Ukrainian President: Mass Grave Found Near Recaptured City

The grave was discovered close to Izium in the Kharkiv region.

Ukrainian authorities found a mass burial site near a recaptured northeastern city previously occupied by Russian forces, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Thursday night.

The grave was discovered close to Izium in the Kharkiv region.

“The necessary procedures have already begun there. More information — clear, verifiable information — should be available tomorrow,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly televised address.

Associated Press journalists saw the site Thursday in a forest outside Izium. Amid the trees were hundreds of graves with simple wooden crosses, most of them marked only with numbers. A larger grave bore a marker saying it contained the bodies of 17 Ukrainian soldiers.

Investigators with metal detectors were scanning the site for any hidden explosives.

Oleg Kotenko, an official with the Ukrainian ministry tasked with reintegrating occupied territories, said videos that Russian soldiers posted on social media indicated there were likely more than 17 bodies in the grave.

“We haven’t counted them yet, but I think there are more than 25 or even 30,” he said.

Izium resident Sergei Gorodko said that among the hundreds buried in individual graves were dozens of adults and children killed in a Russian airstrike on an apartment building.

He said he pulled some of them out of the rubble “with my own hands.”

Zelenskyy invoked the names of other Ukrainian cities where authorities said retreating Russian troops left behind mass graves of civilians and evidence of possible war crimes.

“Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izium. … Russia leaves death everywhere. And it must be held accountable for it. The world must bring Russia to real responsibility for this war,” he said in the address.

Sergei Bolvinov, a senior investigator for Ukrainian police in the eastern Kharkiv region, told British TV broadcaster Sky News that a pit containing more than 440 bodies was discovered near Izium after Kyiv’s forces swept in. He described the grave as “one of the largest burial sites in any one liberated city.”

Some of the people buried in the pit were shot. Others died from artillery fire, mines or airstrikes. Many of the bodies have not been identified yet, Bolvinov said.

Russian forces left Izium and other parts of the Kharkiv region last week amid a stunning Ukrainian counteroffensive. On Wednesday, Zelenskyy made a rare trip outside the capital to watch the national flag being raised over Izium’s city hall.

Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Enin said Thursday night that other evidence found after Kyiv’s sweeping advance into the Kharkiv region included multiple “torture chambers” where both Ukrainian citizens and foreigners were detained “in completely inhuman conditions.”

“We have already come across the exhumation of individual bodies, not only with traces of a violent death, but also of torture — cut off ears, etc. This is just the beginning,” Enin said in an interview with Ukraine’s Radio NV.

He claimed that among those held at one of the sites were students from an unspecified Asian country who were captured at a Russian checkpoint as they tried to leave for Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Enin did not specify where the students were held, although he named the small cities of Balakliya and Volchansk as two locations where torture chambers were found. His account could not be independently verified.

“All these traces of war crimes are now carefully documented by us. And we know from the experience of Bucha that the worst crimes can only be exposed over time,” Enin said, in a reference to a Kyiv suburb where the bodies of hundreds of civilians were discovered following the Russian army’s withdrawal from the area in March.

Earlier Thursday, Zelenskyy said that during the five months the Russians occupied the region, they “only destroyed, only deprived, only took away.”

“They left behind devastated villages; in some of them there is not a single undamaged house. The occupiers turned schools into garbage dumps and churches — shattered, literally turned into toilets.”

In other developments Thursday, Zelenskyy worked to add political momentum to Ukraine’s recent military gains, while missile strikes that caused flooding near his hometown demonstrated Moscow’s determination to reclaim the battlefield advantage.

A week after the Ukrainian counteroffensive, Zelenskyy met with European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen during her third wartime visit to Kyiv. Von der Leyen publicly conveyed the wholehearted support of the 27-nation bloc and wore an outfit in Ukraine’s national colors.

“It’s absolutely vital and necessary to support Ukraine with the military equipment they need to defend themselves. And they have proven that they are able to do this, if they are well equipped,” she said.

Air raid sirens blared twice in Kyiv during von der Leyen’s meeting with Zelenskyy, a reminder that Russia has long-range weapons that can reach any location in Ukraine even though the capital has been spared attacks in recent weeks.

Ukrainian officials said Russian missiles late Wednesday struck a reservoir dam near Kryvyi Rih, Zelenskyy’s birthplace and the largest city in central Ukraine. The strikes flooded over 100 homes.

Russian military bloggers said the attack was intended to flood areas downstream where Ukrainian forces made inroads as part of their counteroffensive.

The head of the local government on Thursday reported a new attack on the dam and said emergency crews were working to prevent more water from escaping.

The first attack so close to his roots angered Zelenskyy, who said the strikes had no military value.

“In fact, hitting hundreds of thousands of ordinary civilians is another reason why Russia will lose,” he said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Putin Says He Will Meet With Xi and Insists Russia ‘Has Not Lost Anything’

Since fighting broke out in Ukraine nearly seven months ago, Russia and Europe have been waging an economic war over energy, one that could have dire consequences for millions of households and businesses across the continent.

Last year, nearly 40 percent of the natural gas used to heat homes and power businesses throughout the European Union came from Russia, one of the continent’s largest and most important trading partners for energy.

Now barely half that amount enters Europe, government statistics show, stoking fears of shortages this winter.

As part of a wide-ranging effort to cripple Russia’s economy, which is largely propelled by the sale of fossil fuels, the European Union has imposed huge sanctions and has vowed to eventually stop buying Russian gas.

But with Europe still dependent on Russia in the meantime, Russia has retaliated by severely restricting the flow of energy to Europe, forcing governments to try to find alternatives.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia “is using energy as a weapon by cutting supply and manipulating our energy markets,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, wrote on Twitter.

This battle has proved costly for both sides.

Alternative buyers of Russia’s oil and gas, including China and India, are taking advantage of the situation and pushing for steep discounts. That is limiting the revenue that Moscow needs to power its economy, as well as to build pipelines and ports to supply energy to Asia more regularly.

European governments are paying high prices to stock up on the fuel, asking citizens and companies to save energy and unveiling sweeping emergency packages to cap energy bills and bail out struggling businesses.

Even countries that don’t import Russian gas are suffering, because electricity prices are closely linked to gas. The benchmark wholesale price of natural gas in Europe, which has been incredibly volatile since the war in Ukraine began, is roughly four times what it was a year ago.

The average European household is facing a monthly energy bill of 500 euros ($494) next year, triple the amount in 2021, according to estimates by analysts at Goldman Sachs. Applied to all energy users, that implies a €2 trillion increase in spending on heat and electricity.

The squeeze is particularly acute in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, which relies on Russia as its biggest supplier of gas. The bulk of it flows through Nord Stream 1, a 760-mile passageway that connects the two countries via the Baltic Sea.

Since the war, the Russian-controlled operator of the pipeline, Gazprom, has twice reduced the amount of gas it sends to Germany and twice shut the pipeline down for maintenance. After the most recent shutdown last week, Gazprom postponed a planned restart, citing faulty equipment, and provided no timeline for reopening, with officials in the Kremlin blaming sanctions for delaying repairs.

Critics suggested that last week’s move was a cynical response by Russia after finance ministers for the Group of 7 countries said they had agreed to impose a price cap mechanism on Russian oil in a bid to choke off some of the revenue Moscow still generates from Europe.

The indefinite shutdown nonetheless raised fears that it could become permanent. A complete cutoff from Russian gas would push Europeans’ energy bills even higher and hit the region’s economy even harder, with experts projecting a potentially deep recession in the most exposed countries. A shutdown would subtract nearly 3 percent from Germany’s economy next year, economists at the International Monetary Fund have estimated.

“In our view, the market continues to underestimate the depth, the breadth and the structural repercussions of the crisis,” the Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. “We believe these will be even deeper than the 1970s oil crisis.”

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U.N. Inspectors Set Out for Embattled Nuclear Plant

Credit…Annegret Hilse/Reuters

Gazprom, Russia’s government-owned energy giant, shut off natural gas flows early Wednesday through Nord Stream 1, the critical pipeline that connects Russia to Germany, raising fresh worries about European energy supplies.

Gazprom said the cutoff was temporary and was necessary for maintenance, although the German government and energy executives consider it to be politically motivated. After three days, Gazprom said, the pipeline will restart “provided that no malfunctions are identified.” It said flows would resume at 20 percent of capacity, the same reduced level it has provided since late July.

Energy markets will be closely watching to see if supplies do resume as scheduled. In July, the pipeline was shut down for 10 days, again for maintenance.

Like other European countries, Germany is rushing to fill natural gas storage facilities before winter as insurance against cutoffs by Russia. The Russian government appears to be trying to obstruct that effort as well as create uncertainty over future gas deliveries.

So far, the results have been mixed. German gas storage facilities have reached more than 83 percent of capacity and appear likely to meet the government’s goal of 90 percent by Nov. 1.

On the other hand, the cutoffs of flows and worries about supplies in the coming months have driven natural gas prices in Europe to record levels in recent weeks, inflicting some of the economic damage that the efforts to store up gas are aimed at preventing.

Benchmark natural gas futures for Europe have fallen by around a quarter from Friday’s records after Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union, suggested on Monday that officials would work on breaking the link between gas and electric power prices.

Gas prices continued sliding on Wednesday, but they remain exorbitant, roughly nine times the level of a year ago.

Russia said it was committed to meeting its gas export contracts, but that Western financial sanctions, imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, mean that Gazprom “simply cannot fulfill them,” the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told reporters, according to the Russian state-run Interfax news agency.

Gazprom is not only aiming at Germany. On Tuesday, Engie, a large French utility, said that Gazprom had informed the company that it was cutting gas supplies over a contract dispute. “Russia is using gas as a weapon of war and we must prepare for the worst case scenario of a complete interruption of supplies,” France’s energy transition minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, told France Inter radio, Reuters reported.

On Monday, Uniper, a German utility that is one of Europe’s largest natural gas buyers and suppliers, said that it had already exhausted a 9 billion euro ($9 billion) credit facility from the German government and was asking for €4 billion more.

Uniper said that with contracted supplies from Gazprom down 80 percent, it was having to buy gas on the market at significantly higher prices to supply customers, leading to losses that it said exceed €100 million a day.

Uniper agreed to a bailout in July that would include the government taking a stake in the company, but further steps including approval from the European Union are needed before it can be put fully in place.

The company’s chief executive, Klaus-Dieter Maubach, said in a statement that Uniper was working with the German government on “a permanent solution to this emergency.” Otherwise, he warned, the company would not be able to fulfill what he called its “system-critical function” as a supplier of natural gas to municipalities and factories.

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EU Reaches Deal To Ration Natural Gas Amid Russian Cut-Off Fears

By Associated Press
July 26, 2022

Since Russia invaded Ukraine and the West protested with economic sanctions, 12 EU countries have faced halts to, or drops in, Russian gas deliveries.

European Union governments agreed Tuesday to ration natural gas this winter to protect themselves against any further supply cuts by Russia as Moscow pursues its invasion of Ukraine.

EU energy ministers approved a draft European law meant to lower demand for gas by 15% from August through March. The new legislation entails voluntary national steps to reduce gas consumption and, if they yield insufficient savings, a trigger for mandatory moves in the 27-member bloc.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the move, saying in a statement that “the EU has taken a decisive step to face down the threat of a full gas disruption by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”

On Monday, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would limit supplies to the EU through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity, heightening concerns that Putin will use gas trade to challenge the bloc’s opposition to the war in Ukraine.

“The winter is coming and we don’t know how cold it will be,” said Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikela, whose policy portfolio includes energy. “But what we know for sure is that Putin will continue to play his dirty games in misusing and blackmailing by gas supplies.”

The ministerial agreement was sealed in less than a week. It’s based on a proposal last Wednesday from the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. Keen to maintain a common EU front over a conflict that shows no sign of ending, the commission said coordinated rationing would enable the bloc as a whole to get through the winter should Russia stop all gas deliveries.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and the West protested with economic sanctions, 12 EU countries have faced halts to, or reductions in, Russian gas deliveries.

Although it has agreed to embargo oil and coal from Russia starting later this year, the EU has refrained from sanctioning Russian natural gas because Germany, Italy and some other member states rely heavily on these imports.

“Germany made a strategic error in the past with its great dependency on Russian gas and faith that it would always flow constantly and cheaply,” said German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, who is also responsible for energy and serves as the country’s vice chancellor. “But it is not just a German problem.”

The disruptions in Russian energy trade with the EU are stoking inflation already at record levels in Europe and threatening to trigger a recession in the bloc just as it was recovering from a pandemic-induced slump.

The energy squeeze is also reviving decades-old political tests for Europe over policy coordination. While the EU has gained centralized authority over monetary, trade, antitrust and farm policies, national sovereignty over energy matters still largely prevails.

In a sign of this, the energy ministers scrapped a provision in the draft gas-rationing law that would have given the European Commission the power to decide on any move from voluntary to mandatory actions. Instead, the ministers ensured any decision on mandatory steps will be in member-state hands.

They also diluted other elements of the original proposal, including with exemptions for island countries.

Nonetheless, Tuesday’s deal marks another milestone in EU policy integration and crisis management.

The accord comes just six days after the commission rushed out the draft law — a stark contrast to past EU legislative initiatives in the area of energy that often involved months or years of negotiations among national governments.

In that respect, the new gas-rationing plan resembles developments in EU health policy two years ago when, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, member states agreed to act in unison. This included letting the commission negotiate agreements with pharmaceutical companies on the supply of vaccines to all 27 countries.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine News: Turkey Says a Deal Has Been Reached to Unblock Ukrainian Grain Exports

Credit…Jens Buettner/DPA, via Associated Press

Russia’s decision to restart the flow of natural gas through a vital pipeline on Thursday brought a moment of relief to Germany, which uses the fuel to power its most important industries and heat half its homes. But it is unlikely to be much more than that.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has made clear that he intends to use his country’s energy exports as a cudgel, and even a weapon, to punish and divide European leaders — loosening or tightening the taps as it suits him and his war aims in Ukraine.

He is counting on that uncertainty to impose heavy economic and political costs on European leaders. Those elected officials are under growing pressure to bring down energy prices and avoid gas rationing that might force factories and government buildings to close and require people to lower thermostats in winter. Leaders in some nations, like Spain and Greece, are already chafing at a European Union plan to have every member country cut its gas use, arguing that they are already much less reliant on Russia than Germany.

Many questions remain about the stability of the gas supplies that began flowing again on the pipeline, the Nord Stream 1, which directly connects Russia and Germany. But, analysts said, it is clear that Europe, and Germany in particular, could remain on edge for months about whether there will be enough energy.

In the weeks leading up to the 10-day shutdown for planned maintenance that just ended, Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy monopoly, had already reduced flows through the pipeline to 40 percent of its capacity. Analysts have warned that such levels will not be enough to prevent an energy crisis next winter.

“The resumed gas supplies from Russia via Nord Stream 1 are no reason to give the all clear,” said Siegfried Russwurm, president of the Federation of German Industries. “It remains to be seen whether gas will actually flow in the long term and in the amount contractually agreed.”

He added, “Germany and Europe must not become the plaything of blackmailing Russian politics.”

On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, who previously held senior positions in the German government, introduced a proposal for European Union members to reduce their gas consumption 15 percent to prepare for uncertain and possibly unsteady supply before the winter.

Before Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February, Germany got 55 percent of its natural gas from Russia. Few E.U. countries come close to that level of dependence — a fact that is starting to fracture European unity on Russia and energy policy.

Many Europeans already think Germany, the bloc’s largest economy, is a wealthy neighbor that is not always eager to help weaker countries. That characteristic was most recently highlighted by the country’s attitude toward helping Greece, Spain and other countries that use the euro when they were struggling financially about a decade ago.

Now, some of those very same countries are signaling that they are unwilling to make their businesses and people endure more suffering when energy prices are soaring to help bail Germany out of its dependence on Russia.

The Spanish energy minister, Teresa Ribera, said on Thursday that her country would encourage but not require its citizens to cut gas use. “Unlike other countries, we Spaniards have not lived beyond our means from an energy point of view,” she told El País newspaper, echoing the description some German ministers used during the eurozone crisis.

The Greek government has also pushed back against the European Union’s call for a 15 percent cut in gas use. Although Greece relies on Russia to meet 40 percent of its gas needs, its supplies have not been cut.

Stoking such divisions is at the heart of Mr. Putin’s strategy of cutting off gas deliveries through pipelines that cross Ukraine and Poland while limiting the volume of natural gas flowing under the Baltic Sea through the 760-mile Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

“The entire European energy system is going through a crisis, and even with today’s restart of Nord Stream 1, the region is in a tight position,” Rystad Energy, a research firm, wrote in a market note on Thursday.

Mr. Putin appears to be drawing out the uncertainty about whether and for how long the gas will keep flowing to Germany to try to maximize his leverage as long as he can.

Hours before the flow of gas resumed on Thursday, Gazprom said in a statement that it still had not received documents from Siemens for a turbine that was sent to Canada for repairs. The papers are necessary for the part to be returned, the company said, adding that the engine, and others like it, had “a direct influence on the operational safety of the Nord Stream pipeline.”

Robert Habeck, Germany’s economy minister and vice chancellor, rejected a statement from Gazprom earlier in the day that the resumption of gas through the pipeline was proof that the Russian company was a “guarantor” of energy security in Europe.

“The opposite is the case,” Mr. Habeck said. “It is proving to be a factor of uncertainty.”

The German government has already activated the second of three steps of its gas emergency plan. Included was the swapping of gas-fired power plants with ones that burn coal, which releases many more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than burning gas. The third and final step would allow the government to ration supplies.

Credit…Virginia Mayo/Associated Press

On Thursday, Mr. Habeck announced additional measures aimed at increasing the country’s gas reserves, like conservation incentives that include more ambitious targets for the storage facilities and reactivating power plants that burn lignite — the dirtiest fossil fuel.

He said the government was also weighing strict limits on how people could use gas. For example, the government might forbid people to heat private swimming pools with gas. When pressed on how such measures would be enforced, Mr. Habeck drew a parallel to bans on holding private gatherings during the initial lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic, which were rarely enforced — unless neighbors alerted the authorities.

“I do not think that the police will visit every homeowner. That is not our intention and not the country I want to live in,” Mr. Habeck said. “But if it was pointed out that someone is not going along with it, then we would certainly look into that.”

Whether Germans, who were among the Europeans most willing to follow public health rules in 2020 when the pandemic started only to rebel months later, will be willing to sacrifice their comfort in solidarity with Ukraine has yet to be fully put to the test.

The German government is facing what Janis Kluge, an analyst on Russia with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, called “a very delicate balance” in how it communicates with the public.

“On the one hand, they have to mobilize everybody to save energy, to save gas and tell everybody that there could be an energy emergency in the winter, while at the same time avoiding that this turns into criticism about the sanctions policy and support for Ukraine,” he said.

“This is exactly what Putin wants to achieve,” Mr. Kluge added. “That when we make the next decision about arms deliveries to Ukraine, that somewhere in the back of our heads, there is this thought, well, what is this going to do to our gas deliveries?”

Berlin has been scrambling to buy more gas from the Netherlands, Norway and the United States. The government has set aside 2.94 billion euros, about $3 billion, to lease four floating terminals in the hopes that they will be operating by midwinter to help ward off a crisis that threatens a recession.

For years, Germany ignored warnings from its neighbors and allies that it was making itself vulnerable by becoming increasingly dependent on Russia for its energy needs.

“Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course,” President Donald J. Trump said at the United Nations in 2018.

In response, the German delegation, which included the country’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, laughed.

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Ukraine News: Kyiv Intensifies Attacks on Russian Positions in South

Credit…Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

BERLIN — When the main natural gas artery between Russia and Germany, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, was taken off-line last week for 10 days of scheduled maintenance, European leaders began bracing for the possibility that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would not switch it back on as retaliation for opposing Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Mr. Putin has suggested that the gas will resume flowing to Europe after the work on the pipeline — controlled by Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom — finishes on Thursday, though he warned that supplies might be further curtailed.

The European Commission called on the bloc’s 27 members to immediately begin taking steps to reduce gas consumption by 15 percent. “Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the commission, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday.

But analysts have pointed out that if Russia ceased gas flows to Europe, the country would lose an element of leverage in the economic battle it has waged against the continent since the invasion of Ukraine, allowing Mr. Putin to exert control over supplies and prices.

Speaking to reporters late Tuesday in Tehran after meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, Mr. Putin warned that Gazprom would send only “half of the volume intended” through the Nord Stream pipeline. Before it was shut down on July 11 for annual maintenance, flows had already been reduced to 40 percent of capacity.

Maintaining such a reduced flow of natural gas could be advantageous to the Russian leader, analysts said, allowing him to keep Europeans in a protracted state of uncertainty and near panic. Russia has already ceased gas deliveries through other major pipelines to Europe that cross Poland and Ukraine.

“To the extent that Putin maintains some gas flows on Nord Stream 1, he enjoys both income and leverage,” said David L. Goldwyn, a former senior State Department energy diplomat who served in the first term of the Obama administration. “Once he cuts off supply, he loses both and there is no turning back.”

European gas prices have soared to three or four times those of a year ago, causing a jump in inflation and raising concerns over social unrest once temperatures begin to drop.

The European Union imported 45 percent of its natural gas from Russia last year. That fell to only 28 percent in the first three months of this year. At the same time, overall gas imports in the bloc increased, driven largely by a 72 percent jump in purchases of liquefied natural gas.

Gazprom has blamed reduced flows through Nord Stream on a turbine that was sent to Montreal for repairs and could not be returned because of sanctions against Russia. German officials disputed Gazprom’s claim that the turbine could have caused such a cut in flows.

Credit…Pool photo by Alexey Maishev

Since then, the German government has secured the return of the equipment, which was made and repaired by Siemens Energy at a plant in Canada. But Mr. Putin said that another one of the turbines in the six compressors near Russia’s Baltic Sea coast was now in need of refurbishing and indicated there were also problems with several others.

“If one more comes, then it’s good, two will work. And if it does not come, there will be one, it will be only 30 million cubic meters per day,” he told reporters. That’s less than 20 percent of the pipeline’s capacity of 160 million cubic meters of gas a day, or 5,600 million cubic feet.

Records on a Nord Stream website indicated that a tiny amount of gas flowed through the pipeline on Tuesday afternoon, in an apparent test. A site run by the Gascade network provider showed that capacity had been booked through Nord Stream for Thursday. These aren’t guarantees that the gas will flow, but it could indicate Russia’s continued interest in piping gas to Europe.

Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University, said keeping a low flow through Nord Stream could strengthen Russia’s position and even weaken Europe’s resolve if the war dragged on.

“Maintaining Europe’s energy dependency on Russia and stoking uncertainty about natural gas supplies, which can only help in boosting prices,” he said, are among the reasons Mr. Putin would want to keep Nord Stream online. There is the added attraction, Mr. Prasad said, of being able “to some extent control Europe’s economic destiny.”

But a return of flows from Russia this week is no guarantee that they will continue in the future or be sufficient for Germany and its European partners to meet their goals to fill gas storage tanks to 80 percent capacity by the beginning of November. In Germany, where half the homes are heated by natural gas and the fuel is necessary for the chemical, steel and paper industries, storage levels reached 65 percent by Wednesday — just above the European average.

This week, Ms. von der Leyen traveled to Azerbaijan to secure a deal to double the imports of Azeri natural gas to at least 20 billion cubic meters (706 billion cubic feet) a year by 2027 as part of efforts across Europe to secure gas from sources beyond Russia.

Germany has turned to the Netherlands and Norway for more gas, as well as buying more liquefied natural gas from the United States and Qatar. But none of Europe’s 26 L.N.G. terminals, which are needed to convert the gas from its deep-chilled state back into a gas, are in Germany.

Robert Habeck, Germany’s economy minister and vice chancellor, has secured 2.94 billion euros to rent four floating L.N.G. terminals. The first are scheduled to be in operation by the end of the year.

But if Europe faces an unusually cold winter, that might not be soon enough to ensure that Germany keeps its homes heated and factories running. Germany has already activated two steps of a three-stage “gas emergency” plan, bringing back coal-fired power plants to replace those run by gas and running through scenarios of what would happen if the gas is cut off entirely.

To some observers, the panic of recent weeks is exactly what Mr. Putin wants.

“Will he give us gas? Will he cut the flow? Europe is hanging on Putin’s lips again,” Janis Kluge, an analyst on Russia with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, wrote on Twitter. “However the Nord Stream 1 saga continues, he is definitely loving every part of it.”

Melissa Eddy reported from Berlin, and Patricia Cohen from London. Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting from Brussels, and Anton Troianovski from Berlin.

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G7 aims to raise $600 bln to counter China’s Belt and Road

SCHLOSS ELMAU, Germany, June 26 (Reuters) – Group of Seven leaders pledged on Sunday to raise $600 billion in private and public funds over five years to finance needed infrastructure in developing countries and counter China’s older, multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road project.

U.S. President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders relaunched the newly renamed “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment,” at their annual gathering being held this year at Schloss Elmau in southern Germany.

Biden said the United States would mobilize $200 billion in grants, federal funds and private investment over five years to support projects in low- and middle-income countries that help tackle climate change as well as improve global health, gender equity and digital infrastructure.

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“I want to be clear. This isn’t aid or charity. It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone,” Biden said, adding that it would allow countries to “see the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies.”

Biden said hundreds of billions of additional dollars could come from multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, sovereign wealth funds and others.

Europe will mobilize 300 billion euros ($317.28 billion) for the initiative over the same period to build up a sustainable alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative scheme, which Chinese President Xi Jinping launched in 2013, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the gathering.

The leaders of Italy, Canada and Japan also spoke about their plans, some of which have already been announced separately. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were not present, but their countries are also participating.

China’s investment scheme involves development and programs in over 100 countries aimed at creating a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route from Asia to Europe.

White House officials said the plan has provided little tangible benefit for many developing countries.

U.S. President Joe Biden attends a working lunch with other G7 leaders to discuss shaping the global economy at the Yoga Pavilion, Schloss Elmau in Kuren, Germany, June 26, 2022. Kenny Holston/Pool via REUTERS

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian defended the track record of BRI when asked for comment at a daily briefing in Beijing on Monday.

“China continues to welcome all initiatives to promote global infrastructure development,” Zhao said of the G7’s $600 billion plan.

“We believe that there is no question that various related initiatives will replace each other. We are opposed to pushing forward geopolitical calculations under the pretext of infrastructure construction or smearing the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Biden highlighted several flagship projects, including a $2 billion solar development project in Angola with support from the Commerce Department, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, U.S. firm AfricaGlobal Schaffer, and U.S. project developer Sun Africa.

Together with G7 members and the EU, Washington will also provide $3.3 million in technical assistance to Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal as it develops an industrial-scale flexible multi-vaccine manufacturing facility in that country that can eventually produce COVID-19 and other vaccines, a project that also involves the EU.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will also commit up to $50 million over five years to the World Bank’s global Childcare Incentive Fund.

Friederike Roder, vice president of the non-profit group Global Citizen, said the pledges of investment could be “a good start” toward greater engagement by G7 countries in developing nations and could underpin stronger global growth for all.

G7 countries on average provide only 0.32% of their gross national income, less than half of the 0.7% promised, in development assistance, she said.

“But without developing countries, there will be no sustainable recovery of the world economy,” she said.

($1 = 0.9455 euros)

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Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Additional reporting by Martin Quin Pollard in Beijing; Editing by Mark Porter, Lisa Shumaker and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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G7 to hike sanctions on Russia, nears oil price cap deal

  • G7 to announce new Russia sanctions on Tuesday – U.S. official
  • G7 to work with other countries, private sector on oil price cap
  • Japan tries to cut zero-emission vehicles goal from G7 statement

SCHLOSS ELMAU, Germany, June 27 (Reuters) – The Group of Seven rich democracies will commit on Tuesday to a new package of coordinated actions meant to raise pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine, and will finalise plans for a price cap on Russian oil, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

The announcement came as the White House said Russia had defaulted on its foreign sovereign bonds for the first time in decades – an assertion Moscow rejected – and as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke virtually with G7 leaders meeting at an alpine resort in southern Germany. read more

Zelenskiy asked leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrial democracies for a broad range of military, economic and diplomatic support, according to a European official.

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G7 nations, which generate nearly half the world’s economic output, want to crank up pressure on Russia without stoking already soaring inflation that is causing strains at home and savaging the global south.

The price cap could hit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war chest while actually lowering energy prices.

“The dual objectives of G7 leaders have been to take direct aim at Putin’s revenues, particularly through energy, but also to minimize the spillovers and the impact on the G7 economies and the rest of the world,” the U.S. official said on the sidelines of the annual G7 summit.

G7 leaders would also make an “unprecedented, long-term security commitment to providing Ukraine with financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support as long as it takes”, including the timely provision of advanced weapons, the White House said in a fact sheet.

Western sanctions have hit Russia’s economy hard and the new measures are aimed at further depriving the Kremlin of oil revenues. G7 countries would work with others – including India – to limit the revenues that Putin can continue to generate, the U.S. official said.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one of the five leaders of guest nations joining the G7 for talks on climate change, energy, health, food security and gender equality on the second day of the summit.

“Since it is a mechanism that could benefit third countries more than Europe,” one EU official said. “These countries are asking questions about the feasibility, but in principle to pay less for energy is a very popular theme.”

TARGETING RUSSIAN GOLD, DEFENCE SECTOR

A U.S. official said news that Russia defaulted on its foreign sovereign bonds for the first time since the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 showed how effective Western sanctions have been.

“This morning’s news around the finding of Russia’s default, for the first time in more than a century, situates just how strong the actions are that the U.S., along with allies and partners, have taken, as well as how dramatic the impact has been on Russia’s economy,” the official added.

The Kremlin, which has the funds to make payments thanks to rich energy revenues, swiftly rejected the U.S. statement, accusing the West of driving it into an artificial default. read more

New sanctions planned by the G7 countries will target Moscow’s military production, crack down on its gold imports and target Russian-installed officials in contested areas. read more

The G7 leaders would task their governments to work intensively on how to implement the Russian price cap, working with countries around the world and stakeholders including the private sector, the official said.

The United States said it would also implement sanctions on hundreds of individuals and entities adding to the more than 1,000 already sanctioned, target companies in several countries and impose tariffs on hundreds of Russia products. read more

The agencies involved would release details on Tuesday to minimize any flight risk, a second senior administration official said.

The Ukraine crisis has detracted attention from another crisis – that of climate change – originally set to dominate the summit. Activists fear Western nations are watering down their climate ambitions as they scramble to find alternatives to Russian gas imports and rely more heavily on coal, a dirtier fossil fuel, instead.

Japan is also pushing to remove a target for zero-emission vehicles from a G7 communique expected this week, according to a proposed draft seen by Reuters. read more

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Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Sarah Marsh, Additional Reporting by Angelo Amante, Phil Blenkinsop; Editing by Thomas Escritt, Mark Heinrich and Alex Richardson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Europe must give developing nations alternative to Chinese funds, von der Leyen says

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends the official welcome to the G7 leaders summit at Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany June 26, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool

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BERLIN, June 26 (Reuters) – Europe will mobilize 300 billion euros in private and public funds over five years to fund infrastructure in developing countries as part of the G7’s drive to counter China’s multitrillion-dollar Belt and Road project, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.

“It is up to us to give a positive and powerful investment impulse to the world to show our partners in the developing world that they have a choice and that we intend to step up in solidarity to meet their development needs,” von der Leyen said at a news conference alongside the leaders of Germany, Italy, Canada, the United States and Japan.

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Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Writing by Sarah Marsh

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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