Kremlin demands rubles for gas, EU leaders push back
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Thursday that the country’s natural gas must be paid for with rubles, a demand apparently intended to help bolster the Russian currency but one that European leaders say they will not comply with because it violates the terms of contracts and sanctions.
Putin's demand for ruble payments? No way! say EU nations
President Vladimir Putin's threat to have “unfriendly” countries pay for Russian natural gas exports only in rubles from now on got the not-so-friendly treatment from European Union nations Thursday. If others put it less bluntly, it came down to the same — from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who as former chief of the European Central Bank, knows something about currencies. Early this week, Putin launched the idea that because of Western sanctions targeting the Kremlin and freezing Russian assets, they were "effectively drawing a line over reliability of their currencies, undermining the trust for those currencies.”news.yahoo.com
EU commits to phasing out dependency on Russian fossil fuels
The European Union is seeking to fully phase out its dependency on Russian energy “well before 2030” to ensure the 27-nation bloc no longer faces difficult decisions about hurting their own economies in geopolitical crises like the invasion of Ukraine.
These Countries Have ‘Disgraced Themselves’ in Blocking Russian Sanctions
Umit Bektas/ReutersAs Ukraine buckles under Russia’s brutal invasion, sparking the worst military bloodshed on European territory since the end of World War II, European leaders are haggling over sanctions, making sure being tough won’t hurt their own economies too much in the process.Hours after the invasion began on Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised “massive” sanctions that would cripple Russia’s financial standing. But it was soon clear that Russia’s tentacnews.yahoo.com
Italy's 80-year-old president sworn in for a second term
President Sergio Mattarella received an astounding 55 rounds of applause from an otherwise divided Italian parliament Thursday during a wide-ranging speech that underlined the need for national unity after he was sworn in to a second term in office.
Italy's president, 80, is recruited to stay on for 2nd term
Italian President Sergio Mattarella has been pulled away from his impending retirement and reelected to a second seven-year term as the country’s head of state, ending days of political impasse as party leaders struggled to pick his successor.
No result in 3rd round of vote for new Italian president
The third round of voting for a new Italian president ended has again ended inconclusively, sending political parties into yet more intense negotiations to come up with a viable candidate to replace President Sergio Mattarella, whose term expires next week.
Afghan girl from famous cover portrait is evacuated to Italy
National Geographic magazine’s famed green-eyed “Afghan Girl” has arrived in Italy as part of the West’s evacuation of Afghans following the Taliban takeover of the country, the Italian government said Thursday. The office of Premier Mario Draghi said Italy organized the evacuation of Sharbat Gulla after she asked to be helped to leave the country. The Italian government will now help to get her integrated into life in Italy, the statement said.news.yahoo.com
Italy: Police move against violent anti-vaccine activists
Police in Italy are conducting searches against 17 anti-vaccine activists who were purportedly affiliated with a Telegram chat that espoused violence against government, medical and media figures for their perceived support of COVID-19 restrictions.
EXPLAINER: What's so big about the G20 besides economies?
The G-20, whose annual summit plays out in Rome this weekend, has morphed from its creation in the 1990s as an international group to grapple with financial crises into a forum facing such pressing problems as worldwide vaccine access and climate change.
EU unconvinced by Polish arguments on rule of law changes
Key European Union leaders are unconvinced by Polish arguments that fundamental judicial changes the country has made would not undermine the bloc and said that the withholding of billions in EU recovery funds would likely continue unless Warsaw falls back into line.
Vatican in 'unprecedented' protest against Italian homophobia law
The Vatican has lodged an “unprecedented” interference in Italian politics by objecting to a law that would criminalise violence and hate speech against gay and transgender people. The Holy See confirmed on Tuesday that it had sent a diplomatic protest to the government of prime minister Mario Draghi over the so-called Zan bill, which would punish acts of discrimination and incitement to violence against gay, lesbian, transgender and disabled people. The bill, promoted by Alessandro Zan, a gay Mnews.yahoo.com
Biden Is No Trump But the EU Still Doesn’t Trust the U.S.
Phil Noble via ReutersThere is no question among European leaders preparing for President Biden’s arrival in Brussels this week that reinstating the United States in the global conversation is a good thing—especially after a largely glowing G7 reception in the U.K. But Brussels is different, and in many ways the stakes are much higher for Biden, who just spent the weekend focused on China and will have to pivot to Russia, another country that evokes different opinions. This is especially true whnews.yahoo.com
The new guy? Biden debuts at democracy's most exclusive club
Already on a first-name basis with relationships that range from just months to years, the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies are gathering Friday amid hopes that the departure of their most unruly member and a new era of personal friendships enhanced by face-to-face discussions can restore a global anti-authoritarian consensus on climate, the coronavirus, China and Russia. The G-7’s return to polite quasi-normality comes as President Joe Biden seeks to restore steady U.S. leadership to the bloc, which had been hamstrung by his predecessor Donald Trump’s often confrontational approach to longtime American allies. Trump had thrown a wrench into G-7 unity, demanding the absolute prioritization of U.S. interests, threatening decades-old security guarantees, insulting colleagues and loudly suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin be invited back into the group despite his refusal to meet demands for Moscow to stay out of Ukraine.news.yahoo.com
Vaccine makers pledge 2.3B doses to less wealthy nations
A global health summit that underlined the growing disparity between rich and poor countries during the pandemic closed Friday with pledges by pharmaceutical companies to deliver more than 1.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries this year. Italian Premier Mario Draghi, host of the Rome summit that brought together the Group of 20 and the European Union’s executive arm, called the contributions by private companies “significant and staggering.” The pledges made include 1 billion doses from American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German company BioNTech’s, 200 million from Johnson & Johnson and 100 million from Moderna.news.yahoo.com
The Latest: Netanyahu vows more force if Hamas uses rockets
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers against any further rocket attacks following a cease-fire. In a speech hours after the truce took effect on Friday, he said, “if Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong.” Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war, their fourth since the Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.news.yahoo.com
More than 1,200 migrants reach Italian island on boats
More than 1,200 migrants in several decrepit, overcrowded fishing boats on Sunday reached a tiny Italian island in a span of 12 hours, as human traffickers exploited calm seas and warm weather to launch multiple vessels, the mayor said. The first of the migrants arrived at 5 a.m., Lampedusa Mayor Salvatore Martello told Sky TG24 TV at 5 p.m. It was the biggest number of migrants to come ashore this year in a single day at an Italian port this year. Italian news reports said Italian coast guard and customs police boats escorted the vessels to Lampedusa after they were spotted in the Mediterranean a few miles offshore.news.yahoo.com
Britons to have quarantine-free holidays to Italy by end of May, government announces
British tourists will be able to holiday in Italy from the second half of this month without having to quarantine, the government has indicated. Visitors will have to demonstrate that they have either been vaccinated against Covid-19, they have recently tested negative, or they have had the virus in the past and now have immunity. The Italian government has not yet decided whether it will require a rapid antigen test or a more thorough molecular test. Mario Draghi, the prime minister, announced that Italy was opening up to the world at the end of a meeting of tourism ministers from the Group of 20 wealthy nations. A government source said the health ministry would soon formally announce that Italy’s five-day quarantine rule would be scrapped for visitors who can show that they are negative, vaccinated or immune. Italy will not wait until Brussels introduces an EU-wide coronavirus health pass scheme, the prime minister said. “Waiting for the European certificate... we have a national green pass that will enable people to move from region to region and will be operational by mid-May, so let us not wait until mid-June for the EU pass,” Mr Draghi said. “In mid-May tourists can have the Italian pass... so the time has come to book your holidays in Italy. “Few countries are as closely intertwined with tourism as Italy. The world longs to travel here. Italy is ready to welcome back the world. Our mountains, our beaches, our cities and our countryside are reopening.”news.yahoo.com
Italy and France ready to restart AstraZeneca vaccinations if regulators give the green light
A vial of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen at the Lochee Health Centre in Dundee, Scotland, Britain January 4, 2021. Andy Buchanan| Pool | ReutersLONDON — France and Italy say they are ready to quickly restart inoculation programs with the AstraZeneca vaccine if regulators confirm it's still safe to use. It added that in the event of a positive conclusion by the EMA, France and Italy were ready "to promptly restart" inoculations with the vaccine. Since then, more countries have reported cases of blood clots and an unusual number of platelets in a few patients. The EMA said Tuesday that there is "no indication" so far that the reports of blood clots were directly caused by the vaccine.cnbc.com
Year after COVID hit Italy, 3rd wave of infections sending most of country into new lockdown
Rome — A year after COVID-19 struck Italy, more than half of the country's residents were set to be placed back under hard lockdown restrictions from Monday, March 15 at least through Easter. Restrictions are being tightened in response to yet another rise in case numbers — Italy is entering a third wave of coronavirus infections. medical staff tend to a patient in the COVID-19 unit of the Bolognini hospital in Seriate, Bergamo, Italy, March 12, 2021. MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/GettyItaly was the first country in the world to implement a nationwide lockdown last winter, when it was the nation at the epicenter of the pandemic. The country's inoculation campaign began in late December, but like other European nations it has suffered delays in the distribution process.cbsnews.com
Germany declares a Covid 'third wave' has begun; Italy set for Easter lockdown
(Photo by Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Alexander Pohl NurPhoto via Getty ImagesLONDON — The head of Germany's public health agency on Friday warned that a third wave of coronavirus infections has already begun. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously warned the country could be caught in a third wave of infections if restrictive public health measures were lifted too quickly. Italy, meanwhile, is reportedly set to impose another near national lockdown over the Easter weekend in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. The move, which is expected to be signed into law on Friday, comes just over a year after it became the first country in the world to impose nationwide lockdown measures. Wieler said he was "very worried" about the public health crisis.cnbc.com
Watch Christine Lagarde speak at debut ECB press conference
Christine Lagarde is speaking in Frankfurt, Germany, for her first press conference as president of the European Central Bank. The former International Monetary Fund chief took the helm at the euro zone's top financial institution last month. Analysts say she will also likely need to mend divisions at the bank over its recent policy measures under former President Mario Draghi. Global central banks have been easing mode this year, as the headwinds of U.S.-China trade tensions and signs of economic weakness grip businesses and investors. Investors are likely to monitor Lagarde's presser for any signs as to the bank's outlook for the euro zone and forward guidance.cnbc.com