The Kremlin has threatened to cut off Russian gas supplies to Europe if the West sticks to sanctions against Russia. The Russians also warned that the price of a barrel of oil will more than double. A barrel of crude now costs about 112 euros, the Kremlin threatens to raise that price to more than 275 euros. European political leaders will meet in Versailles on Thursday to discuss how the continent can move away from Russian oil and gas. Moscow warns in advance that such a move will be disastrous for the entire world market.
China stands firmly behind its ally Russia. This is reported by the Volkskrant. According to the Chinese, the blame for the war in Ukraine lies with the United States. This was revealed at Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s press conference in Beijing on Monday. Until now, it was unclear what position China would take. A Russo-Chinese bloc is further tightening the balance of power.
In a two-hour press conference, Wang Yi said, among other things:
“The friendship between the Chinese and Russian peoples is solid as a rock. There is a bright prospect for cooperation. No matter how uncertain and challenging the international situation may be, China and Russia will steadily advance their strategic partnership for a new era.”
Wang Yi refused to talk about a Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was the United States, in particular, that “resurrected a Cold War mentality in an effort to maintain its hegemony.” Wang also had harsh words for Japan and South Korea, which have engaged with the United States.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin appears to be ramping up claims that Ukraine is trying to develop nuclear weapons. So says the British Ministry of Defense. Russia has been claiming this for a long time, but since the end of February there has been an upward trend in the number of Russian messages with that message. According to the British, this indicates that Vladimir Putin is retroactively working on an additional reason for his attack on Ukraine.
The department within Google that focuses on cybercrime and monitors the behavior of hackers, the Threat Analysis Group , warns that hackers from Russia and Belarus are becoming more active. They focus their attention mainly on Ukraine and its European allies. According to Google, there is an increase in cyber espionage, phishing and other digital attacks. Google does not disclose the extent to which the attacks have been successful.
The World Bank has approved an aid package of 666 million euros for Ukraine. That package consists of both loans and gifts and is intended to support the country in Vladimir Putin’s war. A week ago, the World Bank pulled the plug on all projects in Russia and Belarus. Belarus’s credit rating has been downgraded to CCC (“currently vulnerable”) by the credit rating agency Fitch. That Belarus is ahead of Putin is worrying, according to Fitch, and therefore the reason for the downgrade. In terms of creditworthiness, Belarus now sits between Russia, Angola and Ethiopia.
11:35 Not only are fuel prices rising, AD reports fears that a loaf of bread will soon cost €5. Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s largest wheat exporters. The newspaper talks to the baker Bosch, who explains that the grain used in the Netherlands comes mainly from France and Germany, but that the consequences will still be felt. “All of our ovens run on gas and our cars run on diesel, so it’s heavy. So yes, I share that concern that a loaf of bread costs five euros. Maybe not in one jump, but if it continues like this, it will happen.” The baker expects the cabinet to lower the VAT rate on bread from 9 to 4 or 5 percent.
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis warns that Putin will set his sights on the Baltic states if he manages to win the war with Ukraine. The former Prime Minister of Latvia says in an interview with Politico that a Russian victory must be avoided at all times and that the West must not be deterred by the threat of nuclear weapons. The European Commissioner for Trade wants to tighten sanctions so that Putin can no longer finance the war.
14:30 Shell oil company apologizes for buying cheap oil from Russia last week. The company now says it acknowledges the purchase was objectionable and has announced it will close all 500 service stations in Russia.
In Amsterdam shopkeepers are threatened by uninformed strangers who want to protest the war and think they are Russian shops. The latter does not seem to be the case. The window was broken in an Eastern European store, whose owner is in solidarity with Ukraine.
Pepsi, Coca-Cola and the fast food chain KFC and McDonald’s are among the international companies that continue to support the Russian economy. There are more and more voices to boycott companies, writes The Mirror.
Poland hosts most of the Ukrainian refugees. There are now around 1.2 million displaced people in the country. Less hospitable is Britain, which proceeded to Brexit to prevent migration. London has so far issued visas to 300 Ukrainians.
15:05 Estonia’s public broadcaster, ERR, has started rebroadcasting newscasts in English provided by Suspilne International, Ukraine’s broadcaster. You can find an overview of the newscasts here. There are three broadcasts per day.
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