LATEST: Italy reduces dependence on Russian gas

The latest news on Russia’s war against Ukraine.

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MILAN — Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi struck a deal on Monday to import more natural gas via a pipeline across the Mediterranean from Algeria, the latest attempt by a European Union country to reduce its dependence on oil. Russian energy after the invasion of Ukraine.

After meeting with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in the capital Algiers, Draghi told reporters that the agreement to intensify bilateral cooperation in the energy sector and the pact to export more gas to Italy “are an important response to the strategic goal “to quickly replace Russian energy. .

Russia is Italy’s largest natural gas supplier, with around 40% of its imports, followed by Algeria, which supplies some 21 billion cubic meters of gas via the Trans-Mediterranean Gas Pipeline.

The new agreement between Italian energy company ENI and Algerian company Sonatrach would add up to 9 billion cubic meters of gas from Algeria, which would barely exceed the 29 billion cubic meters that Rome currently imports from Russia per year. . The increase in throughput will begin in the fall, ENI said in a statement.

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LEOPOLIS, Ukraine — The mayor of Mariupol told the AP that more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in the southeastern Ukrainian city since Russia invaded the country in February.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko told the AP by phone Monday that the dead are “covering the streets of our city” and the death toll could be over 20,000.

He added that Russian forces have brought in mobile crematoria to cremate human remains and are refusing to allow humanitarian corridors into the city in an attempt to cover up the killings.

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UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children left their homes during the six weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the UN verified that 142 miners died and 229 were injured, although these numbers are likely even higher.

Manuel Fontaine, director of emergency programs at UNICEF who returned from Ukraine last week, told the UN Security Council on Monday that out of an estimated 3.2 million children, “nearly half could be at risk of not having enough food” and attacks on the drinking water system. infrastructure and power outages have left an estimated 1.4 million people in the country without access to water.

He said the situation is worse in towns like Mariupol and Kherson in the south, which have been besieged by Russian forces and where children and their families have spent weeks without clean water, sanitation or regular food supplies.

“Hundreds of schools and educational institutions have been attacked or used for military purposes,” Fontaine said. “Others serve as shelters for civilians.”

He said the school closures were affecting the education of 5.7 million school-age children and 1.5 million tertiary students.

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LONDON — Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 45% this year due to the Russian invasion, which shut down nearly half of the country’s businesses, halted imports and exports and damaged a large amount of infrastructure crucial, warned the World Bank.

Meanwhile, unprecedented sanctions imposed by Western allies in response to the war are plunging Russia into a deep recession, cutting off more than a tenth of its economic growth, the Washington-based lender said in a statement on Tuesday. report. Sunday.

The report says economic activity is impossible in “large areas” of Ukraine because productive infrastructure such as roads, bridges, ports and railways have been destroyed.

Ukraine plays an important role as a global supplier of agricultural exports such as wheat, but this is now in doubt as the war has disrupted sowing and harvesting, the report said. The war has cut off access to the Black Sea, a key route for exports, including 90% of Ukraine’s grain shipments.

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COPENHAGEN – The Danish Health Authority announced on Monday that it would purchase 2 million iodine tablets in the event of “a nuclear accident in our immediate area”.

The COVID-19 pandemic “has shown us the importance of being prepared”, while the war in Ukraine shows that “the world is unpredictable”, the health authority said. He added that he had based his recommendation on advice from the Danish Emergency Management Agency, as well as impact calculations for the risk of a nuclear accident in the immediate area of ​​Denmark.

The tablets would cover the risk group which includes those under 18, health and emergency personnel under 40, pregnant and breastfeeding women.

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BUDAPEST — Hungary will amend its natural gas contract with Russia’s Gazprom to comply with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s request that payments be made in roubles.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a press conference on Monday that the subsidiary of Hungarian energy company MVM, CEE Energy, will pay Russian bank Gazprombank in euros, which will convert the money into rubles and the will transfer to the energy company. Gazprom Export Russian gas.

Putin has demanded that European Union countries pay in rubles for Russian gas, in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Russia.

Although Hungary voted with the European Union in favor of most sanctions against Russia, it asked not to block Russian energy imports, arguing that this would affect it economically.

Szijjarto insisted that the modification of the contract with Gazprom guarantees the country’s gas supply and at the same time complies with the EU sanctions policy.

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MOSCOW — The Russian army claims to have destroyed a shipment of anti-aircraft missiles supplied by the West.

The military used sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles to destroy four S-300 anti-aircraft missile launchers outside the city of Dnipro, said Brigadier General Igor Konashenkov, a Russian ministry spokesman of the defense. Some 25 Ukrainian soldiers were affected by Sunday’s attack, he added.

Konashenkov said in a statement on Monday that Ukraine received the anti-aircraft missiles from an unidentified European country. The spokesperson’s claims could not be independently verified.

Slovakia said last week that it had delivered its Soviet-designed S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine. kyiv has asked the West for more weapons, including long-range anti-aircraft systems.

On Sunday evening, the Slovak Prime Minister issued a statement calling for reports that the S-300 system supplied to Ukraine had been destroyed as “disinformation”. However, it was unclear whether the two statements referred to the same attack. Russian forces have attacked missile defense systems at three different locations in recent days.

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BRUSSELS – Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer brings “very clear messages from the political and humanitarian class” during his meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Austrian Foreign Minister said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Monday that Nehammer decided to make the trip after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Saturday and after discussing the issue with the leaders of Turkey, Germany and the EU. ‘European Union.

“We don’t want to leave any opportunity untouched and we must seize every opportunity to end the humanitarian hell in Ukraine,” Schallenberg said before meeting his European counterparts in Luxembourg.

“Any voice that clearly explains to President Putin what reality looks like from the walls of the Kremlin is not a lost voice,” he added.

Schallenberg said Nehammer and Putin would have a personal meeting without media. He insisted that Austria did everything possible to ensure that the visit was not manipulated “and I think (Putin) himself must have an interest in someone telling him the truth and really finding out what is happening outside.

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BRUSSELS – Germany’s foreign minister says Ukraine needs heavy weapons to defend itself and now is not the time for “apologies”.

The Ukrainian president has warned that his country is going through a crucial moment and that Russian troops will redouble their operations in the east of the country.

“What is clear is that Ukraine needs more military equipment, especially heavy weapons, and this is not the time for excuses, this is the time for creativity and pragmatism,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told him. arrived at a meeting with their counterparts from the European Union.

Germany broke with its foreign policy tradition after the Russian invasion by supplying arms to Ukraine, but drew criticism from kyiv for what was seen as reluctance and slow delivery of materials.

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BRUSSELS – European Union foreign ministers are meeting on Monday to consider the effectiveness of the bloc’s response to Russia’s major invasion of Ukraine, amid concerns over Russian preparations for a major attack to the East.

The ministers were due to meet ICC prosecutor Karim AA Khan amid mounting pressure in the West to hold those responsible for war crimes in Ukraine to account.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who chaired Monday’s meeting in Luxembourg, lamented the “brutal and brutal aggression” by Russian troops.

Borrell, who visited Ukraine over the weekend, said further EU sanctions against Russia were “still on the table”.

The diplomat said he feared that “Russian troops could concentrate in the east to launch an attack against Donbass”, a region in eastern Ukraine, after Moscow last week withdrew its forces around the capital, Kyiv.

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LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Ukraine repelled several attacks by Russian forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, destroying a number of Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery pieces.

In an intelligence report on Monday morning, the ministry said Russian attacks on the two eastern regions were continuing.

“Russia’s continued reliance on unguided bombs reduces its ability to discriminate when engaging and engaging targets, while significantly increasing the risk of civilian casualties,” the ministry said.

The British report added that Russia’s “previous use” of phosphorus munitions in the Donetsk region raises the possibility that they could be used in Mariupol, as fighting for the city on the southern coast of Ukraine intensify.

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Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi at an event in Rome on April 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, pool)
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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