Category Archives: Europe

#COVID19: Russian military medics support Italy

The Russian Aerospace Forces are ready to fly teams of virologists and medical equipment to coronavirus – plagued Italy starting Sunday March 22, the Defense Ministry said.

Following President Putin’s instruction, Defense Minister Shoigu (pictured) gave orders to set up an air group “for urgent aid deliveries to the Italian Republic for anti-coronavirus efforts, starting on March 22,” the Defense Ministry said.
As soon as Italy is ready, the Russian Aerospace Forces’ military transport aircraft will fly eight mobile teams of Russian military virologists and doctors, vehicles for aerosol disinfection of transport and territories, as well as medical equipment to the Republic,” the defense ministry said.
Italy has confirmed its readiness to accept Russian Aerospace Forces’ planes.

On March 21, Russian Defense Minister discussed aid delivery in a phone call with his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini. “During the call, the Italian defense chief confirmed readiness to accept Russian planes with specialists, vehicles and equipment, starting March 22,” the Ministry said.
Guerini also expressed gratitude to Russia for promptly providing aid to fight the pandemic in accordance with an agreement between Vladimir Putin and Giuseppe Conte.

Upon his initiative President Putin phoned the Italian premier. The Kremlin’s press office said that the Russian president reassured him of Moscow’s readiness to promptly provide all necessary help and furnished information on its practical parameters. In particular, the supplies of protective means and mobile vehicles mounted on Kamaz trucks for spraying disinfectants over transport and in the areas as well as medical and other equipment are to be delivered. In addition, Russian specialists are going to be dispatched to the country’s worst-hit regions for practical assistance.

According to the latest reports, the death toll from the novel coronavirus has jumped to 793 in Italy in last 24 hours. The country has reported that 42,681 people have been infected with the novel virus, leading 4,871 victims, however over 6,000 people have recovered from the deadly disease.

#COVID19: Monaco Albert II diagnosed positive

Prince Albert of Monaco has been diagnosed as positive for the coronavirus, the Palace said in a statement March 19. The Palace aslo explained that he had passed a test earlier this week.

According to the statement, the 62-year-old prince is being closely monitored by a medical team at Princess Grace Hospital, named after his mother late Hollywood star Grace Kelly. At present his physician said that team have no concerns in regards to his health.

Eastern Partnership objectives

“Today, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have put forward a proposal for the long-term policy objectives of the Eastern Partnership beyond 2020. These aim at increasing trade, strengthening connectivity and deepening economic integration with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, strengthening democratic institutions, the rule of law, environmental and climate resilience, supporting the digital transformation, and promoting fair and inclusive societies. (Image: archive).

“Our neighbours’ strength is also the European Union’s strength; the Eastern Partnership remains a crucial element of the EU’s foreign policy. Our proposals will further strengthen our six partner countries, reflecting the priorities and challenges that we share, while maintaining the emphasis on delivering tangible, positive results for all citizens” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said.

“We are sending a very clear message to our Eastern partner countries: we will help you to build strong economies and to create growth and jobs by attracting foreign direct investment and by strengthening connectivity in key sectors, such as transport, energy and environment. We will work closely together to address today’s challenges across the board, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic” Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi said.

“Building on the achievements of the Partnership in the first 10 years, today’s proposal outlines how the EU will work together with the partner countries to tackle common challenges and strengthen their resilience in the light of today’s challenges as an overriding policy objective beyond 2020. In doing so, work between the EU and partners will continue on new policy priorities to support the ecological transformation, the digital transformation and to deliver on economies that work for all, in particular more job opportunities for youth and to promote gender equality.”

https://twitter.com/eu_commission/status/1240260323606757376?s=21

Russian drills in Black sea

An active phase of tactical drills of the Black Sea Fleet aviation with fighters, bombers and helicopters has begun on March 18 in Crimea. In the course of the drills, pilots trained to withdraw forces during a potential attack, conducted a search for submarines, launched unguided missiles and dropped bombs, the fleet’s press service informed. (Image: illustration).

The drills consist of two stages. “During the first stage of the drills, plane and helicopter crews practised withdrawing forces in case of a hypothetical enemy attack and redeploying aviation to backup airfields,” the message reads.

During the second stage, pilots of Su-24M and Su-30SM launched unguided missiles and dropped bombs on land and sea targets. Crews of anti-submarine aircraft and helicopters conducted a search for a hypothetical enemy submarine. Pilots of military transport aviation practised transporting and landing cargo.

In total, the drills include about 20 aviation units of the Black Fleet.

Crimea anniversary EU declaration

Today the Declaration was issued by the High Representative Josep Borrell-Fontelles, on behalf of the European Union, on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (pictured) and the city of Sevastopol.
Six years on from the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The European Union reiterates that it does not recognise and continues to condemn this violation of international law. It remains a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States.

“The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures. The European Union calls again on UN Member States to consider similar non-recognition measures in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262. The European Union does not and will not recognise the holding of elections by the Russian Federation in the Crimean peninsula.

“The increasing militarisation of the peninsula continues to negatively impact the security situation in the Black Sea region. In violation of international humanitarian law, Russian citizenship and conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been imposed on Crimean residents. The unjustified use of force by Russia against Ukraine on 25 November 2018 is a reminder of the negative effects of the illegal annexation on regional stability. The return of the illegally-captured Ukrainian servicemen and vessels, as requested by the Order of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea and called by the EU, was long overdue when it eventually took place in the second half of 2019.

“The European Union condemns the construction of the Kerch Bridge without Ukraine’s consent and the recent opening of a railway section. These are yet further steps towards a forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula with Russia, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law. The illegal restrictions to such passage are still ongoing and have negative economic consequences for Ukraine’s ports in the Azov Sea and the whole region.

“Since the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation, the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula has significantly deteriorated. Residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly. In accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 74/168 of 18 December 2019, it is crucial that the regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms as well as the non-governmental human rights organisations have unimpeded access to Crimea and Sevastopol.

“The rights of the Crimean Tatars have been gravely violated through the shutting down of Crimean Tatar media outlets, and the banning of the activities of the Mejlis, their self-governing body, and the persecution of its leaders and members of their community. The EU expects Russia to reverse these decisions and to end the pressure on the Crimean Tatar community. Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and all ethnic and religious communities in the peninsula must be ensured the possibility to maintain and develop their culture, education, identity and cultural heritage traditions, which are currently threatened by the illegal annexation.

“Furthermore, Russian Federation should stop changing the demographic structure of the population by transferring its own civilian population to the peninsula. Russia must also take measures to improve the environmental situation, which has considerably worsened since the illegal annexation.

“The EU reiterates its call for the immediate release of Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants, Oleh Prykhodko and all others who have been detained in the Crimean peninsula and sentenced in breach of international law. The EU calls for full compliance with international human rights standards in the peninsula. Journalists, human rights defenders and defence lawyers should be able to work independently and without undue interference and intimidation. All pending cases of human rights violations and abuses, such as enforced disappearances, torture and killings, violence, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination and harassment should be thoroughly investigated. Full, free and unrestricted access for international human rights actors to the whole territory of Ukraine, including Crimea and Sevastopol, continues to be paramount. The EU recalls UNGA Resolution 74/168 of 19 December 2019, and calls for its full implementation, including the Russian Federation’s obligations under applicable international humanitarian law.”

Illustration: Crimea, Livadia Palace

Russian Embassy in Kiev attacked

Russian embassy in Kiev was attempted to set ablaze by Ukrainian nationalists from a rocket launcher. A video of the incident was published by various TV channels. (Image: social media).

The missile hit directly the roof of the Russian Embassy, but apparently it failed to cause fire of the building. In addition, illustrating their aggressive intentions, the radicals have torn apart Russian flag.

The shelling of the building took place during an action of Urkaine radicals dedicated to the “Volunteer Day” when on March 14, 2014 first nationalist battalions began to form to participate in “anti-terrorist operation” in Donbass declared by President Poroshenko.

Sources in the diplomatic mission told Russian news agencies that in connection with the rally, reinforced groups of the National Guard of Ukraine were patroling the area near the building. In addition, after the shelling, they decided to go around the building and to assess the consequences of the incident.

Russian Embassy in Kiev sent the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine an official protest.

EU extends sanctions against Russia

The Council today decided that current sanctions in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine should be extended for a further six months until 15 September 2020.

https://twitter.com/eucouncilpress/status/1238490097240154113?s=21

These restrictive measures provide not only for a freezing of funds, but also a prohibition against making funds or other economic resources available to the listed persons. They currently apply to 175 persons and 44 entities, following the removal of two deceased persons from the list.

Other EU measures in place in response to the crisis in Ukraine include:

economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy, currently in place until 31 July 2020;
restrictive measures in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, limited to the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, currently in place until 23 June 2020.
The legal acts were published in the Official Journal on 13 March 2020.

Image: Crimea bridge at night, source: social media

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