EU’s One-Two Punch At Russia — Sanctions Extended To 2023, Gas Imports Cut 15%
The European Union has renewed its sanctions against Russia until the end of January 2023, while also taking a major step to try to reduce dependency on Russian energy exports.
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The EU energy ministers were in Brussels today for a special Energy Council, and were tasked with renewing a wide range of sanctions for another six months that include restrictions on finance, energy, technology, transport and luxury goods. First introduced in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the tariffs were widely expanded after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
The energy ministers also approved a proposal for all EU countries to voluntarily cut gas use by 15% from August to March. The draft plan was unveiled last week by the European Commission in response to Russia's continued manipulation of gas supplies, which is raising fears of energy shortages ahead of the winter.
“The EU has taken a decisive step to face down the threat of a full gas disruption by [Russian president Vladimir] Putin,” declared European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
This comes as Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom said it will further reduce gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday due to another turbine needing repairs.
Last Thursday, Gazprom resumed shipments through the pipeline that provides Europe with gas via Germany. The pipeline had been shut down for 10 days due to maintenance. Germany as well as the rest of Europe was worried Russia would not resume gas shipments.
Nord Stream 1 will now only be functioning at 20% of its capacities. But according to French daily Le Monde, this is not a surprise after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning last week that if Russia could not get a turbine repaired from Canada, it would only work at a reduced capacity.
Russia continues to hold out its energy exports as a threat over European economies. On Twitter, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Europe to wean itself off Russian gas as soon as possible: “Putin’s gas war against Europe is a direct continuation of his war on Ukraine. Wherever he can bring harm, he will. He will use every dependence Europe has on Russia to ruin the normal life of every European family. The only way is to hit back hard and get rid of any dependence.”
Estonia Urges EU To Block Russian Citizens From Traveling To Europe
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Estonian Member of Parliament Urmas Reinsalu
Estonia is preparing a proposal to the European Union to stop issuing visas to citizens of Russia. Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Russians should not be allowed to enjoy European vacations while Ukraine is being bombed.
"Russian citizens now travel en masse through the western border of Russia - through Finland, Latvia, Lithuania - to visit the Louvre, while children are being killed in Ukraine," says Reinsalu. "I have already raised this problem to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Finland and Latvia, and we, of course, will consult with the governments of our region to find broad support for this initiative."
De Morgen Front Page (Belgium Daily)
Ukraine on the counter-attack: "We are making progress" While the frontline in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, has hardly changed for weeks, the Ukrainian army in the south is now claiming to be regaining ground. There is growing optimism that the southern region around the city of Kherson will be "definitely liberated" from the Russian army by September.
New Attack On Village Near Odessa
A Russian missile strike hit the coastal village of Zatoka in the Odessa region, according to Serhii Bratchuk, the spokesman for the local regional administration. Around 5 a.m. local time, air-launched missiles struck a civilian area and set off fires. There are no details on casualties in the attack, but video shows a number of properties on fire.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took to instagram to post a video of the missile attack and its aftermath, which followed a widely condemned attack in the port of Odessa on Saturday. “An ordinary village of Zatoka. People rested and lived. Just lived,” he wrote.
Russia’s Eye On Ukraine's "Pearl By The Sea"
At Odessa's port after the Russian missile attack
The timing and location of Russia's latest attacks shows that the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa is more important than ever to the Russian leader, for symbolic and strategic reasons, writes Cameron Manley in Worldcrunch.
“Since the early weeks of the war, the southern port city has been viewed as both a strategic and symbolic location on Russia’s war map and served as a worrying marker to Western leaders that violence has the potential to spill over into neighboring Moldova, itself dealing with its own internal battle with pro-Russian separatists in the breakaway republic of Transnistria.
Missile attacks like the one Saturday have been an occasional, though until now, not regular occurrence in the city of just over 1 million inhabitants that had been a prime summer getaway destination, dubbed by some as the "Pearl by the Sea." Read: What Is Putin’s Endgame In Odessa?
European Journalists Criticize Ukraine’s Proposed "On Media" Law
Against the backdrop of war, reform is a particularly difficult but critically necessary task. Along with the fight against corruption, is the fight for freedom of speech. Thus, the head of the European Federation of Journalists opposed the adoption by the Ukraine’s parliament of the draft law "On media" in its current form.
The current bill proposes that the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council of Ukraine be granted full and disproportionate regulatory authority, which would have little power over audiovisual media, broadcasting and online media. The European Federation has expressed great concern in this regard to the European Commission, in particular the president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, just weeks after Kyiv was granted candidate status for the EU.
Russian Downloads Of VPN Services Skyrockets
Virtual Private Network (VPN)www.flickr.com
State propaganda, blocking of Twitter, the recognition of Facebook and Instagram as extremist organizations, restrictions of many Russian and international media … For Russians who want to know for themselves, there are technical workarounds to the limits the Kremlin has put on internet access: installing VPN services.
According to the Novaya Gazeta, Russia has become the second ranked country by the number of VPN service downloads in the past six months, rising from 16th in the world in January before the war began. India is at the top of the list, the top five also include Pakistan, Indonesia, and the United States.
Russians have installed applications to bypass blocking 12 million times in the past month.