marshall Plan for Europe, to rebuild its economy and infrastructure.

It remains unclear to what extent the EU will be able to finance such a reconstruction project. The bloc’s 27 member states are currently grappling with skyrocketing inflation and energy costs, partly due to Brussels’ ongoing efforts to reduce energy imports from Russia. Yellen promised that the US would step up exports of American liquefied natural gas to Europe, but transporting this fuel to Europe from the US is costlier than piping it from Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that European countries are committing economic “suicide” by trying to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas, accusing them of caving to pressure “from their American overlord” without “paying any attention to the damage that they have already caused their own economy.”

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100. Ukrainian troops holed up in Mariupol begin surrenderingВт, 17 мая[-/+]
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Kiev puts on a brave face as trapped Azov fighters give themselves up to Russian forces

The last remaining Ukrainian troops in the southern port city of Mariupol have started surrendering, after being trapped for nearly a month in the Azovstal steelworks. The massive industrial complex, with a network of underground tunnels and bunkers, was the last bastion held by Ukrainian forces.

The city is otherwise controlled by Russian troops and the militias of the Donbass republics. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) claims Mariupol as part of its sovereign territory.

Since the start of the week, over 250 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered to Russian troops in Mariupol, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.

Медиа: image / jpeg



 
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